What does Unschooling look like with a 4-7 year old?
In a typical day they play a lot (this includes drawing, painting ......), watch TV, eat, hopefully clean up there messes, ask many questions about many different things, we converse quite a bit, sometimes get on PBS.org or some other kid website, usually take at least one bath or shower (they love to play in the water) and then sleep.
On Wednesdays we usually go to our homeschool park day. We have "play dates" with friends sometimes. Right now neither take any type of classes and at there ages I don't feel they are needed or even best (just my opinion).
I have not taught them reading or writing and don't intend to. I do however answer many reading and writing questions through out the day. As well as read stuff for them and help them write stuff when asked. Same goes for math and any other "subject".
Originally Posted by jenoline
I What is a typical day like?
They are both in skating and in Beavers. They both go to Sunday School, and to Power Hour (and thing at the church for kids Tuesdays afternoon.
The oldest also take piano, and is in Sparks.
They play for hours with each other getting totally lost in lands of make believe. Janelle the oldest does most of the teaching Joey learns.."Joey, this it a "A" it says "a"..."how many fingers am I holding up Joey?" This sort of thinks goes on alot here. She loves to be "teacher".
I read (not as often as I think I should) to them.
They love computer games.
We play games rather then have "class" ... The class idea would not work with either of them. I also have a 20 yr old.. she adored the playing school and doing classroom type stuff. With Janelle and Joey I have to make it all a game... then they like it. I made a memory game using words like house, cat, big, the.... it didn't take long before Janelle was playing two games at once... making up sentences like " A big blue cat sat on the green mouse." as she found the words. I was very surprised at how good Joey is at the game...that kid has a great memory.
Janelle spends hours working of craft stuff. Not stuff that is ready to go...colouring books she could care less about. She making stuff totally on her own.. that she thought of on her own. She loves drawing..and is really good at it.
I don't teach writing and read pre say...but yes I guess I do. It's never something I've planned to do. It's Janelle saying "Mama how do I spell "party"...when she all caught up in whatever she's doing. Shes there..she has a will and a want to learn..she askes for whatever she needs when she needs it. She loves numbers and just the other day while in the car...rhymed off tons of different sums of 10 ..."1+2+5+1+1=10 ...right mama" This went on and on using subtraction as well "mama..if I have 10 pizzas and eat 7 I'd have 3 left. This was not something I suggected she do..she just did it for fun.
LOL... ok long enough..I could go on and on...it's so fun watching them grow and being there when all the light bulbs go on.
We play a lot of games, he plays pretend, he builds with blocks or Legos or magnetix, he does puzzles, he watches tv, I read him stories. We bake together, he does crafts, he draws and copies words from books or signs, he counts *everything.* He shops and figures out how much more money he needs for something, or how much he'll have left if he buys something...all just daily living stuff--I don't "teach" any of it.
He takes a weekly gymnastics class and we go ice skating. When the weather is good, we go to park day. If there's snow, we go sledding. Sometimes we rent movies or visit friends. We walk the dog, play with the hamster, take care of the fish, go to the library. We plant things.
Of course, not all this happens in a day or even in a week--basically, we just do whatever we're interested in doing. Unschooling is just following your interests without anyone giving you a list of what you *should* learn, or when you should learn it. So in that respect, it's no different for a younger child than it is for a teen.
I have an unschooling 4 year old, so we are barely into your range. I'd imagine things will change a lot by the time my dd is 7! So far, I find that she is not at all ready for lots of activities, although they're all available in our community and very active local homeschoolers group. She enjoys one or two activities a week, no more, and even those ONLY if we give ourselves plenty of time to get there without rushing and stress and don't stay too long. We go to some homeschoolers group general meetings, playgroup meetings, and the occasional concert or field trip. At this age, I see these primarily as social opportunities for us as a family.
