or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › What's the difference between unschooling and Montesorri?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What's the difference between unschooling and Montesorri?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Okay, I've been having these conversations with an unschooling friend of mine, and she's saying unschooling is letting them choose what they want to learn.... Well, what if they want to watch TV all day? Or, how do they know what to learn if you don't present them with something? ...Well, you just prepare their enviroment so that they have learning opportunities and let them guide themselves...

And I'm thinking... I took teacher training for Montesorri, and the words "prepared enviorment" are the crux of Montesorri. They choose their work, take it off the shelf, are shown how the work is used, (often by another student) and then they choose to use it or not, and put it back when they're done.

If you call circle time and they want to do something else, you let them work on something else, but most of the kids want to know about what you're going to do, and will come over to sing, watch or whatever. For logistics and safety, playing outside is probably an exception, but the rest of the time is all their choice of "works".

The hardest thing was to convince parents that you didn't have to "force" the child to go work on reading or math, that they could choose their work for themselves and still eventually, on their own terms, cover all the sections, and no they wouldn't spend all their time in practical life. (Sort of the "starter" section, the works there are what an adult would see as the "fun" stuff, but all have practical applications to teach things like small motor skills needed for writing.)

Yet Montesorri, because it offers this enviroment so young (2.5 usually) is usually seen as "high pressure" or "early learning" and would be seemingly quite the opposite of the unschooling movement.

So I thought hey, lets see if I can get people's nickers in a knot and ask a bunch of unschoolers how it's different than Montesorri.

Just kidding! Not really my motivation, but I thought I'd say that to show that I do realize that this question will get people's nickers in a bunch, but I honestly gained more respect for unschooling when seen in that light. But I'm wondering, by contrast, how you prepare a home enviroment for that kind of learning.
post #2 of 18
My daughter actually spent half of her kindie year in a Montessori school (the second half - the first half was in a Reggio Emilia school).

The difference, in my mind, is that the Montessori teacher is preparing the environment based on her agenda, or the Montessori agenda. There are a limited number of options, and the materials are only permitted to be used in a limited number of ways - often just one. The teacher is acknowledged as the leader - imagine if you called circle time, and a child said, "Actually, I think we should all go outside now instead." That's how an unschooler would respond, anyway.

Unschoolers aren't limited to certain materials, used in certain ways. Whereas Montessori teachers try to prepare an environment that will guide a child into learnig certain things in certain ways , unschooling parents try to offer an environment that will delight and interest the child, and assume that learning will follow. There is no learning agenda, and the environment can be modified at will be the parent or child - and there's no restriction on what the environment will contain. For a long time, we had tons of dress up clothes and playmobil and stuff like that - now we have computer and songbooks and still playmobil.

My knickers are fine, though....

Dar
post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
The teacher is acknowledged as the leader - imagine if you called circle time, and a child said, "Actually, I think we should all go outside now instead." That's how an unschooler would respond, anyway.
This leads me to a question that I ask out of pure curiosity. How would an unschooling mom of, say, 3 children respond to that request if it's the 3 year old who wants to go out (too young to go by herself), while the other two would rather have mom read them a story on the sofa? Doesn't Mom have to be the "leader" and make a call? Even if it's to suggest reading outside or going outside later? I really am just curious, not looking to argue.

I guess I agree with Dar that "pure" unschooling has no agenda. I also think some parents who consider themselves unschoolers *do* have agendas -- they just hope the kids will come around eventually and don't push too hard. *I* would be this kind of "unschooler" if I decided to go that route. I like the idea of unschooling, and I definitely lean that way, but I probably won't ever do it 100%. I'm too left brained! :LOL If I weren't homeschooling, I'd probably go with Montessori as a second choice. My dd is in a Reggio Emilia preschool right now, but it's only a preschool -- no higher grades. (Not that it matters -- HS is my first choice, regardless of other opportunities.)
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by luv my 2 sweeties
This leads me to a question that I ask out of pure curiosity. How would an unschooling mom of, say, 3 children respond to that request if it's the 3 year old who wants to go out (too young to go by herself), while the other two would rather have mom read them a story on the sofa? Doesn't Mom have to be the "leader" and make a call?
As a mom of 3, this is what I'd do. I would *suggest* taking the book outside to read, but I wouldn't make that decision. If the kids liked that idea, then fine. If not, we'd come up with something else--maybe read first, then go out, maybe go out first and read later, maybe read near a window so I could keep an eye on the child who's outside while I read to the ones inside...there are all sorts of possibilities for resolving this so that everyone's happy.

