How Does Unschooling Work? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-25-2009, 08:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I know I should probably read a book on it, but I'm honestly curious here.

HOW do you 'unschool'? What does your average day consist of? Do you have books or textbooks, even if you don't follow a schedule for them? How do you teach finite things like math or reading through unschooling? What if you're not the 'creative' type to think of lessons through everyday things? And even if you are, how do you incorporate the vast amount of things we are supposed to learn in school in your everyday activites? For instance, I don't think I could teach my kids something like geography without sitting them down and looking at a map, that sort of thing.

I'm just curious as to how it works on a basic level.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:33 PM
 
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NAK
There are so many posts on this board that discuss just this. Spend some time reading, explore blogs.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Actually, I did check through the recent posts on the boards, the stickies, and clicked in quite a few blogs and didn't get the specific answers I was looking for, just a general "whatever your child seems interested in" answer. I just don't get it. I'm not posting to be rude, I'm honestly curious. I think the "just research it yourself" answer isn't very nice. If you don't want to post your experiences, which I did ask for specifically, then don't post.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:42 PM
 
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For me, it's like raising a 1, 2 or 3 year old. I follow my children's natural rhythms, let them awaken when they naturally awaken (unless we are going somewhere early), let them eat when they are hungry (except I do make meals, but they are free to eat none or little of them and I ask for their input). When they were toddlers, I was in a moms club and we went to all or most of their park days, playgroups, craft days and field trips. Now I do pretty much the same thing by being involved in our local homeschool group. I ask my children which events they want to go to and join up for and we just go. When my children want to read, or have me read to them, they or I do. When they get it in their mind to do a science experiment, I help them. When the Parks 'n Rec guide comes out, I show it to them and see if they would like to sign up for anything. We go to book stores and they read stories to me and choose the books they want to buy. We are members of a Roots & Shoots chapter and we do all sorts of charitable and educational activities and service projects and my children are so proud to be members of it and to reminisce about the interesting and helpful things they have done. They love to watch animal and science related TV shows, they love to go to museums of all sorts, they love gardening and growing food, my 7 year old daughter wants to help DH cook every day, and my 10 year old son is constantly coming up with things that he wants to invent.

My children asked to learn instruments (violin and piano). I explained to them that it can be very expensive to purchase those instruments and pay for lessons, so that I needed to be fairly certain that they could commit to practising almost every day (as the music teachers request) and they both thought it over and insisted that they were both willing and want to do it. Now, they have been studying their instruments for over 9 months and the practice almost every day but if they just don't feel like it one day, well, it's their choice.

I find that my children are constantly coming up with new and interesting things that they want to learn, want to follow up on, ideas for things they can do and learn and they are just SSOOOOOO happy. They think they have the best life in the world and tell us that often. It makes us feel so incredibly grateful that we found this way of life and have not strayed from it.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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What do you do about stuff that your child isn't interested in, like math? I think I would rather burn in hell than do math work, but I did end up needing it in real life situations, like when I worked in retail management.

Is the theory that if we don't force them to learn specific things at specific times they will eventually be interested in learning everything?
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Talula Fairie View Post
Actually, I did check through the recent posts on the boards, the stickies, and clicked in quite a few blogs and didn't get the specific answers I was looking for, just a general "whatever your child seems interested in" answer. I just don't get it. I'm not posting to be rude, I'm honestly curious. I think the "just research it yourself" answer isn't very nice. If you don't want to post your experiences, which I did ask for specifically, then don't post.
Sorry, I'm naking, can't type much now, and didn't realise you read up on US already. There's honestly a ton of info here on these specific questions, but I also prefer to engage in conversation rather than seearch Didn't mean to upset you. I'm sure others will share more.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, I'm naking, can't type much now, and didn't realise you read up on US already. There's honestly a ton of info here on these specific questions, but I also prefer to engage in conversation rather than seearch Didn't mean to upset you. I'm sure others will share more.
I've had friends who unschool, so the concept is not totally foreign to me. For some reason though, I just can't wrap my mind completely around it.

I'm a master at NAK. I just stuck my daughter on the boppy and typed away *shrug*
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:03 PM
 
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I'm a master at NAK. I just stuck my daughter on the boppy and typed away *shrug*
She fell asleep on one arm--can't type long with 1 hand.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
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She fell asleep on one arm--can't type long with 1 hand.
happens to the best of us

The way I did it, when she would fall asleep on the boob my arms would be over her...so she'd just end up sleeping on the boppy. But I did end up one handed a few times too.
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:11 PM
 
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I know I should probably read a book on it, but I'm honestly curious here.

