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post #21 of 41
Quote:
I worry that the minute my child gets "behind" in a "subject", I'm going to be whipping out the cirriculum catalogs!
But if you're truly unschooling, you won't know that your child is "behind". (Emphasis on those quotation marks!) All you will know is that she is learning what is relevant to her life, at the pace and in the way that is perfect for her.
post #22 of 41
Here's a metaphor that I find helpful in "guiding" my unschooled kids. I think of a garden. I imagine the whole world of learning as being a giant garden. My kids have just been ushered in the gate. I've been browsing through this garden for almost 40 years. One of my kids might delightedly sit down and start digging in the dirt looking for beetles and worms. It's a perfectly valid thing to do, very meaningful to him. But on the other hand, he's never seen the rest of the garden, and maybe there are things off in this direction or that which he'll find even more meaningful. My job is to help my kids have an enjoyable, rich and meaningful visit to the garden. I am their tour guide.

Maybe I wish my son would stop digging for worms and get up and enjoy some of the things elsewhere in the garden. He doesn't know what's there, so maybe he needs a nudge. While it wouldn't be right for me to say "time to go look at the sweet peas, that's enough time in the dirt," it would be perfectly okay to say "hey, you know, there's an awesome frog pond over there, wanna come see?" Sharing, offering, "strewing a child's path" with opportunities, that's what I try to do.

The crucial thing is that the child has the right to say "no, I want to keep digging in the dirt for worms."

So if my 9yo has atrocious handwriting and sees absolutely no reason to improve it, it's not right for me to say that she must work on it for 5 minutes a day, but it is fair game to say "you know, there's a neat italic cursive script that I've heard is really good for lefties; I could look into getting a workbook.... you could see if it appeals to you. Maybe it would be a fun thing to do when I'm reading aloud to you guys at bedtime." And if she says no, so be it.

Miranda
post #23 of 41
quote:
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I worry that the minute my child gets "behind" in a "subject", I'm going to be whipping out the cirriculum catalogs!
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One of my favorite unschooling quotes is-"You can never be ahead or behind yourself." I use that quote whenever I question my choice to unschool my son. I think that it is easier to believe that there is a right way and time for everything to be learned and it is far more difficult to let things happen in their own time according to what one person needs. I find that it is especially hard to let go of the school time table if you yourself were successful in school. Keep reading and learning, you will find that there are as many ways to unschool as there are unschoolers. My favorite unschooling quote is in my signature line, for me it says it all.
post #24 of 41
Does the state get involved and force your children to be tested or anything like that?? Sorry if I'm being ignorant its just that I always assumed that even homeschool kids had to take placement tests and final exams in order to "officially" pass grades and eventually recieve a diploma. ??
post #25 of 41
Quote:
I find that it is especially hard to let go of the school time table if you yourself were successful in school.
Yes! I think this is one of my challenges. I loved school and did well in school. The only problem was that I bought the line that success in school would automatically lead to success in life! What a hard lesson that was to un-learn. I also became too dependant on the approval of others to validate my accomplishments.

Thanks to everyone who addressed some of my concerns. I'm not *too* worried about the preschool setting us up for failure since it is such a loose format and such a small number of hours each week. (There are several homeschooling families with children there - including at least one unschooling family.) In fact, one day I wondered out loud if Brianna missed going to playgroup now that she was in preschool. Her response: "No. Actually, preschool is kind of like playgroup!" I'm more concerned that she will enjoy it so much that she will look at *not* going to Kindergarten as a negative thing. I'm not sure how that will work out. I'm working on getting us involved with a homeschool group so that she'll already have homeschool friends when she leaves the preschool. For now, the preschool works for us and she enjoys it, so I'm sticking with it. I'll repair and cross any "damaged" bridges as they come.
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by cortsmommy
Does the state get involved and force your children to be tested or anything like that?? Sorry if I'm being ignorant its just that I always assumed that even homeschool kids had to take placement tests and final exams in order to "officially" pass grades and eventually recieve a diploma. ??
Education doesn't mean grade levels and diplomas. It means gaining in skills and knowledge. It is only schools that have decided that measuring and inspiring learning requires such benchmarks. Grade levels and diplomas are about schooling, not about education.

For some families homeschooling does mean "schooling". They might use a levelled curriculum approach, register with a charter school that creates a transcript, do annual testing, and nominally "place" their kids in a certain grade. We are unschoolers, though, and no none of that. My kids have no idea "what grade they're in" because they're involved in education, not school. What grade level is tesselations? I don't know, but my 7yo is an expert. What grade level is latin? I don't know, but my 9yo is learning. What grade level is Norse mythology? I don't know, but my 5yo can talk your ear off about Loki, Thor and Woden. There's no "magic age" for learning 99% of the stuff that is presented in a school curriculum as being "appropriate for a specific grade level". So I choose to completely disregard this. My kids' interests do not follow a standardized scope and sequence.

