or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › s/o - did you teach (or help) your kids learn to read?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

s/o - did you teach (or help) your kids learn to read? - Page 3

post #41 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

 

The vast majority of kids in school who have reading difficulties are also under 11.  But from time to time (in my experience, about 1 kid for every 4 school years, which at the level of student contacts I have works out to about 1 kid in 800) you meet a kid who reads only at a very elementary level - sounding out one word at a time, unable to sustain understanding of meaning while reading a sentence because of the difficulty of decoding individual words - in 9th or 10th grade.  From time to time, a parent posts on MDC reporting a similar level of difficulty in an unschooled teen (who has not embarked willingly on the work required for remediation, or who has done so unsuccessfully).  In this particular set of questions, these extreme cases are the children I am considering.   

 

 

 

The pattern of responses that I am seeing here strongly indicates that, indeed, un-schooled children with severe reading difficulties that persist into the teenage years may be significantly socially isolated, as are their peers with similar reading difficulties in schools.  To be clear, I don't think this is a problem with unschooling - kids with serious reading difficulties in schools are also socially isolated despite brushing shoulders with hundreds of other kids on a daily basis.  The question then becomes, does the root of the social isolation lie within the children and their families, or does it lie in communities that would rather pretend everything is peachy and no problems exist?


Well, I have not met teens that cannot read but I do not deny they exist.  My father could barely read - dyslexia - so I know they exist.  Of course some (many?) people with dyslexia do read, but my father would be 78 if he were still alive, and I do not think there was much help for people with dyslexia when he went to school.

 

In any event, no learning system is a magic bullet.  I think some kids with severe reading issues do better in school, some may do better at home.  There are a lot of factors that could play into where they do better.  It is also possible that for some kids it is not going to make a difference - they cannot learn to read due to a very severe disability in this area and coping skills/building up other skills becomes the way to go.

 

I cannot really answer to social isolation.  I have heard people who cannot read often tend to hide this fact - is this what you mean?  Or are they more likely to not engage with peers and their community?  I can see either being the case as you age - it is Ok for an under 12 to not read in an USing friendly community (even in the world at large to a degree) but it must be embarrassing for teens and adults.  Perhaps they find niches that are not reading heavy (physical activities as an example) but as that is not my niche I would not really know.

 

 

 

post #42 of 64

Kathymuggle, I think hiding severe difficulty with reading might lead to difficulty engaging with peers and with community.  Or possibly, they might have another common cause.  

 

I started out by wondering if difficulty decoding text might have some link to difficulty decoding social cues at some level.  Sort of like how dyslexic individuals tend to confuse certain sounds in speech in addition to having difficulty with letters in text.  And if so, will direct instruction in social cues/social skills have an impact on the ability to decode text.  Certainly, the opposite is not true - children who are highly skilled readers do not necessarily have awesome social skills.

post #43 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

 

The pattern of responses that I am seeing here strongly indicates that, indeed, un-schooled children with severe reading difficulties that persist into the teenage years may be significantly socially isolated, as are their peers with similar reading difficulties in schools.  To be clear, I don't think this is a problem with unschooling - kids with serious reading difficulties in schools are also socially isolated despite brushing shoulders with hundreds of other kids on a daily basis.  The question then becomes, does the root of the social isolation lie within the children and their families, or does it lie in communities that would rather pretend everything is peachy and no problems exist?


How do you know how large a pool those 4 or 5 kids are drawn from?  If this is a 1 in 1000 kind of thing, it could be that the children are not at all socially isolated, but that most of the people who happen to be posting on this thread don't happen to know them.  Most places the unschooling community is kind of small.  I certainly don't know 1000 unschooled teens, and if I did know one who wasn't reading, I might hesitate to post about it here, because I wouldn't trust my knowledge of the situation, and I would hate to misrepresent what was going on in someone else's home.  So I don't think you can draw much meaningful data from what has or has not been posted here.

 

I am willing to acknowledge that there are probably unschooled teens who cannot read, but I don't happen to know them.  I think that drawing conclusions like "unschoolers with reading difficulties are socially isolated" from a handful of posts on an anonymous internet message board is quite a stretch.

post #44 of 64

I'm estimating wildly.  This is a series of speculations based on available information, not a research study.  I'm producing interesting hypotheses here, not conclusions.  

