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post #41 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post


????  Not sure where all the words like manipulation, cattle, brickwalls, tyrants, etc. is coming from.

 

My point was just that to me mom dancing around resistance, manipulating kids into reading a particular book by talking about how she's sad if they don't, etc.... For me personally that feels like a lot of effort to try to make learning palatable as though there is something wrong with learning. It has been my observation this often leads to mom burn out and kids who are pretty me centered and put excessive weight into personal preferences (often of things they've not yet even experienced so they don't actually know). If every little learning opportunity feels like such a big thing, it can feel like a weight to carry.


That was a rant.  Full of hot air, but with nothing much behind it nor much logic.  I won't debate or defend my rants.  Consider them the sacrificial goat for the lions of debate to pick apart.  Have at. Bon Apetit!

 

post #42 of 317
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qalliope View Post

I'm curious, Tigresse, if you had these feelings all along, that the path you were on was inadequate? You seem to be handling things well from what you have described. But your son's choice to wait to learn anything beyond basic math until it was important to something else he wanted to pursue seems to be a sticking point for you, at least in terms of seeing unschooling as a valid or worthwhile educational method. My understanding is that this is how unschooling is supposed to work. He's struggling a lot, and it is stressful, and I get that.  He followed his interests through childhood. Now he hits a stumbling block as he approaches his transition into the adult world. He comes to you to help navigate around or over that wall using the resources you have available. Teamwork. It's not stopping him or intimidating him out of continuing his education. For many many many young adults, that kind of struggle leads them to just give up and try a path of less resistance. So he's cultivated both positive (perseverance) and negative (poor study habits) qualities through the years, any of which may have been influenced more by your choice to unschool or more by his personal temperament. 

Certainly the stage he is at in his development is proving difficult for both of you and seems to be a situation unusual to unschooling, unless others are going through similar and are too embarrassed to share their situation, or I am not looking in the right places. I do think your experience is valuable to the unschooling community just for the sake of knowing the range of outcomes, although I still think it is too early for a final verdict.  If he meets his goals in college and moves on to a fulfilling career/life, I would call that success, and I would be interested in hearing how he does as he progresses through the math classes and tutoring offered by his college.

I am not clear on why you were unschooling and what you thought you would get out of it.  What goals did you hope to meet in your son's education? And did you achieve those specific goals? Do you perceive the problem to be that unschooling was simply not as advertised or that your priorities, in hindsight, were not as they should have been?  I am interested in your insights on this, in part because, the picture as painted is, "We unschooled; everything seemed to be going great until my son went on to college; I thought he would just 'get it'; that didn't happen; now I'm unhappy with unschooling."  I see plenty of, "We tried unschooling; it didn't fit with our needs and priorities; we moved on to something different."  But I never see the former, so I find it really intriguing? concerning? perplexing? that things turned out this way for you.  I guess what I am most wondering is what advice you would give either to a parent just starting on this path or to your past self. If you could go back in time, what, exactly, would you do differently?

My goal in my children's education is for them to gain practice and experience in making choices that are right for them as individuals, to let their ambition be fueled by their passions rather than a sense of obligation, to recognize the sheer vastness of what there is to do and see and learn about in the world, and to show them that (nearly) any goal can be reached with enough focus and determination.  Unschooling seemed to be the best way to get those messages across. It's hard for me to know because I'm not in your situation, but I don't think I would be troubled if my son were having the same difficulties as yours because he seems to have integrated the lessons and values I try hardest to teach.

First of all, thanks to all who have offered support, ideas, and reassurance. And I know I can come down on myself a bit hard in this situation, partly because I took this endeavor very seriously and now have an unhappy son (as far as academics go) who will most likely never homeschool let alone unschool his own children, but also because the wound of the most recent class failure is a bit fresh and plans must now be changed. We now must once again dip into his college funds to continue to remedy his math deficiencies. And honestly, I don't know how these remedials and the retakes will show on his transcript. He has already told me that the amount of time he put into math took away time from his other classes, and his grades suffered in those as well, except for writing that comes easily to him. I'm not sure how easily he will be able to transfer to his desired 4 year college. He will not have an Associates, which I advised over and over and worked with him to choose classes, but he decided not to pursue the needed foreign language. He met with an advisor who told him he does not need it to transfer to his desired school, but I'm not sure he mentioned he was homeschooled and does not have an accredited HS diploma, ACT's, or SAT's. Again, I wish I would have said to him way back when he took his 1st Spanish class, did well in it then decided not to continue that I had told him something like, "trust me,this is important, you should stick with this now while it is fresh and get through it because you might need it later and it will be hard to come back and pick it up". But I let him make the call, and now he has many more hurdles to jump through. I know for many of you this is just part of the process, he is only 19, there is plenty of time, it would have been taking over/directing his learning for him and all that, he would lose sight of his own goals/reasons for learning, etc. But the truth is, I know *plenty* of homeschooled kids whose learning was a bit more directed than ds and they are *thriving*. Their parents still managed to pass along some amazing values despite the disrespect that goes along with telling them what to do once in awhile eyesroll.gif.

