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  • unschooling family

    Trix Clasara, shown here camping with husband Brando and their two children, 3-year-old Aman and 4-year-old Ily, co-founded the mobile app Mapp with actress LJ Reyes.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Trix Clasara

    Despite the battery-operated toys and gadgets nowadays, we know the simplest toys, and outdoor play still remain among the best ways children can have fun and learn at the same time.

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    For Trix Clasara and her husband Brando, the journey to help awaken creativity and encourage learning in their two children has led them to apply “unschooling,” which involves self-exploration and discovery through undirected play, in their family’s daily routine. And it helps that they are based in the province and live by the beach.

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    Raising kids through outdoor play and unschooling

    Trix explains, “Since in unschooling, we don’t follow any curriculum, play is essential in their growth. It is in play like outdoor play that kids learn how to use their imagination, how they expand their minds with their science questions, how they refine their motor skills, how they learn to interact with other people, how they become creative, how they learn patience, sharing, kindness, compassion.”

    While unschooling is child-led, Trix says she stills sets boundaries and routines because “kids need structure.” Below, she talks about how she does it without sacrificing play.

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    Do you have a list of “no-fail” toys?

    Trix: The best playground for me is the great outdoors, and the best toy is a stick! As for actual toys you can buy, go for any open-ended toy like blocks. It is simple, but kids can stay on those for a long time. I also like those connecting pipes and/or connecting chips where you can pretty much build anything — it is another time-eating toy! We love using clay, too.

    unschooling Philippines
    "A stick is never just a stick. It can be a sword, a branch for the campfire, a cane, a wand, a telescope, an arrow, a rolling pin."
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Trix Clasara

    How do you ignite “imitating and imagining” in your kids? Do you have any practical tips for parents who live in the city?

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    My kids and I like reading books and watching movies together. We, as a family, also love taking road trips to new places and taking on new adventures. I believe all these interests and experiences help my kids discover new worlds and therefore shape their imagination. I honestly don’t like taking credit for how my kids turned out because I feel like God created them so beautifully and uniquely. Our job as their moms is to provide the space and present the opportunities so they may use those God-given talents.

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    How do you make some of your children’s toys at home have unintended uses or maximize your children’s toys for other imaginative play?

    Undirected play is really the best way to encourage my kids to keep going during play time. I do a lot of encouraging but not imposing. And I wait for them to direct their own play because I see how much their little brains work and grow when that happens. It’s honestly more fun to watch! I don’t advocate lazy parenting or anything, but I think there is a subtle dance to letting them play and intervening when things aren’t safe/appropriate.

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    unschooling outdoor play
    "Outdoor play has a large role in our playtime routine! It can be as simple as stepping out, walking around, picking flowers, making sand castles, or swimming in the ocean."
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Trix Clasara

    How do you make the most of playtime with your husband and children?

    I think making the most out of playtime is all about being present. One of my practical tips is to PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Your phone, messages, work, and life will still be there, so play with your kids NOW.
    When we play outside, I answer their questions. I engage them in conversation. I ask them questions and let them think about the answers. Be engaging, but don’t impose rules and “how-to’s” during playtime -- step back. Kids are curious learners, and we need to start believing in that design. We should not limit the stick to just a stick. To them, it’s a hundred different things, so let them explore and discover this world for themselves.

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    unschooling playtime homeschooling
    "We’ve honestly underestimated play. To adults, it’s just 'play,' but what we have forgotten is play is a form of language. So much learning comes through it!"
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Trix Clasara

    Allowing your children the joys of spending their childhood outdoors is a gift. How do you balance playtime outdoors with indoor exposure to educational videos and gadgets?

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    We follow a routine. We play the whole morning, which is either play inside with toys or my daughter Ily, and I practice reading and writing or piano. Outside, we simply walk the dog, head to the beach, and absolutely no gadgets. Then they have lunch and then take a bath and a nap. When they wake up, if we want we will go back to the beach or if not, they usually watch a video or two during this time so I can prepare dinner.

    I don’t allow my kids YouTube unless we’re in Manila that’s kind of like their “treat.” So, at home, we watch videos and movies that my husband and I have curated. At night, Brandz likes to read stories to the kids, but we also let them tell their own stories at night. Parents should try this because it’s so fun to hear your kids tell stories of their own!

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