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#1 of 12 Old 08-23-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you partly unschool, or do any lessons just taint the whole thing? For instance, can you routinely do math with kids of all ages and teach little ones to read, then leave them to their own devices for "all the rest?"


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#2 of 12 Old 08-23-2010, 07:39 PM
 
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I think it depends on who you ask. I think we are leaning toward an unschooling/homeschooling hybrid for our DS1. I'm sure for purists, we won't be considered true "Unschoolers," but that's ok. I will probably use the term "homeschooling" with friends/family, but do our own thing that will look more like unschooling on a day to day basis. Bottom line, there are no "unschooling" police that will show up at your door and revoke your unschooling label.

As far as philosophically tainting the practice, I don't have enough (any) experience to say.
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#3 of 12 Old 08-23-2010, 08:29 PM
 
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Yeah, I think it depends on who you ask. It also depends on how important that label is to you. You could be relaxed homeschoolers or eclectic homeschoolers or just homeschoolers who spend a lot of days looking like unschoolers, it is up to you to figure out what is right for your family.

I know for me I feel like a little bit of a faker in here. I believe 100% in unschooling philosophy and would love it if my children never stepped foot in a school as a student, yet for a variety of reasons (none of them academic/educational) we have decided to send DS to preK this year. The easiest way for me to explain it without telling a long story is that at this point in time it is the best way to most fully meet the needs of everyone in our family given our current circumstances. I try to think of his play-based non-academic prek (thank goodness for that!) as a glorified play group and I still feel like an unschooler at heart and in practice, but I know most people would say there is no way I can be unschooler if my 4 year old is in preK 3 days a week, and that's okay. I am hopeful that this is what we need to get us over this hump and that next year we'll be at home together full time.

I do think that children who are given the freedom to learn at their own pace and based on their own interest will tend to question the point of it all if you do try to sit them down and teach them certain subjects. And I think that is a good thing. A good book for you to read would be Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves by Allison McKee. She describes her family's experience unschooling and how time and time again she and her husband would start to doubt themselves and try to get the kids to focus on a particular subject or do a project in a certain way and it inevitably led to the loss of interest in that project even when their kids had previously been the one to initiate the study of that particular subject.

I'm sort of reading between the lines here, but it sounds like maybe you are concerned that your kids won't pick up on the math and reading as soon or as easily as you'd like them too unless they are taught? That is a different issue I think, and I think it takes some time to get used to the idea that they really can and will seek out that knowledge for themselves without being forced to sit down and learn. How old are your kids? I know it becomes easier to get comfortable with these ideas the more you start to see them at work. It is also a little easier to rest easy about it if you have a 4 year old who is on the verge of reading versus a child that may not be interesting in reading until a later age, but I really do believe that if they are allowed to do it in their own time even a child who learns to read much later will quickly catch up (and even surpass) "grade" level reading skills.
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#4 of 12 Old 08-23-2010, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A good book for you to read would be Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves by Allison McKee. She describes her family's experience unschooling and how time and time again she and her husband would start to doubt themselves and try to get the kids to focus on a particular subject or do a project in a certain way and it inevitably led to the loss of interest in that project even when their kids had previously been the one to initiate the study of that particular subject.
That sounds like the book I need - this is a lot of how I feel, that trying to drum up interest in whatever period of history comes next or even a science topic that is next in the schedule seems artificial in practice, although it sounds great in theory. My goals for this year are: get 10yo dd thinking rationally about math again (after a year in ps that went nowhere, possibly backwards in this area), keep ds 6 moving along in math and learning to read ( I have rightstart math for both and it think it will be good for us), and let them regain ownership of their curiosity.

