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need to bounce of some thoughts with experienced home/unschoolers

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So,  I have gone from not wanting to homeschool AT ALL to, well, maybe I will the first few years with a nearby charter homeschool program, to now thinking about a more unschooly approach to Kindergarten.

 

My dd is 4 with a December bday, so her K year would be 2013-2014.  We currently attend a mommy and me style preschool program 2 days a week. 

 

Let me see if I can organize my thoughts a bit.  While she seems to really like her class, my dd is super reserved and does not leave my side for the entire class.  She has yet to have "friends" because she refuses to speak to any of the kids or, quite frankly, anyone she doesn't know well.  One reason homeschool started to be on my radar.  She never seemed to be "growing out of it".  I keep being told that she will probably do better than I think without me, yes, maybe, but she literally panics at the thought of me walking off without her in class so....

 

My dd has always been interested in letters and showed really good fine motor skills really young.  She entered this class already knowing how make most letters, spell her name, mom, dad, stuff like that.  That was all her asking me, "mom, how do you spell mom, etc"  I have never held her hand to help her make a letter, but only shown her how I make it when she asks.  So, she doesn't really mind the writing practice they do in class, but I honestly don't like the way they push it.  Also, I see them correcting them all the time with writing, something I don't do with my dd at all.  If she makes a squiggle and tells me its a K, then its a K, you know?  The other day, she was tracing numbers and her teacher came up to her and said, "start from the top" of course, right after that, my dd was done. It irritated me, quite honestly.  I never correct her on those things because I feel like she will write when she writes and just let her have fun and explore right now.

 

For next year they have a 4-5 yr old class.  (she is in 3-4 now) called "school readiness".  Its 3 days and I'm supposed to leave her there without me for 2 of them.  I've asked my dd about that class, and she talks about it like she wants to, but then then says, "no, i'm not ready to go to class by myself yet".  When the 4-5 teachers came to talk to us about their classes, I was shocked at the work they do!  Like writing little short stories with pictures.  I mean, great if your kid is into that, but again, I just don't think we need to push these things, they happen, you know?  But, they have to because I know in K they do a lot more "academic" work than they did in K in my day.  When I was kid, K was still fun.

 

All K's are full day.  Even the more laid back charter schools still  have full day K.  Again, I keep hearing how she will do fine being gone all day, but I guess keep thinking, does she have to?  She has her whole life to work hard all day!

 

So, all these things have led me to at least consider a unschool approach for K.  But, I'm totally new to the concept.  How do you unschool for K?  Would she be okay for 1st if I did?  I work part time 3 days a week, so it isn't as if she isn't ever away from me.  And while I don't want to be to scheduled, I have found that on my days at home, sometimes we cranky and end up rattling around the house trying to think of things to do.  How does a homeschooling parent get time to themselves?  I like quiet time and time where no one is talking to me, and honestly, while I love being with my dd, that is an aspect to parenting that has been tough for me.  Am I crazy to think I can have her home more?  What about her independence?  If I don't force her to be without me, am I babying her?  Should we try to sign up for some outside activity just so she is around other kids sometimes? (she is an only child with no close in age cousins).  Is it still "unschool" if I do that?  Are my reasons for thinking of doing this valid?

 

I know this post is unorganized crazy talk, but even as I think about this, I feel overwhelmed by it.  Just looking for some thoughts from more experienced parents.  Thanks!
 

post #2 of 7

Unschooling for kindergarten at this house is just playtime.  I have materials around that seem a bit more schoolish--pens, pencils, brushes and feathers (for Harry-Potter-style pretend writing!) a good assortment of paper and measuring tape and sticks and magnifying glasses.  Plus, they have full access to these things, plus tape and glue and scissors etc etc.  Beginning at 6 my oldest has had access to the camera.  We hit the library, watch videos in the morning, read together, play games together.  The girls play together most of the day.  We have guidebooks and horse books and walks.  

 

Yes, I often plan activities for us.  Monday the farrier is coming to the stables where we take riding lessons every other week.  The girls want to be farmers, so a visit with the farrier is much anticipated.  So, I planned it, they said "OK!" and that's that.  Sure, that's unschooling.  Why wouldn't it be?  

 

I think it's a good idea to be around kids occasionally when you can, that way you can gauge your daughter's interactions with them.  For my oldest, suddenly things clicked and instead of storming off the playground when kids arrived, she suddenly started engaging them in play.  But on the flip side, I know things can get frustrating and it's OK just to take a break.  Our society places way too much importance on peer relationships, IMO, even over that of the parent-child relationship which seems more important to break as soon as you can get that kid to unlatch from the boob and get on with his life.  (Oops.  Sarcasm.)

 

I'm not too stressed about what their school peers are doing....but...... 2 things:  Washington is way more easygoing than California legally in regards to homeschooling and I have no doubt in my mind that I will homeschool for the long haul.  I have no compulsion to keep my girls in lock-step with their peers academically, but I find it useful to know to some degree what kids in their grade are doing.  That information is available here on line.  Meant for educators, it is full of educationese, but it is available.  I get some good ideas for materials to have around the house.  Pattern recognition/extrapolation becomes working with beads.  Like that.

 

Lastly, For 2 years now I keep a weekly calender where I write down things that are interesting and schoolish.  My 7yo just did an impromptu recitation of the months of the year, and I heard her play her way (with her paper dolls) through a slew of relations-- cousin, sister-in-law, etc.  Those are written down.   I'm reading Harry Potter to them.  That gets written down.  They watched a video on Cheetahs.  My 5yo looked at a new guidebook on edible plants.  

