Our Unschooling Journey | The Week in Review

We had a busy week lined up. We’re a family that likes to be pretty busy socially and this week was one of the busiest ones we’ve had in a while.

Monday started with watching the movie Frozen and spontaneously Hannah decided that she would take the washing off the line. I asked her how she would reach the clothes and she told me she would figure it out. Blake quickly followed her outside and several minutes later Daisy and I went to see how they were going. This was the scene that greeted me….

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I had to laugh. I had initially imagined them standing on chairs but they obviously had a better idea. They worked really well as a team, negotiating how to hang the clothes and balancing on the cars at the same time.

Hannah began folding the dry towels and tea-towels off the line from the age of two and half, she always enjoyed it and now chooses to help fold the washing about once a week on average. A couple of years ago when she was 4, she went through a stage where she hung the wet washing out, took it off, brought it inside, folded it all, and then put all the dry washing aways. That phase lasted a few weeks and Blake who was only 2 at the time, often helped her as much as he could. It was very sweet and recently that seems to be an interest area again. Hannah has now taught Blake how to fold the towels and sort the clothes and all this week they have done the washing together. They’re putting another load out right now as I’m typing this! This is incredibly helpful to our family as a whole, not to mention a very important living skill to learn. Inside, Daisy was learning a life skill too – eating yogurt from a spoon ūüôā

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Later, we had planned to go to the a library screening¬†of Class Dismissed that a local unschooling group had organised with friends. On the way in the car the kids and I discussed bushfires and back-burning which has been a hot topic for the last few months. I then mentioned how beautiful the clouds looked as they were all swishy in the sky, which lead to a question about how rain is formed and we did a re-cap of what we already knew about rain. Hannah wondered why it fell down to the ground and I told them about gravity reminding them about the recent movies we had seen about space and how there is no gravity there. After a few minutes of thought, Hannah asked what would happen if the rain wasn’t able to fall down on the ground and I asked her what she thought would be the case. She hypothesized that all the plants, trees and grass would become too dry. I told her this term has a name – drought – and that currently many regional areas in Australia are experiencing that reality. Weather has always been a keen interest here for a number of years and is something we discuss again and again every couple of months as new questions arise and old information is solidified.

Tuesday is our regular meet-up day with our conscious parenting group and we always look forward to being outdoors and enjoying the day with our friends. After a few months of meeting in the national park, we’re back to discovering at our local city farm.

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Hannah was really looking forward to being able to paint her face and body with clay. There was also lots of mixing with sand, water, dirt and clay with friends, experimenting with making different concoctions. Their favourite was making them look like chocolate milkshakes.

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Tuesday’s really are our constant in our week. We always meet with our group during the day and then go to my parents house that night for dinner. My two younger siblings still live at home, and Hannah and Blake are currently loving learning about video games from my brother.

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Hannah also took a quiet moment to do some reading. She isn’t reading full sentences yet but lately she is really picking up a lot of books and I’ve really been trying to model reading my own books in front of them more too along with our regular reading we do every day.

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Wednesday was our home day. Playing with our toy animals is a current favourite and they’ve also set up an animal hospital so they’re always checking over their soft toys and healing them of their various ailments.

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On Thursday morning we visited with friends. The kids just adore coming here and exploring the different toys, activities and arts and crafts that are freely available. We don’t currently have any smaller Lego at home, so Blake is always quite drawn to building with it.

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Hannah always gets stuck into the art and spent most of her time in there creating alone and with her friends. Us parents enjoyed a lot of great conversation while the kids played, and I really believe because they all have a lot of autonomy, respect and freedom in their homes, this extends to their play too as it was and often is very peaceful and collaborative.

That afternoon a storm rolled in which ended up being incredibly fierce and causing a lot of damage closer to the city. Thankfully we had no damage and because the kids were all at the shops with Brian when it came, it felt like a big adventure to Hannah and Blake as they got wet on the run to the car. The storm of-course sparked questions about storm formation and  hail, which connected nicely with the weather conversation we had had earlier in the week.

