So, how do you tell your conservative mainstream family about your decision to Unschool? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-29-2010, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have no idea how to tell an already judgmental and leery populous about our decision to unschool. They don't even know the term. I usually just say that we homeschool for ease, but DD is getting old enough to talk about what she does throughout the day and we don't have school time or lessons, obviously. She is however, doing great with Unschooling. She is learning to spell and count and do basic math of her own accord. I am proud of her and happy with our decision to Unschool, but we she is asked "Why don't you get to go to school (meaning crappy public schools), she doesn't have an answer. I brush it off like, "Oh, we homeschool" and move on..we live a very conservative, mainstream city after having come back to the mid-west from California. Argh, I don't want her to be socially punished for a circumstance that is otherwise working great.help.gif


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Old 11-29-2010, 07:55 PM
 
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What if you call what you're doing "home education" and pretend in your own mind that others consider the world "home," too? :)

 

That's what we do now, and surprisingly, by doing so, we've encountered other free-learners too! They're the only one's who have asked more specific questions after we replied to the first question. Everyone else just thinks "school-at-home" and nods/smiles. We do not live in a conservative, mainstream place though.


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Old 11-29-2010, 08:20 PM
 
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i struggle with this myself.  i would just keep it at homeschooling, and not even mention the unschooling part of it.  if anyone asks her and her answers are things like, we made cookies, i helped clean the house, we picked flowers, i played puzzles, or any other million things that are part of an enjoyable childhood then i would look at the questioner and ask why they think those things aren't important or part of learning?

my brother (who is politically very liberal) and his wife send their kids off to full-time daycare whe nthey are 3 months old.  they have always been in daycare/school.  now he is asking me why i want to homeschool.  or rather, he asked me why i didn't want to send my kids to public school. i guess he thinks if we could afford private school we would send them there.  but i don't know how to tell him that i wouldn't send my kids to private school either.  my choice of educating/parenting my kids is so radically different from his, that i don't even know where to start.   and i don't want to offend him - they are his choices to make, my inevitably even saying, well, this is what we are able to do and it is working out- -that still leaves some room for judgement about his decisions.  it leads to the questions - what is wrong with school that you think homeschooling is better?  why are you willing to give up your career for your kids to stay home? what about the opportunites that your kids are missing at school? how to answer that without offending? i wish we were conservative Christians, at least that would give me an out about science and worldly stuff.  but religion isn't why i hs. 

so, i haven't really found an answer either, but i am in the same boat.

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Old 11-29-2010, 10:22 PM
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I generally just said "homeschool", too... I found that the more enthusiastic I sounded, the less people questioned my decision. If people asked, I talked about what she was learning, and mentioned that it was really cool to see how much she learned while doing X and Y and Z... but really, the key was to sound happy and excited about it. 


 
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:18 AM
 
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I started by saying that the kids were leaving the school system, and we'd be handling learning without it. If memory serves I said "homeschooling" several times, and left using the term "unschooling" for more pointed or specific questions about curriculum, tests, grades, and schedules. My family in general doesn't agree with homeschooling, and even less with unschooling. I just didn't care, really. I found that the more confident I was (or at least appeared to be!  shy.gif) the less flak I got.

 

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Old 11-30-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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I don't. I just say I home school and leave it at that. It is none of their business how we home school. They are not the judge and rulers of our school. It is None of their business. Hope this helps.

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Old 11-30-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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I don't know how we will answer this. Our DS is still too young to be unschooled, but my sister keeps asking me if he is in preschool yet and when he will go to Kindergarten. So far, I have been vague in my answers. She doesn't even understand why DS is home now. I don't want to offend her and her choice of sending her children to daycare starting from age 6 weeks. It'll be difficult. In addition, there is a cultural difference to contend with. I'm dealing with a cultural background where homeschooling is just not done.

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Old 11-30-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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My family all knows we are homeschooling. Now that ds1 is getting to be 4, they are asking when we are planning to "start homeschooling". I've answered so far that the very basics kids need to know are reading, writing, and basic math. As they seem interested, we'll teach them. We fully expect some things to just be picked up without our interference. So far my ILs have accepted this as reasonable...


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Old 11-30-2010, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Picard View Post

I don't know how we will answer this. Our DS is still too young to be unschooled, but my sister keeps asking me if he is in preschool yet and when he will go to Kindergarten. So far, I have been vague in my answers. She doesn't even understand why DS is home now. I don't want to offend her and her choice of sending her children to daycare starting from age 6 weeks. It'll be difficult. In addition, there is a cultural difference to contend with. I'm dealing with a cultural background where homeschooling is just not done.



