Ok, so I'm new. DS1 attended public school for kindy and 1st grade. My husband isn't super supportive of HSing in general and even less so of unschooling. But I got him to agree to a trial year this year and I was so excited! I had all these big plans and dreams about how it would go and as you can imagine it's going quite the opposite of my beautiful imagination. I'm not a great organizer and I don't like a lot of seatwork (any really) but i bought some workbooks and stuff and thought we could kind of fill-in-the-blanks with them. Well we're about 4 weeks into things and I haven't been pushy, we do not use the workbooks, and we've ditched the schedule. We do things lilke make play doh and go for hikes. The thing is, much as i try to be relaxed, I can't even get him to read the notes i leave around the house let alone a book, he has started telling me that he doesn't know how to read and wants me to read everything for him. I can't get much done around the house because he wants "help" with everything, even though he has very little asked of him. Today I asked him to gather the laundry and bring it down to the laundry room, he passed the job to his brother and then the two of them scattered laundry all over the house. That was only a small part of the day and it was the only thing I actually required of him at all. I'm getting so frustrated with his lack of interest in everything. I go from being super relaxed to total freak out on a day-to-day basis.
Another kind of side note about my freak outs, I decided that working out or yoga would help, but i find that the place I go will make ds feel kind of strange as he will have to sit in a day care situation with a bunch of "babies" much younger than him and so I've only been doing what I can with a 7, 4 and 2 year old in tow, which isn't very much when it comes to burning off my anxiety.
So, I'm sorry this is so long...if you've read this much I was hoping that maybe I could get some feedback about his "work ethic" or lack thereof, and about the idea of how learning occurs moment to moment even if I don't really think it is...
Thanks so much for reading!!!
Jessie. Mama to (7) : (4) and : 22 mo
First, understand that I am just beginning this whole thing, too. One difference is that my girls have not been in school.
I think he's going to flounder a bit. (All of this is my opinion only, BTW.) Maybe that's his personality, or perhaps it's because of 2 years of being told what to learn. You'll never know which and it doesn't matter. Forget about what he "should" be learning. What does he love? Start there. And back off a bit. I know that your husband's expectation puts the pressure on you, but for this to work it has to, well.... WORK! So back off a bit on the chores, the reading, anything that he is resisting. Read to him. Challenge his listening skills. Improve his vocabulary that way. I know, the 2yo complicates this. (Little secret: get little one-word-per-page board books for the toddler. That's how my 6.5yo gained confidence reading to her little sister.) Find where there is enthusiasm and start there. It might take a while.
Does he love the hikes? Get maps, ask if he wants to plan some of the hikes. Get stacks of guide books. My 5yo loves the guide books. Bring along magnifying glasses, binoculars, small sketch pad and color pencils, measuring tape, etc. Anything fun. Just provide this stuff and see what he does with it. Learn orienteering. Either you or your husband might already know this, or find a class through local Mountaineers groups, or books on the subject. Geocaching is popular with homeschoolers. Guess what? Those same binoculars gives a decent view of Jupiter's Galilean moons, the nebula in (the constellation) Orion's sword.
Get books from the library on subjects he's interested in. The book that finally got dd1 to really read was juvenile graphic novel "Perseus and Medusa." Garfield comics are also popular here right now. Lots of books here on monsters, Greek myths, farm animals, dogs and puppies, horses, etc. Astronomy, kids' style. Every night we do about 5minutes of stargazing before bed. For now, anyway.
Joseph Campbell famously said "Follow Your Bliss", and with kids this age I think that advice is perfect. Be patient. Keep a diary and list what he is doing and learning, the stuff that you aren't "teaching" him. That will make you feel better.
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
My eight-year-old, who is really a fantastic reader, still likes me to read to him some every day. It's wonderful snuggle time, and it's a different experience to listen to a book than it is to read one alone. Having been in school and away from you for much of the day, he might really enjoy that special closeness right now.
Have you read Alison McKee's Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves? She is very honest in describing all her freak-outs as she unschooled her children, and repeatedly emphasizes how unfounded her worries were. And her kids turned out great. I find that reading accounts of unschooling by parents of grown unschoolers helps me when my confidence is wavering.