I think this kind of thing just comes with having more than one child--regardless of what type of learning you all do, you've got to be able to find a way to meet everyone's needs.

It's not a whole lot different than having a dp really--when you're single you can wake up and plan your day, right? Once you have a dp don't you say things like, "What do you feel like doing today?" and then find a way for you both to do what you want?
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
It's not a whole lot different than having a dp really--when you're single you can wake up and plan your day, right? Once you have a dp don't you say things like, "What do you feel like doing today?" and then find a way for you both to do what you want?
Wow Joan,

What a great example! And one I have never seen before. Thanks for sharing.
post #6 of 18
My dd was in a Montessori preschool for one semester. One of the reasons she did not like it was because initially she had to wait to be shown how to use certain materials, and then she could only use them in the Montessori-approved manner. From my own observation of her preschool, and also an observation day I did at the Montessori elementary school - true creativity is not really encouraged, and this is in direct opposition to the unschooling philosophy in which materials are provided for the child, but it's the child who decides not only when to use them, but also how to use them. My kids often come up with creative new ways to use the same old materials. I didn't feel that this type of creativity was supported in a traditional Montessori environment.

Here's an example: My kids may play a game of chess with their chess set. They may use the chess pieces to set up a pretend play scenario. They may use the chess pieces as models for a clay-making project. They may use the chess pieces as decorations on a play-dough cake. They may decide the chess pieces are going to have a formal tea with each other, or live in the doll house together, or play hide and seek in the kitty condo. From a traditional Montessori perspective, certainly the child would be allowed to choose to play chess with the chess pieces when he or she wanted to play chess. But the child would not be able to use the chess pieces in other creative ways. This is a huge and important difference to me.

As far as preparing the environment in an unschooling home: In our home, we have tons of books, art supplies, a computer with internet access, musical instruments, science exploration supplies, a tape recorder, CD player, DVD player, calculators, cuisennaire rods, unifix cubes(?), lots of games: Monopoly, Life, Clue, Lego Creator, etc., a garden, sports equipment (skates, bikes, boogie boards, skimboards, balls of all kinds), a swingset, a whiteboard, legos, K'nex, blocks, tools, a kitchen, etc., duct tape, magnifying glasses, a wood pile, and on and on...

In addition to all of the above, we regularly go to the library, museums (we docent at one), the beach, parks, the bank, a variety of stores and shops, dance classes, martial arts classes, science workshops, art classes, and homeschool group sponsored park days and field trips.

Yesterday, in our prepared environment - on a Sunday, during the summer (not a typical "school" day), my kids (ages 7 and 9) played chess, read books to themselves, learned about succulent plants (by asking questions at a nursery), and carnivorous plants (internet search), worked in the garden, learned how to count a variety of musical beats, sketched in sketch pads, studied the French language, read an adult-level book about deep sea creatures, prepared, cooked and ate a traditional French meal, choreographed a dance, and listened to 2 chapters of "Ella Enchanted," and 2 chapters of "Treasure Island." They probably did a lot more than this too, but these are the activities I was aware of.

I suggested none of this. It's pretty cool, actually. It took me a long time to trust that this really would happen. I mean a loooonnngggg time. I know from personal experience how far-fetched unschooling can sound if you haven't actually experienced it.

HTH,
Laura
post #7 of 18
I don't see why anyone would get their knickers in a bunch over this question? Unless you interpret the phrase to mean "someone disagreed with me" :LOL

Anyway, I disagree

First I've heard the same thing that Dar and Laura said, that in Montessori (M) there are "right" ways to use the materials and the child is expected to learn and follow those rules. I have also heard that children are not allowed to use certain materials until the teacher decides they are ready for them. That doesn’t fit unschooling as I understand it.

