~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~
Review & Reflections
Free Range Learning:
How Homeschooling Changes Everything
by Laura Grace Weldon
If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.
This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.
Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.
In Chapter 12 – Physical Education & Health Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core required subjects” of homeschooling. She emphasizes how building daily healthy habits for our mind and body will have benefits for a lifetime. Both movement and play as well as what we eat and how we rest all lead to how we experience our lives.
Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.
Move More, P.L.A.Y. More, Get Outdoors, and Oh So Much More!
Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures and this includes being active and healthy.
Healthy Activities –Here is a sample of healthy activities that our kiddos participated in over the years:
- hip hop
- ice skating
- outdoor games at local park (w/shout out to our favorite Trevor the Games Man!)
- raising goats
- roller blading
- running 3K races
- swim & gym
- weight lifting
These activities were done in a mix of solo moments or in multi-age homeschool group gatherings or with the public at large.
Costs were kept down by borrowing or purchasing used equipment, approaching businesses to host homeschool sessions during slow daytime (school) hours at a lower price, and simply being selective with our activities so that many of them were cost free = just your time!
And the bonus benefit was so many of these involved time spent in nature – walking, photographing, sketching, playing, wandering, hiking, gardening, painting, sledding, laughing, engaging, listening, etc. = P.L.A.Y.-ing
Healthy Eating – Eating 3 or more times a day makes this an important relationship and connection for each person to figure out. How your body feels, fueled vs. fatigued, is directly related to physical activity and eating habits. As a homeschool family we had the opportunity to model what nourishes our bodies and learn together over time how to improve what we consumed to fuel and fulfill us daily. Over the years we have had many discussions on what we want to eat and why. The kiddos have been actively involved in the grocery trips and weekly CSA farm trips to pick our foods for over nearly 20 years – a skill for a lifetime of choices ahead. And with medical situations as a prompt we shifted together to a plant based diet, attended a conference as a family to learn more about this lifestyle, and over time we have stayed mostly plant based reaping the benefits and still having the flexibility for individuals to make adjustments to meet their own health needs.
And although both of my grown kiddos would say that our hours spent picking blueberries, strawberries, apples, and veggies at our local CSAs to fill our pantry and freezer were not always their favorite outdoor moments they do both value fresh local foods and love to consume them.
Healthy Body Awareness – When it comes time for the conversations about the “birds & bees” I have three things to say:
- Look no further – go directly to the library, book store, or the link below and get the series by Robie H. Harris as the perfect story time and conversation launching point for all your healthy body awareness conversations at all ages and stages. We used these books together, one-on-one, and solo and have recommended them to families with kiddos ever since. She begins at age 4 with It’s Not the Stork! so it is never too early to get a copy and take a look to familiarize yourself with what is ahead!
- Be honest, be brave, have the courage to say I need to get back to you on that so you have time to think through your answers, and ALWAYS take your kiddos cues for how much information they are ready for by the questions they are asking. Too much information overloads the circuits and can get lost or misunderstood. Too little information may lead them to asking questions from other sources that provide myths or misinformation. Be present and be willing to revisit these topics again and again as your kiddos are trusting you to help guide their understanding of healthy body awareness. FYI -shaming is never welcome, especially to these talks as there is no such thing as a bad question and your kiddos curiosity is what will fuel healthy conversations and keep them coming back to learn more if they feel it is a safe space.
- We had the good fortune of also having some brave and compassionate parents in our homeschool co-op that were willing to take on the role of having challenging conversations with open and honest answers while teens explored these topics even further in safe and informed spaces.
Healthy Sense of Self & Relationships- Anxiety, stress, depression, have all become common everyday occurrences, especially for this technology driven generation. It is up to us as parents to model and help our kiddos have an awareness of coping strategies and building resilience. Three sources have helped inform how we have “raised” ourselves and our kiddos:
- Becoming familiar with the 24 Character Strengths & Values created by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson who are pioneers in the field of Positive Psychology. Visit the Values in Action website so you and your family can take a survey and see which are your strengths and how you lead with them everyday. This is a game changer for making long lasting connected relationships.
- Wholehearted Living – The work of Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability and her sharing of it in her multiple books has made all the difference in how I am as a parent, partner, daughter, friend, and in all of my relationships and has rippled out to my family, community, and beyond. If you only have the chance to read one of her books I’d say her latest, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts has all the basics for how to create trusting and vulnerable relationships while holding healthy boundaries = wholehearted living. I will be doing a separate BOOK LOOK series in the future to cover her amazing and necessary work.
- Conflict Resolution, Sociocracy, Compassionate Communication are all models that we have had experience with together as a family in our various homeschool co-ops and in our intentional community. What we have found over the years is that there are many great strategies and guide posts that are woven throughout these models and it takes time, trial and error, to figure out what works best for you, your family, and the communities you engage with over time. They all require effort and doing the hard homework and plenty of practice AND are all worth looking into and discovering what is a good fit for your healthy lifestyle.
Chapter 13 in this series can be found HERE.
As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.
Visit and support your local library and request these books!
~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~
Robie H. Harris –
It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends (age 4 and up)
It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (age 7 and up)
Brene Brown –
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.Ryan Niemiec & Robert McGrath –
The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality
Marshall Rosenberg –
Nonviolent Communication: A Language for Life
Online – How to videos – Dance, Yoga, Tai Chi, Archery, Aerobics, Weight Lifting, etc.
Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books
and join the P.L.A.Y.-filled journey today!