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Unschooling an Only? Anyone have experience with this? How is it working?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I apologize in advance if this is already covered in this forum but I am curious about those who are or who have unschooled an only. My DS is only 14 months old, so while unschooling is the route we are taking, it hasn't come in to play in a major way. There is a really good chance that DS will be an only and I am wondering how homeschooling/unschooling works. I know a lot of it will depend on his personality, but looking for others with this experience.

 

THANKS!

post #2 of 17

I am unschooling my only child. She is only six so I do not have the best wisdom to offer on the topic but would be happy to answer any specific question along the lines of what our days look like or what unschooling is like at this point in time. 

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much! I am too sleepy right now to form any organized thoughts, but I think my concern is: Is it harder for children to find inspiration without a sibling, partner in crime to bounce ideas off of, collaborate together, etc. Are you experiencing this at all?

post #4 of 17

I can't necessarily compared the two as I've not experienced both, but I can tell you my daughter does not want for inspiration at all. I often say life is an all-you-can-eat buffet of learning to her and she never leaves the buffet line. ;) S works on a variety of interesting projects and comes up with many grand schemes, games, and project ideas on her own. I also spend a good deal of time with her so that she can bounce ideas off me while I ask questions to encourage her to think as opposed to giving her answers out right. I like to keep a list of Bloom's Taxonomy verbs and unschooling principles ideas to guide me in answering questions and providing additional challenge in a way that fosters learning and exploration and provides guidance as opposed to authority, if that makes sense. I have found that I have to be careful to not become overzealous with offering ideas while running with a topic she has expressed interest in. I tend to suffer from "inspiration overload" and in the past have killed some of her interests before coming to understand my zeal and excitement was detrimental to her learning process. I needed to learn how to hang back and be more friend, fellow traveler & mentor and less super excitable mommy.

 

I also strive to assure my daughter has access to other people to guide and challenge her and serve as people she can go to for brainstorming assistance. Some of these people are her same age friends and some are peers a few years older. She and her friends often take up interesting project work together, along with their free play. Using playsilks to craft parachutes and experiment with how these parachutes could be made to fall in different ways was a recent project shared with a friend. I have quite a few childless friends who enjoy sharing links, books, articles, and whatnot with my daughter and have exposed her to various topics and interests, often indirectly by sharing around our dining table or over coffee their passions and work. My daughter is also fortunate to have several adults in the community who are very supportive of our educational ventures and are always willing to answer her questions and provide ideas about how or where she might be able to investigate a topic of her interest further; all done in a respectful and affirming way to her. I've found her to draw immense inspiration simply from being with interesting people of all ages. Nobody necessarily guides her so much as shares themselves and she quickly runs with some new idea or concept she has heard about. The same with magazines, books, and other media and simply life itself. Inspiration is everywhere whether a child has siblings or not.

 

Some of her projects and activities over the past week:

 

