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Any radical unschoolers here? - Page 2

post #21 of 267
I am not familiar with unschooling, but I have an interest in learning more, I will check out the websites. Would a Montessori school be similar? I know that is more child led than regular schools. Unfortunately I will have to send my DD to school, most likely a private school, since our town has the worst schools in our state, or the town next door. I have to work full-time. I do have one question. Wouldn't TV be bad? I saw someone post they had unrestricted TV viewing?
post #22 of 267
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We were recently the main guests on the Dr. Phil Show introducing Radical Unschooling to the World.
Did this air already? What was Dr. Phil's attitude about it? Curious.
post #23 of 267
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Originally Posted by Heather423 View Post
I am not familiar with unschooling, but I have an interest in learning more, I will check out the websites.
If you do a search here, you'll find some threads about unschooling as well.



Quote:
I do have one question. Wouldn't TV be bad? I saw someone post they had unrestricted TV viewing?
I don't see tv as bad. No one's tv viewing is restricted at our house--we each have different levels of interest in it, and differing tastes in content, but we watch what we want and stop when we're done--same with the computer, books, art supplies, etc. etc.
post #24 of 267
TV bad? Ha! Somewhere my kids just shuddered and aren't sure why.

We think there is much to be learned and much fun to be had from TV and movies and video games. Not every unschooling family feels the same way though, and that's okay.
post #25 of 267
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Originally Posted by SagMom
To me, "child led" meant that the child leads their own learning/life, as opposed to a parent doing the leading. It had never occurred to me that some people were taking it to mean that the child was directing the whole family!!
Ohhh... that would explain a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heather423 View Post
Would a Montessori school be similar? I know that is more child led than regular schools. Unfortunately I will have to send my DD to school, most likely a private school, since our town has the worst schools in our state, or the town next door. I have to work full-time.
I think the Montessori method is much kinder than traditional schooling, but it's not unschooling. There are "schools" that essentially operate according to unschooling theory -- learning tools are provided, but the child chooses what and how and when. They're sometimes called free schools. You might look into democratic schools too -- I don't think they're all totally about unschooling, but some might be close enough for your taste.

Quote:
I do have one question. Wouldn't TV be bad?
Why would TV be bad?
post #26 of 267
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If the children are not running around at midnight, it doesn't mean you've failed, or stopped being the kind of parent you want to be. (I mean not unless you shamed, beat or drugged them to sleep).
Thanks UUmom. I hear ya. I think for me it's a combination of their young ages and the sheer number of them. I love having a big family, but it really messes with my nature of letting them guide themselves & choose their own paths.

I guess now that I think about it we don't really have any set bedtimes. There just gets to be this point in the evening when I've had enough, and my body has had enough, and I need for them to be quiet and for the boys to stop their damn wrestling. We do quiet down then, and I introduce things into our environment like you mentioned - like books & hot tea & stories. Some days though, just for crowd control, it seems like I'm doing that sort of thing more frequently than others...and maybe it's those days that I feel like I'm controlling things more than I want to. I don't know. They choose all their own activites...and I suppose with any size family there are practicalities about when kids can do certain things. I actually like the fact that the children learn to work around each other. There's one computer in the house and I have a business......so there are lots of us sharing it. Nobody really gets to dominate the computer. Except me.

Anyway...I don't mean to highjack the radical thread!
post #27 of 267

another one here

: ...although I think there are varying degrees of radical-ness in unschooling, and just unschooling alone when thinking of it in an academic sense is pretty radical! I find in the "non academic areas" such as bedtimes things are going to depend on how old your kids are, the setup of the house, and yes mama in the forest how many you have! For example, when my kids were smaller and dh was working night shift, and I was very newly postpartum with ds, I would be upstairs in pj's with them at 6 pm nursing both of them to sleep and would try to sleep even that early myself as dd was waking up almost as much as ds : I was not comfortable leaving dd downstairs alone, she had only just turned 3, and I would accept that some nights she was just not tired then, but would put the gate up at the end of the hall so she could not get out if I fell asleep, set out something quiet to do and a snack, or she could play in the room quietly beside me, etc. Now at 7 she knows how to turn off the lights, and most often joins us or goes to her own room about a half hour after we do. I do agree with previous posters about things like quieting down, etc. That is totally different from just saying you HAVE to go to bed at such and such a time BECAUSE I AM THE MOM THAT'S WHY! I think it is about trying to come to a compromise about meeting both your needs and it is going to look a lot different when your kids are young vs older. Also, each kid is different. My ds has no problem telling me that "mama me tired, me need to go to bed" then falls asleep in 5 min while dd can look/act exhausted and doesn't always recognize it and sometimes needs some help in winding down


