Unschooling pre-schoolers - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 03-19-2011, 05:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
UK mummy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I am really interested in this topic, I was wondering how you all came to the decision to unschool your pre-school kids, how you started unschooling and learning about your general experiences in this area?

 

I would be really grateful to hear your thoughts and experiences!

UK mummy is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 03-19-2011, 10:16 AM
 
NellieKatz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 649
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

To me, living with a preschooler IS "unschooling." When my son reached school age and a decision had to be made about what to do with him, education-wise, we decided that he was already soaking up the world around him at quite an amazing pace! No need to change what was working. Of course we're not 100% unschoolers; when he got to reading/writing/math age I did start to introduce those topics, but as I explained to him, those are just tools for him to do the things he really LOVES and is interested in.

 

I know that may sound too-simple, but that is what I say when people ask "how long have you been homeschooling?" I say 'since he's been with us." That's not glib, it's just true.  :-)

NellieKatz is offline  
Old 03-19-2011, 04:02 PM
 
bobandjess99's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Northern IN
Posts: 5,835
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

uhhh...what?

 

just living life IS unschooling.  We just did what you do ...play, go to the park and zoo, library trips, blocks, sang songs, etc.  

I think that the entire *concept* of "choosing to (insert schooling method) a preschool aged person" is coming from the mindset of someone very entrenched in the idea that "school" is something very formal, that you must decide to do, start doing at a certain time/age, do in a very specific way/method, within a very formalized framework, etc.  Unschooling is really none of those things smile.gif   It's about viewing the world, and understanding the concept of "learning", the very definition of "education" in a different way. 

 

I'm not really sure how to answer your question, since I am not sure the premise is valid.  My children existed, in my home, with me caring for them and loving them and providing them with attention, toys and daily learning experiences, since birth.  Once they reached what society would consider to be "preschool age", we just....kept doing that. winky.gif


CPST
bobandjess99 is offline  
Old 03-19-2011, 08:13 PM
 
Kalani's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

The whole POINT of unschooling is living like school didn't exist. What did you do with your child BEFORE he or she reached Preschool age? Continue to do just that!

Kalani is offline  
Old 03-19-2011, 10:46 PM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,808
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 95 Post(s)

My decision to unschool my kids when they were 3 or 4 came from the observable fact that they were thriving already and nothing needed to change. And nothing did. I simply continued to try to give them what they were asking for, whether overtly or implicitly, to respond genuinely to their conversational overtures, to support them as they learned and grew, to be myself, and to care lovingly for them.

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
moominmamma is online now  
Old 03-20-2011, 11:20 AM
 
Stacey B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Denver CO
Posts: 427
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

For me, my ds is almost 5, deciding to Unschool Preschool meant more about my personal growth and de-schooling. The only thing that I think it affects related to ds is that I consciously observe ds and ways that I can feed his interests. I'm not a project Mama, occasionally I'll show him how to do a new craft or art, but really it's more that the easel is set up all the time and he has access to art supplies. But when something strikes his interest we jump in. For example right now he is really interested in architecture so we've been looking at a lot books focusing on individual architects and drawing our own plans.

 

I agree that living is unschooling but our culture assumes that children should be engaged in actual activities, or school, so the act of not doing is really the how of unschooling preschool, as well as observing.

 

Now is the time to do a lot of reading yourself, not only about Unschooling but other interesting things. Let your kids see that everyone is learning all the time. I'll admit we're a family where when the adults have time to themselves they are at the library or studying for ourselves (no one is in school). Maybe instead of a book it's a new project, or painting a room in the house. Just let your kids see you engaged in life beyond just the confines of the family. Have fun, get dirty, talk to your neighbor, walk down a new street!


Mama, writer, partner, wanderer. Living life with my ds (7/06), married to my best friend and nemesis .
Stacey B is offline  
Old 03-20-2011, 09:14 PM
 
mombear's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: with the snow and/or bugs, MN
Posts: 27
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

We actually attended a "kindergarten roundup" when oldest DD (now 9) was that age.. and both DH and I came away from it shrugging our shoulders and shaking our heads.  Why should our happy, active, already-taught-herself to read 5-yr-old sit in a desk all day and learn how to stand in line and color quickly enough to go out for recess (actual story from a friend - her son had to stay in at recess in kinder. to finish coloring a picture..).  So we did just what everyone else here is talking about - we continued doing what we already were: reading to her, introducing her to new experiences, answering every question she could ask to the best of our knowledge or else looking up the answer, etc.