My kids will find paths to college if they want. My jurisdiction requires no testing or accountability. My kids are becoming highly educated, even if they do no schooling. There's a kind of mind-blowing, out-of-the-box thinking required since we ourselves have been steeped in a schoolish mentality throughout our lives. It helps me to remember that the brilliant, highly educated minds of 200 years ago didn't have to go to school and didn't have to "pass tests to get into the next grade". Generally they studied what they wanted to learn, what had meaning for them, sometimes under the guidance of a tutor, but often simply courtesy of mom and dad or as auto-didacts. Grade-level schooling is a very recent invention.

Miranda
post #27 of 41
Well said, Miranda.

cortsmommy, just to add a bit of technical stuff--the amount of state involvement depends on what state one lives in. Some require testing and grades, while others do not. There is a tremendous amount of variation here, but an unschooling life can be lived, regardless of the requirements--one just needs to learn to translate activities into things that the "authorities" understand.

Our state requires that a child attend school, or be educated elsewhere. "Elsewhere" is what we do--we are accountable to ourselves. We are not under the jurisdiction of the DOE or any local school district. They do not provide a diploma or anything else and we do not report to them.

This is ideal, imo as I believe that each individual is responsible for the direction of his/her life.
The idea that the state knows what's best for my family doesn't at all fit with my philosophy.

Schools do their thing, we do ours--and we simply don't have a use for their testing or grading or any of their systems.
post #28 of 41
Thanks Miranda and Joan for the great explanation. I understand a lot better now and I admire what you are doing by unschooling. It does capture my interest and I will be researching this more. Thanks again.
post #29 of 41
Thread Starter 
Sorry I haven't been able to post until now. Thanks everyone for all the interesting information. I feel much more at ease with my choice now as I realize that there won't be anything my child is "missing out" on by not attending school. Wow, it's going to be such an exciting journey for our family!
There's something I'm a little curious about. For you unschoolers, how do your kids start to show an interest in something? Is it mainly what the parents are involved in, or do many of you introduce things that you feel would be fun for your kids?
post #30 of 41
It all seems to flow, really. Rain's Greek mythology thing started at the library, where one of us picked up a book of myths and put it on the stack. I don't even remember which, we used to get lots of books. But she asked me to read it over... and over... and over, so the next time I looked for some more Greek myths, and we read those. I also got some Norse myths around that time, and she had no interest at all. She built her own altars from blocks, I was flipping through a cookbook and found a section on Greek recipes, and I suggested those. It just went like that.

Rain's interest in theatre started when I was thumbing through the parks and rec catalog of classes and asking her if she'd be interested in this one or that one. Dance... no. Tumbling... no, I tried that and they were mean. Theater - oh, yes, I want to do that! And after that was over, she wanted to be in more plays. Around that time someone offered us extra tickets to a musical, and she loved it and decided she wanted to be in musicals, too, not just plays. So, I researched online and talked to people and we stumbled onward, and now her life is builkt around theatre... OTOH, we're reading C.S. Lewis because she wants to audition for Lion, Witch, Wardobe, and we were really interested in an NPR story about Morganthau after she did Annie, because he was a character in that show ... it's like a web, everything connects and connects.

Dar
post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by morsan
For you unschoolers, how do your kids start to show an interest in something? Is it mainly what the parents are involved in, or do many of you introduce things that you feel would be fun for your kids?
In our family it's about half and half... half things the parents are interested in, half tangents that fly off in new directions. My kids are heavily into music, and that's definitely something I'm a SME (subject matter expert) in. But they're developing interests in composing, and that's a tangent I've never really explored. They're history and mythology nuts, and while my husband has a bit of interest in modern history, they've focused mostly on ancient and medieval times. I've learned tons, following in their wake as they've travelled this web of knowledge.

Where it starts? Well, our experience is very similar to Dar's.

Sometimes it starts with a library book, or a page in an encyclopedia, or with a video, or a question about gravity or world events, or a game or computer program, or a discussion about why one part of the world is the way it is, or with a chance experience or a friend who has a passion for something. There's initial exposure, and then evidence that the child's interest has been aroused, and sometimes it just goes somewhere... they can't seem to get enough. A tiny spark, a tiny flame kindled, leads to a raging fire of passion.

