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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

158, part II

Starting the morning with architecture reminded me of something I'd been wanting to do with the boys since we moved to Northwest Arkansas: go see the Bella Vista Chapel designed by famous local architect Fay Jones. Part of the reason we hadn't done it yet, though, is that Woody wasn't all that excited about it. I can understand. It's a chapel, after all, in a garden. Doesn't exactly scream fun to a 6 year old.

When I suggested it, Woody said he'd rather race toy cars down the big slides at the park. (He'd gotten this idea from two children he met at a different park on Sunday.) Fair enough. We could do both, I said. But he thought not. It got a little tough. Still, I packed a good lunch and we headed to the park. I made a casual case for the chapel on the way, telling Woody we'd get to hike to it, something he said he'd wanted to do earlier this morning, letting him know what I'd packed for our picnic lunch, how it would be a surprise where we'd get to eat it since I'd never been there before.

Still, I was feeling a little resentful and frustrated when Woody started voicing his resistance to go to Bella Vista. I was making up all kinds of unhelpful generalizations and hypothetical future scenarios involving us never leaving the house unless Woody wanted to.

But we had a great time at the park. It was terrific. I was so thankful for that. It gave me a chance to relax and get in a better heartspace. There was a little complaining when it was time to go, but no fit throwing, and once we got in the car they were almost looking forward to it. We ate our picnic lunch and hiked through the newly green woods, alongside Lake Norwood (which Woody thought was probably short for "north woods" a long time ago) and up to the chapel itself, which blends so perfectly with the bronze, brown, and sky that you don't see it until you're right on top of it.

I told Woody that a chapel was a building or part of a building where people went when they wanted to connect with each other and with something bigger than themselves--God, or love, or the Universe, or the Great Spirit. He listened to this. Then, he started playing a game where he traced the grouted paths between the flagstones on the floor with his finger, in the fourth picture below. "See, Mama? This guy's trying to connect with other people. Do this with your finger and we'll try to find each other." He said he liked how the light in the building looked like it was broken into hundreds of pieces. And he asked how the metal beams were bent to form the ceiling of the chapel. I didn't know, so we called Daddy Honey and asked him to ask his friend Cat, who is the UofA architecture librarian and whose office is right next to his, and get back to us. We stayed nearly two hours, many minutes of which were spent simply sitting in the chapel or laying on the pews looking up at the trees and sky.

On the way out, we passed the office building for the chapel and garden. Woody thought it might have been designed by Jones, too, having a similar look to it. The office was closed, so we didn't get to ask, but I was happy that he was seeing buildings in this new way. There was also a single dogwood in bloom at the front of the garden! Success! Flowering trees and architectural adventure in one field trip.