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Serious concerns

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty much on board with the unschooling concept but admit to have moments of doubt and panic. Those are the times I think I should be "doing" something schooly but they pass pretty quickly. Any way, my kids are 5, 3, and 7 months - I know, not very old to be worrying too much but eh, we do. lol

DH has BIG concerns though about unschooling. Even though I've tried to explain that kids aren't empty vessels that we're supposed to dump loads of facts into; that we don't have to break life up into subjects; that they'll learn what they need to when they need to; he still doesn't buy it. He's concerned that they will not be able to compete in a very competitive and difficult world. And that they (DS5 especially - more further down on that) won't have any motivation to learn anything. He thinks that we should "make" them learn certain things. That they should have to sit down, do the work, and learn. "Dangit, Iwas forced to do stuff I didn't like and they should have to do the same. It's real life. It isn't all about doing whatever you want whenever you want."

I think that's a bit extreme. And I don't go with the idea of them doing whatever whenever. For the most part I keep the unschooling strictly to "academics". We have rules and discipline, bedtimes and meal times, etc. It's not a run-away-zoo by any means. But to be fair to the situation, we don't wake up to any real purpose either. And that drives him batty, too. He gets up with the purpose to go to work, make money, pay bills, provide, etc. We on the other hand don't have any obligations. We spend our days milling about. Of couse, I have household chores to do throughout the day and I try to encourage them to help where they can. I figure if they contribute to the messes they can contribute to the clean up. And I chalk that up as real life lessons. We try to read but I've found it harder to do with the baby demanding so much attention. They do watch a lot of TV but it's only PBS or DVDs and honestly they've learn a TON from these sources. But, back on subject, we really don't have much to do. We don't live in the city and don't really have available funds to do much. We don't live on a farm or do any kind of gardening. And there aren't any other kids around us for them to play with. So I feel in truth we aren't left with much but I really want the unschooing thing to work. Maybe I just don't know how. So that plus DHs concerns make me worry.

Oh, and let's not forget DS5. He adds to the worry as well. This one's going to send me to the funny farm! He is soooooooo difficult to work with. And I don't mean trying to make him do schooly stuff (though that's a trip!). It's everything! He knows it all. He doesn't need to be told anything. And his way/his opinion is the RIGHT one and he won't be told any different. And he knows how to do everything:

"Sweetheart, perhaps this summer we can work on your swimming."

"I already know how to swim."

"Well, I meant without a noodle, vest, or water wings. So you can swim by yourself." *Big smile*

"I already KNOW how! And I'm NOT taking lessons!"

And no amount of reasoning, facts, etc will sway him. VERY frustrating. And because of this trait DH worries that DS will not try anything on his own initiation if he finds it the least bit difficult or intimidating. Another example:

We bought what I thought was a really cool item from the Teacher's Aid store. It's a collection of cards with different aquatic shapes (octopus, submarine, shark, etc) that you fill in with small tiles (squares, circles, triangles, etc.). I could spend hours doing them and I'm not a problem solving type person. DD3 did one and seemed to have fun. DS however tried one and after less than 30 sec declared it "too hard" and wanted to leave. I tried to encouage him and we did it together but he wasn't jumping to do anymore. That's pretty much how it is with him. I'm going to be bald by the time he's 18 from pulling my hair out.

DH feels he needs to be made to learn math (sit and work 20, 50, 100 problems....you know, drill him);he needs to be reading within the next year - only a legit learning problem is a reason not to be; and this all needs to be done in a certain way, too (very linear and in keeping with public school). And again, all this makes me worry. I don't want to do an injustice to my children by not "making" them learn certain things in a certain way and then on the other hand I'm scared to let them be and let them learn in their own time and in their own way fearing they won't be prepared for the world.

I suppose I'm looking for some advice and support. And thanks for making it this far in my book.
post #2 of 31
Your children are still young. You have time.

I personally think your DH expects a lot of a five year old (esp. a boy) in terms of academics. Can you find different theories of learning and read them with your DH? Then you can both discuss educational theories and approaches over time and see how you feel about things. Give this journey some time, however, before you make decisions.