So, to try to answer some more of your questions above...

Yes, I have had niggling doubts for quite awhile, and actually already abandoned unschooling as my method of homeschooling about a year and a half ago when the folly of my choices really became apparent. My younger kids have already been on a more relaxed eclectic approach, but I must say I see even more inertia in my 16 yo ds than I did in my 19yo at that age. I now see unschooling as a valid choice for young children who need lots of play or are not ready for certain academic subjects, because I have seen reading come much easier to my own kids when they were allowed to learn it organically. All my boys learned to read via video games. Very unschooly indeed. I also think it is a valid choice for highly driven, motivated older kids/teens whose parents have the means to support most of their pursuits even if they are very non-traditional. It also appears to be a valid choice for those (parents) who have very little attachment to to an outcome of say, some sort of pursuit of independence by age 18 or so?

As far as qualities ds has cultivated through the years either by his upbringing, personality, experiences, whatever, I have very little to lament here. He is an awesome young man, quite a charmer actually. What I do believe though, is that this one glaring negative (poor study habits, and the resulting issues) could have been prevented by even an hour or so a day of some directed study, and he still would have had ample time to pursue his interests. Now, I don't know this for sure, of course, but it is the direction I am taking with my younger kids atm. I further believe that a small amount of parent-directed learning is *not* detrimental to the ability to follow passions, setting and achieving goals that are fulfilling, nor is it a hinderance to being exposed to the wonders the world has to offer.

Why did we begin unschooling? Because my attempts at directed learning met with such resistance when ds was young (indeed ds #1 was the guinea pig). He once told me as a young child that when I attempted to teach him something, like math for instance, that it really only sank in when he decided to do it himself. How unschooly is that? Well, for better or worse, he never decided to do it himself. I have seen 3 of my 4 kids learn to read organically (youngest is not there yet), that was also quite convincing. I read this and other message boards and was inspired by what I read. I trusted into the notion that 12 years of formal schooling can be condensed into a very short time when the learner is motivated to do it, and I do believe that is true, to a point. I read about and discussed the benefits of gaming with my boys and other parents...there has always been a lot of disagreement about that. I decided at some point to let go of my control of the gaming in favor of "trusting" my kids to self regulate. Hmmmmmm. I'm reasonably sure at this point that was *not* the right choice. I could go in about that, but suffice it to say the "forbidden fruit" concept does not seem to hold true wrt gaming and unschooling in our home.

What I had hoped my children would gain from unschooling is very similar to what you stated, Qalliop. I would add that I hoped for more self-motivation, drive, ambition due to the freedom from constraints of school. What I have actually seen is a lot of taking the path of least resistance, as has been mentioned in this discussion (but we're not supposed to judge that as unschoolers wink1.gif) until the last couple years with my oldest ds, when he decided he did want to do something with his time other than gaming. Now unfortunately, he is ill-prepared to handle the challenges of the path he would like to follow. I do believe that unschooling is touted as sort-of the ultimate evolution of homeschooling, the most out-of-box, joyful, respectful, trusting,freedom-loving approach. I guess I felt that it should result in an extremely well-adjusted young adult, including academically. If that is not the case, then it should not be promoted by it's followers as a viable alternative to conventional education for all kids if the parents can just let go of their hang-ups.

What I would offer to other parents and what I wish I had done myself is to trust their own instincts when choosing an educational path for their child. It is not just about trusting the child, it is about trusting that inner voice and knowing a child may not ask for, or perhaps reject what they really need. And yes, this is a judgement call on the parent's part, and I actually do believe that loving, sensitive parents are capable of choosing how to meet their kid's needs, even if the kids do not give their consent. And further, I do not believe that making these decisions on behalf of one's kids is detrimental to them when done sensitively, and not just with a "because I said so" type of attitude. Take it one day at a time.
post #43 of 317

Thank you, Tigresse, you've given me a lot to consider.  I wholeheartedly agree with your advice. Trust your kids, but trust yourself as a parent more. Good stuff.

post #44 of 317

Thank you for starting a very interesting discussion.

