or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › Too "school" for unschooling?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Too "school" for unschooling?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

DD-13 was in public school for 6 years plus a year of preschool before we took her out to homeschool. De-schooling totally made sense to me and over time she seemed to be recovering her "self". Unschooling as a philosophy really resonates with me, I'm just wondering if there's such a thing as a kid being "ruined" for unschooling by being in school too long?

 

It's been a year and a half she's been out and she lately has begun mostly hiding out in her room listening to music and reading fashion magazines. Recently she said she feels like she isn't learning anything. I think some of this is her best friend who is in school and a very mainstream, toe-the-line kind of kid talking about all the stuff they're doing in school. Some of it is also her own lack of motivation for things she feels she should be doing that look like school (i.e. grade level math) but that I refuse to fight with her over doing or not doing. She can't motivate herself to do it on her own for more than a very short while, doesn't want me to "force" her to do it, but feels guilt that she isn't doing it. Her idea is that if she were back in school where there were punishment for not doing it, that would be what she needs. confused.gif

 

<sigh> I need to be able to discuss this through with other unschoolers too because IRL I'm surrounded by school-at-homers, or even worse, public schoolers, who just can't get my point of view.

post #2 of 43

bump.gif

 

 

IF your 13 yr old really wants to try school, you should let her.  She is old enough to decide.

 

That being said, perhaps you could have some conversations with her on what she needs from you to make homeschooling work?  It looks like what she needs is someone to insist on more structure, timelines, etc.  This can be accomplished through you, homeschool classes/workshops, and cyber school.  Maybe one of these will work for your daughter?  It does not have to be all or nothing (unschool or school).

 

I sense some of the issues you are having are around motivation.  I genuinely believe that most teens will eventually be motivated to learn things so they can get what they want as they enter adulthood.  If they want to go to college - they will (with some guidance and access to resources) study the math and english they need to do the SAT.  Not all will do so - but not all kids in traditional brick and mortar schools study as they should to reach their goals, either.   It seems a lot of Unschooling comes down to waiting  - waiting for kids to be ready to read, waiting for kids to want to learn the subjects they probably need to know as adults.  It is hard!  It is doubly hard as there are few real life models to know it works -it takes quite the leap of faith.  

 

Is there any way she can build on the music or fashion magazine thing?  Does she want to?  For some people, these things are ways to pass the time - but for others they evolve into interests.

 

I would make sure she has regular access to the library (or library catalogue) as well as community and homeschool calendars and offering so she knows what is out there.  Sometimes people do not know what there is to do- sometimes what we think they want, is not what they really want, and looking through  things themselves can be more useful.

 

 

 

 

Good luck

post #3 of 43

 It sounds like she's restless and doesn't quite know how to channel that without going back to the school mindset, which is good - she just needs some help figuring out what comes next.

 

What do you do? What do the people she sees around her do? Not kids her age, necessarily, but adults in her community, or adults whose blogs she reads, or the musicians she listens to, or people on TV, or anyone? What kinds of "inputs" is she getting?

 

Thirteen is a tough year, too - she's making that transition from childhood to adulthood but not quite there yet. By the time Rain was 15 the majority of  her friends were adults, but at 13 and 14 she was really stuck in the middle. In retrospect, she seemed to get a lot out of experiences that allowed her to help others during that period - she was able to feel useful and competent, and I think she really needed that. So she worked as a TA for kids' dance and theatre classes, joined a traveling theatre troupe and did anti-bullying plays in middle schools, volunteered at the animal shelter. If you do anything in that realm maybe your daughter would like to join you, or maybe there would be something she would be interested in doing herself?

post #4 of 43

To me it doesn't really sound like she really wants to go to school, it sounds more she hasn't been completely "deschooled" and was indoctrinated by pro-school propaganda.

 

I have been lurking around here for a while and signed up specifically to reply to this comment since I have a ds that age who has been through that "phase". Those who have said 13 is a tough year, I second that. And generally the added pressure of school will not make it easier. Like she herself said she will then be "forced" to do the work, not do it willingly. You are much more likely to retain what has been learned because you wanted to. Do work with her on finding things she has motivation, but make sure she understands that this will most likely not mean that she will learn the same stuff her peers are leaning. One can study things both above and below "grade level" at the same time. Not every adult of the same age is equally knowledge and nobody would demand them to be. But yet it is expected of children.

 

There is obviously always the option of enrolling in a few selected classes at the local high school or college. You could suggest she try this first, and you both might just be satisfied with her progress and she'll forget about school altogether. I don't know were you are but in some states teens can dual enroll in college for free.

