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#1 of 74 Old 04-16-2012, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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kids are 10, 6 and 4.  Always unschooled except for preschool for oldest.  Oldest does nothing, absolutely nothing.  I've been indoctrinated to believe that curriculum=bad and, from the GD forum, kids are naturally social creatures who want to do the right thing, or something crazy like that.

 

All I do is clean, cook, ask kids to pick up all the messes they have made, clean up all the messes all the kids have made, make more food since the kids won't eat what I made the first time, then repeat.

 

I pretty much hate my life, myself and my kids.  I'm pretty sure my kids will not amount to anything, but I didn't sign up to be a heavy and force them to do things against their will, have been made to feel that I am bad if I do that, and they certainly do not choose to help in any way around the house, do any of the things that I ask them to do, or learn anything.

 

After much discussion with my oldest, I asked her about some areas she'd be interested in and gave some examples of some ways she could measure her progress/time spent.  She chose these:

 

Animal classificatons

Multiplication tables (I pushed this)

chemistry

History by reading American Girl books

Spanish - computer program

Short story writing

 

I went to the library, under duress of course with 4 and 6 year old, got books and videos on classifications, and a book on short stories.  I found online Spanish programs (was going to order Rosetta Stone if she continued with these).  Already has an Usborne Chemistry book, and an unread set of American Girl books.

 

Per what she chose, I made notecards for times per week (ie:  5 notecards that each said  Mulitplication 12 minutes, 2 notecards that each said Chemistry 30 minutes).  I made a page with pockets for M-F that the notecards could fit in and told her she could divide the cards into the days, move them around as needed, do them when she wanted to do them.   this is what she agreed she wanted to do.

 

I would sit with her and do the multiplication tables every day M-F, setting a timer for 12 minutes.  We read one classification book, with each of us taking turns reading every other page out loud.  Same with the chemistry book, although we never got to one of the experiments.  She did spend some time writing a story, reading the books, and doing the Spanish online.

 

But it lasted less than 2 weeks.  It is like pulling teeth to get her to do an of it and I give up.

 

Tired of feeling like I'm not a RU if I push too much.  Tired of feeling like I am doing my kid a disservice because she isn't learning anything.  Tired of her being lazy and not doing anything but go from screen to screen to screen to screen (computer, TV, ipad and Ninetendo DS).

 

Clearly having a bad day here.  But any suggestions on how to make some changes so I don't hate my life and want to walk out and leave it all behind (because I feel like that a lot).


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#2 of 74 Old 04-16-2012, 02:02 PM
 
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Deep breath, Mama.  This too shall pass.  I am just venturing into homeschooling and don't have much to offer beyond that.  Others will have advice I am sure.

 

May I ask what RU is?  I'm not around much anymore these days - real life has taken over my online life...  but that's good I guess.  smile.gif

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#3 of 74 Old 04-16-2012, 03:22 PM
 
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RU= Radical Unschooling

 

I'm not one with good advice for you--my girls are quite young--and I know there are some great folks who have been through this for the long haul that can offer up their greater experience in this matter.

 

This seems trivial in the big picture of your difficult day, but I like to keep a calender where I am noting schoolish things that have been learned or practiced.  Perhaps this is something more appropriate for the younger ones, but I do find it helpful to keep track of things, since our unschooling lives don't schedule this stuff (note: I don't count myself as a radical unschooler, having some screen limits, bedtimes, etc. but there are other non-academic areas that are definitely "more" RU.)  It can be helpful when I feel like all they do all day is play.

 

Anyhow, I feel like this is such a trivial thing to offer up, but anyhow, I have so much sympathy for you.  


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#4 of 74 Old 04-16-2012, 03:52 PM
 
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If you're miserable, then something has to change. It sounds like your dd was at least partly on board with some changes. But I suspect two issues:

 

1. Too much was changed at once.

2. It didn't look or feel like she expected.

 

I would go back to the drawing board with her and talk about what felt okay and what didn't. Try to tease apart the problem or problems so that you can solve them. Were there any of the resources that you gathered that she actually liked? Was it hard to get started? Was her work space not to her liking? Was life too distracting? Did she feel the need for more support in scheduling? More autonomy? Did the materials suit her learning style? Did they feel too challenging? Not challenging enough? Would she prefer a group learning environment? Tech tools? 

