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when regular life takes up the whole day/week/month

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
Maybe it's just that even after unschooling for many years I still can't believe this is OK. But it's harder to not have doubts now that I have a 12 yr. old unschooler.

It seems like our LIFE just takes up all our time and we are not doing the "extra" stuff that I feel like unschoolers "should" be doing.

What life is now for us: Maintaining the house/yard/animals (dog, rabbits, chickens). Preparing meals. Errands, food shopping. Getting outside for hikes, bike riding, tennis, roller skating. Reading. DD plays with friends. Hanging out as a family, movies, TV, friends over. DD and I working on craft fair project. Planning a trip for May. Occasional day trip. DD has theater and art classes.

We live at a very relaxed pace (bordering on lazy?) My priorities always lean towards doing less, getting enough sleep, having meals together and not planning back-to-back activities.

Monday we made a huge breakfast, DD read, we did a lot of laundry, had lunch with DH, watched 2 hours of guilty-pleasure TV together, took care of the animals, played with the dog, sat out on the deck in the sun listening to podcasts of "This American Life" and polished our toenails in honor of flip-flop weather arriving and hung out with Grandma a bit before dinner. I told my friend I felt guilty about our day and she said "Why? I would LOVE to have a day like that!" Yeah, but that's like MOST days for us... where's the MATH????The science? the foreign language? the writing of essays and book reports?

Is it OK to just "DO LIFE" at this stage? I feel like we haven't done anything "educational" this year. I was horrified to realize recently that DD is at like a 2nd grade level in math. Yet she is the kid that everyone always comments on as being so amazing and happy and well-adjusted. My friends say they envy our relaxed life. SO WHY DO I FEEL LIKE A BAD HOMESCHOOLING PARENT???
post #2 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeksmom View Post

What life is now for us: Maintaining the house/yard/animals (dog, rabbits, chickens). Preparing meals. Errands, food shopping. Getting outside for hikes, bike riding, tennis, roller skating. Reading. DD plays with friends. Hanging out as a family, movies, TV, friends over. DD and I working on craft fair project. Planning a trip for May. Occasional day trip. DD has theater and art classes.

We live at a very relaxed pace (bordering on lazy?)
I had to smile at this. Nothing in the first paragraph sounds "lazy" to me!

Quote:
My priorities always lean towards doing less, getting enough sleep, having meals together and not planning back-to-back activities.
This sounds healthy and reasonable to ME. And it would seem, from your friends' reactions, that others agree.

Quote:
... where's the MATH????The science? the foreign language? the writing of essays and book reports?
Well, the science and math are all mixed up in the shopping, the animal care, etc. that you're already doing. Does your dd want to learn a foreign language? Does she like to write? Learning how to compose an essay would be useful if she's planning on going to college, but even if she is, there's no need to start now. Book reports are strange things in that, once out of grammar school, no one ever has need to write a book report again.

Quote:
Is it OK to just "DO LIFE" at this stage? I feel like we haven't done anything "educational" this year.
Does it help at all to write out what she's been doing? Because, reading over your post, it sounds great to me. (Then again, "doing life" is what unschooling is all about, in my eyes.) Does she WANT to be doing more? Does she feel like something is missing?

Quote:
I was horrified to realize recently that DD is at like a 2nd grade level in math.
One way of looking at this is that she hasn't NEEDED anything beyond the math she already knows yet. Are you concerned that if she had a need for different math skills, she wouldn't be able to obtain them? Is she being held back from doing things because of her lack of math? That's easy enough to address if that 's the issue, but otherwise, it seems like she just hasn't had a need for it.

Quote:
Yet she is the kid that everyone always comments on as being so amazing and happy and well-adjusted. My friends say they envy our relaxed life.
This is priceless. For all of you, but especially for teens. When I look around me, on this message board as well as irl, I am often dismayed at the difficulties that teens are going through. It is no small feat to have a happy, well-adjusted kid with whom you have a good relationship.


