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Unschooling Support Thread

post #1 of 174
Thread Starter 
Sometimes it gets a little frustrating to come to this forum and see thread after thread of curriculum questions.

We're not die-hard unschoolers but we're not using a formal curriculum either- between the public library, the internet, and the newspaper, there's plenty of opportunities for DD to delve into her interests, and I'm really opposed to the concept of "making sure we cover certain items" at the expense of her interests.
post #2 of 174
i'll check in.
post #3 of 174
post #4 of 174
I'm in too

I sometimes feel lost in all the curriculum threads here. I totally appreciate all the different homeschooling styles out there, but I would love to see an ongoing support thread for unschooling!
post #5 of 174
Hi there! I am totally up for an unschooling positive thread. I love all the different angles here, but I have to admit I often don't respond to threads because I can't relate to curric or from the POV of requiring academic stuffs from the kids. So I just lurk and post when applicable.

What do you love about unschooling lately? What's been happening for your unschooling family?

Lately my Ds has been reading the driver's manual more, playing his new Final Fantasy game, and trying to beat an icky head/chest cold.

Dd has been beating the same illness, drawing with gel pens, reading name books, posting on her MySpace page, and enjoying her new Fall Out Boy CD.

We've all been a little sick lately in one way or another. We're heading to the coast tomorrow to go to the aquarium!
post #6 of 174
We're probably not any help. We don't have a formal curricula, but we aren't really true unschoolers, as I do suggest ideas and books etc to them. We just go with what works for us. Right now, it's reading a ton of books, hanging out together and doing our thing. But i don't have a problem with using something my kids might enjoy, even if it might mean one of the children would like a certain program...or whatever. I try to stay open to whatever interests them without putting any limits in my mind on what that might be.

Not sure if that helps.
post #7 of 174

glad to see a thread here! (long pour my heart out post)

(hint...maybe we need a sticky with all the past great threads like definition of unschooling, misconceptions, etc that are on this board) OoOOoooh Daaaaar!?!?!

Anyways, like Unschoolnma I lurk but don't post much as I can't always relate to other posts either.

We are getting over being sick most of early Jan, as well as poor dh failing out of paramedic school and having our lives turned upside down. Dh just found 2 casual/ work-only-as-they-need-him jobs as a lab assistant in our local hospital plus a nurses aide in an extended care, to work around my set half time hours as an RN. (He will decline work on the days I am working). I get stretches of 4-8 days off at a time, but was taking extra work due to dh's unemployment, and am still trying to get over being bagged and tired and not as present and "there" for the kids, on top of their interests and expanding thier worlds...I have been pretty grumpy sometimes in the last two months and tend to doubt unschooling in times like these (not the kids ability to learn, but in my own ability to be a "good unschooler" and to provide enough of *ME* for the kids in conversations, being a facilitator and resource person and "tour guide" in their lives, KWIM? I panic that I am not "doing enough!" See some of my past posts on this board! ) I love being a nurse, but feel torn at times between my mom self and work self. Dh while great with the kids does not want to be the one full time "homeschooling" and due to health/mental sanity issues, I will not/cannot work more than my allotted 3-4 twelve hour days per pay period. so, "split shift" parenting is the compromise we have come up with.

I do not have alot of homeschooling friends right now, due to working it is difficult to get to things, and alot of things don't suit my more "like-to-go-at-my-own-pace" kids or are too advanced age wise for them. The one group I would like to become more involved in is in a city almost an hour away too. So, it is great to come on line for support. My local group is very school at home . Nice enough people, but totally wouldn't understand my fears/doubts!

That all being said, I try to remind myself that I see the kids learning and making connections. I see dd reading more and more without formal lessons, and starting to write more and more from seeing us write and constantly asking how to spell things. I see how one interest she has ties in and leads to another....who woulda thunk it that animals leads to maps/geography to planets, etc. I see how my sensitive mama's guy is not on the preschool assembly line and with his expressive speech delay not in a situation where he is surrounded by kids, aggressive and striking out when he can't say what he wants. I can explore books and Bob the Builder and listen to him jabber away to me about it all and he is improving all the time with that. It's amazing to see how all the things I have read about on unschooling websites about trusting your children and their learning coming true as we move along, bit by bit.

For me, unschooling is allowing me to grow and change in all my assumptions about kids, education, automony, living out of the "box", and is challenging me to stretch my faith in how my kids learn as well as freeing me from society's expectations/neuroses/should do's. Love that!