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We had planned a park play the next day with a friend but it was still raining on and off so we met at a kid-friendly cafe. On our drive we saw a few houses who had had trees fall on their roofs which really surprised them. As we said good-bye to our friends, Hannah decided to collect some of the fallen blooms from the Poinciana trees for our nature table. On our walk back to the car we found some more flowers, seeds and leaves and discussed the names of the ones we knew and decided to check our nature encyclopedia for the ones we didn’t at home.

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Hannah and I painted some trees back at home and made a nature mandala with the collection she had acquired that morning.

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Saturday was a very busy day. The kids watched Brian fix a car, and asked a million questions about radiators and engines. After all their questions had been answered they settled in for a spot of cloud-watching on the cardboard box.

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As always there was lots painting, much of it reflecting what we’ve been talking about or doing during this week.

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That night we went along to the local Christmas Carols and met my parents there. Hannah and Blake were so excited to go on the rides. They each chose two rides to do together and one that they preferred to do alone because the other didn’t particularly like that ride. I really like seeing their individuality coming out in different ways as they get older. Blake really dislikes heights so it was the motorbikes for him and the ferris wheel for Hannah, who loves them!

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We settled in to watch the carols when it got dark and Blake chose to go to sleep on the rug soon after dinner. Hannah was getting tired but desperately wanted to see the fireworks and her expression when she saw them was worth the wait! I think it’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen fireworks at an event so she would have been too young to remember previous experiences. Blake and Daisy slept right through them

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On Sunday morning we decided to put up the Christmas tree and our advent table. Our tree is quite large and the branches are letter coded to make it easy to put up so this year Hannah and Blake put up most of it and they were really proud of themselves.

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We then decorated the tree and set up our advent table. All the fun starts tomorrow morning and we’re really excited for our month-long December celebrations. You can read more about our Christmas traditions here.

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Our unschooling journey is ours – it’s a representation of how we live and therefore, how we learn. Our children have the freedom to question, wonder, experiment, play, create and explore at will. The photos and words in these weekly excerpts are just an overview and based on the memory I have of the weeks events. There will have been more learning than I could possibly cover here happening in the minds of each of my children every day. And there is a lot of ‘real life’ that happens in our weeks too – lots of negotiation, compromise, frustration and tantrums – because all of that is a part of living and learning, together. I hope you enjoy our week in review, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them :).

Don’t forget to check out Memoirs of a Childhood, Happiness is Here, Racheous – Lovable Learning and An Everyday Story to see all the fun and discovery happening in their week too!

Family Camping with our Tribe

During my pregnancy with Blake I became increasingly desperate for a community of like-minded families to surround ours in support and friendship. I tried a few different groups and then finally struck gold when Blake was a few months old. These mamas were exactly what I was looking for and our connections have meant so much to me and my family over the last 4 years.

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Something we began doing as a group a couple of years ago was camping! Brian and I had already been camping with the kids a few times before and this was exactly how we enjoyed our holidays, so to do it with our friends was a bonus.

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We began camping two to three times a year and increasingly our locations turned bush, which lead to Brian and I really falling in love with basic, bush camping. This time we went to a farm-stay which has more amenities than we normally have, but with three small kids, it’s always welcomed!

We had such a great time. We drove down interstate to the camping location the day before everyone else did, and the kids lit a small campfire and toasted a few marshmallows to celebrate.

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The site we had booked as a group was quite sunny, so the children were able to witness a lot of discussion and negotiation as we all worked out how to set up our ‘living areas’ (lots of gazebos pushed together to create our kitchen, eating and lounging zones).

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The kids were always around, helping in their own little ways ūüėČ

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The dam was incredible and we spent quite a bit of time there. Hannah loved the kayaks and enjoyed paddling them with or without me or Brian joining her. ¬†Blake was slightly more hesitant, but with the dam water being so murky I couldn’t really blame him. It was so calming just being there among the water-lillies and the dragonflies. I love being in new environments, and for the children it always sparks their creativity and imaginations.

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One of the plans us mamas had while camping as a group, was to indulge in some yoga, chanting and meditation together. Many of us have been on a journey of self-discovery and self-love this year, and yoga and meditation were some activities that quite a few of us had enjoyed before, so we wanted to share that as a group.  It was beautiful to connect in this way, whilst also nourishing ourselves as people first.

