When their interests aren't practical to fascilitate - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can we discuss this. Sometimes it seems like people are going to ridiculous links to fascilitate their kids interests and that that is completely normal among online unschooling communities. I want to know about the times you've had to say no to your kids learning wants. I cannot be the only one that throws my hands in the air at times and says, "I cannot teach that, nor do I know anyone who can or how to find someone who can." Or "I will not spend my money on that learning objective" or "I will not travel that far at this stage of your life"

 

How detrimental to the child and the process is sometimes saying no. Or am I the first here to have done it? lol!

 

Oh and believe me, I understand from reading these types of forums that 'practical' is a very relative term.

 

Can you tell I'm having a 'feeling like we're getting nowhere' moment?

 

Maybe they would be better off in school. I'm not sure I'm doing this right.

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#2 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 08:29 AM
 
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Hi~

I'd love to hear some examples of what interests you are talking about.  My kids have all sorts of ideas.  My 10 year old would love to go to Washington DC.  We live in Washington State on a single income.  It is out of our reach right now, but we can get documentary dvds and books from the library.  I can show her a photo album from my visit there years ago and we can look at maps and talk about how the city is laid out.  That is all we can do right now and she seems fine with that. 

 

I also think it is important to hear kid's requests and then wait a while before reacting if the request is big.  We all have fleeting ideas (even adults) and they often fade away in a short period of time.  I would only attempt something big if my kid requested it over and over very passionately.  What are the things that your kids want to do that you aren't able to facilitate.  Maybe we can brainstorm here and come up with reasonable ways to meet their needs and yours.  

 

Great discussion topic!


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#3 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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Saying no some of the time is very normal and practical and dare I say useful. If something isn't practical or affordable for your family, and it was really meant to be for your child, he will eventually find a way. I know of an unschooler who at age 3 was taken to the circus and told her family from that day forth that her life's ambition was to be in the circus. I know another one who from the depths of a mud puddle announced that she wanted to build a house. It took many years, and there were lots of "no's" along the way, but the first has done a lot of circus work (tissu -- aerial silks -- being her specialty) and now works full-time on a tall ship where her expertise amongst the rigging is legendary. The other is completing a Master's in green architectural design. Practical constraints are natural obstacles that for some children serve to galvanize, rather than deflate, their long-term ambitions. And if not -- well, it just wasn't important enough to them. 

 

The real world is full of natural obstacles, so I think dealing with them (and occasionally working hard, creatively and long to overcome them) is part of unschooling. 

 

I may be a "no" mom from your perspective, or I may be a "ridiculous lengths" mom. When my eldest dd was 13, her violin teacher suddenly retired with only a week's notice, due to her husband's cancer diagnosis. (She was near retirement age and had only recently married. Their families and the cancer treatment facilities were all elsewhere. We understood her reasons.) There was no one in our region who had the experience and playing skills to teach a student at my dd's level. She had not been practicing much, seemed to be drifting with little motivation, and although she had no end of talent and ability, I just couldn't justify driving hours each way to get her to an appropriate teacher. She wanted to continue lessons but I felt it was not reasonable for all of us (her siblings would have had to come along too) to travel for hours and spend hundreds of dollars for lessons she was only doing a middling amount of work for. She was the most advanced student in our region and when I said no to violin lessons there were many people who thought that was a travesty. Though of course they couldn't really envision how we could realistically satisfy her desire without killing ourselves.

 

Six months later my dd was practicing 3-4 hours a day, burning with motivation, had identified the teacher she wanted to study with and was hatching a plan for getting by with one lesson every 4-6 weeks. She suggested "buying" the right to a lesson with 100 hours of practicing. She had suggestions for ways to satisfy her siblings' needs during the long trips to her new teacher.

 

I said yes, and for three years we drove 7 hours to get to her lessons a bunch of times a year. Eventually she was old enough to do long overnight bus rides to get there and back. She continued to practice hard and advance quickly and she is now at 17 living in an even bigger city full-time in order to get lessons with an even-more-advanced teacher. 

