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#1 of 41 Old 12-20-2003, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Does anyone have any experiences with unschooling? I'm reading "How children learn" by John Holt at present, and I find myself remembering all those horrible moments of 14 years of school. I never once enjoyed school although I was a "good" student (albeit very unruly and rebellious).
I don't want to let my own kid go through the same nasty experiences.
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#2 of 41 Old 12-20-2003, 07:14 PM
 
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Hiya;

First, check out Unschooling.com . I have a few issues with some of the more radical views held by their current spokeswomen but I have yet to find another site that matches it for the unschooler's perspective. They also have a message board there that is useful for any questions you might have.

If you are looking for information on home learning in general, check out A to Z Home's Cool Page . This is the most complete site I came across during my research and should answer any basic questions.

You can also find some great information in the archives here. I know I spent hours going through them before making our decision.

As for personal experience, yes, we started home learning in mid November and it has so far been awsome. I never realised how boxed in I felt before now! I also love the difference in the kids, they are far more carefree and inquisitive.

So, does this tell you what you wanted to know or do you have any specific questions?

MM
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#3 of 41 Old 12-20-2003, 07:43 PM
 
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We are going more the "unschooling" route with our sons (currently 4 years & 5 months). I highly reccomend reading "The Unschooling Handbook" by Mary Griffiths (sp?). I think if you went to yahoo.com and went to their Groups section and typed in "unschooling" you may find some email lists on the subject. Good luck.

~Rose~ 

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#4 of 41 Old 12-20-2003, 07:51 PM
 
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We're unschooling--it will be 4 years for us in Feb. Prior to that, my oldest went to ps for 1st--3rd grades and my middle child weny to K.

Did you have specific questions? I'll second the unschooling.com site, and anything by Holt. At the moment, I'm reading "A Different Kind of Teacher" by John Taylor Gatto--not specifically an unschooling title, but if you're short on reasons NOT to send your kids to school, this book will give you a wagon-load.

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#5 of 41 Old 12-20-2003, 09:09 PM
 
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Go for it!!! I would love for my children (mainly my older two) to fit that style of learning. My son needs structure to learn. Even though I would/could never describe myself as an unschooler, I do and have learned much about learning from them. I still grab ideas and learning moments from under the “unschooling” umbrella of though.
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#6 of 41 Old 12-20-2003, 11:07 PM
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We're radical unschoolers, and love it.

I actually think that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what unschooling is. We actually lead horridly (my view ) structured lives, because of Rain's musical theatre obsession. Between rehearsals, performances, dance classes, choir, voice lessons, plus rehearsing stuff with her at home, her life is pretty darn structured. Add to that the structure of playdates and her tv shows (why we are always home Saturday late nights and Sunday evenings), and I truly lust after a free day at home. But the difference is that it's her choice, this is a structure she created and loves and she would be absolutely miserable with day after day with nothing planned. One day like that about does her in, really...

Someone also mentioned recently, in passing, that unschooling meant no direct instuction. I thought of that today as I taught Rain to do the purl stitch, in a very DI way. Again, though, she asked to learn it, and I'd been offering for over a year (since she learned the knit stitch). I thought she was making too big a deal over it, since it's really almost just like the knit stitch in reverse, and I wanted her to learn it right away so she would see how easy it ws... but nope, it took her a year to feel ready to take that step. And that's unschooling, and she just completed a lovely purple scarf for a stuffed raccoon in a K2P2 rib...

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#7 of 41 Old 12-21-2003, 01:06 AM
 
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I agree w/ Dar that there's a lot of misunderstanding about unschooling. It doesn't mean that you don't ever get involved w/ your child's learning. It just means that you don't have an agenda for them. They learn what *they* want to learn, and that can happen w/ or w/o structure. The job of the unschooling parent is to help their child find and pursue his/her passions. Children do not resist learning, but they may resist *teaching*!
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#8 of 41 Old 12-21-2003, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all of you.

