Minna, Northern Ontario, Single Mom with Two Children

Minna wrote that she is a 36 yr old single mother, with high functioning autism. mother to Mika, (12 yr old boy "labelled" with aspergers syndrome, ADHD, SID, Dyslexia) and Michelle (9 1/2 yr old girl "labelled" with Aspergers Syndrome, SID), rain-dog the husky, and Jasper the Samoyed. On October 1, 2002, she described their early unschooling, and below is a report after their first year, so the children might have had birthdays since the first bio note above.
We are living on the shores of a mystical northern Ontario lake, in a small trailer house, 47 km from the nearest "northern Ontario underserviced town."

Here we reside, adjacent to the den of the mother bear and her two cubs, lingering on the shores of a large deep lake with 22,000 miles of shoreline, cradled by pines, poplar, birch and maples, atop rocks of the Canadian shield.

This is our first year unschooling.
We are not proficient at this endeavour.

Update in June, 2003:

Spring is softly welcoming summer and the black flies are hungrier then ever. our lake, dropped her ice, on May 6th, while we watched the small crystals sinking.... as we warmed up in the sauna, and son bravely swam among the icy crystals.

Much has happened in the last winter, since writing here.

We embarked on our unschooling journey, with enthusiasm, as well as some feelings of uncertainty. . . .

This winter we have learned:

  • how to chop and pile a cord of wood so it will stay dry, the pile won't fall over and the wood is able to breath in the breeze.

  • how to start a fire in the sauna, even with minimal amount of matches, (2 lol) semi-damp wood.

  • how to determine when a squirrel is living on its last days, because of worm infestation.

  • how to skin a squirrel, and tan the hide, of course son's idea was to make a fur coat for his sister's Barbie out the squirrel hide. Now, this northern Ontario Barbie prances around in the latest squirrel attire, and both kids are proud.

  • how to build a website (beyblades) on one of sons strongest interests.

  • how to customize beyblades, with glue gun, pennies, nails, and macaroni.

  • how to shop for foods economically, while seeking best nutritious value. recently, we went to the science centre here, and son seen all the school kids there eating their lunch. He said, "Mom, those kids think that a fruit roll up makes up for a fruit serving, a granola bar with marshmallows and cream is a breads and grain serving with a dairy serving thrown in, and a make-your-preservative-laden-pizza would be the meat serving".

  • the kids learned how to properly shovel and upkeep a regular size ice rink (and that it takes us all 4 1/2 hours to shovel a rink that large on one of those heavy wet snow days).

  • how to skate, and ice fish.

  • how to build shelters in the bush, that even a bear might like to retire in.

  • both kids have learned about playing well with each other, (now they actually like each other's company!) and appreciate each other's talents/gifts.

  • explored Harvest Moon, Harry Potter, Starcraft, The Sims and Zelda video/computer games to their fullest extent.

  • both kids took swimming lessons, with son passing through five levels. It turns out, he was asked if he would like to join a swim team, but he later explained "swimming is just not my thing, now, if they were asking me to join a video game team, I would go."

    In fact, for the first time, son actually took some thought to his future as a teenager. He indicated that he wanted to pass the swimming classes, and the "aquatic leadership" program he was in, so that he could become a lifeguard at a public beach, or a kids camp when he is old enough.

    . . . .

    After all this experience, son says he wants to be in school. Why?
    because he wants to go to a grade 8 graduation!
    . . . . Am worried and frustrated with this option.
    But, also want to do it for him, since he wants to go there.

    The first thing the school said, was that they needed a portfolio of his work this year.!
    AAAGGHH!!! we dont have anything like that.
    And the meeting with the school board would be June 26th. They said, they would like his portfolio as soon as possible.

    sigh. :o(

    He said, he would just like to send them his squirrel hide.

    Other typical unschooling days