How do you measure success?

Free Range LearningHave you heard of Free Range Learning (FRL)? Basically, it’s the idea of learning while living.  Of exploring the world around you.  I want to cultivate that in my children.

When we first moved to the country and were starting to homeschool, my children would not go anywhere without shoes, or without me.  DD was 6 and DS was 5.  It was just what they were used to.  I would try to get them to tickle their feet in the grass, walk in a puddle, go outside on the swing while I did laundry, all to no avail.

I remember playing outside at my Nana’s when I was little.  My Pop Pop always had empty pie tins all around the yard he fed the oodles of cats in.  I would take them and make mud pies and include anything I could find to garnish them with.  My favorite garnish were flowers from my Nana’s Gardenia bush.  I wanted that type of play and exploration for my children.

But, they spent their early years in the suburbs of a very busy city, with a very busy road in the back of our house.  We never left them alone, even in our fenced in yard.  And barefoot?  Maybe a handful of times, but it was rare and certainly not something they sought out.

Then, one day a couple months after moving to the country, I realized that the kids were outside, by themselves.  Wow, ok, don’t panic…let’s just peak out on them.

I found them, barefoot, using a garden shelf as an oven and making mud pies!!! Free Range Learning success!

Free Range Learning/Unschooling

Mud pies!

Oh my gosh you guys, I was thrilled! To me, making mud pies was a rite of passage, a mark of a true country childhood.  An example of their imaginations blossoming, exploring the world around them, of making something out of nothing, all on their own initiation.

This, however silly it may seem, was the sign to me that we made the right decision and were on the right path with this crazy homeschooling idea.  They were after all, pretending to run a bakery, outside, together, with mud!

Free Range Learning/Unschooling

Mud pie batter

These days, my DS frequently goes outside without shoes.  Even in the winter time.  The postmaster asked him once if his feet were tough, because she saw him at a local campground walking on pine shats and pinecones barefoot!  We even drove half an hour away one time before he realized he DIDN’T HAVE SHOES!

Thank goodness Dollar Tree sells cheapo crocks, saved us on that day.

The kids still remember that day, and look back on it fondly.  It was only 5 years ago! When I showed them the pics, they said “ah, memories” and “I remember that day!”  Warms my heart.

Now, we have a Fresh Air Fund child come and stay with us for a week or two in the summer.  He’s from the big ole New York City!  We try to impart that same freedom, exploration, and imagination with him.  Last summer was his second summer with us, and he made it about 20 feet from the deck to the trampoline barefoot.  I’ll take it, it’s a start. 😉

How about you?

What type of homeschooling are you trying out?  There are so many methods and blends.

What successes have you seen in your homeschool?  Leave a tale in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

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