 

It's absolutely true that, outside of the people who work in public schools, practically no one has contact with 800 children over four years.  I'm drawing my conclusions about social isolation in unschooled teens with reading problems not just from the numbers (which I am guessing at), but from poster reactions, which are more observable.  If you've read this forum for the last four years, you've seen the 4-5 cases of children with severe learning difficulties discussed, typically in multiple, lengthy, dramatic (and to my mind, pretty memorable) threads.  But for whatever reason - maybe geographic distance, maybe feeling like they don't know kids they've only talked about, maybe something else - participants in this thread characterize those children (who they have probably read about, and in some cases I'm pretty sure talked about in some length and detail) as children they don't know.  That's a major indicator of social isolation.  Another major indicator is parental description - parents of these children describe many aspects of social isolation in their children's lives.  These have included: rarely leaving the house, being unable to locate support groups, children and adults having few or no friends, feeling abandoned by the community, and being unable to locate or take advantage of educational resources.


Edited by stik - 10/10/11 at 4:16pm
post #45 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

I'm estimating wildly.  This is a series of speculations based on available information, not a research study.  I'm producing interesting hypotheses here, not conclusions.  

 

It's absolutely true that, outside of the people who work in public schools, practically no one has contact with 800 children over four years.  I'm drawing my conclusions about social isolation in unschooled teens with reading problems not just from the numbers (which I am guessing at), but from poster reactions, which are more observable.  If you've read this forum for the last four years, you've seen the 4-5 cases of children with severe learning difficulties discussed, typically in multiple, lengthy, dramatic (and to my mind, pretty memorable) threads.  But for whatever reason - maybe geographic distance, maybe feeling like they don't know kids they've only talked about, maybe something else - participants in this thread characterize those children (who they have probably read about, and in some cases I'm pretty sure talked about in some length and detail) as children they don't know.  That's a major indicator of social isolation.  Another major indicator is parental description - parents of these children describe many aspects of social isolation in their children's lives.  These have included: rarely leaving the house, being unable to locate support groups, children and adults having few or no friends, feeling abandoned by the community, and being unable to locate or take advantage of educational resources.

1.  Please keep in mind that these "wild speculations" are about real people-- and when you're accusing the unschooling community of turning their back on people, you're accusing me of doing that, and its hard for me not to take that personally.

 

2.  I have read about and even discussed Brad Pitt.  I do not know Brad Pitt.  Does that mean Brad Pitt is socially isolated?  Or does it just mean that he is interesting, and so people who don't know him talk about him?  

 

3.  It can be very hard to parent a child who is developing in ways that are very atypical, and when you add in an unusual educational choice like unschooling, its may likely be hard to find people you can relate to, and educational resources well suited to you, and so I understand where those complaints may be coming from.  However, I think its important to keep in mind that a post on a bulletin board only captures a moment in time-- its possible that the families in question posted at a low point.  Or they may be socially isolated, but I don't think there's enough information to base a discussion.  

 

post #46 of 64

Feelings of social isolation are dependent on each family and each individual.  Situations that cause one mom to feel that she or her kids are socially isolated can be the same ones that don't faze another one.  I have read some of these posts here and there and most that I have read are worries about their kid's social life, not usually about specific signs stemming from social isolation.  Many of these posts I remember didn't give enough specifics to decide whether this could be interpreted as "true" social isolation, or just the perception of it.  

 

I have a hard time reading about mamas near Seattle not being able to hook up with people.  Our region is crawling with homeschoolers!  I live on the edge of nothing further away, I don't have scads of activities lined up for my kids, yet I don't have the sense of social isolation that families with more opportunities and more activities might feel.  Soooo, which social isolation is being referred to?  Actual?  (Gotta define those parameters.  Good luck!)  Or Perceived?  (That could include anybody, even those homeschooled kids I read about who play all day with kids and still fuss and cry about not get to see enough of their friends.)

 

 

post #47 of 64

It definitely is difficult to measure social isolation, which is why self-reporting and reactions to an individual within an environment have been used as typical measures, and are often used in combination.  