 

I am at the tail end of a long unschooling experience (ElderSon is 30 YO and mainly unschooled, the Dumplings are 15, in an alternative school, and 16, still unschooled, and I was unschooled myself, in the 60's and 70's). I am not quite at the vantage point that I can rate it as success or failure with the younger ones yet.

 

16YO DD has just the same math struggle as the OP. She has career goals that include college, and tests at about 5th grade level in math. We are trying a new tutor, but really feeling pretty discouraged. I don't exactly regret the path I chose for my family, because the benefits far outweigh this one area of weakness. Given my personality and my kids', I don't believe I could have done anything much differently. But I am hoping math will not be a life-altering obstacle for her. Would it have been any different if she had attended traditional school, or if I pushed a set curriculum? Who knows? But I do know she and I would not have the close amazing relationship we have if we had butted heads consistently over academics.

 

I was going to wax philosophical, but Xmas dinner preparations require an emergency trip to the supermarket before they close. I'll be back...

post #45 of 317

Hi,

 

I don't know if you should view this as an unschooling failure, but as an opportunity.  It sounds like your son is very motivated to learn math right now, this is what you have been waiting for!!!!  Maybe college remedial is too advanced for him.  I think you said that he is at a fourth grade level, so meet him where he is at.  He now needs your guidance.  I do more schooly stuff for math and we have really enjoyed Singapore Math.  If you get the textbooks and workbooks, he can do it mostly independently.  If you bought starting at level 3 (Singapore levels correspond to one grade level up, level 3 is US 4th grade, at least in my understanding) and went through 6 he should have a good, solid background to start high school math.  I would also think this would only take him a few months (maybe his tutors could help with this).  I'm sure others could tell you of different curriculums that worked for them.  For high school math, I don't know as much, but I know Life of Fred goes through high school.  I think with his level of motivation he could get through all of his math and be ready to start college math in the fall.  Maybe he could take a couple of non-math classes in the spring while he is working on his math so he doesn't lose his momentum.

 

I know if when I was 19 I was that deficient in math (I was traditionally schooled) I would have been too embarassed to seak help and would have just given up.  I really admire him for working so hard to get this math education.

 

Good Luck!

 

Liz

post #46 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigeresse View Post

As far as qualities ds has cultivated through the years either by his upbringing, personality, experiences, whatever, I have very little to lament here. He is an awesome young man, quite a charmer actually. What I do believe though, is that this one glaring negative (poor study habits, and the resulting issues) could have been prevented by even an hour or so a day of some directed study, and he still would have had ample time to pursue his interests. Now, I don't know this for sure, of course, but it is the direction I am taking with my younger kids atm. I further believe that a small amount of parent-directed learning is *not* detrimental to the ability to follow passions, setting and achieving goals that are fulfilling, nor is it a hinderance to being exposed to the wonders the world has to offer.

Why did we begin unschooling? Because my attempts at directed learning met with such resistance when ds was young (indeed ds #1 was the guinea pig). He once told me as a young child that when I attempted to teach him something, like math for instance, that it really only sank in when he decided to do it himself..... 

.....What I have actually seen is a lot of taking the path of least resistance, as has been mentioned in this discussion (but we're not supposed to judge that as unschoolers wink1.gif) until the last couple years with my oldest ds, when he decided he did want to do something with his time other than gaming. Now unfortunately, he is ill-prepared to handle the challenges of the path he would like to follow.

I do believe that unschooling is touted as sort-of the ultimate evolution of homeschooling, the most out-of-box, joyful, respectful, trusting,freedom-loving approach. I guess I felt that it should result in an extremely well-adjusted young adult, including academically. If that is not the case, then it should not be promoted by it's followers as a viable alternative to conventional education for all kids if the parents can just let go of their hang-ups.

What I would offer to other parents and what I wish I had done myself is to trust their own instincts when choosing an educational path for their child. It is not just about trusting the child, it is about trusting that inner voice and knowing a child may not ask for, or perhaps reject what they really need. And yes, this is a judgement call on the parent's part, and I actually do believe that loving, sensitive parents are capable of choosing how to meet their kid's needs, even if the kids do not give their consent. And further, I do not believe that making these decisions on behalf of one's kids is detrimental to them when done sensitively, and not just with a "because I said so" type of attitude. Take it one day at a time.



clap.gif Thank you so much for acknowledging all of this.  For putting into words what some of us are thinking and feeling but are too afraid to say for fear of being blasted over our baggage, lack of trust in our children, etc...  It's happened to me several times when I've shared my son's struggles with trying to learn naturally while dealing with learning challenges.  Dyslexia, dysgraphia. and dyscalculia.  Being an unschooler doesn't preclude me from accepting LD diagnoses when they apply.  But when I say, "My son is learning naturally with unschooling--except in the areas he has these roadblocks," I get responses such as, "Don't think of him in terms of having learning issues.  That's the problem. And it's YOUR problem, not his." 