 

I think in our case the hardship of the initial "no" made her realize how badly she wanted it, and find ways within reason (albeit barely) to make it work. And it did eventually seem reasonable to support her in her dreams. It seems to have turned out well. She's national calibre now and is likely to win a full scholarship to her university violin performance program of choice. 

 

Who's to know? It's a balancing act. Sometimes you say no, sometimes you say yes. I think you need to consider everyone's needs and make choices that are authentic and considered ... and be willing to change them too as the circumstances change.

 

Miranda


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#4 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 09:01 AM
 
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i can't officially say as we're not to that point yet.. but i think personally, there's always a way to do things.  unless.. say.. they want to cut up a cadaver or something but even then there have to be some online simulations you could dig up.  i don't think it has to cost a bunch of money or involve travel, whatever it is... i almost wish you'd give us specific examples (maybe just because i would love an infomation challenge, but maybe some of the other folks have done what your kid is asking for, too)


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#5 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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This kind of relates to my other question, do you really do all the things you say you do - because I too have been part of unschooling discussions where people talk proudly about the lengths to which they have gone to satisfy a wish of their child - and they will also talk as if every wish expressed by the child must be respected, meaning, if at all possible, fulfilled.  They allow for the "not possible" scenario, but just barely.

 

And I wonder if it really works out for them in real life, or this is just what they think they are doing or like to think they are doing.

 

But I digress.

 

(and i am sure there are others who might think i go to ridiculous lengths ...)

 

I guess what makes sense to me would be to discuss the interest that they have raised with them, be open about the constraints that are making you think they are impractical and see if you can work out an alternative together?  Without knowing what it was and how old they are it is hard to give any more specific suggestions, but if you would like to share, I'm sure a few of us could give it a try.  It is always easier to do this when it is happening to someone else :-)


no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#6 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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     Forums and conversations give a relatively inaccurate portrait of unschooling family life.  Ours is a young family and we mostly play all day or do chores, but if I talk about what we've done, it seems like those projects are happening all the time.  They're not.  I'm sure that's just a piece of it because I'm sure there are super-active parents out there in the unschooling world whose energy and indulgence makes us mere humans seem wimpy and dull by comparison.  (Back to the first point!)

 

     This can also bring up the issue of have-and have-nots.  Some families just have more--money, time, opportunities-- and they take advantage of it for better or for worse.

 

     Being a parent of little kids I get all kinds of requests that are alternately doable and--wow!--way far out.  Since I've come across many cool things and places myself that we just can't do right now, I've started a "wish book" (and an accompanying "wish calender" for events).  In clear sleeves I tuck in all kinds of stuff.  Recently they've been wanting to do activities that take more planning, like making a birdhouse (that's one of the doable ones) and inventing a chicken-recognizer so that each chicken has access to the proper food  wink1.gif.  I've started to write the ideas on a large index card or piece of paper.  On the back we can write all the things we need to do to make it real.  I can even dedicate a pocket just to one project if I want.  My 6.5yo (surprise) wants a farm with at least 12 horses of very specific breeds, cows goats, etc. etc.  She wants pony riding lessons.  So, she needs to forgo some Christmas and birthday presents if she wants the riding lessons.  We are starting 4-H with chickens this week.  Later she can enroll in the "horseless horse" program.  We've checked out loads of books from the library.

 

So, while we have to say no to many things at this age, we can support the ideas in general.  I imagine as they grow older, the dreams will become more concrete for them and they will have more resources to pursue the dream themselves.  That needs to be part of the unschooling experience.  How *they* can make their dreams a reality.  It is so much like school when parents insert themselves in their kids' projects.  When my niece started kindergarten, she worked on her first project by herself.  That's how my sister thought it should be done.  But when the projects were all on display it became clear to her that most parents worked on the projects for the kids and those seemed to look better and get better grades.  "Oh, so that's how it's done," she thought.  Of course, not to be outdone she started helping her daughter on projects.  I've heard similar stories from homeschooling-coop families.

 

I agree with moominmama that the barriers that go up will be surmounted if the drive is there.  And you are right, "no" is an appropriate response sometimes.

