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Month off is leading me to unschool or public school

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
We took the month of June off and it was so nice and relaxing. I enjoyed spending the time with my kids so much. I am beginning to have anxiety about restarting our "homeschooling" routine in July. We are very relaxed homeschoolers as it is. Read a lot. Spend a lot of time outside. No true curriculum except spelling for my 7 year old. Work through some math workbooks when we feel like it and listen to Story of the World on cd. Watch educational movies from the library. Very relaxed which is why we have always gone year round. Last year was especially relaxed with a difficult pregnancy and my work as a midwife apprentice.
But that said this doing nothing but read and have fun this month has lowered my stress so much I am looking at either sending my older two to public school or unschooling all the time.
Have you been here?
Can you really take years off of "school" and have your kids be ok academically?(I am about 3 years from finishing my apprenticeship and I think things will smooth out after that, our family is also complete)
Was public school really less stressful?
post #2 of 17
i guess it would depend on why you're homeschooling to begin with. sending them to public school may not lower the stress level. there's homework to deal with, pressure with grades and social circles... just something to think about!
post #3 of 17
I agree with Inky. I know public schooling would create more stress and anxiety for me because I would be concerned about what they are learning there, academically and socially. It might bring a lot of things into your home that you would have to deal with/talk through w your kiddos/"unteach" them, etc.
post #4 of 17
I doubt that PS would be less stress - gotta be up and ready to catch that bus, be around to pick them up after school, worry about what is happening all day at school (socially and academically), deal with homework/studying for tests, have decreased time to spend with the kiddos in general, have your overall schedules dictated by a school calendar.

We are leaning towards the unschooling thing here - DS is ready for K this fall but "just reading and having fun" has him FAR past a K level. Honestly, many of the things he picks out for himself are around a 3-5 grade level. He has meaningful daily interactions with DH and I - there are so many chances for incidental learning thru out the day. Incidental learning has been shown to be the "best" method of learning - it is easier to understand and to master and to retain.

We have decided to HS - but honestly it is more USing. We don't plan to change anything - continue reading, trips to the zoo and nature hikes, play dates, discovery channel programs like Life and Mythbusters are a staple around here too. LOL
I dont have any curriculum in mind. the only thing I am doing is researching and buying some math resources. And that is only cuz DS is suddenly expressing a desire to learn math (yay!!) - so I bought a Miquon book and am looking at MathUSee cuz both are hands-on/play/discovery kinda stuff.... DS spends alot of time on cosmeo.com searching his current obsession, watching their educational videos, or playing the great "brain games" there.

I don't think our lack of formal learning has been harmful in any way to DS or will be int he future - in fact I think it is the opposite. By allowing him to learn things at his own pace and in his own way - he enjoys it and retains it! he is loving learning and is creating his own work ethic when it comes to learning. I think it also prompts him to think for himself and to think outside the box (compared to being spoon fed info and regurgitating it) - he is so proud of himself when he figures something out, and once it "clicks" he has got it for good.

He has this amazing thirst for knowledge - he devours new stuff. He finds a new topic and pursues it to exhaustion (and often mastery - or as much mastery as he is ready for) - with no prompting or coaching from us, just meaningful interactions and play. Most PS kids don't have this thirst for knowledge - but instead view learning as a tedious, unstimulating chore.

As far as DS being behind now (or later) - He is actually quite advanced for his age in some areas. He reads chapter books and enjoys reading DH's A&P text books LOL Thanks to teh World Atlas map turned backwards, he learns about geography in the shower (per his request!) and has a better understanding of world geo than I do! Other areas, like math, he has had NO interest in and a formal curriculum and "teaching" would have been met with resistance - cuz he wasn't ready for it yet. Now apparently he is ready, so we are playing more mathy games (cards, board games, etc) and looking into manipulative based learning programs to loosely use to discover math concepts.

