Did anything change for you once your unschooler reached "school age"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 04-08-2011, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Title kind of says it all.  As we approach DS's 5th birthday and other folks around me talk about plans for school in the fall, there is this little voice in my head asking, " Can we really just continue on as we have his whole life--- letting him soak in the world around and learn what he will?"


 

 

 

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#2 of 18 Old 04-08-2011, 09:56 PM
 
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I struggle with this.  I'm a fence-rider, I guess.  We started by unschooling, but as oldest reached 4 - 4 1/2, he expressed an interest in book work.  So, I bought some workbooks that we would work on whenever he felt like it.  It was definitely not everyday.  As he reached 5 and we were within a month of school starting locally, he stated (and stuck to his guns) that he wanted to try kindy.  So he went, and withdrew within 3 months as it really wasn't what he expected.  Since then, I've really allowed them to unschool.  We do a lot of educationally-enhancing activities, from story hour to museums to conversations that occur spur of the moment, y'know like the "why does this happen" questions.  We have workbooks, and we have curriculum.  But I haven't been forcing him to do the work every day.  When he asks for it, we do it, maybe once a week?  He's naturally picking up reading, and he's writing for fun everyday.  His fine motor skills could use some fine-tuning, and he often doesn't follow rules like obeying upper/lower case and letter placement within the lines.  But he was late at developing the skills used to write letters, which was negatively focused on by the teacher during his time at school.  Now that there's no stress involved, he's writing up a storm.  He writes us notes, menus, stories, you name it.  I don't want to squash that desire to write with a ton of rules.

 

But many days I struggle with the "am I doing the right thing" argument in my head.  My IRL friends who homeschool are so much more structured and routined, so I feel inadequate when they start talking and I look at our lack of schedule, structure, or just plain "school."  But my kids have never been happier to explore the world around them.  shrug.gif


 

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#3 of 18 Old 04-09-2011, 10:34 AM
 
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Because I started school at 7.5 back in the USSR, and was in a largely non-academic environment before that, in my mind 'school age' is around 7, which helps a lot.

 

Now as DD is turning 9 in two months, I do worry more. She is not a typical unschooled child you will read about on various forums. She has no interest in academics, she is a perfectionist and seems to give up easily. Even when she herself chooses to focus on something, she gets very emotional when things don't go as expected, and she doesn't like to 'follow'--she tends to find her own ways in doing things.

 

Things that she's tackled on her own were origami (following instructions for very advanced patterns); sewing animals, and now crochetting animals (by animals I mean 'horses' and an occasional crocodile for her brother orngbiggrin.gif). Her understanding of spatial patterns and relationships is truly amazing, in any case, much better than mine.

 

She reads well, on the level, in English and Russian. She is not into trying books that are somewhat above her level, as she actively avoids anything that is remotely sad or scary--and many things are either sad or scary to her.

 

At my last freak out we started math when she was 8.5, and her grasp of concepts was really good, but she hated it, and we are taking an exteded break. She's 'behind' in math. She's working on her handwriting, but it is currently 'behind' as well.

 

I'm sure she has enough of knowledge about a bunch of other things, but we've never done anything remotely formal--just reading books, watching DVDs, discussing things.

 

Well, the bottom line is,  the older she gets, the more I worry. But I try not to...About my 6 yo--I don't worry at all.

 

 

 

 

 


My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#4 of 18 Old 04-11-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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I don't expect much to change, here, but I am hoping to get my family to our first unschooling conference around the time DS would be starting kindergarten...I'm looking forward to it as a nice way to celebrate that transition (although it won't be much of a transition in our case) and also get a little extra support for all of us as we enter the phase of increased societal expectations.


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#5 of 18 Old 04-11-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lgyre View Post

...and also get a little extra support for all of us as we enter the phase of increased societal expectations.



 


 

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#6 of 18 Old 04-11-2011, 08:54 PM
 
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YES!

      My oldest would have started kindergarten this year.  Of course things are different because the kids are older, but nothing has really changed.  

      I did start a "homeschool calender" that is week by week, posted on the fridge.  Things like swim lessons and trips to Grandma's are written down.  Then I get to write down anything "homeschoolish".  "Silly" played banker at a board game, or played Stratego with Dad.  "Giggles" helped make pancakes.  This also makes a good diary, and I'll record short comments on the weather or what we saw while driving.  I add last week's calender to a binder.  Into this binder goes any "homeschoolish" mementoes, like stamps or stickers collected at "Dino Days", samples of handwriting or whatever.  This will make a great keepsake 

       I like this system because if I have any self-doubt about kids their age getting "ahead" (oh, heaven forbid, but the thought does occur to me), it's easy to see how full our week is with learning.  One day I can use this calender to collate a brief synopsis of the "subjects" we've covered to show the school district when that becomes necessary.

