Unschooling "plan for the day" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 05-02-2002, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a question for all of the unschoolers out there. My oldest daughter is six. We started out with Oak Meadow this year, but were vey loose with it. We have also used various workbooks and "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." Oh, and there was that project about teeth I tried when she lost her first tooth; that got really ugly, really fast... Anyway, things seem to go well for a while, then rapidly deteriorate once the novelty wears off. When we start arguing about what, whether, when, and/or how to something, I generally back off. We read ALL the time (at dd's request -- there is nothing else she would rather do), so I figure we can't go too far afield.

After the "great tooth incident" about two months ago, I was fed up and hurt and I stopped initiating anything. I figured, she knows what we have in the house, if she wants to do something, she'll let me know (God knows she has no problem telling people what she wants). We still read constantly, and in the past couple of weeks she has started reading on her own; and nobody "did anything" to her or for her. Well, this made me think that maybe unschooling really is the way to go with her, as she is so strong willed (she comes by it naturally).

What I am wondering is, with little kids who can't be as self directed as older kids (simply because they don't yet know what is "out there" or how to access it all) do you plan any sort of activities at all? Or do you just let them play and drive you nuts? If you do make plans, how do you select from everything available? Do you usually have a couple of options available for your child to choose from, or is it more "Do you want to do X? If not, you're on your own." As you are selecting projects, when do you cross the line into unit studies? Does it even matter?How do you make sure, as you go along, that you are meeting legal requirements?

I think unschooling would work really well for us, but I am still nervous about "letting go" of everything (and my husband thinks I'm nuts). Any advice?
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#2 of 8 Old 05-02-2002, 08:09 PM
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I don't plan. I take the day as it comes, living with my children and keeping my eyes and ears open to whatever they show interest in. And then run as much as I can with that interest, opening doors and windows (and computer screens ) to things as I go. I try to be really careful to NOT teach as I go. Just share the interest and learn together.

I sometimes try to encourage an interest by doing it myself in their presence. They usually, but not always, ask me what I'm doing and join in or ask to do it themselves.

It might be nice if some of the unschoolers here would post "A Day in the Life of an Unschooling Family" post for us to read. Sometimes the day passes away without us realizing just how much our unschooling child learns and absorbs.

My unschoolers are 7, 5, and 3. We read ALOT and most other activities are art and play related plus edu-videos about the world out there, and exploring their own community.

I have also just started giving them money to budget for their expenses - the older two that is. Lots of learning there. And I include them in cooking and putting recipes together which brings in math left and right too.

Recently they became aware of sign language and thought that was soooo cool. In about 10 minutes they had learned the alphabet and the next day started sign spelling words.

So there are lots and lots of things to try and interests to encourage. You just have to catch them as they come!

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#3 of 8 Old 05-02-2002, 11:30 PM
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we are an unschooling family, and i think the idea of "a day in the life..." is a great one...tho i dont have time to type it all now...lol. we plan nothing beyond daily chores and errands and field trips with our groups. both my older children (8 & 5) will get an "interest of the moment" from time to time and we will dive into the subject for as long as we have steam for it. in between times, they just play, but dont discount the important of play - there is an awful lot going on there while u think they are lollygagging around the yard. even when they are just sitting staring into space there is plenty going on...something kids who go to public school and then countless lessons and such dont have time for.
they learn a lot from simply sharing your life as u run the house as well, and the best way to get them going on a project is to set it up at the dining room table and start working on something that interests u. they will dive right in whether u want them there or not! nothing interests a kid like something adults are doing and dont care if the kids do with them or not lol. read some john holt - it will set your mind at ease. what do i do monday is a good one of his for thinking about why we think kids need to be directed so much. if we set an example of taking action and DOING things that interest us, they will either join in or start their own projects. or not - their strengths may lie elsewhere - and the idea is to help them discover their strengths and ultimately find a way to be happily and gainfully employed at something they are good at and enjoy and would do no matter what.
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#4 of 8 Old 05-03-2002, 01:50 PM
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There is a great book called "Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days" it is a 'day in the life' format for 35 or so families. It is so neat to look into their houses! Some are unschoolers and others aren't but that is kind of the beauty, you can really get a feel for what might work in your house.