 

 


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#7 of 17 Old 09-26-2011, 09:29 PM
 
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At this stage in his life (3.5), we're dealing with a conflict between interest and maturity (IMO). DS is very interested in electronics and electricity, tools, etc. He's lucky to live in a household where we have a lot of old electronics, which he is welcome to take apart, and he is lucky that his dad is very knowledgeable about this stuff. But the electricity thing freaks me out. So, we try to monitor closely what we tell him (which is really a way of saying no). Today, I inadvertently told him that the short he witnessed the other day in the garage, also shorted out something in the house, namely a fuse in the fuse box. He was totally adamant in wanting to know where exactly that is located in the house. Here I draw the line, because before I know it, his enterprising little self is up on a chair trying to reproduce the effect...  We do let him try the screw gun and we let him play with knives or hand saws under supervision. This is stuff that he really wants to do, and that draws concern from our parents/some friends. But we trust his abilities/maturity and our parental instincts with these kinds of things.

At times, DS mentions to me something like, 'we haven't gone to the hobby farm for a while. Can we go there?' Then I make a point of going there in the next few days. He also wants to visit Britain, but that will have to wait. So, basically we accommodate as much as we can at the moment, within reason.

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#8 of 17 Old 09-29-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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You know what's fun? Going on Google "street view" and going up and down the streets of a far away city.  My 8 y.o. son is currently fascinated by graffiti, so we've been looking around in NYC, Los Angeles, and Boston for graffiti....all without leaving home!

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepypeanutsmom View Post

Hi~

I'd love to hear some examples of what interests you are talking about.  My kids have all sorts of ideas.  My 10 year old would love to go to Washington DC.  We live in Washington State on a single income.  It is out of our reach right now, but we can get documentary dvds and books from the library.  I can show her a photo album from my visit there years ago and we can look at maps and talk about how the city is laid out.  That is all we can do right now and she seems fine with that. 

 

I also think it is important to hear kid's requests and then wait a while before reacting if the request is big.  We all have fleeting ideas (even adults) and they often fade away in a short period of time.  I would only attempt something big if my kid requested it over and over very passionately.  What are the things that your kids want to do that you aren't able to facilitate.  Maybe we can brainstorm here and come up with reasonable ways to meet their needs and yours.  

 

Great discussion topic!



 

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#9 of 17 Old 10-02-2011, 06:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post

You know what's fun? Going on Google "street view" and going up and down the streets of a far away city.  My 8 y.o. son is currently fascinated by graffiti, so we've been looking around in NYC, Los Angeles, and Boston for graffiti....all without leaving home!

 

 

 


My kids love google maps. They've been to London, and France and all over the US. I think they went to China once too

Aron Mama to 6 homeschoolers -- 12, 10, 8, 5, 3, baby

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#10 of 17 Old 10-03-2011, 12:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post

You know what's fun? Going on Google "street view" and going up and down the streets of a far away city.  My 8 y.o. son is currently fascinated by graffiti, so we've been looking around in NYC, Los Angeles, and Boston for graffiti....all without leaving home!

 

 

 


don't forget about the live webcam tour stuff too... (earth cam is one site)

i am particularly enamoured of the wildlife cams.. (like baby owls, etc.)

 


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#11 of 17 Old 10-04-2011, 08:22 PM
 
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I'm also curious about the specifc kinds of interests that you're talking about.

 

My kids are 10 and almost 7, and when there is interest in something new, we talk about resources--time and money, usually.  At least if something involves taking a class of one kind or another, we talk about how that might fit into our schedule, how busy we are right now, what things we might need to give up to make it happen.  Sometimes there's been an interest in something that I don't know how to meet--one example I can think of is that my older dd wanted to learn about programming video games.  I was kind of stuck and it was literally a couple of years until we found a class she could take, which she is now enrolled in and loving.

