Why Legos Suck

In other words, this blog is not endorsed by Lego.  Besides the fact that they are a big Waldorf no-no (pretty much the exact opposite of a Waldorf toy), there are plenty of reasons why you want to avoid bringing Legos into your home.

Now, I was a girl raised in the eighties and early nineties and so, though my brothers played with Legos, I myself missed the boat on them and was instead engrossed in all kinds of “girl” toys like Barbies and My Little Ponies and Care Bears and all that useless middle class plastic tripe.  I “never liked them”, “wasn’t into them”, and no one questioned any of that.

Now, I have a daughter and two sons and some of you probably know that I have come to loathe gender stereotypes in my adulthood and make it my personal mission to raise my kids with as little of their influence as possible.  It’s harder than it looks.  I’ll be damned if I sit back and let society tell my kids who they should be, what they should act like, and what they should play with based on their gender.  I.  Will.  Be.  Damned.

So, it’s no surprise then that a toy that was off limits to me as a child is one that I feel especially compelled to bring into my home and introduce specifically to my daughter.  That and I feel that Lego somehow weaseled its way into the public mind as being tied to math and engineering skills.  I vaguely remember my elementary school using Lego sets at one point or another to teach us…I dunno, spatial awareness or something.  Nicely played, Lego, just offer every elementary school in the country free Lego kits for their classrooms and you just bought yourself a ticket to ride.  (No, I’m not cynical at all:)

Well, we’ve been living with Legos amongst us for a few months now, cohabitating with them, and I can tell you, its no bed of roses.  There are a lot of terrible things about Legos and lots and lots of reasons NOT to even open up that can of worms for yourself.  Please learn from my example.  Here are the reasons why you should NOT get your kids Legos.

1. They are expensive!  To even buy the smallest possible set for like a little car or something, you are going to be dropping 12-15 dollars.  But they are not going to be satisfied with the smallest set or one or two sets.  Once they get a taste for Legos, they start wanting the big sets and lots of sets.  It begins to add up very quickly.

2. The mess.  This category should really be expanded to have a bunch of subcategories because this cannot be understated.  So much of each day now is dedicated to picking Legos up off the ground.  Legos are like magic.  You pick up the last one and suddenly ten more appear.  As a side note: this might not be so bad for those with older kids.  My oldest is six, so not so good with picking up after themselves yet.

3. Choking.  My older two are fine.  However, Miles, the baby, the insatiable floor-scrounger, is another story.  If I had a dime for every Lego I pried from his little drooly mouth…

4. Frustration.  Again, this is really a younger kid thing, but my kids really are not old enough to play with Legos.  They don’t have the dexterity, patience and spatial intelligence to put together Lego sets or to fix them when they break, which is often.  This ends up causing a lot of tears (emotionally immature) and yelling.  And in my home we already have enough of those things.

5. Losing.  Despite all of the time I spend each day picking up Legos, Miles is much faster at throwing them and so many of them simply get lost.  So it shortly becomes impossible to re-construct the sets after one time.  I actually got a set or two at Christmas that I think never got built in the first place before a lot of the pieces got misplaced.  I try to have a special drawer for all of the instructions but good luck with that.  Now we have basically a giant basket of all of the Legos and just basically end up constructing our own Frankenstein versions which, believe me, are not pretty.

So, in conclusion, Legos suck for various reasons.  The end.

(I should put a disclaimer here, though, that I think by the time they are 10 or 11, they would have the skills to construct and fix their own Legos.  Also, if you have a real good system in place where you keep each set separate with its own instruction book, in like plastic containers or something, Legos might be ok.  Maybe.)

 

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what does unschooling look like?

Hey there.  Did you ask what does unschooling look like?  Well, that’s a very good question.  One that I am pretty much constantly asking myself and answering for myself as well, I guess.  To me, unschooling is pretty much just stepping outside of the standard education box and doing it your own way.  (The ultimate DIY?)  So, it can probably look very very different depending on the family.  I don’t necessarily think that unschooling has to mean totally devoid of any kind of structure.  On the contrary, though we often spend our days in pajamas until noon or later, our life is pretty simple and routine.  Not that we do the same things in the same order every day by any means.  Just that our life is based on a structure of values.  One of those being real-time simplicity at this point.  That means that I’m not rushing here and there to take my kids all over town but that the kids can count on our days being comprised of any combination of a short list of activities.