I really feel that learning is good, but directed learning is bad. I don't know hardly anything about how people go about unschooling their children, so yet I don't have any misperceptions.
I believe that children will ask an elder to teach them something, which really is just "showing" in a more slow pace so that they can perceive it better, and know how to imitate.
Well, one of my main questions is, is there a difference between home schooling and unschooling? The way I've udnerstood home schooling is that it's very similar to public schooling, only that it's in a home setting. Or that just might be a misperception.
I don't want a curriculum for my son, ever. Is that possible? I mean, by law, and I guess, morally too? I'm absolutley convinced that by "teaching" kids what we want them to learn messes with their natural instinct, but I also realize that our society is made up around these learning/teaching structures. So, if my son doesn't receive "schooling", then he'll somewhat be excluded from society?
Can those of you who do unschooling describe one normal day of "unschooling" in your home?
I'll check that site out too, it'll probably answer some questions too.
Sorry, I didn't have any specific questions. That's because I don't know anything about it.
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#9 of 41 Old 12-21-2003, 04:13 PM
 
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First off, take heart, you are asking the same stuff everyone asks. Most fo the answers can be found at various F.A.Qs like this one and This one . I will also try to tackle your questions bellow but remember, I am very new to this all.


Quote:
Originally posted by morsan
Well, one of my main questions is, is there a difference between home schooling and unschooling? The way I've udnerstood home schooling is that it's very similar to public schooling, only that it's in a home setting. Or that just might be a misperception.
Well, yes there is a difference and yes you have mispercieved. How is that for clear as mud? Home schooling comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people do run it very much like a public school, other's take a "unit studies" approach and still others take an ecclectic, almost unschooling, aproach. Then you get into classical studies and nature oriented and you have quite a mix. Unschooling on the other hand is always child led and usualy unstructured. You provide lots of interesting conversation provoking learning opportunities and matrial and let your child explore.

Quote:
I don't want a curriculum for my son, ever. Is that possible? I mean, by law, and I guess, morally too?
Yes, it is possible and many people do it. You will want to check your local laws but it is perfectly legal in Canada and the States. I am not sure about Swedish (I think that is where you are...) law though. Moraly I certainly hope it is ok since I am not using a curriculum :LOL

I am going to have to finish this latter since Sam just woke up. In the mean time go have a peek at the F.A.Qs I posted and hopfully someone else will tackle your other concerns.

Take care and I hope this helps.

MM
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#10 of 41 Old 12-21-2003, 06:05 PM
 
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Hi there. Manitobamommy has answered a lot of your questions very capably, so I'll just pick up on this last one:

Quote:
I also realize that our society is made up around these learning/teaching structures. So, if my son doesn't receive "schooling", then he'll somewhat be excluded from society?
I think the only time in their lives that people are routinely forced to learn things in a top-down fashion whether they consent to it or not is in compulsory school settings. I mean, if your employer insists you upgrade your accounting skills and tells you to take a course, you're free to look for other work. If you take Spanish classes, you're doing so by choice. If you spend six hours trying to figure out basic home wiring to put in a track lighting system, well, you could have hired someone to do it instead. If you discover you hate biochemistry at university, you're free to drop the course. Yet as school students, children have absolutely no choice but to be taught how to spell this week's 10 spelling words, who signed the Constitution, the chief exports of Peru, what 6x7 is. Their only choice is in how they greet that learning, and often they choose to respond begrudgingly, passive-aggressively, or with overt rebellion against it.

So is school "necessary preparation for a learning paradigm that exists elsewhere in society"? Not in the slightest.

If you're wondering whether by not participating in schooling your child will be excluded from the social world as a child, this is certainly not the case. Unschooled children are indeed excluded from a particular type of mostly worthless and sometimes downright harmful social scenario (the age-levelled pack mentality of school pecking orders). But thanks to their inclusion in the real world of families and communities, they get excellent quality genuine social experience. They meet people over common interests, they meet people engaged in meaningful work, they make friends not as a result of a social pecking order, but because of genuine enjoyment of each other's company, regardless of age, social status, pop music affiliation, reading ability, height, or any other shallow criteria.

If you're wondering whether children not forced to contend with authority-driven learning models will be equipped to cope with them if and when they decide that such a process will get them somewhere they want to go, the answer is a resounding yes. What makes unschooled children so adept at dealing with structured learning situations is their adaptability and their desire. My own kids do a variety of school-like activities (orchestra, violin lessons and group classes, piano lessons, gymnastics, art classes) and they are almost without fail the most attentive, least disruptive, most highly engaged members of their classes. They haven't had hundreds or thousands of hours of experience at being bored, frustrated or otherwise annoyed by coerced education that is meaningless to them so they go into new settings with open, optimistic minds.

