I sometimes find a lot of the focus on USing is on negatives - Johnny does not read, Johnny does not write, etc, etc.
There are lots of things USing children do excel at - often because they have the time and resources to develop their interests.
What is your USer good at? I imagine some kids would be good at some things no matter how they were schooled - so in addition to what are they good at - how did USing help develop their interest?
dd loves to observe water. normally she is not easily distracted and quite the opposite of a multi-tasker. however she will stop in her tracks and suddenly observe something about the way water is flowing. Or evaporating. It has been like this for as long as I can remember. All kids play in the bath but for her water-flow has turned out to be a serious interest. Whenever we are at a beach or pool most of her time goes to observing the water patterns, making holes or paths in the sand and pouring water into them. She loves watering the plants and making different spray patterns by blocking the hose. She took some water to clean the slide in the playground and then she started watching how it went down, split at certain points, rejoined at others, etc. Yesterday she was shaking up a water bottle to see the different patterns of the bubbles.
The biggie is music. The kids have the time to practice and to enjoy practicing and other musical pursuits because of unschooling.
Dd17: Fitness. She's not a jock, but she's made an effort this past year to get in good shape and maintain her fitness at a high level. She runs or works out for a total of 1-2 hours a day. She'll dash off when there's a break in the weather and run a 10k trail run, just 'cause.
Ds14: Computers. Programming, hardware upgrades, tech support, digital media and design. Oh, and Left 4 Dead. He can stay up into the wee hours trouble-shooting something, and garner hours and hours of experience tweaking things, puttering around, researching, trying out ideas.
Dd12: Baking amazing decadent desserts like chocolate tortes, ginger pumpkin cheesecakes, profiteroles. And candy-making which is the direction she's moving in just now. She's planning to start a business this summer.
Dd8: Tidying and cleaning the house. Truly, she's amazing. She loves doing it too, getting a real sense of satisfaction from it. She's not anal about housekeeping (she'd never survive around here if she was!) but when things get really bad, she is often the one who rescues us by detailing a room or two.
Rumi: Re Water. I recenlty looked through this book in the library: http://www.amazon.ca/Drop-Water-Walter-Wick/dp/0590221973#_ (
A Drop of Water by Walter Wick.) Gorgeous photography, and it fascinated me. Your DD might like it.
My DS (8) is a creative powerhouse! He's so imaginative (story-telling) and a great artist who draws everything he loves. (he draws every single day). I have no doubt that once he starts to enjoy writing down his thoughts, ideas, and stories, there will be no stopping him. He is intelligent and well-spoken and he has a heart as big as the sky, he's so full of love. He loves nature and just about every single animal there is. And he's hilarious and on top of that he's cute.
dd1 (age 9): This kid is a bibliophile of the top rank. She can read 1,000 pages in a day while still going to dance class, playing outside, and generally doing other kid stuff. Not only can she devour any book, she remembers everything well enough to quote word for word books she has only read once. And, she never generalizes from fewer than three examples.
dd2 (age 6.5): Dd2 is a dancer. I don't know where she came from: she's a model of coordination with a passion for getting each step exactly right. She remembers endless sequences of steps and practices with great dedication. She is by far the youngest dancer in her ballet class (there are kids as old as 14) and she is always on task.
Unschooling leaves both of my girls free to pursue their passions.
I started the thread so I better play.
My youngest (8) excels at most art forms. She is particularly good and drawing and designing things. She spends hours a day doing so. I think USing has given her the time to delve deeply into creative self-expression.
DS is interested in media - movies in particular. He has a budding interest in history, politics and geography as. He has a long standing interest in drama. Very recently I have started to think he might be good at writing. This is very interesting to me as I have spent several years worried about his writing skills. I do not think he is at the point where he writes for fun (other than computer MSN and Facebook communications, lol), but he seems to be holding his own in any written exchange and courses he takes.
My middle child is in grade 7 at a brick and mortar school this year. To be honest she does not seem to be deep into any interests ( except, perhaps, make-up) but I do not blame that on school but rather on being a 12 yr old girl. It is a hard age for her. It will be interesting to see what happens to her interests if she stays in school.
DD (9 in a few weeks) is dabbler, and US allowed her to be free to move from interest to interest, to achieve her goals in her chosen area, and then explore and dabble some more, until she finds another focus for the next several months. She's great at knowing her strengths and setting goals, and is brave to dive into projects that many would consider "intermediate"--she finds the begginer levels boring. This is oftern a parental challenge , but US allows her to find her way into her interests, rather than going through prescribed or suggested sequences.
DS (6) is really great at drawing, and is extremely creative. Like his sister, his finds his way with his creativity, and is bored with typical craft ideas you'd find in books. His medium of choice is cardboard, duct tape or any kind of tape, and he's always building, constructing, inventing.
My kids are fabulous readers - one mostly fiction, the other history and science.
My ds knows more history than I do.
My dd is fascinated by flowers and plants.
My ds is a thinker ... he comes up with wonderful ideas about the world.
My dd is an empath ... she feels everyone's emotions in her bones.
They speak to adults with poise.
They are wonderfully funny in their own quirky ways.