In my experience, 5 year old boys want to play. They want involvement from their father. They want to run, build, jump, run and play some more. They learn a lot through play.

post #3 of 31
My son just turned 6 and your son sounds a lot like my son at 5 and even sometimes now for that matter. It may even be part of his personality as I am thhe same way to this day and my mom also. There is an expression- "loves to learn hates to be taught" that sums us all up pretty well. Good news is self-directed learning works great for us. I think talking to your husband and telling him he needs to have a little faith and trust the process, perhaps give him articles to read or websites to read. Esp. the ones about unschoolers who WANTED to learn or do something and HAD to tackle things they hated or weren't good at to do so. That may put his mind a little to ease about the real world, having to do things they don't like, etc.

Also I would google homeschooling creatively it's a yahoo group i'm on and it goes into the right-brained learners. it is very interesting. you may see your son in the description or you may not, but it's worth looking into. i have learned a lot from the website even though I don't think my son is necessarily completely right brained, but I can relate to a lot of what it says. i am rushing out the door so sorry if this isn't the most well thought out or complete response, but I just wanted to try to share a couple of things I thought might help... good luck.



Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteisle View Post
I'm pretty much on board with the unschooling concept but admit to have moments of doubt and panic. Those are the times I think I should be "doing" something schooly but they pass pretty quickly. Any way, my kids are 5, 3, and 7 months - I know, not very old to be worrying too much but eh, we do. lol

DH has BIG concerns though about unschooling. Even though I've tried to explain that kids aren't empty vessels that we're supposed to dump loads of facts into; that we don't have to break life up into subjects; that they'll learn what they need to when they need to; he still doesn't buy it. He's concerned that they will not be able to compete in a very competitive and difficult world. And that they (DS5 especially - more further down on that) won't have any motivation to learn anything. He thinks that we should "make" them learn certain things. That they should have to sit down, do the work, and learn. "Dangit, Iwas forced to do stuff I didn't like and they should have to do the same. It's real life. It isn't all about doing whatever you want whenever you want."

I think that's a bit extreme. And I don't go with the idea of them doing whatever whenever. For the most part I keep the unschooling strictly to "academics". We have rules and discipline, bedtimes and meal times, etc. It's not a run-away-zoo by any means. But to be fair to the situation, we don't wake up to any real purpose either. And that drives him batty, too. He gets up with the purpose to go to work, make money, pay bills, provide, etc. We on the other hand don't have any obligations. We spend our days milling about. Of couse, I have household chores to do throughout the day and I try to encourage them to help where they can. I figure if they contribute to the messes they can contribute to the clean up. And I chalk that up as real life lessons. We try to read but I've found it harder to do with the baby demanding so much attention. They do watch a lot of TV but it's only PBS or DVDs and honestly they've learn a TON from these sources. But, back on subject, we really don't have much to do. We don't live in the city and don't really have available funds to do much. We don't live on a farm or do any kind of gardening. And there aren't any other kids around us for them to play with. So I feel in truth we aren't left with much but I really want the unschooing thing to work. Maybe I just don't know how. So that plus DHs concerns make me worry.

Oh, and let's not forget DS5. He adds to the worry as well. This one's going to send me to the funny farm! He is soooooooo difficult to work with. And I don't mean trying to make him do schooly stuff (though that's a trip!). It's everything! He knows it all. He doesn't need to be told anything. And his way/his opinion is the RIGHT one and he won't be told any different. And he knows how to do everything:

"Sweetheart, perhaps this summer we can work on your swimming."

"I already know how to swim."

"Well, I meant without a noodle, vest, or water wings. So you can swim by yourself." *Big smile*

"I already KNOW how! And I'm NOT taking lessons!"

And no amount of reasoning, facts, etc will sway him. VERY frustrating. And because of this trait DH worries that DS will not try anything on his own initiation if he finds it the least bit difficult or intimidating. Another example:

We bought what I thought was a really cool item from the Teacher's Aid store. It's a collection of cards with different aquatic shapes (octopus, submarine, shark, etc) that you fill in with small tiles (squares, circles, triangles, etc.). I could spend hours doing them and I'm not a problem solving type person. DD3 did one and seemed to have fun. DS however tried one and after less than 30 sec declared it "too hard" and wanted to leave. I tried to encouage him and we did it together but he wasn't jumping to do anymore. That's pretty much how it is with him. I'm going to be bald by the time he's 18 from pulling my hair out.