Schoolteachers don't always agree that unschoolers entering the system "do well", though, and here's an example of why. My friend's daughter Tess tried a semester of school at age 15. She wanted to do drama and history. She did well, was well-liked, and got very good marks. But she quit half way through the semester. The teachers and students probably thought "she couldn't hack it." In reality, she found the attitude of the other students, who had absolutely no interest in learning, disruptive and frustrating, and decided that unschooling allowed her far more flexible, stimulating ways to learn the same stuff.

If you're wondering about the availability of post-secondary education to unschooled children who haven't jumped through the hoops that give them a conventional high school transcript, well, I don't know what it's like in Sweden, but in North America there are many routes to college for unschoolers. Some are "back door" routes like writing equivalency exams or entering as "adult learners", some are ways to generate a reputable transcript, perhaps by using a charter ("umbrella") school to document home-based learning.

Hope that helps!

Miranda

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#11 of 41 Old 12-21-2003, 10:35 PM
 
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I think the structure thing is more aimed at me.

Every thing these ladies say about unschooling is true!!!!!!!!!!! I love the idea and thoughts behind unschooling, I have learned much from them. On the other hand don’t forget the nature of your child. I am just saying what you loathed and hated might be what your child needs to learn and thrive. It might be how things were presented more so that what was presented.

I remember dioramas in school. I hated them with a passion. I swore I would never do or make my kids do one. Guess what!! My son asked to do one! After helping him with the project I learned something. It was not the diorama I hated but the grade! I am no artist. So that meant no matter how hard I tried I got low grades on it. So I learned NOT TO TRY. Were the few we have done my son has learned what he should from the project, and had fun doing it!! Now he makes them on his own for whatever topic we are learning about and he gets his 5 yr old sister involved (his 3 yr old one is to much of a pest, LOL). I have used these dioramas to propose question and thinking.

My son did go to school for Kindergarten and one month of first grade. He learned to hate spelling test. Which now I have learned that it is not the spelling test he hated but the fact that he could not correct his mistakes. He also did not like working on words that he already new. Through trail and error, we figured out what it took him to learn. I thought I would never give him spelling test when I pulled him out but this inability to spell again caused much frustration for him. I found what worked for him to learn.

I will do the same for my younger children. Take their natures in consideration.
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#12 of 41 Old 12-23-2003, 06:42 PM
 
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moominmamma, thank you for answering the other questions. Time is at a premium since I started keeping the kids home and it can take me a while to get to things.


Quote:
Originally posted by Marsupialmom
I think the structure thing is more aimed at me.

This sounds almost offended, and if so I am very sorry Marsupial mom. I was honestly talking about a gerenal feeling I get from the unschooling community. I know there are some who think structure is wrong but I wanted to make sure Morsan realised that was not a universal thought. It was only after that I remembered the debates here about it.

Other then that I wanted to say well done, excelent post! You made a lot of good points and gave me some food for thought. The diorama example was a great example of the mind change when you become child centered in youe learning approach, as I am just now discovering.

Well Morsan, did we give you enough answers or just generate more questions, :LOL

MM
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#13 of 41 Old 12-23-2003, 10:51 PM
 
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Wow, you got a wealth of information already, so I'll just chime in and say how much we LOVE LOVE unschooling! My kids are 7 and 5, and are thriving in their self-directed lives!
I really see unschooling as an extension of AP, you do what works for your child and your family ... yes, children have different learning styles and I wouldn't immediately exclude a curriculum user from the unschooling title, provided the curriculum is used as the child intends (their own methods, their own time table, etc.), not as the publisher intends
Hannah is currently in a community class called *The Air We Breathe* which is a very intense 13-week program on air quality ... she just began to read this year (self-taught!) and*I* was concerned with her ability to *keep up* with the class (1st thru 5th graders). It was for naught! The other kids are so wiped out after having been in school all day, they don't have the attention or energy to notice her reading level. She, however, is loving the class, comes home excited about all she's learned (from causes of precipitation to Lakota stories of the wind), about the new friends she's made and the great snack :LOL Hayden and I are driving for the field trips, so we get to go along and learn, too
I guess you *could* call us radical unschoolers, too ... We don't do externally imposed limitations (bedtimes, computers, video games, etc...) and natural consequences are a much better teacher than I could ever be (positive and negative). I agree with the book recommendations here. I'm currently reading "Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn. I belong to the unschoolingdiscussion group found on yahoo.com (subscribe and browse the archives as well as watch the current discussions), I agree that unschooling.com is a great resource, as well as Sandra Dodd (check out the *Joyful Math* link, it's WONDERFUL!) FYI-she may be the aforementioned spokesperson that people have issues with, but her passion, energy and committment to unschooling her own children AND to those of us who unschool is awe inspiring! Also check out Home Education Magazine, it's not specifically unschooling, but it is the most unschoolish homeschool magazine I've found.
Hope this all helps ... I know there are more threads here at Mothering, too, so check out the archives
~diana