[QUOTESO WHY DO I FEEL LIKE A BAD HOMESCHOOLING PARENT???[/QUOTE]

Well, could it be that society says that we should be studying x,y and z those who do are awarded "proof" in the way of grades/diplomas and that there is no measure for what we're doing? There seems to be great value put on being busy and over-scheduled. If you're very busy, you must be very important and smart, and needed. Living at a relaxed pace seems like a luxury or a vacation to a lot of people I know.

But living in a way that affords time to foster relationships, where care can be given to people (and animals) without rushing, where people have time for their thoughts and daydreams and discussions--sadly, that's a rare thing. I think it's really important though.
post #3 of 80
Cooking/baking usually involves measuring, typically in fractions (1/2 cup; 1/4 tsp). Even if you don't use actual measuring cups or measuring spoons, you're eyeballing amounts, estimating the serving size. That counts as math. For x amount of pasta, you need to boil y amount of water. Or feeding the animals--x amount of food per animal.

Running errands--more math--estimating the time it will take to go a certain distance. Checking prices, figuring out how long a 5 lb bag of potatoes should last your family, seeing how much your purchases total is all math-based.

Going hiking, biking, and roller skating also involves estimating distance and time required to cover that distance. Get a pedometer if you don't already have one so you and your DD can see how many steps you/your daughter takes to go a mile.

Figuring out what to watch, when, on TV usually requires both reading and math skills--if she wants to watch a movie that lasts 2 hours, but you want to watch a show that lasts 30 minutes, figuring out when to change the channel requires addition/subtraction (and typically some negotiation skills, too).

Cooking/baking also involves science, particularly baking (ex: interaction between baking soda and buttermilk causes leavening in Irish Soda Bread). While you're out hiking/biking/roller skating, pause to examine the plants/animals for some biology. Your daughter probably already knows a great deal about the animals you take care of, ranging from healthy appearance to reproductive habits and preferred habitats.

Your life is filled with tons of learning opportunities (and it sounds like a wonderful, balanced life to me). You just might need to prompt yourself to be a bit more deliberate in your own mind about recognizing how much education she is getting. And if she wants to learn more, or wants a more structured approach, work with her to achieve that.

If you want to incorporate more writing, how about having her write out instructions for caring for the animals--as if you were taking a vacation and having a friend stop by to feed/water them while you're away. Or have her write postcards to send back to Grandma, or her friends from your vacation spots.

You mention she reads a lot. Do you discuss what she's reading? If she can talk about them, then learning how to write about them shouldn't be too difficult. If she can't even talk coherently about what she's read, well, that's a place to start before you randomly assign a book report =).

Or, maybe you just need to let go of the idea that you should be recreating more of a school at home environment so you can ditch the guilt. If what you've been doing still works (for you and your DD), then go ahead and keep doing it. But if your gut is telling you that something is off, then work with your DD to figure out (maybe try a few different things) what needs to be tweaked to make it a better fit for who you both are at this stage of your lives.
post #4 of 80
I think a common plan for many teens is to figure out what they want to do once they are of adult age - and work backwards from there - create a path on how to get there.

She may not be there yet (she is only 12) but you might be. I know I felt a lot better once I was able to research Hsing with regards to Canadian Univerisities as well as other opportunities for older teens.

My own research has shown that most universities will take portfolios, SAT scores, etc. Once again - your DD may not be intersted in knowing this yet but you might.

I think a lot of the stuff we think of in terms of academia really is filler. I do not think it takes more than a year or two (at most) to prepare for University entrance, and your DD is certainly not of that age yet.

Once you do research for yourself, you might come to realise that what you are doing at this point in time really is fine. As she ages, she might need to add in more structure to meet her goals - but it is incrediably doubtful she needs to yet.


My only mild concern is math. Is she worried about her low math skills? Have you asked her? If she is worried, you need to brainstorm with her on how to bring her skills up. Online courses, tutors, and working your way through math books come to mind.

Good luck!

Kathy
post #5 of 80
I'm just working on letting go of the "must learn math" feelings that keep welling up inside me.

