Tuesday, December 23, 2014

You must practice before you can master!

I have always heard that one must practice hard until they can do something better..or do it at all.

When my son was little we gave him at least 4 tricycles!
He could never ever get the hang of pedaling and riding them. He was very  good at other things like playing basketball and balancing on things and had very great coordination  and motor skills but not for riding.

He was running at 10 months old! He never crawled! He went from barely sitting at  8 months to standing  and walking at 9 months.

But pedaling and riding was not something he could do. He tried a few times. Could not do it. Got frustrated . It was not fun for him.
Dad and I are avid cyclists.

We gave him little bikes, then big bikes with big training wheels.
At 7 he could, with training wheels, ride straight ahead, no curves, but barely and not comfortably. So he did not do it.
Always hard and frustrating for him. We did not push it,

I got him a new bike at 8 ( on top of the brand new bike he got less than a year earlier. It sat there with training wheels for months. He tried a few times and that is it.

A couple months before he was 9  I was mowing the lawn and he  went into the garage, picked up his new bike with no training wheels and sat and proceeded to ride around in a circle , The boy who could not ever make a turn while riding a bike on training wheels.

No practice. No struggle. Not hard. He was ready. His body and brain were ready and he rode like he had been riding for years.

You don't believe me?
Remember that I was on my riding mower watching?. I stopped.  I picked up my phone and this is the video of that  moment.

No need to practice here in order to master. He mastered when it was the right time. Without us making him feel bad or frustrated or without it being hard work.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Math is everywhere!

Gigi has been interested in numbers since she was a little toddler. She was always asking how many this or that. How much is this plus/times that. How many minutes in an hour.....  and so on.

She has a pretty great grasp of it and her horseback riding instructor ( who also is a teacher and teaches math)  has been impressed many times by it.

Brian just told me a cool story I am going to share.

They were talking about something and the idea of odd and even numbers came up.
He asked what 26 was. She said that 26 was 10 plus 10 plus 6 and therefore even.
He asked what 29 was and she said odd and he asked what 16 was and she said even.

He then told her that 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 were odd and that 2, 4, 6 and 8 where even.
She turned to him and said that when you add an odd number to an odd number you always get an even number.

Brian was pretty floored. He had never thought of it!

It does not surprise me. The other day a friend said to her that her mom was 28 years old. Keep in mind that I am 48. Right away Gigi said. "OH so 20 years younger than my mom". It was an immediate response.
She can do addiction/ subtraction in her head.

One time she was working on a round pen horseback riding ( that was probably  about 2 years ago ) and her instructor turned to her and said: "Don't cut corners"
Gigi replied: "It is a round pen there are no corners"

Math is everywhere. I am glad I was never afraid of math and actually absolutely loved algebra ! They were like fun puzzles I did for fun.

Brian has an incredible head for numbers but he says he was terrible in math in school. That is really incredible if you know how well he does with numbers. 

It is Cow show season and Gigi has been working with her calves Armor and Bambi and this last Friday was her first show. She loves it !
She did awesome and is very happy!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Byzantine Empire and Video Games.

  A few days ago my son came to me and asked me for a new game on Steam. It was on sale and he said he really wanted it.
Unfortunately we needed to wait until the next pay check I told him. So he remembered that we have a change jar and we counted first quarters, then dimes and even nickels and we had enough for his game, a few add ons and Gigi's Animal Jam membership. 

Yesterday he is telling me something about Middle Ages and Roman Empire and I am all confused.
I said the Roman Empire fell before the Middle Ages.
Later he is in my laptop reading something and I  sit with him to find him reading about the Byzantine Empire.

This is from Wikipedia:
"The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context, it survived the 5th century fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empireand continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453."

He was right!  There has been so many times he will say something that surprises me. He is always researching and learning amazing things and he loves History.
He is learning because he wants to and loves it and it is related to his passion for Video Games and most of all his passion for Learning.