It sounds like you're harboring a lot of ambivalence and I can imagine that must be difficult for you. You're trying to trust, but you're torn, and little things like laundry on the floor send you over the edge. Understandably, But imagine this: it must be even more difficult for your ds, because while you behave most of the time like you are not expecting him to abide by any particular structure or expectations, you occasionally flip out on him for not magically conforming to the inner vision you had of what his homeschooling would look like. And he doesn't understand your inner picture, or how to fulfill it, so he'd be powerless to help you realize it even if he wanted to try.
I'm not blaming you at all. I've been there. I've had the same thoughts. It's very normal. I even wrote a blog post about these waves of unschooling panic years ago that still gets tons of hits. I get it.
I'm just trying to point out how it sends mixed messages to our kids, how it can be stressful and alienating for them.
I think I would do one of three things. Either I would just let go and totally trust him and make a deal with yourself that you are not going to surreptitiously going to try to feed him learning, you are just going to wait for him to come to things his own way in his own time, and stick to that resolution. Or I would be really clear with him that for your own sanity you are going to require him to do ___ and ____ for schoolwork every day, and ___ to help around the house, all before lunch time, and that will allow you to relax and let everything else flow on its own.
Or (and this is probably the best solution, but the most complicated one), I would sit down and confess to him that you are struggling with some stuff. Tell him that you really do believe in him and you're trying to trust him to decide when and how to learn, but you have these silly parent worries. Because, well, you grew up in school where it was assumed kids would never learn anything if they weren't made to. And you also worry because worrying is just what parents do. They care so much about their kids growing into happy capable people that they worry about all the things that might stop that from happening. Sometimes your "worry buttons" get turned on by little things that happen, like when he insists he can't read any more, or when he messes up a simple housework job. And that's why you sometimes freak out: because you start worrying that what you're doing as a parent might not be working, that maybe he is going to turn into some horrible lazy useless grown-up! But of course deep down you know he's wonderful, and caring, and smart as anything, and learning like crazy. Still, the worry buttons sometimes get the better of you.
After a conversation like that, you might have some vocabulary you can use in the flow of your days to help understand each other better. "Know what? What you did for your brother at lunch, that made me feel so happy. I think you turned off my worry button for whole the day." Or "Hey, whoa! Remember, that word pushes my worry button. Can you find a different way to say what you want?" Or "I'm sorry. The mess on the floor that you and your brother made, it was just one of those moments that brought all my parent-worries to the surface -- and I took it out on you. I probably could have handled it better."
I completely agree with SweetSilver's suggestions to (a) find his little germs of enthusiasm, no matter where they lie, and let things flow from there and (b) keep a diary, a journal or a blog, documenting what he is doing and learning and creating -- because I guarantee you, if he's seven years old he's learning all the time unless he's in a coma. Sometimes we're so busy worrying about what's not happening that we miss the great stuff that is happening. If he's engaged in something, he's learning from it.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
All of my kids prefer (for the most part) that I read to them, rather than them reading anything alone. I struggled a whole lot getting my now 10 year old to read anything. Some things that helped was to get really simple readers and I'd read parts then ask for his help on some words, slowly getting him to read more and more. He still prefers to take turns with me. I'll read a page and he'll read a page. He also had to learn to read to properly play some of his pokemon games, some video games and other things like that, so that helped a ton. He just, at age 10, has started to read well enough that it can be fun for him. He still doesn't really like to do it, but I know he is capable now.
Aron Mama to 6 homeschoolers -- 12, 10, 8, 5, 3, baby
Thanks so much everyone. I haven't had much time to get on here...and of course I'm being called for now. But I wanted to let you all know that I've checked in and I appreciate your words very much.
Jessie. Mama to (7) : (4) and : 22 mo
Another thing you can do is find his main interests and run with them. I know someone mentioned that but you can put all of your worrisome subjects into it. For ex. He loves Star Wars. (My son is into this right now) He can make a booklet with you (lapbook maybe) about it.
Learn about robotics
Do puzzles and games online
Make sound effects
Create light sabres and talk about materials
Narrate a story about it
Play video games
Create Lego Star Wars
Act a play out
Bake a Star Wars Cake using measuring cups, ingredients and why they are used
Talk about space
Go star gazing looking for ships
Look through nature for any signs of Star Wars activity. (Pretend of course. lol)
Talk about how he thinks they got all of the effects for the movies
It is endless really. If he becomes bored, move on to the next subject. Give him time to come up with fun activities. Maybe help him google search fun ideas. Help him ask the librarian for books that are interesting. Help him find someone that knows a lot about what he is interested in. He can ask them questions. Sure this is harder with little ones but it can be done. :)