Unschooling without Homeschooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 03:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Due to practical reasons, I cannot homeschool my 5 YO daughter. I like to think that I homeschool as best I can after school. Unfortunately, unschooling and traditional schooling seem incompatible. I haven't seen this addressed anywhere, but does anyone have any advice on unschooling my state-schooled daughter?
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#2 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 03:36 AM
 
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My friend does this, to the extent she can. I dont think it is impossible.

In fact just today i was thinking about how some schools are more open-minded, accomodating of difference, and stimulating creative and independent thinking than some of the homeschoolers and homeschool groups I have seen. But even if your school is not like that, I think you can create this environment at home. It can be hard to do this AND also get the homework done. I hope at age 5 she doesn't have homework.

The hard part would be that because she is there for so many hours / week, and they think that they need to teach kids things, they would be giving her ideas as known facts, that if she were unschooled she would be discovering herself, with more freedom to explore, make mistakes, try/ err, etc.

But I am really interested in learning more about how this goes for you. I hope you keep writing - I have a lot of ideas but would like tohear more about your experiences before pounding away at hte keyboard

no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#3 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 08:43 AM
 
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You might find this book helpful: Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School

http://www.amazon.com/Guerrilla-Lear.../dp/0471349607

The author is an unschooling mother (she also wrote The Teenage Liberation Handbook) and has some interesting ideas about how to navigate within the system.

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#4 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the advice, and also the book link. I just ordered a bunch from Amazon, and missed this one somehow. Yes, unfortunately my 5YO is getting homework, but fortunately it's easy for her, and I tell her to do it the quick and easy way (Circle items instead of painstakingly coloring them in). She's known all her letters, and their sounds, at 2 1/2. She must have learned them from one of her toys or something. Then, stupid Daddy got excited and I thought I could 'get' her to read. Last year, I even got her to read half of a kids book before she found a word that stumped her. At the bus stop a few weeks ago, she read a sign across the street that said 'Private Property' without any problem. However, she now has no desire to read on her own. That's when I looked for, and found, the unschooling style. I'm just hoping my school doesn't do the same damage as me. How do you get a child to want to learn after that? She doesn't even ask questions (Why is the sky blue, etc..)

I'll let you know the progress.
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#5 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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I don't think you can call it unschooling, any more than you can call it being a vegetarian if you eat meat during meals but have vegetarian snacks, but I certainly get what you're asking and yes, I think you can do this. There's another book that addresses "nurturing unschooled learning while attending school." It's called "Coloring Outside the Lines" and it's by Roger Schank. He's opinionated and a bit eccentric, but his ideas and suggestions are creative and preconception-busting, and a lot of what he writes will really open your mind to possibilities.

Hope that helps,

Miranda

Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#6 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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How do you get a child to want to learn after that?
Unschooling is based on trust. Not on "how to get a child to ..." Not that we don't worry sometimes, but we try to see that the arc of learning is long, and it bends towards trust (if I have used the metaphor correctly).

Given that all day your child will be in an environment where teachers are "getting her to want to learn" things you probably want to use your time in other ways. I am sure the books PPs recommended will be useful, and I also think Alfie Kohn has some nice articles that speak this - a recent one of his on reading struck me as esp good.

I like moominmamma's analogy. I myself am strictly vegetarian (and there can be violence in the way our fruits come to us too -- see, e.g. The Price of Bananas)