Here's a blog from Psychology Today that makes the case for *not* teaching math until after the elementary school age, which means that if your DD finds a motivation to learn it, she is now getting to a point where she will be able to do so easily and intuitively: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...ath-in-schools

I know an unschooling family in which one DD decided she wanted to attend a magnet high school and was thus motivated to catch up on math. She learned everything she needed to be on par with her school peers within two months. This was at age 13 or 14.
post #6 of 80
I'm with you, OP! My 10 yo son loves to read, watches documentaries, listens to audio books, plays outside, loves science and history, likes computer gaming and music and karate and Scouts--but he wants nothing to do with math and avoids writing. Spelling does not come naturally to him, but he's not motivated to learn it because writing is hard for him (he has dyslexia and dysgraphia). I see unschooling bearing fruit in so many ways--but for us, math and writing aren't just coming naturally. I would LOVE to be a confident unschooling mom. I don't know how to get there.

Reading awesome unschooling blogs is inspiring, but also intimidating. We don't do nearly as much as it seems those bloggers do. It's hard not to compare.
post #7 of 80
First, your lifestyle sounds lovely and very much along the lines of what we do.

Second, as my children get older (wow, does it ever go by fast!) I am more and more conscious of the fact that one day they will be gone from home, living their own lives. Thinking of that makes me cherish all the time we have together. A day such as you described with your teen is one that you will NEVER regret, and the more of them the better for both of you, IMHO.

Third, as someone else said, the teen years can be so tricky and is when so many families struggle with their relationships with their teens. I can't think of anything more valuable than the relationship you are having with your daughter. THAT will serve her better than any other "academic skill" you wish to teach!

Finally, the more I do this unschooling thing, and the more I see MYSELF picking up things and learning them rather quickly (even at my advanced age of 42, lol!) because I have an interest and a desire to learn them...well, I despair less and less about making sure my kids know "x, y, z" now. If your daughter should suddenly find a need to know calculus I guarantee you she will pick it up in far less time than any schooled child will have done. She can easily (and quickly) learn at 18 what she doesn't know at 12. But the relationship she has with you and the family...that is truly priceless.
post #8 of 80
Yes it does sound lovely but I think this:

"Cooking/baking usually involves measuring, typically in fractions (1/2 cup; 1/4 tsp). Even if you don't use actual measuring cups or measuring spoons, you're eyeballing amounts, estimating the serving size. That counts as math. For x amount of pasta, you need to boil y amount of water. Or feeding the animals--x amount of food per animal."

is a bit misleading. Yes it maths but it's what kindergarten kids for maths. It's also something that really takes no skill. Most people can easily measure out half a cup of flour. To me that is not an acceptable maths experience.

Your daughter sounds a wonderful girl, enjoy her and equip her for her future.
post #9 of 80
FWIW, I'm not an unschooler - very relaxed but not an unschooler so my suggestions may not resonate with you.

Why not integrate some more math (choosing that one out of your list) into your daily life. There are tonnes of fun/interesting books - Livingmath has great suggestions. There are dvds like the Story of One, The Story of Math, Flatland, Standard Deviants, Bill Nye's math dvds etc. that she might enjoy.

There are math games, math magazines or ezines, math in art program, math history programs, math podcasts etc that could all be used as the basis for a fun co-op, or that you could use as a basis for sparking conversations or perhaps some kind of joint project.

I think everyday life stuff is fine, but I think if your instincts are telling you that there may be a need to integrate more intellectually interesting or challenging elements, I don't think you should ignore that.
post #10 of 80
OP, I am so on your page. I feel guilty that dh is out busting his butt all day, and we at home go for bike rides, play tennis, watch videos, surf the net, craft, cook . . . we just live. And while my children are younger than your DD, (my eldest is approaching her age) they know more than their schooled peers about lots of interesting topics, things that we assume kids ought to know, you know? and yet I don't know what they know academically compared to what their grade level is doing. We are all about sports over here, and through them they learn SO much that I think is important to life. None of it is math-related. but they can do math. we buy stuff, theysave paper route money for stuff they want, we play poker.