DH feels he needs to be made to learn math (sit and work 20, 50, 100 problems....you know, drill him);he needs to be reading within the next year - only a legit learning problem is a reason not to be; and this all needs to be done in a certain way, too (very linear and in keeping with public school). And again, all this makes me worry. I don't want to do an injustice to my children by not "making" them learn certain things in a certain way and then on the other hand I'm scared to let them be and let them learn in their own time and in their own way fearing they won't be prepared for the world.

I suppose I'm looking for some advice and support. And thanks for making it this far in my book.
post #4 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteisle View Post
"Dangit, Iwas forced to do stuff I didn't like and they should have to do the same. It's real life. It isn't all about doing whatever you want whenever you want."
Whenever I hear something like this (and I hear it a lot, from different people) it always makes me sad for the speaker. It seems there is a lot of resentment behind this kind of talk.

Is your dh currently happy with his life and job? If he's not, perhaps addressing what he can change, so that you can ALL be doing what you want would be a good direction, instead of trying to get the kids to do things they DON'T want to do, yk?


Quote:
Oh, and let's not forget DS5. He adds to the worry as well. This one's going to send me to the funny farm! He is soooooooo difficult to work with. And I don't mean trying to make him do schooly stuff (though that's a trip!). It's everything! He knows it all. He doesn't need to be told anything. And his way/his opinion is the RIGHT one and he won't be told any different. And he knows how to do everything:

"Sweetheart, perhaps this summer we can work on your swimming."

"I already know how to swim."

"Well, I meant without a noodle, vest, or water wings. So you can swim by yourself." *Big smile*

"I already KNOW how! And I'm NOT taking lessons!"

And no amount of reasoning, facts, etc will sway him.
I used to think that my dd was difficult, because when she was little, we used to get into all kinds of struggles. Then I realized that it wasn't all her. She was not "being difficult" all by herself, she was only being difficult because she wasn't agreeable with MY ideas and suggestions. So, I started making suggestions and truly allowing her to take them or leave them. When I was less vested in the outcome, everything went much smoother and she really did know what she was ready for at any given time.

Quote:
We bought what I thought was a really cool item from the Teacher's Aid store...
If I had a nickel for every "really cool" thing I've brought home for my kids that they a) never touched or b) tried once and never used again, I would be a rich woman. I keep trying, because you never know what they'll find interesting or useful, but accepting that what YOU think it great might not "click" for them is important, I think. Maybe down the road your ds will pick the cards up again and enjoy them. Or, maybe not. There are plenty of other ways to learn about marine animals, and many, many years in which to do it.

A major part of unschooling, to me, is that the individual learns in the way and at the time that works best for THEM.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
Whenever I hear something like this (and I hear it a lot, from different people) it always makes me sad for the speaker. It seems there is a lot of resentment behind this kind of talk.
I agree. I think some (many?) people (and I'm not saying this is true of OP's husband necessarily) are/were unhappy with aspects of their life and think this should be the case with everyone. Almost like- I have to/had to suffer why should it be any different for anyone else...
post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by terra623 View Post
I agree. I think some (many?) people (and I'm not saying this is true of OP's husband necessarily) are/were unhappy with aspects of their life and think this should be the case with everyone. Almost like- I have to/had to suffer why should it be any different for anyone else...
Not an unschooler (yet!) but just wanted to pipe in here...............