I was just reading Your Four Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, who writes, "A short walk, perhaps past a spot where a new building is going up (or, better still, being torn down), and an ice-cream cone on the way back will be a lot more satisfactory to a Four-year-old than a cultural expedition to a nearby town." That is so true of my dd! Practically everything is a fantastic learning experience for her. Also, like the book says, her attention shifts rapidly, so my dd usually ends up doing about 5000 things a day with minimal effort on my part. As I've been writing this, my dd has taken my picture ("Smile, mommy!"...then she started posing me), made a tiny bed out of polymer clay, and carried on extensive discussion with her dad about the possibilities for selling or gifting the clay bed. Earlier she experimented with color mixing with paint, finally managed to climb to the top of her doorway rope ladder, played with some other kids in an indoor playground, and counted out her own change to buy something at the corner store. She asked her dad to help her use her toy pot to boil a piece of celery for me, on the stove. She came out with a spontaneous speech about how every day, breakfast comes first in the beginning of the day, and lunch comes second in the middle of the day, and dinner comes third at the end of the day, and then it all starts over again. She counted the number of times she had nursed today. She initiated playing the animal game, where one person tells some characteristics of an animal (e.g. lives in Africa, migrates, females and males are called cows and bulls...) and the other person guesses what it is (e.g. wildebeest!). She wanted to know why the mice in the kitchen might have died, and why I think eating cashews might help with her dental problem. What dd does varies wildly from day to day. She also processes all of life by talking to herself while fiddling with stuff (I hope this is pretend play? ) during much of the day.
In general, I just do my normal stuff, while trying to stay available and responsive to her and restock the art supplies drawer. We have also introduced dd to our own ways of finding and processing information, when they come up. We read library books (mostly chosen by her) and talk about them. We do web searches to find pictures and answers to dd's questions. We watch movies. These things tend to feed each other: for example, a cheetah is mentioned in passing in one of dd's books, and grabs her interest. She asks to see a movie of a cheetah running. We find one online. She wants a longer one. I request Africa: The Serengeti on Netflix. She sees the movie and wonders why there are no tigers. So we discuss how tigers live in India. "Are there elephants in India?" Yes, but they are a different kind, with smaller ears. "Let's read all about tigers." So we do. She watches the movie several times, and becomes very interested in the fact that female lions do all the hunting for the pride. She wants to know why, so we do more web research. African animals keep coming up in her stories, conversation, play, and games. She sees me using the printer and decides to print out an image of a cheetah running, cut it out, and tape it to the wall. Et cetera.
We are not teaching reading and writing except insofar as dd requests it...AND when she is doing that, dh includes it in his game ideas. (They play a lot of games, on the train or in waiting situations or whenever she is bored. The animal game is her favorite of dozens he or she came up with in these situations.) By asking, practicing by herself, and playing games with dh, she has learned how to write all the letters, what sounds they can make, and how to spell several words, and she is beginning to notice sometimes what letters are where in print and think about the implications.
Bridget (the 7) does skating on a fairly regular basis but it's not a class, just free skate (well, cept you pay for it ). We go when we feel like it (read: when we wake up in time). We also have a knitting circle we go to but that hasn't happened for a few weeks because of the holiday. Also a once a month library game day. Those are the most organized things we do. My dd isn't into organized things and neither am I so it works out.
She has, in the past, taken ballet and soccer and one nature center class. These are how we figured out that organized things weren't really for her She is a "do your own thing" type of gal. And very social. Too social for a class really because when she sees a kid she wants to talk to that kid and play with that kid, not sit quietly next to the kid while listening to an adult talk about something. We are considering skating lessons because she asked for them. We'll see how that works out.