 

Onatightrope, I'm sorry you feel that unschooling is being attacked.  That's not my intention.  It's not my intention to attack you either.  I like your Brad Pitt example because it proposes an interesting analogy.  We don't know the celebrities we speak about, and we wouldn't claim to.  How are the children we speak about on MDC different?  I think it's because we talk about them differently.  

 

If Brad Pitt's mom came to you to speak about Brad's problems, and you listened to her and made a series of suggestions about how to address Brad's problems, and then claimed not to know that some celebrities had problems - then I would be confused by your choices.  I would say that, having had a lengthy discussion with the guy's mom about his life and issues, you can claim to know Brad at least for the purposes of conversation about, say, the idea that celebrities don't lead perfect lives.  So as I see it, if you've read and contributed to one, or several, threads about a specific child's specific learning difficulties, you can claim to know the kid, not for a purpose like knowing what they want for their birthday, but for the purpose of knowing that children with learning difficulties exist within a specific population.  

 

Many people don't see it my way.  I work with teachers who work with the same population of kids I do (literally, the same individuals) and attend the same meetings about their problems that I do who will nonetheless assert that, for example, all kids in the school district are reading by the end of kindergarten.  If that was true, we wouldn't have ANY 15-year-old natives of the district who can't read, and while they are very rare, they pop up every now and then and I'm concerned about isolation for those children if people who work with them to meet their educational needs can allow themselves to pretend that those children and those needs don't exist.  I suppose if I was an unschooler, I might not feel the same sense of obligation to other people's children, because I don't have to help them - it would only be my responsibility to facilitate the learning of my own children.  Which is what homeschooling of any type is about - meeting the educational needs of a single family.  I think social isolation might be an issue for those unschooled children when people fail to remember that they exist when talking about ways that unschooling can address their problems.  

post #48 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

 

 

Many people don't see it my way.  I work with teachers who work with the same population of kids I do (literally, the same individuals) and attend the same meetings about their problems that I do who will nonetheless assert that, for example, all kids in the school district are reading by the end of kindergarten.  If that was true, we wouldn't have ANY 15-year-old natives of the district who can't read, and while they are very rare, they pop up every now and then and I'm concerned about isolation for those children if people who work with them to meet their educational needs can allow themselves to pretend that those children and those needs don't exist.  

 

The numbers are so small with regards to USing that many of us will never meet an USer who cannot read.  It is not because they do not exist - it is because of the small population size.  In many ways I suspect teens who are incapable of reading are found in all educational settings.  The roots of not being able to read by adulthood might be psychological (a blockage where you really refuse to learn to read - rare, I suspect) or a severe LD.  I am pretty sure LDs cut across demographics.  Personally, I think anyone who has a teen who cannot read needs to get their child help.  

 

I suppose if I was an unschooler, I might not feel the same sense of obligation to other people's children, because I don't have to help them - it would only be my responsibility to facilitate the learning of my own children.  Which is what homeschooling of any type is about - meeting the educational needs of a single family.  I think social isolation might be an issue for those unschooled children when people fail to remember that they exist when talking about ways that unschooling can address their problems.  


Maybe that is true for some people - but it isn't for me.  I think we all have a collective interest in the literacy rates of our citizens.  I know 2 teens with low literacy (one in school, one has dropped out) and in both cases I have tried to support them in gaining skills.  With one I regularly helped with homework, brought her to the library with my family, and tried to explain the IEP the school put forth to her low literacy and mentally ill mother.   The other is an older teen who dropped out of school.  I have shown him and his mother several options for online high school so he could finnish his schooling.  No dice (mini vent - they can afford cigarettes, but not a decent internet connection for him to do his work on). I have, in the past, tutored people and been part of organisations that worked on literacy for young children.  In any event, I think many people of all stripes support literacy - you do not have to be in school to support literacy in your community.  

 

I do hear you though - we do have to acknowledge those in our communities who are struggling, and that illiteracy among US probably does exist, as it does elsewhere, in very small numbers.  I remember some interesting threads as well, and while it is very rare for USers to become upset over a a child or preteen not reading (as most of them will catch up), many people do express concern and suggest numerous interventions for a non reading teen. 

