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Drifting towards Unschooling - Page 3

post #41 of 63
I've been reading this thread lately. Much has been said. I'd like to address the reading question that's now a little old.

Reading can be encouraged by reading to your child! Read with enthusiasm! And discuss the book afterwards. We always talked about what we liked and what we would change, if we could. We came up with an entirely different 7th Harry Potter, because we felt the characters were too different from their original portrayals. It was fun!

I agree with the advice to focus on what you have, instead of what's missing. Importan advice.
post #42 of 63

I can definitely carve out a few hours for my own stuff in a day. I'd guess that most kids gain the ability to enjoy doing things independently around age 4-6 (isn't it odd that as a society we send them off to school just as they're starting to get easy to live with?). And I think having a sibling who older than 3 or so vastly increases the length of time that a child will be able to exist happily without direct involvement of a parent. Sibling company is worth so much. I'd bet that in another two years you'll find that your days have opened up a lot!

 

miranda

post #43 of 63

Some days I feel like my kids need me for everything, other days, I wonder where they've gone to.  They can very easily occupy themselves for long stretches, until they can't.  orngtongue.gif  My girls are 6 and nearly 8.  I can easily carve out 3 or 4 hours with a couple of breaks in there on most days.  I don't know if that's precise because I don't really keep track.

 

Yes, I do think it's funny that you send kids off to school just when they are getting easy.   I never really thought about it before.  (Easier, and learning to occupy themselves, and setting their own activities up and inventing them from scratch.)

post #44 of 63
Thread Starter 

My kiddos are 6 and 4 and they enjoy each other's company very much.  This has been a huge advantage for me in terms of being able to carve out time.  They can go a couple of hours without bothering with me unless they are hungry or need something.  This might be part of the reason why I have found unschooling/homeschooling relatively easy to fall into this year but who knows what challenges the future the future has in store for us!  

post #45 of 63

I have a 2 year old and a 5 1/2 year old.  They play pretty well together.  Its actually amazing.  I spend a good amount of time working on the computer everyday.  I however, NEVER played with my kids.  I know it sounds mean when I say it.  But I really didn't want them to be dependent on me for their own happiness.  So, I will read to them or explain things, but I do not get on the floor and play with their toys.  They play alone or with each other.  I work or clean or cook or drive them places.  I do still get interrupted about every 15-20 minutes because of some squabble or someone is thirsty.  But its usually something that requires a quick fix and Im back to working.

post #46 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyKidKissTrees View Post

I have a 2 year old and a 5 1/2 year old.  They play pretty well together.  Its actually amazing.  I spend a good amount of time working on the computer everyday.  I however, NEVER played with my kids.  I know it sounds mean when I say it.  But I really didn't want them to be dependent on me for their own happiness.  So, I will read to them or explain things, but I do not get on the floor and play with their toys.  They play alone or with each other.  I work or clean or cook or drive them places.  I do still get interrupted about every 15-20 minutes because of some squabble or someone is thirsty.  But its usually something that requires a quick fix and Im back to working.

Do you think they can learn anything by playing with you that they can't get by playing with each other? How about maturity? You'll be modeling it for them in a way that will have more meaning, because you are doing something that they enjoy. And what is it you think will happen to them if they "are dependent on you for their happiness"? And I'm including as adults, in that question.
post #47 of 63

I think "happiness" as in "not bored"?  

post #48 of 63

My kids have always been fine to occupy themselves for quite long stretches, even from about two or three. The issue for me is more that I couldn't reliably predict when I'd get the time.

 

Nowadays it is different. In abut ten minutes time I have some stuff I have to do in a specified time period (online tutorial, dp unexpectedly unable to be home at last minute)  and my 9 year old is going to be occupying my 4 year old. He's actually happy to do this but I feel bad so will be making sure he gets 1:1 time to do something fun later! He's done this before so I know he'll do it well. The pair of them are certainly good for the 90 minutes I need. To be honest my 4 year old would be fine alone for this time, his job is to buffer easy requests like "I need a banana" and only interrupt for something more serious, though I can actually hear him reading to her upstairs.

 

BUT they get on well, there's 4 1/2 years between them and both of them are the kinds of kids who will play independently for hours at a time. Its kid dependent. If you have independent but sensible kids then sooner rather than later. If however you know you need a hour every day at three o clock, I'd consider getting someone to watch the kids for that time. The other side to this happy picture I am painting is that yesterday I was unable to make a basic phonecall to the hairdresser because my kids were running up and down the hall and screaming the place down and would not stop.

post #49 of 63

The phrase "not wanting my kids to be dependent on me for their own happiness" pushed my buttons a little too, as I think of myself as very much responsible for my kids' happiness. But I see what MKKT is saying: it sounds like she's talking about the sense of entertaining kids to keep them from being bored. So I get that. I too did not engage in much play with my kids. I've never played tag, puppets, hide-and-seek, or Lego with them.