For instance, I trace my kids' deep and abiding love of ancient and medieval history and lore to the sale copy of "Age of Empires II" I picked up 2 years ago when we were on holiday and it was pouring rain and cold and I needed something to throw on the laptop to amuse them for a couple of days. From there it was history books, alchemy lore, picture books, Joan of Arc, Nova shows about medieval ballistics, Playmobil castle stuff, historical novels, illuminated manuscripts, chivalry, mythological bestiaries, ancient history and mythology, Egyptology, hieroglyphics and the history of written language, costumes, pyramids, ballistics constructions and experiments, and tons more. Looking back now, it's huge, but it was just one little path on the web followed after another and another and another.....

Miranda
post #32 of 41
Just about any experience potentially can spark an interest. When my ds was 5, he watched the movie "Twister" w/ my dad. That led to a 4-year obsession w/ weather and natural disasters. He read and watched anything he could get his hands on and conducted his own experiments. He was completely absorbed. Then, somehow, his interest faded. He had learned everything he wanted to know (and believe me, he learned a lot!) and has moved on. Last summer he started taking karate lessons (suggested by dh, who was seriously into martial arts in his teens/twenties). Ds has discovered a new passion, and also has become interested in learning Japanese.

When dd was 3, we watched the 2000 Olympic gymnastics competition together. She began flipping and spinning all over the house, so I asked her if she wanted to take gymnastics lessons. She tried it and loved it and is still going strong. She also fell in love w/ ballet when I took her to the Nutcracker at age 2, but she said she'd be too shy to dance in front of people. So, instead of lessons, she continues to enjoy it as a spectator.

Sometimes necessity can spark an interest. Ds is a very early riser and I'm, well, not! One morning he discovered that there was nothing to eat that didn't require cooking, so he decided it was time to learn. Now he cooks breakfast all the time for himself, and even dd sometimes. I wonder what would spark an interest in washing the dishes...:

I think that an unschooling parent needs to offer lots of opportunities for kids to get out and about in their world, and to try really hard to find ways for them to be exposed to the things they express interest in. Also, it's important to remember that it's o.k. if you invest (time/money/energy) in something and one day your child loses interest. Every experience enriches them, but you have to let the experience be *theirs*, not yours! It's hard, and it can be frustrating, especially if you find that your child has a talent but is not interested in pursuing it. To me, the beauty of unschooling is seeing the *joy* of a person free to do the things they love to do.
post #33 of 41
I'm eating this thread up!!! It's yummy. I decided a loooong time ago that I wanted to unschool my kids--mainly because I was so disappointed with my own "education" in the public school system. I feel like I missed out on so much. I wish I could have forged my own path when I was still coming of age.

I recently read The Teenage Liberation Handbook and it was both empowering and heartbreaking at once. Empowering because it made me just so cognizant of how the teenage years (and childhood years) should be full of "unschooling" opportunities. To follow one's interests with such intense passion and with all one's time and soul. Not to be burdened with busy work and the monotonous 8 hours of school which for me was nothing more than socializing and being cruel to one another.

Heartbreaking because I feel like I missed out on truly finding myself through my own interests, ya know?

Oy, I've turned this post into a post about me again. :

Anyways, learning about unschooling and wanting it for my kids and enlightened me about my own past and motivated me to follow my interests, passions and dreams fully in the future and not to let my time be clouded with unnecessities governed by the "authorities" or "experts".

I unschooling. Keep the personal stories and advice coming ladies!!

Kylix
post #34 of 41
This thread has been full of advice and links that im glad i got to see.... i have dd who is 5 yrs old in public school.... im thinking of starting to unschool....

her passions right now is music and art.... her teacher has issues with her cuz my daughter isnt too interested in learning to do colors and letters.... she knows her colors but refuses to tell her teacher.... but meanwhile she can paint, draw, and work with play dough for hours.... and loves listening to music on the radio and memorizes some of the songs on my cds...

she seems to be a more hands on learning type of kid...and the school dont like it... i dunno know...but definately keep the links and advice coming.... im reading all of them....
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by morsan
... how do your kids start to show an interest in something?
How do YOU start to show an interest in something?

I've found it's no different for our kids. Adults (usually) are not told what to learn about, yet we're all still learning.
ANYTHING can spark an interest in something new...a conversation, a movie, something seen on-line or read in a book, a trip to the store or park or beach....you never know.

