Torn about unschooling and could use some outside POVs! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 02-12-2012, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have three kids (and one on the way) and having my homeschool review tomorrow has made some really bad feelings come to the surface for me. We've always been unschoolers as far as homeschooling philosophy. he last few years I have had several things come up which have made me question my homeschooling approach and how to make it best for my kids...

 

Mostly I feel that for several reasons my choices for school are limited to unschooling. I didn't "pick" unschooling b/c I believe it best for my kids, I picked it b/c I think it's the best of very few options I have. I can't seem to find peace with those feelings at all. I honestly think my son would do better with at least some formal education but I can't afford ANY curriculum right now. Until a few weeks ago I was working almost fulltime, and barely making ends meet, and I have literally ZERO expendable income. I'm so overwhelmed by choices online and I really have no idea where to begin. It's all like a daunting maze to me for some reason. I am not at all a natural teacher. I didn't learn in a formal setting (our household was CRAZY dysfunctional when I was a kid so I was forced to leave school so I could take care of my home and get a job.) My van is nearly dead so most field trips that homeschoolers go on aren't an option right now. I would honestly send him to school if I could in a second, but because of our unschooling/relaxed schooling lifestyle he isn't at all ready for a public school setting. I wish I could send him to a Waldorf type school, but that's so far out of our range that it might as well be another planet.

 

I want to feel good about our homeschooling situation but instead I feel like a great-big pity party and I can't seem to get a handle on it at all. I feel like I have NO idea what I'm doing, and I am burnt out and feeling like a failure to my kids, and powerless to do anything else about it. Now I have another (very unplanned, but very welcome) baby on the way which means even less time to devote to the older ones in the next school year. My anxiety level in through the roof!

 

Today someone invited me to a curriculum sharing get together for homeschoolers. I cried. I seriously did! I am so insecure about everything to do with homeschooling that I can't bare to sit in a room full of well-to-do moms who just adore homeschooling their kids. I am so ashamed to admit I feel this way.

 

Help me come up with ways to think positively about being "forced" to unschool instead of doing things how I want! A pitiful sorry-for-herself mama isn't going to help matters with my kiddos are all. I need some inspiration and something to help me make lemonade from these lemons I have!

 

Thanks in advance!


transtichel.gifMom of three - (2.5 yrs, 7yrs, and 11yrs). Birthing Doula, editor, and wife to my soulmate. I've had a c/s, hospital VBAC, UC and not yet decided what I'll do about this next little one

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#2 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 06:59 AM
 
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That is rough.  It is hard to make the best of a situation you have been railroaded into, but really your options are not that limited by a tight budget. I think even pretty structured homeschooling can be done cheap or free. And I think a relaxed approach can lead to on-grade-level kids, if that's your aim. What is making you feel like your kids are falling short of your expectations and wishes? What do they do with their time now and what would good unschooling or homeschooling look like to you? If you want to transition to more structured work, do that. You can still be more on the child-led side of things, if you want, giving them some control over content and execution, but insisting on a certain amount of work in specific subject areas.  You can usually get some curriculum through the public library if you are in a major metropolitan area. Check to see if the parks department has any free classes. If you have internet access, there's documentaries, tutorial videos, science experiments, etc.  KhanAcademy.org has lecture videos on basically every topic you can think of.  Are you looking for more specific free learning resources? You might have more responses in the main homeschooling forum if that is what you need.

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#3 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 07:03 AM
 
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What about cyber school, public school at home for free? Is that an option where you live? There are private cyber schools that cost $ but the public ones do not and they give the student all materials including a laptop to use. Here in PA there are at least a few and you can live anywhere in the state. Even if you decide to keep unschooling, it might make you feel less stuck if you know you have options.

 

There are websites where you can get a list of subject specific project ideas or worksheets, easy to find just by googling "5th grade science" or "5th grade math worksheets."

 

You can do a 5 day (I think that's the length) trial of BrainPop for free. I used to do that once in a while if ds's computer life needed spicing up. They keep track of the free trials by email addresses so you can do it again under a different email address. And if you wait long enough, maybe a year, you can do the first address again. Now I'm not advocating not getting a paid membership. I think BrainPop is worth paying to join. But it isn't an option with our financial situations. I pay them back by recommending them;-)

 

I haven't had much luck with this but if you can cultivate some good friends in the HS community, you could theoretically get someone to take your ds on the fieldtrips.  The one friend we have that ds would be comfortable going off with doesn't homeschool.