 


Edited by purslaine - 10/11/11 at 4:56am
post #49 of 64


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

 

 

If Brad Pitt's mom came to you to speak about Brad's problems, and you listened to her and made a series of suggestions about how to address Brad's problems, and then claimed not to know that some celebrities had problems - then I would be confused by your choices.  I would say that, having had a lengthy discussion with the guy's mom about his life and issues, you can claim to know Brad at least for the purposes of conversation about, say, the idea that celebrities don't lead perfect lives.  So as I see it, if you've read and contributed to one, or several, threads about a specific child's specific learning difficulties, you can claim to know the kid, not for a purpose like knowing what they want for their birthday, but for the purpose of knowing that children with learning difficulties exist within a specific population.  

 

Many people don't see it my way.  I work with teachers who work with the same population of kids I do (literally, the same individuals) and attend the same meetings about their problems that I do who will nonetheless assert that, for example, all kids in the school district are reading by the end of kindergarten.  If that was true, we wouldn't have ANY 15-year-old natives of the district who can't read, and while they are very rare, they pop up every now and then and I'm concerned about isolation for those children if people who work with them to meet their educational needs can allow themselves to pretend that those children and those needs don't exist.  I suppose if I was an unschooler, I might not feel the same sense of obligation to other people's children, because I don't have to help them - it would only be my responsibility to facilitate the learning of my own children.  Which is what homeschooling of any type is about - meeting the educational needs of a single family.  I think social isolation might be an issue for those unschooled children when people fail to remember that they exist when talking about ways that unschooling can address their problems.  



I don't claim to know people I have never met.  Its actually pretty simple.  I think that getting to know people online is problematic at best--I have had the experience of interacting with a group of people daily for years, and then been shocked to discover that there were assumptions I was making about them that were wrong, and therefore my view of them was really inaccurate.  There is so much room for misunderstandings and misinterpretations in this kind of communication that I would never be certain I fully understood a problem I saw described here.  I just offer help if I think I have something of value, and don't judge, because I don't know what is actually going on.  

 

And for what its worth, I don't put a lot of thought into trying to fix unschooling related problems for people I don't know,or even people I do know, unless they ask.  Unschooling is very personal, and parents need to be the main driver for the most part, until the kids are able to take over.  Its not about a sense of obligation, its about minding my own business.

post #50 of 64

I recently heard a story on NPR (October 7, 2011) on the startling findings that in Germany--a country with compulsory schooling, where homeschooling is illegal--the rate of graduates being functionally illiterate was 12%.  Interviewed was a man who couldn't learn to read because of severe dyslexia--words would worm and dance across the page.  Some how he (and many, many others) made it through graduation and into adulthood (he was about 40) without this skill.  They would use all kinds of tricks to hide their problem and still get done what needed to be done: forms, tests, etc.  I honestly wish I could have sat him down myself to ask him more questions, because every answer brings up a dozen.

 

What this tells me is that the problem is not social isolation, but the opposite, being able to dissolve into the crowd and hide.  You could argue that that is a form of social isolation, and I would agree with you (because, again, exactly what is social isolation?).  At the same time, though, agreeing to this would mean that unschooling itself is not to blame for nurturing social isolation and any learning deficiencies.

 

The MDC posts I have read on this issue are from parents of kids aged 7 and under, including that boy who would dissolve into tears because he wasn't getting to see enough of his friends after playing with them all day (I'll count that--why not?)  *One* post I read was from the mom of a 9yo boy who seemed unhappy with not making friends.  I have never read a post (you know, of course, that I am omniscient and what I know must be the entire truth of the matter winky.gif) wanting advice for a socially isolated homeschooling teen.  At least there are much fewer posts for this age range and I've yet to see one.  True, many HSer's leave for school at that age, but could it also suggest that these posts are from parents just starting out?  Finding the resources?  Just emerging from the relative social isolation of being a mom of small children?  Still defining social isolation in the same way the schooling public does instead of her own?

