Monday, August 27, 2012

Finding Our Groove: Unschooling Conference Style

This was our third year attending the Northeast Unschooling Conference which meant many things fell into a natural flow for us, be it the packing before or the rhythm or days (or nights). We know exactly what we need to bring now, what can be left at home, how early we'll wake and how late we'll stay up. For instance, this year Olivia brought a cot to sleep on, since she anticipated coming to bed very late and didn't want to wake anyone. She had her routine down by our first day; back to the room by 5am, pajamas laid out ahead of time, shower before bed and finally, sleep and up by 9am to go again. This year too, Alex and I noticed that we didn't sleep with one eye open anymore and our familiarity with the late night routine no longer provokes any anxiety in us. The kids have their phones, their own room keys, and they too, know everyone. (All I worry about now is my teens' abilities to sustain such a late night/early morning pace, but they're pretty sturdy people, that way.)

someone came in around 5am #NEUC #NortheastUnschoolingConference #unschooling #teens

One of the things we know we must pack, is our own coffee maker, dictated by our own 3am bedtimes and for simplicity. We easily found our morning routine again of making coffee while one of us showered, having coffee and maybe a simple breakfast snack, getting down to the first talk or funshop of the morning and meeting again for lunch. One of the talks I was most excited to hear and one that Alex and I enjoyed immensely, was presented by our friend Julie Persons, and titled There Is Always A Way. Her talk focused on her passion for photography and how that has been incorporated into and has allowed her journey into unschooling. She had so many wise and wonderful insights.

Through unschooling, a child learns that his options are many and varied and he holds the power to choose what he loves. If we embrace what they love and support their interests, our children will know that their ideas have value and their passions are important. - Julie Persons

Another talk my family always finds illuminating and affirming, is Erika's Unschooling Diversity discussion. We always meet so many fascinating people, or are reacquainted with friends and we get to share in their experiences about their varied paths to unschooling.

On Friday, Alex was part of the Dad's Panel, where many of the dads share their unschooling paths, their challenges and their experiences.

the dads panel at #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling

While the kids attended some of the talks, they also attended funshops or simply gathered with friends around the art table, or in Adam's case, hosted a funshop (on Minecraft, naturally.) This year, Olivia stretched her comfort zone and participated in all the contra dancing.

creating happens here #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling
contra dancing #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling

During Friday evening's talent show, Olivia was part of the contra dance group, Adam and Olivia both revived their Portal and Portal 2 end credit songs act and Olivia sang a solo, a capella piece from The Killers. It's always fun seeing the great variety acts from children and adults of all ages.

Olivia sings I Can't Stay

contra dancing to Rolling In The Deep

On Saturday, Alex was a pretty big hit with many people, when he introduced the uber-geek board game Talisman to everyone.

Talisman in the game room #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling
Talisman #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling #instalater

I joined Olivia, briefly, in the Artist Trading Card (ATC) room, and not feeling very inspired in my tired state, I only managed to create one, but I did have a lovely chat with my friend.

in the artist trading card room #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling #atc
artist trading card by moi #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling #atc

Olivia, however, did create a handful of cards, since making ATCs is a recently acquired hobby of hers.

artist trading card making #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling #ATC

After reconnecting a bit over dinner out as a family, our batteries felt suitably recharged for the evening ahead. The goal was to have loads of fun gaming, talking, connecting, laughing and dancing for many hours into the night. Many people, including Olivia, dressed up for the dance, while others were content to simply sit in small groups and chat.

dinner break #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling
laughing with friends #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling
talking and laughing until early morning #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling

At some point well after midnight, Adam and Alex set up a game table behind our group and predictably, Erika joined them and oh, the laughing. Those three were having a grand time and the rest of us were so tickled by their good natured razzing and teasing of each other.

gaming long after midnight #neuc #northeastunschoolingconference #unschooling

Alex and I called it a night around 3am (while we were still having fun) and Adam followed soon after and Olivia came in around 6am. It may seem extreme to lose so much sleep during a conference to some, but it's a great time to connect and I think each of us, finally finding our groove, didn't want any of it to end. Those hours logged with friends is a testament to the fun had, to the growth and learning that occurs during wee hour intellectual exercise. It was a good conference, and Sunday as we hugged our friends goodbye, we left with our hearts and minds full of music and laughing and connections made that will continue to inspire and energize us throughout the year.

1 comment:

  1. I hope my family can attend a conference sometime soon. It sounds so special.



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