She learned to read without formal instruction and reads quite well now. Same with writing. If she asks for instruction on anything I give it to her but it's always her choice and she's never told she has to take it. Even when she asks for something it never lasts long though. Her writing is probably normal for her age. She writes a lot of short stories and poems and I think her compositions are great. And when she makes an effort her handwriting is legible. She doesn't always make an effort though
It's funny though, most unschooling websites and articles I've read focus on *younger* kids, not older. I think it's incredibly easy when they are young The future is what scares me
Our typical day? Well, DS usually plays a computer game or two (both educational and not) He loves the Harry Potter games, Huggly save the Turtles, Jump Start Explorer, Pajama Sam, and lately Scooby Doo 2 and he might do some Study Dog.
He almost always watches some TV or a DVD. He loves a good dinosaur documentary, Digging for the Truth and Myth Busters as well as Tickle U). We don't limit TV time because I have never felt the need, but I do control what he watches to an extent.
He LOVES to play board and card games so I like to have a bunch of them around. Again, some are *educational* and some are not. Right now the favs are Pente, 1313 Dead End Drive and Go Bananas but in the past he's enjoyed Knockout, Dino-opoly, UNO and Don't Break the Ice and many others
He spends time every day helping me clean and organise (he's a very Felix Unger kind of kid and really enjoys this) and is learning to prepare simple meals.
I do read to him quite a bit, right now I am reading Peter Pan to he and his sister as well as chapters from his new dinosaur books. We make frequent trips to the library so he can pick out books for me to read him.
He plays a LOT. He sets up huge involved landscapes of dinosaur families and has predators attack. He plays for hours with his playmobil pirate ship in the tub. He sets up all his cars and make obstacle courses for them. He plays with the dog and teaches him tricks. He pretends to be a dinosaur or a sports star and runs commentary on what he is doing You get the picture!
He does have math (horizons) and LA (ETC) workbooks, and will ask to do them once and awhile and he comes to homeschool playtime. That and his therapies (he gets OT and speech therapy) are about the extend of the *schoolish* stuff we do.
Also, he often takes things like tennis or gymnastics although he isn't right now. He likes *active* organised things, but doesn't enjoy things like art class. I don't sign him up for things unless I know he'll enjoy them, there is plenty of time to challenge him later on IMO.
I would imagine that unschooling a 4-7 year old looks much like living attentively with a 0-4 year old; that is, lots of exposure to new ideas and living life. Going to the park, making playdates, building with blocks/Legos, etc.
I have a 10 year old daughter that still goes to public school. She is okay with it and does well. This is how we've done things the last couple of years and it works for us. Although, I'm about the only one that sees this....lol...
Thank you very much for letting me share... I needed it...
I guess I'm just nervous about it. And I'm concerned about giving DD enough interaction without something structured at home. I am somewhat addicted to the computer, and wish I spent my days more productively. Something to work on.
It doesn't help that my mother (who ran a montessori-style preschool for awhile) doesn't believe that children can learn to read/write without being taught. She sort of understands unschooling for older children, but keeps insisting that I need to teach the basics. And is mildly upset b/c DD "could be reading by now!". Well, yes, she probably could but is it necessary? She'll get there.
Any my MIL has many, many reservations about any kind of homeschooling. She consoles herself with the fact that I have a degree in education and the belief that I'll be having "school at home". I really think she pictures me standing in front of my DD while she sits at a desk listening to me lecture . DH and I have tried (somewhat) to explain that that's not what we're planning on doing, but it hasn't helped. And DD, who has watched much PBS, is enamored of the idea of school, and I think has a similar idea.
I do appreciate reading all your experiences. It helps instill confidence that this will work and that I don't have to be vigilant every minute to make sure she's learning something.
@Jenoonline (I realize this is a really old post!) Curious how things are going, how the kids are and you, etc.