 

I am not a particularly boring mom, at least not according to my kids. I am a weird and embarrassing goofball some of the time -- playful, irreverent, self-deprecatingly silly, and so on -- but in ways that feel genuine to me and are part of who I am. I don't do those things in order to entertain them: I do them in order to entertain myself. If they are caught up in it, so much the better, but that's not my aim. And when they want to play, they do so without needing me as an appreciative audience, director or participant. 

 

I hear what you're saying, pek64, about connecting meaningfully with kids through their play because it's something they genuinely want to do. But for us as unschoolers, when all learning and living is guided by the kids' autonomous choices, there's plenty of opportunity to connect meaningfully with my them -- because everything they do they have their own genuine reasons for wanting to do it. It's not like I spend all day making them do chores and schoolwork against their will, and then there's this small parcel of their lives that they enjoy, their play, in which I might connect with them in a positive way. I have plenty of chance to model maturity, to chat, to teach, to guide, while we're doing any of the myriad non-play things we do together for enjoyment and a sense of satisfaction throughout the day.

 

Miranda

post #50 of 63
I know a family that has very independent kids. They homeschool, and the kids largely do it on their own. However, when we're there, they spend time hovering around me or other adults who are visiting. I get the impression that they crave more adult interaction. Also, while they know lots of facts, they aren't as good with drawing conclusions, or researching topics. I think children benefit from time spent with adults. It's one of the reasons I chose to homeschool in the first place.
post #51 of 63

I think that's why it is important for adults to open their activities to inclusion by their kids.  I wouldn't purposefully make the decision to keep out of child-games, but I also don't tend to be the "fun mom".  I do and always have played a bit, but mostly I have simply "been there" for the girls, and they mostly prefer it that way.  When they were old enough to say so, they said they'd rather not have me play in their games, but they wanted my company.  So, I engaged with them in other ways, and always, always, my activities were open to them.  

 

DH is the "fun parent"--always inventing games for them, running around and wrestling with them, but then he wants a break.  I don't involve myself so thoroughly in their entertainment, but I am almost always available for them, even if it is just asking them if they want to pull up a book to read or their new loom to work on and sit next to me while I finish knitting my hat.  (And "do you want me to get out your knitting needles and yarn for you?")

 

So, I absolutely agree that kids benefit by spending large chunks of time with adults.  But the specifics of what they are doing with them is of lesser importance.

post #52 of 63
I tried to be both mother and father to my son, since his father was not involved for the most part. He didn't want to have to be the fun parent all the time, so he wanted to be the fun parent *none* of the time. I did my best to juggle everything as best I could. The one mistake I made was not taking good care of myself, physically.
post #53 of 63

A couple of my kids also spent time hovering around adults when they visited. Why? Not because they craved adult attention they weren't normally getting -- quite the opposite -- because the majority of their social time included adults and so that was who they were most comfortable with. It never occurred to them that they should "go off and play and leave the adults alone" because their world wasn't divided by age. When someone new showed up, they wanted to get to know them and be part of what was going on. Why wouldn't they?  

 

I too think that children benefit from time spent with adults. I just don't believe that 14 hours a day of direct involvement is necessary. If I take three hours a day for my own stuff while they are playing happily without me that still leaves 8 to 10 hours of direct interaction. And of course, I'm available and usually present in the same space with them even during those four or five hours. Right now I'm typing this post and my 9-year-old is devising a "play structure" for our kitten about ten feet away. She's been busy at this for half an hour. Every once in a while she calls out and shows me something cool she's built. She's having a blast. I'm doing this. It seems like healthy creative time for her, and I don't see why I need to sit on the floor helping her tie foil balls to strings and sticks when I know we'll spend hours today doing other stuff together. How much direct parental involvement do you believe is optimal?

 

Anecdotally I have found the the more independence I allow my children in their unschooled learning, the more creative they become as problem-solvers. If I were to assign them a bunch of textbooks and curriculum to get through, they'd tend to approach that learning in a rote sort of way. But that's not what happens in our unschooling: they'll notice something that they don't understand and set off on a grand self-directed adventure to figure out why it's so. Without an adult or adult-led learning system there to point them to an answer, they're forced to observe, hypothesize, research, gather resources, test their hypotheses, draw conclusions, revise and reframe. I've rarely seen kids as adept at independent research and problem-solving as the unschoolers I know. I mean, obviously my kids didn't learn all this in a vacuum: I've introduced them to various tools, and they have had adult guidance and facilitation here and there along the way. But they tend to pick things up and run with them in creative directions that I never would have thought of. I'm surprised that you have noticed the opposite with the family you know, because to me it seems really counter-intuitive that self-led independent learning would lead to stunted problem-solving skills and a preference for rote learning. 

 

Miranda

post #54 of 63

Oh, I also think that parental perspectives on play involvement may be coloured by the presence or absence of siblings, and the personality of the child. I have two extreme introverts and two moderate introverts, for a total of four kids. The extreme introverts especially have naturally gravitated to a fair bit of solitary play, which was comforting and comfortable to them. They got all the social stimulation they wanted -- and sometimes much more than they wanted -- just from the natural flow of family life. 