I've gone through nursing school, run a bakery and handle our finances at home, and I've never needed more math skills than the ones my kids have now (I just use bigger numbers). My husband, he uses loads of math I don't know, because his job involves lots of math. So he has that in his brain, he draws on it daily. If my children need math for work, they'll learn it and keep it 'fresh' by using it in their job.

It is helping ME to write this to you. I feel so at odds as a homeschooler. Sure we never bought into the schooled-life, we've always gone against the grain. but even in the homeschooling community, mine are not the kids designing science projects for the fair, or playing an instrument at May Day, or getting into WWI plane design . . . while I never conciously 'expected' them to be a certain way, as homeschoolers, I did think all this freedom would result in kids fired-up with big ideas and projects and interests. And they have interests. Just not what we expect in the stereotype of homeschoolers.

Anyway, fwiw, I hear you, and in reading about your life think what you're doing is a-okay, and we are living that gig as well. Our children are happy and at peace with themselves and their lives, and are learning from us how to live. What better lesson than that?
post #11 of 80
We are basically unschoolers, though my kids have, over the years, chosen to adopt certain amounts of structured learning into their lives. With the exception of my youngest who has loved structured bookwork from a young age that desire has tended to kick in at about age 11-13. They had interests and as adolescents began to appreciate that people who were very competent in those areas had accumulated systematic skill-sets and bodies of knowledge that allowed them to explore their interests more deeply. As they moved into the developmental stage of looking beyond the immediate and of trying to look for their place in the larger world, they began to appreciate that there were certain basic skills and knowledge that they wanted to ensure they had.

For instance my ds was enjoying messing about with computers, and realized that programmers have to get a very detailed knowledge of the logic of computer code, of the syntax of computer languages and (for physics game engines at least) of complex mathematical functions. So he began working away at trigonometry and physics in systematic ways, as well as tinkering with code, creating his own scripts. My elder dd had always enjoyed creative writing, but wanted to get some outside feedback on her talents and skills, so she took a writing course in the community.

I don't believe that unschooling necessarily means you learn everything you need from daily life. In our case it sometimes means that daily life shows you why you might want to make a concerted effort to do some systematic learning, providing the meaning and motivation for that learning.

I expect that within the next year or two your dd will begin to look into her future and to role models out in the community and begin to aspire to skills and knowledge that require a bit of systematic gap-filling. Finding her situations of responsibility and meaningful work in the larger world may facilitate the timely development of that wider longer-range view. Responding and nurturing such aspirations as they arise is likely all you'll need to do.

Miranda
post #12 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cukup View Post

Your daughter sounds a wonderful girl, enjoy her and equip her for her future.
I agree. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your daughter but I think you're doing her a huge disservice if you allow her to get any further behind. Not only does it limit her future choices (because not all kids are able to catch up in a matter of months) but it's likely to make her feel awkward around her peers - it's not unusual for a kid to feel embarrassed by their lack of knowledge or skill.

Some posters suggest that because you don't use a particular skill after school/college there shouldn't be any concern about learning it in the first place. I don't agree with this. The more knowledge you have, and the greater your skillset, the greater number of potential paths you can take as an adult. And yes, you might not use your physics knowledge as an adult but most kids don't know age 12 what their future career will be.

Half the battle is acknowledging that there is an issue. Good luck with finding a workable solution that will allow your daughter to fulfil her potential.
post #13 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cukup View Post
Yes it maths but it's what kindergarten kids for maths. It's also something that really takes no skill. Most people can easily measure out half a cup of flour. To me that is not an acceptable maths experience.
I don't think kindergarten kids learn fractions, do they? I mean, sure anybody can fill a premeasured cup with flour, but what if you need to halve or double the recipe? I don't think kindergarteners learn how to determine half of 3/4 cup. I don't think kindergarteners learn about dividing shapes into equal parts, such as one must do when carving up a pizza or pie or cake, knowing the number of people and figuring out where to make the cuts.

Then there is the art/chemistry of modifying recipes. For example, spelt flour is low gluten so it won't rise well. I got a brief education in the chemistry of bread just by trying to understand how I could convert a wheat recipe to a spelt recipe.