 

Anyway, I hear you on your $ woes. I'd like to have the option to sign ds up for some things that cost money, but I can't even afford the gas. And our van needs new tires. But at least I have it easier with just one child to think about.


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#4 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 07:18 AM
 
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A few questions:

 

Are you still working full time?

 

How much time to do you want to devote to HSing per day or week?  Do you feel drawn to structured time or a more loose approach?  What do you think will work best for your kids?

 

Do you want to take baby steps in moving towards a different way of doing things, or do you want to jump in?

 

 

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#5 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 07:49 AM
 
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First, I'd narrow the problem down.  Younger kids can get by without a purchased curriculum.  You can make do with internet sites (there are some fun ones for science I have found) and library books and some basic materials--pen, pencil and paper.  I don't have ideas for your oldest-- my kids are still very young.  We get by on just library books and videos, the backyard and parks.  Not just get by, we thrive!

 

So, I would focus especially on what your oldest might need as s/he is less likely to get what they need just around the house, especially with a mom who is busy with two little ones.  I'm not sure how helpful this advice is, but when I am against a wall the first thing I do is to try to figure out what is the essence of the trouble and try to ditch all else from my brain, because it likes to try convincing me the world is crashing down around my ears but if I think about it, it's just one part.  Am I making sense?


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#6 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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Okay, I feel like I'm a little unclear about your dilemma. It sounds like you're saying you ended up unschooling (rather than some other homeschooling style) because you can't afford curriculum. To me unschooling says little about the presence or absence of curriculum, or the costs associated with home-based education. I have an unschooling 9-year-old who uses quite a lot of curriculum and engages in a fair bit of structured learning, most of it free or very low-cost. And I have a now-grown 18-year-old whose non-curricular style of unschooling has been very expensive over the years! Unschooling can involve curriculum, or structure, or cost, or not: it depends on what your child wants, and that's the crux of it.

 

Anyway, if you're not philosophically committed to unschooling as the best choice for your family and your children, why not look for ways of using curricular structure without incurring a lot of cost?

 

Someone mentioned cyber school type arrangements. Those would give you an entire packaged curriculum, and possibly some additional funding for other purchases. We have a local program in our school district where we can agree to some supervision in exchange for access to a ton of school resources (library, textbooks, field trips, sports equipment, science tools, art room, etc.) and some funding for curriculum and mentors. If you're not keen on that level of accountability, you can certainly create a very robust amount of formal structure in your day with nothing more than some organizational drive, pencils and paper, the internet and/or a public library. You don't need to buy curriculum to do structured learning!

 

At various stages my kids have experimented with structured formal learning. I was able to put together a couple of hours a day of "school work" for them each day without spending a cent: some handwriting practice, a bit of copy work, some math fact drill, some assigned fiction reading, a page of spelling words to learn, a "twenty questions" internet research assignment worksheet covering a particular social studies issue, a nature journaling assignment, some khanacademy.org work, an occasional "kitchen chemistry" experiment or viewing of an on-line science documentary.

 

If you're unhappy with the flow of your days, I don't think you need to spend a lot of money to fix that. If it seems overwhelming to create a comprehensive program of study from scratch, try implementing one or two pieces of home-grown structure for a week and build from there as appropriate. Or investigate the cyber-school option. 

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#7 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 08:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

 I'm not sure how helpful this advice is, but when I am against a wall the first thing I do is to try to figure out what is the essence of the trouble and try to ditch all else from my brain, because it likes to try convincing me the world is crashing down around my ears but if I think about it, it's just one part.  Am I making sense?



This is a good point. 

 

You sound really overwhelmed, Op.

 

Trying to narrow down and define the problem can only help in finding a solution.

 

A few more questions to ask yourself in trying to narrow down the situation:

 

-is it lack of time that is bothering you?

-is it lack of stuff?

-do the kids seem behind where you would like them to be?

-is the non-flow of the day and week the most bothersome?

are the kids unhappy?

 

I would start with trying to figure out what is at the root of the matter and taking it from there.