From my perspective I've been thinking that a lot of Montessori is perfect for unschooling. Take for example the sandpaper letters. A mother has a child who around 2 or 3 points a lot to letters. The mom replies to each letter with the sound. Later on, she leaves a basket in the living room with a big letter B on it! Wow her child is surprised on finding this new item in the livingroom and immediately brings it to mom "Ma, ma, ma, look!". The mom stops what she is doing and sits right there near the child to share his treasure. She is quiet and observant and let's the child see this an object to be treated respectfully by the way she handles it. She doesn't oh hand ahh loudly nor say the letter yet. She simply let's the child see the item. The child is curious about the sand paper texture and spends the next 10-15 minutes rubbing their fingers over and over it and looking and the tiny sand particles left on their fingers. When the child is "done" with the item, she ask him/ her, where did you find it? The child point. Mommy smiles and gently puts the item back and says something simple, like Nice, or That's it's home, etc. Later, when the child is in the room, the mom takes the basket to a "work area" (i.e. somewhere clean and dry!) or she can even go get a rug like in Montessori and carefully unroll it WITHOUT ever even talking to her kid, just talking to herself or being silent and purposeful!). She unrolls the rag rug and smooths it out just so. Now the child is curious. He/she stops what they weer doing and looks from afar, curiously.
Next, mom picks up the basket with two hands and carefully and purposefully walks to the rug and sits down gracefully (unschooling does not have to be about anarchy but can be about teaching grace, politeness and living skills without formal teaching, just by being and embodying (i.e. doing) what is best). She takes out the letter and traces with her 2 "work fingers" saying out loud (to herself, she can imagine she is a little child herself playing and talking to herself, she shows enjoyment and curiosity) "I take two fingers and starrrrrrrrrrt here (she emphasizes the word here). Then I trace down down down. Stop! Go back, up, up, up and I stay right on the line, okay now I turn, smooooooooooth all the way to the line and another turn smooooooth and now I am done. B, B, B. She repeats the sound while tracing several times. Now her child is near her and wants the sandpaper card. She offers it to him and gives him some space to work on it. He/ she traces it a few times, looks slightly confused and hands it back to mom, while clearly showing mom they would like mom to trace it again. Mom traces it only 2 or 3 times to not tire the child and she repeats B, B, B this letter makes the sound B. The child takes the card and traces again, and says B. A few days later, much to the childs surprise and excitement, there is a new letter in the basket!
This is child led learning. Even if one unschools, a mother has every RIGHT to trace letters out loud in her own livingroom!!!! And many kids will be curious to see "new materials". The "trick" or rather the way to make this successful IMO is to introduce the materials basically when the child is ready (aka begging for them). So a child who has just noticed letters is not begging, but a child who really notices letters and point frequently and with excitement to letters, colors, animals, etc may be ready. A child who loves matching may be excited to have a matching game set up in a nice wooden box.
In our family we don't use all or even many of the Montessori materials, but for example, their Abacus (Large counting Frame and the smaller one) have fascinated my four year olds beyond reason.
For us, we have stayed away from the idea that unschooling should be related to anarchy or not doing anything around the child and thinking they will be fine. If you want to see unschooling it is the most popular way of education overseas in "3rd world" countries and their litteracy reflect what an impact the environment has. Montessori was just about that if you read HER books and not what some other person thinks about her. Would you let a 3 year old unschooler bake without any training/ instruction? Most likely not. Would Maria Montessori give a 6 month old baby very nice sandpaper letters to chew on? Most likely not. Not every child gets every material, when they are ready they get it. When they are not, they don't . Also the materials belong to the teacher, so unless one is a proponent of anarchy, then respecting other people's belongings makes sense. And if you own those sandpaper letter than you can share them with who YOU want and that includes only sharing with children who don't chew on them.
Hope I haven't offended anybody and good luck!
Also the materials belong to the teacher, so unless one is a proponent of anarchy, then respecting other people's belongings makes sense. And if you own those sandpaper letter than you can share them with who YOU want and that includes only sharing with children who don't chew on them.
I'm really having trouble with the continued use of the word "anarchy". At first, I just passed it by, substituting something in it's place that I thought was the gist of the statement, but this leaves me a bit flummoxed. Not respecting other people's belongings= anarchy? I would have it be all kinds of things, but anarchy is pretty extreme.
