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Radical unschoolers and rude kids

post #1 of 200
Thread Starter 
We are unschoolers, academically speaking, but not necessarily in lifestyle. My oldest is only 5yo, and I am not letting him eat unlimited sugar, stay up until midnight, or not brush his teeth. I don't care if he grows his hair long (which he has already done), dresses funny, or whatever. But certain things are not okay with me and I am very comfortable with the boundaries we have in place.

But, I am getting kind of freaked out over ds's selection of friends in our homeschooling community. Many of them are radical unschoolers, and more times than I can count we run into the kids being very rude or mean to my kids and the parents say nothing. They run their life on the "no rules" philosophy, and that's great for them, but it's not so great for my ds. I do not allow him to be rude or mean to others. I don't punish or shame him, but I do address it right then and there. I apologize to the other child, and I work with ds on finding a better way to express his feelings or resolve the issue. There is no way no how I would watch him grab a toy from another child, whether it is his or not, and not address it.

Now, the hs'd kids that we meet that are just so nice that you are stunned, all end up being ones who are not part of a radical unschooling family. I don't necessarily know why this is, but it has most definitely been our experience. The other day at the playground this 8yo boy got off a swing. My 2yo had been standing there watching him, and he immediately came over to him and offered to push him on the swing. It was incredibly sweet. I had wondered if he was homeschooled just because he was there during school hours, and once I saw that I knew it must be true. I talked with the mom, and yep, they homeschool. Through our conversation it became clear that while they are not overly strict, religious, or curriculum driven, they do not lead a radical unschooling lifestyle.

This post is not about bashing radical unschooling. I know there must be plenty of wonderful children who are radically unschooled. It is about how worried I am about his selection of friends, because most of the ones we have been visiting with have been problematic, and most of the families here are on the radical side. It's gotten to the point where with the exception of just one or two kids from our hs group, the only ones that I am comfortable with him playing with are his friends from preschool.

I'm not really sure what to do about this. Ds is an incredibly social kid, and I find myself thinking about school just to give him a more decent selection of friends from which to choose.
post #2 of 200
We've picked up a lot of good friends for the kids at La Leche League. Ds1 and dd also play a lot with the kids on our street, since we're lucky enough to have a bunch of kids around here.
post #3 of 200
Wow, perhaps you just have bad luck (?). I don't know any homeschooled children like that at all, unschoolers or not, though I knew plenty of public or private schooled kids like that. I find that homeschool and unschool parents are the most attentive parents I know, at least 98% of the ones I know seem to be.
post #4 of 200
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverSky View Post
Wow, perhaps you just have bad luck (?). I don't know any homeschooled children like that at all, unschoolers or not, though I knew plenty of public or private schooled kids like that. I find that homeschool and unschool parents are the most attentive parents I know, at least 98% of the ones I know seem to be.
Exactly the same thing I was going to post.
post #5 of 200
My just turned four-year-old actually keeps calling our new homeschooling group "La Leche League." (Actually, because she says her L's like they are y's she says, "Ya Yeche Yeague.") Just because almost all the people in it were in our LLL group. So I second the LLL recomendation.
post #6 of 200
I've known many lovely, kind radical unschoolers, so they are out there... but I'm also wondering if some of what you consider rude is in the eye of the beholder. Grabbing a toy out of someone's hand is rude, yes... but I do notice that many radically unschooled kids speak more honestly and bluntly than other kids. So, for example, another child might ask to have a turn playing with a toy that little RU had, and RU might reply, "No, I don't want to share it." In general kid-society, that might be considered rude... but imagine if the two people were older, and one asked to use the other's IPOD for a while, or knitting suuplies... it probably wouldn't happen, unless the people were pretty close friends, and sometimes not even then. I'm just wondering if sometimes the issue is the different rules and rights that our society generally allows children, and how radically unschooler kids generally don't accept that sort of diminished role.

dar
post #7 of 200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
but I'm also wondering if some of what you consider rude is in the eye of the beholder....... but I do notice that many radically unschooled kids speak more honestly and bluntly than other kids. So, for example, another child might ask to have a turn playing with a toy that little RU had, and RU might reply, "No, I don't want to share it." .......... I'm just wondering if sometimes the issue is the different rules and rights that our society generally allows children, and how radically unschooler kids generally don't accept that sort of diminished role. dar
(Bold emphasis mine) This is just what I was going to say. Unschoolers, IME, are often less concerned with what people expect/want to hear from them as children and they say what an adult might say in a similiar situation. It can shock people that aren't used to it. It happens when my kids are around extended family sometimes.