 

 

 

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#8 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 10:09 AM
 
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You sound really overwhelmed. The following is what jumped out at me from your post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TzippityDoulah View Post

I would honestly send him to school if I could in a second, but because of our unschooling/relaxed schooling lifestyle he isn't at all ready for a public school setting.

If you want to send your son to school and think he would do well in a more formal educational setting, why don't you make it your goal to work on getting him prepared for that? This would solve both your financial problems and, from what you say, the learning needs of your son.

I don't really understand what you mean, though, by saying he isn't ready because of your lifestyle. Does he have issues around being with other children? Inappropriate behaviors that that you have tolerated but others wouldn't?
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#9 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
I don't really understand what you mean, though, by saying he isn't ready because of your lifestyle. Does he have issues around being with other children? Inappropriate behaviors that that you have tolerated but others wouldn't?


I was just guessing that not being at grade level in all subjects was part of the OP's issue but I know I'm projecting:-) I know my son would have a hard time with handwriting, in particular.


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#10 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 10:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

 

If you want to send your son to school and think he would do well in a more formal educational setting, why don't you make it your goal to work on getting him prepared for that? This would solve both your financial problems and, from what you say, the learning needs of your son.

 


 

I semi agree with this part of the post.  I would try and get his skills more up to date if you genuinely think he would benefit from school (and are not just having a bad day winky.gif).  I would not do it with an eye to putting him in school, per se, but with an eye to keeping the options open.

 

 

 

 

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#11 of 14 Old 02-13-2012, 08:49 PM
 
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Read this book on how all the very successful people were unschooled:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Legendary-Learning-Homeschoolers-Self-Directed-Excellence/dp/0983151008/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329194904&sr=1-1

 

This is probably the best parenting book I have ever read. How you can offer your kids the skills they need to follow their passions and succeed (as they define it) in the world. Although it is geared to homeschoolers, most of this can be applied to children who attend school. She discusses Montessori, Charlotte Mason, A Thomas Jefferson Education (a form of classical education,) and unschooling. She has researched how many highly successful people were educated as they grew up. Although all were homeschooled for some period of time, many also went to school for awhile as well. She discusses people like Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Pierre Curie, Agatha Christie, Margaret Leakey, and many, many others. The bottom line is to help your child find their passions and teach them the creativity and skills to attain their goals.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#12 of 14 Old 02-14-2012, 09:06 AM
 
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Just want to send you a really, really, really big hug! I'll read what others have written and if I have anything to add, will do so.

 

We are doing a combo of unschooling (just lots and lots of books on the shelf and lots of half used art supplies that others were getting rid of plus a ream of photocopy paper) and they just bring me books to read to them in between me working at home, etc.

 

The only curriculum I bought was for Math (JumpMath) but before I bought that, I was using Khanacademy.org and still do rely on it for LOTS of info/answers to questions about this and that. We also lack the resources for field trips, but I try to get them outdoors in our yard (thankfully we are for the first time not living in a 4th floor apartment!) or to a nearby wild area for exploring (I take work along and a mat to sit on and try to be chilled about interruptions).

 

Hang in there!

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#13 of 14 Old 02-20-2012, 10:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your responses! To be honest I have a lot of thinking to do. You all have me some awesome POVs and I'm really grateful because now I feel like I can be more objective.

 

I will write back when I can mamas. You all rock!


transtichel.gifMom of three - (2.5 yrs, 7yrs, and 11yrs). Birthing Doula, editor, and wife to my soulmate. I've had a c/s, hospital VBAC, UC and not yet decided what I'll do about this next little one

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#14 of 14 Old 03-06-2012, 02:58 PM
 
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I would go ahead and put your kiddos into public school.  You sound as though you are overwhelmed and your financial issues are mainly all you can work with on your plate right now.  Unshcooling is not about the absence of a curriculum.  It sounds to me that you aren't really unschooling so much as just not homeschooling. 

 

Please, for your kiddos sake, go the the school, explain that your kiddos need to be in school and may need some testing to see what their incoming levels are at.  They will work with you and your kids deserve and education.

 

*I should not that I am NOT an unschooler, I just enjoy trolling around in your forum bc I find you all so very interesting.  My kiddo attends a private hybrid school.  ;)

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