HOW do you 'unschool'?
For us it's similar to the way adults learn something. When my kids are interested in something, they look it up, I answer their questions, or help them find the info or someone who can answer their questions. When they express an interest in trying something, I do whatever I can to make that happen.

If I see a class or event that I think they'll like, I let them know about it.

We have tons of books and other resources, but I don't teach lessons and I don't follow the school's scope and sequence. My kids learn what they need to learn to live their own lives. Things like math and geography and all the rest come up naturally in day to day living. If something doesn't come up, and they want to learn about it, we seek out resources.

Using your geography example, I've never taught geography. But we have maps and use them often. The kids look up places they hear about in the news, places family and friends live, natural things like mountain ranges or rivers they hear of, places they read about in books and magazines or see in movies. They use maps when we travel, and refer to them when we hear weather reports. So, my kids have looked at maps quite a bit, but I've never devised a lesson, nor have I sat them down to specifically learn geography.

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Old 05-25-2009, 09:20 PM
 
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What do you do about stuff that your child isn't interested in, like math? I think I would rather burn in hell than do math work, but I did end up needing it in real life situations, like when I worked in retail management.

Is the theory that if we don't force them to learn specific things at specific times they will eventually be interested in learning everything?
Sort of. My son will be 8 in two weeks and is just getting into math. He grew to hate it through school and school-at-home experiences. The thing is, there IS math in real life.
So while I wouldn't classify it as something he's 'interested' in, he does see that it has a value in his life and he's learning things happily as they apply to him. Just a few examples-
-He gets an allowance and has been doing lots of figuring while deciding what to buy, how much to save etc.
-He does math when he plays Pokemon and Gormiti.
-He keeps track of how many coins he has while playing Lego Star Wars and Lego Batman.
-He is recently paying attention to what time it is so he can keep track of his favorite shows or know when his Ninja class starts.
-We set the tripometer to zero in the van when we leave the house so we see how many miles we drove.

There are unschooled kids who just love math and play math games for fun. My son isn't one of them but he is getting a lot just through living.

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Old 05-25-2009, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I can see how you could incorporate it that way. I was more thinking of specific math subjects that are harder to learn though life, like percents, multiplication, ect. It's hard for me to imagine learning that even through a real life situation. It was something that took me many painstaking hours to learn.
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:25 PM
 
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She fell asleep on one arm--can't type long with 1 hand.
That always happens to me too One handed typing makes me :

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Old 05-25-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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Yeah, I can see how you could incorporate it that way. I was more thinking of specific math subjects that are harder to learn though life, like percents, multiplication, ect. It's hard for me to imagine learning that even through a real life situation. It was something that took me many painstaking hours to learn.
Maybe you could first examine why it was so hard for you learn? Maybe you'd feel differently about it if you'd been able to discover it and 'play' with it naturally. Maybe you would have happily and easily done the math related to your job.

Math was never a subject I was good at but I can directly relate that idea to my school and home experiences. As a result of unschooling our kids I've decided to stop labeling myself as just bad at math. I got a math workbook and did some on my own and had my husband help me a lot.

When my son is dealing with allowance he encounters multiplication/division and percents all the time. How many $6.99's are in $25? I want 5 characters that each cost $5. What's the total I need to save? Star Wars sets are 20% off so now they cost X?

Looking down the road, if he has a healthy relationship with math he could potentially decide he wants to learn algebra etc. for fun. I think its fun, lots of people do.

Or he could realize that if he wants to become an engineer he's going to need some advanced math and we'd find books/online resources/tutors/community college classes etc. to learn it. Or, he could decide to do something completely out of the realm of math where just the basics is all he needs.

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Old 05-25-2009, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
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That's a good point and I did think of that. I am sure the hours of math homework that I didn't understand which I was forced to do (I decided to fail instead) might have had something to do with my dislike for the subject!

