Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sonya and Luca

Sonya Austin is a single mom to a 9 year old boy named Luca.   They have been unschooling for almost 2.5 years after choosing together to discontinue his schooling in 2010. They are both diagnosed with autism. They are from Minneapolis,  just about an hour away from the conference site.

Luca really likes all aspects of video and arcade gaming including playing, history, marketing, design, and sociological impact.  

Sonya likes to grow heirloom veggies, cook, sew, sing karaoke at her favorite local dive bar, study economics and human sexuality, and listen to top 40s music at deafening volumes.  

They both love their pet kitten, Fio, and their pet husky, Frankie.

The Mueller family

Hi, we're the Muellers: Phil, Gretchen, Sarah (15), Joy (13), Andrew (10), Grace (7), and Faith (3).

Phil is a mechanical engineer. He owns and operates a chimney cleaning and repair business. He recently retired from 34 years of service in the Air Force Reserve as a C-130 flight engineer. He enjoys gaming, watching sci-fi, reading Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and home repair type magazines and journals, and family gatherings. 

Gretchen is also a former C-130 flight engineer, and former student of Phil's, – which is how the story of the Muellers began. She was recently accredited as a La Leche League Leader. She enjoys reading, writing, surfing the internet, painting, organizing, eating good food, lazy days at the beach, and hanging out with her family.

Sarah enjoys reading, writing, pottery, surfing the internet, tumbling, drawing, role-playing, cosplaying, and anything that has to do with Skyrim. This year, she attended an anime convention for the first time, which is an experience that she will never forget. She looks forward to a time when she can attend another one. She also supports Superwholock.

Joy’s passions include painting (anything and everything), pottery, making her own cards and gifts, princess movies, reading, Pinterest, and other on-line sites like Doll Divine and Animal Jam. She enjoys attending theater and acting, and is currently part of a local production of Ben Hur. A highlight of her year is attending summer camp.

Andrew is into all things weapons and military related. Most days he can be found sitting on the exercise bike playing (multi-player mode) the following X-box games: MW3, Battlefield 3, Black Ops 2, Black Ops 1. He also loves Nerf gun battles, military documentaries (especially WWII), YouTube, swimming, summer camp, and going to water parks.

Grace likes dancing, singing, trying out for plays, drawing, painting, playing with her American Girl Dolls and Bitty Babies, and all sorts of games. Her favorite on-line games sites are Doll Divine, Animal Jam, Girls Go Games, and Star Wars Clone Wars. Her favorite board games are Cadoo and Rummikub. Her favorite T.V. show : The Jonas Brothers.

Faith likes to talk. She also likes singing, playing dolls with her sister, holding our new kittens, playing outside, and going to the pottery shop with her older sisters. Her favorite shows are Shawn the Sheep, Curious George, and Oscar's Oasis. Most of all, she loves to go to the midweek youth program at our church.

We look forward to meeting all of you and making some new friends!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Natalie Jackson's family

The Jacksons, Ben, Natalie, DD 5 and DS 2 1/2

We live and learn in the Twin Cities. Ben is a software engineer who loves gardening and reading and time with friends and family. I am a former high school teacher and current student at a technical college studying apparel design and production. I manage the messy household and try to keep up with the kids and my own school work. DD loves art projects, rhyming games, numbers, and playing outside. DS loves anything with a cord or motor, listening to and making music, and helping in the kitchen.

I started thinking about homeschooling over two years ago after a play date with a friend who was touring Kindergartens for her son. After researching homeschooling styles and philosophies, we realized that we had been unschooling the kids -- and ourselves, to a large extent -- all along. Our plan is to keep doing what helps our kids thrive and learn until it stops working for them or for us. So far, no sign of it stopping.

I look forward to meeting the other families at the conference, and to learning more, and to having some fun at the water park. --Natalie

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Fender family

We are the Fender family, Jeff, Rachel, Jordyn, and Levi. We have been homeschooling for three and a half years, moving towards unschooling in the last year. We live in southern Indiana.

Jeff is a quality director at Cummins, an international engine manufacturer. My background is in education, I taught elementary school for several years then went back to graduate school and earned a Masters and an Education Specialist degree in School Psychology. I worked as a school psychologist for three years immediately prior to us beginning to homeschool.