Mine are 2 and 4 and we just take each day as it comes. I'm always amazed at the opportunities that present themselves. A walk, introduces us to flowers and trees and how they look at different stages. Tending the garden we learn about seeds, timing, water, things like that fact that peas come out after the flowers, etc. A caterpillar on our fennel leads to a search in a book to discover it is a black swallowtail. We brought that one in, fed it until it made it's chrysalis and now are waiting for it to come out as a butterfly. A friend is going to Mexico, so let's go look at the big world map and see how far away that it. That leads us to pointing out where we live and where Nana lives and where we went on vacation. Setting the dinner table we can count who will be there and how many utensils we need. And of course there is plenty of play time and tons of reading books, sometimes me to them and like right now they are in here 'reading' their own books. I let them be the guide and just help them find out more info if they want it. My 4 yo was obsessed with bones about a year ago. I had to get college level text to get what she was looking for, she learned all the medical names for all of the major bones. She looked at xrays and everything bone related for weeks. She then moved on the our other systems, where food goes, our blood, breathing etc. Now she has moved on but she still remembers FAR more about our insides than I knew before this exercise The point is, she wouldn't have gotten that in pre-school but allowing her to lead the way she knows far more than most adults about our body. That was my first lesson in trusting my kids to learn all they need.

Good luck on your journey! Enjoy it every step of the way.

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#5 of 8 Old 05-03-2002, 09:49 PM
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Anna , I enjoyed reading about some of the things your four year old has learned. I am really getting interested in unschooling. This past summer I learned more about plants in just planting a few vegetables in a garden than I did in my two years of high school plant biology. It really solidifed my faith in unschooling.

Cassidy , I really believe that once you get started you'll see the natural ability and desire kids have to learn. Not only will your dd pick up new information quickly and easily, you'll find yourself learning lots and lots too. (especially more than you would if she were in public school).
Good luck Cassidy, I think you'll enjoy unschooling.
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#6 of 8 Old 05-04-2002, 07:13 PM
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We are more classical education/unschooling rather than true unschoolers, and I do not do a yearly schedule, or even a monthly one, but I do make a library list once a week and every evening I sit donw and put away the work we have done that day and make general plans for the next day. We do use a structured program for math and handwriting, and I put a tray out each morning with the kids "work for the day" on it. This only takes us about an hour each morning and it helps me to stay focused on what we are doing. I am not a particularly spontaneous person and we have a lot of standing appointments throughour the week so I find that some structure helps me to keep my wits.
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#7 of 8 Old 05-05-2002, 09:07 PM
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<<Do you usually have a couple of options available for your child to choose from, or is it more "Do you want to do X? If not, you're on your own." As you are selecting projects, when do you cross the line into unit studies? Does it even matter?>>

I think the important thing is to find what really works for you and your DD, not trying to fit someone else definition of "unschooling." May be doing a unit study would be fun for you'all every now and then. It's OK if it is. May be unit studies drive your DD crazy, in which case it is OK NOT to do them.

I don't think that letting your DD drive you crazy is a long-term solution. You need to find a way that she isn't driving you crazy AND you aren't driving her crazy.

I would start by thinking about the things she enjoys and the ways you enjoy spending time together. Let her do the things she likes, but don't take them over and turn them into "school."

Ask her if she would like you to do a puzzle with her, or play a game with her, or read a book with her. Check out the museums and historical sites near you.
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#8 of 8 Old 05-08-2002, 12:23 AM
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Cassidy, i have an off-topic question about oak meadow for you - please zoom to the end of the oak meadow thread.
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