 

And even if..... if the problem still exists and the family ignores it etc. etc........ what about all the other aspects of this child's life?  Even if... even if.... maybe the child is otherwise content with his life?  That he has nurtured skills that still inform his self-worth?  And, conversely in a way, these illiterate unschoolers (they must exist, I will admit), what was their family life like?  I would hope that unschooling as a whole is not judged on meeting one individual who could have been "unschooled" (and we all agree on that definition, right?) but not in any way that I feel might be healthy.  As a peace-lovin', mother earth worshippin' hippie I met many others who at first seemed Just Like Me and were in fact shockingly different, throwing around trash and trashing their bodies with cigarettes and heroine.  Yikes!

post #51 of 64

 

 

Quote:
What this tells me is that the problem is not social isolation, but the opposite, being able to dissolve into the crowd and hide.  You could argue that that is a form of social isolation, and I would agree with you (because, again, exactly what is social isolation?).  At the same time, though, agreeing to this would mean that unschooling itself is not to blame for nurturing social isolation and any learning deficiencies.

I want to be really clear here - this is the unschooling forum, and while I do not unschool, I believe that it's very important to be respectful of the purpose of the space.  It is absolutely not my intention to suggest that unschooling is responsible for either reading difficulties or social isolation.  I have offered multiple examples of both of these things happening in public schools.  I'm curious about the complex of problems associated with learning difficulties, which occur in all different kinds of learning environments.  I am not trying to criticize unschooling.  I do not think unschooling is a cause of either learning difficulties or social isolation.  

 

We have been talking about social isolation as though it is difficult to define, but I did a little digging, and it turns out that's not the case.  There are clinical definitions of social isolation.  There's a nursing definition:

 

 

 

Quote:
social isolation a nursing diagnosis approved by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, defined as aloneness experienced by an individual as a negative or threatening state. Contributing factors are many and varied and include delay in accomplishing developmental tasks, alterations in physical appearance or mental status, social behavior or social values that are not accepted, inadequate personal resources, and inability to engage in satisfying personal relationships. Negative feelings of aloneness are subjective, existing when the patient/client says they do. When one suspects that a patient/client is experiencing social isolation, the diagnosis must be validated by a thorough assessment. The individual may express feelings of abandonment, rejection, or dread, demonstrate or verbalize a desire for more contact with the nurse or with family members, become more irritable or restless or less physically active, or develop a sleep or eating disorder. 

 

a psychological definition:

 

 

 

Quote:
The virtual absence of interaction with others, outside of that required to perform basic life functions–eg, food shopping, transportation, work, and entertainment. 

(both from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/social+isolation)

 

And a book about social isolation and links to morbidity and mortality in older adults with an explanation of what the term means to these particular writers:

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=1578&page=244

 

 

Quote:
Social isolation can be defined structurally as the absence of social interactions, contacts, and relationships with family and friends, with neighbors on an individual level, and with ''society at large" on a broader level. The most parsimonious definition of social support is "the resources provided by other persons."11 These resources, which may include emotional, social, physical, financial, and other types of care, cover a broad array of individuals and institutions as the source of this care. Social isolation is defined and then measured by the strength of the older person's existing social network and the characteristics of the individuals and institutions providing support to him or her through this network. The absence or weakness of the social support network forms the basis for identifying individuals who are socially isolated. This definition is thus a qualitative one denoting the absence of meaningful relationships. Social support has been used as and continues to be an indicator of the degree of social isolation, and it can serve as the major independent variable in studies of the effect of social isolation as a risk factor of disease or dysfunction. 

 

So evidently, it's a quantifiable thing and linked to a bunch of problems, though nothing in my brief survey of a a few links from google indicates that research has been done on social isolation and severe reading difficulties.  Apparently, there is a link to sleep disturbance, which has been linked to learning difficulties (there was a story on NPR a couple years back about treating behavior issues in some children diagnosed with ADHD with tonsillectomies, which alleviated sleep apnea, which eliminated sleep disturbances, which reduced hyperactivity and inattentiveness.  It's a long chain of causality.)

post #52 of 64

 

Quote:
I don't claim to know people I have never met.  Its actually pretty simple.  I think that getting to know people online is problematic at best--I have had the experience of interacting with a group of people daily for years, and then been shocked to discover that there were assumptions I was making about them that were wrong, and therefore my view of them was really inaccurate.  There is so much room for misunderstandings and misinterpretations in this kind of communication that I would never be certain I fully understood a problem I saw described here. 

