Unschooling: What I Know About It

Have you heard of unschooling?  If you have, do you truly know what it means? I’m sure you’re heard of home-schooling but may not have heard about unschooling.

What Is UnSchooling?

My daughter, Akilah Richards, who recently appeared on the Steve Harvey Show regarding this very subject, explains it best.

IMG_4170She says it is a growing movement and considered free-range education and encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves.  She further says “For our daughters, the unschooling philosophy is helping them develop as confident, creative, curious people who know how to get information, process information, and move toward goals they set for themselves. Imperfect and profoundly life-changing, motherhood has certainly raised me. And helped me and my husband raise happy, curious people. Every child has that same capacity, and some of them can be supported through alternative learning environments like homeschooling, or like my family, unschooling.”  See her recent blogpost here at: http://www.radicalselfie.com

IMG_4108I have seen the wonders of unschooling displayed right before my very eyes.  My two grand daughters, children of Akilah and her husband, Kris, are astute, witty, very sharp, inquisitive, self-reliant, multi-lingual, great conversationalists, very active and are up-to-date on current affairs.  Unschooling did this!  They have learned more than they would in a traditional classroom.  They started out attending regular schooling but kept feeling left behind as the pace was too slow for their sharp, inquisitive minds.  They even got picked on by other students because of this.  With the inquisitive minds these girls were born with, their parents then made the smart decision for them to learn at a pace that was comfortable for them – and THAT was unschooling.

Mr. Harvey took a poll during the show and the below were the results.  I can guarantee you that in the months to come, the amount of “yes’s” will significantly increase, as people begin to understand more of the wonders of this great movement — unschooling.IMG_4176

Want to Learn More About UnSchooling?

Here are the links to some of Akilah’s offerings regarding unschooling:



On Amazon, you can find a book called Our Transition Into Unschooling: Raising independent thinking, information seeking, self-directed lovers of learning and life all through school-free living.”

The Grandchild Effect

Before I had grandchildren, I used to hear people talking about how joyful it was to have a grandchild, and the wonderful effect it had on them.  They often brag about the things the child does or says and also about the things they as a grandparent would do for the child.  Not to mention the warnings they almost always get about possibly “spoiling” the child.

May I say that I’m living it.  I am blessed with three granddaughters and they are the light that shines brightly in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore my own children (my youngest has not yet given me a grand), but my grandchildren does something completely different for me.  Their little faces.  Their expressions.  The words they use.  Their singing and dancing they do without even being asked.  Their wisdom.  I have learned so much from them.  The grandchild effect is wonderful!

Surprisingly, though, some of us don’t relish the effect that a grandchild can have on us.  I know folks who would dare not have a grandchild call them “grandma” or “grandma” in public.  The feeling is that it makes them really feel old.  “Are you really serious right now?” I asked one person.  “Oh yes!” she replied.  “I’m not ready to be anybody’s grandma; I’m still to young to be called that!”  How sad, I thought.  How very sad.

Folks who behave this way are surely missing out on — that wonderful grandchild effect.

Holiday Tribute From the Grand Girls

My grand daughters wrote the loveliest poem as a holiday tribute to their grandparents, which includes myself, their paternal grandmother and both grandfathers.  It was heart-warming and was mostly written by the oldest, Marley – age 7, with inputs from Sage – age 5.  It brought tears to my eyes when it was being presented to me.  I had no idea they noticed the little things they mentioned in the poem.  Who says that little children don’t really pay attention?  Well, whoever said that, lied.

The girls are truly blessed and they know it.  They have both sets of grandparents who are alive and well, and who are also very much involved in their lives.  Most people my age, and that includes me, never had a relationship with a grandparent.  My maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather passed away in the 1940s – way before I was even thought of.  My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather both lived until I was about 6 years old so I had a chance to meet and play with them a bit.  I miss not having a lengthy and fun-loving relationship with them, the way my three grand daughters do with me and their other grandparents now.

I am thankful for them and they are extremely thankful us as well.

Gardening with the grand-girls!

We had our second annual “Gardening with Grandma” event yesterday and the beautiful weather we had enabled us to go full speed ahead with our project. We (me, all three girls, their moms and one dad) happily headed off to Home Depot and Lowe’s to shop for our fruit and vegetable garden. This year we planned on planting lettuce, carrot, tomato, eggplant and kale. Between both stores were able to get everything except the kale. I’m still hunting them down in the interim. We also picked up a strawberry and a grape plant. Hopefully someday the girls can have their own strawberry patch and vineyard to pick from! GardeningPYTs5-15-10


We arrived home and the girls could not wait to dig in! That’s a picture of Sage and me laying out the carrot seeds. Of course I got a lesson on not being scared of earthworms as the noise I made when the first one appeared made them look at me as if to say, “What is her problem?” I’M SCARED OF ANYTHING THAT WIGGLES!!!! That’s my problem!! Has always been!