Those kinds of comments are unhelpful because they ignore the fact that real disabilities do exist!  If a child has trouble walking because of a neurological issue, no one blames mom for her baggage.  It's expected that she will see specialists and do the exercises with her child to help, or if applicable, accept her child's limitations and try to find a way around them.

I really feel like families struggling with learning challenges are left in the lurch in the unschooling community.  So I feel you, OP.  Even if LD isn't applicable to your son.  My son wants nothing to do with math.  Math work leads to tears.  Your story scares me because I have no idea how to intercede for him.  I have felt unheard and invalidated an an unschooler because almost no one talks about unschool "failures" or disappointments.  Thank you for doing so. 

I'm not as eloquent as many of you and my opinions probably won't hold up to rigorous debate---I'm more interested in speaking from the heart.  I think we do a disservice to new unschoolers when we hold it up as the perfect, child-friendliest, most life-affirming option for everyone.  There's another side to it.  And like anything else in life, parents need to know that in order to weigh the pros and cons.    

 

post #47 of 317

ReadingMama, I think it is really limiting when we share one small bit of our lives, then others-- some meaning to help, others to criticize-- reduce the cause down to one sticking point.  It is really discouraging and often unhelpful.  That's too bad you have had that experience.  It's too bad that there are unschoolers (and people in general, really) who will, when all is said and done, think that something must be wrong if you had struggles where they didn't.  Or that you responded to the same struggles differently.  I have found since I have been on this forum since this summer that the current crop of mamas frequently responding here have been extremely helpful and understanding and open to the idea that unschooling as an ideal is great, but in practice we can find it helpful if we follow a path that does not seem traditionally "unschooly", especially when we see that a child is not only struggling, but unhappy about it.  I define myself as an unschooling parent because that is my personality as well as my ideal, and I can often find it difficult to step outside of that mindset when it might be helpful.  To have people chiding you to stick to that ideal when your heart says otherwise seems unfair.

 

 

 

 

post #48 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post

I really feel like families struggling with learning challenges are left in the lurch in the unschooling community.  


That hasn't been my experience at all. I've heard a lot of different perspectives in this forum, but also out in the real world of fellow unschoolers. I know plenty of dyed-in-the-wool unschoolers who have stepped outside of what would superficially be considered unschooling (i.e. in-the-moment, in-the-flow non-curricular learning) when their experiences and their children's struggles or demands have led them to do so. There are many examples of such parents in this forum, myself included. My ds is now officially labelled as LD, twice-exceptional, and I've experienced none of the negativity or unhelpfulness you describe. But then, I don't look to the unschooling community for answers so much as I do for understanding, support, commiseration and (especially!) food for thought. I love having my assumptions challenged. But I wouldn't be dissuaded from my instincts by something I perceived as unschooling dogma, or as other people's experience with different children and different family dynamics.

 

Miranda

post #49 of 317
I think this is a pretty non-blasting board, especially for the last few years.

I also think unschooling gets tagged as "learning naturally" sometimes, with the implication that learning will happen without any conscious effort on the part of the learner - and I don't agree with that paradigm. Rain has worked really hard to learn some things. Other things she has learned "naturally", through osmosis or whatever. Neither is more or less unschooling, in my opinion.

If people are getting the idea that unschooling means that kids will never have to put forth concerted effort to learn anything then I think unschoolers should try to correct that idea, because in my experience it's not been true. If parents are telling their children not to worry about their lack of skills in an area because they believe this, then I see that as a problem, too. I'm not saying that's what happened to Tigresse's son, but I think it's worth throwing out there.

My kid is, in many ways, the stereotypical successful unschooler. She did all the stuff unschoolers are supposed to do, like mastering 12 years of math in much less time, getting scholarships, and so on. On the other hand, I think she'd be much stronger in math if she'd been working on it regularly for 12 years, and she still feels uncomfortable about math, and she did have to work at learning it. And it hasn't all been "joy"... sometimes she's been sad or frustrated and unhappy. She's seeing a counselor at her university now, which I think is wonderful. She started going because she was really stressed about her Russian class - she entered a class in which the other students had worked together with the same teacher for two years already, and she was having a lot of anxiety - but she's talked about other things with her counselor, too, and I think she clearly needed that. Maybe that has nothing to do with unschooling - she's talked about her father abandoning her, for example - but at least it shows that unschooling isn't a panacea.