Isn't this true of all forms of communication?  I've had that kind of experience with people I knew face-to-face and had lengthy conversations with on a regular basis, including my own mother.  These experiences have made me think that I shouldn't speak for anyone else, and I shouldn't judge them, but I would never dream of claiming that I don't know them.  

post #53 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

 

Isn't this true of all forms of communication?  I've had that kind of experience with people I knew face-to-face and had lengthy conversations with on a regular basis, including my own mother.  These experiences have made me think that I shouldn't speak for anyone else, and I shouldn't judge them, but I would never dream of claiming that I don't know them.  

I'm trying to explain why I don't believe I "know" people with whom I have corresponded on MDC in a handful of threads.  To me, I don't have nearly enough information about most of the people here to claim to know them.  I wouldn't claim to know someone with whom I'd spent a couple minutes chatting in an elevator last year either.  You may feel able to know people after a very brief exchange, but I don't.   shrug.gif

 

Is the official definition of "social isolation" a good description of what you're concerned about?  I'm more interested in what you mean by "social isolation" in this conversation than what the official definition is.  I confess I find it frustrating that you keep talking about social isolation, but what won't say what you mean when you talk about it.

 

post #54 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

Scores of two-year-olds are now recommended for speech therapy, under the argument that it's better to be on the safe side.  But what might be the harmful effects of sitting a two-year-old down and correcting his/her speech?  Might the child not lose confidence?

 

 

 



The EI therapists I have worked with have a different, very valid set of concerns:  they are funded to work with children under the age of three.  If parents seek help for problems for two year-olds, they can get help through EI, often at very low cost, and EI can assist in transitioning those children to preschool (if that's what parents want) and working with their teachers, parents and other caregivers to develop strategies for learning and communication. 

 

But they can't do anything for children brought to them over the age of three. 

 

EI programs generally want to provide help to any child who needs it.  They're happy to work with two year-olds who will most likely turn out fine, because that's what it takes to get to the kids who might not be.

 

My DD had services through EI for a speech delay for about a year.  I can't recall hearing them correct her.  They had a bunch of effective strategies for encouraging the use of language (rather than point-and-shriek), but correcting the baby was not one of them.


Edited by MeepyCat - 10/12/11 at 7:55am
post #55 of 64

onatightrope, I'm so sorry to be frustrating!  That's really not my intent.  I felt that I had presented my definition of social isolation when I listed indicators in post 44.  Of the definitions I quoted from, I like the second and third the best, though I appreciate the list of associated problems in the the nursing definition.  

 

ETA: Like MeepyCat, I have a kid who went through EI for speech starting around age 22 months.  She got 6 months of services and was transitioned out of EI following her 6 month re-evaluation because she no longer needed services.  I was anxious to get services for her as she approached age two, because EI ends at age 36 months.  DD loved it - therapists came to the house once a week with suitcases full of toys and played with her.  She thought it was fabulous.  Therapy was very encouraging - no correcting, no punishing, lots of laughing and playing, and the therapists were all very sensitive to her preferences and attention span.  In hindsight, she probably would have been fine without therapy.  But I had no way of knowing that when I referred her for evaluation, and once a kid is three, they don't qualify for EI no matter what their needs are.  I worked as an administrative assistant in my state's EI program for a couple of years and I know that, at the state level, increasing numbers of referrals to EI are seen as a marker of the success of their outreach and childfind efforts.  EI is only effective if people use it.  

post #56 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

Do families whose children read early tend to gravitate to unschooling, leaving only a really small chunk of children with reading difficulties among them, which might not be apparent in the sample of children at unschooling camp in a particular year or session?

This was not true for us, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was true.  Unschooling takes a leap of faith at some point.  Some of us had that early, before we saw the proof in our children.  Others will make that leap after they see something like a child learning to read without formal instruction.

 

Do families whose children have reading difficulties tend to shift away from unschooling before the stage at which one might attend camp?

I wouldn't be surprised, but our family is still young and the unschooling faith is still burning bright.  

 

Do unschooling families whose children have learning difficulties tend to self-isolate and thus not expose their children to a lot of unschooling peers, either because of a lack of resources or because of social and emotional concerns?  