 

For a parent raising an only child, or a child without a close-in-age sibling, who isn't an extreme introvert, considerably more involvement in play may be required in order to fill the child's social needs. 

 

So perhaps some of the difference has to do with meeting social needs. Not so much about educational best practices.

 

miranda

post #55 of 63
I think there's a bit of misunderstanding going on here. And I doubt trying to explain it again is going to improve things, much. I'm not saying all children who enjoy spending time with adults are craving adult connection. I'm not saying parents need to spend all their time playing with their children. I *am* saying that children benefit from adults spending time playing with them, and including the children in adult activities. We cooked and baked together, read together, played together, talked together, sang together. Probably if he had a sibling or two, my son wouldn't have wanted as much of my time. Or if his father had been more willing to volunteer to spend time with his son, he wouldn't have wanted as much of my attention. This does not mean that I think everyone ought to do the same things I did. I am saying that I feel there are benefits to spending time with our children, and some of that time should be doing what the children choose.
post #56 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post


Do you think they can learn anything by playing with you that they can't get by playing with each other? How about maturity? You'll be modeling it for them in a way that will have more meaning, because you are doing something that they enjoy. And what is it you think will happen to them if they "are dependent on you for their happiness"? And I'm including as adults, in that question.

nah. modeling doesn't require me to be involved in their play.  they dont spend all day playing alone with each other unsupervised. were in the same room together.  its not like lord of the flies or anything.  kids are bright they can make connection to their own behavior from how they see me interact with them in other aspects besides playing.  and when they see me interact with others.  i dont need to build a lego castle with them for them to learn maturity.  my kids are also invited to do the grown up stuff whenever they want.  dishes, cooking, vacuuming.  they enjoy helping because they just thinks its mommys play and like to play along.  i will explain something if they are getting frustrated with their toys.  "you know how i use to make that toy work ..." but usually only if they ask for help.

the not wanting them to depend on me for happiness is pretty self explanatory.  same reason we don't use praise to control their behavior.  just thank you if they do something helpful. or sharing our feelings if they upset us. i hope they will really get to know themselves without constantly looking back over their shoulder for me to be clapping/smiling.  they deserve to feel intrinsically good about the things they do.  not looking for outside motivation constantly.  so the not playing fits into this.  i know a mother who is the exact opposite of me and her children are incapable of sharing.  they've had every single toy related conflict mediated by a "professional" and never learned for themselves WHY sharing is important.  now she cant even leave her kids at their friends because they melt down with out a mediator navigating their conflicts with them.  

 

i used praise with my first and she definitely suffers because of it.  She will only do things when she thinks someone is watching and there to tell her what great work she did.  Its very sad.  My son.  hah.  He will grab a basket ball go down to the 10 ft tall hoop and at two years old throw the ball 25x without ever looking back to see what I think.  And he will exclaim, "Happy" randomly when he's doing thing.  It's just so refreshing to see how he doesn't need my approval to feel good about what he's doing. And thats really what "playing" with kids is.  Telling them they are "doing a good job" through your actions and thats cryptonite for independence and intrinsic motivation. 


 

post #57 of 63

But totally agree about spending time together!!  its absolutely important.  thats why we homeschool. i think spending that much time away from home is unhealthy for young kids (talk about lord of the flies... 30 kids to one teacher... what could be more lord of the flies than that).  But I don't like to be disingenuous and pretend to like things that my kids like just for the sake of making them think i want to play with them.  we do lots of things together.  but only things we all like to do together.  i dont ask the kids to pretend they like anything i like and do it even if they have no interest in it. (except straightening their room before friends come over thats really the only non-negotiable).  we travel together, cook, clean, read, sing, dance.  where our interests overlap we come together.  but i have no interest in playing dolls or legos, so to model the concept of following your own joy i dont partake.

post #58 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

and some of that time should be doing what the children choose.

 

Absolutely. There's no shortage of that in my family.

 

When I choose to do something that my children don't particularly want to do, I do it alone. When my kids choose to do something that I don't particularly want to do, they do it without me. On the other hand, when I choose to do something they enjoy, we do it together, and when they choose to do something I enjoy, we do it together. And there's a lot of that stuff. I don't need to pretend to enjoy playing with Lego in order to have child-led time with them. It's about authenticity on both sides of the equation. 

 

miranda

post #59 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

It's about authenticity on both sides of the equation. 

 

miranda

 

 

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post #60 of 63
I think it's funny that there have been a couple of references to not pretending to enjoy playing with Legos. I actually enjoyed playing with Legos. Sports, not so much. Still, I did it when others weren't available, in part because I felt the exercise would do me good, as well. Knitting, now, I've not mastered. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Most important is listening to what our children need. If we're all doing that, then the details of what we're doing aren't as important.
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