 

We're kind of radical unschoolers here too, except that over the years I have put a lot of energy into creating situations for my kids where they experience the connection between diligent long-term work and satisfying accomplishments. I was lucky enough to be able to involve them in a stimulating Suzuki music education community, a community garden group and for a couple of years an amazing martial arts dojo.  These were all things that required, supported and rewarded a long-term commitment. As a result they now really understand that achieving a learning goal isn't necessarily going to be sunshine and roses every step of the way -- even if it does have intrinsic meaning and value, even if it is worthwhile.

 

If your dd hasn't internalized that life lesson, she may need to be gently supported along until she starts to get it. And that may mean some extra TLC from you, some cheerleading now and then, some fun ways to document progress towards the goal, perhaps even a self-designed incentive program ("Don't let me watch TV until I do my multiplication stuff") or an agreement on a celebration when a milestone is achieved. Ask her what would help provide support and motivation. Be willing to experiment.

 

She may also benefit from being encouraged to take part in some sort of outside activity that allows for individual growth at a range of paces but supported by strong leadership and a community of fellow-learners, requiring a long-term commitment and producing long-term gains. A strong youth choir program, musical instrument study, gymnastics, jazz dance, aikido, a Green Team eco-club, a small business venture, etc..  

 

Kids are born natural learners, but their survival instincts drive them to be primarily concerned with "me" and "now." I see the unschooling parent's job as being to draw that basic self-centredness out into empathy, and that basic desire for instant gratification out into planning and persistence. Anything else that a parent passes along is a bonus.

 

All of which is to say that I wouldn't put my focus on multiplication so much as on "learning to set realistic goals and work consistently to achieve them." That's the lesson underlying the math or taxonomy lessons, and teaching it will probably require a fair bit of patience, creativity and patience from you. That's okay, though, because it's one of really just two things you need to help your kids learn. It can take time, and it should take time. Start with one little step at a time, and touch base with your dd frequently about what's working and what's not. Help her learn to problem-solve when things aren't going well. 

 

Good luck!

 

Miranda

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#5 of 74 Old 04-16-2012, 07:28 PM
 
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I don't have a lot to add, other than I would say that it sounds like you might be depressed. If that is the case, (and I'm not a doctor so I'm not dxing you over the internet), it is not healthy for you or your relationships with your kids, which may be sabotaging your efforts. I would actually focus on what you can do for yourself so that you can feel better and have more options. It's hard to unschool, as far as I can tell, when you're depressed or feeling powerless. I'm in that boat myself. Do you have any hobbies or adult friends that you could spend time with? Do you get breaks from your job as unschooling parent? Even just a few hours per week might make all the difference. Exercise, counseling, time with friends, etc. and making sure you're eating well can help too.

 

They say that unschooling can work for every child but not necessarily every parent -- that means if you're not happy with it, it either isn't the right choice for you or you need to find a way to change it a bit.

 

Also, with a spread of ages like that, even curriculum-based homeschooling would be hard. Imagine trying to teach 4th grade, Kindergarten, and preschool topics all at the same time. It is done, but it's not easy, I'm sure.

I'm waiting to hear what others have to say as well.

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#6 of 74 Old 04-16-2012, 08:56 PM
 
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I'm not an unschooler, but am forum crashing because I read your post, can understand your feelings a smidgen, and had an idea.

 

Would your kids be interested in/willing to read books aloud together?  My kids are younger, but it is a wonderful way for us to spend time together, learn, and be positively occupied (away from screens...).  Having done almost a year from an intentional booklist I can now appreciate how it works with wide age spans - a lot of the books are accessible on numerous levels.  I am sure there are a million places online where you can find some books that could appeal to all your kids together.  Perhaps even the American Girl series your oldest already has (I haven't read any of those, so no idea).  So, if you'd consider reading good books outloud to your kids intentionally, you can help them run into a lot of interesting things that can spring into learning and understanding about lots of other things as well.