  • This afternoon S spent several hours turning a simple cardboard box into a fruit vending machine. At first she was simply working on the box with her wooden play tools but eventually took out her real tools and markers and drew spaces she desired to be cut out with adult assistance. After the spaces were cut out, she spent a considerable amount of time decorating the machine with buttons, advertisements, and prices. S then decided to utilize metal cooking spoons, a bungee cord, and some other items to craft a mechanism for distributing the fruit to vending machine customers. After completing the device, she realized she would need an opening to get inside the machine to serve as the motor and requested help with cutting a door on the side of the machine. Just as we thought she was done, two more boxes were added to the project to serve as security devices because the last time S used a vending machine was at the airport past the security checkpoint. I believe the entire process took four hours from start to grand opening and then another hour of playing with customers and procuring fruit from the "supply store" set up on the bakers rack in the kitchen. 
  • On Wednesday, S wrote a book titled "Out of Gas" which was about a family on a road trip whose plans changed dramatically when they found themselves in the middle of nowhere Midwest USA with no gas in the tank and no gas station in sight. They were forced to hitchhike for help and then had to wait in an odd little motel until their car could be roadworthy again. Not only did she write the story and make illustrations, but included copyright, dedication, author bio, and publishers logo demonstrating she has been devouring more than just the content of her favorite picture books. 
  • Thursday evening found us out & about to pick up a few groceries. While there S noticed boxes of pączkis in the bakery and asked what they were. I explained that pączkis are a Polish pastry often served in the late winter as part of Fat Tuesday celebrations. I also shared with her some of my memories of eating pączkis which were quite plentiful growing up not too far from a Polish community. We purchased a box and S added 'research Poland and Fat Tuesday foods" to our to do list for the next day.  Not too long after the bakery discovery, we passed the pineapples causing S to recall a picture she had seen on one of my homeschooling Pinterest boards featuring a winter root view garden for winter nature study. The blogger took the top of a pineapple and placed it in water and grew the bitty beginnings of a pineapple plant. S helped me choose a pineapple and then added another project to the Friday to do list. She also requested we look up videos about how pineapples grow. 
  • For the entire week S was focused on a science project about the water cycle, including conducting two experiments--a water cycle in a bowl from Pinterest and one she designed herself to see what sort of water would evaporate the quickest. We took a trip to the library where S asked the librarion to help her find some good books on the water cycle, clouds, and all topics related to weather. Lucky for S, the weather was weird this week which meant she had an opportunity to observe all forms of precipitation firsthand, in addition to the observations inside from her two ongoing experiments. 
  • S's greatest passion in life right now is film-making. On an average week she'll produce two or three films complete with script and casting. This week was no exception with the big movie subjects being surprise birthday parties planned by dolls for other dolls. S then showed her creations to another filmmaking girl and her mother who we met through an unschooling website. The girls typically share and discuss their work either via email or skype on a weekly basis. 

 

This is just a tiny glimpse of her work and inspirations for a week. She is always busy-busy-busy which keeps me on my toes answering questions, helping her locate the items she needs for this or that, running errands for more books, helping her research online, and on and on. I also take a plethora of pictures and keep an in-depth journal to document her work and discoveries. 

 

My experience thus far has demonstrated to me that inspiration is inherent in the mind of a child and that many people can be partners in learning. I don't know if my (long-winded) response reassures you or adequately answers your question but I do hope it might help with some of your concerns. if you have any more questions, I am all ears...or eyes as the case may be. :)

post #5 of 17

We have a lot of only children in my local unschooling group.  I sometimes envy the amount of one on one time the parents are able to give to their child.  Other than that I don't see how it is different than unschooling siblings.  

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

I hear that a lot too..."oh it would be SO wonderful to just unschool/homeschool one kid, think of all the attention, things you can do bc you only have to pay for one child, etc." And I totally agree with this, one of many reasons that DS may end up being an only. I think my concern is he will feel sad about not having a schoolmate as he gets older, this is probably silly of me to worry about as it would be all he knows, thus probably not really feeling sad about it. I also want to make sure that I don't turn him into a "little adult."

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsmischief View Post

I can't necessarily compared the two as I've not experienced both, but I can tell you my daughter does not want for inspiration at all. I often say life is an all-you-can-eat buffet of learning to her and she never leaves the buffet line. ;) S works on a variety of interesting projects and comes up with many grand schemes, games, and project ideas on her own. I also spend a good deal of time with her so that she can bounce ideas off me while I ask questions to encourage her to think as opposed to giving her answers out right. I like to keep a list of Bloom's Taxonomy verbs and unschooling principles ideas to guide me in answering questions and providing additional challenge in a way that fosters learning and exploration and provides guidance as opposed to authority, if that makes sense. I have found that I have to be careful to not become overzealous with offering ideas while running with a topic she has expressed interest in. I tend to suffer from "inspiration overload" and in the past have killed some of her interests before coming to understand my zeal and excitement was detrimental to her learning process. I needed to learn how to hang back and be more friend, fellow traveler & mentor and less super excitable mommy.