 

I think it's a good thing for kids to consider how to reach their goals or pursue their interests.  I would be reluctant to pronounce "no" to any big plan or dream that my kids have, but I might ask, "Okay, so how can we do that?  Is it practical right now?" etc etc.  I consider those conversations, when we talk about what we want to do and what we value and how we spend our resources, to be some of the most important work that my kids and I do together.

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#12 of 17 Old 10-10-2011, 12:36 PM
 
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Thanks for sharing that violin story. I really appreciated that.


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#13 of 17 Old 10-15-2011, 04:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Six months later my dd was practicing 3-4 hours a day, burning with motivation, had identified the teacher she wanted to study with and was hatching a plan for getting by with one lesson every 4-6 weeks. She suggested "buying" the right to a lesson with 100 hours of practicing. She had suggestions for ways to satisfy her siblings' needs during the long trips to her new teacher.

 

I said yes, and for three years we drove 7 hours to get to her lessons a bunch of times a year. Eventually she was old enough to do long overnight bus rides to get there and back. She continued to practice hard and advance quickly and she is now at 17 living in an even bigger city full-time in order to get lessons with an even-more-advanced teacher. 

 

I think in our case the hardship of the initial "no" made her realize how badly she wanted it, and find ways within reason (albeit barely) to make it work. And it did eventually seem reasonable to support her in her dreams. It seems to have turned out well. She's national calibre now and is likely to win a full scholarship to her university violin performance program of choice. 

 

Who's to know? It's a balancing act. Sometimes you say no, sometimes you say yes. I think you need to consider everyone's needs and make choices that are authentic and considered ... and be willing to change them too as the circumstances change.

 

Miranda


 

Thank you so much for sharing this awesome story!!


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post

You know what's fun? Going on Google "street view" and going up and down the streets of a far away city.  My 8 y.o. son is currently fascinated by graffiti, so we've been looking around in NYC, Los Angeles, and Boston for graffiti....all without leaving home!

 

 

 



Great idea!!!  we love Google maps too, but I would have never though you could see graffiti on street view!!

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#14 of 17 Old 10-16-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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I'm also curious as to what kinds of interests they are.
We fall on the more RU end of the spectrum so would try hard to accommodate if possible but currently on my five year olds list of things is desperate to do are climbing Olympus Mons ( highest mountain in the solar system), actually any rock climbing and SCUBA diving.

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#15 of 17 Old 10-17-2011, 02:33 AM
 
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Not that you asked for an opinion but how about starting at a rock climbing gym.  Most have kids play time and start with basic instruction.  For SCUBA, you first need to be a very strong swimmer, to get there you need lessons and probably some time on a swim/dive team?

 

Just a thought at a very late hour for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenmama2 View Post

I'm also curious as to what kinds of interests they are.
We fall on the more RU end of the spectrum so would try hard to accommodate if possible but currently on my five year olds list of things is desperate to do are climbing Olympus Mons ( highest mountain in the solar system), actually any rock climbing and SCUBA diving.


 


Mom to J and never-ending , 0/2014 items decluttered, 0/52 crafts crafts completed  crochetsmilie.gif homeschool.gif  reading.gif  modifiedartist.gif

Seeking zen in 2014.  Working on journaling and finding peace this year.  Spending my free time taking J to swimteam

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#16 of 17 Old 10-17-2011, 08:16 AM
 
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The other thing you can do with rock-climbing if you have a detached home is attach a bunch of bouldering holds to some outside surface of your house, garage or other outbuilding. So long as the top holds are no higher than double your child's height it should be safe for free-climbing i.e. with no harness and ropes because he'll only get up to his height off the ground. Moving sideways along such a wall can be loads of fun, practicing different balances and combinations of hand and foot-holds. If the holds are different colors you can set challenges like "do the same thing but don't use any of the blue holds." You can also put holds up in a rec room (attached to the studs, don't use drywall anchors!), though obviously you won't be able to go as high.

 

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#17 of 17 Old 10-18-2011, 12:21 AM
 
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Yeah, we're working on the rock climbing thing. We rent so those ideas are out which is sad because she would LOVE them. There is an indoor place not too far away that we will start going to soon but she really wants to do "real" climbing on real cliffs with a harness.

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