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#1 of 14 Old 03-23-2004, 05:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I started this year out determined to stick to a schedule and make my ds do his workbook pages every day. But that kind of coersion just doesn't jive with my learning philosophy. I mostly wanted to do it becouse of outside pressure. I would really rather let my ds learn at his own pace in his own way.

Are there any unschoolers here? How have you dealt with outside pressure to conform to some arbitrary standard? How have your kids done on their own? What kind of resources do you provide? I really just need some support for my decision to unschool.
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#2 of 14 Old 03-23-2004, 05:38 PM
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We are not strict unschoolers, but we fit in well with that philosophy most of the time.

As for outside pressure, we don't associate with people who can't respect boundaries. That takes care of that. If you mean state laws, I guess it would just depend on what they are.

My son is only 4.5 but he does great on his own. Currently, he makes many art projects, is learning how to play the guitar (kind of:LOL ) with his dad, is learning soccer, loves to be read to, is picking out simple words he can read, and says things like "if I have three and you give me one more, I have four!" He also asks tons of questions that I try to answer completely for him.

For resources...
We try to keep only simple classic toys that he has to use his imagination with. We have a lot of great books, and go to the library a lot. We limit TV to mostly educational videos or videos that tell intersting stories of people in other times, that he would like. We keep things around that he can explore with- butterfly nets, magnifying glasses, magnets, etc. We get books on simple science experiments, and see what ones he wants to do. He likes to do a little paper work, so I try to get good critical thinking ones for him.
We also try to expose him to a lot. We live in a great state for that- we can take him to the mountains, volcanos, the beach very easily. We also go to children's museums and all that.

Sometimes I find myself trying to push him a bit with sounding words out right now, but we both just get fusterated, so I stop right away and then feel guilty. It truely is when I leave him alone and just make myself available for questions that he learns so much on his own! And those are the things that stick with him, because that is what he is intersted in.
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#3 of 14 Old 03-23-2004, 09:13 PM
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I consider myself to be unschooling my children. I let everyone know when my first was born that this is what I'm planning to do.
It was never open for debate. In her three years of life, my oldest daughter has learned more than what they teach in regular kindergarten, and maybe even first grade.

We go to the aquarium, the zoo, the backyard. We are always counting, adding, dividing, subtracting, multiplying the things we see. We play alphabet games, rhyming games, word games. We color and paint all the time. She helps me in the kitchen, which is loaded with math and science lessons. She helps me in the garden. I'm constantly explaining things, discussing things, answering "why?"
We read lots and lots of books.
If she shows particular interest in something, I use that to introduce new ideas and concepts. I try to find different examples of the same ideas and concepts we talked about earlier, to reinforce the learning process.

Perhaps I'm a little lucky that DD was so verbal so young, and has picked up things so quickly. Anyone who meets her couldn't possibly say she isn't bright.
I've never been a conformist, and outside pressure means nothing to me. Maybe you can find a homeschool group in your area? I've found our local eclectic homeschool support group to be invaluable!
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#4 of 14 Old 03-23-2004, 09:32 PM
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"Are there any unschoolers here? How have you dealt with outside pressure to conform to some arbitrary standard? How have your kids done on their own? What kind of resources do you provide? I really just need some support for my decision to unschool."

We are committed unschoolers. Our friends are all hip to the philosophy, so we don't get an gaff from them. Our family is a less understanding, but they (so far) have kept a very respectful distance.

For some reason our society believes that the desire and ability to seek out information stops when a child turns five, and from then on they must be told what and when to learn. But it's becoming more and more clear to me how much hogwash that is. My kids continue to initiate their own education -- I can't tell you how thrilling that is to witness -- and it horrifies me to think of them losing that through being made to "learn" by the extremely unnatural methods schools use.

I do direct them as far as giving them opportunities to become aware of things. For instance, inevitably there is going to arise a situation in which its appropriate to talk about adding and subtracting. And once they had that notion in their heads, they were off. They make up problems for themselves all day long, and since the problems are related to what is going on in their lives, they gain an in-depth understanding of the concepts, rather than just learning how to manipulate symbols according to rules they are given. There's a BIG difference.

My seven-year-old isn't reading yet, but the questions he asks (both when I'm reading to him, and bringing me things, catalogs, receipts, instruction manuals, etc., on his own) makes me think it won't be long. He is also *dying* to play Yu-Gi-Oh with some older homeschooled boys he knows, and he has to know how to read before he can do that, and that is a HUGE incentive for him. So I have no doubt that he will eventually develop the skill naturally, as it becomes more and more valuable to him, just like he did with learning how to speak.