I really think that radical unschooling get some people rankled as they believe people just let their kids run wild. As is quoted in other places on the Web...unschooling is not unparenting! TV...we don't have restrictions as to time watched, I lifted this about a year ago and have finally become more relaxed about it, the forbidden fruit aspect is gone and when I truly did pay attention and watched with her I saw how much they are learning. We do have lots of dialoge about what she is watching.

As far as my favorite resources:

Yahoo groups such as AlwaysUnschooled (for up to age 8 or so), Shine with Unschooling (lots of moms with "special needs kids" but focuses on seeing them for their strenghts), unschoolingbasics

Life Learning Magazine
Live Free Learn Free magazine (folkypoet on this board edits/publishes that one)
http://connections.organiclearning.org/ (an online mag, will need to pay something like 10.00 per year I think but can read a sample issue.)
http://www.sandradodd.com (this is her website, on messageboards some people find her a bit harsh and she tells it like it is, but I have always gotten the kick in the pants I have needed when I express doubts! )
http://www.unschooling.com
http://www.unschooling.info
http://www.naturalchild.org (under articles look at the section on "learning")
http://home.earthlink.net/~fetteroll/rejoycing (Joyce Fetteroll, lots of great stuff about respectful out-of-the-box parenting, quieting fears regarding school subjects "how will they learn math?" etc. I have used tonnes of ink cartridges printing stuff off of here!!!!)

Books: all written by unschoolers
The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
Moving a Puddle by Sandra Dodd
Parenting a Free Child by Rue Kream
Challenging Assumptions in Education by Wendy Priesnitz (who edits Life Learning magazine)



Hope this helps ya!

Tina, dp James, dd Stephanie (7) and ds Jonathan (4) here in Manitoba Canada eh
post #28 of 267
Thread Starter 
This is awesome! Glad to have started such a wonderful dialog.

cheers,
jenn
post #29 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
Thanks UUmom. I hear ya. I think for me it's a combination of their young ages and the sheer number of them. I love having a big family, but it really messes with my nature of letting them guide themselves & choose their own paths.

I guess now that I think about it we don't really have any set bedtimes. There just gets to be this point in the evening when I've had enough, and my body has had enough, and I need for them to be quiet and for the boys to stop their damn wrestling. We do quiet down then, and I introduce things into our environment like you mentioned - like books & hot tea & stories. Some days though, just for crowd control, it seems like I'm doing that sort of thing more frequently than others...and maybe it's those days that I feel like I'm controlling things more than I want to. I don't know. They choose all their own activites...and I suppose with any size family there are practicalities about when kids can do certain things. I actually like the fact that the children learn to work around each other. There's one computer in the house and I have a business......so there are lots of us sharing it. Nobody really gets to dominate the computer. Except me.

Anyway...I don't mean to highjack the radical thread!

I remember crying sometimes when the children were playing happily around the house, but when all i wanted to do was sleep. How can you stop that with respect? You can't really, but you can take care of yourself somewhat. I have a vivid memory of one particular night, just so tired.... the children were running around, laughing happily and I was crying because they were so happy, and I couldn't enjoy it the way I wanted to. Dh was away. I was *so* tired. I wanted them to stop. I wanted to lie down and wake 10 hours later with nobody needing me.

