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“Where do you go to school? What grade are you in?” they ask my little man.

“I don’t GO to school. I UNschool.”

You can imagine the looks he gets. To our son, the style of schooling, or the option of traditional brick and mortar versus homeschooling and all the iterations therein, are as conversation-worthy as discussing the style of one’s underwear.

We have options. What we were wearing at one point in our lives might not be what we choose to wear now. On the other hand, many of us grew up wearing one style, only to find that there’s something new and improved out there; something that embraces our birth shape; enhances our natural assets; provides a layer of protection between our special bits and the rest of our armor.

We don’t question other people’s choices. We just accept that people have come to these decisions after trial and error. Some folks stick to what was presented to them the day they moved out of diapers, while others have ventured away from conventional and found their version of underwear mecca.

And so it was with our little man. We set off on the tighty whities of educational paths. My husband and I followed the most traveled and most familiar path to us as former school-goers and now parents. We have both met society’s expectation of us, so certainly there was no need to question this decision – or so we thought.

Our spirited little human, on the other hand, is quite the visionary. Convention was never going to be his path. Surely I set him up for a life of questioning, of options. The choices were many right out of the gate – cloth diapers, all-in-ones, wool, disposables, commando… Hell, his precious bits knew more textile variety than Dolce and Gabbana.

Articulate, chatty, and extremely inquisitive, our son made it clear that he wanted to be an active participant in his education. When you’re four or five, however, you don’t get a say. An authority presents information deemed important and relevant. Some kids are more than happy to open their wee birdie mouths wide and take it all in. Others all but purse their lips. Reading, autography, and testing, supersede playtime and emotional development.

Two months into kindergarten were 60 days too many for our little sparrow. He did not take a liking to sitting, nor to being silenced at every question. He had many questions. He still does and I want him to ask every single one.

My homeschool experiment

Like so many who are new to homeschooling, I found the options overwhelming – online schooling, boxed curriculum, unit studies, classical schooling, eclectic homeschooling, radical unschooling and the list goes on. I was nervous that I would deprive my child of opportunities to learn, so I researched online schooling programs, i.e. public school online. I wanted guardrails. I didn’t know if I could DO this on my own. I finally landed on something that felt safe and secure and traditionally untraditional. I waited several weeks for all of our educational materials to arrive.

When the big brown boxes hit our doorstep, I dug into them like I’d just discovered King Tut’s tomb. I had sweet visions of orderly teaching sessions; an engaged, angelic, little boy eager to learn. We’re reading “One Fish, Two Fish,” sprinting through workbook pages, making volcanos like nobody’s business. Week one – a success. I’ve totally got this. The novelty keeps the dream alive for a few months, weeks if I’m being honest.

Stubborn and steadfast, I dragged my poor child to the “classroom” table where we both painstakingly moved through “lessons.” This was miserable, for both of us. I finished up the homeschool year and I cursed it. I was no longer relieved that I didn’t have to drop my son off at school. I was stressed and anxious at a complete loss as to how I should move forward. I hated that this was what we needed to do. And yes, NEEDED to do. I am persistent. I will not give up. I will find a better way.

Year two

I researched curriculum and attempted to figure out how my son learns. But I still didn’t feel confident about my ability to teach. I signed up for an online charter school, where I could select the curriculum and have it paid for. I figured I needed some accountability to ensure that we both stayed on track and if I didn’t have this all dialed in, at least I’d be learning on my tax-paying dollars. Check-ins and weekly updates would surely be a key to our success. 

The DVD art classes that I was so excited to watch and do were of little interest to my son. Every kid does art in school and likes it, right? We went from five subjects down to two (math and reading), down to, “Houston, we have a problem.”

I kept the online-school-at-home dream on life support for a few more months and then the Universe stepped in as she does. Employment opportunities brought our family to a new state and I had to gracefully bow out of our on online charter school. Thank you Universe. Hugs and kisses to you.

I loaded our school books and art supplies back into big brown boxes and never unpacked them.

Unschooling was the answer

This is how unschooling seduced me. I stepped away from the classroom, curriculum, and everything I had been led to believe was the way children learn. I looked at my son and realized that he has been learning since birth. He knows how to question and explore the world and I know how to follow his lead and expose him to new information. I look at his interests, his passions, and I nurture them. I am a resource librarian and I chart these unfamiliar waters with him.

We embrace curiosity; we learn where to find information and we grow ever more excited by the choices that we have every day. No longer is it time to “do math.” No one subject lives in isolation anyway. It depends on the context that surrounds it. Fortunately, the world provides plenty of context. Learning happens; teaching is secondary.

I trust that we are all born learners. Unschooling is the path we are on today. The kitchen table, no longer home to workbooks and lessons of the week, is once again cluttered with the stuff of childhood and, if I’m lucky, take-out Thai food once in a while.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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