Really though, the main reason I would not think it the same is because M is a SCHOOL :LOL IMO, when young, impressionable children go to school (any school) that establishes that learning takes place in a certain place and during certain hours. THAT is definitely not unschooling as I see it.

Also, If a child is in M, she may have the choice of what to do once there but does she have a choice to go at all? If she decides not to go to school that week, then what? From what I’ve heard, many M schools have pretty strict attendance requirements. And even if one doesn’t, I can’t see a parent paying thousands of dollars a year and then not blinking when Junior decides not to go this month I know I sure wouldn’t, :LOL

But then, I’m not entirely sure I’m an unschooler anyway I thought I was, but it definitely depends on who you ask and from some of the definitions on this board I don’t fit. But I’m at least solidly in the child-led camp and I really don’t think that M fits that to my satisfaction.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
In my case they went when I was at work, so it was non-negotiable. Well, I guess it was negotiable because one loved it, one had a conflict with the hugeness of it all and we found someplace else for him that was an in-home preschool/childcare.

I thought the "right way" to use things was too strict too when I took the training. But you know in my home, if things aren't used the way I show it to them, things get broken and lost. Most regrettably they used pieces of my spinning wheel to fit together in different and interesting ways, (seemed fine at the time) but soon pieces of it were lost.

There are a lot of things that vary from school to school, but Maria Montesorri's ideas are applicable in the home as in a school, but she herself had no children, and was in charge of keeping groups of children occupied and out of the way of others, however she chose to do so.

It is for that reason that she didn't include a lot of free-form "creativity". One of the things we learned in the teacher training is she felt they had plenty of interaction and creativity at their home with their large families, and that seeing that children are more often in all-day care with working parents and small families, some Montesorri schools (unfortunately not all) are making up for this by adding more creative activities.

I don't see it so much as "learning taking place in a certain place" because it's all called their "work" and practical life especially helps them translate that "work" into the home. Now that they've learned to sweep and sponge and cut up bread at school, they can do it at home.

But your point about them 'not wanting to go that week/month' got me thinking. Another question about unschooling... When you unschool, if they were to say they want to take art lessons, and you sign them up for six art lessons for $60, and then half-way through they decide they don't want to go, do you say, "okay, that's what unschooling is all about" or "YOU made the decision, and the commitment to go, you need to go".

Or for that matter, let's make it a broader question. How do you spend money on providing that enviroment, and what is the children's involvement with those financial decisions? And if so, would you or do you have paramaters that the money is spent on things to broaden the learning enviroment, instead of video games? I loved the book "Capitate you Kids"* and this seems like an excellent opportunity to set a budget and have the kids decide what they want to do with it.

*(It was re-published as the "Sink or Swim Money Method" but really it's quite the opposite, it's about teaching financial skills while kids are at home--mainly junior high or high school age--so they don't get to college or out on their own and sink or swim there).
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gendenwitha
Or for that matter, let's make it a broader question. How do you spend money on providing that enviroment, and what is the children's involvement with those financial decisions? And if so, would you or do you have paramaters that the money is spent on things to broaden the learning enviroment, instead of video games? I loved the book "Capitate you Kids"* and this seems like an excellent opportunity to set a budget and have the kids decide what they want to do with it.

*(It was re-published as the "Sink or Swim Money Method" but really it's quite the opposite, it's about teaching financial skills while kids are at home--mainly junior high or high school age--so they don't get to college or out on their own and sink or swim there).
I guess I have a question (sorry to hijack this thread). But why is it when ever someone questions unschooling they use the example of playing video games instead of spending time really learning? Why is it assumed that all unschoolers are video game players?
I don't believe that there is anything wrong with playing video games and there are some great skills you can learn by playing, we just don't have a game system in our home. And we are unschoolers.
Where does this stereotype come from? And do you feel as I do that the not so subtle message in bringing up that comparision is that somehow children are not suppose to learn in joy? That we are somehow cheating our kids out of the true lesson of school? That learning is hard and joyless?
I just want to state that for me, real learning happens when the person who is learning is motivated, interested and ready. And sometimes to learn something, it takes dedicated effort, but many times it is blissfully easy.
Thanks for letting me vent
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gendenwitha