The children were free to join in as they pleased and most of the older kids got right into it, especially with some of the more up-beat chanting music that we had available. A friend and I had been to a Kundalini yoga retreat a month prior and most of that music is very uplifting and positive.  Even Daisy tried out a few yoga poses! On the last day, all our partners sat and supported us by watching us and the kids, and it was lovely to have their encouraging presence around us while we took time to care for ourselves. So beautifully nourishing and revitalising.

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Of-course being a farmstay, there were quite a few animals to feed and pat and cuddle so the kids spent many hours enjoying those experiences. Hannah and Blake predictably adored the bunnies and were devastated that we couldn’t take a couple home (they’re considered a pest in our state).

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We even discovered a Mulberry tree on the property and the kids were excited to climb the trees and taste as many Mulberry’s as they liked.

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Apart from the animals, the campfire every night was a sacred, much-anticipated event for the kids and the adults alike. The first camping trip we went on where we were able to light a big campfire, we set up a rope around the perimeter and explained to the children to stay on the outside of it. So many people had expressed their surprise at doing a big fire with small children around, but like with everything a lot of trust and a little adult supervision means the children have always been free to enjoy it as the amazing experience that it is.

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Five days, eleven families, and over twenty children under the age of 6 enjoying nature, time together, exploring and learning… well, I call that a successful holiday!!!

Unschooling Mentoring Sessions

Are you interested in Unschooling?

Do you need help with how to start unschooling?

Are you searching for support and understanding while moving towards this new way of being with your children?

Unschooling is not a trend or an ideology; it is a framework of connection, respect and trust between children and their parents. It also about more than educating at home, it is a lifestyle of learning through living and a deep understanding that the two are never seperate.

I know it can seem overwhelming to decide to take the leap into your own unschooling journey, and that is why I’m here! I’m here to be your support person, your sounding board, your information and resource centre¬†and your guide, as you re-condition your beliefs about living with and educating children.

This is the sort of service I wish was around 5 years ago when I was doing the bulk of my research. I had so many questions and concerns and I had very few people to turn to. If you’re in that situation, please know, you’ve got me now!

I’ve been in your shoes and I know all your worries, I can be there alongside you as you discover this lifestyle for yourself. If you feel in your heart that¬†unschooling¬†is right for your family, then don’t hesitate to contact me via email or the contact form for a free, no obligation 15 minute Skype Discovery Session where we can get to know each other better.

I felt called to offer these sessions because even though there is a plethora of parenting advice and information on the internet, there is often little to no support to make those positive changes we desire to make in our parenting journeys. It can feel incredibly overwhelming, especially so if the responses to your decisions from family and friends are negative and critical – this is where true, emphatic support is invaluable.

 I am so happy to now be able to offer a personalised one-on-one Mentoring Session for only $70 per call, where I can focus solely on you and your unique experiences.

We will connect via a Skype Call and I will offer you real-life support with all your Unschooling questions and concerns. You can always add on sessions if you feel you would like more support and I do offer a 90 day package for those of you who would like consistent weekly support.

During the Mentoring Sessions, I offer you the knowledge I have learned over the last seven years of reading and research combined with my degree in Human Services which helps me see the bigger picture Рthe social conditioning and outside systems Рthat make an impact  on all our lives. More than that though, I offer you my experience and guidance as a woman and mama, and although I am not an expert (and will never claim to be), I am here to be the friend and support that you may not have in your every day life.

If you feel that you are ready to step into a more connected and conscious way to parent and educate and you like what you see here, contact me for all the session and investment details. I look forward to connecting with you, and working together to create your best possible life for you and your family.

Email me at hello@hippyhappymama.com or use the contact form below.

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Testimonials

Dear Andi, I would like to express my gratitude for the ideas and support you have provided for me and my family on our conscious parenting journey. Over the years I have come to you will all sorts of concerns and dilemmas. Your support, encouragement and advice has always been so helpful. You seem to have a natural ability to see clearly and different perspectives on a situation, where I would be feeling overwhelmed, lost and confused. Your advice hasn’t just help my connection with and understanding of my children but also helped me sort out a lot of ‘stuff’ that’s been going on inside of me. I can see now that my children are a reflection of what’s going on for me at the times when things aren’t flowing.¬† This realisation has set me free and we’re all enjoying the journey of a heart to heart communication as a family. My hope is for all families to become aware of the deep connection that is available to them through conscious parenting. Thank you. ¬†
K.H. QLD.

