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Is unschooling easy? - Page 4

post #61 of 96
Well, I think balance can be achieved. It's just that it will look different for every person. And it's tenuous, imo. Because life changes. People change. Family dynamics change.

And it's isn't "hard." I didn't mean to say that. I mean, it's a struggle, yes. But that's life. I get annoyed that when I've looked for help in RL with RUers, I've gotten answers that I felt were condescending, as if I just hadn't "gotten" unschooling yet. That I didn't truly understand it or I wouldn't be having these struggles.

I'm not good at articulating this but I think unschooling can be "easy," "hard," and all shades in between. I just don't use those terms to describe my life.

As I said when I first answered in this thread, it's everyday life to me. I don't separate "unschooling" into a category by itself so it's difficult to isolate and evaluate whether unschooling itself is "hard" or "easy."

I feel like I'm talking in circles. LOL I'm tired and not very good at conveying my thoughts even when I'm *not* tired.
post #62 of 96
I guess I wasn't trying to say that unschooling is hard, but neither does it sit well with me that it's somehow easy. Life is a struggle, sure, but with unschooling, you get a lot more of just life with kids. That's not to say that schooling or school-at-homing is easier - I've already mentioned that those choices come with consequences I'm not interested in - but neither is unschooling tremendously easier than those options. It's just different. You trade off certain struggles for certain other struggles or more of other struggles.

I think too - and I tried to say earlier - that there's a certain mental burden to it. This whole being wholly responsible thing kinda sucks unless you live in something resembling a tribe. I am responsible for the maintenance of our life, not just my own, to a greater extent than someone who outsources education. I don't have a babysitter seven hours a day. I'm always "on." That's not what motherhood is really supposed to be about, I don't think. Maybe as they get older, that will change somewhat, but I don't think we'll achieve the extent of varied social interaction we could get if we lived in close proximity to a group of families with a gaggle of boys of all ages my sons could go running about the woods with, learning how to be boys and, eventually, men. Certainly we have a more varied social life than children in school, however.

I guess the main reason that unschooling as "easy" doesn't sit well with me is because it gives the impression of unschooling being some kind of solution, which it just isn't. I suppose one could call it a method of doing things (whether education or life) and we choose it, don't we? But it's a method with no design. In fact, by its very etymology and definition, it is merely the opposite of something. Holy crap does that leave a lot of room for variance! Unschooling provides one no tools for handling life and learning. Most can't even agree on what the "method" itself should look like. There's not much of a model to follow. What's easy about something that's essentially not something else? Absolutely, that's life - figuring it out on your own, what you want to do about it, what your unique set of experiences and history tells you feels right and good - BUT it would certainly be easier, at least in some figurative sense, to just do what someone else told you to. I wouldn't know, I've never done that and it is getting really, really tiring to be always out there, thinking really hard to answer the big unanswerable questions like "what is the right thing for my kid?" Which right thing? When? How exactly? And lord oh lord, why? I! don't! know!!!

The older I get, the longer I do this, it seems the less I am certain about anything at all.
post #63 of 96
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post #64 of 96
Annakiss, I'm sorry, I don't know what to say to you. I don't know you IRL obviously, but just from what you're writing here it sounds like there's something else going on. No, unschooling is not going to just "fix" things if there are other problems not being addressed. I'm sorry and I hope you find the answer.
post #65 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I guess I wasn't trying to say that unschooling is hard, but neither does it sit well with me that it's somehow easy.

I think too - and I tried to say earlier - that there's a certain mental burden to it. This whole being wholly responsible thing kinda sucks unless you live in something resembling a tribe. I am responsible for the maintenance of our life, not just my own, to a greater extent than someone who outsources education. I don't have a babysitter seven hours a day. I'm always "on."
I know what you mean (I think ). I went through a real mindset switch when we decided to homeschool after trying pre-k. I thought "Egads, it's all on my head, now!" My ds is so opinionated, though, that I've now switched to "It's all on his head," lol. It's not that I'm so sure what we are doing is so right, It's that I know the options are so wrong for him.