By the time I was actually using it for my job, I had already taken the summer school class on percents some years back so I already knew how to do it. And yeah, I don't recall hating doing the sales goals for work, I actually liked it by that point.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:27 PM
 
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If you have a library close by, you might check out the book by Mary Griffith, "The Unschooling Handbook". There are a bunch of great books out there, but this one might satiate your curiosity about how specific "subjects" like math and reading are learned at home without a compulsory curriculum.

I was also wondering what exactly unschooling looked like in some families when I first started hearing about it and blogs and posts give a wonderful insight into it, but that book opened my eyes and was easier to find what I was looking for without having to jump around a million places. I was absolutely fascinated by the stories that were given and it bolstered my confidence in finding ways to facilitate my children's learning in lots of ways at home.

We have been homeschooling/unschooling from the start. I participated in two different mom-run, at-home preschool co-ops with my first son, who was very social and loved to be with his friends. He picked up lots of friendships and felt a great confidence in himself during that time, which I consider one of the best benefits from our time in those groups--but what I was mildly surprised to see that his learning was very internal and though his environment influenced his learning, it came mostly in his time and his own way.

For instance, he was exposed to reading and writing at home and through the co-op so often, yet didn't progress from writing his name to writing other letters until maybe 5 or 6, years after co-op. I wasn't worried, but I was fascinated that he soaked up the knowledge and when it was "time", he started writing more numbers and letters. He learns math by asking questions and thinking about it, very internal. He'll be playing with his video games, and then building with legos, and then come and ask me a few questions, like "2 and 3 are 5, right Mom?" Yep. "Then what is 4 and 1? Is that 5, too?" He was excited to discover, on his own, that different combinations of numbers could end in the same number, I guess. But the cool part to him was that it was his discovery. He wouldn't let me "write" the addition problems for a while, he preferred to think them out, but later after showing him 2+3=5 on paper, he became intrigued and began writing math out himself, and plays with a magnetic number kit we have with math symbols, making up nonsense and occasionally finding something amazing, to him at least!

The point in my very long-winded essay is that learning happens over time, it's a process, and when the child is given time and trust (as much as we can give to them) and interesting environments to play around with, the learning will happen. It took time and watching my son learn (without daily heroic, stoic efforts and hundreds of dollars of orderly boxed curriculum on my part ) that was proof to me that unschooling could work.

I might add I have seen how his contemporaries (other 6 year olds hehe) write and do math and think and speak, and I see his progression to be perfectly normal, nothing out of the ordinary, and though his little brother who is 4 doesn't do what his older brother did at the same age, I see them each growing in ways that are unique to them and see nothing that tells me they are "missing" something by not being made to learn X or Z. From how I see it, if it has worked this long, it will work as they grow older, too. Maybe it will look different, and I am sure it will, at different ages, but the premise remains true.

I emphasize that learning is a process, and even many homeschoolers, after learning at home for a few years, tend to ease up on the curriculum and start having more laxness when they see how easily and quickly their children are learning. We sometimes think it has to be difficult (maybe it was to us, in certain areas like math or reading), and sometimes because we see it that way (we are seeing with "school eyes"), we make it more than it has to be. Reading about how learning happens can be quite the eye opener in that regard to understanding unschooling, and sometimes this is referred to as part of the process of "deschooling", which means getting away from thinking of learning in terms of school subjects and compulsions and lazy students and seeing it as a holistic experience, where the learner can be trusted to know what is meaningful and important to them, and follow that.

I know of many families (unschoolers) that do use "curriculum" to assist their children in learning. For instance, a set of history on CD or a foreign language like Rosetta Stone or, goodness, math books! or Math U See or a handwriting worksheet. How about music lessons? It is based on what the child is leaning towards or perhaps mom or dad want to share something with that child. I think the point is the world is our "classroom", and libraries, museums, books, parks, people, internet, DVDs, it's all fair game when a person wants to learn something.

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Old 05-25-2009, 10:37 PM
 
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Someone posted this YouTube video about it once. I thought it enlightening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xxYJZT5YTo

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Old 05-25-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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How do we unschool? We just live and learning happens. Really it does. I'm still in awe of it, but we've been living this way for many years now and I've come to trust my children and the natural learning process. It is hard to understand before you've experienced it though; it takes a while to deschool. I'm still deschooling!

Examples of how my kids learn naturally:

My oldest daughter increased her reading vocabulary today because she decided to pick up my Smithsonian and Home Education magazines that I had lying around and she read a few parts of each. A few times she stopped, spelled something out and asked, "What's that?" I answered and she went on.