And I do think it really comes down to doing what seems best for your family and your kids, and realizing that we're all just making the best guesses we can at the time and hoping we're right.
post #50 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post


  But when I say, "My son is learning naturally with unschooling--except in the areas he has these roadblocks," I get responses such as, "Don't think of him in terms of having learning issues.  That's the problem. And it's YOUR problem, not his." 

Those kinds of comments are unhelpful because they ignore the fact that real disabilities do exist!  If a child has trouble walking because of a neurological issue, no one blames mom for her baggage.  It's expected that she will see specialists and do the exercises with her child to help, or if applicable, accept her child's limitations and try to find a way around them.
 

 


I agree with a lot of what you said. What I've seen/experienced IRL is discomfort from some unschoolers with interventions (even sometimes including speech or physical therapy) because of the sentiment that kids will outgrow whatever it is or learn it in their own time once it is a priority to them. This is tricky because of course that's often exactly how it works when there are no learning disabilities. What I've observed is kind of an odd contradiction is that often the same people who reject early diagnosis or intervention will very readily offer up LDs as an explanation when an older child or teen struggles - even if the teen has devoted very little time to learning the subject. So, my observation would be that many unschoolers accept LDs in older kids, but don't necessarily accept the idea that more structured interventions are necessary or desirable for younger kids.

 

I will say that part of why I don't feel as concerned that any adult led activity will lead to damaging resistance, is because disabilities and therapies required us to navigate through these components of the learning relationship early in the process (perhaps during windows where it was easier to develop trust in the learning process).
 

 

post #51 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post

I think this is a pretty non-blasting board, especially for the last few years.
I also think unschooling gets tagged as "learning naturally" sometimes, with the implication that learning will happen without any conscious effort on the part of the learner - and I don't agree with that paradigm. Rain has worked really hard to learn some things. Other things she has learned "naturally", through osmosis or whatever. Neither is more or less unschooling, in my opinion.
 


I agree. Also, I think sometimes overgeneralization can happen. Sometimes I think this happens based on seeing how the individual child learns one thing. So, they go from not reading to reading Harry Potter in a week and that really is a magical and surprising thing. It can be easy to assume all learning will be the same, but it may be that the process is entirely different for a different skill or subject. I also think both homeschoolers and unschoolers sometimes over generalize that the path of the highest achievers will be the path of everyone. I understand in a world that often doesn't understand nontraditional choices there can be a desire to latch on to and circulate these examples, but they may not really generalize to the learning path of every student.

 

post #52 of 317


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post


I really feel like families struggling with learning challenges are left in the lurch in the unschooling community.  So I feel you, OP.  Even if LD isn't applicable to your son.  My son wants nothing to do with math.  Math work leads to tears.  Your story scares me because I have no idea how to intercede for him.  I have felt unheard and invalidated an an unschooler because almost no one talks about unschool "failures" or disappointments.  Thank you for doing so. 

   

 


I don't think USing families with kids with LD are left in the lurch - but I do think there is a disconnect between a typical USing train of thought and an LD approach.

 

With some frequency a poster  with a young child will come on and express dismay that their child isn't reading.

 

Many people will come on and say don't worry - your child will learn when they are ready.  They may share some fun reading promotion strategies - but that is about it.

 

According to this website, about 15-20 percent of people have LD that affect their ability to read.  http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learning_disabilities.cfm

 

That means 75-80% of the time there is no LD and the advice to wait until the child is ready is decent advice - particularly with a young child.

 

The advice, if followed, does do a disservice to those with a LD, but then insisting every 6 yr old learn to read in case they might have an LD (and panicking when they don't/can't) does a disservice to 6 yr olds in general. 

 

For me, the answer has lied in having some understanding of developmental norms.  Most kids learn to read between 5-10.  If your child is older than that and not able to read, it is time to do some investigation.  Likewise, most teens do start to have some sense of the future during the teen years.  Both of my teens see themselves as going to university.  They have made choices that support this.  If I had a child in the mid teens who seemed really stuck and unable to move forward or see how choices they made affected the future, I would try to shake things up a little.