no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#7 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RChadwick View Post
However, she now has no desire to read on her own. That's when I looked for, and found, the unschooling style. I'm just hoping my school doesn't do the same damage as me. How do you get a child to want to learn after that? She doesn't even ask questions (Why is the sky blue, etc..)
I think it would be good to try to forget about "learning" for a while, and just let her be in that regard. The fact that she doesn't feel like reading on her own at this point means nothing - she's only five, and someday she'll be coming across things that draw her to read, but in the meantime, it really doesn't matter. It's possible that she had a not even particularly conscious reaction to her parents getting excited about her reading and getting so involved in it - but that isn't going to stop her longterm learning process. Asking questions is only one way of learning - she'll be learning all the time, but it may not look like much to you from the outside. It's pretty hard to stop children from learning about their world. It's also possible that she'd prefer not to have a lot of attention put on her learning - maybe her style is that she'd like to have more personal space and privacy around it. You really don't need to be thinking in terms of unschooling or schooling her after school - just living an interesting and active life together and modeling natural curiosity without putting focus on how she's reacting or growing around it will provide a great atmosphere for her to learn and grow in. Just try to provide plenty of plain old childhood fun, and she'll thrive more than if you're thinking in terms of supplementing her school experience. - Lilian
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#8 of 14 Old 09-29-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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Sorry, I'm still very tired today, recovering from a hard week. I reread the question, and your concern is largely about the possibility of school killing her love of learning. That's a whole other thing. But i'd still say that your best bet would be to provide plenty of old fashioned childhood fun and exuberant free play for her - the freer she can feel, and the less pressured about attention to what she's "learning," the smoother her classroom experiences will go. Lillian
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#9 of 14 Old 09-30-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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I agree with moominmamma. IMO unschooling is simply not compatible with schooling. However, that doesn't mean you can't model a love of learning at home and allow her to experience as much freedom as possible as a counter to the restrictions and lack of power she'll experience around her learning at school. Probably the single most important thing you could do is allow her as much free play time outside of school as possible (rather than filling it up with extracurricular activities). Also perhaps have many discussions about how school is just one way to learn (so many school kids we've met simply cannot grasp the idea that my kids are learning even though they are not in school).

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#10 of 14 Old 09-30-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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FWIW, my husband was mostly public schooled but his curiosity and enthusiasm for life was not squashed by school.
He is one of the most interesting, creative and persistent people I know.
He has accomplished a lot, is always learning and is just a confident, content person.

When asked how that could be, even in the face of creativity-crushing public school, he explains it this way:

"My parents engaged me. My Dad showed me his computer and let me use it a lot. I had lots of opportunities to learn and try different things. I could play video games all summer. I read a lot of Louis L'Amour novels. Also my Mom took us on trips. Like to Japan. She just found the money. They helped me see that the world is available to me and that I could do things in it. They encouraged me and rarely limited or discouraged me. My grandparents were a part of my life and seeing the things they were doing inspired me to do things too. My grandpa took me out to explore the deserts and I learned about geology and archeology that way. I knew school was a system and I worked it to my advantage and I always had a life outside of school. Sometimes I would just go out in the desert behind our house and explore."

The way I see it, as his wife, he had a strong family support with his parents first, then his grandparents, and scouting and church, etc. He knew who he was and his place in the world. And then he was engaged by his family. They actively sought to participate in life. It made a big difference. (I did not have these advantages always). We have chosen to unschool our own kids. I think the perspective he gives helps me stay balanced in the way I view learning for my children and what really matters.

Speaking of "What Really Matters", a book by that same title has recently been published. David Albert and Joyce Reed are the authors. I want to read it. Maybe it would help you to find the focus and give ideas for you and your daughter.

http://www.lifemedia.ca/altpress/Wha...ly_Matters.htm
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ETA: For anyone not 'in the know'...both Albert and Reed are well-known authors who write about life learning/unschooling.

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#11 of 14 Old 10-02-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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I wonder if there would be any repercussions to just leaving school at school, even leaving the bookbag and homework at school, so that from 3:00 or so on it's just her time to think about, do, and explore whatever she wants?

At one point when my oldest thought she might be wanting to try school (she only ended up trying it for one day at age eight), I knew I would support her decision but I also would not "make" her do homework or anything.

I kind of wondered, though, if I had enrolled her but hadn't made her do all the work they seem to think kids "need" to be doing after school hours, would there be some kind of punishment inflicted on my child over this?