~diana google me: hahamommy. Unschooling Supermama to Hayden :Super Cool Girlfriend to Scotty . Former wife to Mitch & former mama to Hannahbear
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#14 of 41 Old 12-24-2003, 10:30 AM
 
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Hahamommy--I read "Punished by Rewards" when my ds was still in school--it was soooo wonderful to hear of someone else who had a problem with stickers and prizes, because at the time, we were surrounded by that mentality.

I agree with your take on curriculum use.

We don't use a packaged curriculum--(and I discovered this morning that "curriculum" is latin for "race." Interesting, huh?)

ANYWAY--we DO have some Singapore Math workbooks. The reason I think it's possible to use these and still be unschooling is that dd requested them. She loves doing them, and she uses them in her own way. At one time, she flew through the books, doing a half-dozen lessons a day. Other times she skipped things and went on to something more challenging. She's a little bored with the place she's in now and is taking a break from it altogether.

I should add that she loves numbers and patterns and often does mathematical things outside of the workbooks--she just views the books as puzzle books.

I think that she's unschooling because SHE is directing her learning. No one is giving her assignments or grades or telling her what to learn, when. It's in her control. That, to me, makes all the difference.

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#15 of 41 Old 12-24-2003, 01:12 PM
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Joan
[B]ANYWAY--we DO have some Singapore Math workbooks. The reason I think it's possible to use these and still be unschooling is that dd requested them.

Yes, it *is* true that you can use a curriculum and still be unschooling. That's what I was trying to say in my post about structure. Some kids like to organize their time and activities so that they know what's going to happen in their day. Others take things as they come. I think the term "unschooling" itself is confusing. "Natural learning" or "autonomous leaning" seems more accurate.
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#16 of 41 Old 12-24-2003, 02:44 PM
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I just want to clarify that curriculum comes form the Latin for "to run", i.e., that kind of "race" - I know I thought of the other kind of race when I saw it and it took me a minute!

And there is a different between a curriculum and a textbook, or a workbook. A curriculum is basically a course of study - it could include no textbooks at all. Workbooks and textbooks and other items marketed as "educational" are simply resources, some useful and some not so useful. A book that explains an algorithm for subtracting with regrouping can sit right next to one that explains how to knit the seed stitch, there if they're needed, but only one way out of many that a skill can be learned.

I also don't think unschooling parents need to sit and wait for a child to come up and ask how to do something. I don't. I observe and sometimes offer, either because it looks like my child is struggling with something and I know an easier way, or because it's a cool thing I think she'd enjoy knowing. I would do the same for an adult friend, right? The hard part sometimes is being okay with it when she says "no" and letting her continue to struggle, but I do respect her process.

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#17 of 41 Old 12-26-2003, 01:17 AM
 
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Quote:
I also don't think unschooling parents need to sit and wait for a child to come up and ask how to do something. I don't. I observe and sometimes offer, either because it looks like my child is struggling with something and I know an easier way, or because it's a cool thing I think she'd enjoy knowing. I would do the same for an adult friend, right?
I'd like to pick up on this and muse about my own confusion for a moment! My dh and I have decided to home school for sure, and I have been leaning toward unschooling as the method we will start with (and stay with, if it works for us.) But the doubts have started to creep in!! Partly because I tend to be a somewhat structured person myself (although I hate arbitrarily imposed structure, if that makes any sense) so while unschooling sounds wonderful in theory, I'm wondering if I will have the self control to stick with it. I worry that the minute my child gets "behind" in a "subject", I'm going to be whipping out the cirriculum catalogs! :LOL Of course the structure that helps *me* function may seem like "arbitrarily imposed structure" to my children. <sigh> (I *do* insist on bedtime, for example, although it's flexible within an hour or so.)