 

I am not willing to wait forever to see if motivation to learn something kicks in (because sometimes people do need a kick in the pants by those who love them winky.gif) but I am not rushing in to address a situation until I know there really is a problem.  I do believe people will learn easier (and perhaps in a more meaningful way) when motivated, so waiting, when appropriate, is a good idea.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
edited for typos

Edited by purslaine - 12/26/11 at 10:45am
post #53 of 317
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post

I think this is a pretty non-blasting board, especially for the last few years.
I also think unschooling gets tagged as "learning naturally" sometimes, with the implication that learning will happen without any conscious effort on the part of the learner - and I don't agree with that paradigm. Rain has worked really hard to learn some things. Other things she has learned "naturally", through osmosis or whatever. Neither is more or less unschooling, in my opinion.
If people are getting the idea that unschooling means that kids will never have to put forth concerted effort to learn anything then I think unschoolers should try to correct that idea, because in my experience it's not been true. If parents are telling their children not to worry about their lack of skills in an area because they believe this, then I see that as a problem, too. I'm not saying that's what happened to Tigresse's son, but I think it's worth throwing out there.
My kid is, in many ways, the stereotypical successful unschooler. She did all the stuff unschoolers are supposed to do, like mastering 12 years of math in much less time, getting scholarships, and so on. On the other hand, I think she'd be much stronger in math if she'd been working on it regularly for 12 years, and she still feels uncomfortable about math, and she did have to work at learning it. And it hasn't all been "joy"... sometimes she's been sad or frustrated and unhappy. She's seeing a counselor at her university now, which I think is wonderful. She started going because she was really stressed about her Russian class - she entered a class in which the other students had worked together with the same teacher for two years already, and she was having a lot of anxiety - but she's talked about other things with her counselor, too, and I think she clearly needed that. Maybe that has nothing to do with unschooling - she's talked about her father abandoning her, for example - but at least it shows that unschooling isn't a panacea.
And I do think it really comes down to doing what seems best for your family and your kids, and realizing that we're all just making the best guesses we can at the time and hoping we're right.

I never got the impression that kids would never have to apply effort to their learning or would learn everything by osmosis (although that does seem to happen for some things), but I have read and been told that learning only happens by consent of the learner, and by methods the learner deems acceptable. It is *not* OK for the parent to administer any kind of assignments or requirements. It *is* OK to offer, suggest, provide, strew, all of the that, but the decision to partake lies with the learner. So then, when the kid does *not* choose any traditional methods of learning and turns down what we offer, we as parents must look for the learning (including math) in other sources, such as video games or whatever the passion might be (believe me, I have created transcripts that include gaming as coursework). The motivation to learn can and will come from within for the student's own reasons and thus they will be ready, willing and able to apply effort to the task due the motivation being intrinsic rather than externally sourced. What I'm saying is that this is not always true and some kids are going to need some external guidance even if they don't consent, in a nutshell. However, I do believe that much learning does occur using non-traditional sources, and it is a big part of the reason we are still very relaxed homeschoolers.

Another phenomenon reported and touted by devout unschoolers is that the student will become motivated if and when they need to learn something to accomplish goals. Only when parents when parents are projecting their own agendas on kids will this intrinsic motivation be stifled.
Edited by Tigeresse - 12/26/11 at 11:27am
post #54 of 317

Jumping in here after reading this thread since it started, hope no one minds my 2 cents... My 18yo is very much like OP's son.

I would like to agree with kathymuggle here but unfortunately, from what I have seen, with LD it is often too late to properly address it if you don't figure out that that is why the child is not reading or doing math until you realize that they are waaay behind and that it's not just motivation. I was a true believer in the Waldorf philosophies about learning and not inclined to push my son to read, in fact was furious that he was put into a remedial reading class in Kindergarten (the only time he went to school until he was a teenager), but it became apparent that early structure would have been a good thing for him, and probably gotten him a lot farther down the road than he is likely to ever get on his own, or without a lot of struggle. I was so adamant that he would learn when he was ready that I missed the window of opportunity to get him proper instruction when it would have been most effective. So I still don't know how to find the balance between the large percent of children who will start reading at some point and the small percent that needs help, but I think it is crucial to find a way to determine the difference early on. I was horrified that he would have extra reading instruction in K, but he liked it, so of course years later I was wishing I had let it happen. Talk about regrets.....
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post


I don't think USing families with kids with LD are left in the lurch - but I do think there is a disconnect between a typical USing train of thought and an LD approach.

 

With some frequency a poster  with a young child will come on and express dismay that their child isn't reading.

 

Many people will come on and say don't worry - your child will learn when they are ready.  They may share some fun reading reading promotion strategies - but that is about it.

 

According to this website, about 15-20 percent of people have LD that affect their ability to read.  http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learning_disabilities.cfm

 

That means 75-80% of the time there is no LD and the advice to wait until the child is ready is decent advice - particularly with a young child.

 

The advice, if followed, does do a disservice to those with LD, but then insisting every 6 yr old learn to read in case they might have an LD (and panicking when they don't/can't) does a disservice to 6 yr olds in general. 