And it would be easier if there were more people around for him to interact with. If it wasn't just me and him most of the time. If there were a bunch of boys to play with regularly. The social aspects are not easy. There's no ready made friends/companions through school. (I'm sure there would be as much troublesome times as good times if there were, however.) I work hard to arrange to meet people at playgrounds and such. My area doesn't have a nearby group with regular parkdays. The nearby folks get their fill at more structured co-ops and don't want to do something with so little academic merit as hanging out at playgrounds.

Then there is the health/therapy sorts of issues. In our case, just border line things, nothing clear cut. I've gotten the frenulum clipping advice, speech therapy advice. I'd get physical therapy advice if anyone saw ds's handwriting. Or his jumping jacks, lol. Someone else would have had him in feeding therapy. Then there is his teeth. He's had two big batches of fillings with oral surgery thrown in under GA. Now his adult teeth are coming in every which way because the oral surgery was to remove an extra tooth. His front teeth are seriously out of whack since they developed with another tooth in between them. So he's going to "need" braces and it's quite possible he'll decide he'd rather live with sideways teeth than have braces because he is really orally defensive (and was before any dental work). So I might have to decide how much to encourage/coerce him. In some ways it would be easier to have a more conventional parenting style and have all these things be black and white. He needs braces at such and such age because the dentist said so. He needs speech therapy because he is 7 1/2 and can't pronounce L, R, or TH. Etc.

Saying unschooling is easy is just a little too simple.
post #66 of 96
4Evermom, a lot of things you mention aren't, to my mind, unschooling issue. They're parenting issues. At time, I find parenting Really Hard. I'm pretty open about that But unschooling is one of the things that makes my parenting easier.

I mean, the whole "it's on my head" thing. I get that! Vaccines are a good example for me. It's something I still second guess myself on and don't know if I'm doing the right thing or not (and now that Bridget is creeping up on puberty, I'm doubly worrying myself about it!). And yes, it would be so much easier to just nod and smile and do whatever the doctor said. But I started questioning vaccines long before I even heard of unschooling. It's not an unschooling issue for me.

Neither is teeth. Both my kids have had extensive dental work. Crappy enamel runs in my family. I don't see that this has anything to do with unschooling. I don't know what I would do if my kids absolutely refused dental work. But we talk about it and try to make it work and so far, it does. (though for the record, I am already disagreeing with my dentist on how early to start braces).

Anyway, I don't know. I find unschooling easy. I find parenting hard at times. Unschooling has never been anything but a joy though. But I'm not RU and yeah, I do differentiate the two, so maybe that's where we're crossing wires.
post #67 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC View Post
But I'm not RU and yeah, I do differentiate the two, so maybe that's where we're crossing wires.
Yeah, the parenting and the unschooling is all an intermingling pile of mud in my head.

The speech and OT would come up in school but they are the same to me as the teeth which wouldn't.
post #68 of 96
Eh. Now maybe this *is* unschooling getting into my head, but I laugh at anyone who says my kid's handwriting needs work. Isn't kid's handwriting supposed to suck? And you should see my 45 year old, traditionally schooled husband's handwriting (actually, most of the men I'm friends with have similar handwriting - ie - bad. His might be a tad worse than some because I'm convinced he's a leftie who doesn't know it, ). But yeah, I've had comments on my 10 year old's handwriting and I ignore them. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad if they *do* think their kid needs special handwriting help. It's just something I'm really skeptical of when it's happening at such a young age. .

And speech. I had speech therapy in grade school. I don't see the point of that either. I have a slight lisp leftover. I think I just outgrew the bulk of my lisp, like most kids do if left on their own. Though I guess some could argue if I'd had better or earlier intervention, I'd have no lisp at all. I don't agree but whatever. But hell, people can understand me so what's the problem? We're all supposed to sound the same?