I like to call it child led learning - and it works well for us. It is fun, flexible, not stressful at all (esepcially once you give up the ideas of "he should be doing this" or "he should know this"). It just feels "right" It is so awesome to see DS so eager to learn. Plus the flexiblity is nice - no worries if we spend a whole day (or week) reading books, playing dinosaurs and swimming. I know that in all that "play" time, he was learning and practicing things too. I honestly think he gets more from this style of learning than he would from workbooks and flashcards.
even the "experts" agree - kids learn best thru play

Just follow your gut - if the last month feels "right" then it probably is. Maybe that will change in a year or ten from now - but if it ain't broke now, don't fix it! lol Trust your gut cuz momma's instinct is so right on!
post #5 of 17
What I've seen is that public school doesn't make life less stressful because your kids bring all of the annoying bad behaviors home with them. My friend who put her kids in public school after homeschooling watched them change from liking her and being mostly nice kids to screaming that they hate her when she tries to talk to them about behavior, telling her to shut up, hitting siblings and generally being disrespectful and mean.
post #6 of 17
Seriously you will NOT like homework.
post #7 of 17
I have done PS--for me it is WAY more stress. But, there are loads of people on the unschooling board who really make that work. I dappled in it too, but found that I do better with a relaxed eclectic hs method. I like that I have some curriculum--just as I like that other subjects are done via unschooling. I also like the routine school provides in the morning for us. With complete unschooling, I would stress more because I would worry that my child would never be interested in xyz (if I considered them needed) and I worried that I wasn't taking advantage of all the opportunities around us etc. Now, that is just gravy, because I have checked off my worry in the morning.

The key is to find the best blend for you. If spelling is your only curriculum, I don't see what is keeping it there. Many people don't start official spelling curriculums until the child is in third grade. So, I see no reason to not unschool for the next couple months and see where it takes you. Reevaluate in Sept.

post #8 of 17
What specifically was stressful about homeschooling before you took a break?
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
We homeschool because I love having my kids around. I don't want them to loose their love of learning or have labels placed on them. I like it that they can search out their interests with out it being "above their grade".I love the relationships that my kids have with each other. It is more convenient doing birth work to have them all together so if I get called in to a birth they can all go to one sitter with out worrying about meeting the bus etc.

My 7 yo dd is reading at a 5th grade level and is starting to work on multiplication. She can cook and follow a recipe. She chooses a different animal to study each week all on her own. Her favorite show is Mythbusters and she is always doing experiments on her own. One of her favorite games is geography search where I say a county and she finds it on the globe then researches it. All of this is self led. Her only struggle points are spelling and she is resistant to writing some times.

My 5 yo ds is working on reading. He can read all three letter and most 4 letter words and it working on sight words. He loves to write and has better hand writing than my 7 yo. He asks to "do school" every day.

They are all really good kids. I just feel like we are having too many days of doing nothing and watching movies. Usually because the baby isn't sleeping and I am just barely functioning. We probably only have 2 days a week where we sit down for an hour or two and "work on school" the rest of the time life just takes over. We spend a couple of days at the park and I work 2 days a week so the babysitter is here and takes them hiking and plays board games with them etc.

What is stressful is feeling like we need to cover a variety of subjects over the course of the week. Often there are huge holes.
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by completebeginnings View Post

What is stressful is feeling like we need to cover a variety of subjects over the course of the week. Often there are huge holes.
Ok then, to put your mind at ease. At our PS, the kids only got 3 science units/year and 3 social studies units/year. They got them when the bucket made it to their room. Each unit lasted about two weeks. My kids retained virtually nothing about these units. One loved learning about penguins and still remembers about that. They both loved learning about Japan. But, your kids are deciding which animals to learn about. Therefore, they are interested in them and will most likely retain some of the information, make connections between subjects, etc. So, don't worry about those holes. There are more holes in the public school.

Oh, and FWIW--you REALLY don't want to put your dd there. She would be bored to tears. My dd was, that is why we pulled her originally. She was starting to associate her boredom with school to include "not liking learning" and I didn't want that. But, PS don't serve children well who are advanced. Although, dd does still go once a week to the gifted program (which we love and would never give up!). You might check into the gifted program at your school. It would give you a day that you didn't have to worry about, plus some of the team work problem solving stuff has been great for dd and we wouldn't have been able to pull it off at home. Some stuff we could do at home, but not everything. I can't say enough about it really.

post #11 of 17
I'm just a mom, not an expert. But I don't have any reason to believe you have to cover X number of subjects over Y period of time. As a PP suggested, following your children's interests is more effective anyway, and they naturally tend to cover a variety of aspects.