 

For me, the answer has lied in have some understanding of developmental norms.  Most kids learn to read between 5-10.  If your child is older than that and not able to read, it is time to do some investigation.  Likewise, most teens do start to have some sense of the future during the teen years.  Both of my teens see themselves as going to university.  They have made choices that support this.  If I had a child in the mid teens who seemed really stuck and unable to move forward or see how choices they made affected the future, I would try to shake things up a little.

 

I am not willing to wait forever to see if motivation to learn something kicks in (because sometimes people do need a kick in the pants by those who love them winky.gif) but I am not rushing in to address a situation until I know there really is a problem.  I do believe people will learn easier (and perhaps in a more meaningful way) when motivated, so waiting, when appropriate, is a good idea.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

post #55 of 317

Just a collection of thoughts......

 

In keeping up with homeschooling literature, I have often read about homeschooling parents of kids with diagnosed learning abilities, and how pulling them out of school has helped their child thrive.  The goal was to make life seem more normal and less centered around the disability.  That's what I think of when parents start from the other direction-- having a kid with a learning disability or delay and wondering if homeschooling might be a better choice.  I have no opinion about this necessarily, just that I know this is an additional motivation for families, the desire for normalcy.

 

One method that I associate strongly with unschooling is immersion in real-life activities.  For families as young as mine this does mean "baking cupcakes" and adding dice and allowance and building birdhouses.  (It also means counting toys and adding them together-- "Mama, mama!  11 and 6 make SEVENTEEN!!!!!  And that means..... 12 plus 6 make EIGHTEEN!!!!!!"  This happened in the car on the way up to grandma's and it cracked me up because I couldn't quite imagine a first grader working on a math worksheet bouncing with the joy of their mathematical discoveries.)

 

I think as kids get older, if those real-life learning activities aren't found around the house or within their known community, then I think it is up to the parent to *help* find new opportunities.  I've read articles by families where this was unnecessary, but if for others the mathematical opportunities fizzled out after cooking and balancing checkbooks, then it is time for the parents and kids to look around together a bit.  And maybe what they'll find is a curriculum instead, who knows?   

 

A fallacy about unschooling that I encounter is the image of the passive parent standing by watching their kids find their own way.  Where I've found this idea is in my many conversations with local homeschooling parents.  They explain-- apologetically-- that they simply cannot unschool because ________.   And often it is this view of the passive parent.  (Just musing in general:  I'm honestly a little stumped as to how the public view of unschooling has become parents being doormats to illiterate kids who play video games 18 hrs a day.  I keep thinking this is a joke, that people who have heard of unschooling can't really think this, but far too often I am proven otherwise.  Sigh!  Maybe they are afraid of it because they see that as a possibility?  I can only guess......) 

 

The way I see unschooling, it is quite the opposite:  the world of the parents and other adults is open wide with welcome for the kids to join in and tag along.  This requires the opposite of the passive parent.  It requires a very active parent, in fact.  (Perhaps that's just semantics, I don't know.)  So, it is hard for me to have the conversations with these parents, knowing that we are just chatting and sharing and getting to know each other.  But sometimes their view of unschooling is so opposite to my experience that I want to tell them, "I don't care that you don't unschool, but you've got it all wrong about what unschooling is!"  

 

Well, now I'm just rambling and I need to get on with my day.

post #56 of 317

Only have a second....OP....I was thinking this article might encourage your ds. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creative-synthesis/201112/be-your-best-suck-you-must

post #57 of 317


The reality is, some kids don't want to do even experiencial math etc. Believe me, I tried all that, but if they are determined to not think about it, they are no more likely to think about it just because it's jelly beans and gin rummy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Just a collection of thoughts......

 

In keeping up with homeschooling literature, I have often read about homeschooling parents of kids with diagnosed learning abilities, and how pulling them out of school has helped their child thrive.  The goal was to make life seem more normal and less centered around the disability.  That's what I think of when parents start from the other direction-- having a kid with a learning disability or delay and wondering if homeschooling might be a better choice.  I have no opinion about this necessarily, just that I know this is an additional motivation for families, the desire for normalcy.

 

One method that I associate strongly with unschooling is immersion in real-life activities.  For families as young as mine this does mean "baking cupcakes" and adding dice and allowance and building birdhouses.  (It also means counting toys and adding them together-- "Mama, mama!  11 and 6 make SEVENTEEN!!!!!  And that means..... 12 plus 6 make EIGHTEEN!!!!!!"  This happened in the car on the way up to grandma's and it cracked me up because I couldn't quite imagine a first grader working on a math worksheet bouncing with the joy of their mathematical discoveries.)

