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December Unschooling Thread - Page 2

post #21 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post

I keep you in mind when I think about moving back to a rural location, and admire the way that you've woven your family life where you are.
Would you ever consider relocating for an apparent 'passion' (a la the other thread), when it's moved well beyond an interest?

 

I've often wondered if, in retrospect, we should have moved about 6 years ago, when eldest's passion for music took off. We spent a few years doing ridiculous (and yet still insufficient) amounts of travel to get her some appropriate training at her level. But ... our house has been fully paid off for a decade in a depressed market, and dh has spent almost 20 years building a multi-faceted small town medical practice that (a) cannot be sold like a big-city practice would be and (b) could not replace him easily, which would likely leave the community and many of the people we love in the lurch. It would be a huge financial and social-emotional transition if we wanted to extricate ourselves. And he really dislikes the flavour of urban family practice, where you are more of a referral-broker and the moment a problem gets the slightest bit interesting someone else takes it over. So it would have been a lousy move for him and for the community we love.

 

If we had a do-over, we might try to find an almost-equally-rural community that was logistically closer to urban amenities. That has a nearby airport, or is within an hour of a small-to-medium-sized city and has a bus route. I still think that small town rural life has been the best choice for us. On Friday night we attended the community choir concert (ds and I accompanied) and feast where we knew everyone and the warmth and caring were just overflowing. Last night we had a power failure, and one of my kids' teenaged friends walked in the dark up the highway to our place, and my three and he spent 6 hours in the yard building this (below) by the light of headlamps (inspired by a long-time friend of ours here who is an internationally-renowned snow and sand sculptor), and then there was a tea and hot chocolate at 2 a.m. heated over the wood stove. There's so much that's wonderful here, so much that has helped shape my kids into the wonderful people they are, and grounded them. Would we trade it for some dance classes? I don't know.

 

 

 

Miranda

post #22 of 51

I love the idea of small town rural life but I haven't done it for more than a few weeks at a time.  Anyway ours is not a big city either and since I am carless, lots of things are probably just as inaccessible.  Would I rather have a car and access all those things - it is an interesting thought.  I mean - I would love to access a lot of things that aren't accessible by public transportation, but I am so attached to public transportation I just don't want to leave it.  

 

 

I mentioned earlier that dd is reading Robin Hood … we got an edition written by Henry GIlbert, which we learned only after arrival was heftier than we expected, using old English.  There i a free version online but uses even more Old English.  So anyway, dd got a slow start and reads a chapter every other day or so - in contrast to her usual approach to books which is to devour them nonstop.  She likes it though, she told me it was pretty exciting, "like a video game, only better" … And we get to talk about the Old English, too.   I am learning a number of new words.  Like villein. 

 

We also watched the Amazing Race - the whole thing!  It thrills dd that we are both watching something together.  I hardly watch anything and I guess I have a bit of the TV-snob in me so it was good for me to set it aside and get into the show.  

post #23 of 51

December has a way of exhausting me!  I am tired and I don't quiet feel like I have got it together.  The kids, on the other hand, are humming along just fine.  They have taken up to performing a song to their daddy and I daily.  Very cute, yes?  But the song is "We wish you a merry xmas..."  over and over.  I tried to get them to learn a new song but nah!  They want to do this one from different locations (popping out of boxes, closets, under tables...)  and in different outfits (and sometimes just piles of my clothes!)  Yes, cute. Very cute but they are overdosing us here. Yet, they do manage to make me laugh every time because while the creativity isn't in the song itself, the locations and the outfits and the stunts they try to pull are ridiculous and funny.

 

Daughter has discovered a building app from Toca Boca and she is obsessed.  It turns out she is a pretty good designer.  She spends hours making things on the ipad.  Very much like minecraft but for the younger crowed, with none of the creepers and whatnot.  Son has been reading none stop.  I have been tired so we haven't really done much outside the house.  It is too cold and I don't have the energy. 

