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post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So I've got 2 little girls, one is a year and a half and the other is six and a half.  I am definitely of the unschooling philosophy as the only thing I ever really learned in school was how to wish away the hours of my life, but because I was traditionally schooled I have a hard time knowing/trusting exactly how to go about this unschooling thing.  Not to mention with housework, meal prep and clean up, toddler care, errands to run, etc... I'm totally overwhelmed with how and where to fit in the "schooling".  My six year old is adamant that she has no interest in taking any "classes"....we were thinking dance or kung fu or something but she says she doesn't want to "learn" anything, and I don't want to push her into stuff.  She still seems to be mostly interested in playing, which is cool, but I am often left feeling like I'm not "doing" enough "educating", a feeling that my mother (who is a teacher) makes stronger with each and every conversation we have.  I guess I'm just curious about how other people fit unschooling into their lives, what the day-to-day looks like.  I have a tendency to get distracted easily as well, so self-motivation is one of my challenges and not having a "game plan" so-to-speak makes it all the more difficult for me.  I think traditional homeschooling would be easier for my brain to accomplish, but not the kind of learning I want for my children.  How do I gauge wether or not I'm doing enough?  Should I push her into "learning" activities more, or will she come around in her own time?  ..... any experience/advice shared would be appreciated.




post #2 of 15

I have two quick recommendations: first, read blogs of unschooling families to get a taste of what day-to-day life is like for them, what sorts of things they do, where their kids are at, etc. Also hanging out on unschooling forums helps too. Basically you want to normalize this model of education in your mind, deschool  yourself, and I personally find that being surrounded by others (both IRL and virtually) who are living the same lifestyle really helps. Second, I would suggest that you read up on some developmental psychology with respect to the importance of play as a learning behaviour, etc. This will not only help reassure you but also give you some valuable resources with which to address your mother's concerns. Such topics as how play developes the brain, the importance of not pushing academics on young kids, etc. Gordon Neufeld gave a great lecture on the science and importance of play at a parent conference I attended last year, so his website might be a good first place to look. I also like reading Peter Grey's columns at Huffington Post, his Freedom to Learn blog is great.



post #3 of 15

Oh, sorry I couldn't give you any links. You'll have to Google. I have formatting issues with this new board and it prevents me from going back and editing or adding to what I write. :)

post #4 of 15


Edited by Tumble Bumbles - 4/10/11 at 1:40pm
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

She is learning stuff, all the time.. in much the same way that she did when she was younger and learned to walk and talk.  She's hanging out in real life with real people doing and learning things that are really relevant to her.  It's just hard sometimes to ignore the voices, both inside and outside of my head, that tell me what she "should" know at this point in her life.  She is only reading about as well as I was at age 4, however, she is learning to read with no sense of coercion.... which I think is a true blessing.  I did find it kind of amusing that while we were playing with the pretend food in the play area at the library, she didn't recognize the container of honey, but she can tell you what an appendicular ovipositor is.  Thanks for the input thus far....and I too look forward to reading these responses :)

post #6 of 15

The below describes us perfectly, down to the reading. That's why a lot of it is about us, not them, changing our skewed perceptions and beliefs that were passed down (however well-meaning). She sounds like she's doing just wonderfully :)


Originally Posted by lightinmyhands View Post

<snipped>  It's just hard sometimes to ignore the voices, both inside and outside of my head, that tell me what she "should" know at this point in her life.  She is only reading about as well as I was at age 4, however, she is learning to read with no sense of coercion.... which I think is a true blessing.  <snipped>

post #7 of 15

I totally get where you are as well.  I am unschooling a 4.5 year old and a 2.5 year old.  ANd we have some pretty serious nay sayers in our family.

My DH and I had similar school experiences and agreed that PS was not the place for our kids, and my 4.5 DS is also one of those kids who does not like formal classes, he tolerates Sunday School ( I'm the teacher for his age group LOL!) but he won't participate in anything else. So I look for learning opportunities where ever I can find them.  Tonight DS was insistent that he smash garlic, so he helped make pasta and garlic bread ( we ate lots of garlic tonight!  LOL) he also cut tomatoes and olives.  The conclusion that I have come to about this journey so far is that I have to be creative and observant and without agenda.  They really are learning all day long, just like we are. I think one of the most important things we can develop as humans is self determination.  I think unschooling is a great medium for that learning to take place.

post #8 of 15

I saw this list the other day that I thought was cool: http://sandradodd.com/gold/abc