I remember the tears on my face, the feeling that I just didn't know what to do. I couldn't stop them; I didn't want to stop them. I wished I felt as happy as they did at that moment. I remember getting the sofa quilt and putting it on the floor, I got some some food-- cheese sticks and crackers. I put in a video, Mary Poppins, my favorite movie as a child, and shut off the living room lights, the kitchen lights. With my nursling in my arms, I just slipped to the floor. I sat there, crying, nursing, hoping they would stop running and laughing. In a few minutes, they came into the living room, saw the picnic, and sat down. There was no teeth brushing, no stories, but we all fell asleep on the floor, just like that. Maybe I fell asleep first, I don't remember, but it happend, maybe one by one, maybe mostly together? But it happened. Nobody woke me, nobdy cried. When I woke up, we were all lying on the quilt, all of the children alseep, the movie having rewound and begun again. I wasn't crying.

In a little bit, I picked up the oldest child and and put him in his bed. Then I took the babies & went to bed, feeling so much better. Weirdly, I felt proud of me for not losing it. Maybe that's what we need to focus on, the not losing it, even in our imperfection.
post #30 of 267
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Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
I remember crying sometimes when the children were playing happily around the house, but when all i wanted to do was sleep. How can you stop that with respect? You can't really, but you can take care of yourself somewhat. I have a vivid memory of one particular night, just so tired.... the children were running around, laughing happily and I was crying because they were so happy, and I couldn't enjoy it the way I wanted to. Dh was away. I was *so* tired. I wanted them to stop. I wanted to lie down and wake 10 hours later with nobody needing me.

I remember the tears on my face, the feeling that I just didn't know what to do. I couldn't stop them; I didn't want to stop them. I wished I felt as happy as they did at that moment. I remember getting the sofa quilt and putting it on the floor, I got some some food-- cheese sticks and crackers. I put in a video, Mary Poppins, my favorite movie as a child, and shut off the living room lights, the kitchen lights. With my nursling in my arms, I just slipped to the floor. I sat there, crying, nursing, hoping they would stop running and laughing. In a few minutes, they came into the living room, saw the picnic, and sat down. There was no teeth brushing, no stories, but we all fell asleep on the floor, just like that. Maybe I fell asleep first, I don't remember, but it happend, maybe one by one, maybe mostly together? But it happened. Nobody woke me, nobdy cried. When I woke up, we were all lying on the quilt, all of the children alseep, the movie having rewound and begun again. I wasn't crying.

In a little bit, I picked up the oldest child and and put him in his bed. Then I took the babies & went to bed, feeling so much better. Weirdly, I felt proud of me for not losing it. Maybe that's what we need to focus on, the not losing it, even in our imperfection.
Thank-you for posting this. You know, if more people would post about times like this, where they were totally miserable yet somehow managed to deal without losing it, I would be much more likely to consider it as a lifestyle. It alwasy seems so easy for everyone who is a radical unschooler, while I am almost losing it on a daily basis just trying to regular unschool with some life structure.
post #31 of 267
We startetd out as unschoolers with strict limits on tv, and also on sugar, and I used to believe children had to be "made" to do some chores.

Over the last year, I've gradually let go of all that. I'm finding children really do start self-regulating, once they get used to having freedom of choice.

When you first stop limiting, you're likely to see a lot of what seems like "addictive behavior," because your children are trying to have all the fun they can before the rug gets jerked out from under them, the tv switched off, and so on.

And actually, I've heard a lot of parents say they "tried" letting their kids self-regulate, for like a few days, and it "didn't work" -- and they immediately reinstated the old limits. So it seems the children's fears that it won't really last, aren't all that unfounded.

During my transition, it helped a lot to read articles on the "Joyfully Rejoicing" unschooling website. For the first several weeks, it seemed like my dd's main interests were watching tv and movies, and eating candy. But as they gradually realized I wasn't going to march in and flip off the tube, tv became just one of many choices for how to add enjoyment to their lives.

Candy also became less of a fixation. Rather than imposing limits on sweets, I spent more time talking about the ways various foods help our bodies. Children really are interested in their bodies and how they work.