      What could be better than to nuture a joyful and wondering attitude towards the world?


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#7 of 18 Old 04-12-2011, 02:37 PM
 
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Things did change for us, but only because I enrolled my kids in a learning program for unschoolers (that's the short description) so in some ways it was like school in that we registered, selected a Learning Consultant, and from September to about April/May I write weekly reports (short, journal-style entries about what we were up to that week). I was pretty excited about the whole thing and now we are finishing up our 4th year with the program and still loving it.

 

As far as the kids were concerned, however, nothing changed. They continued to live their lives and explore their interests as they always had done. 


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#8 of 18 Old 04-12-2011, 09:06 PM
 
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Piglet, would you be willing to inbox me more info about this program?  I'm interested!!


 

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#9 of 18 Old 04-13-2011, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd actually be really interested in learning more about this as well.  Thanks for all the responses everyone!
 

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Originally Posted by Thandiwe View Post

Piglet, would you be willing to inbox me more info about this program?  I'm interested!!



 

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#10 of 18 Old 04-13-2011, 06:23 PM
 
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It's a BC only (British Columbia) program. Here is a link to their website....http://selfdesign.org/sdlc.html

 

It's a Distributed Learning program, but an Independent (Private) one rather than a Public one. Technically the government considers it "school". Our program caters to unschoolers, though there are other kinds of homelearners represented as well. 


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#11 of 18 Old 04-17-2011, 11:17 PM
 
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I'm not there yet, but I really don't see why it would need to change. My 2.5-year-old isn't doing anything besides living and playing, but she knows some letters, numbers, all the colors (even black and brown), shapes, etc. As she gets older of course she'll move on to more complex stuff and I have no doubt she'll be just fine without school. smile.gif
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#12 of 18 Old 04-24-2011, 07:48 PM
 
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My ds is 7yo.  I think the things that changed for us were notsomuch US, but the people around us and managing them.  :)  That being said, I also view "school age" as 2nd grade and up because I'm a huge fan of the delayed academics model of education (when formal education is involved).  The worst is every Sept. when people ask him what grade his in.  And Kindy year was the VERY worst with all of the "Are you excited about going to school??  Did you meet your teacher yet?"  Grrr...  To be fair, I don't really get THAT much crap about how I'm educating him because he's obviously doing great.  But sometimes, someone catches on to him being a bit above his age level and wants to know how I'm teaching him.  When I note that I'm not really teaching him, they often go on a tangent about either how irresponsible that is, that it can't be like that forever, that I'm wasting my son's gifts/he could be doing so much more, or that I MUST be doing SOMEthing... oh, often accompanied by "That can't be legal...?"  eyesroll.gif

 

So this Sept. would be my ds' 2nd grade year and I'm feeling like I at least need to monitor what he's done.  We just moved to a state that is extremely loose on hsing (which is great because I moved from NJ, which is the most lax hsing state in the country--there is no NOTHING.  Hsing doesn't even exist in a legal sense so there are ZERO requirements to do ANYthing) but on the books in IL is just a loose reference to "education in" the major subjects taught in the state as a whole.  So at this point, I'm using Homeschool Skedtrack just to track the stuff we actually do and lump it into categories just in case someone knocks on my door someday.  But HOW we learn has not changed.  Of course, we do a LOT of activities--so I feel very confident that he's getting exposed to a lot of educational concepts and ideas (in a fun way!).

 

And I AM going through and kind of figuring out where he is level-wise.  I'm also going to impose math on him next year via a class at the local homeschool coop where we've done enrichment classes.  I'm concerned that if our family winds up in a situation where he needs to enter public school, I need to know he'll be okay.  Since he's ahead in nearly everything--this isn't a huge concern.  And math is the only place I'm going to try this out (he reads many years ahead of his age).  He tested into Singapore level 2 which I think is actually either what he'd be at if he were in a public school using Singapore or a year ahead.  Regardless, he's not behind.  So I feel way more at ease if it doesn't really work for us and I yank him because he's learned enough to test into that level with no real formal educating.  :)


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#13 of 18 Old 04-30-2011, 01:48 PM
 
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I'm getting a bit nervous as my son will be 7 in Nov of this year and is not reading or writing. He does know how to recite his ABC's but has little recognition of them. I feel that i've not done "enough" with him educationally. Yet at the same time he has resisted anything schooly or instructional. So i've been at a loss on how to get the reading and writing going. We thought he was left handed and in the past few months i've noticed him using his right hand to throw balls and even color. When i ask him what hand he likes to use the most...he never knows! He is bilingual, in which he taught himself spanish. He picked it up from his cousins and friends. I think thats a great accomplishment. I'm eyeing sonlight for the fall...we'll see.