My first encounter with a wriggler was at age 8 when my mom gave me some beans to open up their pods and wash them. Out came this feisty green worm and let me tell you! The whole container (peas, pods, worm and all) went flying high up into the air, followed by the most blood-curdling scream you ever heard! What? Have a worm crawl on my hand? Are you nuts? They probably would have to bury me that day! I was scared sick!!! Since that day all wrigglers – worms, caterpillars, snakes, maggots – whatever they may be – were enemies of mine. The earthworm was no different. Just let me see one wriggling across the sidewalk or in the yard anywhere. Usain Bolt – you try to catch me!! It’s bad – really bad and the children saw my response to the earthworm and gave me a thorough lesson. “Grandma! Worms are good for the soil! You’re scaring them!” The nerve of them! I’M SCARING THE WORMS! They weren’t even worried about me!! They were worried about the darn worm!!! Well I never!!!! However, to my surprise, I was able to continue gardening (with gloves on of course) even after a few of them lazily slithered on by. I had to keep it down for the girls’ sake – and so I did.

Anyhow, the girls each got their turn at digging the area, planting the sucker or seed, covering them with soil, then mulch and the grand finale – watering them all! They absolutely loved it! Little Amayah (the youngest) served mostly as the security guard, yelling at Sage to “get back over here, Sagie” when Sage tried sauntering off a bit, and “Marley, wait until Grandma says yes” when Marley tried watering before it was time. It was so much fun with them!

They are now anxiously awaiting the appearance of the tiny suckers so they can see their own handiworks. Last year the girls (except the youngest – Amayah – she was still too young) planted eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, thyme and sage and were ecstatic watching them all grow. Even more exciting to them was eating what they grew!! So the journey has begun and you’ll be kept abreast at the various stages – the growing, reaping, eating…the whole nine!


Making time to do things…

As I continue in my role of caregiver, mother, grandmother, sibling, auntie, student, friend, member of the greatest Caribbean folk singing group (more roles to be added as I go along), I’m finding that … wow – I do have the time to do the things I want and love to do. Over the years, my eldest brother Max (love him forever) always had this ready response of “I don’t have the time, man!” to say to anyone when asked how come he didn’t do such and such. I would laugh and say to him “you mean you won’t make the time!” I used to believe him! I used to believe that no one can possibly do more than a certain amount of things in a given day. What a myth!! Personally, I wish I had more waking hours in a day (I try to maximize mine but end of paying for it when sleep comes knocking). There is soooooo much you can do if you properly organize your time!

I’ve created a schedule for myself. Each year for the last five years, I purchase a calendar – the book form – which shows the whole month and enough space for each day to make my entries. I cannot survive without my calendar! I use the calendar in Outlook quite a bit as well and the reminders in it helps me tremendously. My calendar has an entry for everything so when I make my schedule it includes classes, homework time, study time, sewing lessons (yes, doing this again as I loved it as a young girl and plan to start doing alterations and garment construction again), work out, personal grooming (hair, brow, nails, etc.), time with the PYT’s (my grand-daughters), singing practice, medical/dental appts., visiting and bonding with my adult children, calling or hanging with my siblings and girlfriends, etc. Yes – I schedule each and every one of these activities! It really, really works when done this way! I’m now seeing where pockets of time in the day were previously being wasted and I now look forward to checking my calendar every day because I know what’s coming up ahead. Why didn’t someone tell me this before?

Grandma goes to school?

During my Humanities class last Thursday, my 5-year old grand-daughter Marley, sent me a text (yes she knows how to, reads very fluently and speaks very well) just saying hello.  After class, I returned her text and she replied asking me what was I doing. I told her I was on my way home from school.  She then sent me a text saying “call me”, so I did.

“Hi my li’l Mar…how are you?” “I’m fine grandma…grandma! I didn’t know grandmas go to school?” “Some of them do,” I replied. “But how come?” she asked. “I thought school was for children?” I then proceeded to explain to her that for some adults who never had the chance earlier on in their lives to complete their education, they return to school later in life to do so.  She wanted to know if there were children in my class, if the teacher was younger than I was, if there were other grandmas and grandpas in the class…all sorts of questions.  I could picture her little face when she hit me with the barrage of questions.

After answering them all as best as I could, she said she understood and wished me good luck, reminding me to make sure I always do my homework! Look at what I’ve now  lived to see…my grand-daughter reminding me about my schoolwork! It was such a great feeling! She now knows that anyone can go to school at any age, as long as you have the drive and the desire to complete your education…which by the way, I do. I’m in the process of completing my degree.

I believe I’m setting an example for her and my other grandchildren to show the importance of education.