My DD's "thing" right now is flowers. This is entirely her interest, not one I've tried to cultivate or anything. But I see her interest and I'm helping her explore it, and it's amazing how broadly we can cover her interest. Obviously there's the science aspect - we've discussed the life cycle of plants, flowers, fruits and seeds - and we have several gardening projects going on, and we do lots of pick your own fruits and look at the plant/tree at various stages and so on. But believe it or not - and I haven't even forced this or thought about this, it just occured to me reading this thread - we've also touched upon Spanish (she tells me the colors of her flowers in English and Spanish, and we've looked up colors we didn't know before like morado), we've done addition and subtraction with large seeds (chick peas), and we've talked about social and historical aspects of farming. Heck, there's even a bit of physical education in there, at least hoofing it up the hill to the strawberries (lol, that one's a stretch but hey). Obviously we read too, and some of the words she is starting to write include "flowers" "beans" "rose" etc. She writes those words because she chose them, not because a workbook chose them (not that I'm anti-workbook or anything - but just showing that following her interests really does lead to amazing amounts of motivation and excitement).

So I may have just described unschooling, I don't know. But the point is to reassure you that you don't have to worry about covering certain subjects over the week. That's an artificial need, based on schooling dozens of children at once (and clearly not being able to follow each of their interests). It works for schools but it's not necessary at home. I think that even if you "neglect" a subject for a YEAR it will be fine. It will come up sooner or later, especially if you're attuned to your kids.
post #12 of 17
Originally Posted by completebeginnings View Post

What is stressful is feeling like we need to cover a variety of subjects over the course of the week. Often there are huge holes.
I think moving towards USing will work out just fine.

That being said, I would like to focus on the above if it is a main stressor for you.

You do not have to cover huge amounts of subjects every week. I started out many years ago trying to do every subject during the week - I even made up scheduels - it was a short lived period, lol. We (the kids and I) eventually moved to focusing on one or 2 areas at a time. Well, their interests dictate the areas, but it is rarely more than 2 or so at a given time. It allows for more in depth exploration. I think it is easier to grapple with a subject if there is time for it and not academic clutter from other subjects that are not relevant or timely for the child.

I have a friend who is very school-at-home like and she does history one term and science another. She simply finds there is more flow and depth if she can focus on one thing at a time.
post #13 of 17
Originally Posted by completebeginnings View Post
Was public school really less stressful?

You sound to me like you are sleep-deprived and have a new baby and are trying to find the new "normal". It will get easier for you. I think it sounds like your kids are doing great, and you need to cut yourself some slack. I know that is easier said than done, but... Try.

In my experience, and I only had ONE child in public school, it was NOT less stressful.
post #14 of 17
why not just take july off too? we always take the summer off and love it.
if you enjoy having nothing to do, then my advice is to do nothing.
post #15 of 17
I'm an unschooler so that sounds like the best option to me

I think you should stop unschooling when/if that starts stressing you out (if you're worrying too much about what they're not doing, perhaps). But since you've unschooled for a month and are loving it, carry on. They are obviously learning and I doubt they'll stop. Unless you plan to introduce straightjackets, blindfolds, and earplugs, that is.
post #16 of 17
Thanks for the posts. I was wondering about this too. We are also relaxed ecclectic hs/us family but my 4 yo dd is super shy/ anti social (at the beginning of a new environment). I've thought and wondered if sending her to VPK (Christian school) will help her with this issues. Now I'm more toward not sending her to school. My DS 8 yr old was never been to school so I have no idea how it will be like but after reading some of these posts, sounds like it will bring me more stress LOL...
post #17 of 17
I also would vote for going as you are for the month of July, and just see how it goes. Instead of setting arbitrary dates/times for tackling spelling, just take notice of free moments when it fits in easily into your lives and do a bit then. It might be 2-3 times a month as you're reading books, it might be lots one month and not at all for a few more months, but over the year it'll even out. The one-on-one attention and specialized-to-her instruction is far better than anything she would get at school. Plus, at some point spelling will become important to her (with my DD it was writing emails to friends around the world, at 9) and then it can really take off because it's an interest of hers. Nothing says you have to work on spelling at 7.

I also agree to give yourself a break as you all adjust to a new baby in the house. It may not be a strong academic year, but it'll be a great year of personal growth, learning about babies and adjusting relationships, life science and independence. These are all equally as important, if not more so, than traditional academia!!!!! If it's the movie watching that's worrying you, perhaps over time try to brainstorm on ways to encourage less TV - fun new activities for the backyard, or extra babysitting time with local teens to take them more often to the park. Ultimately, though it sounds like your kids are thriving and the close relationship with each other and with you far surpasses any benefit they could get from PS at this point in their lives, in my opinion. Good luck!
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