 

DD2 suddenly decided to make a fairy obstacle course with yarn, a wooden spoon, twist ties, a 3-hole-punch and other detritus on the art table.  This last weekend she taped together a tiny kite that fluttered and spun in a very satisfying way when she ran in circles around the backyard.  Projects that are meant for her pleasure, not mine.  You know I write those down.  They are at least as good if not better than some of the paper plate pictures with pre-cut stickers they pass off as crafts in preschool these days.  (Though they would enjoy that actually....)  A month ago I took a video of her demonstrating her paper doll "printer/scanner".  On top of her homemade cardboard desk.  That girl cracks me up :)

 

Even though I've really just begun, I do notice one thing about unschooling young kids.  In my house it seems a bit, um, disorganized and random, but things get learned.... and....um.... stuff.  orngtongue.gif 

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Sweet Silver for your response.  Basically, I want it to be playtime because of course playtime is learning time.  Like you mentioned, I am not sure I am in it for the long haul and want to make sure we at least touch on some basics in case she ends up in regular school for 1st.  I just want to try to stay away from worksheet, sit at the table and she isn't interested, but I feel the need to get the work done.  The homeschool charter I have been looking into looks good, but I think it is strongly curriculum based and that concerns me for the young grades.

 

I have been looking up CA standards for homeschooling and that is one reason I think K would be perfect to try a more unschool approach since K isn't required in CA.  (although I believe there is a bill on the table that would make it mandatory, so we will see...)

 

And thank you for your thoughts on activities/other kids.  I think you responded to a post a while back I did on my daughters reserved nature.  I agree with you, I do believe there is too much emphasis on the peer relationship.  It is just so easy to get caught up in thinking you need to help your child "make friends" when you are around people who don't play with their kids as much and expect them to play with other kids instead.  In terms of activities to just expose her to other kids, I have just found it so hard to find things where the parent is welcome!  There seems to be a definite trend or something where you drop your kid off to the activity, something that would not work for my dd.

 

Great idea on keeping a notebook of learning activities!  I should start doing that now!

post #4 of 7

Even in a regular school that stresses academics, there will be kids entering 1st that were not developmentally ready to learn to read and write yet. Based on your description of your daughter, I find it hard to believe she would be "behind" if you did absolutely nothing except follow her lead for next year.

post #5 of 7

My experience with my 3 kids is that the best things you can do at this age to promote the skills they will look for in kindergarten are to read a lot to her (in addition to exposing her to the wonderful thing in the books, it will also give her the opportunity to begin to see what reading is about-- when she's ready for more than that, she'll let you know by expressing interest), talking a lot about the things you see, both in officially "educational" places and during your regular routine, and modeling anything you think she might be getting ready to learn.  Make sure she sees you writing.  Count or calculate out loud when the two of you do an activity that includes that.  Include her in things you find interesting, and when she gets interested in something let her tell you why she likes it.  Don't expect especially academic interests, or for them to last any amount of time-- it's normal for a kid that age to be fascinated with something for an afternoon and then move on.

 

If there's a specific skill that worries you, I would recommend you just address it.  There are no unschooling police, and if sitting her down and teaching her how to write her name or whatever means you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day, I think it's worth it.  

 

If you're looking for social opportunities for your daughter, you could check out some homeschool groups-- they will be fine with you staying and with your daughter hanging out with you, if that's what she prefers.  I wouldn't worry at all about her being "independent" at this age.

post #6 of 7

It isn't only 2 options -unschooling and intense academics.  You can homeschool in a relaxed way and not be unschooling.  Although I agree that unschooling K might be a great fit for you and your DD, there are other options.

 

And as an aside, in talking with a close friend who taught first grade back in the day (and thus writing), the ONE thing she said was important to teach about writing was to start at the top.  She said otherwise nothing else was a big deal, but when kids get in a habit of starting other places/all over/whatever it can make it harder for them to write fluidly.  Not that you need to make your DD write that way, and I only have talked with my DD about this starting when she was 5 and really starting to write letters regularly (my son is the same age as your DD and I wouldn't bother him with it at all), but that is likely why the teacher said what they did. 

 

For being reserved around other kids - my DD is now 6 and was like your daughter for a really really long time.  She has gotten more comfortable around other kids and being away from me as she has aged.  We do homeschool, but DD does go to various things without me as well.  So anyway, your DD not being ready yet doesn't mean she never will be, or that she will be really old when she is more ready.  My DD did well with a 1 1/2 hour, 1 day a week thing at 4yo.  She liked it, felt busy and grown up.  But more would have been harder on her, I think.

 

As far as what you choose to do being "unschool" or not - try not to worry about the label.  It doesn't really matter what it is called if you find a nice balance that works for your family.  In general, my impression is that unschooling doesn't involve any forced expectations by the parent, but true unschoolers can correct me if I am wrong. Unschooling is (in my mind) a family/life philosophy of consensuality.

 

 We've done a relaxed K year, not unschooling but not doing "school-at-home" either, and it has been great. I'm not trying to say everyone should do it the way we did - just saying embrace the unschooling aspects you like and be willing to look around at other ideas too.

 

Tjej

 

 

post #7 of 7

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

And as an aside, in talking with a close friend who taught first grade back in the day (and thus writing), the ONE thing she said was important to teach about writing was to start at the top.  She said otherwise nothing else was a big deal, but when kids get in a habit of starting other places/all over/whatever it can make it harder for them to write fluidly.  Not that you need to make your DD write that way, and I only have talked with my DD about this starting when she was 5 and really starting to write letters regularly (my son is the same age as your DD and I wouldn't bother him with it at all), but that is likely why the teacher said what they did. 

 

 

My girls would painstakingly write their X's from the center.  They made their T's the same way.  Writing was a bit clumsy, but they figured it out on their own.  It has definitely been an evolution, for sure,

 

OP, I do think I remember your post, about the girl who didn't want to leave your side and you had been advised to practice separation by having her taking gym classes (?)

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