My son doesn't speak as clearly as his sister did at this age. But you know, most little kids don't speak clearly and I think it's fairly common for Mom to understand you more than anyone else when you're little (and yes, I know my son is "school aged" and a "big boy" - I call BS on that. He's six. That's little. Bridget is ten, that's still fairly young).

Anyway, I am confident that in a few years Owen will speak more clearly. And if he expresses frustration at not being understood (he doesn't) and wants help, we'll do what we can. But no, I don't see the need to require it of him.

Heh, and my daughter didn't speak a single word til 17 months. My mom kept asking me if I was going to take her to a doctor. I didn't, she's fine, and she speaks rather well and quite clearly. So it shocked me once to read (on MDC) a kid younger than that in speech therapy. And parents of 2 and 3 year olds who talk about how the children would "never" have talked if not for intervention.

I think that there are valid problems that need addressing sometimes. And I also think that the medical world sees dollar signs when they look at a lot of things that are normal, natural parts of childhood. Like lisps, illegible handwriting, not wanting to sit and pay attention for hours at a time at a young age, etc. And we parents are worried we're going to screw up our kids so it's easy to go along when we're told our kids will "never" or "always" or whatever, unless we step in NOW NOW NOW.

You know, now that I think of it, I'm such a cantankerous, opinionated, "rhymes with witch", it's a no-brainer I decided to unschool, huh?
post #69 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC View Post
You know, now that I think of it, I'm such a cantankerous, opinionated, "rhymes with witch", it's a no-brainer I decided to unschool, huh?


I am intellectually comfortable with ds's speech and handwriting (lack of). But occasionally a bout of "what-ifs" crop up on a more emotional level. The speech thing is really common in my family (you know my sister's kids). One of my brothers was really unintelligible to non family, too. He still lateralizes (sp?) his S. I remember figuring out L and R so I was probably 6. And learning to read helped me a fair bit with speech.

Anyway, those particular things are easy for me to dismiss though I have gotten comments about them. Someone else or someone with a child who was less borderline might find it more of a dilemma, especially if their child wasn't interested in working on those things.
post #70 of 96
Honestly for me, I think following a curr would be easier. :

I have to really work hard at being available and living in the moment.

I know.....that is horrible but I am just being honest.

I also have SEVERE ADHD which presents challenges in assisting my children with their interests when I am not "feeling" it. Or making sure that I am creating an atmosphere at home that is inspiring and open to their enrichment.

I think it wil become an easier preocess as they get older.
post #71 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
I wonder if part of this is the difference between being the unschooling parent of a 2 year old and a 6 year old and being the unschooling parent of an older child. I'm one of those who see unschooling as beginning at school-age, because I do think being in school (or otherwise schooled) necessarily changes the parent-child relationship... and you're really just at the beginning of that. In 5 or 10 years, I think it really will be easy... and you'll have more predictability (we do) and things will just flow better.

I see a lot of what I did when Rain was little as laying the groundwork for the rest of her childhood... and unschooling her when she was 6 was not easy. OTOH, schooling her when she was 6 (she went to kindie and then started unschooling was harder....

Dar
Honest question: How could unschooling possibly start at school age?

I guess that does not make sense to me. Would that trust and child leading not start at birth?
post #72 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
Honestly for me, I think following a curr would be easier. :


I know.....that is horrible but I am just being honest.
It's not horrible. And at the risk of pissing people off like I somehow did on another thread (despite REALLY trying to be polite!) can I just say that if you decide to use that curriculum because you really feel it works better for you and your kids and whatever your particular issues and life entail then, well, why not?

I'm not saying you have to, but if you do then it's not horrible. As long as you and the kids are happy, how can it be horrible?
post #73 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC View Post
It's not horrible. And at the risk of pissing people off like I somehow did on another thread (despite REALLY trying to be polite!) can I just say that if you decide to use that curriculum because you really feel it works better for you and your kids and whatever your particular issues and life entail then, well, why not?

I'm not saying you have to, but if you do then it's not horrible. As long as you and the kids are happy, how can it be horrible?
I think the "horrible" part comes from selfishness on my part.