I don't mean to minimize what you (the OP) and your kiddo are running into at all. Like Dar said, people come in all flavors. Even unschoolers lol. I think all you can really do in the face of unkind behavior with an unschooler is just say what you feel is best. Just like you would with anyone really.
post #8 of 200
I think you are right to some degree Dar, but I have had a similar experience to the OP with a couple of RU families - enough that I tend to steer clear. One family was in my home and their daughters broke a window shade and not only did they not offer to replace it, they didn't apologize or have their children make some kind of amends in another way. The few RU families I run into regularly are rude in other ways beyond issues around sharing (although there are those issues as well). These families are perpetually late, they show little/no respect for rules in group situations (ie letting a 2 year old continue to bang on a chair so that others can not hear the presentation or allowing their children to talk 'over' the presenter about things not relevant to the presentation,). Their children interrupt, won't share group toys, run in inappropriate situations (crowded theatre) etc.
I think they are doing a disservice to their children. While they don't have to agree with societal norms, I think their children deserve instruction in how to function within them until they are old enough to be able to decide for themselves whether to follow them. The logical consequence of their choices is that there are few families willing to have these families in their homes and their children are becoming isolated.
Karen
post #9 of 200
In our experience the homeschool classifications you read about in books and online are never neat and tidy in real life. For me personally, it has been a disaster trying to find families I respect by using labels.

"Radical unschooling" is just a label. I think people read into that a degree of uniformity that does not exist in real life. I never give any importance to labels like that over the vibe I get from a person. If a parent is inattentive or aggressive, if the kids are habitually selfish and hurtful, I won't give them special consideration because they use the label "radical unschoolers". They are not people I'm going to hang around.

People basically are what they are. I am looking for attentive, gentle, strong people as friends for me. I want ds to find friends that are respectful and basically kind to him. If I find that, chances are good the experience will be positive. When I looked for "unschoolers" I got such a mixed bag it backfired. Permissive, aggressive, inattentive parents use the label too. It's no good trying to know a person by that label, at least not for myself. Better to remain open and look for a type of person, not a type of label, kwim?
post #10 of 200
Thread Starter 
Quote:
So, for example, another child might ask to have a turn playing with a toy that little RU had, and RU might reply, "No, I don't want to share it."
nak

I'm totally fine with this kind of scenario under certain circumstances. If we're at the playground and ds asks to use their toy and they say that, no problem. But if we are invited over to their house, and the child decides that ds can't play with this and can't play with that, and won't share the toy he's playing with, then yeah, it's rude. Ds just stands there obviously hurt. He's even asked me "Why did he invite me over if he doesn't want to play?" Then there's the grabbing, the yelling for what they want. Yelling at my ds when they want their toy back. Grabbing from my 2yo. Appalling backtalk to their parents. Saying generally rude things to us. None of this is okay with us, and it is what we are encountering more often than not.

The reason I posted this in homeschooling is that it is seriously making me doubt our decision to homeschool. Ds begs every day to play with someone, and the only kids available during the day at his age are hs'ed kids.
post #11 of 200
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I want ds to find friends that are respectful and basically kind to him.
Me too. And I'm having a hard time finding that in our hs'ing community.
post #12 of 200
What about the mom you met who seemed really nice and her kid was kind about sharing the swings?
post #13 of 200
I'm blessed to be involved in a large diverse homeschooling community. What I've noticed is that the social skills of 5-8 year olds are not particularly finely honed. They tend to be a loud, active group, full of acts of great generousity and wierd petty exclusions. I find this to be true to a greater or lesser degree, depending mainly on temperment, regardless of parenting or educational approach.

That said, there is one family of RUs in my area that are a walking advertisement for ru as a lifestyle....very blunt talking people to my ear. But the blunt talk is without rancor. The youngest is 15 and the most gifted peacemaker I've ever encountered.

I think RU may have made this family very aware of the power of words. I know the mother vowed early not to ask questions she knew the answer to. I think if I tried this for a bit I'd become very aware of how I *do* talk to my kids.

I do think at 5 with other kids, I stopped helping my dd be polite to other kids while they were playing, unless they started having trouble. Then, I generally helped them generate solutions until they came up with a way around their troubles.

What kind of rudeness/meaness are you encountering with the other kids?

ETA: We cross posted....it sounds so much like the age! I know it's frustrating. When the kids are doing that, I say, "What would you be comfortable with dd playing with? Is there something you'd like to play with dd?"