I agree completely. I know that I had to work really hard to let go of a lot of the hurt, anger, and resentment in my heart toward a few people for things that happened to me in the past, and until I did this it spilled over into my everyday life and how I cared for my own family. I used to think that certain things needed to be done in a certain way because that's how it was handled with me as a child, and it was a really hard road to let go of that thinking. One of the biggest things I had to do was to stop trying to do things based on what I knew as normal, and what I was taught to believe. I had to learn to just trust myself to make the right choices. I still struggle with this in many areas, but am doing a lot better than I was a couple years ago. I know that if I had continued with the thinking I had then, I owuld have probably shot myself or my kids with the stress of it all. It actually took me having a mild stroke early this year to show me that life is too short to have certain expectations of my kids, and that I need to loosen up and let them just be kids more than I have. It is one thing I'm still struggling with that keeps me from just taking the leap into radical unschooling (yeah that's where we're slowly working toward) but I know that if I just keep at it, I will be in that place eventually.

And as a mom with a gifted kid and a child with learning disabilities, your dh is WAY off-base with what a 5yo should be doing. My gifted 5yo doesn't sit for more than an hour and a half a day of actual lessons work, and my challenging 6yo is just starting to attempt reading (although she got a copy of "The Beginner's Bible" for Christmas this year and has been bugging us nonstop since she unwrapped it to sit with her and help her read it out loud, she LOVES having a bible that is even remotely close to her level)
post #7 of 31
Your DH has seriously high expectations for a 5yo. At the end of grade K here, they (state department of education) expect the kids to know all their letters and recognize their numbers, and not a whole terribly lot more.

Most states have some sort of learning goal list for each grade level. This is the one for my state, for example:

http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/EALR_GLE.aspx

Which isn't to say that I think everyone should be stressing out about meeting those goals, it's just reassuring to see how well the kids measure up sometimes. And a really official source like that should help your DH wrap his head around what most 5yos are actually "working" on in school.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you each for your input and advice. I do feel reassured that what we're doing and where we are with things is OK after reading your posts.

I do agree that DH does seem to have unrealistic expectations in regards to our children's education. And please don't misunderstand......he's not expecting DS to sit and do lots of math problems right now. But he's afraid that if left up to them they would never seek out algebra for example. Or physics. Or......whatever it is that is he deems important. (He's very hung up on math even though he's not really a math wiz....I don't get it). He's afraid as they go along their educational journey they won't seek out things that have come to be seen as "standard" knowledge in the different subject areas and therefore they will be at a disadvantage compared to their peers. I personally think (and hope) they will actually blow "standard" out of the water by not be subjected to a mainstream cookie-cutter education.

I've tried in the past to bring a little Charlotte Mason in and asked DS if he could copy some words I had written based on her idea of copywork. He of course pitched a fit about it and it left us both upset. Hint taken. I backed off. Interestingly enough, if he feels challenged, as in "bet you can't......" he'll jump on it like there's no tomorrow just to prove you wrong. (Of course, I get the na-na na-na na sing-song to go along with his accomplishment. lol) But that doesn't work all the time.

That's a good idea to find out what my state's objectives are. That would give a good base line for me and a reality check for DH.

And I'll keep bringing in "cool" things, too. I do need to remember that they have no obligation to think it's cool just because I do.

Thanks again everyone! And I'm open for anything else you might throw my way. Always learning here.........
post #9 of 31
Maybe it would help to read through some of the threads here, especially about older children, and see what exactly they are doing. Not that your son will do the same things, but maybe having some real-life examples and typical patterns in front of you would help.
post #10 of 31
I'm not an unschooler, so I can't help there but I might be able to help with the DH issue. I bet he is feeling a tad resentful of your "easy" (I'm totally not saying being a SAHM mom is not a lot of work BTW please do get me wrong! I haven't slept in 6 yrs my job is tougher then it looks )life while he works all day. I know the times when my kids have watched to much TV or I let the house slide to much my DH does start to feel envious and I can't blame him. I work hard too don't get me wrong, but I have a much more flexible schedule then he does and I LOVE my job. He leaves for work every morning at 6:30, while we are all sleeping and works very hard at a job he doesn't even care for, so we can have what we have. Anyway, my point to all this is maybe he just wants to see your doing "something" with the kids.
I would try to limit TV has much as possible and plan fun activities. Pretty much any activity you do with those ages will be a learning activity. Read stories, put on puppet shows, have them dictate stories to you, build with legos(or any other building toy), make crafts, to free art projects, build a house out of a box, make play dough and play with it, do fun science experiments, talk a walk, go on a nature scavenger hunt, visit the library......... Maybe, just seeing them busy and engaged will be enough for him? If not though I would rethink unschooling. I think with any plan both parents need to be fully on board or there is going to be a lot of resentment. There is also a HUGE area of homeschooling between, unschooling and drill and kill. Maybe you could find a happy medium? Or if his main concern is say reading, maybe you could just do a little reading with him and unschool everything else?
post #11 of 31
i totally agree with those who say that this is about your husband and his feelings of his life (and perspective of the world being difficult and competitive) than it really is about educational processes.