 

Interesting conversation about locational advantages/disadvantages.  We think about moving when my oldest is about 10.  I feel like that age is when I really need to start looking outside of the home for activities and programs.  He is 7.5, so we have sometime but so far, moving doesn't seem to be in the cards for us.  We want to do it smart and we want to be able to love our new city/town/village.  Where we are now is of our own choosing and has served us well.  Our wish list is long but on the other side, the ability to make a living weighs pretty darn heavily.  So, that nagging question of what is important, how do we get it and be still financially viable without too much compromise on family?  It is a big question. Frugality goes a long way but there are so many other things to consider when making a financial decision, especially in the U.S. where the issue of access/ lack of health care can always throw a wrench in best laid plans; it makes it hard to anticipate ones financial needs.  Anyway, great tangent discussion :)

post #24 of 51

Mostly a lurker here (my kids are little), but I live in a very small, very rural town (think hundreds of people, and not actually possible to drive to another town), and have wondered about this a lot. When my first reaches kindy age next year, he'll almost certainly be the only homeschooler in his current age group. But I think the limitations of location cut both ways. We're ALL limited by our circumstances, whichever ones we choose. My husband grew up in this village, and some of the outdoor leadership experiences he had as a child (guiding groups of kids through trailless wilderness for pay when he was 15, for example) he absolutely could never have had in a city. There's a lot we have in nature, freedom, and community here that we wouldn't have in a larger place, and I miss it when we travel (even though I love to visit my old aikido dojo).

 

I think the main thing you can't do so easily in a rural area is intensive early specialization. And I'm not sure what I think about that. I was somewhat specialized in science as a kid (took all the classes, worked in a biology lab after school such that I had more research experience as a high school graduate than most college graduates). Then I left graduate school halfway through a PhD and went a totally different direction with my life--one I never would have imagined for myself back then. I think my early focus didn't necessarily help me out, and might have blinded me to looking in other places. So I guess the opportunities I had because of my location were a benefit, but I'm not sure. 

post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mckittre View Post
 

I think the main thing you can't do so easily in a rural area is intensive early specialization. And I'm not sure what I think about that. I was somewhat specialized in science as a kid (took all the classes, worked in a biology lab after school such that I had more research experience as a high school graduate than most college graduates). Then I left graduate school halfway through a PhD and went a totally different direction with my life--one I never would have imagined for myself back then. I think my early focus didn't necessarily help me out, and might have blinded me to looking in other places. So I guess the opportunities I had because of my location were a benefit, but I'm not sure. 

 

I agree. There are also cities that are not well endowed when it comes to resources for homeschoolers.  Interesting about early specialization; this seems to be a bit of a thing nowadays. I hear people talking about specialization being the way of the future; to a certain extent that is probably the case.  However, the way I see it, there is def. enough time in an unschooling setting to explore all sorts of things in depth since there is no have to be done curriculum and busy work.  As I see it, unless there is such a clear intense drive/passion (a la my previous post here on this board) there is no need to specialize when kids are young. There is just so much time saved by not having to be in school or trying to work through 4 -5 hours of some curriculum. This leaves hours upon hours for fun and exploration of tributary interests, not just main ones.  

 

Now, there are things like music and dance where the younger the student, the better.  I believe my dd (5) would love to be in some sort of performance arts situation.  She loves singing, dancing, music. She enjoys mimicking people (something I have never been able to do!) and using different voices.  But we don't live in a place that has gentle performance arts programs and because I object to the way any of these things are taught, I keep her home.  So much plays into what we can offer to our kids; money, location, time seem to come at the cost of each other, no?

post #26 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mckittre View Post
 

I think the main thing you can't do so easily in a rural area is intensive early specialization.

 

I think there's a little more to it than that. I'm also in a very small very rural town (500 people -- though a 90-minute drive can at least get us to a larger town). And what I see is that some perfectly non-specialized childhood learning experiences that work better in groups can't simply happen here due to lack of numbers. For instance team sports. No baseball or basketball or hockey here because there simply aren't enough kids to make up the teams that would be required to play. (My 15yo dd did play volleyball this year because the school put it in the curriculum and required all the girls from 12 to 18 to play, and that made enough for two teams of 6 to play each other, but outside of compulsory school-based sports the numbers are too small.) There's no girl guides, scouting or 4H. Also, group music experiences: a beginning orchestra or a chamber group or group class that can provide ensemble experience and meaningful group playing for a music student. I've created that here (because I'm a musician) for beginner students but there's really nothing possible for my 10-year-old who has outgrown that level. Not surprisingly her interest in violin is waning as a result. The community choir accepts older teens, but there's nothing for kids, tweens or young teens. And there are skill-based learning activities that tend to only be affordable in a group environment even if you do have access to an instructor: things like gymnastics, martial arts, swim lessons, etc.. We don't have enough kids here to run these things.