Edited again....what about meeting the family at a "neutral" location...like a park...it cuts down on the sharing problems ime.
post #14 of 200
I have had the same experience as the op with the few families that we've met who are on the radical end of the homeschooling spectrum. However, I've met other homeschooling families that have kind, thoughtful, but spirited (they are kids so there can be conflicts) children. I understand your point, oceanbaby, about wanting your ds to have other children to play with who share your/his values. I wouldn't reconsider homeschooling, but I would continue to look into different hsing groups, activities, etc... I also understand that labels don't always do justice to a group, so I don't think that radical unschooling necessitates rude children. Anyway, I'm kind of rambling. Just wanted to suggest that you look for other opportunities for your ds to interact with children before you scrap hsing.

Tara
post #15 of 200
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama View Post
What about the mom you met who seemed really nice and her kid was kind about sharing the swings?
Oh, I definitely plan on getting in touch with her. Although she did say that her dh works on contract so they move a lot. They just moved here, and she's hoping they can stay until May.
post #16 of 200
Interestingly enough Karen, my child isn't unschooled, but I think I might unschool her BECAUSE she is prone to such behavior. Emma is a very loud boisterous kid who is very very hyper, she really cannot sit still. She is 3. She would require sedatives to stop moving in many circumstances, though she's getting a bit better with age. When she was 2, she woke up every morning to run laps around the house at full speed, and she never stopped except to sleep. She is loud verbally, everything she does is full tilt, as a newborn people would comment on how ultra alert she seemed, and once she became mobile it was a challenge to keep her still whenever we where out, so it probably seemed like we let her do whatever she wanted, but the truth was unless we where to have restrained or sedated her, at 2 years old her movements and sounds where larger than life.

I am learning to ignore people's opinions and to cut her a bit of slack to be a kid, kid are by nature noisy and active. She does have rules, we do say no, we're certainly not that radical, but she still behaves the way you describe and we're more likely to radically uschool her because of the way she is, rather than her being this way because we live a radical unschooling lifestyle.

(though she's not particularly aggressive or rude)
post #17 of 200
I will say our experience has been similar to your experience. I wonder oceanbaby if it is a possibility for you to try out activities with other homeschooling groups instead of just sticking with the unschooling group. If you are mainly looking for folks to have playdates with and hang out with matching style of homeschooling may be far less important than being a good fit in other ways.
post #18 of 200
Soundhunter I think there is a huge difference between a 2 or 3 year old with behaviours you describe and these families I was speaking of whose children range in age from 7- 10 years old. I have a high energy kid myself so I know a bit about what you are talking about. But I don't think it is appropriate to have the attitude that the rest of the world has to 'deal' because my kid's reality is the only one that matters (and I am not saying that you said this - its just the vibe I get from these other families).

Oceanbaby, I would agree with the previous poster that I wouldn't give up homeschooling because of this, although I understand the concern about finding friends you are both comfortable with. Hopefully you are experiencing a blip of somewhat normal preschool aged stuff combined with a less traditional way of dealing with it. School kids come with a whole different set of situations that may or may not be easier for your family to deal with. I hope you find some families to connect with soon.
Karen
post #19 of 200
I don't know. I struggle with something similar. Most of the families in our hsing group are lovely. Most are super -relaxed, in the unschooler category, but with families who are making suggestions to their kids. The nicest kids, not robots or anything, by any stretch, are the ones I think of as 'relaxed' hsers.

The free ones-- with no rules, no anything, seem to have more trouble getting along with other kids, although that's not correct, really. They more have no patience with playing with other kids.

Yet I wouldn't label the more difficult children as 'unschoolers', I would more lable their parents as "This is my kid, take it or leave it', and much beyond "I would not like to share this toy with you right now'.

I really don't know what the differences are...curriculm -wise. I've met a couple of families who want their kids to be 'edgy'. I don't know if that's the word...but kids a little mean, for lack of a better description. I would suspect these children might have a handle up on the 'more polite' kids. The world is a rough place, and I think a lot of parents are trying to get their kids to survive in that?

I hesitated to post this. But I do see some of this, and I am not sure what to make of it. I do not tend to think of unschooled children as rude at all...but there is another element that I would more call 'radical free- of -anything'. It's not about education or respect of the child. It's like a new sub group that is yet to be named. lol

But Ocean Baby, maybe I;m crazy with you, but I have absolutely seen this 'meaness' in hsed kids. In the past you could count on the hser kids to always be kind and empathic to each other, but I am not seeing that 100% anymore, and there are a couple of families we actively avoid. And it's not because of long hair or shorts in the snow, or rotted baby teeth or anything.
post #20 of 200
Oh, yeah. I would not give up hsing because of this! lol There are plenty of all kinds of folks who hs, with all kinds of kids. Our group is pretty diverse, with a mix of religious, pagan, nothing, and all manner of lifestyles. My dd's fav friend is from a Waldorf hsing family and we do not Waldorf hs.
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