Monday, May 26, 2008

More About My Kids

Lia:

favorite thing to do in the whole wide world = hug me!

favorite colors:

1. dark purple
2. black
3. dark green

Josie:

favorite thing to do in the whole wide world =not sure (maybe roleplay)

favorite colors:

1. pink
2. green
3. yellow

Essie:

favorite thing to do in the whole wide world =roleplay

favorite colors:

1. blue
2. red
3. purple

Ant:

favorite thing to do in the whole wide world =not sure

favorite colors:

1. pink
2. purple
3. blue

Today the kids went to Devon's house to play wii. It was the girls' first time playing. They played dance dance revolution and guitar hero 3. They loved it!

Books

A few weeks back I read a book called Eleven by Lauren Myracle. It covered one year in the life of an eleven year old girl. Although the book had some redeeming factors, I had a lot of problems with it. I thought the school culture portrayed in the book to be inaccurate and the characterizations to be weak. It was as if the author was writing about an adult's perception of a preteen. There just seemed to be a wall separating the reader from the people portrayed in the story. That being said, the book did have a good plot and a few insightful moments. It isn't that I wouldn't recommend it, just that it wasn't as good as it could have been.

Yesterday I finished reading the book Nobody Was Here: Seventh Grade in the Life of Me, Penelope by Alison Pollet. This book had a very similar plot to Eleven. It covers one year in the life of Penelope. She is twelve, a year older than Winnie in Eleven but close enough to be going through the same types of things. School figures prominently in both books, as does a plot revolving around changing friendships as one grows. The difference was that Nobody Was Here was so much better! The characters had depth. The school had "personality". Teachers and preteens behaved appropriately and realistically. It was still a preteen/teen book, but it just had so much more depth! I would highly recommend Nobody Was Here to both unschooled and schooled preteen and teen girls. (Adults and boys might enjoy it too!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Kids

It is cool to find out how your kids feel about themselves. Even if you are with them everyday and very close to them in the kind of a relationship that unschooling is great at facilitating, you still can't read their thoughts.

Yesterday, I had some time to talk to JoAnn. I asked her what she thought her strengths were. I think it is very important to know oneself, and that includes knowing your strengths and weaknesses. After discussing a bit just exactly what I meant, JoAnn said that her strengths were reading, spelling, making up stories, cooking, and fashion sense. Her perceived weaknesses included grammar, handwriting, running, a bad temper, and shyness. I think that I would agree with her assessment. I would add understanding/relating to animals, a good work ethic, and empathy to her strengths though. We also talked a bit about how some weaknesses were things we just might accept as innate or permanent areas in which we just aren't as good as others while some weaknesses might be things we want to work on so that we can either turn them into strengths or just areas that aren't weak anymore.

Later I talked to Esme in the same vein. She saw her strengths as writing, drawing, fashion sense, and running and other physical endeavors. She did not see herself as having any weaknesses. My take? I would add peacekeeping skills and ability to get along with others to the strengths. I would put moodiness and lack of patience into the weaknesses, but those might be due to her age. (She is 14!)

I attempted to have the same conversation with Lia, and it didn't go as well. Lia is nine, and I don't think that she has as well a formed sense of self as the older girls. When I first asked about her strengths, she said that she didn't have any. That most definitely isn't true! After some thought she said that she is good at singing and doing chores. Those are both true. I would say that Lia's strengths are singing, work ethic, friendmaking ability, outgoingness, and willingness to try new things. She identified her weaknesses as carrying heavy things, acting, and drawing. I don't see this at all. When the groceries get carried in Lia often out carries her 15 year old brother. She is an excellent drawer (although she is probably comparing herself to her older sibs who are all also excellent drawers, especially Esme), and her roleplaying ability is great! I think I am a bit sad that she sees herself as so "ungifted." It must be hard being the youngest. (I am oldest, and I always saw the drawbacks to being the oldest so this is something new for me to think about.) I would say Lia's weaknesses include moodiness (it runs in the family) and stubborness.

Antonio said that he had tons of strengths, but they could mostly all be summed up by saying his intelligence. He said his number one weakness is lazyness, but that he doesn't like to talk about his weaknesses. To be quite honest, I know Antonio the least of all my kids I am not sure that I am willing to make an attempt at his strengths and weaknesses. I do think it ironic that my son, who at one time would have been labeled mentally retarded is now able to count intelligence as his primary strength. Oh the benefits of unschooling!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

RP'ing and Cosplay

My kids have always roleplayed. Antonio and Esme started out playing Winnie the Pooh when they were still preschool aged, and soon diversified into the Lion King and other games of their own creation.

Now are teens, they have sometimes been embarrassed of their extensive make believe games when talking to their non-unschooled friends. No longer! Through the internet, they have discovered that RP'ing is now a rather mainstream teen pursuit. Currently they are really into RP'ing Organization XIII from Kingdom Hearts 2. They have been following another group of RP'ers, Castle Oblivion (also doing Organization XIII) in the UK, and have now become interested in Cosplay. They hope to make or buy Organization XIII cosplay outfits and host a cosplay picnic of their own!