Unschooling is not all that common, relative to other forms of HSing.  Most HSers, even ones whose style looks awfully similar to unschooling might avoid using that term.  Conversely some families with use that term with confidence might not fit into what most people define as unschooling, looking more like their "relaxed" and "eclectic" peers.  Some families still label themselves as unschoolers even when their children have voluntarily chosen school, others don't accept that definition.  And the "radical" unschoolers feel that if unschooling doesn't extend into bedtimes and TV, for example, that it's not true unschooling either.

 

I also wonder how many parents try to impose lessons on their kids when they "fall behind" and still call it unschooling? 

 

So now that you've provided a working definition of "social isolation" you'll want to provide a working definition of "unschooling".  And would you include the families who actually call themselves unschoolers, or extend it to any family who fits the definition regardless of whether they use the term or not?  

 

Among unschooling families, is social isolation one part of a complex of problems that can include learning difficulties, such that when a child or children in a family struggle to learn a skill like reading, the family is also socially isolated?  And if so, is social isolation a cause of that problem, another effect of whatever the problem is, or unrelated but highly likely to happen at the same time?

My opinion:  I think that the issue is usually more complex than learning disability=social isolation.  (Though the study in Germany does lead me to believe that embarrassment over literacy skills can lead to individuals hiding this part of themselves and therefore a certain amount of social isolation can result.)  As moominmama stated, though, I think unschooling can provide a nurturing environment for acceptance of all levels of abilities and might actually prevent social isolation in some instances.  (A recent article in Home Education highlighted just such a girl.)  And I wonder if unschooling families who do encounter issues such as these have other unschoolers near them, or regular HSers?  It's just speculation.  I know I sometimes feel a foreigner in the HSing conversation as I do in the public school conversation.  (I just don't think about curriculums or mobile learning applications or things of that sort, so if the conversation veers towards that I wait until it becomes significant to me again.)  My family is still young, though, and we are just getting going in the wide world of HSing.  And I have that faith I mentioned before that is rock solid right now and my doubts are few and far between.  Other families might not feel so confident, especially when their kids are far behind grade level in some areas.

 

As a high school teacher, I notice that children with serious reading difficulties are often socially isolated.  Within schools, I can identify a lot of potential causes for this problem.  But I wonder if there's a link there too - are children who have serious difficulty reading also highly prone to social isolation for some reason?  Is there possibly a link there that might shed some light on this problem?  Kids who are super-dedicated readers also tend to have issues with social isolation because they self-isolate with text.  

 


 

 

post #57 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

Do families whose children read early tend to gravitate to unschooling, leaving only a really small chunk of children with reading difficulties among them, which might not be apparent in the sample of children at unschooling camp in a particular year or session?

This was not true for us, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was true.  Unschooling takes a leap of faith at some point.  Some of us had that early, before we saw the proof in our children.  Others will make that leap after they see something like a child learning to read without formal instruction.

 

Do families whose children have reading difficulties tend to shift away from unschooling before the stage at which one might attend camp?

I wouldn't be surprised, but our family is still young and the unschooling faith is still burning bright.  

 

Do unschooling families whose children have learning difficulties tend to self-isolate and thus not expose their children to a lot of unschooling peers, either because of a lack of resources or because of social and emotional concerns?  

Unschooling is not all that common, relative to other forms of HSing.  Most HSers, even ones whose style looks awfully similar to unschooling might avoid using that term.  Conversely some families with use that term with confidence might not fit into what most people define as unschooling, looking more like their "relaxed" and "eclectic" peers.  Some families still label themselves as unschoolers even when their children have voluntarily chosen school, others don't accept that definition.  And the "radical" unschoolers feel that if unschooling doesn't extend into bedtimes and TV, for example, that it's not true unschooling either.

 

I also wonder how many parents try to impose lessons on their kids when they "fall behind" and still call it unschooling? 

 

So now that you've provided a working definition of "social isolation" you'll want to provide a working definition of "unschooling".  And would you include the families who actually call themselves unschoolers, or extend it to any family who fits the definition regardless of whether they use the term or not?  