I'm learning that children are also interested in the running of the home, my oldest often surprizes me (like she did today) by totally reorganizing an area of the house. She's really good at it, too. I honestly don't see her as any less helpful, now that I don't believe in "making" her do stuff.
post #32 of 267
Dd has self-regulated all of her food choices since birth, and her relationship with food is so much healthier than mine...Like, if there is dessert around, an old compulsive urge comes up in me to eat it even if I'm full, or to over-eat it, just because it was off-limits for most of my life...DD will just as often as not refuse desserts, or choose something "healthier" if it strikes her fancy. Not that this is some big goal! I've just noticed she truly takes what she wants/needs, without a bunch of baggage. Also she has radiant good health and gets a wonderful varied diet (if viewed on a weekly, not daily, basis!). So I think radical unschooling with food (and every other area we've tried--like our no-pressure bedtimes are a joy!) is just awesome.
post #33 of 267
Neat! Does anyone know how many hours you'd trust one of these to keep out of the fridge? Like, does the sugar preserve it a bit, and I can have it out on a table for 3-4 hours, or does it need to stay in the fridge on a 75 degree day?

Also, anyone have a recipe for homemade (black) berry topping that I can make to go along, that will keep a week in the fridge after I make it? Thanks!
post #34 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by water View Post
You know, if more people would post about times like this, where they were totally miserable yet somehow managed to deal without losing it, I would be much more likely to consider it as a lifestyle. It alwasy seems so easy for everyone who is a radical unschooler
I find this pov interesting. I guess I'd rather read positive stories and examples -- things that remind me of how good it could be so that I can strive for something, yk? No one is perfect -- we all loose it at times. I do think though, that people choose this lifestyle because, overall, it's easiest for them. Maybe "easy" is the wrong word...what I mean is, everyone's life has difficult, stressful times, no matter how you approach your children/family life. But what makes living like this easier than not, for me, is that it 's in line with my beliefs about kids, human nature, and the kind of parent/person I want to be. So, even though we might have difficult days, if I loose it and yell or insist on my way, I end up feeling so bad about it that next time, working out a happy conclusion is "easier" than the alternative. Does this make sense?

fwiw, my bad days usually come during pms, when my patience is lower than usual and I'm grouchy in general. But, I try to be aware of that, and it helps that we all talk about what we need, and of course, I apologize when I blow it. My older kids are more in touch with their emotions than I was at their ages and I like that they will sometimes say to me, "I'm really tired, I just need to be alone for a while" or even just "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm so crabby today." Sometimes just acknowledging that diffuses things, yk?
post #35 of 267
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Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
I find this pov interesting. I guess I'd rather read positive stories and examples -- things that remind me of how good it could be so that I can strive for something, yk? No one is perfect -- we all loose it at times. I do think though, that people choose this lifestyle because, overall, it's easiest for them. Maybe "easy" is the wrong word...what I mean is, everyone's life has difficult, stressful times, no matter how you approach your children/family life. But what makes living like this easier than not, for me, is that it 's in line with my beliefs about kids, human nature, and the kind of parent/person I want to be. So, even though we might have difficult days, if I loose it and yell or insist on my way, I end up feeling so bad about it that next time, working out a happy conclusion is "easier" than the alternative. Does this make sense?

fwiw, my bad days usually come during pms, when my patience is lower than usual and I'm grouchy in general. But, I try to be aware of that, and it helps that we all talk about what we need, and of course, I apologize when I blow it. My older kids are more in touch with their emotions than I was at their ages and I like that they will sometimes say to me, "I'm really tired, I just need to be alone for a while" or even just "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm so crabby today." Sometimes just acknowledging that diffuses things, yk?
Now, see, *this* pov, is interesting to me, in a confounding way. I thought I *was* ponting out how something not great can turn into a postivie. There was no yelling, no shaming, and everyone got what they needed.

Do you mean you don't want to know if other people feel so tired they fall asllep with their infant and toddler children at a picnic on the living room floor? Or was it bad that I admitted to crying from exhaustion? Or was it the Mary Poppins video that was a problem? The cheese sticks? The crackers? The fact the children fell asleep without brushing their teeth?