Every now and then there are moments in your life where you think “Geez, if I hadn’t had that conversation I don’t know where we would’ve ended up?!” This has happened twice to me since meeting Andi. I am a pretty confident, independent woman but for some reason I really struggled to incorporate this aspect of myself into my parenting. I doubted so many of the decisions I made early on in my daughters life because they weren’t socially conventional. Fortunately, by chance, I met Andi and her family and she provided me with the support and information I needed to help me gain confidence as a parent. Andi’s reflective and questioning nature means she is full of insight and information that has been such a gift to my family and me. It’s not every day you meet a mama who is so switched on, informed and passionate about parenting the way that Andi is. I have seen first hand how her experience and understanding has helped families really learn to enjoy each other and the lives they live together. If you have any questions about authentic parenting, conscious parenting, unschooling, natural birthing (to name just a few), a session with Andi would be well worth your time!! ¬†–¬†Bel, Tash and Lex , VIC.[contact_form]

Dearest Blake – Happy 4th Birthday!

To my dearest Blake,

Oh Darling boy! You’re four!!!

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You’re so excited to be another year older, bigger and stronger and able to do more things. You kept telling us of the things you will do once you turn 4 – like click in your own seat-belt which you’ve refused to do because you were “only 3” ūüėČ – so I’m sure this birthday is an incredibly important milestone in your life. We’re so happy to share it with you Blake. You’re such a special child and you truly add to our family in the most amazing way.

You’re still our most affectionate child. You often murmur, “Babies are so lovely.” as you stroke Daisy’s little cheeks. It’s been the most adorable relationship to watch grow. As a parent the best thing is when your children really, really love each other, so watching you love your sisters is so beautiful for me to see. I hope you always keep that bond strong. They’ll both be there for you through anything and everything.

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Your physicality hit a new high since you turned three. You began using pencils as shotguns (the most pointy thing we have in our home!) just out of the blue! Hannah found it quite disconcerting so I had a flashbulb of an idea for you to aim your fierceness at the tree downstairs and you loved it. The tree and you connected in a way that only a boy and a tree can ;).

There have been some extremely challenging moments as well. Many, many boundaries were pushed and tested and still are. And because of your physicality when upset, my patience and limits were often pushed too far. It’s something we’re working on together and I know this stage has it’s process and we just need to go through it.

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You also rarely stop moving. One of our favourite things to do lately is tell each other stories and your whole body moves when it’s your turn! Your gestures, your dramatic jumps in the air and your crouching down and whispering during the suspenseful moments almost send me into hysterics. It’s never dull with you around Blake!

This year, we had a party planned for you, but we noticed during Hannah and Daisy’s parties that you became quite withdrawn and clingy and then fell asleep half-way through. We were concerned that your party would have the same effect so we had a chat with you and offered you the options – to have a party with family and friends as planned or to just have immediate family over and a cake and without hesitation you chose the latter. So with only weeks to go we canceled your party and just had family over to celebrate you turning 4!

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Your favourite things at the moment are playing with your cars, watching 4×4 videos on YouTube, playing imaginative games with your friends, asking me what all the words on all the signage we see says, being a knight, and going on adventures.

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We love you Blake, you’re an amazing little boy and we know you have so much to share with us. I can’t wait to get to know you even better in this 4th year of yours. I hope it’s your best one yet!!!

Love, Mama xx

Hannah’s 6th Birthday Party!

Hannah began planning her 6th birthday party soon after her 5th had finished. She decided she wanted a unicorn/mermaid/fairy/castle themed party and that she wanted to colour her hair pink and purple. So began my year long search to make her wishes a reality!

We discovered ‘hair chalk’ which didn’t end up being as bright as she had imagined, but she was impressed with it. It ended up washing out after a fun swim in the pool soon after the party started anyway!

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And then I had to figure out how to incorporate her chosen theme into one birthday cake!
It all came together in the end and it was a lovely simple party. All her favourite things with all her favourite people means Hannah was a very happy girl. She’s such a gracious child and I always love seeing how much she enjoys the planning and celebrating of parties.

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