When you unschool, if they were to say they want to take art lessons, and you sign them up for six art lessons for $60, and then half-way through they decide they don't want to go, do you say, "okay, that's what unschooling is all about" or "YOU made the decision, and the commitment to go, you need to go".
Most of the things my kids have signed up for have been "pay as you go." But there was one summer when they signed up for a day camp and hated it. I surely did not tell them they needed to go. I know that some parents will do this, but I think it's a parenting issue, not "what unschooling is." I was glad that they tried out something new, but I see no point in making them continue with something they didn't like. Either way, the money is spent--I don't think anyone gains anything by making themselves miserable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gendenwitha
Or for that matter, let's make it a broader question. How do you spend money on providing that enviroment, and what is the children's involvement with those financial decisions? And if so, would you or do you have paramaters that the money is spent on things to broaden the learning enviroment, instead of video games?
We don't separate school expenses from other expenses--my older children both have an income and they choose how to spend their money. Sometimes I buy stuff that I think they'll like. Other times, if we have a lump of money to spend (tax refund time!) we all talk about what we want/need to do with it.

With unschooling, activities are just activities--they wouldn't separate "things to broaden the learning environment" from "video games."
post #11 of 18
Quote:
But you know in my home, if things aren't used the way I show it to them, things get broken and lost. Most regrettably they used pieces of my spinning wheel to fit together in different and interesting ways, (seemed fine at the time) but soon pieces of it were lost.

Unschooling isn't the same thing at all as letting the kids run amok, losing and breaking your personal things. It also isn't the same thing as saying these size comparison blocks can only be used in one particular way. To me, those are two completely different issues. One is a family/parenting issue, and one is a learning issue.


Quote:
I don't see it so much as "learning taking place in a certain place" because it's all called their "work" and practical life especially helps them translate that "work" into the home. Now that they've learned to sweep and sponge and cut up bread at school, they can do it at home

Right here, in a nutshell, you described one of the central ideas of school which is that kids will learn things at school - in an artificial, contrived environment, and then will be able at a later time to apply these learned concepts/skills in real life. In both homeschooling and unschooling families, children learn to sweep, sponge, cut up bread, etc. by sweeping, sponging, and cutting up bread - in their own homes, in real life. (BTW - to state the obvious - Kids who go to public school don't learn these things in school - but become quite proficient in doing them by learning them at home in real life). School and the school mindset assumes that all kinds of skills are best learned at school, so that they can then later be applied to real life. I'm really not trying to get your panties in a bunch , but I'm kind of giggling about the very idea that sponging, sweeping and cutting are best learned in school so that kids can then do these things at home. To me this illustrates just how far from home school has driven us as a society.

Maria Montessori not only worked with kids whose parents were gone all day - she also worked with terribly underpriveleged kids who probably did need to learn how to do these basic skills outside of their homes. Middle to upper middle class families who can afford Montessori are not in the same category as the original kids whom MM worked with. Sadly, though, because our society has moved so resolutely away from the centrality of the family as the basic social unit, so many parents are away from from their children for the greater part of the day that many of these economically priveleged kids may need to learn these basic skills at school now!


Quote:
The hardest thing was to convince parents that you didn't have to "force" the child to go work on reading or math, that they could choose their work for themselves and still eventually, on their own terms, cover all the sections, and no they wouldn't spend all their time in practical life.

I am not being at all facetious when I say that he hardest thing for me to grasp about unschooling was that you didn't have to "force" the child to go work on reading or math, that they could choose their work for themselves, and still eventually, on their own terms, would cover all that they needed to know so that they could easily use those skills in their own real life. Really! I got it in all the other areas, but I didn't see how they would learn the "basics" of phonics, spelling, math computation, grammer, and writing. Now that I have seen all this stuff happening with my real children in their real lives, it all makes sense to me. I needed to see it with my own eyes, though, rather than just believe what other people told me. I'm a direct experience kind of learner, I guess.


