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Unschooling moms please help (v. long)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have been trying to do unschooling for a while now, but just can't pin point where I am going wrong, or rather how I can get rid of these doubts I have. I know it sounds sad, but I sit for hours each night looking on the net for ideas on how kids learn, which is the best way, multiple intelligence, this method or that method, child led, structured etc etc and yet have come no clearer as to what to actually do all day.

I feel awful!! If it were just me I know how I would spend my day...learning to play our piano, my guitar, reading up on how maths works, reading Quantam theory, Fermats Last Theorum etc, reading about famous mathematicians and inventors, reading the complete works of John Donne, learning how to paraglide, learning how to watercolour, gosh the list goes on and on- sometimes I wish my daughter was the mom and I could unschool myself!!!

I just feel I am doing my children a huge disservice by unschooling- even though I have read loads of successful unschoolers, I just wonder if it wouldn't work for Emily, she doesn't have similar aged siblings to bounce ideas off and to do things with.

I see my friends sending their children off to the best private school at aged 3 and feel guilty that I am not providing the best education. I hear how the montessori school has helped give their 3 yr old loads of stimulation and feel maybe Jasmine is missing out.

I see Emily's home educated friends all with their structured days, being told they have to practice their music now, or learn their latin verbs now so they can enter the prestigious Cambridge University in 7 yrs, and feel am I letting Emily down by not pushing her.

How can I decide what is the best to do? I have stepped back and let Emily follow her lead and she looks at History from every angle, devours everything to do with this. She also listens when I discuss math theory and quantum science with dh. But is this enough??

How can I be sure she has the right things in her life to help her survive should anything ever happen to me ( I know she can manage her money, cook decent meals etc) Should I devise overall goals for her? But then how can I know where we'll be by the end of this yr, where our paths and interest will take us?

She writes very little down, and what she does has no grammar in- what happens when she wants to apply for a job? She avoids math of any sort, but her peers are learning Pythagorus and matrices etc, will this hold her back in life. Why do we need to learn Pythag/Trig etc?

Is real life learning enough? Does this offer enough stimulation to our brains to keep them active? What if somebody has inherent low levels of energy and just can't seem to get moving? What would you do then? What would you do if your child homes in on one area of learning because they love it, but won't branch out to any other areas?

Am I completely off track here? Any books to help me gain more confidence in what I am doing, or how to gain more confidence in myself as a homeschooler?
post #2 of 10
Are your children happy?

Unschooling is usually *not* going to result in kids who are at or above garde evel in every area. It usually won't be balanced, or look like school. It's about your kids succeeding in the lives they have chosen for themselves, and if devouring history fom every angle is Emily's thing right now, more power to her!

My ten year old has been doing more writing lately, and I'm amazed at how she can suddenly spell all sorts of words. She asked me last night if she was correct in putting two "fwooshy things" in a letter she was writing (commas, and they were in the rigt places). She's still not at "grade leve", and I can't think of the last time she did any formal math. OTOH, she's passionate about theater, and on Monday she walked into an open audition with 40 other girls, mostly older than she is, and today she found out that she'd been cast in one of 6 roles - the exact role she wanted. Because I don't push her to do math or study Latin, she has the time to follow her passions.... and that's what it's about!

post #3 of 10
you said: sometimes I wish my daughter was the mom and I could unschool myself!!!
I have found that this is a vital part of unschooling for us. I *am* an unschooler, as well. My children have learned a lot by watching *me* follow my interests- and have gained interest in areas they would never have discovered themselves. I would never think that my Lego-loving son would have an interest in sewing, but watching me sew brought that interest out, and he actually sewed a table cloth.
Maybe it would be helpful if you sat your dd down and asked wher *her* goals are for herself- both long and short term, so that you could help her to accomplish them. If she seriously wants to attend college, maybe you can give her some guidance in what that requires, and talk about if she is willing to put that work into it. I did not start out an unschooler, and I still have many doubts- but everytime I begin to really doubt myself, my kids assure me that we are going to be ok.
post #4 of 10
My 18 yr old son is now in college and doing very well. At 15 he decided to do corresponce High School. He was completely unschooled up until then. We just read books, did art, and played. Again, he did very well with his high school courses and now with college. My 12 yr old wants to go to school in September to try it out. She has been unschooled all her life. Now she is looking at school books on her own to make sure she will know what they are doing in school. Both kids are happy with their unschooling experiences. I had doubts at times but now I see that everything worked out perfectly.
post #5 of 10
Have you asked her how she feels? Try talking to her, see what her goals are. Does she want more direction? Would she like for you to find some intrestng tings for her to do? How will she feel if she isn't like the other kids? Can't compete with them? would she like for you to challenege her more? Less? How? Does she feel you have been meeting her needs? Does she feel like she has a sense of direction? What is it? Is there anything you can do to help?
post #6 of 10
This is the most challenging thing I've ever done ~ and the most liberating. I find I am *the* worst critic of myself and my educational style. This becomes horrific when I begin to look at the grass on the other side of the fence, KWIM? Take away all comparisons and just look at your kids ~ are they cool people? are they well rounded human beings? Do they love life and learn all they can from everyday experiences? I love my kids and I love the freedom I offer them daily. They are great kids. No, Hannah doesn't decode language on paper yet (sometimes called *reading* by parents of her *peers*), but she has a love for language like no other child I've met. Spending time with them teaches *me* more than they'll ever know, I wouldn't give up a moment of it to set up a schedule/routine/schooling that took away from *who we are* OTOH, if they requested something more *school-ish* to their liking or to their goals, then I would whole-heartedly agree to adapting what we do to meet their needs. That's the glory of unschooling, it isn't *one size fits all*, it's *you get the size you need, when you need it*
Give yourself a break ~ if you're kids are fine, you're doing a great job; if you're kids need something different, pat yourself on the back for noticing!!
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone- so much to consider.