Strew stuff, leave stuff out for your kids to find, go to the library, that kinda thing.  They're gonna learn!  You can't help but learn when you actually have time to do your thing. :)


And I second the suggestion that you find some good unschooling blogs to follow and make you feel more "normal".  I recommend Laura's blog and checking out her followers too: http://centerdownhome.blogspot.com/  I know Laura and her family IRL and they are simply amazing people!  I was friends with her oldest daughter when we were "highschool" age (we were all homeschooled/unschooled) and I spent many an amazing Tuesday at their house exploring art, discussing literature, or watching films.

post #9 of 15

Part of unschooling is to see the educational value of every activity. There are very few things a child could choose to do that have no educational value. Creative play is THE most important way that children learn how to think and solve problems, and deal with feelings. Her playing all the time is great. A lot of schooled kids don't really seem to know how to do it anymore. There are lots of psychology articles on the importance of play if you need studies about it to feel comfortable with the idea. I thought learning to knit was kinda worthless why my unschooler decided to do it, but it taught her determination and patience, something that conventional wisdom says children cannot learn. She is okay with mistakes now and doesn't let it hold her back the way it used to.


What I do is I learn things I want to, and I have a lot of educational things around the house. I show my unschooler when I get something new, and I run ideas by her for things to do together, etc. Trusting her was really hard at first, but once I did unschooling became as easy as breathing. You must have complete trust in your children and their ability to learn when they need to. If I am learning something neat that my unschooler wants to participate in, its easy. When she is doing something cool I join in as well. It is just living our lives every day.


One thing you can do is to teach things wherever you go. I tell my unschooler how I drive the car (it has a stick so theres more to explain than in an automatic), what to do if you get in an accident, emergency kit contents, etc. At the grocery store we have learned a lot about economics, advertising/marketing, nutrition, and culture. History ties into just about everything, if you just talk about how things used to be vs how they are now.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

how many outside of the home activities such as swimming lessons or dance or gymnastics--- that sort of thing?  It isn't as though we could afford to do a lot of these things right now, but I would like to pay for something for her to get out of the house and do, but she just isn't interested.  She says she doesn't need classes and doesn't need to learn anything.  I'll say something like, what about martial arts and she'll say she already knows how to fight, i'll suggest dance and she'll get offended that i think she needs lessons since she's such a great dancer...... should i push this a little, or let it be until she has an interest?

post #11 of 15


Edited by skeptifem - 9/14/11 at 6:29am
post #12 of 15

Unschooling sees and values the education in everything. Play is really educational! What does she like to play? The trick is to see the learning that is happening. It can be tough at first. Eventually, you might stop looking for the "education". Moments of freak out panic are totally normal :) 


I believe that we seek out things that have value to us in some way. Is it relevant, helpful, fun, useful, necessary, interesting? If it's not something like that it's unlikely we'll do it unless we're forced.

post #13 of 15

I think, unless she has an avid interest in something, for which you cannot satisfy her interest, then there's no reason for an outside class. It sounds like she's just not interested in anything that you aren't already providing right now, so just let her go with the flow. That's not to say you shouldn't OFFER her classes as you see them available, but let her decide about whether or not to actually TAKE them. 

post #14 of 15

Instead of a class could you just go places? I took my kids to swim at the Y. I took them to a nature center at the park. I took them to the county farm education center. No classes just go and see. Even a stroll at the zoo can be useful and lead to an interest in finding out more about an animal/subject.


I had a lot of pc learning games for the kids. I did crafts and hands on experiments. My kids are 3 years apart and when my ds was younger I just gave him more simple versions of what I was doing with my older one. I left cleaning to night time.Might do errands all in one day.Bulk cooking when I had a chance.

post #15 of 15

I think it's hard to remember that 6 is still really young.  When my oldest was 6, I worried a lot about whether I was "doing enough" for/with her.  Now that my younger dd is 6, I realize how young that is and I don't sweat it in the least.  We play, cook, read books, and just live.  And she is doing all the learning that she can possibly do, IMO.


I especially wouldn't sweat it about classes.  My 6 y.o. is doing a couple of classes, but honestly I think it's mostly because she sees her big sister doing them.  There's no big rush.  I think we have this idea that if they don't start things like dance young, they'll be behind, whatever that means.  My older dd started dance this year at 9 and she is loving it and doing great--in some ways, she is actually ahead of the girls who have been doing it for a couple of years, because she is starting when her body and mind are really ready for it.


There's no rush.  They are little for such a short period of time, just enjoy every minute of it. 

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