Looking forward to hearing from more of my unschooling sisters!

Tina, dp James, dd Stephanie (almost 7) and ds Jonathan (almost 4) here in Manitoba Canada
post #8 of 174
Nodding along with the rest. We have always homeschooled and dd will be 18 this year. But I don't post much because most of the threads are about teaching kids. I have nothing to share on curriculums, or any of the other school at home topics and the general stuff comes from a different philosophical place than I am so I don't reply.

As far as what have we been doing, we were really busy moving and settling into our new home and we all got the flu. So lots of lazing around here. DD has been playing lots of WoW and sleeping late and reading.

I have to remind myself that she does use math skills in buying and selling in the game and earning money from quests and stuff
post #9 of 174
Posting to sub here, as I want to join in. Life is in a state of major change around here right now (ain't it always!?!) and I sometimes think the Dumplings' needs are getting lost in the transition. My 88 year old mother already lives with us, and I often feel guilty that she gets a big share of my attention. Now it looks as if my 93 year old aunt (with Alzheimers) and my 65 year old developmentally disabled cousin will be moving in. Their addition to the family finances will allow me to quit my outside job, but it is a safe bet that their needs will be substantial. From a whole life learning point of view, I like the lessons the kids will learn - family loyalty, gentle caregiving, personal sacrifice for loved ones and all that. And we have already had some interesting discussions about disabilities, ageing and more. I hope my availability for museum trips and "kid-time" will increase with dropping my outside employment, but I am afraid getting out of the house will be difficult. It remains to be seen how it will all play out.

Although I am 100% of the unschooling mindset, I am learning to be flexible to meet the Dumplings' needs. DD, 11, is extremely independent, but likes structure - as long as no one else imposes it on her. I think she will thrive with a curriculum, that I then give her to use as she pleases. Still searching for the right set...

YoungSon has severe dyslexia, in addition to Aspberger's Syndrome and a bunch of other diagnoses. He sees a reading tutor twice a week, and is really doing great. I was the "he'll read when he's ready" type, but at 10 he asked for help, and I found I was not able to meet his specialized needs. We have found a wonderful tutor, who is highly structured (an elementary public school teacher moonlighting), and working wonders. In just 6 weeks, YoungSon and I can see tremendous progress.

ElderSon was mainly unschooled (attended public school for a total of maybe 3 years, his choice) and has turned out to be a pretty OK guy.

At the risk of repeating myself (I don't think I have mentioned this here for a couple years...) I was sort of unschooled. In the 60's, I was on the founding board of a free school, at the age of 12. Patterned largely after A.S. Neill's Summerhill and based on John Holt's philosophies, we were a school, but had no structured classes, few rules, and a completely child-led attitude. So unschooling comes quite naturally to me - I love learning and simply assume everyone else does too.
post #10 of 174
Hey! Nice idea to start this thread.

What's going on with us? Well, this is going to give some people nightmares, I'm sure, but we just got a bunch of new games for the DS and Gamecube and have been consumed with them. DD, aged 8, and I stayed up last night til after one playing Pokemon Ranger. It's so fun! Hee! We are levelling up on Pokemon Gale of Darkness, beat the too easy newest Spyro game and also spend time taking care of her hamsters on HamsterzLife. You can check out that last one, among others, here.

I think I might like to order my own game so we can have our hamsters play together via wireless. We do that with our Nintendogs and use Animal Crossings to play hide and seek. I love that wireless feature! We go in cycles with games like these. We get really into them for a few weeks and then go on to something else, come back to the games...It goes in phases.

Lest anyone unfamiliar with unschooling think this is "all we do all day," let me just list some of the things we are interested in.

Yesterday, DD got out all her hamster-type stuff from LittlestPetShop and we set up a little hamster world in her "tent." (She's had two chairs and a blanket set up like a tent in our living room for weeks now) She and I are researching chickens and goats (we want to "go rural" in a little over a year) and she made up a lovely chicken song to the tune of "Santa Claus is comin' to town."

We're still messing around with learning Japanese. We listen to Japanese music throughout the day and use two fun little workbooks I bought in a Japanese bookshop in Paris last year. It's for Japanese children so all the instructions are in Japanese as well. LOL It's been fun figuring that out.