My second daughter practiced her writing skills today because she decided she wanted to record directions for how to make the sofa cushion fort she had just created. She's going to share the plans with friends coming over to visit tomorrow.

We have a shelf full of workbooks I've collected over the years (some are coloring books, and the Mad Libs are stored on this shelf too). My oldest daughter often pulls one out and does a few or 30-some pages. Last summer, at a used book sale, I picked up a big handwriting workbook -- a complete program from printing through cursive -- and she worked her way through it entirely at her own initiative over the last 9 months. It was just one of the many books I bought that day and I didn't know it would be such a hit with her!

I own lots of teacher resource books but I purchased many of them before I even had kids because I was a teacher before that. I don't use them much anymore, but hold on to them just in case! I'm about to offer to do lessons from the Parents Guide to Teaching Reading with my 5 year old who has been talking about wanting to learn how to read. (She IS learning how to read, but she doesn't think so because she wants to be as fluent as her sister.)

I also have a lot of idea books for science projects, art, math games, etc. I want to get better at using these to plan some activities ahead of time; I'm getting there. I think when the kids are older they will go through these resources themselves and find projects they want to do. Already my oldest has a couple of times. She likes to read through cookbooks and find something for us to bake too.

I don't think you have to be creative with all the idea resources available. There are lots of free resources online too. Also, the kids come up with great ideas themselves. And they will learn more from projects that they initiate.

I don't worry about what they are "supposed to learn" in school. Have you read Gatto? Schools are not the model to live up to. Remember, the public school system has only been around for the last 100 years, and it is failing. Most people were homeschooled before then.

We learn what we need and want to learn, at any age. One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was to remember, "There are no educational emergencies."

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Old 05-25-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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Yeah, I can see how you could incorporate it that way. I was more thinking of specific math subjects that are harder to learn though life, like percents, multiplication, ect. It's hard for me to imagine learning that even through a real life situation. It was something that took me many painstaking hours to learn.
My daughter is 6.5 yrs old, unschooled, and she adores math. If you asked her what her favourite thing to do is, she would probably throw 'math' out there in the top three! And while she does love to do workbooks and such, she learns mostly through everyday life.

For example, the other day the kids were outside collecting pill bugs and watching them in a jar. We looked up some information online about the bugs, and she found out they have seven pairs of legs. Then she started figuring how many legs were in the jar each time they added a new bug. When she got to 10 bugs she easily figured out there were 140 legs in the jar (her reasoning: 7 pairs of legs x 10 bugs was 70, 7+7=14, so 70+70 was 140), and from there quickly figured out how many legs were there for 11 bugs, etc. So she was doing a pretty awesome job of multiplication with very little help from me, all because it was really interesting for her to figure out how many legs were in that jar.

From my perspective, these types of situations give me an opportunity to talk to her about shortcuts in counting, place value, etc. So when she starts asking questions like this, I talk to her about shortcuts she can use rather than needing to count on her fingers, etc. It's a very natural process.

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Old 05-26-2009, 12:19 AM
 
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Learning math and reading and all that stuff just happens...it sounds trite but it's true. As someone else said, we've been living this way for a few years now and I'm still amazed at how eager children are to learn. They really are programmed that way. Think about how you parented your baby/toddler - you didn't worry about how to teach them walking or talking...think about language for a minute: babies learn a whole language from the start JUST BY HEARING OTHER PEOPLE TALKING. That sort of drive and curiosity and ability never really goes away when kids aren't sent to school.

Both my kids learned to read on their own: one was a total bookworm so no surprise she started reading at age 3. DS was never into books, though he enjoyed being reading to when he was around 3 or so. He is now 4.5 and reading quite well. Now they are early readers but so were me and DH so its really just in their genes. Honestly we did nothing to "teach" them except answer their questions about what sounds a letter makes or how to spell a certain word.

Math is everywhere. We've been brainwashed into thinking its this horrible thing that kids have to be FORCED to learn because they hate it. But I believe they hate it b/c of their experiences in school. As another poster said it is hard to get by in life without encountering math in many forms.

Children are hard-wired to learn the skills they need to function in their society. A society where reading and writing and basic math are everywhere will produce kids who want to gain those skills. Whether they start at age 3 or age 9 they WILL want to gain those skills. You just have to trust in that.

