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Old 01-21-2010, 12:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We are not entirely unschoolers since we do some bookish work, I will post this over in hsing as well but assume there are some other fence sitters over here

What I'm wondering is how much structured time your kids have (and how old they are) and how you feel about it.

DS is 6 1/2. We generally spend about 30-45 min a day on "work". He has to practice piano for 15 min and then will generally read to me for another 15. Then we may do a few math problems or word games.

He is in 3 organized activities, piano, swimming and kung-fu. While we (parents) choose piano and swimming ,he enjoys all of these classes. We also attend a hs co-op once a week where there is an optional activity for a n hour or so.

We also spend about an hour a day reading to him (he begs for more, but its just not managable).

Because I have two younger children (4 and 1) I a=often feel like ds1 gets the short end of the stick. He would love to do many more child-led activities, crafts, games, reading etc. But I am mostly so busy keeping up with the day to day household stuff that he usually gets put off. Sometimes I feel like I use the book work to make myself feel better about not being able to do all the things he wants.

So I guess I'm wondering how others balance these competing family needs, and how much time you set aside for structured activities and how much time you just let your kids do basically what they want?
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:07 AM
 
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my kids are 71/2, almost 4 and 1 1/2 and we have been homeschoolers since day one. Somewhere along the way I decided we should be doing more school type stuff - then
I had more kids Food, laundry, needs of little ones etc took over my life and I really felt like my oldest was losing out. So I think I know where you are coming from. In the last year I have come round to us being unschoolers ( we were living the life anyways).

We too are part of a hs group once a week, ds takes swimming lessons and fencing (both his choice). There are many other things he would like to do including visiting more with friends but we are often without a vehicle(dh uses ours for work) and live in an area that really requires a vehicle especially with 3 kids! So I think ds gets the short end of that stick for sure. And reading novels with the 2 little ones around has been next to impossible. Before dd was born and ds2 was still napping ds1 and I would read 2 hours a day- now it seems like a chapter is a lot. But he loves audiobooks so we have a ton of them. he has been known to listen to a story for 5 hours on a rainy day while puttering with lego.
Lately I have made a point of sitting down with the boys (dd is either asleep or puttering) and playing cards, table game (meta forms, rush hour, chess) and simple board games(for ds2 sake). it has been nice to reconnect. It seems like it had been so hard for a while that I had stopped trying. But ds2 is more interested in playing too so that has been easier.
Also ds1 has taken off with his reading recently(thank goodness - part of me was worried!) and so he is finding things that interest him on his own and it feels like less of a responsibility for me to give information to him.
When he rattles off some math thing he has concluded from living life or enthusiastically explains about this cool thing he read I feel myself exhale a little and smile because he is learning(despite all our hang-ups) and he is happy and bright eyed and with his family

oh and our fence sitting issue is the TV. I tried to go RU with that but his surly attitude after watching tons of tv was too much to deal with. although at first it was my insistence, he is turning it off for other pursuits now. I think in our household it is easy to get sucked in and hard to disengage no matter how icky it feels. Sometimes that gentle hand from someone else helps to make it possible.

I have no idea if that helped (or was even cohesive) but I am getting a gentle nudge to get to bed and boy do I need it

Sue

Unschooling, wannabe farmers with DP, DS1 (02), DS2 (06), and DD (08) on The Farm by the sea. And maker of SuzysBeesWraps

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Old 01-22-2010, 02:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by anarchamama View Post
What I'm wondering is how much structured time your kids have (and how old they are) and how you feel about it.
My kids are 5 and 7.5 and basically have no structured time. I feel really good about it as I'm a true believer in unschooling, although I confess I have my "panic" moments - which predictably fall towards the end of winter after a particularly wet and grey spell of weather, lol. DD has a wide variety of interests and DS is only 5 so AFAIC he can play the day away for a couple more years.

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He would love to do many more child-led activities, crafts, games, reading etc. But I am mostly so busy keeping up with the day to day household stuff that he usually gets put off. Sometimes I feel like I use the book work to make myself feel better about not being able to do all the things he wants.
Well, you say he likes the "work" you have him do, but IMHO I think that getting to sit down with a parent and have THEM interested in what YOU, the child, would like to do is probably more valuable. If your time is limited (and I so get that) maybe you should use your "work" time for that instead? He's so young, he really doesn't need formal work at his age (again, JMHO).

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So I guess I'm wondering how others balance these competing family needs, and how much time you set aside for structured activities and how much time you just let your kids do basically what they want?
At this stage of our family's life competing family needs isn't too much of a time-drainer for me. My "problem" is that my kids amuse themselves quite well all day and it's all too easy to start reorganizing a closet, or spend too much time on housework. So I try to have "sit down" time with each child at least a couple of times a week, if not more. I don't think you can quite call it "structured" since it doesn't happen every day, nor at the same time on a given day, but it is intentional on my part.

Basically when my house is in order I find that by late morning I have some free time and I'll ask one child or the other (depending on who isn't deeply engaged in something at the moment) if they would like to "do something with me". I'll make suggestions: with DS I might offer to do some colouring or crafting (he needs some practice with his fine motor movement so this is a bit more important than it might appear!), play Lego, read to him, or play a Wii game with him. But I make it clear that those are only suggestions and he can choose whatever he wants. Generally we'll do that for about 30 - 45 minutes depending on his interest level (when he starts squirming I know he's done, lol). With DD I might suggest workbooks (because she thinks they are fun), crafting, reading, playing a math game, or working on some kind of project (see my recent blog post about that)...basically anything she wants to do is fine with me.

