What do kids NOT teach themselves? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-31-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post

I honestly don't understand why you feel the need to focus on my opinion about what is and isn't safe in a pool. We disagree about a safety issue. I have said that I might change my opinion if I had more experience in supervising young children at pools. That is OT for this board. If you want to discuss whether lessons are ever necessary for learning, I would be happy to hear your opinion.
I'm really not focusing on your opinion about that, sorry if it came across that way. Your real-life example (which will always send a philosophical or theoretical discussion off on a tangent) was all about safety in a pool! You brought safety into the discussion and it's why I suggested a safe way to allow your DD to do something she's excited to do. Your response to it would have made sense had I suggested to throw in her the deep end and hope for the best, but didn't make a lot of sense given what I had written, hence my request for clarification.

You didn't want to discuss it further and I dropped it, so I don't understand why you would think I am focused on it--I didn't mention it at all in the post you quoted. I think you are being overly harsh in your reponses to me, but maybe I am reading too much into it.

Safety issues aren't as OT as you might think. Being rigid in one's thinking, even when it can be justified as a safety issue, can get in the way of unschooling. That doesn't mean you compromise safety, but it does mean you look for ways to be able to say "yes, you can" when the knee-jerk reaction is "no, you can't". It does sound like you are on that track as you are questioning assumptions, etc.

As for classes/lessons being required, I think I can safely say that there is nothing you absolutely have to take a class for in order to learn (though in some cases it may be the best way). Even team sports can be played with friends in the park and you watch and learn, are given pointers here and there, etc. I don't think of kids as "teaching themselves" things, but rather finding ways to learn what they want to know and that's where we the parents can really come in handy.

My DS has always loved water but only just learned to swim last September, a few weeks after his 8th bday. About a week before his swim lessons began we were at the lake with family and he wanted to jump off the diving board into the lake. We found a way for him to do that safely and he had a ball. As for his lessons, learning to swim was nearly effortless for him (and the instructor). He was swimming by his fourth lesson and was moved out of the beginner's class. Even though he couldn't swim before taking the lessons he was just so ready.

We'd been to pools and water parks a zillion times before he could swim and he was never in any danger. That doesn't mean it's the same for everyone, especially if the parent can't swim or has another little one (or more!) to tend to, but it was the case for us. It would make me nervous though to have a swimming 4 year-old and not be able to watch/be near at all times. A friend's kid was that age and could swim and suddenly just ran out of steam halfway across the pool and started going under. I think he didn't realize how tired he was getting. (he was fine, btw, but it was scary for him and his parents!)
ETA: I know I'm continuing the pool example tangent here, I'm sorry if you are annoyed by this, but I wanted to share it anyway (not to purposely be annoying though!)

Could my DS have learned to swim without lessons, with a few tips here and there? Probably. After he could swim, he learned the backstroke on his own (just did what felt natural to him) and was able to do the breaststroke after watching me once. He liked the idea of lessons, though (he wants to have roller skating lessons too, something most kids learn on their own) so that's what we went with.

He takes cooking workshops too, not because he couldn't learn to cook any other way, but because he enjoys them. I guess I don't think of lessons as things you need to take to learn XYZ, but as opportunities amongst many others (and which some kids may not want and that's OK!)
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you are being overly harsh in your reponses to me, but maybe I am reading too much into it.
I felt just the same way. And I probably was overly harsh, because you really had me feeling defensive. Sorry.

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Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
Safety issues aren't as OT as you might think. Being rigid in one's thinking, even when it can be justified as a safety issue, can get in the way of unschooling. That doesn't mean you compromise safety, but it does mean you look for ways to be able to say "yes, you can" when the knee-jerk reaction is "no, you can't".
Hm. I'm not sure about this. I guess I agree if you're talking about the fanatical over-parenting that some mothers do (e.g., sanitizing shopping carts before a child can touch them). Personally, I try to only regulate safety issues when they're potentially life-threatening, and I just can't see myself ever being flexible in that area. I'm not ever going to be the kind of mother who lets a toddler run out in the street without holding someone's hand. I know some mothers do that, but I can't. And I don't really see how that (admittedly rigid thinking) is related to unschooling. We're flexible in all other areas.

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I don't think of kids as "teaching themselves" things, but rather finding ways to learn what they want to know and that's where we the parents can really come in handy.
That's a nice way of looking at it.

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Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
It would make me nervous though to have a swimming 4 year-old and not be able to watch/be near at all times. A friend's kid was that age and could swim and suddenly just ran out of steam halfway across the pool and started going under. I think he didn't realize how tired he was getting. (he was fine, btw, but it was scary for him and his parents!)
I think perhaps my perception may be a bit skewed, because my sister and I were both excellent (competitive) swimmers at a very early age. Our mother was never in the pool with us when we swam. I think she was usually up in the bleachers with a book. Obviously I wouldn't do that. But if she was a strong enough swimmer, I would feel comfortable with her swimming in the deep end without me being right next to her.
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Old 03-31-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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Oh so sorry to make you feel defensive! I definitely didn't mean to.

I wouldn't let a toddler run into the street either. I meant finding ways to say yes that don't put the kids in harm's way. Sometimes that can mean challenging our assumptions about things, but certainly not abandoning good sense.

However, I'm sure there are articles about this that explain it much better!
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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I guess I should explain the reason I asked.

I recently told DD (who is a young, attached 4, and who has never taken a class) that she can't play in a pool until she's taken a swimming class. After I said it, I immediately reconsidered. Why can't she teach herself to swim, if that's what she prefers? I have a visceral reaction to that--it's a safety issue--but maybe I'm wrong.

Then I started thinking about other classes. I'd always thought that DD (who is very interested in learning to play musical instruments) would have to take a class to get a real instrument. I assumed that she couldn't learn ballet (another thing she is very interested in) without a class. I felt certain that she needed multiple classes to learn how to play the full range of classic American sports. Suddenly I'm questioning all of those assumptions.
Swimming was actually one of the things DD taught herself. Now, at 7, she wants to take a class, to reinforce her skills.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 04-02-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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My eldest has taught himself with some participation from us Visual Basic programming, Visual Studio, Video game making programming, HTML, Video editing, movie making, and a bunch of stuff I don't understand, lol.. and he is 13. He also plays soccer.

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