Our daily life is just...living. We go to the library every week. We have tons of books, games, puzzles, DVDs, computer games, etc and the kids basically just do whatever interests them at the time. We go on outings, nature walks, homelearning group activities, etc. It's a very wonderful lifestyle, which is one of the things that first attracted me to it. I also believe it's the optimal way for kids to learn: they don't need to be "educated" - they are naturally curious and driven and all they need is an environment that stimulates and access to resources. You don't have to "know" your subject - in fact some of the most fun is learning about it together!

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Old 05-26-2009, 04:35 PM
 
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I have two favorite unschooling allegories. One is from Sandra Dodd's site. It's about this Sesame Street book called "Grover and the Museum of Everything in the Whole Wide World" or some such nonsense. In the book, Grover walks through the museum: there's an under-the-sea room, an in-the-sky room, but ultimately they're all just rooms in a museum, disconnected from their context. Then Grover gets to a door that says "Everything ELSE in the Whole Wide World" and he opens it and walks out into the sunshine. That's unschooling.

The other one is something I came up with. You know how all the really great schools have these hands-on programs where the kids build community gardens to learn biology and math and cooperation, etc.? Well, when we unschool, that's our whole lives. Everything is hands-on.

We cook, we clean, we shop for groceries, we volunteer, we walk in the woods, we stare at the sky, we play games, we watch television shows, we read books, magazines, signs, newspapers, letters, we do crafts and sometimes science-y experiments that look a lot like crafts, we plant gardens, we write to our friends, we google things, we talk to the people in our neighborhood, we play with friends, we swim, we look at bugs, we watch birds, and we talk and talk and talk about all the things we're seeing and doing and thinking about all the time. That's learning.

You can't stop someone from learning. It happens all the time. You can try to dictate it, but that's usually a lot harder to get through, which is why with a rote method, everything must be repeated artificially over and over and over again. In reality, when someone's interested in something, when they're ready and curious and their brain is open to accepting it, it's easier. At some point, things just click. Even in school, reading and math don't just sink in for everyone right when it's supposed to. Some kids come into kindergarten reading already. Others struggle in remedial classes for years. Either way, in the end you have readers. Unfortunately, the side-effects of those who struggle tends to be that they lose their inherent love of reading, so they only use the skill functionally. This is true for so many things. Math is a big one, probably because most kids aren't ready for a lot of the math that is taught in school.

The other thing to think about is to question what is really necessary for growing and learning. What is the long-term goal of education? Break it down. In my mind, I see the long-term goal of education to raise children to adulthood with the skills they need to survive and be successful. Definitions of success may vary, however. My goals for my kids are that they be happy, that they love what they do, that they support themselves (to the best of their abilities), and that they're engaged in the world. To that end, I think that the best way for them to learn all that is to see it modeled and to be truly a part of the adult world. Why isolate them? Why take all learning and all the practical application of that learning out of its context? My children are integrated into the life they will one day be leading. What better way to learn everything they need to know than to do everything they'll need to do?

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Old 05-26-2009, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the insight, everyone!
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:55 AM
 
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Think about how you parented your baby/toddler - you didn't worry about how to teach them walking or talking...
Um, yeah, actually i did. I love the idea of unschooling, and think it's the best way. But I don't know how to get myself to that place. The whole trusting bit. So, I'm also having trouble wrapping my head around the process of unschooling. Plus, DS is three, and "Why?" is getting a tad annoying. Surely our whole unschooling career won't be this tedious? How would I know if I really weren't cut out to unschool?

Thanks for all the helpful posts,
-Rockport-

Learning & growing & changing everyday!
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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You'd be surprised how much one can learn when they are out living life.

My kids, like someone else mentioned, learned math because it became part of their desire to purchase items and figure out how much money they have and what they can afford. They've learned about fractions while helping me in the kitchen. And, we've recently started learning about percentages because of sales.

Learning happens everywhere, so if one is just allowing it to flow, more topics come up than you could imagine and kids have a genuine interest in the world and about learning.

Your math example is a perfect one. You were forced to learn it, it wasn't comfortable, you weren't motivated it was difficult. But, when one is motivated and really wants to learn, it becomes easy because they really want to learn.
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:10 PM
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Not much time to reply and haven´t had a chance to read what everyone else has posted...

