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so if an unschooler was to buy a curriculum . . . .

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

our life, and dh's and my responsibilties have changed drastically lately and i feel like my dd's (5 and 3) are getting lost in the shuffle. and it seems it will be like this for the next year or so. i am attacking this on many fronts (trying to find extra childcare, re-establish a daily rhythm, etc) but i am also considering some kind of very basic, minimal curriculum.  maybe to start in the fall.  i just feel like we need - something, mostly for my older dd of course.  i am now in school full time (online, but part of the reason things have gotten crazy) and i've done a lot of learning about how the ages 6-10 are a time when children really have a desire to be productive and industrious and I see these leanings in my dd and feel i am having trouble leading her to success.  anyhow, i am indeed an unschooler, but thought i might need a bit of support so i can do what's best for my girls.  i am posting here specifically because i'd like to hear what people of a similar philosophy might have tried/considered/used.


has anyone seen the "what your x-grader needs to know" books?  maybe something as simple as that, but looking for other ideas too.


thanks for considering!

post #2 of 11

I don't think there's anything wrong with an unschooler using a curriculum if it's being used to serve a specific need the child has identified. I have an 8-year-old who just completed an entire year's worth of a school science textbook/workbook curriculum ... because she was dying to approach science in a systematic way, in a self-paced independent fashion that would also allow her to practice her handwriting.


However, I would suggest you think carefully about whether "What Your __ Grader Should Know" is the best approach for you. I only browsed the series once, but it awakened all sorts of insecurities in me, a fear of missing stuff with my kids and not "giving them an edge" and a fear that they might get behind ... all the insecurities that I thought I'd worked through as I'd unschooled myself. I had let go of the idea that children need to be prescribed tidy snippets of knowledge on particular schedules by adults. But the Hirsch series is built entirely on that premise. Philosophically it's the antithesis of unschooling, IMO. Although it's probably possible to adapt it to a more unschoolish style of presentation, when the entire premise is contrary to unschooling I personally would find that a very tall order.


Speaking for myself if I was going to reach to something off the curriculum shelf to aid my need for intentionality and structure I would find something literature-based (FIAR, for instance, or even Sonlight) a far more unschooling friendly meld with my philosophy of education.


Another option might be to work collaboratively with your elder dd to identify particular areas of interest and ways of exploring them, and to devise a structure that serves both of you well ... and to flesh out a rhythm to your days and weeks such that you are able to connect with your kids and support them more intentionally in their day-to-day unschooling. That's in essence what I've done with my kids over the years. Sometimes the result looks every bit like unschooling, but sometimes my kids and I have agreed that a self-designed structure would suit them better in a particularly part of their lives, and we've been able to devise and implement something appropriate.



Edited by moominmamma - 6/27/11 at 10:54pm
post #3 of 11

I research the books on the www.sonlight.com booklist and buy the books that I think will work for our family. Then I leave the books around the house for the kids to read or not. The book "How it's Made" sparked my son's interest and he now watches How it's Made on youtube. He can tell you how milk is homogonized, fire helmets and tractor tires are made, etc. For probably hundreds of items. The other day he asked me where the "How do you lift a lion" book was. We haven't read that book in months, but all of a sudden he's interested in physics/machines. I don't buy the instructor's guides, but some families do. They are a Christian group so I have to weed out the religious books that don't work for us. There is a group for secular users of sonlight on yahoo and people share all kinds of ideas there.


I am also considering a subscription to www.time4learning.com. I wouldn't make him sit down and do the work, but would leave it for him at his pace. Same with www.cosmeo.com. He's only 5.5 and I don't want him to have too much screen time yet, but I see the day not far off when he would like those. 


At 5.5 I do see him having an interest in learning stuff. It is great to watch.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the thoughtful responses.  Moon - what is FIAR?  I think the worst part about the "what your......" series is the titles, and I definitely do not think that there is/should be a drive to get ahead or need to know a certain set of facts at a certain age.  But I like the variety of subjects in the book and I do feel like they present a nice overview of things commonly known in our culture - nursery rhymes for example, or the johnny appleseed folktale.  More importantly, dd really likes them, if not they would not work for us.  I am off to check out the sonlight book list, but would love to hear more ideas (and what FIAR is!)