My kids more or less do what they want most of the time. Sometimes we have to run errands, make appointments, etc and that's not something they would choose to do but most times we have a good time together anyways. We try to get out to the park, beach, or playground regularly and spend as much outside time as possible in any given season. We go to the library every week, and while that is my doing they love going. So I sort of organize their day in that sense but that's the extent of it.

teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

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Old 01-22-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post



Well, you say he likes the "work" you have him do, but IMHO I think that getting to sit down with a parent and have THEM interested in what YOU, the child, would like to do is probably more valuable. If your time is limited (and I so get that) maybe you should use your "work" time for that instead? He's so young, he really doesn't need formal work at his age (again, JMHO).



At this stage of our family's life competing family needs isn't too much of a time-drainer for me. My "problem" is that my kids amuse themselves quite well all day and it's all too easy to start reorganizing a closet, or spend too much time on housework. So I try to have "sit down" time with each child at least a couple of times a week, if not more. I don't think you can quite call it "structured" since it doesn't happen every day, nor at the same time on a given day, but it is intentional on my part.
I can say the above poster's words here pretty much sum up my sentiments exactly. I really have to watch the too much time on housework too!!!

I know your kids are young, I still find that even at my kids ages I still have to juggle and prioritize all day long....should I do this, or this now? With both my kids personalities and our family lifestyle I gave up on having a "schedule" (in the sense of what my school-at-home cohorts do) as it was a big FAIL here and we were all miserable. I also work part time as well which doesn't help. Once I gave up on having "phonics everyday at 9:00" sort of thing things flowed much nicer for us.

For us, I guess you can sum up our unschooling life as a big collaberation of sorts. I see something the kids are interested in, and try to expand on it. I dunno if you can call it a list of goals or curriculum or whatever...I actually (most times ) try to keep a written record of what I am doing for a few weeks at a time, of what I see they are doing/interested in and how I can expand on that like looking up a website or something. I acutally have a notebook with 2 months on a page for each kid. For example, I've noted Stephanie is interested much more in math (her area of struggle) and I can see some things she is grasping better so I am making a point of ordering base-10 blocks and place value blocks, and also playing Math cats with her this weekend. I know she likes cartooning (a great way for her to write!) and I know Makebeliefcomics has expanded their website, so I'll make a note and I will go and ask if she wants to do that too. I'll jot stuff like this down, especially so dh can follow through with it if I am working and he is in the loop...Jonathan has been very interested in copying stuff out of his favorite library book, so today dh did that with him when I was at work. This also makes the Jan and June reports easier!

I just try to have the "general feeling" of what I would like to point out/expand on/elaborate/look up with them (because something they said/did/asked triggered it, like I said it's pretty collaborative), and if it gets done this evening (like today, since I work) then so be it. It's alot of things in the back of my mind and my kids going along with my "hey, do you wanna..." in our house....and I do try to have some uninterrupted time each day with each kid but yours are a lot younger than mine. Or sometimes they will suggest something to ME that I haven't thought of!

Like Piglet above, it's no big deal if they say no, and I find it all comes out in the wash in the end anyway. I think that if you stop and realize that in pub school alot of time is spent getting dressed for recess, crowd control, etc you will find that you are spending almost an equivalent amount of "learning time" with your kids!

Tina, RN, wife-y to J, mom to dd (10) and ds (7)
"Beware the lollipop of mediocracy...one lick and you suck forever!"
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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we have none. i do have a mother's helper that comes over once a week for two hours to play with DD and that's DS' and my time together, but 75% of the time DS decides he doesn't want to do what i have prepared. and so we do whatever he is interested in. when he does do what i have prepared we work together as long as he wants, make lunch together and then he plays with the mother's helper and his lil sis until she goes home and we go to the Y.

we do have certain days we go to the Y, library, children's museum, etc. i guess you could call that structured. but i don't plan what they do (usually!).

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Old 02-01-2010, 08:33 PM
 
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My older dd craves structured time and loves workbooks and math. In fact, I just went to Costco with them and bought like 15 workbooks. She just gets such a kick out of mazes and little tasks. The younger one is only 2.7 and loves to try anything her sister does.
The biggest development for us is that they finally can REALLY play with each other For the longest time the older sorta despised the younger, however now they play hours on end and the older teaches the younger all kinds of counting and words and is generally less afraid and more helpful.
I'm talking about this, because for the longest time I was the energy bunny, provider of ideas, structured time, reading books, etc and by about 5 pm I was exhausted. Now they do their own inspirational games and they structure most of their playtime by themselves. All I do is provide answers, ideas, inspiration for more games, and I provide them with books to read and peruse. They are both so happy.
So, long story short, after some downtime when I was just exhausted both girls rebalanced our family life by deciding to take charge of their own day and activities, to be responsible for having their own fun instead of me providing a structure for them to have fun in, kwim?
It worked!

unschooling mama with Toots'n Fruits (6) and BeenzieBoo (3)
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