With regards to for example learning maths and geography (since you mentioned the two) - I think you can find any of these subjects plus many many more within EVERY single topic! It just depends how deep you look!

Right now my son is really into baseball. But for him it´s not just about baseball the game. He loves throwing, catching, training, watching matches etc. But he´s also into checking out the physics of the ball´s movement, the biomechanics of the throw and the batting, the geography of the US teams, statistics of a match, history of the game etc etc....the list goes on!

So all the subjects that are separate entities in a school setting sort of come together within one topic here - IF you want!

We basically just *live* - I don´t see that the *process* of learning is much different for my now 10 year old than it was for him when he was say 2. He explores stuff, I share my interests, we check things out, we read, we watch movies, we hang out, we travel, we meet people....sometimes one thing leads to another that leads to an intense interest that at some point contains all of the above subjects. Sometimes we only skim the "surface of the topic" - other times we delve deep deep into the depths!!!

The underlying guideline is enjoy enjoy enjoy! :
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:51 PM
 
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Unschooling is a little like magic. : You spend your time doing fun stuff with your kids, and they seem to magically pick-up all kinds of stuff that many people devote tedious hours to teaching formally. It's like finding the secret short cut to education (not that kids necessarily learn things sooner than they might otherwise, but it's so much easier on everyone).

My unschooling analogy: when you feed a child, you can either decide on your own what the child should eat and how much, and then make every meal a battle where you threaten and cajole them to eat the things you've served. Or you could trust them to naturally crave a healthy balance of food, and let them choose freely what to eat (while offering healthy options you think they'll enjoy, and modeling healthy eating, of course). Studies show that the second option is quite a bit healthier for children in the long run, and a whole lot more pleasant in the short run.

In my experience, unschooling is like that, and I keep stumbling on research that suggests that the way my children choose to spend their days-- with a lot more free play than they'd have time for if they went to school-- is actually what children their age should be doing for optimal brain development. Academically, they're doing fine-- they don't know all the same things they would have learned in school, but there's no one subject that's neglected, and they believe they can learn whatever they need to know. (Disclaimer-- in my house we do limit both screen time and junk food)

ZM
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Old 05-30-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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HOW do you 'unschool'? What does your average day consist of?
Doing the things we like to do and need to do. Play, reading, talking, making, housework, visiting friends, etc.

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Do you have books or textbooks, even if you don't follow a schedule for them?
Do we have books? Is that a serious question? Book-owning is so ubiquitous in our culture that it seems incredible to me that someone would even wonder about it. Is your perception that unschooling is about not learning through the written word? I'm also confused by your qualifying the question with "even if you don't follow a schedule for them", as if that's the default. Do most people follow a schedule for book-reading? Sorry, I'm just sort of perplexed about what you are trying to get at here.

But yes, we have books. I'm not a fan of textbooks though. In my pretty extensive experience with the damn things, they are almost always excruciatingly poorly written.

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How do you teach finite things like math or reading through unschooling?
Mostly they pick stuff up through real-life interactions and interests. They ask lots of questions, what's this, what's that, how does that work, what does that mean. Occasionally they will ask for specific help/instruction. Both my boys learned to read through playing video games and looking at comics. One son learned entirely on his own, the other had a few brief spurts of intense question-asking, but there was no formal instruction. I don't say that to brag, because I don't think it means there is anything special about them. People pick up understanding naturally and fairly easily when something is all around them and they are allowed to come to it in their own best way and own best time, with support available if they need it. Traditional theory of learning doesn't think that possible except in very special cases. Traditional theory is wrong. It's not only possible, but normal. The only reason it isn't the norm is that it's not allowed to be.

Math learning started with money and baking. Those encompass basic arithmetic and fractions. Percentages are everywhere, so eventually they asked about that, too. They don't need to learn higher math. They may want to. One of my children is obviously mathematically-minded, and he loves it. I pretty certain that he will want to continue on, and the types of vocation(s) he chooses will probably reflect that. My other children, I'm guessing not, and that's as it should be.

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What if you're not the 'creative' type to think of lessons through everyday things?
Then you don't. Lessons come whether you actively think about them or not. I don't intentionally create a "lesson" out of making brownies. They say, "what does it mean when there's a number next to a slash next to a number?" In the process of explaining, other questions arise. And so learning occurs. People are wildly curious until they learn to equate learning with the unpleasantness of imposed instruction.