They are both incredibly kind, accepting, forgiving and loving. They question the world. They love community. They seek out ways to help. They are responsible. They are explorers. They are independent while openly expressing their need for love and safety.
DD1 loves facts about animals, especially big predators. Top notch memory for that kind of stuff. After years of reading books on whales, sharks, crocs and dinosaurs (lots of kiddie science books) we are onto dragons and monsters. What a relief! we're finally reading fiction again! She has always been a good listener when it comes to books, we read the original "Winnie the Pooh" stories since she was 18 mos. We've actually read "The Hobbit" 3 times together, and she's talked me into reading LOTR (but I've warned her I'm not going to like it if she stops wanting to read it after the part about the Balrog.) She "gets" a lot of math, even multiplication. Don't ask me why. We play a lot of games at home and is a worthy opponent at Stratego. She loves puzzle books and has an infinite amount of energy for creative play. Now she's decided to read, especially after getting the graphic novel "Perseus and Medusa". She is a natural athlete and can do amazing things in gymnastics.
DD2 loves gentler things, more age appropriate, I would say. She is a wiz with construction sets, draws her alphabet repeatedly, cuts them out, whatever. She draws a lot. Not as naturally athletic as DD2, but getting strong. Also loves games with mom and dad, Quirkle, CandyLand, etc. Absolutely adores guide books, and looks for roly-polies everywhere. She, too, can read some words, but is strongly phonic in her approach, whereas DD1 is more word-recognition oriented.
I like science and crafts and everything and I express my curiosity freely, and I like to think it rubs off a bit.
DS10 loves art and technology. He is 'good' at math and science. These combined mean I live in home filled with Lego creations, child created movies, stories, and artwork.
US has allowed DS to focus on what interests him instead of what typical american boys 'should' be doing (every sport under the sun)
*he just started swim team and enjoys it but right swim still isn't a passion.
Ds14 is good at debate, research, writing and surprisingly, cooking. He is an amazing reader and loves discussions. He's a History nut as well. A 14 year old boy.
Dd8 is very artsy (she does paint by number pictures for adults) and sports. She has an amazing memory as well. She's very creative as well. Definitely a kid who would have stuggled a lot in school.
Ds9's primary passion is game playing (any type of game, but preferrably strategic) and creative play. He loves math and I just noticed today that he's already surpassed my mathematical abilities. Unfortunately he attends public school as of last year when we moved to homeschool hostile Sweden, but his first 7 years were completely unschooling, and at home, of course we still follow that philosophy.
At school they don't seem to care much about his love for and ease with math. They let him take a national test for 3rd grade (he's in 2nd) and he passed. Yet, his teacher still has him on beginning multiplication books. Because he's very competitive (for fun), what keeps him motivated despite the lack of challenge, is the idea of getting to the 'next' book. I remember that from my school days too, wanting to get to the next level. What's the point of that?
Anyhow, he's also an extremly positive child, full of energy and loves all kinds of people and is very kind. He'll run around all day and though he's not involved in any sport activities, when I took him to the doctor's last time (for a persistent harsh cough) he said his heart is like that of an athlete.
He has a strong interest in the natural world, particularly animals and rocks. This summer, his dad and I are both enrolled in a univeristy geology class (online) and he seems quite intrigued with our material so far.
He loves storytelling and will often engage in it with his dad, who also loves spinning tales. He does not enjoy having books read to him, only storytelling will do.
Ds3 is like his older brother full of imagination and energy. But whereas the older is quite care-free and a dreamer, the little one is particular and very attentive to details. He loves to help clean and fixing things.
Ever since the day he was born I noticed how good he was with his hands. He's proving to be a great little drawer, he holds his pen very well and can draw with precise movements, with small details.
He loves water and has since the day he was born (unassisted water birth). He loves bugs, especially spiders. Once he was following a spider move around on our blanket while hanging out at a park, and when it disappeared into the grass he started crying quite forcefully. At first I tried to find it for him, but of course it was in vain, and so I told him the spider had to go to his spider home and sleep in his spider bed. He was quite excited about that vision and stopped crying.
They're both very good at climbing boulders (there are lots of them in the woods behind our house).
It's true that many unschooling parents focus on what their kids are not good at or failing to grasp. While I tend to be a bit of worrier on many things in life, I tend to focus more on what my kids are great at. My oldest hated reading for the longest time, and both of my kids are very slow to talk (my almost 4-year-old still is working on it, however, he's got a good grasp on his bilingualism, often saying key words in swedish after english), but I felt quite at ease about it. I noticed they were putting their energy elsewhere.
My 7yo dd is into insects, arachnids, and especially isopods (aka sowbugs, roly polies). We have a critter keeper full of isopods that she lovingly cares for everyday. She figured out, by observing them, that they have yellow bellies if they are carrying eggs and that they dip their butts in water to drink.
She loves water bears (tardigrades, I believe they are called). She googles them whenever I let her, hoping to find a new image that she can draw.
She also loves leafy sea dragons, vampires, and reading scary stories. She's an excellent reader, I thought she'd never start reading but once she did she really took off.
She knows more about Ancient Egypt than anyone I know.