Other resources: art supplies, TV (well, pbs, they love to watch the cooking and painting shows especially), the library, museums, community classes (we are taking rock climbing right now), and maybe most importantly, lots of friends and family who talk to each other and the kids about history, current events, horticulture, sports, music, cooking, science, etc. Their world is farfuller and richer than any textbook could possibly be.
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#5 of 14 Old 03-23-2004, 11:08 PM
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We unschool too! I don't discuss my parenting decisions with those that will give me crap about them. That saves me a lot of frusteration. I am also lucky enough to belong to a homeschool group with quite a few other unschooling families.
Well I think my kids are brilliant but I might be biased. That said my dd is 7 and not reading yet, I am so grateful she is being allowed to learn at her own rate and on her own terms!!!!!!!

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#6 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 02:59 AM
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Originally posted by myjo
Are there any unschoolers here? How have you dealt with outside pressure to conform to some arbitrary standard? How have your kids done on their own? What kind of resources do you provide? I really just need some support for my decision to unschool.
Let's see... I do my best to blow off whatever pressure there is to conform to some standard - the worst of it seems to have come from other (schooled) kids and to be directed at Rain. That sort of makes sense, because seeing how Rain lives forces the kids to realize how they're being coerced educationally, and they quiz her to defend themselves. And it doesn't happen much...

Rain does lots "on her own" - although it's mostly not on her own, because she has a whole world full of people to talk to and listen to and do things with and get help from and teach. Right now (at 11) she's passionate about theatre and has a job working as an actress, she's reading my books, she's doing lots of IMing and emailing and writing some teen angst pieces, and she's the favorite big kid of all the little kids in our homeschool groups because she loves to play with them.

Resources... I keep things around that seem to interest me, or that they might interest her. I tell her about classes offered in our community, or events, and she choses things to do. I provide the computer and internet, and help navigating it, although she does pretty well on her own now. Google rocks. We have books and paper and pencils and crayons and her favorite videos (musicals, mostly) and a tv and room to run and dance, and lots of playmobil and games to play, and all of those are resources...

There are lots of other threads her on unschooling, if you do a search. IMO, it is a really, really cool way to live.


fambedsingle1.gifSingle mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler earth.gif


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#7 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 03:22 AM - Thread Starter
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I always believed in unschooling even when ds was a baby. But somehow I got coerced into being anxious and trying to force it. I have really let up though, especially since I got pregnant and have been too scatterbrained to keep to a schedule!

I think the two authors that influence me the most were Grace Lewellyn (sp?) and John Taylor Gatto. After reading them I felt it would be a crime to try to force my kids to learn in unnatural ways. Especially Gatto's Underground History of American Education (I think that's the title).

Anyway, I just make sure there are always plenty of books around. We read constantly. When ds has a special interest I always make sure we buy a few good books on it and check out everything the library has to offer. I make sure he always has plenty of drawing supplies too, since he shows promise of becoming somewhat of an artistic prodigy. He spends most of his day drawing if he can't get outside. And every once in a while he actually asks to do some workbook pages, so I will help him with that and he seems to enjoy it. He loves to help in the kitchen too, which as some have mentioned is full of math.

So I guess we're doing pretty well. I'm just overly susceptable to what my family thinks. To them, unschooling just means zero learning, and a lazy radical mom. Well, I've already made so many unconventional decisions, I should be able to take their disapproval by now!
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#8 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 01:31 PM
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I'm always happy to see another unschooling thread started. We've been doing this unschooling thing for years and years and I still crave support and love to know there are other families out there doing the same.

many of you know we have 3 grown children that were unschooled for pretty much all their lives (the first one went through 2nd grade at a small private school.) They have all gone on to college and/or productive and interesting lives, where they continue to live the unschooling life.

A friend and I have just started an unschooling support group for our area. Most of the families in the group are just starting out. Many of the unschoolers that started out when we did no longer have younger ones at home, or they have transitioned to a more structured/traditional form of home education (mostly due to the outside pressures to do so. I crave some radical unschoolers with teens for mine to hang out with!

I have delt with the pressure over the years in several ways. First off, I allow most people to think we are homeschooling the the way they think of it, only slightly relaxed. If someone is really interested I will explain the unschooling philosophy, but most people, including family, simply don't care enough to inquire. They think homeschooling is wierd enough. I have used people like the Colfaxs, who's children went on to Harvard, as examples for family that were skeptical. Now the proof is in the pudding so most trust me to do ok with my younger children.

My younger dds are late readers and that does cause some eyebrows to raise. My answer is to explain that dyslexia runs in the family so we are more concerned that they learn reading skills well, rather than early! It usually shuts them up but the occasional few want to tell me how I need to have an "expert" working with them, etc.

Every now and again, I still second guess myself, and then I go read some John Holt!
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#9 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 03:29 PM
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Unschooling w/ a 2 1/2 yrold.

I'd love to see a list of recent books.

Most of the stuff I get from the library is from the 80s.

When I get the question *Is she in Preschool/When is she starting Preschool?* I answer that we are Homeschooling. then I get the *why* question and I haven't yet come up with a pat answer I tend to ramble but I need to get it to one sentence kwim. Basicly for us it's values and consummerrism. But those aren't easy to explain to folks that buy into the latest trend.