I let them write the things they want to learn about on slips of paper and put them in a box - they keep adding to the box. We drew out a slip (greek mythology) and all summer we have been learning about it. Now they aren't ready to give it up, and "school has started" today for us, and trying to do some other curriculum just feels wrong when they want more greek mythology. I guess this isn't unschooling at all, it is child-led or something. :sigh:

Thanks for the words of wisdom
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#5 of 12 Old 08-24-2010, 03:20 AM
 
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I think unschooling is a spectrum. I'm at the point in the spectrum that believes in strewing. So I buy the www.sonlight.com books (or at least the ones that seem appropriate for our family.) I bought the handwriting without tears wooden letter forms. I look for science experiments. Then I offer these things to my kids (well, my son, the 2 year old is a bit young for much of this.) And if he wants to do it, great. If he doesn't I drop it. Right now he is really into watching Betty Crocker cake decorating on youtube. We limit screen time and that's where he spends most of his screen time these days. Today he told me, "You use a serrated knife to cut cake because it cuts cake nicely." (He's 4.5.) Or he told me, "You can make pastry bags out of parchment, wax paper, or cellophane." Except he didn't know what parchment, wax paper, or cellophane are.

I did a search on Peter Gray on the Psychology Today website and he has lots of interesting looking articles. Here are a couple I read that I think you will find interesting:

Math:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...r-own-learning

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...ath-in-schools

Reading:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...hemselves-read

Sudsbury School:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...sudbury-valley

I'm going to check out the book railyuh recommended.

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#6 of 12 Old 08-24-2010, 04:10 AM
 
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Without getting into the semantis of whether it is called unschooling, why not direct skill acquisition but follow their lead on content? It's pretty amazing what you will come across and the connections you will find if you "wander" through subjects. IMO once kids have access to certain skills, they can learn just about anything they want. You can use activities in the community, dvds/tv, newspaper articls etc to spark their interest in all sorts of things and follow up when the want to learn more in a content area - and use those times to teach things like research skills.

Good luck
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#7 of 12 Old 08-24-2010, 07:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Gem0406 View Post
Can you partly unschool, or do any lessons just taint the whole thing? For instance, can you routinely do math with kids of all ages and teach little ones to read, then leave them to their own devices for "all the rest?"
Honestly, I think the answer depends a lot on your kids. Some kids enjoy short lessons, and it wouldn't feel like it "tainted" their learning, other kids might become resentful, and that would change the vibe in your home. I think it also depends on whether the kids can make the choice not to do the lessons, or do them out of order or how they think is best.

Personally, I am not a true unschooler, for various reasons, I can't seem to get there. However, I try hard to respect my kids where they are and work with them to have a good learning experience- to me that's what is most important.

Peace,

Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#8 of 12 Old 08-24-2010, 10:37 PM
 
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IMHO you can't mix up unschooling with forced learning. Forced learning sends the message to kids that they can't have ownership over their learning, that they can't be trusted to know what they need to know. It also places value judgements on different things that kids might want to learn about. In other words, if your child is really into drawing but drawing isn't forced on them but math is, then that sends the message that math is somehow more important than drawing. It also sends the message to the child that they themselves are not capable of learning these things on their own, which I think robs a child of the confidence they need to truly go out and explore their world autonomously.

However, I will say that if the kids are willing participants in "sit down" schooling and they like that sort of work then it's a two-thumbs up proposition.

Because I firmly believe that kids can learn all subjects without needing to be forced, my suggestion would be to ask yourself why you feel you need to "school" certain subjects but not others? Be honest with yourself and ask if it is because your children are currently suffering or complaining about lacking certain knowledge or skills, or because of your own biases with placing value on some areas of learning over others. Or your fears that they will "never learn" these things without being made to. There are many resources that can help you explore these issues.

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Originally Posted by Gem0406 View Post
I let them write the things they want to learn about on slips of paper and put them in a box - they keep adding to the box. We drew out a slip (greek mythology) and all summer we have been learning about it. Now they aren't ready to give it up, and "school has started" today for us, and trying to do some other curriculum just feels wrong when they want more greek mythology.
ITA with your gut feeling there. It's frankly amazing and wonderful that they are into Greek Mythology and I would so go with that as long as they want to. If you stop them and try to get them to do something else you have really impacted their curiosity and drive in a negative way (which I think you already intuit based on what you said here).

