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Kids are looking for more structure. These ideas sound okay?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have a 9 year old and almost 6 year old, both came out of school within the last 4 months and both are exceptionally gifted with asynchronous development and some specific differences.  (Executive function and motor control.)  I have ADHD.


The eldest and I need a little structure planned into our days and even if we don't follow it it helps us 'hang' the rest of what we do round a frame of sorts.  It's loose and flexible but without it we struggle.  We're get up and move, noisy people.


The youngest likes routines and structure and sitting down to work on things quietly.


So far, I'm very taken with unschooling and feel I'd like to continue down this path after our deschooling period, which seems to be naturally drawing to a close as the kids are asking for more structure.  I want them to continue to pick up what they're interested in and feel that starting the day with some structured activity and having 3 or 4 planned get togethers with friends each week is probably all we need for now.


Rather than deciding to sit down and 'do maths' or have 'writing practice' each morning, I asked the boys what they'd like to learn about.  They said pizzas and fizzy drinks - specifically, the 5 year old asked how carbon dioxide gets in them and how it stays in so long.  The eldest just wants to taste test lots of pizzas.  He did the same with chocolate these last couple of months and he actually learnt a great deal and had enormous fun, which has made me feel really confident about unschooling.  


So I made a list of things they might like to learn about pizzas and fizzy drinks.  Here it is:


Different kinds of bread, how it's made, history of growing crops and make our own.

Grow our own toppings - tomatoes and veggies.

Find out about different types of cheese and make our own.

Make our own pizzas (we do this regularly anyway, but we could try more unusual ones.)

Learn some facts about Italy - climate, history, politics, whatever they are interested in.


Fizzy drinks:

What is carbon dioxide?

Learn more about the bubbles, how they form etc.

Try to borrow a soda syphon to make our own fizzy drinks.

Make traditional lemonade.

Find out about a fizzy drinks company eg Barrs.

See if the tooth fairy can give us a tooth back to put in some coke.

Find out how sugar is made.

And, obviously, the diet coke and mentos experiment.

Advertising around the fizzy drinks market.


If I set aside an hour a day to help them develop projects like this, are we moving away from unschooling?  Is this something other people have done and if so how has it worked out?  Anything I've missed out that your kids would want to cover?

post #2 of 5

At its heart, unschooling is child-led, and that is just what you are planning.  Yes, "unschooling" has changed it's definition somewhat since the word was first coined, adding in "unstructured" or lessons learned in "real life".  But I don't think those are the heart and soul of unschooling.


I would say that one thing that might enrich your plan is to have the kids directly involved in the creation at least some of the "lesson plans".  So, the little one might say "let's experiment with fizz and I think I can add apple juice to milk and get fizz!"  OK........ sure, let's add apple juice to milk and see if it gets fizzy......


It might not lead to tidy, succint lesson plans and it may end up being nothing about (carbonation), but the children were thinking not just about *what* they wanted to learn but *how* they could learn it.  I think that's important.  Is it important to the "definition" of unschooling?  Hm.  I'm not sure.  


In the end, the definition is not as important as what works and makes the entire family happier.

post #3 of 5

I think it can be helpful to be intentional about creating time for focused learning, if that is what your children are asking for and you see that it makes everyone happier. That definitely still falls under my definition of unschooling, being child-led, but as SweetSilver says, the definition isn't important. 


I think it's very helpful to brainstorm possible ways of pursuing the kids' interests, and offering them those possibilities. I would only caution you against doing too much planning ahead based on those ideas. If you invest a lot in your planning, you may be temped to pressure your children into pursuing what you have planned even when their interest has waned or changed direction. Generate ideas, plan the next one if interest is running strong, but don't invest too much planning in anything beyond the next few days lest your kids' enthusiasm head into something completely different. It's definitely not unschooling if you've got a kid who wants to watch shark videos and make a popsicle-stick bridge and you're reminding him that he hasn't finished learning about carbonation and you've got three more projects he needs to do first.



post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Great!  That's really helpful.  Thanks, both.  

post #5 of 5

That sounds awesome! I have ADHD too and my nine year old has some sensory issues among other things. I am subbing.

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