I know that right now a regular curr is NOT in the best interest of my children.....or really preobably myself. But it is tempting at times for selfish reasons. :

Right now we have been forced to make things a bit more "schooly" due to a custody issue with ds age 9, but we are still not using a curriculum. We have curriculum type stuff available and did set up a schedule to explore things mostly so:

A) I would make sure that I was available and positive assisting his exploration as needed.

B) SO we had more specific "records" for court.
post #74 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
Honest question: How could unschooling possibly start at school age?

I guess that does not make sense to me. Would that trust and child leading not start at birth?
To me, it just means that the notion of thinking about the notion of "schooling" one way or another - even in a negative sense - has no reason to even be a part of one's thinking until a child is of school age. Before then, it's just a matter of normal family living - and it can continue on that way at school age, but there's a societal tug to categorize what you're doing at the point due to the compulsory attendance laws and just plain ol' traditon or custom. Lillian
post #75 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldamomma
But overall, I think of unschooling as this amazing secret-- it absolutely astonishes me what my kids learn without the hassle of "doing school".


The deschooling is what has been (and continues to be) work for me. It would be easier to just slip into old habits, but that easiness does not equate with happiness.

I do feel like, every time I see the "hard" comments, that it's an attempt to validate unschooling according to this culture's standards, which are based in that puritan work ethic, or defend it against the accusation that it's basically neglect. Or that it's really more of a type of homeschooling where the parent is trying to direct or facilitate their children's learning in a way that doesn't overly look like schooling. (I heard someone once refer to this as "stealth homeschooling" which I thought was pretty clever. ) I do think that would be a lot of work, more even than traditional schooling.

But yeah, just having other people around all day long, constantly being available for them and tending to their needs, some of which are created just by being in a world where they're not allowed to run around on their own, where their development is artificially delayed by the boundaries of our society... And basically what Anna said, it's all on you. That's sometimes not so very easy.

(Gotta take the kids to D&D, then coming back to read the rest of this thread... )
post #76 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC View Post
Annakiss, I'm sorry, I don't know what to say to you. I don't know you IRL obviously, but just from what you're writing here it sounds like there's something else going on. No, unschooling is not going to just "fix" things if there are other problems not being addressed. I'm sorry and I hope you find the answer.
I don't understand this response. Something else going on? Excuse me? I'm simply deconstructing the idea - this is theoretical land, but where the rubber meets the road, there's not a set of ideals unschooling really asks you to follow. Attachment Parenting even has some tenets. Unschooling could look like anything. And I think that's what's wonderful about it! But it's also a lot of pressure to put on one person.
post #77 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
I know what you mean (I think ). I went through a real mindset switch when we decided to homeschool after trying pre-k. I thought "Egads, it's all on my head, now!" My ds is so opinionated, though, that I've now switched to "It's all on his head," lol. It's not that I'm so sure what we are doing is so right, It's that I know the options are so wrong for him.

And it would be easier if there were more people around for him to interact with. If it wasn't just me and him most of the time. If there were a bunch of boys to play with regularly. The social aspects are not easy. There's no ready made friends/companions through school. (I'm sure there would be as much troublesome times as good times if there were, however.) I work hard to arrange to meet people at playgrounds and such. My area doesn't have a nearby group with regular parkdays. The nearby folks get their fill at more structured co-ops and don't want to do something with so little academic merit as hanging out at playgrounds.

Then there is the health/therapy sorts of issues. In our case, just border line things, nothing clear cut. I've gotten the frenulum clipping advice, speech therapy advice. I'd get physical therapy advice if anyone saw ds's handwriting. Or his jumping jacks, lol. Someone else would have had him in feeding therapy. Then there is his teeth. He's had two big batches of fillings with oral surgery thrown in under GA. Now his adult teeth are coming in every which way because the oral surgery was to remove an extra tooth. His front teeth are seriously out of whack since they developed with another tooth in between them. So he's going to "need" braces and it's quite possible he'll decide he'd rather live with sideways teeth than have braces because he is really orally defensive (and was before any dental work). So I might have to decide how much to encourage/coerce him. In some ways it would be easier to have a more conventional parenting style and have all these things be black and white. He needs braces at such and such age because the dentist said so. He needs speech therapy because he is 7 1/2 and can't pronounce L, R, or TH. Etc.