 

I also strive to assure my daughter has access to other people to guide and challenge her and serve as people she can go to for brainstorming assistance. Some of these people are her same age friends and some are peers a few years older. She and her friends often take up interesting project work together, along with their free play. Using playsilks to craft parachutes and experiment with how these parachutes could be made to fall in different ways was a recent project shared with a friend. I have quite a few childless friends who enjoy sharing links, books, articles, and whatnot with my daughter and have exposed her to various topics and interests, often indirectly by sharing around our dining table or over coffee their passions and work. My daughter is also fortunate to have several adults in the community who are very supportive of our educational ventures and are always willing to answer her questions and provide ideas about how or where she might be able to investigate a topic of her interest further; all done in a respectful and affirming way to her. I've found her to draw immense inspiration simply from being with interesting people of all ages. Nobody necessarily guides her so much as shares themselves and she quickly runs with some new idea or concept she has heard about. The same with magazines, books, and other media and simply life itself. Inspiration is everywhere whether a child has siblings or not.

 

Some of her projects and activities over the past week:

 

  • This afternoon S spent several hours turning a simple cardboard box into a fruit vending machine. At first she was simply working on the box with her wooden play tools but eventually took out her real tools and markers and drew spaces she desired to be cut out with adult assistance. After the spaces were cut out, she spent a considerable amount of time decorating the machine with buttons, advertisements, and prices. S then decided to utilize metal cooking spoons, a bungee cord, and some other items to craft a mechanism for distributing the fruit to vending machine customers. After completing the device, she realized she would need an opening to get inside the machine to serve as the motor and requested help with cutting a door on the side of the machine. Just as we thought she was done, two more boxes were added to the project to serve as security devices because the last time S used a vending machine was at the airport past the security checkpoint. I believe the entire process took four hours from start to grand opening and then another hour of playing with customers and procuring fruit from the "supply store" set up on the bakers rack in the kitchen. 
  • On Wednesday, S wrote a book titled "Out of Gas" which was about a family on a road trip whose plans changed dramatically when they found themselves in the middle of nowhere Midwest USA with no gas in the tank and no gas station in sight. They were forced to hitchhike for help and then had to wait in an odd little motel until their car could be roadworthy again. Not only did she write the story and make illustrations, but included copyright, dedication, author bio, and publishers logo demonstrating she has been devouring more than just the content of her favorite picture books. 
  • Thursday evening found us out & about to pick up a few groceries. While there S noticed boxes of pączkis in the bakery and asked what they were. I explained that pączkis are a Polish pastry often served in the late winter as part of Fat Tuesday celebrations. I also shared with her some of my memories of eating pączkis which were quite plentiful growing up not too far from a Polish community. We purchased a box and S added 'research Poland and Fat Tuesday foods" to our to do list for the next day.  Not too long after the bakery discovery, we passed the pineapples causing S to recall a picture she had seen on one of my homeschooling Pinterest boards featuring a winter root view garden for winter nature study. The blogger took the top of a pineapple and placed it in water and grew the bitty beginnings of a pineapple plant. S helped me choose a pineapple and then added another project to the Friday to do list. She also requested we look up videos about how pineapples grow. 
  • For the entire week S was focused on a science project about the water cycle, including conducting two experiments--a water cycle in a bowl from Pinterest and one she designed herself to see what sort of water would evaporate the quickest. We took a trip to the library where S asked the librarion to help her find some good books on the water cycle, clouds, and all topics related to weather. Lucky for S, the weather was weird this week which meant she had an opportunity to observe all forms of precipitation firsthand, in addition to the observations inside from her two ongoing experiments. 
  • S's greatest passion in life right now is film-making. On an average week she'll produce two or three films complete with script and casting. This week was no exception with the big movie subjects being surprise birthday parties planned by dolls for other dolls. S then showed her creations to another filmmaking girl and her mother who we met through an unschooling website. The girls typically share and discuss their work either via email or skype on a weekly basis. 

 

This is just a tiny glimpse of her work and inspirations for a week. She is always busy-busy-busy which keeps me on my toes answering questions, helping her locate the items she needs for this or that, running errands for more books, helping her research online, and on and on. I also take a plethora of pictures and keep an in-depth journal to document her work and discoveries. 