 

Another idea - family serving others.  A neat scheme I have read is to take a letter of the alphabet and do something good for someone with that letter of name (each week, or however often).  So apple for Amy, Do the dishes for Darla and Mr. Drexel.. that sort of thing.  It sounds super fun, would work well across ages, and would create positive interactions in your family (away from the screen, bolstering learning...).  If you approached this as something you wanted, would they be receptive to trying it? 

 

I hope that helps.  Sorry you're in such a rough spot right now.

 

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#7 of 74 Old 04-17-2012, 06:41 AM
 
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I liked a lot of what moominmamma said.  
 
In regards to cleaning and cooking, I would tweak some things.
 
I make one meal a day - supper.  That is it.  Everyone else is expected to get their own food for breakfast and lunch.  The 4 year old might need some help with this, but the others do not.
 
I do not make separate suppers for picky eaters.  I try to make food that everyone will eat a few times a week, but honestly, 2 of my 3 children have very limited palettes.  If they do not like what I make they are free to get themselves something different. 
 
Decluttering has been the biggest boon to cleaning in this house.  I find I am often online singing declutterrings praises!  It is hard to mess up what isn't there.  I am also quite picky these days about people putting away their stuff before moving on to a new activity.  Yes, I am a nag.  I do not like being a nag and wish people would realise that if you drink a glass of milk, the milk does not magically go back in the fridge on its own, nor does the glass magically float to the sink.   However, if my choices are nag and feeling resentful and overwhelmed from housework - I pick nag every time.  If you do not want to nag all day long, you could try baby steps.  Pick one area that bugs you where you will insist they clean up after themselves and move on from there.  
 
Posters with really young children will often come on and complain about the amount of housework they do.  While I often feel for them, there really isn't much they can do about it as their kids are quite young.  They just have to get through it.  In some ways you are lucky - your kids are getting older and you can help them move on to better housekeeping habits, build some self-suffeciency, and role model that mommy is not a maid.   Expect all of this to take time.  It took me months (maybe even a year) to get to a place where I do not feel so burdened by housework.  This isn't a quick fix, but it is do-able.  
 
 
 
 

 

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#8 of 74 Old 04-17-2012, 06:44 AM
 
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Hi, I am an unschooling Mom to my 18 year old son and an Attachment Parent. I work with parents through Unschooling and AP coaching on how to make unschooling work. It sounds like your anxiety about the natural process of learning could be affecting the children. It might help to de-school yourself and your idea of what learning should be. If you are trying to direct the process or coerce your children to do something "schoolish", that is not unschooling. Children learn naturally when they are in natural environments. Spend the majority of the time outdoors, and when indoors, the TV should be off, no video games. If you visit my YouTube channel, LaurieACouture, I have six free videos about the unschooling process. Feel free to contact me- I love helping families find joy in the unschooling life!

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#9 of 74 Old 04-17-2012, 09:07 AM
 
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That's so true, Kathy (quote function isn't working for me, at the moment). So many times people are overwhelmed and the real issue is the children's age. 4 was hell on wheels with my son! By 6, things weren't quite so challenging but they were still far from easy. 10 is good. He isn't stellar with cleaning up after himself but he isn't naturally a messy kid and I don't have two younger ones in the mix. He is big on doing things as a family so we do family walks when we think we need a little exercise and we clean up together when something needs cleaning. He doesn't always want to help and I don't make him. But when he isn't engrossed in something, I'll dump an armload of laundry in his arms and say "help me carry this down." Usually he is standing next to me talking when I do that and he just keeps talking and follows me because he is to busy talking not to, lol. But he ends up feeling helpful and therefore considers himself helpful which in turn makes him more helpful. I choose my moments, though. If he's crabby, I don't do things like that. He has taken on putting away certain grocery items, mostly the foods he eats and partially because he wants to see what I bought. He has issues with messy gross things so I would never ask him to load the dishwasher, at this point, but he'll help put things away from time to time, mostly he'll do the flatware. He was never an independent kid so although this doesn't sound like much, he really is maturing nicely.