 

This might sound strange but if she has a favorite show or such, maybe she could write fanfiction? I know most people consider this rather frivolous. But my son learned quite a bit from it (yes, he's a boy writing fanficion). Any kind of "writing" activity, on the computer or by hand is good.

 

This might sound obvious but: Books! I truly believe that there is a book for everywhere. No need to read Sheakspear or War and Peace. No need to write a report. My son enjoy a large variety of books. Everything from Stephen King and John Grisham to Goosebumps and even picture books. We go to the library every week and let them check out whatever they want, so that would be an idea. How about a mother/daughter book club? Both read the book and then have a book discussion. Audio books are another option.

 

Also any type of "educational" show. Check out the discovery channel and discovery health. My son retained most of the things he has learned there and was often encouraged to research further as he has a critical mind, because in this words: "Well *I* don't know if that show is just propaganda".

 

Try  board games that teach things such as strategy, spelling and trivial. Think Trivial Persuit or Scrabble. Ah that made me think of these Government simulation pc games ds got into a few months ago. And definitely check out edheads.org. The activities are fun and informative, though impossible to "fail". Yet both of my kids do them over and over again in the way one would replay a beloved video game.

 

If somehow possible, do get her together with other unschoolers a little older than her. I understand that this is difficult and not always possible. We do not know any other unschoolers. Or anyone who is as crazy as our unschooling, non vaxing, atheistic, non traditional type of family.

 

I'm sure that you must have some sort of museum or something in your area. Run the idea of just checking such a place out by her. We very much enjoy living museums.

 

If anything fails you and her could to sit down and create a list of things for her to do in, say a week. This works very well for some home/unschoolers.

 

Phew, this ended up way longer than I intended for it to be. I hope some of it helps. Please ignore typos and such ....hides....

post #5 of 43

If unschooling is about respecting a child's autonomy, then I think your kid should go back to school. She seems to feel that would be best. I don't believe in homeschooling if the child is clearly unhappy and would rather be in school.

post #6 of 43

I agree with everything Dar said. Maybe just a little help facilitating access to things of interest would help her a lot. I think it's probably a little overwhelming at 13 to try to know what to do with one's time when it was always previously dictated. Sometimes it's difficult to know how to immerse oneself in things or to even discover what interests might be worth immersing oneself in. I believe she could find experiences that help her achieve flow if presented with some different opportunities. I think that creative activities are especially helpful in this regard, particularly for adolescent girls. I got interested in writing at about that age and spent lots of time reading and journaling. Are there theatre or dance or visual arts opportunities you might be able to participate in? Those sorts of things seem like exactly the thing for that age group. If she's interested in a little more structure, but you're still hoping for unschooling, perhaps some group activities like a dance class or a museum class would help. I'm not sure what's available to you where you live... Best of luck!

post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmeyrick View Post

If unschooling is about respecting a child's autonomy, then I think your kid should go back to school. She seems to feel that would be best. I don't believe in homeschooling if the child is clearly unhappy and would rather be in school.



I don't understand why school is always accepted as the default solution for everything. Surely there are more creative solutions than acquiescing to the dominant paradigm!

post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post





I don't understand why school is always accepted as the default solution for everything. Surely there are more creative solutions than acquiescing to the dominant paradigm!



This!!

post #9 of 43
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kalani View Post
 

We do not know any other unschoolers. Or anyone who is as crazy as our unschooling, non vaxing, atheistic, non traditional type of family.



wave.gif Do you live in the remote north of Canada? If not, can you move here? Sheepish.gif

post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post

I don't understand why school is always accepted as the default solution for everything. Surely there are more creative solutions than acquiescing to the dominant paradigm!



Indeed.

 

Sore back? Send your kids to school!

Introvert? Send your kids to school!

Kid likes to sleep late, or early, or all the time? Send your kids to school!

Don't like your job? Tired? Ambitious? House a mess? Don't have a house? Allergic to latex? SEND YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL!

 

There. That fixes everything.

post #11 of 43

There does come a point (particularly with older kids who can understand the ramifications of what they are asking) where enrolling them is school is the answer.  It is about honouring what they want.

 

That being said, I think it is almost always a good idea to try and fix things within the chosen educational paradigm.  Learning how to fix things is an important life lesson. It does not sound like the OP and the daughter have tried much yet.

 

 

I also think some of this is age related.  I know people say this a lot - but in this case it is true.  It is typical to be a little lost at 13 - it is a huge transition time.  It is also a time that is not well supported in our culture.  Typically they are the oldest or youngest in any events, and that can be hard.  

post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by PreggieUBA2C View Post





Indeed.