 

My experience thus far has demonstrated to me that inspiration is inherent in the mind of a child and that many people can be partners in learning. I don't know if my (long-winded) response reassures you or adequately answers your question but I do hope it might help with some of your concerns. if you have any more questions, I am all ears...or eyes as the case may be. :)

Daisy- thank you so much! Your thoughtful response alleviated many of my concerns. This is how I picture my son and I's days together (mostly, I realize some of them will be spent doing something way less "productive" and that is the ebb and flow of human nature) It is reassuring to hear from other's doing this with an only. I am so excited to share this time with my son, and so happy to have you all as resources to help and support along the journey! WHAT FUN!

post #8 of 17

I'm happy to have been able to help you. :) Unschooling an only child is an issue I've grappled with quite a bit over the years and sometimes in moments of weakness those ugly only child stereotypes pop up in my mind yet again, but so much of it's unfounded. If you're anything like me, you'll worry and fret a bit the good times and fun will far outweigh those moments of uncertainty. Happy learning journeying to you! :)

post #9 of 17

OOooo!! Thanks for posting this and the replies! I have a 2.5 yr old son, we will be unschooling him and he is definitely going to be an only as well. :)

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

WELCOME!

post #11 of 17

Hopefully 4evermom pipes up: I know she's unschooling an older only.

 

Miranda

post #12 of 17

Yeah, it seems to me there was a helpful thread on this (or homeschooling/unschooling) a while ago that 4evermom was a part of - but that focused mostly on socialization, I think (I can't seem to find it).

 

At any rate, I think there are advantages/disadvantages to everything, but we are unschooling an only (DS 21 months).  I like being able to be there for him to bounce ideas off of, or help facilitate what he wants to do.  Kids pick up inspiration all over the place, just from being out in the world, and seeing different things, talking with family friends, helping run errands, etc. so I don't personally feel like a sibling is a pre-requisite. I like that we can catch lightning in a bottle with that immediate, individualized attention (I'm not being pulled in multiple directions - actually, that's a parenting thing, too - alot of my reasons for having an only intersect here - I can focus better on one in many areas, which is better for me as a mom and my personality).  I think it's definitely do-able, and look forward to continuing on this path!

 

Miranda - you are sort-of "unschooling an only" right now with your youngest, right?  You've had both experiences. smile.gif  Is there anything you've noticed about the differences that might be helpful?

post #13 of 17

My unschooled youngest dd's older siblings are in school for 6 hours five days a week, but they're still at the centre of her world -- they have similar interests, shared friendships, shared activities and leisure pursuits. She feeds off her older siblings' interests and activities in so many ways, and is definitely not functionally an unschooled only.

 

Miranda

post #14 of 17

Thanks, Miranda.  I figured their interaction would obviously be different, and the bouncing ideas off of each other would have more room to occur.  I guess I was just thinking in terms of how you spend the hours while her siblings are at school, and whether you feel you play more of a role as the facilitator and sounding board for her during that time - but I can see how it would still be intertwined.

post #15 of 17

My son is only 2, but may end up being an only. And so far I'm really excited to unschool him, as he will have more say in what we do! Instead of me having to field requests from 2 or more kids, he gets to pick. Assuming we don't have something important going on and we have the funds (if it costs money) we do what he wants. He asks to go to the park, we can with out having to drag along a kid who may not want to go! If he asks to go to the skatepark, or the zoo, or the childrens museum we do. No siblings to also try and please. Its pretty nice. :) 

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the responses. I am lucky enough to live in Nh and will be attending the Life Rocks week long workshop on unschooling hosted by Dayna Martin in April. I am SO excited to attend and learn more about how to do this authentically. Im sure it will be very eye-opening!

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by avismama24 View Post

Thanks for all the responses. I am lucky enough to live in Nh and will be attending the Life Rocks week long workshop on unschooling hosted by Dayna Martin in April. I am SO excited to attend and learn more about how to do this authentically. Im sure it will be very eye-opening!

 

I want go to to the Rethinking Everything Conf in TX in August so bad but I don't think we'll be able to make it work. Lucky you!!! Awesome!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sk8boarder15 View Post

My son is only 2, but may end up being an only. And so far I'm really excited to unschool him, as he will have more say in what we do! Instead of me having to field requests from 2 or more kids, he gets to pick. Assuming we don't have something important going on and we have the funds (if it costs money) we do what he wants. He asks to go to the park, we can with out having to drag along a kid who may not want to go! If he asks to go to the skatepark, or the zoo, or the childrens museum we do. No siblings to also try and please. Its pretty nice. :) 


Agreed!!! Fun! That is ours too, he is 3 months almost exactly older than you son.

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