DD works on her blog. We go swimming once a week. She has a pottery class she is enjoying on Tuesdays. This weekend, she was invited by a friend and friend's dad to a classical music concert in a beautiful historic building. Wish I were going! LOL

She's gotten into making her own comics, thanks to Garfield. She makes some really interesting panels. I like seeing her sense of humor evolve and blossom. She's goofy

I'm sure I'll think of something else and add it to the thread. We go all over the place with our interests.

Let me tell you something that happened recently which renewed my faith in the unschooling process. DD came up to me one day and said something like, "You know, it's like the tens all live in a little house and the twenties all live in a little house, and the thirties..." I drew a picture of what she described and told her about the term "place value." She truly owns this knowledge. It's hers. She "got it" all on her own. And that is what is so amazing about letting children learn at their own pace and in their own way.

And I want to add, one more time, why do people assume that unschooling means you can't have "structure?" It's about letting the child lead. And if the child leads you to workbooks and math manipulatives, you follow. At least, this is my opinion.

Oh and also, you will see that I use the term "we" often when talking about unschooling and my dd. This is because we are learning together, as a family. Yes, we have solo interests but often someone will be curious about a certain topic and someone else will go, "Hey, that's neat!" and join in. It's a "whole family" learning experience usually with us. My husband is semi-retired and works from home so it's been great for him as well. He fully supports this way of life and would have it no other way!
post #11 of 174
Oh, I forgot to say, I agree that math skills are definitely honed whilst playing video games. "Doing math in your head" kind of math. Also, I want to thank ZooTycoon for furthering my child's interests in biology and for aiding in her reading learning. And thank you DVD subtitles, because I think they had a big hand in DD's learning to read as well.
post #12 of 174
Me too! Thanks for starting this Ruthla!
Just as a starter I had someone ask my Anna the other day ,when she told them she was unschooling, If she was learning her ABC's. kinda funny. I mean, The only way i could deal with that was imagining if she could answer something like " Huh? Yeah, I had em in my soup the other day!"
post #13 of 174

My older son is 2.5 but I want to learn all about unschooling so that I can feel confident with it as he grows. I was schooled-at-home and I have a few traumatic memories from that. Having things forced on me. Shudder. Days that were segmented by the half hour and regulated from the moment I woke up until dinnertime. Experiences that made me feel really stupid, lazy, and like a slacker because I wasn't learning on someone else's schedule. It took me going to public school to realize that I am really bright, and it took me living on my own to realize that I am anything BUT a slacker or unmotivated. I do tons of fun and interesting things all the time. I am learning Spanish right now. I think unschooling is a philosophy that spans from birth to adulthood-- because learning should never stop.

But it is good to be reminded that it's okay for my son to learn on his own schedule. So I will be lurking and learning. :
post #14 of 174
Great idea for a thread/forum/post..what every ya wanna call it...i have been uneducating my self on unschooling for the past month..i'm SOLD...almost..but then..wait a minute..it's all about what works for you and your child. Yet some days i have feelings that maybe i'm not doing the right thing for ds-12y/o and then other days i'm right on. I know he is bright and loves to learn...i think it's about letting go of my unsecurities and letting him go on his lead. So i'm figuring this all out..well we are figuring this out together. Not sure if you've followed my story but we are in the process of with drawing from middle school and coming home...yipee yipee...i think my biggest concern is social interaction...thank goodness he has not figured out what girls are all about...not yet..i think we were almost their...perfect timing..to come home..sorry if i seem all over the place...i am today!....well thanks for letting me vent. This is all new and fun to me!!!
post #15 of 174
I don't think we're true unschoolers, but I really enjoy the unschooling POVs and I learn a lot from them. I cannot relate to the frequent posts of "My 2 year old knows the ABCs. Now how can I turn that into reading?". I notice that a lot here lately. It seems like every other post is asking how to teach a toddler formal academic skills. And then some people insist that it's child-led simply because the child didn't refuse the formal instruction offered. Sorry for venting. I needed to say that. I don't care what other people do, but I cannot relate to it.

I'm not sure if we're unschooling still. It wasn't a philosophy that I was attracted to on my own, but my kids are very self-motivated and resistant to being directed. So it was the most respectful way of viewing homeschooling for them. They have learned so much by directing their own lives. My oldest has learned a lot of academic things from his own interests. It's been lots of fun.