The other issue I wonder about is the line between imposed teaching and introducing opportunities to learn. My dd is in a wonderful preschool now (for social reasons, mostly) which has a "negotiated cirriculum". The teachers pay attention to the children's interests and create learning opportunities around those topics. But they also introduce basic knowledge such as days of the week, number and letter recognition, etc. They do it in fun ways that the kids are not forced to participate in, such as songs and optional art projects. If I do stuff like this at home, is it still "unschooling"? For example, I taught Brianna (3 1/2) our phone number, which she now has memorized. I thought it was important for her safety, but she never showed the slightest curiosity about it before I brought it up. Nevertheless, she was excited to learn such a "grown up" thing, and now she likes to take the phone and practice dialing it -- working on her number recognition in the process. I guess if she had really *resisted* learning it, I wouldn't have insisted, so maybe direct teaching is OK if it is readily accepted?

I will, in the end, do what is right for me and for my kids, even if that means I can't call myself an "unschooler". Like the OP, I guess I'm still trying to feel out what unschooling *is* exactly and how we can make it work for us. BTW, I don't mean to hijack the post with my own issues. I'm just kind of thinking out loud here. I assume these are the kinds of issues many unschoolers grapple with when they are starting out. (Right??)

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#18 of 41 Old 12-26-2003, 04:31 AM
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Quote:
[i] But they also introduce basic knowledge such as days of the week, number and letter recognition, etc. They do it in fun ways that the kids are not forced to participate in, such as songs and optional art projects. If I do stuff like this at home, is it still "unschooling"? For example, I taught Brianna (3 1/2) our phone number, which she now has memorized. I thought it was important for her safety, but she never showed the slightest curiosity about it before I brought it up. [/B]
I think unschooling means that you introduce or offer ideas because they seem like they would be fun and/or useful for your child at the time, not because 5 yr olds "should" know their alphabet, or 9 yr olds "should" know their multiplication facts. So, if you think knowing her phone number would be useful for Brianna to know, in case... well, I don't know what you're thinking, but for whatever reason, then offering to help her learn it seems practical.

OTOH, children can pick up on your motivations, if you're offering to help them learn the things that you think they should know, rather than the things they want to know.They do start to feel like they *should* learn these things - a parents' suggestion can be a pretty strong influence. Rain didn't know the months of the year in order until maybe a year ago, but she knew all the major charcters in Greek mythology by the time she was 4. That's what was important in her world. I had faith that eventually she would find knowing the months useful, and she did, or else she picked it up without realizing it, which I think is more likely....

It is pretty impossible to unschool and also insist that your children stay at or above "grade level", IMO. Some may be - Rain was above pretty much across the board until 1st or 2nd grade - but I wouldn't count on it. Grade level is pretty arbitrary anyway, it varies from school to school, state to state, country to country.

I do think preschool can hinder successful unschooling later. Kids in preschool are absorbing messages about the importance of going to another place to learn, and they're learning to depend on someone else to tell them when and what to learn, and also they're seeing learning as separate from life. Just mho, if you do plan to unschool or homeschool later...

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#19 of 41 Old 12-26-2003, 11:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dar

I do think preschool can hinder successful unschooling later. Kids in preschool are absorbing messages about the importance of going to another place to learn, and they're learning to depend on someone else to tell them when and what to learn, and also they're seeing learning as separate from life. Just mho, if you do plan to unschool or homeschool later...

Dar
Yeah, being in school has this effect, at least in our experience. My ds and dd went to ps for 3 yrs and 1 year, respectively.
My dd, who only went to Kindergarten, recently asked me, "Can we have today off?" I asked her what that meant but she couldn't specify--I think she just knew that the ps kids got a Christmas break. Even though she directs her own learning, she still has that idea that learning is one thing and the rest of life is something else.

We talk about it--I'm still hopeful that we can undo that type of thinking. Ds wants more direction than dd does--could be his personality, but I'm betting it's those 3 years of schooling.