 

I think as kids get older, if those real-life learning activities aren't found around the house or within their known community, then I think it is up to the parent to *help* find new opportunities.  I've read articles by families where this was unnecessary, but if for others the mathematical opportunities fizzled out after cooking and balancing checkbooks, then it is time for the parents and kids to look around together a bit.  And maybe what they'll find is a curriculum instead, who knows?   

 

A fallacy about unschooling that I encounter is the image of the passive parent standing by watching their kids find their own way.  Where I've found this idea is in my many conversations with local homeschooling parents.  They explain-- apologetically-- that they simply cannot unschool because ________.   And often it is this view of the passive parent.  (Just musing in general:  I'm honestly a little stumped as to how the public view of unschooling has become parents being doormats to illiterate kids who play video games 18 hrs a day.  I keep thinking this is a joke, that people who have heard of unschooling can't really think this, but far too often I am proven otherwise.  Sigh!  Maybe they are afraid of it because they see that as a possibility?  I can only guess......) 

 

The way I see unschooling, it is quite the opposite:  the world of the parents and other adults is open wide with welcome for the kids to join in and tag along.  This requires the opposite of the passive parent.  It requires a very active parent, in fact.  (Perhaps that's just semantics, I don't know.)  So, it is hard for me to have the conversations with these parents, knowing that we are just chatting and sharing and getting to know each other.  But sometimes their view of unschooling is so opposite to my experience that I want to tell them, "I don't care that you don't unschool, but you've got it all wrong about what unschooling is!"  

 

Well, now I'm just rambling and I need to get on with my day.



 

post #58 of 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by jess in hawaii View Post


The reality is, some kids don't want to do even experiencial math etc. Believe me, I tried all that, but if they are determined to not think about it, they are no more likely to think about it just because it's jelly beans and gin rummy.



 

Oh, I believe it....  I do believe it.... 
 

 

post #59 of 317
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jess in hawaii View Post



The reality is, some kids don't want to do even experiencial math etc. Believe me, I tried all that, but if they are determined to not think about it, they are no more likely to think about it just because it's jelly beans and gin rummy.



And even if they do lots of experiential math, it may not be enough to get them were they need to go. Playing Monopoly has very little to do with quadratic equations, at least in our experience. Funny thing too is that lots of more formally schooled/homeschooled kids still can get very engaged in experiential math, from what I've seen. Requiring a bit of work each day does not make it meaningless, irrelevant or destroy any possible interest kids could ever develop in it, imo.

((jess in hawaii)) hug2.gif
post #60 of 317
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post



clap.gif  Thank you so much for acknowledging all of this.  For putting into words what some of us are thinking and feeling but are too afraid to say for fear of being blasted over our baggage, lack of trust in our children, etc...  It's happened to me several times when I've shared my son's struggles with trying to learn naturally while dealing with learning challenges.  Dyslexia, dysgraphia. and dyscalculia.  Being an unschooler doesn't preclude me from accepting LD diagnoses when they apply.  But when I say, "My son is learning naturally with unschooling--except in the areas he has these roadblocks," I get responses such as, "Don't think of him in terms of having learning issues.  That's the problem. And it's YOUR problem, not his." 


Those kinds of comments are unhelpful because they ignore the fact that real disabilities do exist!  If a child has trouble walking because of a neurological issue, no one blames mom for her baggage.  It's expected that she will see specialists and do the exercises with her child to help, or if applicable, accept her child's limitations and try to find a way around them.


I really feel like families struggling with learning challenges are left in the lurch in the unschooling community.  So I feel you, OP.  Even if LD isn't applicable to your son.  My son wants nothing to do with math.  Math work leads to tears.  Your story scares me because I have no idea how to intercede for him.  I have felt unheard and invalidated an an unschooler because almost no one talks about unschool "failures" or disappointments.  Thank you for doing so. 


I'm not as eloquent as many of you and my opinions probably won't hold up to rigorous debate---I'm more interested in speaking from the heart.  I think we do a disservice to new unschoolers when we hold it up as the perfect, child-friendliest, most life-affirming option for everyone.  There's another side to it.  And like anything else in life, parents need to know that in order to weigh the pros and cons.    

Thanks so much for your acknowledgement, ReadingMama. I'm so sorry you have had this experience, and I do believe there is a lack of talk of "failures" because the most vocal proponents have either exceptional kids or they are very zen about the whole thing and the kids are just "where they need to be". JMHO.

Hugs to you! hug2.gif
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