My oldest is 5; we had to register him this year, as he would otherwise be in K. My kids basically play all day. We go out and do things together. From there, they become interested in topics and I make resources available to them. Lately, my 5 year old has seemed like he wants something more. So we sat down and made a loose daily guideline to remind us to do stuff. For example, he wants to do science on Tuesdays. So I'll get out the kitchen science book and we'll pick out some experiments. I'm getting some books on evolution for him, because it's a topic he's expressed interest in. But like, this past week, we haven't done any of our "scheduled" topics. Yesterday, they played so hard all day and I can't interrupt that. So we never got around to a sit-down activity, because they were otherwise engaged. I offer things and I expose them to things. If no one wants to do something, I drop it. I'm still highly confident that they are learning so much and that they'll let me know when they want my help.

Anyway, I'm not claiming to be an unschooler. And I know my kids are very, very young. But I really appreciate the unschooling perspective and I draw a lot of inspiration from it. I will be reading this thread with interest.
post #16 of 174
--And then some people insist that it's child-led simply because the child didn't refuse the formal instruction offerred--

And that, in a nut shell, is why I won't ever claim an unschooling title

If my child is wanting to do something, and I offer to show her something she doesn't know exists, and she accepts it, I'll go with it. There is just no way I am pure enough in soul to be an unschooler.
post #17 of 174
You know, it would be helpful if an unschooling mod defined unschooling for the purposes of participation.

Does unschooling mean one never/rarely/sometimes utilizes certain resources, like a math program if the child is interested (my teen has a particular goal wrt this). Where on the continum does helping a child understand the sound two vowels make go if the child didn't totally figure it out on her own? What does radical mean? What does child-led mean? What place, if any, do parental offerrings have in unschooling? Does helping a child get from point A to point B without them specifically articulating something considered school at home, or just parenting, without an educational -type label.

I only ask because there are those of us in the middle..and if there is going to be a radical unschooling forum, the middlers need a place as well. If feels uncomfortable to not fit in anywhere, but still feel like you want to participate in intersting discussions. What criteria makes it OK to participate, and what makes unschoolers feel uncomfrotable? I'm kind of afraid to say much of anything, really. Which is saying something for me.
post #18 of 174
My personal line is between 'hey, my kids will love this book on Dinosaur Poop, I'll check it out for them' & 'Today at 10 to 11 we will study Dinosaur Poop from the XYZ curriculum company, even if they'd rather knit or make a collage.' Having ideas of what is interesting & valuable & wanting, naturally, to share, is still unschooling imo.
post #19 of 174
Thread Starter 
I don't think anybody is going to say "AHA!! You're not a REAL unschooler! Off with her keyboard!!!"

It's more of a philosophy- are you worried about your DC keeping up with their public-schooled peers or do you just want to see them blossom on their own, with as little interference from well-meaning adults as possible? Anybody can join in on this thread as long as they're respectful towards the unschooling ideal. If you carefully read the responses so far, at least half of us have stated that we're not 100% unschoolers, but we lean that way, and we feel kind of out-of-place on a board filled with curriculum questions.
post #20 of 174
Originally Posted by TigerTail View Post
My personal line is between 'hey, my kids will love this book on Dinosaur Poop, I'll check it out for them' & 'Today at 10 to 11 we will study Dinosaur Poop from the XYZ curriculum company, even if they'd rather knit or make a collage.' Having ideas of what is interesting & valuable & wanting, naturally, to share, is still unschooling imo.
In some ways, that's what I think, but then I see other people have much different notions and it seems thr frustration level is pretty high.

FI, couldn't there be a cool idea in one of the curric threads? Why would an unschooler get frustrated by others talking about math manips, say? Don't some unschoolers use some at times? We have geo tiles, and zillions of pennies and other little pieces of things. I mean, perhaps there is a gem of an idea in one of those threads. I read everything, and I have found good ideas all over the place. Who knows where or from whom I might read something really neat to spark an interest or that plants a seed in my head for another time.

I think if people feel frustrated by some threads, they should start a thread, or lots of threads, about what they are doing, what they want to talk about. Perhaps that could cut down of the frustration level? Maybe that would leave some of us feeling not so polarized?

Which begs the question...how polarized to we really want to be? Like a forum for only radical schooling families with first born girls, and dh's who have dreads? Why so many littel boxes for people who don't like to be put in boxes.

Of course, maybe it's just me. You know, it *is* just me. (Ok, come on, I want a forum for only relaxed families of children with neurotic mothers and scientist fathers).

Anyone can post anything about anything. Start a thread that isn't frustrating.
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