The trick is to not judge a child's interests as being worthy of investigating or not. If you think in terms of "subject areas" it's easy to discount things like... finger-knitting... as having no educational value. But of course, it's ALL worthwhile.
post #36 of 41
Thread Starter 
Joan, thanks for showing me the simple way and thanks to you others. I like to hear about different situations just to get a feel for how it can be like. It's always more comfortable going into something when you have witnessed it being done before (although every situation is unique). I know there's an unschooling group where I'll be moving so hope I can get some first-hand observation.
Right now I feel so happy about coming across Holt's book (and all the other ones leading up to it). It feels like a true blessing. I'm sad I didn't get to experience it myself when it was crucial in my life, sad to see opportunities come and just go for no reason (boredom maybe from being force-fed "knowledge"). I used to love drawing, playing theatre, writing poetry, dancing. But it all faded into nothing because if you're not the best it isn't worth it. Or so they taught me. At least I have decided to stop looking for knowledge in a school setting. I'm constantly looking for more things to learn, I have always loved learning and now finally it's getting exciting because I'm my own master. I want ds to feel this even as a young "school-age" child.
I do believe that his interest will spark naturally. The times I have doubt is when my old school-brain is at work. I'm so used to having people tell me what I should be interested in. And you end up loosing interest in everything. At least I did. I just want to be able to respond in a healthy manner. I also want to treat all learning equally. That learning to read is no "better" than learning to cook. So I won't act accordingly. I want the "mundane" to be ímportant as well.
post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by morsan
I'm sad I didn't get to experience it myself when it was crucial in my life, sad to see opportunities come and just go for no reason
I hear you. I, too, wonder what my life would have been like if I'd had the chance to unschool.


But it all faded into nothing because if you're not the best it isn't worth it. Or so they taught me.

My dd has this friend. She goes to ps. Yesterday she was over and commented on how much she and my dd have in common, except that "Your daughter is smart and I'm not." I was so surprised that, I asked her why she said that. She replied, "Because I don't do good on tests." Now, dd doesn't take tests, so this friend's judgement of her intelligence was based only their conversations, yet she was judging HERSELF only by the school's tests. I found it very, very sad.

I'm constantly looking for more things to learn, I have always loved learning and now finally it's getting exciting because I'm my own master.

Isn't it fun!? I find that I'm trying more new things since my kids have been unschooling. Growing up, it seemed that adults would stress to me that things were important to learn because of what you could do with that knowledge later. If it didn't help you to get a job, it was deemed useless.

The times I have doubt is when my old school-brain is at work.

Yeah, that still happens to me. Coming here and reading/writing helps me to secure my beliefs/philosophy, iron out what's important, put things in perspective, and counter school-thought.
post #38 of 41
Greetings unschooling ladies,
My computer has been down over the holidays and I missed the start of this thread. I want to get in on the conversation! I'm going to go back and read it before adding my 2 cents, but don't have time now, just wanted to say hi...

peace,
~B
post #39 of 41
Thread Starter 
Joan- That iIS so sad about your daughter's friend. I feel such sadness for all those kids in public scchools. Yesterday I was passing by my old high-school and looked and thought "I can't believe they (teachers etc) can go on doing the horrible things they did to me, to these young adults". As I'm reading Holt's books as well as Pierce's book Magical Child I feel such anger and hopelessness. I want everyone to be able to experience learning as wonderfully as it was designed to be.
The other day I was talking ot my 15-year old brother who was dreading going back to school again. He said it was all so pointless, learning the same things over and over. I told him that ds would never be sent to school and he just couldn't believe it! There's not alot of talk about homeschooling here in Sweden (good thing we're moving back). He said "why couldn't you be my mom?". Since I was ten when he was born I remember how he was growing up. He was so eager to learn, exploring with all his senses, and when he started to school it all went away. He's always stressed about what he's not able to do- getting good grades. He's shown me some great thinsg he did in wood, just beautiful things he loved to make. He only got a C because the teacher doesn't like his attitude, that he asks too many questions while making his wood art. How horrible to be judged this way.

Yes, learning is and should be fun. Although ds is still fairly young I try to make a point not to value his experiences, so that he can take in every aspect of each new encounter with somethin/someone unknown. I find that it's difficult, but I know that I'm here for a reason and that I can do it. I'm unlearning and learning at the same time.
post #40 of 41
Quote:
Children do not resist learning, but they may resist *teaching*!
Good point! Dh has been home sick this week and he keeps trying to get dd to read to him.....she is clever and knows when he really wants to listen to a story and when he is trying to "teach" her something. OTOH, she loved doing math problems with him because it is a love of his and he has so much fun coming up with them for her, and figuring out hers.

I remember when my son was young he was an intense soccer player. His love for soccer led him, and the rest of us as well, on lots of interesting learning quests. To this day (he's married and a daddy now) he can still tell you what the flag of every country that has a soccer team looks like.

Because of interests of various children we have all been enriched by their quest for information on the subject of interest. It works the other way around too....when I get interested and involved in something my kids will often pick up on some part of it too. I love to crochet and weave, so all of my kids have persued this to some extent. Most lost interest but my 13yo dd has branched off into custom designs of her own. She has commissions for purses, scarves and hats from her older siblings college friends now. The same with music which is my dh's passion....all of the kids have persued music and some have become very accomplished.

It is a wonderful journey this unschooling thing.
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