I am still always amazed ! Like me he likes to compare historical facts in Games ( me books and movies) to see how close they follow real history.
I am learning so much from him telling me all this tidbits of history and challenging my own knowledge.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

When Will My Child Read

How unschooling children learn to read is different for every child.
It also happens at different ages . Sometimes the parent may not even be aware how much a child is reading.
Here is a video of the day I realized my daughter got it.
This video was about a month after the ALLive Unschooling Symposium in Minnesota last year. I know Gigi was not fluently reading at that time of the symposium.
A month later we go to an Anime Con and Gigi is picked out of the audience to be part of Pinkie Pie's team at the event called My Little Pony Games.
One person/player from each team takes a piece of paper with something written on it and they have to read it to the audience. You can see her take one sheet of paper.
I was like "Oh My" and did not know how that was going to go but she looked confident up there so I just sat back and recorded.
She is the last to read and reads it fluently and confidently and wins for her team.
Keep in mind she was 7 years old and all the other competitors were older teens or your adults.
No lessons, no trying to teach phonics, no reading methods but with support and a print rich environment and being present to answer questions and help read, write, communicate with others or anything she wanted to do.
Pretty cool.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Games created by my son at his in game video game developing company! I just loved the names and what they were about.
Murder and Fedoras
Bionic Kitten
Atom to Planet
Cigars and Murder
Cigar and Murder - Rubber Puffs
Dung Beattles and Dragons
Paylo Series
Paylo -Return of the Zombie Alien
Supooper Dario Grows
Legend Of Meda
Legend Of Melda- Tinks Adventure
Taffer- Dark Shadows
Taffer- The Steampunk Age
Taffer-Deadly Shadows
Teachers and Preachers
Shotguns and RobCots
Fat Cigarman- ( Console version of Cigars and Murder)
Death 4 Lead
Full Life
Full Life- Navy Blue Working Hours
The Meldar Pieces of Paper
Dog Simulation
Gun Wagon- Game of the Deer Edition
Gun -Wagon Wagon
Cirno Trigger
Cirno Cross
Tunnel Legend
FopleOut Series
Bionic Kitten 2 - Revenge of Dr. Dog
Dog Warriors
The Soms 3- Dog DLC
Gun Fun

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My child does spend a lot of time in his computer!!!

Now the last post was  all about my daughter. She is a cowgirl, farm girl, horseback riding and Minecrafting girl.
My son is 11 and he started watching TV at 18 months old. Before that he did not care for it.

At 18 months old he fell in love with Maisy and then it was Bob the Builder followed by Thomas the Tank Engine.
I sat with him and watched a lot  of Maisy, Bob and Thomas. I cherish those moments . It was so sweet and I miss them.
I also learned to  love what he loves.
I spent hours with him playing with tools! Then it was trains and that was  a huge passion for years. I used to know probably all the Thomas songs! All the engines and stories.  He was using foam or magnet letters to write names like Thomas , Percy and James at 3 years old. His passion was embraced and supported.

I remember seeing his cousin playing video games and thinking to myself that that was not going to be my son.
When he was around 4 he started playing some online games and  I had already been reading about unschooling for awhile so I was not at all afraid of video games. At 4 we gave him his first Nintendo DS.

I embraced his love for gaming the same way I embraced his love for trains. I fell in love with gaming just like I did with Thomas.

Sometimes around 5 or a little before he turned 5 I discovered the online game called Roblox and introduced to him . That was huge!
 Not only my son learned to read and type because of it but it was/is and amazing game. People would friend him and be very surprised when they found out he was 5 years old. He was known for being a great player and helping new people learn the game. I think Roblox should have payed him something because he was a walking advertizement for them. Every child he met  he told them about Roblox!

We also gave him a Nintendo Wii at that age and we still love that system and all the Nintendo games!
He fell in love with Super Mario and Legends of Zelda games.

Legends of Zelda has inspired him to learn the Ocarina and he has read all the books several times! He has been rereading them this last few weeks!

A few months ago my son and I build his first gaming computer he has been saving for. He has many many games on his PC, his XBox 360, PS2, PS3, Gamecube , Duo Retro ( plays NES and SNES games), Nintendo DS and Gameboy.
 Yes he also loves retro and classic games and consoles.
He has always been a collector and has become a researcher.

But what is amazing how well he writes, how fast he can read, how he has full grasp of math, physics and loves all Science and is always telling me and reading about everything !
His knowledge is amazing. From how your eyes work and how other animals eyes work and why  to how matter and antimatter reacted to create the Universe and much much more this boys knows!

He is very witty and loves playing with words, he is bright and he is loving. He will not hurt a fly.

He is always reading and researching so many different things. He has  this love for learning and information.
 He tells me so many things that I am amazed he knows!

Today I played a game with him and he split some wood while I was stacking. He is my gamer that goes and splits wood that a grown up has difficulty splitting.