I also disagree that "It's not yours"= the first step to respecting belongings. I grew up with this attitude, and it backfired. I respect that not everything has to be everybody's, and I respect that if something is genuinely belonging to me I should stand up for myself and insist that my things are treated respectfully (my toothbrush, my shirt, my paintings, my body). But "my letters"? I draw the line there.
And it's certainly not "anarchy". Anarchy is a choice made by adults, not just because a child has not developed the social graces to live in peace with those in her household and her community.
Sorry, I understood the word anarchy in a general sense of no hierarchy, so in a home with high anarchy (i.e. no hierarchy between people, animals, etc), then possibly kids and mentally challenged adults and the animals are allowed to use the kitchen, stove, sandpaper letters and whatever other items/ spaces as "they" wish.
I was adding to the discussion (or I think I am!) by saying that unschooling doesn't necessarily have to be about anarchy (or lack of hierarchy). The dog doesn't necessarily get to pee in the kitchen and my kids don't necessarily get to play with my sandpaper letters. And if someone wants to ridicule me for having "immature" belongings , then they can respectfully be themselves but I won't stand around to hear too much of it. I also like to share my sandpaper letters with humans who care for them, and once I share I don't shame the person I share with nor do I expect thanks. I share freely with those I can reasonably expect to care for them. I also do have an expectation that my sandpapers will be kept as sandpaper letters. They won't be used as coasters nor a chew toy for the dog.
I have (very personally) experienced household(s) where people do allow pets and children and visitors to use the house as they wish as well as all the belongings. And this may be considered RU. But I was adding that there may be people who so as we do who could also be considered RU-ers.
Please reread if needed. No judgement on either side of the fence. Trying to be as explicit as possible to show the possible ways in which RU can be done as seen from the inside. The OP appeared to have some confusion on what Unschooling looked like and so it was my desire to show OP the variety that lies under one title (i.e. Unschooling).
@ sweetsilver: I also agree ""It's not yours"= the first step to respecting belongings". I haven't thought it out enough to give my personal view on what is the first step to respecting belongings. Off the top of my head, it would be in the area of a child being respected physically, and then the child's immediate environment being respected and further, his mom, dad, siblings, family, community, country, land etc being respected. And once a child experiences respect the child could then be in a place to actively "do" respect, or be respectful, whichever way we want to phrase it (not finding the adequate words here).
In my example, I was saying that by respecting my sandpaper letters and by not allowing the child to do as they wished with them I was showing them respect (i.e. if they make a set of sandpaper letters I would not think it's okay for me to give them away to who I wanted, not for me to break them or let another child who might break them. I would "respect" my child's letters that they had made themselves and I would show my respect by not allowing people/ animals/ circumstances that would break or destroy them come into contact with the letters. I felt that if a child is allowed at 3 or 4 years old to break my sandpaper letters or other items, then where would they come to expect anything else from their own belongings? From my post my personal convictions are clear: This is how we respect. This is how we live respect. This is how respect looks. To me, letting a 3 year old child destroy hours of my work (and the results) didn't really have a plausible explanation as to why I would intentionally let that happen and why I would think it was a good to let happen in my child's life. I was trying to see how my child was learning about respecting other's bodies, their souls and their life by destroying things.
I felt that if a child is allowed at 3 or 4 years old to break my sandpaper letters or other items, then where would they come to expect anything else from their own belongings?
Agreed that I wouldn't want to destroy the letters, but because they belong to everyone. When something belongs to everyone, not just to someone else, we don't destroy (without asking). I find that, in my experience, "this is ours" does not say "you get to do what you want". Neither does anarchy mean "you get to do what you want" ( in my book). It's far more complex than that. It certainly doesn't mean to do what one wants in total disregard to others while they put up with it. No one would stand for it.