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And even if you are, how do you incorporate the vast amount of things we are supposed to learn in school in your everyday activites?
I don't. I could care less about the vast amount of things school officials think we should know. What I care about is what is relevant and interesting to us. And we don't have to work to incorporate that, because it's not separate from what our life is already about.

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For instance, I don't think I could teach my kids something like geography without sitting them down and looking at a map, that sort of thing.
Nothing wrong with maps. We have a book of maps, and two world globes. Google earth is awesome. The kids have asked what it is, where we are on it, what's over on the other side, how far is it, how big is it, what happens when it's day and night (bringing astronomy into it,) etc. I'm wanting to get one of those upside-down maps to put up on the wall (just because I like it and think it's interesting.) We often come across maps on the internet -- election maps, energy consumption maps (lights from space!), unemployment maps.

Maps are an excellent tool for learning about geography. That doesn't mean it's necessary to say, "okay, it's time to learn geography. Sit down at the table and I will lecture you/give you an assignment about it."

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What do you do about stuff that your child isn't interested in, like math?
Are they interested in money? Then they're interested in math. It's a mistake to assume that lack of interest in textbooks and abstract equations and forced learning means lack of interest in math itself.

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Is the theory that if we don't force them to learn specific things at specific times they will eventually be interested in learning everything?
Nooooo. Just those things that hold value for them.

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I was more thinking of specific math subjects that are harder to learn though life, like percents, multiplication, ect. It's hard for me to imagine learning that even through a real life situation. It was something that took me many painstaking hours to learn.
But the only purpose of learning it, aside from if you just simply enjoy it, would be to use it in a real life situation, yes? And if you can use it in a real life situation you can learn it from a real life situation. And in fact that's the easiest way to learn it because your brain has something real to connect those abstract ideas to. People think they're not good at math, when what they're actually not good at is making sense out of something completely abstract that is presented out of context, with no relevancy to anything in the real world.
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Old 05-30-2009, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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"Do we have books? Is that a serious question? Book-owning is so ubiquitous in our culture that it seems incredible to me that someone would even wonder about it. Is your perception that unschooling is about not learning through the written word? I'm also confused by your qualifying the question with "even if you don't follow a schedule for them", as if that's the default. Do most people follow a schedule for book-reading? Sorry, I'm just sort of perplexed about what you are trying to get at here."

Obviously pretty much everyone has books of some kind. I meant school related books specifically (so I guess I should have said "books for homeschooling"), textbooks, curriculum books, books geared towards learning a specific thing (for example, those Matt and Tab books we all grew up reading) vs being for entertainment. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear but there really was no reason for you to make assumptions about my perception and get so defensive. I was asking an honest question. Have I made even one negative comment about unschooling in this entire thread? No. I wasn't trying to "get at" anything. There really was no need to pick out one word in an entire post and harp on it.

And yes, many homeschooling parents do follow a specific curriculum and have a schedule for their educational books, just like they do in traditional schools. Some even have a schedule for the entertainment type books too when the kids are older, like how in school you'd spend a specific month reading Where The Red Fern Grows and then read something else the next month. I'm not saying that is the way it has to be done I am just answering your question when you asked if people have a schedule for books.
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Old 05-30-2009, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I would like to thank everyone for their insight and for writing about your personal experiences! Thank you
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Old 05-30-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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What do you do about stuff that your child isn't interested in, like math? I think I would rather burn in hell than do math work, but I did end up needing it in real life situations, like when I worked in retail management.
I am also interested in US and I also have a spotted history with math. I've been giving it a lot of thought and here's what I came up with:

I never really learned math until it became necessary for me to apply it to stuff I cared about. I had a horrendous experience with my 4th grade teacher and multiplication- put me off math for years. I scored a perfect score on the SAT verbal portion...and a 500 on the math. I was terrified of math. But later, when I began to love science, I needed math and so I taught myself. And then I started to work in retail and one day at the register, the puzzle that is math came together for me...finally. It's embarrassing, but I was downright giddy over it! So I think you as a parent can guide them toward meaningful applications for the knowledge you think they ought to know. You know them better and have more time to give them than a teacher at school.

ETA: I am reading "Teach Your Own" by John Holt. It's accessible and helpful.

Lucy, mama to Silas and Adelaide
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