that being said, look toward unschooling-like curricula such as reggio or sunbury or whatever--and bring that in might be a comfortable medium.
post #12 of 31
I'm sick in bed with little in the way of thinking ability today, but here's an article that came to mind when I read your post - maybe this can help your dh at least begin to consider the situation a little differently: Schooling - Liberation of Mind Control? I'm not trying to start an anti-school rant at all - this is about certain types of school thinking like the ones he has in mind. The author is an American journalist and educator who has written extensively on ecological issues, including oil depletion.

And for whatever it's worth, I'd drop the "unschooling" term when talking to him about the future you see in your homeschooling lives (I hope he doesn't think you should be starting lessons with a 5 year old) - it isn't at all necessary, and it can cause more fuss than it's worth. We unschooled most of our son's homeschooling years without ever using a word for it - it can be way too much for someone who thinks of learning in a traditional way to have it presented as a philosophical package rather than just an ongoing practical way of relating to learning as it comes along. My son's dad would have been beside himself if I'd called it by that name - he had a hard enough time with it as it was - but he did have epiphanies all along the way that showed him whatever I was doing was working wonders. In fact, my son was in college already when he told me one day, "Y'know, there's a word for it - it's called 'unschooling.' " My mouth dropped open - I had no idea he hadn't realized that years earlier, but it just wasn't something we had any particular reason to talk about. Everyone around us was doing it - it was just the way he and his peers were raised, so there wasn't anything to talk about.

Lillian
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
In fact, my son was in college already when he told me one day, "Y'know, there's a word for it - it's called 'unschooling.' " My mouth dropped open - I had no idea he hadn't realized that years earlier, but it just wasn't something we had any particular reason to talk about. Everyone around us was doing it - it was just the way he and his peers were raised, so there wasn't anything to talk about.

Lillian
This always makes me laugh, Lillian.

My dh handed me a newspaper article about unschooling one day (after we'd been unschooling for years) and told me, "This sounds like what we do!" It was all I could do not to laugh.

Good advice though--the label really trips some people up, and if they have the idea that it means "doing nothing" then the whole idea can be thrown out before ever being considered.

OP, maybe you could try describing what your kids do in terms of "educationalese" for your dh's benefit, yk? So, if they watched a program on lions and drew some pictures, instead of saying they watched tv and colored, you could say they "did" science, learned about lions and their habitats, then worked on their fine motor skills--or something.
post #14 of 31
I really think your DH needs to see what unschooling looks like for families with older children. His fears are "normal" for a school-based society. I know few people who think kids will EVER be interested in learning Math unless forced to! He needs to read blogs, read threads, and talk to families with older unschooled children to see what it really looks like. I think then he might feel a bit more assured that he's not going to "ruin" his kids!
post #15 of 31
It sounds like everyone has already given some really good advice so I'll just chime in here with what stuck out for me.

You said that the children watch a lot of t.v. We don't have cable so its just movies here. We go through periods of watching a lot of movies and other periods of going weeks at a time with no screen time at all.

The times when movies weave their way back into our lives my children are less motivated and have shorter attention spans. Nothing sounds like fun and they are quicker to give up on difficult tasks.

