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Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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A Case Study

Recently I have received a bunch of questions about exactly how unschooling works for us… what we do to ensure our kids are learning. Well, it’s a little more nuanced than that because unschooling promotes the belief that children should direct their own learning. As unschoolers, we offer our children opportunities, time and support, materials and experiences, but usually little to no direction.

For me, the case study you’ll hear about in the above video is the first time I can look back and think: “Oh! There was a clear theme, all along! This is what we were exploring!”. At the time, it just felt like the flow of life… working on this, then that. With hindsight, I can see that my children (my eldest in particular) was leading us down a specific path of exploration. In this case dinosaurs.

I had no agenda for them to learn about dinosaurs. In fact, throughout the past couple of months, I have learned how little I knew about dinosaurs (did you know there were well over 300 species?!). This has also taught me that I do not need to know what my children need to learn. We learn it together. (Tweet it!)
So what is the difference between how learning about dinosaurs might happen in school, and how it happens in unschool (life learning)? Here are some, albeit nuanced, ways that I believe ultimately make a profound difference to the overall affect.

Unschooling with Dinosaurs

  1. Life learning means the child chooses their own “curriculum”.
    In school, the teacher (or government) decides the curriculum. Why is this so ‘bad’? Because when we are self directed learners, we come with gusto and motivation that is born of our intrinsic interests and passions. We don’t resist the learning, because there’s nothing to resist, it comes from within us.In school the teacher might say: “Now, we’re going to learn about dinosaurs!” to which the kid might reply: “Boring.”. That can’t happen in unschooling.
  2. Life learning means the child sets their own pace.
    In school, you have to keep up with other kids, or slow down for other kids. If you need to spend longer exploring a concept to fully grasp it, too bad. If you’re chomping at the bit to move on to the next idea, too bad. Is there a benefit to learning to accommodate others’ paces? Sure. But is there also a benefit to being able to tailor your pace to your own learning? Absolutely.In school, the teacher might say: “The semester’s almost over! We need to finish up our dinosaur projects!” At home, the project can run it’s course, until it fizzles out naturally into the next interest.
  3. Life learning means immersive, project based learning.
    Humans don’t naturally bounce between different subjects every 45 minutes with 5 minute recesses in between. We naturally immerse ourselves in an area of interest, diving deep, and learning it with all of our senses for however long it takes (or however long it holds our interest). We naturally take breaks when we’re tired, not when we’re told to. With life learning, a child can immerse themselves in their particular subject for a while, putting all other endeavors on hold. Once that wave has passed, they can fully dive into their next area of interest.
    In school, the teacher would need to stop the children working on their dinosaur projects, to make time for ‘circle time’ or ‘literacy‘. At home, no learning comes at the expense of other learning. The flow is effortless and without agenda.
  4. Life learning means the child can chose their learning approach.
    Some kids are hands on learners, others need audio/visual input, others need to learn through movement. Most need a combination of these approaches. Life learners are unbound by pencil and worksheet. They can learn however works. Movies, outings, arts and crafts, books, theatre…In school, the teacher might decide to teach through books and art. At home, the options are limited only by what is available.
  5. Life learning means success lies in the process, not the outcome.
    When there’s no test at the end of the semester, no parent-teacher conference, no evaluation whatsoever, the learning itself can claim center stage as the true hero of the story. Learning for it’s own sake, without any reward or punishment, is the true hallmark of unschooling.In school, the dinosaur project would be evaluated in terms of whether the child met the pre-determined criteria for success (particular vocabulary, particular understanding, particular artwork). These criteria would not only diminish the process of learning, but also limit it. What if the child wants to build two dinosaur models instead of one? They are limited by the teachers expectations. Not so at home.

I hope this has given you a peek into what can happen when we let go of school. Or at least what is happening for us, right now. Share your story in the comments below!

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Remember that Messy Zone you "popped up" last week?

Now's the time to take it for a test drive! (First, make sure you're in the "mood" for a Messy Strew - mmkay?)

The idea is to leave out a "play prompt" or invitation - in this case, with some sensory play or some crafting materials.

The Messy Zone provides a place that's contained and easy to clean.

The benefits of this type of tactile exploration are many:

🌈 First of all, children develop their fine motor skills as they apply their hands with dexterity - allowing sand to escape between their fingers, pressing play dough into the shape they desire, or gliding a paintbrush over the paper.

🌈 Sensory play is where children discover chemistry, physics and advance their vocabulary - differentiating between wet and dry, hard and soft, smooth and bumpy.

🌈 And they notice what happens to materials and objects as they're transformed, mixed, squished, and poured.

🌈 Finally, sensory play is highly soothing and usually engages kids for a long time!

Now, go! Put that pop-up messy zone to use and try your hand at inspiring play today with a messy strew.

Fair warning: they might not bite. But that's okay too! This is a light, fun, experiemental activity that you can learn to use to support your unique child - stay curious, watch and notice.