 It is not screen time!
It is reading, researching, playing, discovering and much more!
It really gets to me when people say "screen time". They are not really paying attention to what their children are doing.

Here is a little bit of him

 I went inside and come out and he had written the numbers down. Not 2 yet.

 Mario and Luigi for Halloween with dad!

 His first Thomas Engine and it all started ( he still had his Bob the Builder shirt)

 Bob the builder was the man! He loved him.

Now this pictures are from this year only.

 His Birthday this year! Lab Coat, Periodic Table and Chemistry kit. That is what he wanted.

Shooting ball with dad.

 Animinneapolis ! With the voice actor and Manga author Sonny Strait.
He is in full Cosplay  ( Len Kagamine)

 Just laying in my lap and talking

 The computer parts arrived!!!!!!! 

 Caulking ! He is using a gun!!!!!!

Up in the hayloft of the old barn with kittens and his sister.

 Going for a ride with mom at 6:30 AM.

 At Animinneapolis he actually sat in the Vocaloids panel and participated answering questions!

 Sometimes reading too many  books on anatomy leads you to use dad as a guinea pig.

 Working out with dad.

 Making brownies .

 His little kitten Scout who he saved by bringing in and bottle feeding.

 Reading Free to Live by Pam Laricchia

 Snowman during snow storm ( picture by Sandra Dodd)
Record breaking snow in May! Got to do something about it.

 Blue hair.

Getting his Arrow of Light and graduating from Cub Scout earlier in the year.

 When Scout was so little he was syringe feeding him.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Will my child only sit in front of a screen all day ...

Many parents new to unschooling read about others that do not limit TV or Video Games and are so afraid that if they let their kids  do it that is all they are going to do.
They says they want their kids to be in nature, play outside and not just sit there. They clearly think that playing video games has no value other than probably working on hand-eye coordination.
They are afraid. They do not even know really what they are afraid of. They repeat things they heard and read instead of looking at their children and seeing them.

My 7 year old daughter is an avid Minecrafter, specially now in cold Minnesota and the weather is very cold and we are indoors a lot she will spend hours playing Minecraft and Skyping her friends.

But here is a collection of our Spring/Fall/Summer activities ! She doesn't just play video games.

 Hiking with Girls Scouts at Nature Center

 Playing with kittens in the barn.

 Hiking with cousins at local park.

 Hiking with both Grandmothers and cousins.

 Playing with mud.

Getting her calf ready for 4-H show.

 At an anime convention in full cosplay.

 With friend she made at anime convention after being part of her team where she sang and even won a task for her group by reading and reciting a text.

 Showing her fall calf Lid at Dodge Co. Fair.

 Showing a heifer for a family friend at Dodge Co. Fair.

 Keeping the animals set up clean and tidy at our local County Fair. No one told her to, she just does it.

Showing in her Cloverbud class for 4-H

 With her fall heifer Lid at Olmsted County Fair.

 Her and Lid again!

 Horseback riding lessons with Quest.

 Ringing the bell.

 Washing clothes

 Milking for city people!

 Drilling holes!

 Chores time! Feeding babies!

 Another day riding Quest bareback !

 Trail riding with mom and friends.

 Taking care of horse after trail riding!

 Corn from our vegetable garden is what is for dinner!

 Playing with her calf

 After ditch pick up , a community service with her 4-H Club.

 Finding amazing natural forming rock sculptures in the gravel!

 Super happy with the present her online Minecraft/Skype friend sent her!!

 Watching ultrasound being done in pregnant cows for sexing. The veterinarian has this tablet that she could watch it live while he did it to our cows.

 Watching her brother build an amazing gaming computer !

 Chores again ! Babies are hungry.

 Wonderful friends made at the Unschooling Conference.

At the zoo.

Visiting the local shelter with Girls Scouts.

This was just a little window to a fun life where computers and video games and TV are not limited in any way.
In those months she also learned to read  and is writing a ton while communicating with her friends online!
That was mostly from video game playing!
Why would I not want her to do it?
She loves books and reading them! She still loves getting full of mud ! She comes out for chores because she loves it~!

Make their world bigger and richer.
Mud is not better than video games that is not better than showing cows that is not better than watching a movie with mom in bed!!!! It is all wonderful for different reasons.
It all has its value and time.
Supporting your child's passion and exposing him to the real world . Computers are the real world.
What are you afraid of?