Daughter has really gotten into cooking and is experimenting with heating different ingredients together in a pan. She wanted to make "pudding" but ended up with something the consistency of runny soup. So this prompted a talk about how different ingredients change the texture of something (think of a muffin compared to soup). When another experiment was too watery she learned that she could apply what she knew about evaporation to boil off the excess water in her concoction.

post #14 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by tessie View Post
Not only does it limit her future choices (because not all kids are able to catch up in a matter of months)
Really? Because my experience is that every last unschooler I know has indeed, when motivated and engaged (rather than coerced by well-intentioned parents or schoolteachers), been able to catch up to an early-to-mid high school level in less than six months. I don't doubt that there aren't a few out there with fairly profound learning disabilities that prevent them catching up ... but assuming there are no LD issues with the OP's dd, I don't doubt she could gain a pre-algebra level of proficiency in short course.

Miranda
post #15 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
Daughter has really gotten into cooking and is experimenting with heating different ingredients together in a pan. She wanted to make "pudding" but ended up with something the consistency of runny soup.
OT, but this reminded me of my new-favourite kitchen reference book. It's called "Ratio."

Miranda
post #16 of 80
At 13, my kid went from almost no formal mathematics (I think she'd had a brief phase of liking worksheets at 8 or so, and maybe worked her way through the first Key to Fractions book, and the rest was just whatever she stumbled across in her life) to scoring just below the 50th percentile on the math section of the SAT.

She also learned to write a formal essay in the same time period, and her SAT essay was also around average for a 12th grader (and really, the physical act of writing by hand and the time pressure probably messed her up a bit).

On the other sections (Verbal and multiple choice Writing) she was well above average - again, for a 12th grader. She's never had any formal learning in either of these things.

Really, happy and well-adjusted 12 year old girls are pretty uncommon. In my experience, unschoolers often become more interested in formal learning and/or college prep stuff a year or two later, like at 13 or 14....

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Really? Because my experience is that every last unschooler I know has indeed, when motivated and engaged (rather than coerced by well-intentioned parents or schoolteachers), been able to catch up to an early-to-mid high school level in less than six months. I don't doubt that there aren't a few out there with fairly profound learning disabilities that prevent them catching up ... but assuming there are no LD issues with the OP's dd, I don't doubt she could gain a pre-algebra level of proficiency in short course.

Miranda
post #17 of 80
I read the title of the thread, "when regular life takes up the whole day/week/month," and thought well that's what regular life does!

I have younger children and the other supportive mamas have covered everything I would have written, but I couldn't resist commenting anyway. I think your day as you described it is wonderful. That's a good day here too.
post #18 of 80
Quote:
I don't think kindergarteners learn about dividing shapes into equal parts, such as one must do when carving up a pizza or pie or cake, knowing the number of people and figuring out where to make the cuts.
Of course they do. And even if they didn't, surely this is not 12-year-old math.

I don't think that homeschoolers or unschoolers need to learn anything on a school's arbitrary schedule---that seems to be missing the point. But going only as far as "doubling a recipe" in math seems a bit of a real-world disservice to a child. If you'd like to incorporate more practical math, how about some financial education? Budgeting, checkbook balancing, figuring out the interest on a loan, miles per gallon, etc.
post #19 of 80
I look at it like this: How would you react if your daughter was public/private schooled and only doing second grade math at 12?
post #20 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by EarthMamaToBe View Post
I look at it like this: How would you react if your daughter was public/private schooled and only doing second grade math at 12?
Apples and oranges.

If you put a child in school, there is an expectation that the school will follow a curriculum. If a child cannot keep up to the curriculum, it is also reasonable to try and figure out why.

If you HS (including USing) you are on your own timetable.

USers believe that children will learn the skills they need when it becomes important to them. Most of them believe that these skills can be aquired in a reasonable time frame when the child is motivated.

There is a difference between "doesn't do math", and "can't do math."

(I also believe there is a time to investigate if the reason a child does not do math is because they struggle in this area and are avoiding it - but there is not enough information from the Op to determine if that is the case, or if math simply hasn't been a big part of their lives and that is why she is at a 2nd grade level)
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