My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.

I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.

Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I had in my mind another post I was going to make today, but things changed suddenly, and here's why:

We were invited to a potluck and play day by a new friend. Woody didn't want to go. I did. We've been in our new state for six weeks, and we haven't really gotten out much, so I thought this would be fun for us all if I could only get us there. I moved forward with the plan to go. I made the cookies. I packed the diaper bag. I dressed them both. I gave plenty of time to finish other activities. I listened patiently to the resistance. But still, I moved us ever closer to the car.

That was a misstep. I thought maybe this was one of those times when I could help Woody go to the edge of his comfort zone, and then he'd make a new friend, have a good time, or otherwise look back and be glad that he took a risk. But, in any case, it was a misstep.

And because I did not retract my missteps all the way to the point that we were strapping in, getting ready to go, Woody came up with an emotion-driven, can't-think-of-anything-better, impetuous and dangerous solution to the problem. He locked the keys in the car so we couldn't leave the house. He and I were on the outside, Fox and the (only set of) keys were on the inside. He didn't really realize what this meant until I told him, calmly, and then he did.

There was a flutter of panic, a deft and agile (if I do say so myself) breaking into the house, and then two phone calls to Joshua and the locksmith. Moments later, Fox was out, and the brothers were playing happily together in the backyard.

There's a longer version of the story that I may tell another day, but that's the short version. And I wanted to share a flow chart that, quite serendipitously, I had made last night. I was inspired by a post by Joyce Fetteroll on the Always Learning list, and I organized and paraphrased her words here, and added a couple of things besides. I added the last two boxes today. You'll understand why.

Today was a big learning day for me. I think I'd like some small learning days for the next little while.

And a friend reminded me of this John Holt quote, which seems to apply:

"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid and will use his
brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him."

It pains me to read this, and to know that it's true, but today, the proof is in the pudding. 

P.S. I emailed Joyce and asked her if she was OK with me using this flow chart, the ideas for which I credited to her. She liked it, but said that it might open up the thinking to say something like "not great" instead of wrong. I like that much better, but I don't have Photoshop to change it on this picture. So maybe if you can just imagine when you read wrong that it says not-great, and we'll both try and open up our thinking about this sometimes very tricky parenting moment!