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Originally Posted by railyuh View Post
I know for me I feel like a little bit of a faker in here. I believe 100% in unschooling philosophy and would love it if my children never stepped foot in a school as a student, yet for a variety of reasons (none of them academic/educational) we have decided to send DS to preK this year.
I find your confession so humorous because we are unschoolers and I have never had any doubt about it. Our son went to preschool when he was 4, four days a week. It was a lovely play-based atmosphere (I used to joke with the teacher that she was an unschooler and didn't know it) and he really enjoyed it. I guess because I knew many unschooling families whose kids went to preschool it would never occur to me that you would be a "faker", lol.


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Bottom line, there are no "unschooling" police that will show up at your door and revoke your unschooling label.

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#9 of 12 Old 08-25-2010, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for some good food for thought. This has helped me clarify my intentions for how we spend our time.

I do place more value on certain subjects than others, from the perspective that I have limited opportunity to support their studies (only so many hours in a day, no certainty that more public school isn't a possibility in the future), and I see a need to overcome the anxiety and negative associations that they carry inside themselves (as a holdover from last year's schooling) about math (10yo dd) and reading (6yo ds). My husband would never go along with unschooling math - he is totally wrapped up in where they "should be" in this area, and the family conflict would not be conducive to learning on their own timetable.

Also, even though we spent the whole summer "deschooling" or so I thought, and had a great summer - dd taught herself to type! what a wonderful skill - as soon as school started for the ps kids I saw my kids acting like they wanted lessons - they are still in "school mentality" and may need some stepping down, because cold turkey is causing them a lot of anxiety.

I enjoyed reading all the linked articles and certainly feel more confident in my understanding of the unschooling methodology, and how we as a family do and do not apply it.

Will be going forward with an open mind, but still doing math LOL.
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#10 of 12 Old 08-25-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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I know for me I feel like a little bit of a faker in here. I believe 100% in unschooling philosophy and would love it if my children never stepped foot in a school as a student, yet for a variety of reasons (none of them academic/educational) we have decided to send DS to preK this year. The easiest way for me to explain it without telling a long story is that at this point in time it is the best way to most fully meet the needs of everyone in our family given our current circumstances. I try to think of his play-based non-academic prek (thank goodness for that!) as a glorified play group and I still feel like an unschooler at heart and in practice, but I know most people would say there is no way I can be unschooler if my 4 year old is in preK 3 days a week, and that's okay. I am hopeful that this is what we need to get us over this hump and that next year we'll be at home together full time.
The older toddler, early preschool age kind of drives me bonkers. I used preschool for those ages and would again. I'm a pretty hard-core unschooler and I didn't realize that using some preschool would make you not one? I mean that's not even technically "school" age anyways. It's like when people say they're "homeschooling" their two year old.

Anyways I just wanted to tell you that you shouldn't feel like a fake or anything over using some play based preschool to get through some tough times.

And to the OP. I don't think you can mix forced learning and be an unschooler. But you could be a relaxed homeschooler or an eclectic homeschooler.

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#11 of 12 Old 08-25-2010, 12:42 PM
 
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The older toddler, early preschool age kind of drives me bonkers. I used preschool for those ages and would again. I'm a pretty hard-core unschooler and I didn't realize that using some preschool would make you not one? I mean that's not even technically "school" age anyways. It's like when people say they're "homeschooling" their two year old.

Anyways I just wanted to tell you that you shouldn't feel like a fake or anything over using some play based preschool to get through some tough times.
Thanks! I guess it is one of those things where I would like to look for some unschooling groups in our area, go to an unschooling conference, etc. but then wonder what people will think when they find out my kid is in school and talks about school. It has the potential to be kind of awkward, kwim? I never thought of it in relation to homeschooling a 2 year old though, that gives me a bit of a different perspective on it.
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#12 of 12 Old 08-28-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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Right now he is really into watching Betty Crocker cake decorating on youtube.
LOL!! My daughter was so into those videos about a year ago. She found them on youtube on her own (I think she was searching "princess"). She loves them! I thought it was hilarious that she was so interested in the cake process, but it made sense, because she loves instructions, explanations, cooking and cake

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