 

That's not to say that there aren't workarounds for some of these group-based things, or substitute activities that are at least as enriching. But I think small towns have limitations that even kids who aren't inclined to 'intensive early specialization' will experience. The dance dilemma has brought that to light for me: all she wanted was some sort of beginner dance class, and it has taken years (and co-operation from the school, and the happy accident of an English teacher trained in ballet) to get even a single week's worth.

 

Miranda

post #27 of 51
Thread Starter 

Brag time! Here's Fiona in the collaborative dance piece they performed at the end of the elective week. Some of this was choreographed for them, and some (the duet and solo stuff) they worked out for themselves. My kid is the little one -- she's far right of the screen in the dark, and front and centre when the lights come up. For all but two of the students this was a first dance learning experience ever. They did some break-dancing, some hip-hop stuff, some contemporary and interpretive stuff and some very basic ballet over the course of the week. I don't know much about dance, but I can see how jazzed my kid is!

 

http://youtu.be/puIOxUQNmco

 

Miranda

post #28 of 51

Miranda, can I ask a question, out of curiosity? Bear in mind I have never lived in a city smaller than my current one (pop 300,000)-and that feels decidedly small, so small town life is something i have zero experience of. I know even less about dance. But-

 

Why not try to get her private, 1-1 (or 1-2 etc if you can find a few others) lessons, perhaps with this new ballet-trained teacher? In the same way you might with a musical instrument? We end up doing that fairly often when we want a class at our convenience-usually with others, mainly to split the bill.

 

I totally get that that probably isn't the ideal for a dancer, and that a dancer needs a community, etc etc, but if nothing else. it might give her the chance to see whether dance was what she loved, and if it was, to start thinking of whether there was anything that could be done. Year round individual lessons and then an intensive summer school or something. I can see all sorts of ways that it would be far from ideal, but still better than nothing? Are there no online classes in dance? (again, of course that isn't ideal, but again, possibly better than zilch?)

 

Thing is, I'm sure you will have considered this, just wondering why that wouldn't work?

post #29 of 51

Thank you for sharing Miranda.  It was a delight to watch!  

post #30 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

Why not try to get her private, 1-1 (or 1-2 etc if you can find a few others) lessons, perhaps with this new ballet-trained teacher? In the same way you might with a musical instrument?

Unfortunately the teacher does not have the time as she's working on completing her Master's degree over the next two years. It's a huge stretch for her to even offer the weekly extra-curricular class next semester, and that's something that's officially encouraged by her employer. She also doesn't live here, as her partner works elsewhere, and the commuting (90 minutes a day) helps keep her more or less completely overwhelmed. I am going to be looking far more seriously into whether we can include some dance in our Thursdays or Fridays next year in town, assuming we'll be driving back and forth to pick up her big sister. There's a good dance school there. Unfortunately I think it's rather built around huge weekly commitments to multiple classes, but we'll see.

Miranda
Edited by moominmamma - 12/18/13 at 8:25am
post #31 of 51

Fun to watch!  I totally sympathize with your dilemma.  I would love to enroll dd1 in more gymnastics.  She adores it, she's athletic, she has her challenges but meets them head on, joyfully. I would give a lot to be able to accommodate that, but finances can barely scrape together what she does have.  It is as much an obstacle as distance and availability.  That's not even considering the near-hour it takes each way.  Finances can be more flexible, though, than packing up a home and an established practice and moving it.  Since we can't afford to do more classes for now, I am happy to live where I do--I adore that my girls have more places to ride their bikes, a place we can raise roosters for fair (they are gorgeous!) and even consider having goats down the road (finances, again).  Growing up, I mourned the loss of my piano lessons when we moved.  My parents simply could not afford them anymore, with a new, expensive mortgage, two suddenly-teenage daughters and one fast reaching that age.  I did continue to play some, and played more on my guitar, but never really challenged myself.  (Well, I think I might be selling myself short--I did teach myself the Maple Leaf Rag and the gorgeous intro to Cat Stevens' version of "Morning Has Broken" and otherwise mined my dad's collection of music for gems, taught myself a Pink Floyd guitar riff by ear alone..... yeah, I think I'm not giving myself credit like I should.... habit.....)