This is where we are at too. The cultural difference for us reaches not only within our family, but beyond. Every cashier, librarian, nature center staff person, etc asks her why she is not in kindergarden. Argh, we are hoping to move back to California to a very liberal town. I hope it happens! We can't walk out the door here without being caught by the "why aren't you in school?"thing during the day.

 

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Old 11-30-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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 As far as "Why aren't you in school?" -my kids came up with their own answer. wink1.gif"We ARE in school! duh.gif We're ALWAYS in school!" Said with a raised eyebrow, what-a-stupid-question kind of expression. 

 

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Old 11-30-2010, 05:56 PM
 
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With strangers and shopkeeper types just say you are homeschooling and leave it at that. We live in an area that has a lot of homeschoolers, many of them unschoolers, so we're kind of lucky. I can't even remember the last day I heard comments from shopkeeper types. We got a lot of comments and questions when DD was 4-5 (she looks a year older than she is) but rarely have anyone ask about school now that she is 7.

 

With family, I think you kind of have to decide how much you want to get into things with them. My mom brings things up semi-regularly. I've explained several times how things happen around here. She has been able to see some stuff in action during visits and that helped. We do a lot of science and DD is very articulate and reads at a very high level so that helps. But I still get questions once in awhile that make me wonder if she ever listens to me! lol

 

If your family is genuinely curious, I'd recommend they read Alison McKee's "Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves." It describes her journey through unschooling with her family while they were still advocating for homeschooing laws in her state. I also like to reread it myself when I feel like everything is spinning out of control. She also has a book about how to do college apps as a homeschooler. I met her at an unschooling conference once. http://www.alisonmckee.com/

 

I also like to point people to this site which is by an MDC mama, LillianJ - http://www.besthomeschooling.org/  There is a ton of great info on here and many articles you could pick and choose to link to family for reading.

 

Good luck.


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Old 11-30-2010, 08:05 PM
 
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Well I grew up in So CA and my parents still live there and are conservative, especially about education. I never told them we were unschooling. My mom did know that I was HSing ( we lived out of state almost all of dds "school years" ) but that was the extent of it. I have a long history of issues with my mother especially trying to influence my choices so I just don't discuss them with her.

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatAphrodite View Post

 As far as "Why aren't you in school?" -my kids came up with their own answer. wink1.gif"We ARE in school! duh.gif We're ALWAYS in school!" Said with a raised eyebrow, what-a-stupid-question kind of expression. 

 

 

Love this!

 

I've been trying to give my kids "pat" answers for the "why aren't you in school?" question.  It seems like it works the best to call it homeschooling.  I usually then sic my four-year-old on them to rattle off the planets in the solar system or count to one hundred and they rapidly back off.  :D
 


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Old 12-02-2010, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatAphrodite View Post

 As far as "Why aren't you in school?" -my kids came up with their own answer. wink1.gif"We ARE in school! duh.gif We're ALWAYS in school!" Said with a raised eyebrow, what-a-stupid-question kind of expression. 

 



 

 

This is awesome!! thumbsup.gif Love it.


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Old 12-04-2010, 08:00 PM
 
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OT but we are strong on the reading/math stuff but when unschoolers say they do science at home I don't know what this means. What does it mean for you? I guess I am really asking so that I know for ourselves what science at home means. Like do you do science experiments etc. Sorry I can be a bit dense :)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Starflower View Post

With strangers and shopkeeper types just say you are homeschooling and leave it at that. We live in an area that has a lot of homeschoolers, many of them unschoolers, so we're kind of lucky. I can't even remember the last day I heard comments from shopkeeper types. We got a lot of comments and questions when DD was 4-5 (she looks a year older than she is) but rarely have anyone ask about school now that she is 7.

 

With family, I think you kind of have to decide how much you want to get into things with them. My mom brings things up semi-regularly. I've explained several times how things happen around here. She has been able to see some stuff in action during visits and that helped. We do a lot of science and DD is very articulate and reads at a very high level so that helps. But I still get questions once in awhile that make me wonder if she ever listens to me! lol

 

If your family is genuinely curious, I'd recommend they read Alison McKee's "Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves." It describes her journey through unschooling with her family while they were still advocating for homeschooing laws in her state. I also like to reread it myself when I feel like everything is spinning out of control. She also has a book about how to do college apps as a homeschooler. I met her at an unschooling conference once. http://www.alisonmckee.com/

 

I also like to point people to this site which is by an MDC mama, LillianJ - http://www.besthomeschooling.org/  There is a ton of great info on here and many articles you could pick and choose to link to family for reading.