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#20 of 41 Old 12-26-2003, 01:08 PM
 
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I unschool. My kids have never been to school and we have never done school at home. I recommend J Holt books and the unschooling handbook. Unschooling.com message boards are useful especially if you ever have questions/doubts.
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#21 of 41 Old 12-26-2003, 11:05 PM
 
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I worry that the minute my child gets "behind" in a "subject", I'm going to be whipping out the cirriculum catalogs!
But if you're truly unschooling, you won't know that your child is "behind". (Emphasis on those quotation marks!) All you will know is that she is learning what is relevant to her life, at the pace and in the way that is perfect for her.
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#22 of 41 Old 12-27-2003, 02:29 AM
 
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Here's a metaphor that I find helpful in "guiding" my unschooled kids. I think of a garden. I imagine the whole world of learning as being a giant garden. My kids have just been ushered in the gate. I've been browsing through this garden for almost 40 years. One of my kids might delightedly sit down and start digging in the dirt looking for beetles and worms. It's a perfectly valid thing to do, very meaningful to him. But on the other hand, he's never seen the rest of the garden, and maybe there are things off in this direction or that which he'll find even more meaningful. My job is to help my kids have an enjoyable, rich and meaningful visit to the garden. I am their tour guide.

Maybe I wish my son would stop digging for worms and get up and enjoy some of the things elsewhere in the garden. He doesn't know what's there, so maybe he needs a nudge. While it wouldn't be right for me to say "time to go look at the sweet peas, that's enough time in the dirt," it would be perfectly okay to say "hey, you know, there's an awesome frog pond over there, wanna come see?" Sharing, offering, "strewing a child's path" with opportunities, that's what I try to do.

The crucial thing is that the child has the right to say "no, I want to keep digging in the dirt for worms."

So if my 9yo has atrocious handwriting and sees absolutely no reason to improve it, it's not right for me to say that she must work on it for 5 minutes a day, but it is fair game to say "you know, there's a neat italic cursive script that I've heard is really good for lefties; I could look into getting a workbook.... you could see if it appeals to you. Maybe it would be a fun thing to do when I'm reading aloud to you guys at bedtime." And if she says no, so be it.

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#23 of 41 Old 12-27-2003, 03:11 PM
 
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I worry that the minute my child gets "behind" in a "subject", I'm going to be whipping out the cirriculum catalogs!
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One of my favorite unschooling quotes is-"You can never be ahead or behind yourself." I use that quote whenever I question my choice to unschool my son. I think that it is easier to believe that there is a right way and time for everything to be learned and it is far more difficult to let things happen in their own time according to what one person needs. I find that it is especially hard to let go of the school time table if you yourself were successful in school. Keep reading and learning, you will find that there are as many ways to unschool as there are unschoolers. My favorite unschooling quote is in my signature line, for me it says it all.

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail..."
"I am learning all the time, the tombstone will be my diploma"- Eartha Kitt
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#24 of 41 Old 12-27-2003, 03:31 PM
 
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Does the state get involved and force your children to be tested or anything like that?? Sorry if I'm being ignorant its just that I always assumed that even homeschool kids had to take placement tests and final exams in order to "officially" pass grades and eventually recieve a diploma. ??
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#25 of 41 Old 12-27-2003, 03:51 PM
 
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I find that it is especially hard to let go of the school time table if you yourself were successful in school.
Yes! I think this is one of my challenges. I loved school and did well in school. The only problem was that I bought the line that success in school would automatically lead to success in life! What a hard lesson that was to un-learn. I also became too dependant on the approval of others to validate my accomplishments.

Thanks to everyone who addressed some of my concerns. I'm not *too* worried about the preschool setting us up for failure since it is such a loose format and such a small number of hours each week. (There are several homeschooling families with children there - including at least one unschooling family.) In fact, one day I wondered out loud if Brianna missed going to playgroup now that she was in preschool. Her response: "No. Actually, preschool is kind of like playgroup!" I'm more concerned that she will enjoy it so much that she will look at *not* going to Kindergarten as a negative thing. I'm not sure how that will work out. I'm working on getting us involved with a homeschool group so that she'll already have homeschool friends when she leaves the preschool. For now, the preschool works for us and she enjoys it, so I'm sticking with it. I'll repair and cross any "damaged" bridges as they come.