 

In our house, the verbage continues to expand and surprise.  I get flustered like I haven't in a long time, but at the same time I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

 

DD1's odd intellectual interface with what should be emotional (like, favorite color for example) is proving useful.  She *decided* that people would be able to read what she writes, even if she spells it wrong, and now she's writing constantly.  She even decided to write an angry but articulate note her dad and her sister, outlining her feelings.  Wow!  But her spelling is painfully atrocious, yet at the same time spot-on for pronunciation.  Her dragon notes are headed "Ples ritern".  She lists the "Historie" of dragons, another, a dragon's "Bodye" (gives insight into all those extra e's in old writings.  That small exhale we do at the end of most words, does that require a letter?)  Her "gole" for her dragon planes is for them to "Fli strat".  Part of me cringes, because she is nearly 9!  But overall I'm thrilled.  I'm also thrilled that this odd, baffling temperament of hers is showing some advantages.

 

Today we will be baking cupcakes for Girl Scouts, wrapping a handful of presents, watching a lot of TV because I am exhausted from yesterday.  I woke up a little dizzy, and I had to work, then head off to our Scout's service unit meeting for training because cookie season is one month away.  Went to bed  straight away after getting home, with my head still spinning a little.  It would have been a good day to stay home, so that's why today I am going to do as little as possible.  

 

I'm excited for our girl scout troop because we are likely to get another "3rd grade" homeschooler from our town.  We drive 25 minutes to a town about 17 miles away for our meetings, so the possibility of a girl near *us*, and dd1's age *and* homeschooled just tickles me pink.  I shouldn't get my hopes up too far, though.  Most hsrs here are religious and more school-at-home than unschool and therefore just as booked up as school kids.  I'm hoping she drops in today, otherwise I will be left wondering.

 

Through our hsing/using FB group, I am finding loads of girls in our age range, but it's *getting there* that is proving difficult.  However, I am slowly deepening our connections in every area, so if I'm just patient enough.  So many fascinating people!  I am thankful for my mother, who talked to simply everybody, for giving me the courage to just pluck up conversations with people.  I am being rewarded with every interaction.

post #32 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post
 

She even decided to write an angry but articulate note her dad and her sister, outlining her feelings.  Wow!  But her spelling is painfully atrocious,

 

When my ds (now 17 and earning A-pluses in senior English and senior writing) was young and a new writer, one evening I pried him off the computer for dinner. He was not happy -- to say the least -- to interrupt his game of Age of Empires to do so. Later I found out that he had saved his game with the file name "U R A BADE MOME." When my kids want to teasingly register a complaint about something I'm doing, to this day they will intone an a deadpan voice "oo are a bade mome." 

 

I love kids' invented spelling. It tells you so much about their understanding of the phonetic code. It sounds like your dd is doing very well with this. 

 

 

Miranda

post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

When my kids want to teasingly register a complaint about something I'm doing, to this day they will intone an a deadpan voice "oo are a bade mome." 

 

I love kids' invented spelling. It tells you so much about their understanding of the phonetic code. It sounds like your dd is doing very well with this. 

 

 

Miranda

 

 

:laugh

 

The note:

 

"I thingk that your being a litl ruf on me.  p. s. I have desidid not to talk to you."  

 

Not bad!  You're right, I thingk she is doing vary wel.

post #34 of 51

DD1 intended a note to dd2 to be an angry one.  She will only talk to her using the notes.  She grumpily delivered it and dd2 read and....

 

"Wow!  Momma!  Look what we're going to do!  We're going to talk using notes!"  And off she runs to dd1 all excited and shares her ideas, now they are busy drawing stamps (Mt. Vesuvius) and raiding the craft pin jar to pin the notes together.

Vesuvius stamps and finished note.

post #35 of 51

I love that super-cute! I feel like I'm not doing right with the reading thing.  My daughter is a perfectionist and while I try to tell her it's okay to spell things how she thinks she sounds, I show them to her the right way, maybe I should just let her sound it out on her own...but she really doesn't like doing that.  She just wants to know how the words are spelled already.  Maybe she's just not ready to learn.

post #36 of 51
Thread Starter 
Featherstory my eldest was exactly like that. It was harder to appreciate her progress with reading and writing as it happened but it was just how she needed to learn ... Privately. Eventually we saw the evidence, and then, wow!