 

Sore back? Send your kids to school!

Introvert? Send your kids to school!

Kid likes to sleep late, or early, or all the time? Send your kids to school!

Don't like your job? Tired? Ambitious? House a mess? Don't have a house? Allergic to latex? SEND YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL!

 

There. That fixes everything.

 

Seriously? I'd have more sympathy if the child in question were 5 years old, but at 13, I think it's disrespectful to her autonomy to try to talk her out of school. She's old enough to know what educational methods work best for her and to voice her opinion. She has done so already. Unschooling is supposed to be learner-led and be respectful of the learner's wishes, right? How can it be authentic unschooling if it is being used against the learner's wishes? I don't think the OP wants to shove unschooling down her daughter's throat, because she knows it should be about her daughter, not herself. It should be about what works best for her daughter, not because she's in love with the philosophy. Right?

 

At 13, this girl knows what she wants. She's just not feeling the unschooling thing. There's no one method out there that works for everybody. Some kids would make a splash with it, and others need different avenues. Sometimes (gasp!) they actually prefer traditional school. Sending a child to school may not be the default answer in and of itself, but respecting the child's wishes should be. And if that means going back to the daily grind of public school, so be it.
 

post #13 of 43

She's only been out of school for a year-and-a-half! Did anyone read the OP? It's not like she unschooled her whole life and then decided that it wasn't for her. It sounds a lot like she's really accustomed to school mentality and having a hard time knowing what to do with herself. She's become acculturated. Surely there are ways to address the root of the problem that are more creative than giving up entirely and accepting that this kid can never find her own passions or interests and is forever bound to a life of guilt-induced work. wth?

post #14 of 43

Why did you pull her out? 
 

Becoming bored is good.  Being bored motivates.  I remember when we were de-schooling my oldest after 2 years in school.  He played video games constantly.  Just about the time I was about to declare our de-schooling attempt a "fail", he looked up and said "I'm bored."  So, he started doing interesting things, pulling out his science experiment books and digging around for supplies, going outside and doing more creative things. 

 

For a 13yo girl, it's different, but still, bored is good.  Have you read the Teenage Liberation Handbook?  I hear that there are a lot of good ideas in there.  Can you "insist" that she do a certain amount of math work every day?  Can you maybe get some college-level  math textbooks and let her explore those?  I love the shelter volunteer idea.  My daughter wants to do this as soon as she's 13.

 

post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmeyrick View Post



 

Seriously? I'd have more sympathy if the child in question were 5 years old, but at 13, I think it's disrespectful to her autonomy to try to talk her out of school. She's old enough to know what educational methods work best for her and to voice her opinion. She has done so already. Unschooling is supposed to be learner-led and be respectful of the learner's wishes, right? How can it be authentic unschooling if it is being used against the learner's wishes? I don't think the OP wants to shove unschooling down her daughter's throat, because she knows it should be about her daughter, not herself. It should be about what works best for her daughter, not because she's in love with the philosophy. Right?

 


 


 

This argument bugs me a bit. 

 

I often find it is an argument non USers trot out whenever an USing child expresses a desire to go to school.  

 

I have, on occasion, suggested a schooled child be HSed, and a HSed child be schooled, but it is usually after the poster and child in question have tried many times to change things and it is not working.  USing is a deeply held conviction for many of us, and it seems a little dismissive to suggest someone cut and run at the first signs of an issue. 

 

I do not think any system is perfect, all systems have issues.  It is important to learn to fix things if you can.   

 

Edited to add:  I do not think the definition of USing is "Child led learning".  I think it is way more deep and complicated than that.  I tried looking up definitions of USing on the web (I have done this before) and there is no consensus on what it means.  In any event, and from a logical viewpoint, if Unschooling = child led, then it becomes a bit of a conumdrum what do if they want to go to school.  Brick and mortar school is very much not child led, so by allowing a child to go to school it actually goes against what the stated goal is.  Hmm....

post #16 of 43

One more thought (for now, lol)....

 

OP:  It might be interesting to have a discussion with your daughter about why she is worried about falling behind in subjects.