 

For our family that didn't quite "get" our idea of not sending her to school, we explained that unschooling can mean child-led learning.  If DD loves dogs this month, we go out and pull dog books from the library.  Castles the next, if that's her thing.  Is the museum doing a castle (or dog) exhibit?  Bring 'em there!  If she's just happy playing or digging in the yard, we left her to it; always being around to answer questions if she needed it.

 

With DD2 (now 5), we haven't done a thing.... except for all the normal playing, building, coloring, cutting, gluing, exploring, gardening, helping-me-cook/bake/clean/do laundry, sewing, knitting, etc, etc... that we do around here.  Unschooling is just keeping the learning going in everyday life!  (which, really, they're quite capable of by themselves!!)


married to DH love.gif since 98, DD reading.gif 2002 (bradley natural hospital birth), DD dust.gif2006 (water home birth),  pippin the doodle dog2.gif 2009; eclectic homeschooling, crunchy Christian, knit.gif  sewmachine.gifcrochetsmilie.gif, runner, fixing up our 90 yr old house & garden..
mombear is offline  
Old 03-20-2011, 10:25 PM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled, should we say "no thanks" to the thousands of "learning" toys, books, and games foisted on us by family and friends? What if the 3 year old who is only interested in really bright pictures chooses a patronizing piece of "educational" garbage out from the library? Should we read it as many times as they want, make up another story, or quietly stick it in the reshelving cart when they wander off to play with the puppets?

 

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled and actually learns from videos, and pulls their parents into engaging with the video, so it's not a matter of vegging out, is it okay to let them self-regulate like older unschooling kids often do?

 

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled, but adores letters and points them out everywhere, is it okay to play letter related games?

 

If a 2-5 year old doesn't know there's anything to trees beyond "look, trees!" is it okay to respond "yes, that's an oak tree!"?

 

or is that all, unschooling gasp of horror, forcing learning?

 

How does 'unschooling' food look at the preschool level?

 

What programs are available that are preschooler-friendly where one'd have more chance of getting to know other unschooling families? What if those families get snide about how a 2-5 year old can't really be "unschooled"?

sapphire_chan is offline  
Old 03-21-2011, 09:32 AM
 
Tigeresse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Space Mountain
Posts: 790
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

What if those families get snide about how a 2-5 year old can't really be "unschooled"?



I think it is unfortunate that a raising and parenting an under compulsory school age child needs to be defined in terms of school. Why is it not ok to simply parent the under 5 yo. no matter what method/philosophy is used?

I think for those of us who think outside the box and see all the learning that comes from living life it's strange to me that there is such a strong need to take those first 5 sacred years and define them in a culturally approved way. We feed into the notion that formal education has to start at a ridiculously young age, imo,
Tigeresse is offline  
Old 03-21-2011, 11:23 AM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Locally, the older unschooling families are very welcoming of those of us with younger children who plan to unschool into the future. They are happy for us to experience what unschooling looks like over time, happy to give us a chance to be around people who don't ask our 2-5 year olds if they're looking forward to kindergarten, happy to share their own experiences from the early years, and happy to have their kids interact with other children of all ages. And it's lovely to have our young kids exposed to older kids who don't assume that learning requires anything more than doing it.

 

However, online, there's this absurd attitude that early experiences will have no bearing on future attitudes towards learning. That it is "giving in to the school culture" to want support with living in the school culture. And it is all too often presented in a patronizing tone, as though only people with "real" learning children are allowed to consider the unschooling philosophies in the context of their own lives.

 

And that is horrible because most people simply do not have any other support systems than online.

 

ETA: This thread has actually been one of the better ones of it's type, there are quite a few good ideas here.

sapphire_chan is offline  
Old 03-21-2011, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
UK mummy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Thank you all for explaining unschooling to me, it has clarified things for me.  While I do plan on formal schooling for DS later on, I am determined to follow my DS's lead in learning as I know from my own experiences when young that forcing learning doesn't work and can actually be detrimental, especially in learning letters and numbers.  At the moment, he is interested in peacocks, has just learned to say the word, so we have been looking at photos of peacocks in the internet and I have ordered him some real peacock feathers.  Same with his interest in trains at the mo, reading him books about trains and DH tool him out on a train.  So I AM going at his pace and do realise the importance of this.  I think, first of all, the interest has to be there and then we can simply facilitate the learning process.

UK mummy is offline  
Old 03-21-2011, 07:37 PM
 
Niamh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,603
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Preschool life is what led me to unschooling - it (learning) was working so well before school-age, why change it?

 

I thought I'd take a stab at these from my perspective in case it's helpful.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled, should we say "no thanks" to the thousands of "learning" toys, books, and games foisted on us by family and friends? What if the 3 year old who is only interested in really bright pictures chooses a patronizing piece of "educational" garbage out from the library? Should we read it as many times as they want, make up another story, or quietly stick it in the reshelving cart when they wander off to play with the puppets?