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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#26 of 41 Old 12-27-2003, 04:58 PM
 
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Originally posted by cortsmommy
Does the state get involved and force your children to be tested or anything like that?? Sorry if I'm being ignorant its just that I always assumed that even homeschool kids had to take placement tests and final exams in order to "officially" pass grades and eventually recieve a diploma. ??
Education doesn't mean grade levels and diplomas. It means gaining in skills and knowledge. It is only schools that have decided that measuring and inspiring learning requires such benchmarks. Grade levels and diplomas are about schooling, not about education.

For some families homeschooling does mean "schooling". They might use a levelled curriculum approach, register with a charter school that creates a transcript, do annual testing, and nominally "place" their kids in a certain grade. We are unschoolers, though, and no none of that. My kids have no idea "what grade they're in" because they're involved in education, not school. What grade level is tesselations? I don't know, but my 7yo is an expert. What grade level is latin? I don't know, but my 9yo is learning. What grade level is Norse mythology? I don't know, but my 5yo can talk your ear off about Loki, Thor and Woden. There's no "magic age" for learning 99% of the stuff that is presented in a school curriculum as being "appropriate for a specific grade level". So I choose to completely disregard this. My kids' interests do not follow a standardized scope and sequence.

My kids will find paths to college if they want. My jurisdiction requires no testing or accountability. My kids are becoming highly educated, even if they do no schooling. There's a kind of mind-blowing, out-of-the-box thinking required since we ourselves have been steeped in a schoolish mentality throughout our lives. It helps me to remember that the brilliant, highly educated minds of 200 years ago didn't have to go to school and didn't have to "pass tests to get into the next grade". Generally they studied what they wanted to learn, what had meaning for them, sometimes under the guidance of a tutor, but often simply courtesy of mom and dad or as auto-didacts. Grade-level schooling is a very recent invention.

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#27 of 41 Old 12-27-2003, 10:02 PM
 
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Well said, Miranda.

cortsmommy, just to add a bit of technical stuff--the amount of state involvement depends on what state one lives in. Some require testing and grades, while others do not. There is a tremendous amount of variation here, but an unschooling life can be lived, regardless of the requirements--one just needs to learn to translate activities into things that the "authorities" understand.

Our state requires that a child attend school, or be educated elsewhere. "Elsewhere" is what we do--we are accountable to ourselves. We are not under the jurisdiction of the DOE or any local school district. They do not provide a diploma or anything else and we do not report to them.

This is ideal, imo as I believe that each individual is responsible for the direction of his/her life.
The idea that the state knows what's best for my family doesn't at all fit with my philosophy.

Schools do their thing, we do ours--and we simply don't have a use for their testing or grading or any of their systems.

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#28 of 41 Old 12-28-2003, 11:27 AM
 
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Thanks Miranda and Joan for the great explanation. I understand a lot better now and I admire what you are doing by unschooling. It does capture my interest and I will be researching this more. Thanks again.
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#29 of 41 Old 12-28-2003, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry I haven't been able to post until now. Thanks everyone for all the interesting information. I feel much more at ease with my choice now as I realize that there won't be anything my child is "missing out" on by not attending school. Wow, it's going to be such an exciting journey for our family!
There's something I'm a little curious about. For you unschoolers, how do your kids start to show an interest in something? Is it mainly what the parents are involved in, or do many of you introduce things that you feel would be fun for your kids?
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#30 of 41 Old 12-28-2003, 03:30 PM
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It all seems to flow, really. Rain's Greek mythology thing started at the library, where one of us picked up a book of myths and put it on the stack. I don't even remember which, we used to get lots of books. But she asked me to read it over... and over... and over, so the next time I looked for some more Greek myths, and we read those. I also got some Norse myths around that time, and she had no interest at all. She built her own altars from blocks, I was flipping through a cookbook and found a section on Greek recipes, and I suggested those. It just went like that.

Rain's interest in theatre started when I was thumbing through the parks and rec catalog of classes and asking her if she'd be interested in this one or that one. Dance... no. Tumbling... no, I tried that and they were mean. Theater - oh, yes, I want to do that! And after that was over, she wanted to be in more plays. Around that time someone offered us extra tickets to a musical, and she loved it and decided she wanted to be in musicals, too, not just plays. So, I researched online and talked to people and we stumbled onward, and now her life is builkt around theatre... OTOH, we're reading C.S. Lewis because she wants to audition for Lion, Witch, Wardobe, and we were really interested in an NPR story about Morganthau after she did Annie, because he was a character in that show ... it's like a web, everything connects and connects.

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