Share a picture of your strew in your stories, tagging @parentingjunkie - I can't wait to see!

#reclaimplay #messyzone #messyplay #messyplayideas #messyplaytime #messyplayathome #sensoryplay #sensoryplayideas #playprompt #strewpro #strewing #strewingforthewin #kitchenstrew #presentplay #playinvitation #playinvitations #playinvite #invitationtoplay #independentplay #playisimportant #playisenough #playistheworkofchildhood #playisfun

Imagine that instead of brushing your kid’s teeth every day, you decided to wait until they’re 16. ⁣

The side effects of this choice would be…⁣
😝 Bad breath⁣
😬 Plaque build-up and discoloration⁣
🦷 Toothaches and cavities… ⁣
and eventually, BIG $$$$$ at the dentist for treatment.⁣

Of course, this is not a good plan!⁣

I'm going to assume you would rather create a small, manageable daily habit that invests in our child’s oral hygiene to last a lifetime.⁣

Because we know: ⁣
It might be a pain to get started and stay consistent, but over the long haul, it will save you so much pain, $$$, and grossness.🤢⁣

And it's the same with, independence.⁣

If you invest a little bit in your child’s independent play right now - taking small, manageable steps every day to maintain and establish healthy habits - you will reap the benefits over time.⁣

A tough-love moment here - it’s not realistic to wait until your child is 16 and then suddenly expect them to be independent enough to drive or get their first job or figure out a plan for the summer.⁣

These are skills you’ve got to build slowly and gradually.⁣

It’s also not desirable to spend the next decade suffering through burnout, exhaustion, clinginess - because you’re not making the little investment that it takes to establish healthy independent play habits (just as it’s not awesome to endure cavities, toothache, and bad breath for years - rather than invest in establishing healthy brushing habits early on).⁣

So I guess my message is: Don’t wait with this. ⁣
When we neglect our child’s need for independence - it gets worse, not better.⁣

But when you take the time to follow along with the small, daily, doable actions that are outlined in the Reclaim Play Challenge - it will pay off in spades years later! ⁣

That’s why you’re here.⁣

You can do this. 💪⁣

It’s SO worth it. The small actions you’re taking now are going to pay back dividends... forever.⁣

Reclaim Play is all unlocked! Link in bio

We're kicking off Week 3 "Inspire" with a set of #StrewPro challenges!

So, what is a strew? It's simply leaving out toys, books, activities, or objects in a new and inviting way. Silently waiting for your kid to "discover" them and maybe - just maybe - to bite into independent play.

Did you know there are a myriad of "toys" in your home, strews waiting to be formed right under your nose?

Today, I want you to head to your KITCHEN and find things that your kid might take interest in...

Nesting bowls
Measuring cups
Wooden spoons

There's literally so many options and combinations to explore!

Try putting them out on a tray or somewhere that is not the kitchen. If you're feeling brave you can get really fancy and add in some water, slime, or dry beans (only do this if you're happy to clean it all up later).

There's really only ONE rule to becoming a Strew Pro:
Don't tell your child to play with it, don't tell them how to, in fact - you might kinda ignore it all together and just watch what happens.

Go! Grab a few items and arrange your first strew... take a 📸 picture of it and share with me @parentingjunkie in your instagram stories!

Welcome to the wonderful world of strewing, my friend!

#reclaimplay #strewpro #strewing #strewingforthewin #kitchenstrew #presentplay #playinvitation #playinvitations #playinvite #invitationtoplay #independentplay #playisimportant #playisenough #playistheworkofchildhood #playisfun

Can your child play independently for 30 minutes in a day?

This week you have done a lot of designing - you created a "pop-up" (a quick and scrappy) Imagination, Messy, Movement, Quiet, and Focus Zone. If you have a little one - you made a YES space for them.

Phew! 😅 Time to give yourself a pat on the back!

☕️Grab your hot drink, 📚your book, and a fluffy pillow because I'll bet my Lego collection you're going to be able to catch 30 minutes of play.

Remember everything you learned in week one:
🌈 Observe without interrupting!
🌈 Practice the "BRB" technique
🌈 Set up little "pop-up zones"

...and I believe you'll be able to catch your child playing for 30 minutes today and 10x the independent play in your home by the end of this week from when you started this challenge.

Now, I know you might be feeling like you're totally not "done" designing your zones - of course not!

Rome wasn't built in a day (or a week!)

In Present Play, we're going to dedicate the entire month of May to perfecting your zones. But this should set you on your way and whet your appetite for more design solutions.

When you catch those 30 mins (or more!) make sure to share it with us! Tag me in your stories @parentingjunkie

★ SIGN UP for the Challenge - link in bio!

#reclaimplay #playzone #playmatters #playspacedesign #independentplay #playistheworkofchildhood #playislearning #independentplaytime #mombreak #reclaimplaychallenge #playspace #intentionalparenting #simplicityparenting #childhooddesign #childdesign #presentplay #presentplaymovement

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