We respect not just what others own, but what we all own together. I find that in unschooling, collective ownership encourages exploration and experimentation. Yes, there is always the conversation of respectful treatment of objects, because of the work, because of frugality, or any other reason. I would instead sit down and said "I put a lot of work into these. I hope you are careful with them. Can we agree to be gentle when we are playing with these?" Why ownership needs to come into it, I still don't understand. I don't want girls to be destructive with their things, either. Some things, perhaps, but other things are too difficult to replace.
@SweetSilver: Ahhh I think I understand better now. I would say that I don't emphasize the fact that they are "mine" but I do feel deep inside that if it came down to whose letters are these I would accept that they are mine. I would love to hear more about how the collective ownership works. I suppose at some level we do it (i.e. spoons, dishes, etc) but on another level we don't (i.e. only hubby and I can use the juicer and because it's hubby who bought it, my oldest can use it with supervision, aka I get in trouble if it breaks or is not washed!). The lawnmower we only have both of us use and not the kids (and they begged to push it around all summer and I let the 7 year old but not the 4 and 2 year olds. And I guess it wasn't so much about ownership than about safety. So in a general sense I would feel comfortable saying we all "own" the lawnmower however only certain of can use it for safety reasons. Do you think this would sort of be the idea of collective ownership? Also, do you do collective ownership for your family/ clan/ specific group of people or is it more open even, such as if a neighbor or someone online was asking for clothing for their children or a fridge or even to borrow a car, then they could join the ownership group (i.e. respect it and use it)? I really love this idea of collectiveness and will ponder more on it.
The lawnmower we only have both of us use and not the kids (and they begged to push it around all summer and I let the 7 year old but not the 4 and 2 year olds. And I guess it wasn't so much about ownership than about safety. So in a general sense I would feel comfortable saying we all "own" the lawnmower however only certain of can use it for safety reasons. Do you think this would sort of be the idea of collective ownership? Also, do you do collective ownership for your family/ clan/ specific group of people or is it more open even, such as if a neighbor or someone online was asking for clothing for their children or a fridge or even to borrow a car, then they could join the ownership group (i.e. respect it and use it)? I really love this idea of collectiveness and will ponder more on it.
First answer, yes. That's exactly the idea. Once I posted, I realized I do say that my big, super-sharp scissors I use to cut fabric are "mine", but only after I see what happens to all their scissors and family scissors: they get misplaced. At their age, it is no longer a matter of safety, and even though I say they are mine, they don't need permission (at their age) so much as they need to *put it back*! So, I think that's a little closer to what I think you mean when you speak of ownership of the letters. I use the "ownership" card sparingly, though. And I think I could have avoided it entirely if I just stressed that those are very special scissors that must under no circumstances be left lying about.
But I don't need to be all-or-nothing about it, I just tend to avoid framing the issue in terms of ownership. I can't say I stress that something is "our family's versus theirs", I just tend not to bring that into the discussion. We take care of things, period. Well, there are a few things I don't really mind about, but just because something really is theirs it doesn't mean they treat it poorly.
No, I don't stretch collective ownership to include other families. I could, I don't. I've dabbled in that and much prefer to go about things on our own with some favors given and taken between friends, family and neighbors. I do cultivate the sense of *stewardship* of the earth, (which "belongs" to all of us, even though a document says this spot on the planet is owned by me). Part of that means treating objects well (so as not to waste resources) and treating others' land well, treating other forms of life well. Not because they serve us, or could be used by us, or we own them, but because that's how we treat things, both animate and inanimate, and people too.
So, I mean collective ownership in the family sense. And I will mention again that ownership simply isn't something we discuss often. It is assumed that if something is safe, they can use it without permission. Some things absolutely need to be put back immediately. Others can be "commandeered" for a while until I need it again. I think this attitude helps cultivate a sense of excitement and creativity. Their ideas aren't limited by artificial constraints, only by very real logistics, and those things can hopefully be negotiated.