How high is the bar for Radical Unschooling, exactly?
post #36 of 267
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Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
I suspect that'd be us.

We unschool, and we have no mandatory eating rules or bed times. We have free access to media. No real rules about these things other than the ones we all agree on together, and lots of discussions.
That describes us perfectly!
post #37 of 267
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Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
I thought I *was* ponting out how something not great can turn into a postivie. There was no yelling, no shaming, and everyone got what they needed.
Well, you did turn it into a positive, but, while there was no yelling or shaming, it seemed you were pretty miserable for a little while there.

Quote:
Do you mean you don't want to know if other people feel so tired they fall asllep with their infant and toddler children at a picnic on the living room floor? Or was it bad that I admitted to crying from exhaustion? Or was it the Mary Poppins video that was a problem? The cheese sticks? The crackers? The fact the children fell asleep without brushing their teeth?
I didn't say I didn't want to know about other people's difficulties--everyone needs to vent sometimes. What I said was that I get more out of hearing the good stuff--the postitive stories, the revelations, etc. I find the positive stories more useful. I was responding to "water's" comment that hearing other's struggles helps her. I'm not saying what people should or shouldn't post, just commenting on what *I* find helpful. ymmv (I never said that any of what you wrote was "bad." )


Quote:
How high is the bar for Radical Unschooling, exactly?
I don't understand this question. Who's setting a bar?
post #38 of 267
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Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
Well, you did turn it into a positive, but, while there was no yelling or shaming, it seemed you were pretty miserable for a little while there.
I *was* very, very tired. I didn't hope to get across the idea that I was 'miserable', but it had been a very long day. Some days with little children are tougher than others. Mama in the forest's worries made me want to share a time that wasn't perfect, but that ended well.


Of course you can read and enjoy what you like, Carry on.
post #39 of 267
Radical unschooling sure is easier in a lot of ways -- but that doesn't mean it's easier in every way, all the time. Since I've already started, and have tasted the good stuff, I actually find it encouraging to hear about the miserable situations that were turned into something positive.

Sometimes just hearing all the radiant, positive stuff makes me feel like I'm a crappy parent for having those miserable moments -- like I'm the only one.

Of course, even families with set bedtimes have those miserable moments when the kids just aren't tired, but Mom and Dad are exhausted.

Many of the "difficult moments" of radical unschooling, aren't really due to the radical unschooling -- but are due to the fact that you can't stay set on "automatic pilot" all the time and still be a good parent. And we are human and fallible, with very human faults and limitations.

I think radical unschoolers are already trying to be more in-tune and attentive, and less inclined to zone out and switch on "automatic pilot." So in some ways it's harder, because we're doing more mindful parenting than most people in the mainstream.

We're setting higher standards for our parenting, so of course we're going to notice our failures more than someone who's always right "because she's the mom and she says so."

In the mainstream, I hear a lot of phrases like, "Sometimes they just have to cry" and "There's no way they can always be happy" and "Sometimes you just have to say, 'This is the way it is, so get over it.'" It seems like the mainstream is more forgiving of parents who mess up and yell, and sometimes tune out their children's needs.

We all fail sometimes. I benefit more from hearing from those who urge me to do better next time (though empathy and understanding are definitely needed), but sometimes it seems like it'd be nice to just wallow in the sympathy (for parents, not so much for children) that seems so prevalent in mainstream culture.
post #40 of 267
We are radical unschoolers!


At this point, I cannot even fathom trusting my children *only* in a categorical sense (as in the area of "learning" for example) and not in other areas. My experience and observations of trusting their self wisdom implicitly in discovering and knowing what is best for themselves (better than I ever could) is that it reverberates outwardly from their core into every area of life such as the food, sleep, etc. issues and, yes, knowledge interests, too.

I've come to see my role as that of ambassador and devoted assistant.

I notice that the more I feel and express trust in my children in every area of life, the brighter their lights shine and the healthier, happier and more vital they seem. That is evidence enough for me to stay in MY own business and simply be available to them.


Thank you for doing what you're doing in the world, friends. I love that there are so many of us who are living this dream. . .
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