Miranda
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by featherstory View Post
 

I love that super-cute! I feel like I'm not doing right with the reading thing.  My daughter is a perfectionist and while I try to tell her it's okay to spell things how she thinks she sounds, I show them to her the right way, maybe I should just let her sound it out on her own...but she really doesn't like doing that.  She just wants to know how the words are spelled already.  Maybe she's just not ready to learn.

My son doesn't believe in doing things "wrong" either. He will ask how something is spelled (or actually ask me to type/write it for him) until he is confident that he can do it right. Very slowly he has been taking on more of it himself or been willing to have me dictate the spelling of longer words or multiple words. Asking me how something is spelled is his way of checking if he is right, just the same way as his asking me to read something was his way of being sure he had it right. 

 

He started reading through memorizing sight words, slowly after turning 8. And he has been picking up writing the same way slowly after turning 10. Any effort on the phonics front or suggestion that he make things up was met with utter refusal. Oh well, his way is working. Just not on a typical time table. And most of his writing is online so he doesn't want to look the fool by spelling things wrong..

post #38 of 51
Featherstory, my oldest hated spelling things wrong and I thought the right thing to do in that situation was to just keep on encouraging him to write how he thinks a word is spelled. That kind of backfired and he become super frustrated with writing anything down. Then one day he asked me why I was not helping him learn how to spell words! And there I was thinking I was doing the gentle thing ... Lol.

Anyway, we have since began the process of formally learning to spell but his spelling has improved naturally as well because he reads a ton. I guess my point is, have you asked her if she wants to go about this in an organized way? I think some kids feel better tackling things that are difficult for them systematically and like to actually see they are progressing in some way. We are not doing much here but it seems to have put his mind at ease enough that he is enthusiastically writing now and without being too hang up on spelling mistakes.
post #39 of 51

I think she wants to know how to read and will say that she wants me to teach her, but I guess I'm not sure how to do that.  After reading a book about a homeschooler she wanted me to give her spelling words.  So I did that and it worked for a little while.  I figured she would just work on the same words until she memorized them.  She wanted to have some "work" to take with her when she was hanging out with my mom, so she has a dry erase notebook that I'd write her words on and she'd write them each morning.  After awhile she didn't want to do it anymore though. 

 

In other news:  Yesterday we made a little yarn doll and both girls tied 6 pieces of hair to her head.  We will cut off one piece of hair for each day to help us count down until Christmas. dd3 went to sleep early tonight so only dd6 cut the hair off tonight and we put it in our scrapbook.  Then we made a heart, cut out of newspaper.  We played the fluencia game again and she's definitely retaining a lot of Spanish.  Spanish was really her first language but it's barely been spoken around here the last few years.  Nevertheless I'm really impressed with her Spanish speaking and the visual nature of the game is helping her learn to spell/read as well, in English and Spanish.  

 

She's been using a Japanese letter character game that she loves and she asked to do a mandala app tomorrow.  We're celebrating the Solstice tomorrow with lots of crafts, yoga/meditation, a nature walk, phone calls to family and watching the show Salsa.  I might also let them watch some other PBS shows.  We've been talking about Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, because she's been watching Daniel Tiger lately.  She also loves The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy.  I was thinking finding Ghostwriter might be great for learning words.  Maybe we'll also bring out their winter dresses and take pictures.

 

I struggle with this time of year, I want meaningful traditions but I feel like the family element overwhelms me a bit.  Expectations from so many people.  I think this might also be apart of the reason dd6 is uncomfortable with her learning skills.  There are people who tell her she should already know how to read, and already know, blah, blah, blah.  She often answers questions without even trying and basically just gives up saying ''I don't know''.  

post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by featherstory View Post
 

I struggle with this time of year, I want meaningful traditions but I feel like the family element overwhelms me a bit.  Expectations from so many people.  I think this might also be apart of the reason dd6 is uncomfortable with her learning skills.  There are people who tell her she should already know how to read, and already know, blah, blah, blah.  She often answers questions without even trying and basically just gives up saying ''I don't know''.  

 

Oh, I didn't realize your dd is so young :) Plenty of time to address the reading question! And yes, it sucks when people ask/tell kids what they should know; very frustrating! I have had people full-on quiz my children upon finding out they were homeschooled and we don't use a curriculum -- as if to prove to me that I am failing my kids by pointing out they can not answer some of their questions.

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