Saying unschooling is easy is just a little too simple.
I think this sort of goes to what fourlittlebirds said about artificial delays and limits - unschooling would be easy peasy if we weren't bombarded with scientific studies and nosy neighbors and whoever else telling us what is and is not good for children and/or other living creatures. Parenting today in general requires the ability to sort through a whole lot of information. Being wholly responsible for that is quite weighty, imo. And bucking all that for something completely off the wall is additionally quite the load to carry.

I didn't start out trying to do anything else with my kids. I dropped out of high school when I was 15 to stay home. I know that unschooling is where it's at. Parenting is what's hard. But having children at home all the time is harder, even if we're just hanging out, making stuff, playing video games, and doing whatever else our life requires. I spend a lot of brain power trying to think of non-coercive ways of dealing with stress, trying to come up with ways to get our energy out, ways to get us out of the house during a Cleveland winter, things that the boys might find interesting - and all of it with their total autonomy, which means they could reject whatever elaborate thing I've thought up.

I'm not having trouble deschooling. I'm just having trouble striking a balance. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I become particularly introspective and concerned the more time I have to sit around thinking about stuff or reading ideas on the internet (hello Winter), not to mention when I get criticisms from people I respect and admire about the behavior of my children (hello Mother). That makes all this harder than it might be if I weren't shouldering the complete responsibility of their education and upbringing (even if it's also sort of on them).

I'm sure it will get easier as they get older. I guess my main beef is that there's philosophy on the one hand and the day-to-day reality of negotiating with little people on the other - that can be really, really difficult and stressful a lot of the time.
post #78 of 96
First off, to answer the original question, I find unschooling easy, but life with kids sometimes difficult. less difficult as they get older... unschooling is now, for us, just part of life, it all flows together, the learning, the vegging out, the rest of it, it is just life. but for sure I have my days where I wish my kids were someone else's problem for a few hours! When I say, though, that "unschooling is easy", I mean, as opposed to any other option -- for our family, it is the best, and also "easiest" path.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
The older I get, the longer I do this, it seems the less I am certain about anything at all.
And that, to me, is the basis for growth and acceptance and learning from others and all the rest of it. I used to be very sure of myself, sure that what I was doing was the right thing to be doing, the best way, all that. then, for SOME reason, my AP raised babies, who were supposed to be so independent because I had "filled up their love cup" did NOT want to let me out of their sight! still, at the age of 7, I have to hang around outside my son's art class. Am I doing the right thing by not forcing the issue? I don't know, but it seems pretty dang important to my son to have me nearby, and it's not all that important to me to "get away from the kids" anymore (I get a lot of solo time during the day at home, they kind of do their own thing a lot), and I assume that he won't want me around forever, so I bring a book. The kids also did not magically decide they wanted their own beds at the age of 3, and at 7 and 9 are still sleeping with us. my son is totally nuts sometimes, is intensely sensitive and struggles with self-esteem, have I just totally effed him up somehow? my parents would probably say yes, but I still believe that the proof will show up in the pudding, just maybe not until later than I expected from reading Dr. Sears!

the older I get, the more I realize that there AREN'T any answers, it's just up to each of us as moms (dads can help too if they see fit ) to try to do the best by our families. Do what works, don't be afraid to change what doesn't work, no matter what ANYONE thinks. I guess, for me, having slightly older kids, I have the benefit of having tried several different approaches to things that weren't working, and time and again, it all comes down to building honest, respectful relationships, trusting my kids, but also not being afraid to be the mama duck when necessary. It gets so much easier as they get older, I promise! about things like video games/computer time/tv, bedtimes, etc, if you can see that something is making your child unhealthy, you have to do what it takes to change that. whether your approach is to let them feel the ill effects and work through to the other side, or to set respectful and maybe mutually agreed on limits, or just putting your foot down and selling all electronica, that just depends on your family dynamics. What worked for me was to relax about it, make more of an effort to get out into the world each day, and our tv lost all reception, which helped a lot! but, I am getting a videogame...thing...for the first time ever, because I think my kids have achieved a better sense of balance with media, and it doesn't really scare me anymore, and my son will be thrilled. don't really know what helped them shift, though I suspect it was my attitude changing, and my son not feeling like electronic time was a precious commodity anymore... we never talked about it, he's just sensitive like that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post