 

Among unschooling families, is social isolation one part of a complex of problems that can include learning difficulties, such that when a child or children in a family struggle to learn a skill like reading, the family is also socially isolated?  And if so, is social isolation a cause of that problem, another effect of whatever the problem is, or unrelated but highly likely to happen at the same time?

My opinion:  I think that the issue is usually more complex than learning disability=social isolation.  (Though the study in Germany does lead me to believe that embarrassment over literacy skills can lead to individuals hiding this part of themselves and therefore a certain amount of social isolation can result.)  As moominmama stated, though, I think unschooling can provide a nurturing environment for acceptance of all levels of abilities and might actually prevent social isolation in some instances.  (A recent article in Home Education highlighted just such a girl.)  And I wonder if unschooling families who do encounter issues such as these have other unschoolers near them, or regular HSers?  It's just speculation.  I know I sometimes feel a foreigner in the HSing conversation as I do in the public school conversation.  (I just don't think about curriculums or mobile learning applications or things of that sort, so if the conversation veers towards that I wait until it becomes significant to me again.)  My family is still young, though, and we are just getting going in the wide world of HSing.  And I have that faith I mentioned before that is rock solid right now and my doubts are few and far between.  Other families might not feel so confident, especially when their kids are far behind grade level in some areas.

 

As a high school teacher, I notice that children with serious reading difficulties are often socially isolated.  Within schools, I can identify a lot of potential causes for this problem.  But I wonder if there's a link there too - are children who have serious difficulty reading also highly prone to social isolation for some reason?  Is there possibly a link there that might shed some light on this problem?  Kids who are super-dedicated readers also tend to have issues with social isolation because they self-isolate with text.  

 


 

 

post #58 of 64

 

Quote:
So now that you've provided a working definition of "social isolation" you'll want to provide a working definition of "unschooling".  And would you include the families who actually call themselves unschoolers, or extend it to any family who fits the definition regardless of whether they use the term or not?  

Actually, I think you could study the issue without defining unschooling.  The questions are:

 

1 - Are teens with severe learning difficulties also socially isolated?

2 - If so, does social isolation of teens with learning difficulties specific to kids in certain learning environments, or does it occur regardless of the learning environment?

3 - If social isolation of teens with severe learning difficulties persists across learning environments, is social isolation a cause or an effect of learning difficulties, or are they both caused by a common factor?

 

To do this well, you would want to recruit a study cohort from a broad range of learning environments, and it would be helpful to apply the measures for social isolation to children who don't have severe learning difficulties in those environments, to determine that kids with severe learning difficulties genuinely are more socially isolated than their peers who don't have learning difficulties.  

 

The next term to define would be "severe learning difficulties."  Or, more probably, "Severe reading difficulties" since we started out by talking about literacy and it's a relatively easy single measure to obtain.  

 

If I was running a survey to study this, I would ask parents to describe their child's learning environment, and I would aim to collect surveys that described a diverse array of learning environments.

post #59 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

The next term to define would be "severe learning difficulties."  Or, more probably, "Severe reading difficulties" since we started out by talking about literacy and it's a relatively easy single measure to obtain.  

 

If I was running a survey to study this, I would ask parents to describe their child's learning environment, and I would aim to collect surveys that described a diverse array of learning environments.

I would then abandon the term "unschooling" and stick to "homeschooling" as the one non-schooled option, with extensive descriptions of what that entails for each family.  Akin to asking a public schooling parent what kind of involvement they have in their child's education.  This would be the best way to span all the learning environments from radical unschoolers to AP and IB students in public schools etc.

 

I haven't the foggiest idea where to start in defining either term, even using my usual method of beginning from the extremes and working to the middle.  My brain is as stuffed-up as my sinuses right now.  Anyone care to start?
 

 

post #60 of 64

We're not going to find AP and IB students with severe reading difficulties.  We'll only have competent readers, and no students with serious difficulties to compare that to.  It's also difficult to find an IB student who is socially isolated - the requirements of the IB program mean that participation eliminates social isolation for involved students.  They have to do community service and participate in activities.  I'm inclined to leave them out of the study group.  (True confessions here - I've taught IB and I am not a fan.  I think the requirements of the program are excessively exclusive.  Maybe it would be valid and I'm just stomping my feet.)

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 › s/o - did you teach (or help) your kids learn to read?