Laura
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErikaDP
I guess I have a question (sorry to hijack this thread). But why is it when ever someone questions unschooling they use the example of playing video games instead of spending time really learning? Why is it assumed that all unschoolers are video game players?
I don't believe that there is anything wrong with playing video games and there are some great skills you can learn by playing, we just don't have a game system in our home. And we are unschoolers.
Where does this stereotype come from? And do you feel as I do that the not so subtle message in bringing up that comparision is that somehow children are not suppose to learn in joy? That we are somehow cheating our kids out of the true lesson of school? That learning is hard and joyless?
I just want to state that for me, real learning happens when the person who is learning is motivated, interested and ready. And sometimes to learn something, it takes dedicated effort, but many times it is blissfully easy.
Thanks for letting me vent
I think it's because my kids like swimming and painting and playing with cars, but there's nothing else they like to do that causes the hypnotic effect that draws you in and keeps you going on like flashing screens. I use this to my advantage when I'm not feeling well, watching TV or playing on the computer makes me forget the passage of time like nothing else.

I don't think it's a negative stereotype about unschoolers, I think it says more about the parenting of the person asking the question. The one thing I couldn't imangine to give freedom of choice in, because it's the hardest thing to regulate in my own home--the TV. My children are too young to understand the effects of watching violence on TV and the sublties of advertising and sexism and stereo-types that are on television. They just see it as entertainment.

I would much rather educate my children about advertising techniques, than censor their enviorment. I had an education on that in a ciriculium we covered in third grade, but I can't find that book or anything like it now. (There's books for PARENT'S on media literacy, but precious little written for children.) And right now, they're 5 & 7 I have trouble getting them to understand that these are not programs, that ads are people paying to convince you to buy their product--a product that will probably not be as exciting as it is during the commercial.

Today my 7yo said his heart was beating fast when he played a car-racing game on the computer. So we had a discussion on how if he played a game that involved hitting people that made him excited like that when he won, and that the more he hit the more he won, he would be more likely to hit people in real life because he'd be more likely to find it exciting to do so. But he just sort of grasped it, and still didn't quite believe me. So, for the past years of their life that they've watched TV or played video games, I controlled what was available for them to play or watch. But when the neighbor boy has violent video games he wants to play, it becomes harder.

It's also the thing most likely to apply to a non-unschooler's life. Even though I send my kids to school outside the home, I try to use non-violent communication (http://www.cnvc.org/raisekds.htm)--without threats, rewards or punishments, and the one area I have difficulty--well, actually simply CAN'T--in using this method, is with the TV or video games. I would love to hear how unschoolers handle this because, like most people who ask this question I'm sure, it's most applicable to raising my own kids.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
We don't separate school expenses from other expenses--my older children both have an income and they choose how to spend their money. Sometimes I buy stuff that I think they'll like. Other times, if we have a lump of money to spend (tax refund time!) we all talk about what we want/need to do with it.

With unschooling, activities are just activities--they wouldn't separate "things to broaden the learning environment" from "video games."
I should probably expand on the idea of the book. He advocates teaching kids about money not by giving them an allowance which is just their fun money expenses, or paying for things for them as YOU deem fit, but by taking clothing for example and saying, okay here's what we spend on you a year for clothes. This year, you get to spend that money as you see fit, then if they have money left over they get to keep it, if they buy $200 sneakers and the rest of their clothes at Goodwill, that's okay too. It lays it out in such a way that lets them make mistakes, but not such big ones that they'll be without a winter coat all year (maybe a month, or maybe they have to get one at a garage sale, but still, allows them to safely learn).

It's downside is, that it would be hard to implement for parents that live hand-to-mouth. If you buy clothes based on when you get money you weren't expecting, you can't pass that money to them once a year and teach them budgeting concepts.

But, one of the reasons I love this book is it's filled with humor, and even if you don't have kids, he's a talented enough writer to make you enjoy the book anyway. My kids were WAY to young for it, but I laughed my way through it anyways, it's just too funny.

With a kid that wants to take art lessons, and swimming, and theater, and I want to buy a rather expensive computer program for learning Spanish (that he can practice with his pen-pal), and spend money on other teaching stuff, but we can't afford everything... I'm thinking this would be a great application for setting a budget for them in this capitation manner.

