How do I know whether I will have patience and drive to unschool my child? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-10-2011, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am very drawn to unschooling and have read some of John Holt's books.  Here is my dilemma: How do I know whether I am cut out to have the patience and perserverence to homeschool my children?  Does it get easier to homeschool an older child (say 6 yo) than a younger child (say 3yo?)  What characteristics do you think parents of successful homeschooling (and unschooling) families have?

 

I am presently a SAHM of DD, 3 yo.  I have baby #2 on the way next month.  Frankly, when my daughter was about 2-1/2 I felt that I needed a break (I was not a happy mama and wanted time to get things done around the house and a little time for myself - DD can be very demanding) so I enrolled her in a half-day Montessori program.  We are all very happy with the program and plan to continue for awhile (especially with DS soon to be born). 

 

Would love to hear your experiences.  I know I don't need to make decision now, but I am thinking ahead and wondering whether this would really be a fit for me and my family. 


Thanks!

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#2 of 10 Old 02-10-2011, 02:03 PM
 
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URgghhh, my response just got eaten by mothering.

 

Anyway, to summarize what  I said before...

 

It gets so much easier as time goes by. Until just before my daughter's second birthday, my house was a mess. Then something clicked over and I had the energy to clean every night. Now that my son is 5 and my daughter is 2.5 I'm actually organizing cupboards. Today I even called the bank about an incorrect transaction from June.

 

I am considering how to make home-based activities like arts and crafts and science experiments a frequent occurrence. I  could not have done that with a newborn in the house.

 

Wait until your baby is 2 before you worry about more than just keeping everyone alive. It'll get much easier to do more than basic necessities after that.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#3 of 10 Old 02-11-2011, 07:41 PM
 
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I think whether or not it will be a fit for your family depends entirely on whether or not you make it fit your family. In other words, it is what you make it. There is no proscription, so you try things and see whether you like them, if they benefit you, and then decide whether you will continue or change, or whatever. It is very much an actual journey- not a metaphorical one.

 

I get that there are parents for whom unschooling means child-led learning and thereby commits the parents to the role of facilitating the pursuits of their children. I had this perspective for a while, but then discovered that my children and I all needed to regress this a few steps so that they could accomplish what they need to- to be able to facilitate their own lives- and I can accomplish what I need to in order to recognise myself in my role as their mother, which is to be a mentor, a trusted and loving "fan" in a sense- someone who watches their lives with relaxed anticipation that they will live as they ought to, according to their own determinations, their own ideals, and their own experiences.

 

So, for me, there is no random or intentional strewing, or filling the calendar with every possible experience in order to expose them to as much as possible so they'll be able to choose from a smorgasbord of possibilities. That's fine if that's who you are, but for me, there's just no way I'd be that person in their lives. If they need that, I trust that they will find their "right" people who will join them in enacting those sorts of experiences. I see them seeking out people already, who fulfill needs that I don't, and never will- not out of any refusal or lack of concern, but a major part of their maturation is in being who they are, and I have been recognising that my having been "all things to all people" has not been healthy for them or for me, so I don't do that anymore. It has been a struggle for me, but I've made a lot of progress.

 

Anyway, in response to your question, for me, there is no "drive" necessary, and patience is required for raising my children in any way I choose. For me, we're just a family of people making our way in the world, alongside one another, together, cheering one another on. And as many have written on this forum before, unschooling is what you do with your children when they are not in school, but all the time. If you normally fill the after-school hours with museum visits, various classes, mentorship programs and science camp, then do that still, but if you don't, there's no reason to think that doing so is necessary in order to live and grow alongside the truly amazing little people you have brought into the world to make lives, too.

 

Just be you. You need the same amount of drive and patience as you need to live your life, because that's what you are doing. It's really not as remarkable as some think it is. Just live. That'll do it. If you want something else, then do that. :)


Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#4 of 10 Old 02-11-2011, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for sharing your insights!

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#5 of 10 Old 02-12-2011, 01:00 PM
 
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I think its all an experiment- you give it a try, and see what works, and change things as you go.  I do think younger children need a lot more guidance and attention, and as they get older, it does get easier.  My oldest seemed to get a whole lot easier around age 4 than she had ever been.   There are many mamas who choose to both send their child to preschool, and to then homeschool, because that's what works for them.  Its just a matter of finding what works for you.


Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#6 of 10 Old 02-14-2011, 09:07 PM
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OP I have very little drive in terms of 'educating' my children, and finite amounts of patience. if you were to describe the 'ideal' unschooling parent (whatever that means) it would not look like me.