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#14 of 18 Old 05-01-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamato3wild ponnie View Post

I'm getting a bit nervous as my son will be 7 in Nov of this year and is not reading or writing. He does know how to recite his ABC's but has little recognition of them. I feel that i've not done "enough" with him educationally. Yet at the same time he has resisted anything schooly or instructional. So i've been at a loss on how to get the reading and writing going. We thought he was left handed and in the past few months i've noticed him using his right hand to throw balls and even color. When i ask him what hand he likes to use the most...he never knows! He is bilingual, in which he taught himself spanish. He picked it up from his cousins and friends. I think thats a great accomplishment. I'm eyeing sonlight for the fall...we'll see.


I'm not saying you shouldn't worry, learning disabilities or undiagnosed vision problems can be a problem.  But usually when a child that age isn't learning to read or write and also isn't terribly interested (versus kids who are really interested and trying but just can't), everything is fine.  Many, many kids are not reading at 6 1/2, even in school.  That's how old I was when I first started reading (with being taught in school).  My dh started when he was 3 so he started thinking ds was behind starting at 4.  Anyway, ds didn't start taking off with reading until after he turned 8.  Over the years, he slowly accrued more and more sight words, many from playing games on the computer (noneducational ones).  He slowly asked me less and less often what something said.  I wasn't sure if he was left or right handed, either, for a number of years.  He is close to ambidextrous (as am I and my mom) but seems to have settled on his right hand for writing.   

 


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#15 of 18 Old 05-08-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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What a great thread. DD is being unschooled at kindy level (aged 4) here and I am finding the pressure of where and when she is going to school enormous. People are freaking out that I have "kept her home" from kindy and so I am a bit scared of reactions about school next year. I have started a blog to introduce our immediate family and friends to our ideas this year and that seems to be working really well.

I am also hoping to join a homeschool group in our area, but some days I totally sit on the fence and think I am doing the wrong thing by not following the crowd. It is so strange! Then I look at my children and how happy they are and creative and imaginative and remember that school is so structured and they would have to "fit" and not be who they are enjoying and being able to expand on each moment in their days.

Then I (mostly) regain my confidence and continue on.

But I sooooo know how you are feeling.

Good luck

C

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#16 of 18 Old 05-08-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiemumma View Post

What a great thread. DD is being unschooled at kindy level (aged 4) here and I am finding the pressure of where and when she is going to school enormous. People are freaking out that I have "kept her home" from kindy and so I am a bit scared of reactions about school next year. I have started a blog to introduce our immediate family and friends to our ideas this year and that seems to be working really well.

I am also hoping to join a homeschool group in our area, but some days I totally sit on the fence and think I am doing the wrong thing by not following the crowd. It is so strange! Then I look at my children and how happy they are and creative and imaginative and remember that school is so structured and they would have to "fit" and not be who they are enjoying and being able to expand on each moment in their days.

Then I (mostly) regain my confidence and continue on.

But I sooooo know how you are feeling.

Good luck

C



I think I could have written this post myself.  You certainly are not alone!

 


 

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#17 of 18 Old 05-12-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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Thank you for putting this thread up, we're right there with you. Ds is going to a once a week enrichment program next fall but beyond that I'm planning on changing anything, though there is definitely lots of pressure from outside to be "doing school" even if he isn't going to school.


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#18 of 18 Old 05-21-2011, 04:00 PM
 
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Yes, I agree it's nice to know we are not alone in our "mother guilt" feelings. It is sad that we have to feel this way though. I keep reading John Holt, John Taylor-Gatto, this forum and other blogs and keep believing. I just feel my head nodding and my heart singing to this philosophy. I just know that we cannot turn back now. 

However, there are days where I wish I had never heard of the term; it would have been much easier, but on the other hand, how much living we all would have missed!

Good luck everyone.

C

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