However, if my son had $100, he would buy one thing. The one thing he wants more than anything else (except maybe a motorhome)... a Gameboy. And (the reason I origionally used this video-game analogy) I'm stuck on, I don't care if he's the last kid on earth without one, he's NOT getting one.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gendenwitha
I thought the "right way" to use things was too strict too when I took the training. But you know in my home, if things aren't used the way I show it to them, things get broken and lost. Most regrettably they used pieces of my spinning wheel to fit together in different and interesting ways, (seemed fine at the time) but soon pieces of it were lost.
But caring for items that are valuable to you is a whole different issue than te question of using things in only one way. I can think of hundreds of different ways of using the pieces of a spindle that don't result in the pieces being lost. In Montessori, all but one would be wrong.

Quote:
Or for that matter, let's make it a broader question. How do you spend money on providing that enviroment, and what is the children's involvement with those financial decisions? And if so, would you or do you have paramaters that the money is spent on things to broaden the learning enviroment, instead of video games?
We generally decide together, and the decision is completely hedonistic - wha will we enjoy the most, either in the short-term or long-term. Generally, either I'll suggest things and Rain will say "no", or "um, maybe, tell me more", or "YES!". Pr else Rain will suggest things and we'll talk more about it, about the cost and whether she thinks it's worth it, and the logistics, and if it's something she's never done I'll talk more about what it will be like.

Video games *do* broaden the learning environment, BTW.

I would try not to sign her up for 6 weeks of a class if we don't know what we were getting into, but if she decided a lesson or two into it that she didn't like it, I would first talk to the teacher and see if her needs could be met, and if not she'd drop it.

It doesn't happen much, but last summer she was signed up for a 4 week $250 theatre day camp and dropped out midway through the second week. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't what we'd been promised. Ah, well. We would be out the $250 whether she went to the end or dropped out, but at least this way she was spared 2 1/2 weeks of misery.

Dar
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gendenwitha
My children are too young to understand the effects of watching violence on TV and the sublties of advertising and sexism and stereo-types that are on television. They just see it as entertainment.
They're 5 and 7? I think you underestimate what they can understand. It's not like this stuff is that subtle, really...

When Rain was two or three we would play "tv/movie actor", where one of us would pretend to shoot or stab or otherwise physically assualt the other, and the victim would then die a wonderfully overcted death... and thenone of us would yell "CUT!" and we'd jump up and shake each other's hands and say, "Wow, good acting! Great take!" (Hmm, and I wonder how she became an actress...)

I've also always been a huge talk backer to the tv - tv watching is not passive at our house. Now we both point out the sexist bits and the advertising messages and the other messages, loudly with finger pointing. You don't need a curriculum, just have a critical eye and stay in the room with the tv and talk. It' not like a movie theatre, where you have to be quiet...

Actually, by 5 Rain was creating and performing her own commercials. She still comes up with ad ideas all the time... maybe trying to think up your own commercials will help your kids understand? Or point out ads in magazines, and newspapers... this is how tv networks make their $$$.

Quote:
Today my 7yo said his heart was beating fast when he played a car-racing game on the computer. So we had a discussion on how if he played a game that involved hitting people that made him excited like that when he won, and that the more he hit the more he won, he would be more likely to hit people in real life because he'd be more likely to find it exciting to do so. But he just sort of grasped it, and still didn't quite believe me.
I don't believe you either.

My daughter spent months murdering many families of Sims, very creatively, figuring out which household furnishings were the most flammable and all sorts of stuff - and yet she has never expressed any desire to murder a person in real life. Actually, I know lots of avid online gamers (and board gamers too) and it's fun to win and kill the opponent (or his piece), it's exciting.... and yet none of them murder any real people. None of them even hit their kids. It's not the same thing. It's a game. It's not real life.