If the child is interested in it, why say 'no thanks'? My kids have Leapster Explorers which are unashamedly 'learning toys' and they get so much pleasure from them. Learning comes from so many places - digging in the dirt, taking violin lessons, helping milk goats, doing crafts, learning toys ....

 

As for the library question, I approach that the same way. I pick out a lot of children's books, they throw what they want in the basket, we take them all home. They rarely make it through what you've labeled 'a patronizing piece of educational garbage' even one time because it is usually boring, but sometimes they love it and I read it as many times as they want. I never reshelve a book that they've asked for.

 

The books that I thought I'd have a hard, hard time with are all of the Batman/Catwoman/X-men books my girls love. Instead, I find myself asking the librarian to buy more of them because my girls enjoy them so much.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled and actually learns from videos, and pulls their parents into engaging with the video, so it's not a matter of vegging out, is it okay to let them self-regulate like older unschooling kids often do?

I haven't had an issue with doing this with my kids yet. They've done really well with it. I do have to watch *myself* so that I don't let 'self-regulating' turn into babysitting.

 

I think it's important to remember that 'self-regulating' can be learned at older ages, but it's better learned from birth on. I wish that I hadn't had to wait until I left home at 18 to learn to self-regulate. My kids self-regulate their tv/food/computer/sleep/play better than most teenagers. It's just the way they live.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled, but adores letters and points them out everywhere, is it okay to play letter related games?

 

 

I think it would be silly not to if that's the way you parent - very playfully. I wouldn't suggest going into full teaching mode, but that's not what you're asking. The only thing I'd say to be aware of is that you don't insist that a game gets 'finished'.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

If a 2-5 year old doesn't know there's anything to trees beyond "look, trees!" is it okay to respond "yes, that's an oak tree!"?

Lots of different ways to respond to that statement by your child. "Yes, that's an oak tree!" would be one. "Look at the bird living there." "Yup!" "Gorgeous, huh?" and on and on.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

How does 'unschooling' food look at the preschool level?

For us, it started at birth. Nursing on demand. Then we were given a small office fridge and put stuff in it for her that she had full access to and control over - carrots, cookies, water/milk/juice in sippy cups, applesauce, apples, sometimes ice-cream or popsicles in the freezer section ...it varied. She gets what we eat at dinner, plus other things that are always available for her to eat (again, they vary) - a treat drawer/vegetables/bread/crackers/cheese/ice-cream/avocados. Self-regulation is the key here also. She may eat ice-cream for breakfast and then eat avocados an hour later, tuna fish a few hours later, a banana, pasta with us for dinner, cheese on crackers before bed... I've found that I've really just got to provide choices and trust.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

What programs are available that are preschooler-friendly where one'd have more chance of getting to know other unschooling families? What if those families get snide about how a 2-5 year old can't really be "unschooled"?

 

Wish I had an answer for you there. We've got no other unschooling families around here that I know of. All homeschooling families around here are curriculum based and quite religion-heavy.

 

And, though this may come out snide ;), you really just have to let it slide off your back if someone chooses to get snide about something so silly. I've seen it online from some of the more prominent unschoolers and it always seems so ... um ... silly. That's really worth getting their dander up about? Reminds me of my cousin who gets so frustrated with people who say "Modge Podge" instead of "Mod Podge". It ain't worth getting upset about or drawing a line in the sand over ... or alienating unschoolers with younger families. In my opinion, since unschooling is 'living without school', of *course* those who are planning not to send their kids to school at an older age are already unschooling. But I can see the argument to be made for 'not really unschooling until the child hits schooling age' - as much as I think it's a silly, unnecessary argument to make - so I just smile and nod when it comes up in conversation. No skin off my nose.


Homesteading, unschooling mama of three.
Niamh is offline  
Old 03-21-2011, 09:21 PM
 
julesmiel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New York State
Posts: 142
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UK mummy View Post

I am really interested in this topic, I was wondering how you all came to the decision to unschool your pre-school kids, how you started unschooling and learning about your general experiences in this area?


I was a teacher in a public school for 3-1/2 years, trying to create freedom in the classroom.  Once I discovered unschooling, I felt unable to teach anymore, so I quit.  I immersed myself in everything I could find related to unschooling--Yahoo groups, books by John Holt, John Gatto and Grace Llewellyn.  My first child was born three years later.  