We were never a family that intended to homeschool. When our daughter went to Kindergarten and I cried every day for the six months before she started I was told that was normal, all moms were sad about their kids going to school, you just had to deal with it. Our daughter progressed through Kindergarten, first, and then second grade, but I missed her. I felt her growing apart from us, but, again, everyone around me just said that was normal, and good for her to be developing her independence, so I was sad but we moved on. Looking back I wish now I had listened to the very small voice in my head and heart that was urging me that these feelings were not normal, that my children needed to be with their mother.

The year our son was set to start Kindergarten we moved to a new town. The move was very difficult for us and was not a move we sought, but was necessary because of my husband's change in employment. We knew our son was already struggling, but, again, we just continued to go with the norm, and hoped he would settle out after our move was completed. Well, he did not, but continued to struggle more and more. He was sick literally every day for the four months he was in public school. Eventually things came to a head, and I collected my son and daughter from school on a Friday determined that they were not going back.

That night and all weekend my husband and I talked about our options. There is only one private school here and the tuition is exorbitant. However, I knew in my heart that my son needed to be out of the classroom setting altogether, at least for a time. Homeschooling seemed our only option. So, I resigned from my job, we pulled the kids out the week before Christmas, and we started homeschooling.

Looking back it was too much change at once. Everywhere I read I learned about deschooling, but being new to homeschooling, and determined to do it right (read perfectly) we jumped right in with curriculum. My kids were fine at first, because honestly doing textbook style learning at home with your mom is still better than being at school, or at least that was our initial feeling. Then after about six months they started to resist doing their school work. My son and I pretty much battled over school every day, my daughter would do her assignments but without much enthusiasm and just wanted to get them done. There were many days that ended in tears. Once again, I persisted, because I thought I was doing what was best for my kids.

In 2011 I somehow stumbled upon the writings of John Holt. Reading his work was like having a window opened to a beautiful vista, and because of my background in teaching and extensive work in graduate school learning about how people learn everything he said made perfect sense to me. From John Holt I started researching people who were writing about unschooling, and Sandra's site was the first one I came to. I began reading, and thinking, and reading, and thinking. I prayed, I had long discussions with my husband, who, to my great surprise was supportive of giving unschooling a try. However, even though I was thrilled with the possibilities that unschooling offered I was afraid. Afraid my kids wouldn't be prepared for college if they wanted to go, afraid they would never have a job, afraid they would look back and say, "Mom, why did you do this to us??"

We continued with school at home methods, although by now much more relaxed until the fall of 2012. All that time in between I continued to read, to think. I joined a Facebook group of Christian Unschoolers, because another hurdle I had to get over was if I could be a Christian and an unschooler. There are voices in our community that say you cannot be both, I had to settle that in my mind as well. By November of 2012 I began to attempt to unschool. All the time between now and then I have continued to read, write, think. Watch my children, tweak things, try again.

I know this is a long introduction, but I think you will have a good idea at this point where we are in our unschooling journey. I hope to learn even more at the conference that I can take home and apply in our home with my children. I am thrilled that my husband has decided to accompany us, as he does not have as much time to read and research, but wants to be an active support to us. We are looking forward to meeting everyone.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy updates!

Greetings, all attendees and interested parties!

We have eighteen families thusfar, and I'm really looking forward to this.

If anyone who has signed up is not a member of the Always Learning discussion group, I invite you to join. Please do read some at my site and Joyce Fetteroll's. If you've accidentally signed up for a radical unschooling symposium without knowing you did, let me know so I can send a refund and save you frustration.

If anyone is new to unschooling, an excellent introductory series is available by e-mail from Pam Laricchia on her beautiful little site here: Living Joyfully.

I will add a tab up top here with links to any bios families choose to share (send info to me, and photos if you wish), and some rough stats on who's signed up (when I know ages and have confirmations). "PEOPLE" (in the tabs at the top of the blog).

If you receive this by e-mail, click the blog title to get to the blog. Thanks!

Quick, emiLy and family

We are emiLy, Ryan, Delia and Henry. We live in northeastern Minnesota about five hours north of the conference location. We'll be driving our RV down. Henry's 6th birthday is May 2nd, and Delia is 9. Our website is 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Introductions, please!

Any family willing to introduce themselves should send me some information, and photos if you wish, and I will put them here on the blog, so we can all begin to learn names and faces. If you have a family blog, please send me the address to that too.

If you'd like to see samples of what some families have sent for other ALL Unschooling events, here are some links for inspiration:

A couple of families here are very likely to be in Minnesota as well. :-)

And Massachusetts last year:

I didn't collect an archive for the recent one here, but you can look through and see some:

Some information on Jill and some of her writings are here: Jill Parmer

and me: Sandra Dodd