 

Good luck.



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Old 12-05-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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I don't think I've ever used the word unschooling with my family.  The ones who are interested know we don't have any set curriculum, and may ask from time to time what ds is "doing for school." I just talk about what he is interested in at that time,  and usually he'll run by and rattle off some interesting tidbit he found out recently.  When that's not enough, and I get questions about methodology or plans for the future, I describe our style as project-based (we learn by doing), integrative (it's part of our daily life), and interdisciplinary (we don't divide things into neat little subjects).  He covers all the basics through in-depth exploration of what interests him, and while he may not learn everything on the same time table as a traditionally schooled child, what he learns holds personal significance for him, and therefore he retains it better. My hyper-normal in-laws eat this stuff up because my description sounds a lot like the gifted program in the school district that their kids went to. My aunt (a former teacher) loves it because I'm emphasizing critical thinking skills (he chooses his own studies, researches, and solves problems independently) which she always felt was lacking in her older students, and everyone else seems okay with it based purely on the fact that ds seems to know and do a fair amount compared to his peers. 

 

I wouldn't worry about her being old enough to tell people what she does with her time as being a giveaway to your rebellious, alternative, unschooling lifestyle. All kids talk about what they do only to the extent that it interests them, whether it's the cool projects or extracurriculars or the time they spend playing video games.  Whatever she likes best is what she'll tell strangers, just like her schooled peers.  If you ask a school-aged kid about what they did at school today, they don't come back with how many minutes they spent sitting at their desk or how many boring worksheets they did. They'll tell you the exciting stuff: social moments, computers, gym, art, science experiments...

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Old 12-05-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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My kid is a hardcore science lover, and yes we do experiments at home. From books and websites, from kits, and sometimes from our own heads. DS(7) does way more lab-based science than I ever did in the primary grades.

 

A couple of examples: He was building catapults with Legos and an assortment of stuff from the junk drawer to attack a castle we had made out of cardboard. He asked for my help getting the aim just right.  We tested different launching styles and figured out that the height of the mounting and the length of the arm determined how high vs. how far we could launch something.  Then he used that to build a second catapult. One for the attackers to siege the castle, one for the castle guards to launch stuff at the attackers from the top of the wall.

 

He observes plants and animals in different seasons, the changing phases of the moon, the way people respond to a request when they're stressed or relaxed, the way marbles of different sizes move when you shoot them at each other, what floats or sinks, what melts or burns, and on and on. We talk about all this stuff, and sometimes we set up more controlled experiments so we can change things a bit and make more observations and guesses about why things happen the way they do. Sometimes we read books or watch movies about it.  That's what science looks like in our unschooling house.

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Originally Posted by Dandelionkid View Post

OT but we are strong on the reading/math stuff but when unschoolers say they do science at home I don't know what this means. What does it mean for you? I guess I am really asking so that I know for ourselves what science at home means. Like do you do science experiments etc. Sorry I can be a bit dense :)
 

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Old 12-06-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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On science, my DD is only four but also enjoys science and much of our days looks like what Qalliope described without the Lego.
On telling family - I'm not sure. They're just coming to turns with home schooling. However my dad is coming to stay this week and I will have to talk to him because I have a feeling he will want to quiz DD who would be due to start school in late Jan (Australia). So I'll let you know.

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Old 12-06-2010, 12:47 AM
 
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I don't feel the need to say "unschooling" or to give a ton of details about WHAT exactly it is that we do.  I say homeschool when asked, as does my dd, and that's that.  Our area, despite being the Midwest, is actually decent with homeschooling, so it's not quite as odd I guess?  It's certainly not unheard of by any means.  I will admit though, that I do maybe try to emphasize the things she CAN do which might be ahead/the same as what a public schooled child might be expected to do at her age.  "Homeschooling is working out great for us, in fact, Kate can now add 2 -digit numbers!"

I think as far as the not offending, you have to just use the same old lines you use for everything else.  But yes it IS hjard because...well...while sometimes people are "forced" into situations/decisions they might not prefer, chances are that if you do make a choice for your family, it is, in fact, because you believe it is the BEST choice.  Therefore, by definition, BETTER than....all the other choices, including whatever choice THEY made.  I think just stressing that "I don't think other choices are wrong, I just think this is the best choice for OUR family" is the way to go.  Unless you actually want to discuss the issues you have with your local schools, or whatever.


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