Dar
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gendenwitha
I should probably expand on the idea of the book. He advocates teaching kids about money not by giving them an allowance which is just their fun money expenses, or paying for things for them as YOU deem fit, but by taking clothing for example and saying, okay here's what we spend on you a year for clothes. This year, you get to spend that money as you see fit, then if they have money left over they get to keep it, if they buy $200 sneakers and the rest of their clothes at Goodwill, that's okay too. It lays it out in such a way that lets them make mistakes, but not such big ones that they'll be without a winter coat all year (maybe a month, or maybe they have to get one at a garage sale, but still, allows them to safely learn).
Well, that certainly sounds like a system. Interesting. We've never said to the kids "You have X amount of money to spend on clothes." We've also never just bought for them what we deem fit. Usually what happens is they notice they need something, (clothing, to continue your example) and we figure out how much we can afford to spend and then they choose accordingly.

It's never occurred to them to take clothing money and use it for video games--or anything else for that matter. (As a kid, *I* probably would have blown the $$ on something other than clothing.)

I came to unschooling as an adult. My kids are growing up with the philosophy and I wonder if this isn't the difference. They don't have anyone telling them that math is more important than building a clubhouse, or that reading is more important than video games. Unschooling is about trusting that your kids will do/learn what they need to. Likewise, we've not pointed out that buying clothing is more important than buying toys, or that buying food is more important than going to the movies. I think all of this is connected. Maybe they're able to choose what they need because they're not reacting to restrictions on what they can't buy?

Experienced unschoolers? Any input on this?
post #17 of 18
Unschooling should not be confused with Montessori. As Shannon mentioned above, a Montessori school is still just that; a school. School teaches that learning happens within its walls, that the child NEEDS the school or else will not learn. (At least not learn anything “important”). Unschooling is seeing that learning is everywhere.

Again, the crux of Montessori is – yes- the prepared environment. But with unschooling, there is no one prepared environment. Every child’s “environment” will look different based on that child’s needs and desires and passions. I have been in Montessori classrooms and the “work” I see children doing is all with the prearranged learning Montessori materials. How limiting! What a terrible, painfully small box of the world in which to limit a curious and interested child. Not that there is anything wrong with those materials or that they could not be fun for kids, but it is still based on the philosophy that “You learn these things with these materials and other choices are not as valid.” Children in a Montessori classroom may chose what they want to do with their time based on those Montessori materials, but those are the only real, valid choices. The only real, valid learning. Yuck! Bad school.

I am also curious, Erika, as to why you are so put off by video games? My 9 y/o ds LOVES his video games. Why is the time he spends playing them not spending time "really learning"?? I understand that your point was that you just don't like for people to assume that ALL unschoolers are video-gamers, but it sounds like you think that label has a negative implication.
post #18 of 18
To answer the original question... I don't really see any similarities between Montessori and unschooling. So everything would be different to me.

There are as many different "ways" of unschooling as there are unschoolers. Each of my children relates to things differently and does things differently and they are fully able to do this.

The question about classes - This just came up for us yesterday. My 12 year old takes gymnastics and it's getting very hot here and the center tends to be humid. She said she thinks she would like to take the rest of the summer off. Then she said she may be done with gymnastics entirely. Either is fine. Right now she's going to stop for the summer and then she will take a look when it's cooler and see if she wants to go back or not. I'll call the center and let them know that she wants to take a break. Often times I've found that places are pretty reasonable about these things.

I truly believe that it's important for children to have the opportunity to try things out. They don't need to be doing the same thing for an extended period of time. We hear about this all the time....my children's friends will be told that they need to finish this or that because the parents are concerned that the children are learning to "quit" things if they just feel like it. It's like they expect a child to decide that they are going to want to do something long term before they have ever started it and they don't give them any room to just try things on. I see this over and over again with sports, classes, music, and so on.

I have found that many classes will allow for a free trial of 1 or 2 classes so they can check things out. But there are also things that change. In my daughter's gymnastics she has had changes of teachers several times, changes of students, on and on it goes. So why should a child have to commit to all sorts of unknowns? I wouldn't be ok with that myself.

Regarding tv, video games, computers, etc. I guess I could also say bed times, eating times and so on....Different families choose to do things differently. I've noticed that there has been some major generalizations made about unschoolers and how they do things. I think there are some huge misconceptions. Because someone is an unschooler doesn't mean that there is no guidance or boundaries....for that matter nor does it mean that there are not any limitations. I have yet to meet 2 unschooling families that do things the same way
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unschooling
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › What's the difference between unschooling and Montesorri?