 

But it actually IS me, because I believe in how we are living. That is why it works, because it is how I see the world, what I believe in above other things. My eldest is 10, and so I've been at this for a decade. To me, he has been unschooled since birth because we never envisioned them going anywhere, nor did we try to 'teach' them or start out with curriculums and then shift. From the start I have agreed with the ideas behind unschooling, and that is all I need, no more thought is necessary. It has not gotten easier as they age, because each step forward can also bring on new challenges. When they were toddlers they played solo with ease, now they want my interaction (all of them, at the same time). And I've developed a lot of my own interests in these years, and I want to do them! :)

 

My point is, I do not unschool because it suits me, I do it because I believe in it. And thus I would not decide 'this isn't working' and see school as the only option. It is not solely up to me, and there is no one way things must go for this to succeed. It changes every day, every week, and therein lies the glory and the frustrations.

 

If you believe in it and it seems like  a challenge you are ready for, begin. The most learning has been done by me, not them. :) That has, and continues to be, the biggest challenge.


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#7 of 10 Old 02-15-2011, 05:30 PM
 
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I think Preggie expressed it very well. I consider unschooling to be a huge success for our family, but I am definitely not the sort of parent who actively plays with my kids or sits down and organizes fun projects, etc. I very much am a "fan", ready to assist whenever they ask, as Preggie so well described. 

 

And yes, IME it definitely gets easier as they get older. I agree with whoever said to wait until your new baby is 2 before you even begin trying to do more than care for your kids and provide the basic necessities.

 

You also need to get to know them, spend time observing them at home without consciously "unschooling" them (though I'd argue that unschooling begins at birth!). There is plenty of time to get into organized classes (neither of my kids were really interested in that until they were closer to 5) when they are older. And when you get a feel for their needs, you'll be better able to figure out what unschooling will look like for you. Eg. do they have high social needs? Will you need to be diligent at providing them with regular activities with groups of kids? Do they prefer to have a few quiet days at home with nothing scheduled or do they prefer to have things set out for them each day? Do they play independently? If they want to draw, do they just go and pick up a paper and crayons and get to it or do they insist that you do it with them (this also changes in the early years, so may not be apparent right away)? Are their interests made clear to you (eg. an obvious passion for anything nature-related) or is it more vague (they just seem to want to play all day). 

 

You really have to let the kids lead the way, but also be true to yourself. I'm done beating myself up over the fact that I hate sit-down playtime and imaginative games. Instead I find shared interests and then can engage authentically with them. For example, I hate doing "pretend" games but love doing Hands-On Equations, going on nature outings, and building Lego items from videos we find on YouTube. I think it's better for my kids to see that I have passions myself, and to see me truly engaged, rather than trying so hard to seem interested but not quite convincing anybody. ;-)


teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

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#8 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Many thanks again.  You are giving more confidence (and relief - I do get bored with certain types of play with my daughter) and helping me see clearly that I don't need to worry about making the decision now since things will change in the next few years anyways.

-Michele

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#9 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 06:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post

 

You really have to let the kids lead the way, but also be true to yourself. I'm done beating myself up over the fact that I hate sit-down playtime and imaginative games. Instead I find shared interests and then can engage authentically with them. For example, I hate doing "pretend" games but love doing Hands-On Equations, going on nature outings, and building Lego items from videos we find on YouTube. I think it's better for my kids to see that I have passions myself, and to see me truly engaged, rather than trying so hard to seem interested but not quite convincing anybody. ;-)


OMG, can I just say how incredibly liberating it was to read this?  I'm exactly the same way, but I ALWAYS have beat myself up about it.  My mom especially, and to some extent my DH, are GREAT at the imaginative playtime stuff...it just totally fills me with dread.  But I love to play board/card games, build with Trio blocks, cook, draw, do random art, etc.  Thank you for writing this, I think I'll just stop feeling guilty about it and instead be grateful that my DS has OTHER people in his life who will play with him that way.  I don't have to be everything to him.  thumb.gif


Chessa , mama to Silas T (6/06) , wife to Chad . Welcome August Emerson! 2/8/10
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#10 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 11:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeta View Post


 


OMG, can I just say how incredibly liberating it was to read this?  I'm exactly the same way, but I ALWAYS have beat myself up about it.  My mom especially, and to some extent my DH, are GREAT at the imaginative playtime stuff...it just totally fills me with dread.  But I love to play board/card games, build with Trio blocks, cook, draw, do random art, etc.  Thank you for writing this, I think I'll just stop feeling guilty about it and instead be grateful that my DS has OTHER people in his life who will play with him that way.  I don't have to be everything to him.  thumb.gif



It just comes down to this basic question - how can we grow authentic children if we are not ourselves authentic? Modeling and experience are the foundations of learning.

IntuitiveJamie likes this.

anna kiss partner to jon radical mama to aleks (8/02) and bastian (5/05)
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