 

Now an unschooling parent to a 2yo and a 5yo, I've found that everything I originally read about trusting in life and your kids is true.  We live our lives, follow our interests, and trust that learning occurs exactly on time. 

 

julesmiel is offline  
Old 03-21-2011, 09:38 PM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Overall reply: thank you, you rock!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Niamh View Post

Preschool life is what led me to unschooling - it (learning) was working so well before school-age, why change it?

 

And here's where I think some experienced unschoolers get hung up. They get into unschooling because they come to realize it's what they're already doing. Whereas those of us who ask questions like how do you choose to unschool a preschooler, how to facilitate unschooling with a preschooler, and such, already know we want to unschool and are looking to get a feel for what will and won't support that goal.

 

The writings on unschooling have a common theme that this or that behavior suppressed a child's innate desire to learn and squelched creativity. There are studies out that show kids learning better if the adult pretends to figure out part of a toy by accident instead of showing the kid "look what this toy can do".  Especially if you're doing a lot of reading to try and get an idea of what the next decade or so in your child's life might look like, there are a lot of messages out there than unschooling is easy to screw up.

 

Really, SoBelt's thread about "if you could start from scratch," which has gone entirely unanswered, is what is really being asked.

sapphire_chan is offline  
Old 03-22-2011, 04:34 AM
 
julesmiel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New York State
Posts: 142
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

If a 2-5 year old is unschooled, should we say "no thanks" to the thousands of "learning" toys, books, and games foisted on us by family and friends? 

 

 

We take what comes our way.  The kids often like the educational things--machines that make sounds when you press buttons, for example.  I remember a toy my mom bought for Dmitri (then 4) centered around teaching letters.  Sue, who was a baby at the time, had a great time playing with the buttons, so there can be a use for just about anything.  

 

 

 

Quote:
What if the 3 year old who is only interested in really bright pictures chooses a patronizing piece of "educational" garbage out from the library? Should we read it as many times as they want, make up another story, or quietly stick it in the reshelving cart when they wander off to play with the puppets?

 

From my perspective, nothing is really garbage.  For example, I might find parts of the Berenstain Bears patronizing, but I've come to see that Dmitri really loves the situations they get into.  There's no should, really.  Follow your instincts.  Experiment.  See how it feels.  See how your child reacts.

 

 

 

Quote:
If a 2-5 year old is unschooled and actually learns from videos, and pulls their parents into engaging with the video, so it's not a matter of vegging out, is it okay to let them self-regulate like older unschooling kids often do?

 

No problems here with unlimited video access.  The kids are actually watching Caillou on YouTube as I type this, and now nak, and it just all flows together.  I know that if they're interested in it, it's worthwhile.  I never find myself in the position of deciding whether or not they're vegging out or getting something out of an activity.  I know that if they're giving it their attention, they're getting something out of it.

 

 

Quote:
If a 2-5 year old is unschooled, but adores letters and points them out everywhere, is it okay to play letter related games?

 

In my case, if I feel inspired to offer something, I trust that.  If they aren't interested, I know to move on.

 

 

 

Quote:
If a 2-5 year old doesn't know there's anything to trees beyond "look, trees!" is it okay to respond "yes, that's an oak tree!"?

 

Sure.  You're safe letting the words out of your mouth.  You'll know when something feels off to you.  I offer information sometimes.  When it becomes abundantly clear that they're not interested, that shapes my interaction with them.  The best guide for you in this is your kid's level of interest.

 

 

Quote:
or is that all, unschooling gasp of horror, forcing learning?

 

I think it would be forcing learning to try to claim your child's attention after it has left you.  It's safe to let you be you and say and do what occurs to you.  If your child isn't interested, you'll know.

 

Quote:
How does 'unschooling' food look at the preschool level?

 

Making a snack cupboard available at kid level, having plenty of low kid tables to have food nearby while they're playing, saying yes to requests, respecting where they want to be during a mealtime (i.e., not at the table), redefining mealtimes and being fine with grazing if that's what works best.

 

 

Quote:
What programs are available that are preschooler-friendly where one'd have more chance of getting to know other unschooling families? 

 

If there's a local homeschooling group in your area, you might find other unschoolers there.  

 

 

Quote:
What if those families get snide about how a 2-5 year old can't really be "unschooled"?

 

It works for me to talk about our lives if there are questions, but I generally don't even need to mention the word unschooling.  

 

Julie

 

julesmiel is offline  
Old 03-22-2011, 08:55 AM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Just to clarify, my big list of questions was an example of the kind of things that an unschooling family might wonder about when the child is little.  Please feel free to discuss concerns you had, or have heard from friends, what you did, and how you feel about how the whole thing went down.

sapphire_chan is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off