 

Is it:

 

- fear of  appearing behind in front of her friends

-fear of not knowing the stuff she needs to know to get into college (or whatever she plans to do later on)

-a genuine love of academics a a simple feeling that she want to do more and it is missing in her life

 

All of the above have possible solutions to them - but it is important to know what the issue is in the first place.

post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post

She's only been out of school for a year-and-a-half! Did anyone read the OP? It's not like she unschooled her whole life and then decided that it wasn't for her. It sounds a lot like she's really accustomed to school mentality and having a hard time knowing what to do with herself. She's become acculturated. Surely there are ways to address the root of the problem that are more creative than giving up entirely and accepting that this kid can never find her own passions or interests and is forever bound to a life of guilt-induced work. wth?


 

 

A year and a half sounds like plenty of time to decide whether she likes unschooling. What, should the op insist her daughter stick it out for no less than ten years? Come on. This girl is deciding for herself that she would prefer school. It defeats the purpose of unschooling if her wishes are not respected. The core of the philosophy of unschooling is to be learner-led. Maybe- just maybe- this kid can find her own interests and passions within school. Plenty do, whether you like that notion or not. I think putting her in a state of frustration because she can't go to school isn't going to make her find her passions and interests either.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticzenmom View Post

Why did you pull her out? 
 

Becoming bored is good.  Being bored motivates.  I remember when we were de-schooling my oldest after 2 years in school.  He played video games constantly.  Just about the time I was about to declare our de-schooling attempt a "fail", he looked up and said "I'm bored."  So, he started doing interesting things, pulling out his science experiment books and digging around for supplies, going outside and doing more creative things. 

 

For a 13yo girl, it's different, but still, bored is good.  Have you read the Teenage Liberation Handbook?  I hear that there are a lot of good ideas in there.  Can you "insist" that she do a certain amount of math work every day?  Can you maybe get some college-level  math textbooks and let her explore those?  I love the shelter volunteer idea.  My daughter wants to do this as soon as she's 13.

 

It doesn't always motivate, though, and two years is a long wait. You lucked out, and that's great, but really, I think if a kid is *asking* to go to school and the parent is saying no, that's totally steam-rolling the core values of unschooling.
 

post #18 of 43


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post





This argument bugs me a bit. 

 

I often find it is an argument non USers trot out whenever an USing child expresses a desire to go to school.  

 

I have, on occasion, suggested a schooled child be HSed, and a HSed child be schooled, but it is usually after the poster and child in question have tried many times to change things and it is not working.  USing is a deeply held conviction for many of us, and it seems a little dismissive to suggest someone cut and run at the first signs of an issue. 

 

I do not think any system is perfect, all systems have issues.  It is important to learn to fix things if you can.   



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

One more thought (for now, lol)....

 

OP:  It might be interesting to have a discussion with your daughter about why is worried about falling behind in subjects.

 

Is it:

 

- fear of  appearing behind in front of her friends

-fear of not knowing the stuff she needs to know to get into college (or whatever she plans to do later on)

-a genuine love of academics a a simple feeling that she want to do more and it is missing in her life

 

All of the above have possible solutions to them - but it is important to know what the issue is in the first place.

 


I do like this post, but I would also add

 

-Does she miss school life in general, such as being surrounded by her peers, and daily school living.

-A feeling that school is gives her a structure she prefers

-A preference for school methods in a classroom setting over a homeschooling one

 

Unschooling is not designed to be something parents cling to- it's meant to be liberating for the child. If, after a significant amount of time has been devoted to unschooling, and the child specifically asks to go back to school, that should not be a solution that is avoided like the plague.

post #19 of 43

Are you an unschooler? Or are you just trolling the forum so you can catch those of us who actually struggle with these things in what you perceive to be hypocrisies?

post #20 of 43


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post





This argument bugs me a bit. 

 

I often find it is an argument non USers trot out whenever an USing child expresses a desire to go to school.  

 

I have, on occasion, suggested a schooled child be HSed, and a HSed child be schooled, but it is usually after the poster and child in question have tried many times to change things and it is not working.  USing is a deeply held conviction for many of us, and it seems a little dismissive to suggest someone cut and run at the first signs of an issue. 

 

I do not think any system is perfect, all systems have issues.  It is important to learn to fix things if you can.   

 

For some reason the board ate my reply, so I'll try again. This is not the first sign of an issue. This child has been unschooling for a year and a half, and she has decided it's not for her. She is the one who most certainly should not be dismissed. She has not only said "Mom, I'm kinda bored" she followed it up with a request to go back to school. If she had just complained that she was bored, I would have nothing to say about other poster's suggestion. However, she did request it and there's no reason to deny her. Really, I feel like everyone is dimissing this poor kid with their suggestions. She has asked to go to school, and everyone is coming up with a suggestion for everything but what she actually wants to do.
 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unschooling
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › Too "school" for unschooling?