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Researched Five In A Row :) and really like.  This might be just the sort of springboard - relaxed, inexpensive and my girls will love! - that I was looking for.  Would still consider other suggestions though!

post #6 of 11

You could also check out the Living is Learning Guides: http://www.fun-books.com/books/living_is_learning_guides.htm


We have them and I like them a lot as sort of checks to what society deems necessary at certain stages.


This is from the website:



Living is Learning Curriculum Guides by Nancy Plent

These guides are put together by Nancy Plent, founder of the Unschoolers Network in New Jersey and a long-time homeschooler. She reviewed the scope and sequence charts and curriculum guides of dozens of schools in various states, then combined the highest standards of elements from each to create these guides. Why purchase these curriculum guides? 1) They may help you to fulfill your state's legal requirement to provide an educational plan 2) They allow you to see some of the highest standards for schools at various grade levels, just in case you are curious about what the schools expect or are anxious about what you are doing 3) They provide record-keeping space that can help organize a portfolio.


Besides providing a checklist under each subject, Nancy offers suggestions on how to translate real-life experience into curricula goals. She also lists resources from a variety of companies. Each guide covers two or more grade levels. The first four are in comb binding, while the high school guide is in a 3-ring binder.

post #7 of 11

I just want to give another side of the story on "What Your X Grader Should Know".  We love the series and we are unschoolers.   Most of what is in the book, at least in the 2nd grade one, is written in story form and very engaging.  My 7yo often picks up the book and starts reading it herself - yesterday getting into a unit on Hinduism and civilizations along the Ganges.. 


If you can get past the whole "it's X grade and my child needs to learn this", which I easily did, it's a really fun series.  The complaint I most often hear about it is that it isn't a very complete curriculum, so there you go.  lol

post #8 of 11

Just remember that we all have our beliefs about how most kids learn best under optimum conditions for that learning to take place.  But then when we go to implement, we have to do what works for our actual families in the here and now.


For example, a friend of mine recently said she would love it if her kids, who by age would be in 2nd and 4th in public school, would work through some curriculum every day and NOT be unschoolers, but given the kids she has, she makes the most of unschooling.  I think that's wise.


post #9 of 11

I just want to point out that there are 2 very different "what your X grader should know" series of books.  The one most often referenced, and upon which many a school systems' curriculum is built upon (called Core Knowledge), is the series by Hirsch, and the books look like this 



I know a lot of parents, homeschool and institutional school, who use these books as guides/references. They seem to be well liked.  Personally, I don't like them.  


Then there is this series, called "making the grade, everything your X grader needs to know" is published by Barrons and looks like this http://www.amazon.com/Making-Grade-Everything-Grader-Needs/dp/0764124781


I love these books, as do my kids. It's a series of lessons, premade for you, and covers topics in many areas...I think it's great for homeschoolers.  



We also use a sort of basic core curriculum, usually in the form of a cheap workbook.  I like the brain quest ones, school zone, scholastic, DK, even Hooked on Phonics, Kumon, ......   heck even the ones we get at the $1 store.  i think of it more as a guide for me, than work for them.....like if the 1st grade level math book has adding and subtracting and fractions and telling time, it reminds me that those are potential things we could cover.  I still go by each childs interest, and i don't usually force anything, but having the curriculum keeps me on track.  

to give one example, in the "making the grade" series, in the K or 1st book, there is a lesson on maps.  I didn't follow their lesson plan exactly, but dd LOVED it.  She liked making a map of our neighborhood, and her play for a couple weeks included making maps for her dolls, etc.  And you know what?  If it werent for that lesson, it simply wouldnt have *occurred* to me to include maps as something we did.  To be a good unschooling mom, *I* need to be prepared, to be able to help surround my kids with learning opportunities.


**If i don't think of it, I can't strew it ** :)   



Something as simple as this helps guide me http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0887434932/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER




Good luck :) 














post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post

**If i don't think of it, I can't strew it ** :)   

Yeah, that's why I like sonlight and the learning guides.


post #11 of 11

Just thought I'd chime in w/another curriculum suggestion...My best friend unschools her 4 kids and they've followed Oak Meadow off and on over the years.

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