can I unschool? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 01-14-2012, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some background info: my dd is only 7 months old, but I've been doing a lot of research into education options, partly because where and how she's schooled may affect where we live.  Plus, in Hong Kong, where I'm from, people start prepping their kids by going to playgroups and such starting 6 months, and enter some sort of pre-school by 2. 

 

We live in India right now, and I was ecstatic to learn that homeschooling is legal (it is not legal in Hong Kong). In my research about homeschooling, I stumbled upon unschooling. I've read some John Holt, Sandra Dodd's website, etc, and the principles of unschooling really resonates with me. I'm glad I found out about this so early-- I'm in serious need of deschooling.

 

I was always extremely anxious in school but was a good student. Of course, being a good student in Hong Kong means excellent memorization and test-taking skills, and I think of myself as not very creative or imaginative (although I remember I was when I was very young, loved to role play and act). My dh grew up in the country. He's also went to school, wasn't a particularly good student (troublemaker type), and now he's very relaxed and creative and is always making stuff. He is not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of homeschool, but is willing to go along for my sake. 

 

So, right now we are planning to settle in a rural area in India over Hong Kong. There are not much 'educational resources' such as libraries, museums, etc available within close distance. The nearest big city is at least an hour away, and we hardly ever go. Nobody else homeschools, the idea is foreign to many, so there wouldn't be that kind of support. Most people here, in addition to school, send their kids to tuition centers after school. 

 

Would we be able to unschool? I read a lot about providing resources to the kids, which I feel aren't available, but maybe I'm not thinking about this the right way. Also as I'm not creative, not musical, and generally don't have many skills, although lots of interests.... could I create a rich learning environment for my kid?

 

I would love to hear others' comments and experiences....


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#2 of 8 Old 01-15-2012, 07:23 AM
 
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You definitely don't have to live in or near a major city for it to work.  I mean, it helps when you have places to go during the day, particularly places where your child gets to socialize with their peers, but it doesn't really have to be museums and all that. I've found that post offices and grocery stores and other places where you and your children would have ordinary conversations with ordinary people and do ordinary life activities can sometimes be the most expanding and enlightening. Rural areas have advantages, too.  Usually, there are more open spaces to explore, more wild plants and animals to learn about, space to keep a garden or animals of their own, etc.  Small town people, at least in the US, are more likely to stop and talk to you as well, and you never know what they have experienced or learned in their lifetime.  In terms of resources, the ones you might want to provide are things like books, games, art supplies, science kits, blocks, movies -  basically any of the things you would have in the house anyway that your child liked and you both found enriching. Unschooling is about learning from having a full life.  If you have a full life where you are, there's no reason your child can't learn from the things you are doing and interacting with every day already.

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#3 of 8 Old 01-17-2012, 09:41 PM
 
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I second everything that Qalliope said. I would also like to point out that for countless generations most people lived in rural communities, far apart from neighbours, and that didn't preclude them from having a rich life. The Internet provides amazing opportunities to bring learning into the home, whether it is online resources or ordering stuff. We have a "homeschool area" in our home with a bookshelf, science equipment (microscopes, magnifying glasses, electronic kits, etc), lots of art supplies, musical instruments, etc. In the early years especially (the elementary years) play is the biggest source of learning as well as experiencing everyday life as Qalliope pointed out. 


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#4 of 8 Old 01-17-2012, 10:50 PM
 
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Technically speaking, if you are in rural India , in some poor village without.school , would not be everyone around you essentially unschooling? You can just learn from what kids in the village do.  I imagine there are fields, farms, farm animals, craftsmen , markets and other things like that.

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#5 of 8 Old 01-18-2012, 05:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the reminder that one learns from having a full life! 

 

Things like books, games, science kits, etc are not readily available. One would have to go to a major city. 

 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qalliope View Post

You definitely don't have to live in or near a major city for it to work.  I mean, it helps when you have places to go during the day, particularly places where your child gets to socialize with their peers, but it doesn't really have to be museums and all that. I've found that post offices and grocery stores and other places where you and your children would have ordinary conversations with ordinary people and do ordinary life activities can sometimes be the most expanding and enlightening. Rural areas have advantages, too.  Usually, there are more open spaces to explore, more wild plants and animals to learn about, space to keep a garden or animals of their own, etc.  Small town people, at least in the US, are more likely to stop and talk to you as well, and you never know what they have experienced or learned in their lifetime.  In terms of resources, the ones you might want to provide are things like books, games, art supplies, science kits, blocks, movies -  basically any of the things you would have in the house anyway that your child liked and you both found enriching. Unschooling is about learning from having a full life.  If you have a full life where you are, there's no reason your child can't learn from the things you are doing and interacting with every day already.



 


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#6 of 8 Old 01-18-2012, 05:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There are many schools around here, and all kids go to school. It's not mandatory-- there are homeschooling and unschooling families (in major cities like Pune and Bangalore) who choose not to send their kids to school and have been fighting for the right to do so. 

 

Generally, people here believe you have to excel in schools and exams to get a good, stable job. Hence, almost all kids go to after-school tuition. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alenushka View Post

Technically speaking, if you are in rural India , in some poor village without.school , would not be everyone around you essentially unschooling? You can just learn from what kids in the village do.  I imagine there are fields, farms, farm animals, craftsmen , markets and other things like that.



 


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#7 of 8 Old 01-18-2012, 07:50 AM
 
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Will you have internet access?  If you do, you should be able to find science project ideas that use common objects and kitchen ingredients.  I do buy science kits for my ds but that is usually when I find them inexpensively for sale.  You should be able to find ideas for games and other things, as well. 


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#8 of 8 Old 01-18-2012, 10:04 AM
 
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For my younger kids, I like to focus on skills over academics.  Really, it's whatever the girls want to do, but if I have choices as to what to spend my time and resources on, I choose the skills first.  They just got some child-sized woodworking tools for Christmas and they are looking forward to making birdhouses and helping build our new chicken coops.  I have a spinning wheel.  I sit and knit while they play, and they haven't wanted to learn yet, but that is always available.  

 

They do learn the academic stuff, but reading is learned by reading books at storytime, and math is all around them at this age, because math is pretty basic.  Science is basic as well and can be learned by exploring at this point.

 

I don't know about rural India, but I could imagine there would be all kinds of skillful people there.  I wouldn't know about the attitudes about it, considering they might feel that their work is less important than the work kids do in school.  It seems that here, where many people have forgotten these skills, that they become seen as valuable.

 

The decision to unschool does not have to be a forever decision.  I think that unschooling/delayed academics/child-led learning during the younger years is invaluable regardless of the plans you have in the far future.  But it does not have to be they way they will learn forever.  You could have the goal of just unschooling until it seems like you are hitting a wall, even one that involves reaching a point where the lack of materials becomes a serious problem.  I just don't think that that would be an issue for young children, or most young children anyway.  

 

Reach out into your community for supportive, skillful people and see what they have to offer your son and your family.  I have done this, and made it clear that I wasn't just expecting me to give me their time free of charge, that a payment or trade would be made happily if it looks like my kids would want to do this regularly.  Perhaps in our culture broaching this subject so directly is not the problem it might be in other parts of the world, but maybe something a bit more casual in the form of a gift would be acceptable, without being considered "payment".


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