Glad to meet other unschoolers!
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#10 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 05:01 PM
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I am currently deschooling. We may or may not stick with the unschooling flow. Right now, my nine year old is making a desert diarama. This is a self initiated project brought on by a new pair of shoes which resulted in an empty shoebox. We talked about animals that live in the desert. He got on line and printed out some pictures of different desert plants and animals (all on his own, he is very adept with google). My mom and dad live in the desert, so maybe we will take a trip to visit this weekend and go to the local museum. The museum has lots of hands on exhibits and full size diaramas with taxidermy prepared animals. My six year old wanted to make a diarama also, but quickly grew frustrated. He complained about not being able to do exactly what he wanted, but since he didn't ask for my help or opinion, I just commiserated with him about being frustrated and gave him a hug. He is now watching Blues Clues. The three year old is happily cutting and glueing paper. In a few minutes we will make quesadillas for lunch.

I like the easy ebb and flow of unschooling.

My house was clean this morning,
Sorry you missed it.
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#11 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 05:29 PM
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Just chiming in as another unschooling mama. I have adult children who were not homeschooled and they are spending their young adult years doing what my youngest is doing at 11, making their own way in the world with our support.
I like the statement that "unschooling is not just a way of learning, it's a way of life". Our family life style has completely changed since we became unschoolers. Now we are so available to take advantage of all the great opportunities that present themselves to our family(and the ones we create). We no longer live according to an artificial timeline of what is "suppose" to occur. And with the new freedom we have given ourselves, we are more willing to make changes in our lives that we would not have even considered just a few years ago. I too am happy to see a new unschooling thread, I call it spreading the joy.

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail..."
"I am learning all the time, the tombstone will be my diploma"- Eartha Kitt
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#12 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 07:19 PM
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Here's another unschooling mom standing up to be counted. My kids happen to all be quite academically inclined, which makes it easy to let people think what they wish about our learning routine at home. Except when people casually comment "have you finished your schoolwork for today?" or "it must be neat having your mom teach you school!" at which point my kids grin guiltily and get a bit flustered

I just try to exude happy confidence and say something oblique like "what we do doesn't look a whole lot like school, but it gets results!" And then I change the subject.


Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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#13 of 14 Old 03-24-2004, 08:31 PM
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I'm not sure if what we do exactly fits into the unschooling definition .... we refer to the what we do not as unschooling, but as "life learning" (we are the Enchanted Life-learning Family scholars!). Our experiences life-learninghave been great. My parents (one of whom is a teacher) are amazed at how much our kids know about seemingly everything and at the wide variety of places we bring them, things we learn about, etc.

My oldest is 5 yrs. 3 months old. He reads at about third grade level, if I had to guess. Probably higher, since he's been reading (and comprehending everything he reads) from the Bible at Sunday School, much to the astonishment of all the other parents (our SS is a big gathering of families w/ a lesson and activity). He can do addition and subtraction, loves history and science. He LOVES TO LEARN.

My 3. 5year old is beginning to read. He's interested in EVERYTHING and asks questions constantly. We love his curiosity.

My 21 month old tries to do everything her brother do and they are her greatest teachers.

In our home, learning is a family affair. We find something we're interested in learning about and then set out on the adventure of learning. We go to museums and parks, on hikes and field trips...we talk to familiy members, friends, firefighters, police officers, bakers, book binders ...anyone who does something we want to learn about. We learn every day...not because we sit down and read books or have a lesson, not because we go somewhere with the intention of having a lesson there...but because experiencing what life has to offer IS learning.

My daughter has been sick for three days. We learned that it is possible to teach a 21 month old to puke in a bucket (sorry!), that the germs in her body could enter ours in varioius ways, so there are things we need to do to avoid getting sick. We learned which parts of her body are being affected by the illness. We painted a birdhouse and figured out what birds might be small enough to live in it. "Lessons" come from everyday living.

(Can you tell I'm very passionate about all of this? )

Mom to "weaner" Alexander (5yrs) and tandem nurslings Zachary (3.5 yrs) and Haley (21 months) ... and two angels. Wife to my amazing husband Jim
aka the ELFscholars

Mama to A (12), Z (11), H (9), C (5), A (3) and 4 angels. 

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#14 of 14 Old 03-27-2004, 04:05 AM
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We are also unschooling, but I'm pretty new to this. So reading this thread has been a big help to me. At first I was worried about what we should be doing every day, because I myself needed to get out of the school frame of mind. I'm kind of the typical type A personality and I have always been kind of a perfectionist, so even though I totally believe in unschooling its been a little bit difficult for me to switch gears. But...its been going well, I take the girls lead. We paint a lot, play board and card games. We read all the time, cook together, research stuff on the internet, go outside, but I think most importantly is we talk all the time.

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and Ashlyn 19 months
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