I also have SEVERE ADHD which presents challenges in assisting my children with their interests when I am not "feeling" it. Or making sure that I am creating an atmosphere at home that is inspiring and open to their enrichment.
I don't think it's necessary to "create" any kind of atmosphere, aside from trying to be as respectful of your kids as you can. I had someone comment on my blog that our life looked perfect (well-timed photographs have that effect ), and I think the same effect is created when we all rhapsodize about the beauty and joy of unschooling on our good days...but in our family, every day is not inspiring or enriching -- I think that for those days to happen, you need just as many boring, veg out, just go for a walk days too. those are the days when inspiration will strike, and the basis for an interest forms -- we don't jump to the moment every time an interest comes up, but I try to mentally log them (used to write them down, but that died out quickly) and the ones that are mentioned or come up a few times, we make more of an effort with. mostly that entails getting books from the library, or documentaries, or movies, etc, or going to a museum, or whatever. For us, it doesn't include creating a unit study or delving deeper into a subject than my kid wants to delve -- I used to feel pressure to do that, but I can see that the important ones will come up again and again.

so yes, life with kids is hard sometimes. For us, unschooling is the easiest way to live our lives. I can't imagine trying to do school-at-home, and sending the kids to school, at this stage, doesn't appeal to me either. so mostly we just do what we feel like doing, and as a family, we work together to make sure everyone's needs are met. my kids fight sometimes (ok, daily) but other than that, life is pretty good like this.
post #79 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I spend a lot of brain power trying to think of non-coercive ways of dealing with stress, trying to come up with ways to get our energy out, ways to get us out of the house during a Cleveland winter, things that the boys might find interesting - and all of it with their total autonomy, which means they could reject whatever elaborate thing I've thought up.
I think this is where "being the mama duck" comes in. If you KNOW that your family needs to get out of the house, then get them out of the house, whether they want to go or not. I don't give a rats patootie what the TCS people, or the RU people or whoever has to say about it -- if it's a choice between bending my child's will to take them somewhere fun when they'd rather stay home, and potential homicide if we all stay indoors all day, I'll bend their little wills like you wouldn't believe! I'll throw in a hot chocolate or something else that's fun and enticing, to sweeten the deal, but when I KNOW what is best for my kids, and they're just not up for getting dressed or peeling themselves away from hannah montana, then I'll help them through it, we'll get out, and we'll all have a great time, and I'll be less likely to end up running off to some secluded island with the bag boy at the grocery store!! hooray!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I'm just having trouble striking a balance. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I become particularly introspective and concerned the more time I have to sit around thinking about stuff or reading ideas on the internet (hello Winter)
I should give the disclaimer that it's summer here in NZ, and in summer, I have it all figured out. ask me again in winter, and I'm sure I'll be ready to pack the kids off to boarding school!
post #80 of 96
Well! I am very much enjoying your deconstructing the idea. I honestly don't see 'anything else going on' & I am delighted to be reading your thought process on such a subject. Deconstructing ideas --any and all--is something that very much interests me! I find you a very throught-provoking person , and excellent writer, Annakiss.


Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I don't understand this response. Something else going on? Excuse me? I'm simply deconstructing the idea - this is theoretical land, but where the rubber meets the road, there's not a set of ideals unschooling really asks you to follow. Attachment Parenting even has some tenets. Unschooling could look like anything. And I think that's what's wonderful about it! But it's also a lot of pressure to put on one person.
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