101

Such as visiting their grandparents.  We usually get over to their grandparents house once a week at least and spend an evening playing, eating and watching hockey.  Hockey night in Canada, any one? Eh?  (Or is it “ey”?   I dunno).  We also have a few friends and cousins that we see on a semi regular basis.  We either meet these people at a park or have them to our house.  No fancy rendezvous for us, thanks:)

039Being outside.  This picture was taken pretty recently and yes, that’s my baby barefoot outside in the middle of January.  What?  It was unseasonably warm!  I usually try to either take the kids around the block with their bikes, get to a park, walk in our local natural area, something, once per day.  This doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes it feels like going outside in any form must be some kind of cruel and unusual torture for the kids.  Yet, other times, like yesterday for instance, they were so enthralled with playing in the neighbor’s yard that they threw off their coats and wouldn’t come inside for hours.  My conclusion?  Neighbors are the secret ingredient to cold weather play.  If you don’t have any, get some.  If there are none in your neighborhood, move:)

108Free time.  Oh yes.  Lots of this.  To me, free time (also known to some as boredom) is the secret to a rich life of imagination and creativity).  It seems like many people are afraid of their kids getting bored.  I say, bring it on!  Children are nothing if not perpetually curious, playful and resourceful.  I’m just letting them utilize these inherent talents while I attend to more important things (such as laundry and dinner and maybe the occasional blog post, winky, winky).  By the way, don’t think that my kids are always playing together this cooperatively or idyllically in the background.  This shot is RARE.  They are often fighting or bickering and are usually quite unruly and mostly plain and simply LOUD.  Just early social navigation in my opinion.  Perfectly healthy if not always pretty.

106Then there’s this: just the hint of adult-led things like art projects to beautify our home, perhaps a modest circle time of some stories and songs, stuff like that.  (I’m sorry, did that say “ADULT-led”?  “Attn: would the real adult parent please stand up?  Repeat: would the real adult parent please stand up?  We’re gonna have a problem here.”  (Slim Shady, anyone?  no?  K’ guess it’s just me:))  This would be the Waldorf-inspired part of our homeschooling.

What about structure, you might be asking.  Or anything resembling school?  Well, there’s this, which is really just dabbling in teaching letters and reading the Waldorf way.

107I really would like Ruth to come to reading on her own terms because the last thing I want to do is make it unpleasant or something she dreads.  I thought I would try a few things and see if anything piqued her interest.  This is the way they teach reading in Waldorf schools, by turning each letter into a picture of something and having the kids write before they can read.  Ruth has a special book that she uses to copy these into, though often she doesn’t seem super into it, gets bored and doesn’t finish.  So….

The truth is, I’m really in no rush for her to read.  I am also not concerned about it.  I have confidence that she will read when she is ready.  I love reading.  The kids love being read to.  We read together every day.  Enjoying time spent reading is more of a priority for us than learning to read by any set time or age.  (Did that sound defensive?  I just re-read it and it did seem a little defensive.  That might be one of the biggest struggles of homeschooling: to not always be or seem to be on the defense.  This might just be part of the package any time you step outside the box, especially as a new homeschooler.  Shrug.  I guess confidence will come with time.  Or it might always be something I struggle with, I’m not sure.  As I said, I’ve never done this before).

So, that’s a little taste, a little sampler of our life as unschoolers.  There’s more to the story, many more nitty gritty details, but that’s a short overview for now anyways.

I also feel that, because we homeschool, we have the ability to change things up whenever we feel like it and to let the structure evolve as the kids grow.  So, unschooling will not only look different from family to family but also from year to year in the same family.  It’s exciting to think of the things we can do!  It sounds cliché but the possibilities really are endless!  I’m really looking forward to seeing where this path leads us and hope you’ll come along on the journey.

What does homeschooling/unschooling look like in your family?