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#12 of 14 Old 10-05-2010, 02:07 PM
 
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The whole idea of unschooling while institutional schooling just does not compute to me. I can't see how that is even possible with my definition and experience as an unschooler. As to the issue of institutional schooling possibly killing a love of learning, I'm not sure. I was institutionally schooled, some in private school but mostly public school. I still have a life long love of learning and spend a significant amount of time reading all types of books including university press and college text books, I just hate sitting in the classroom and being required to learn at a pace set by someone else LOL.
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#13 of 14 Old 10-05-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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i don't have kids old enough to unschool, but i'm a certified elementary teacher and am very into unschooling/deschooling/free learning. we're not sure what direction we will end up taking with our children once they're old enough for institutional school (depends largely on what kind of flexibility i have with my own income earning, i'm guessing).

i will say this...

your success with "unschooling" a schooled child is largely going to depend on how academically adept she turns out to be. i agree with PP's that it isn't possible to really unschool within an institution, but if she learns easily in the format that school requires, then she will have the energy and focus to learn outside of school. if she can breeze through her grade expectations, then homework and tests and whatnot will a very small part of her life... she'll be able to really engage when something catches her interest, and just coast when she finds something meaningless or uninteresting. teachers won't give her flak for reading a novel under her desk or drawing or writing a poem while they repeat for the third time that week how to do long division, if she's the right kind of student.

however, if she struggles, isn't interested in academics in the format that her school uses, that is when you run the biggest risk of killing an innate love of learning and exploration, because her whole life will be about just trying to keep up the pace. unless you are going to fully support her disinterest in school and basically use school as a form of daycare until your circumstances change, but that will come with its own set of issues. i've witnessed first hand how demoralizing it can be to fail at school, even when you have a parent there telling you it's ok... in fact, it's almost worse to get those mixed messages... mom saying school doesn't matter, don't do your homework, and everyone else saying school is important, you have to apply yourself, etc.
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#14 of 14 Old 11-02-2010, 03:40 AM
 
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hmmm,

well, you wouldn't call what you'd be doing "unschooling", but you certainly can have an open unschooly attitude to things, and that will likely go a long way. I like to think that I did this somewhat with my daughter. She was in school (a Catholic school, no less) until Grade 8, when she got too sick to continue. It was a kick in the pants I really needed to re-arrange my life, but in the meantime, I didn't take school too seriously. We even gave her the option of going to a "free school" in our area when she hit that rough patch in Grade 4, but she decided to continue with school at that time.

But as SilverFish noted, it's when your child is struggling that you'll be faced with a quandary. DD was (and is again) a great student, and school comes easily to her. But when she got ill (and it's one of those vague chronic fatigue sort of things), school no longer worked for her, and we had to re-arrange our lives to get her out. Sadly, because her dad is a very mainstream high school science teacher (and his family are also all teachers), unschooling was not on the table at all, so went through our government's "distributed learning" school. Since she had to go through the hoops anyway, she's been taking more and more courses at the local high school (from grade 10 on you can pick and choose), especially those that just didn't work for her in online or correspondence formats. Now in Grade 11, she's taking 7 courses in a bricks-and-mortar school (mostly fun stuff like ballroom dancing and theatre and band) and 4 more online. It's a big course load, but she's an ambitious girl. This month she's writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month. She also sings in an adult competitive barbershop chorus with me.

How does this relate to unschooling... well, mostly in my attitude. School is an option, one place of many where she can learn things. For example, I respect her interest in Anime, Manga and all things Japanese, because I can see that she gets a LOT out of it - she writes, and edits other people's stories, and she sews costumes, and creates accessories, and has even learned a significant amount of the language from Japanese pop music and movies. Oh, and makes friends (very important for my introverted little girl).

(I'm also relaxed unschooling with DS, so I'm learning as I go!)

Lori : mum to Emily (nov94) and Calvin (jul 03), : and : married to : Wes
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