Is she happy? Being a pre-teen this varies day to day, some days she yells she is fat and god life is tough and she wishes she could die (I think a trait she got from me, that I am trying so hard to work on). Others she is very happy, ringing her friends up to arrange sleepovers.

I want to have a more in depth talk about goals etc, but have to tread carefully so as to not make her feel she has to know where her life is heading or what she wants to do when she is 16. I guess our relationship isn't too good as she is incredibly jealous of her little sister getting lots of attention as toddlers do. I wonder if this is the downfall, and makes it harder to unschool, she is very quiet in the day, and perks up at night when I am shattered- but generally asks me very few questions and has litttle conversation with me.

She has devised this ridgid schedule where she wants me to 'be teacher' 9-3 Mon-Fri, she wants to sit at a desk and me tell her what to do, I worry about doing this as it seems to reinforce the 'school mentality' plus I have no idea how this can be done with an active 3 yr old wanting to do stuff too.

You have given me lots to think about. Thank you xx
post #8 of 10
I say if she want a schedule give her one. Since this is her plan it should be her resposibility to carry it out. Give her assignments and let her know you will be around if she has questions but it is up to her to read the instructions and do the work. And then enjoy your freet ime with your toddler. Maybe she will like it maybe she will hate it (i wouldn't invest in an expensive cirriculum yet) Some kids just like the routien and predictability of a schedule. it also sounds like she may see this as her way of getting more time with you and without being all mushy about stuff or having to think of something to say. Oh, hey maybe she could design her own cirriculum and make her own schedule.
post #9 of 10
My children are 23, 20, and 14 and could be described as unschooled (I prefer the term life-long learning). My oldest son decided to go to public high school, was an honors student, and went on to college.

My 20 year old did not want to go to high school and we did not have time for any kind of homeschooling. I was a graduate student. am disabled, and my youngest son has special needs. My son (now 20) worked part-time and then full-time as soon as he could by state law. He took the GED and training as an EMT. He had no trouble getting into college and started a nursing program in what would have been his senior year in high school. I do help him with his college classes (I have master's degrees in health science and adult and community education).

I am concerned about homeschooling and my youngest. He was premature and has developmental delays. His brothers were gifted and if he were to attend school he would be special education. I'm planning on enrolling him in GED classes when he is 16. He does read, sometimes 10 or more hours a day.

How did my kids do well? They all enjoy reading and have large vocabulary and speak well. They are good problem solvers with great self esteem. They grew up living in family housing at two large colleges and had friends whose parents were students or faculty. Their friends were from many different countries. They have been involved in community sports programs and scouting.
We are big library and computer users and I make them watch educational TV programs with me.

Perhaps the key is for our children to know how to learn, to enjoy learning, and for them to be interested in lifelong learning. We model how to learn when we teach ourselves new skills or learn about a new topic.

My latest learning project has been quilting and I involve my children in the process. My 20 year old made a full size quilt for his girlfriend for Christmas. How many 20 year old guys would even think they could make a quilt? I planned the quilt and did only minor tasks (ironing, triming, ect) because he wanted to do as much as possible himself. Quiltmaking was a great way to spend the week before Christmas with my son.

When I was in gradute school I would come home and tell them about my classes. Now we hear about my son's nursing classes. I talk to them about books I read and thing I learn.

I think it takes faith to believe that unschooling will work. We can turn our homes and our lives into a learning environment. It doesn't take a lot of money or even a lot of time. Kids want to learn how to read to find out about the world around them. My kids say they wanted to read so they could read the TV guide and all the other things I wasn't reading for them. Two of my boys didn't learn how to read until they were 12 but when they did start reading they could read at a college level. They learned math so they could figure out money and food real life problems. If there are 5 people how many pieces of pizza does each one get?

The worst that could happen is that they won't pass the GED. There are GED classes they can take. Once they pass the GED it's not hard getting into state colleges. If they can't do college work, there is free help available for freshmen. If they don't go to college when they are 18 or 19 they can go later. Most adults do very well when they are motivated and paying for it themselves.

One of the joys of unschooling is not having to worry about how and what to teach our kids. If you can't unschool without frequent worry then it may not be for you. You need to find what works for you and your children.
post #10 of 10
Ditto what gabner said!

I've had the same experience. We have children in their 20's that were unschooled (or lifelong learners, I like that!) We also have a couple of teenagers, an eight year old and a 6 year old. So we've been at this learning at home thing a long time.

We also have had some late readers, around 11 and 12, and some early readers, 3 and 5. Unschoolers seem to learn what they need when they need it. When it came time that they wanted to go to college, they learned what they needed to get where they wanted to go. They continue to do this in life. Learning to be wives, husbands, parents, musicians, yoga instructors, carpetlayers, carpenters, plumbers, car repairers, computer useres....whatever they need to learn for what they want or need to do.

If you want to "teach" your child anything, teach them to love learning. The best way to do that is to love it yourself!

I wish you well in your journey,
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