When they are t.v. free they are much more motivated and will work on projects sometimes all day long. They are more creative and explore their world with more interest and enthusiasm.
post #16 of 31
I'd just like to chime in that my soon to be 5yo son does not like to do anything structured for schooling. He's not interested in numbers, letters etc. He does love exercise, swordplay, imagining things, playing the old battleships, playing the game pigs. One thing I did for learning shapes etc was to use sidewalk chalk and draw them out and then he could destroy the picture while I talked to him about the shape. Your son might enjoy cutting up shapes, not cutting out, but destroying them with the scissors. We like to play with dry erase pens on windows too. For math concepts, running around the house and subtracting or adding laps works well as does counting how many times he can jump on the mini trampoline or how many different moves he can do with a light sabre. My son will NOT sit still for reading books and in facts dislikes being read to, unless there's alot of action. So we read about Thor and Perseus and Medusa or Pirates. His favorite book is a Star Wars encyclopedia. We also do alot of building with our quadrilla, lincoln logs and little legos (not duplos). Duplos are for babies...lol. I've found doing as many things with physical activity is the key for us. I've also read up on delayed 3R's and have decided to not even introduce this until he's 7 or wants to explore them. I'll take him hiking instead
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteisle View Post
. But he's afraid that if left up to them they would never seek out algebra for example. Or physics.
This part made me chuckle. Tell your husband that my son is six and last May his passion was chemistry. He saw ME looking something up in a chemistry book that I had picked up as a resource at some yard sale. Looking over my shoulder he spotted the little cute round ball diagrams of molecules and asked what they were. I explained, and there was no turning back. He was in love with chemistry for months, the house was covered from stem to stern in clay models of molecules and drawings of them, and he even did a chemistry display at the homeschooler's fair, as shown on his adorable video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zup585lVQZM

(just a minute and a half long)

Right now he's studying musical instruments. On his own!! He learns their names, their sounds, their materials, their classification, their parts...he draws them and makes them out of clay, we watch YouTube videos of them,study them online, see them in concerts..... You just never know what a kid is going to fall in love with learning. And with unschooling you can learn it at whatever preposterous age you want! :-)
post #18 of 31
I have not read all the replies that you have gotten, though by the looks of it you have already gotten loads of great info!
I think if you havebt yet you and your hubby should read Teenage Liberation handbook by Grace Lwellyn .
Amazing read in simple straightforward text that really shines a light on exactly why this is the best way for our children to learn.
I am a Unschooling Mama of 4, ages 12,9,7,and 3 and they have all been unschooled their entire life. I can say that the most imprortant person to unschool is You, Your children will unschool themselves if you unschool yourself. so when you read books and take in ifo take it in from a place that its YOU who are unschooling and You who needs to get your unschooly thoguhts and patterns and out. Start looking at everything in your life as a learning opportunity and your kids will too.

You have an awesome opportunity here to finally learn and absorb all the things you never had time to when you were going to school, jump on those things and Your children will feel comfortable enough to do the same
hugs and support
Sarah
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post
This part made me chuckle. Tell your husband that my son is six and last May his passion was chemistry. He saw ME looking something up in a chemistry book that I had picked up as a resource at some yard sale. Looking over my shoulder he spotted the little cute round ball diagrams of molecules and asked what they were. I explained, and there was no turning back. He was in love with chemistry for months, the house was covered from stem to stern in clay models of molecules and drawings of them, and he even did a chemistry display at the homeschooler's fair, as shown on his adorable video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zup585lVQZM

(just a minute and a half long)

Right now he's studying musical instruments. On his own!! He learns their names, their sounds, their materials, their classification, their parts...he draws them and makes them out of clay, we watch YouTube videos of them,study them online, see them in concerts..... You just never know what a kid is going to fall in love with learning. And with unschooling you can learn it at whatever preposterous age you want! :-)
I LOVED your video. This is what I'm hoping for with homeschooling!
post #20 of 31
There's a lot going on with you, OP, so I'm just going to choose one statement to unpack here:

Quote:
"Sweetheart, perhaps this summer we can work on your swimming."
Swimming, really? Work? What's to work on? Isn't swimming supposed to be...well, fun? Your son will get his own inspiration to be free of flotation devices once he sees other kids swimming unfettered--or maybe not. It'll unfold all in its own time. But I can totally see why your son was turned off by this.

That statement comes from a place of "less than," whereas your son was probably perfectly satisfied with his swimming experience last summer.
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