 

I'm guessing things could be a little awkward with the age span of your kids. The 4 yo will need help, the 6 yo will need some, and the 10 yo will feel like she is being singled out and life's not fair if she is expected to do things on her own and her siblings aren't. Working together as a family might help, if that's the case.

 

My 10 doesn't do much that looks academic. He's curious and a thinker. We talk and discuss things a lot. He plays a ton on minecraft. He has been designing a mobile, self sufficient, environmentally friendly home in his head. He'd look woefully behind in writing and math if he were compared to a school kid. But he's doing great. I still have episodes of worry, though!


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#10 of 74 Old 04-17-2012, 09:19 AM
 
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If you or another family member could partner with your children on some of their interests, would that help?  For example, my eight-year-old son has three primary interests right now.  One of them is astronomy.  Fortunately, dh is very interested in this as well, and so they spend time together viewing the stars, and have taken trips to a regional planetarium together.  When it comes to reading, my son also prefers that someone is in the room reading with him, or else reading directly to him.  He is still young enough that he needs some parental support when he ventures into new areas. 

 

As for the picking up, cooking, etc., I think there is a difference between treating my children as mutual human beings, worthy of respect and love, and being a doormat.  The book that helped me the most with this is A.S. Neill's Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing.  It's out of print, but even our small local library has a copy.  You might check it out.

 

I try to prepare dinners with at least one item that will appeal to everyone.  Sometimes that means my oldest eats only bread, or my youngest eats only carrot sticks.  Over the range of a day or week, they still eat fairly balanced meals. 

 

You might start with making a list of what your kids can do, and what they do know.  For example, apparently your oldest can read.  That is no small accomplishment!  And she is also computer literate, which will likely come in handy during her life.  Some unschoolers are adamant about not limiting screens, and others have homes without TVs.  A middle approach is to negotiate some screen rules with your children.  I find that with 3 kids, the need to share the screens places some inherent limits as to how long one person can use them.  We agreed as a family that each person can use the TV for personal viewing one hour per day.  We also limit computer games to one hour per person on Sundays.  These were rules everyone agreed on.  Of course, if each family member had their own TV, DS, etc., we would have a different situation. 

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#11 of 74 Old 04-17-2012, 11:38 AM
 
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Something that jumped out at me was "All I do is clean, cook, ask kids to pick up all the messes they have made, clean up all the messes all the kids have made, make more food since the kids won't eat what I made the first time, then repeat." 


I'd suggest letting go all that for a while and instead focus on leading them into a much more interesting life. Instead of just asking them what they might like to do or learn about, you might think it terms of providing lots of interesting experience possibilities and activities they may have no way of being aware of, while going about pursuing interests of your own. You might spend some time exploring what kinds of things you'd more enjoy doing with your time - sewing, gardening, crafts, walking or hiking, political or charitable activism, building projects around the home, painting, nature crafts, put together science experiments of all kinds, explore different kinds of arts and crafts, get out and around to all the different attractions and interesting things in your area, play new games, whatever... - and just lead them right along, expecting that they'll find their own niche or decide to go another directions, but at least everyone will be started in action of some kind. 

 

And as for all the cooking and cleaning, I see no reason why you would be "a heavy" if you simply make it clear that there's no reason why you should be the only one doing all that. It's not a big deal to matter of factly and politely, cheerfully, say that you need help making lunch or dinner, and ask certain ones to do certain parts. One could get out bread and lay out the right amount of slices, for instance, while one rinses lettuce or scrubs a few carrots. Someone can read a recipe for you while you add ingredients, or you can read the recipe while someone adds the ingredients. One can set the table and put a pretty arrangement on it. When a mess needs to be cleaned up, you can be perfectly cheerful and reasonable in saying something like "Okay, I guess we'd better get this cleaned up - who'll pick up the brushes and put them in the sink while I sweep? And we need someone to wipe down the table..." It's only fair to you - and to them in the long run. 

 

Remember that if you're finding that you hate everything, that's being modeled to them. Children learn a whole lot more from what they see being modeled than they do from what they're being told they should do.  - Lillian


EDIT - I should add that I was in a hurry to get to an appointment when I wrote earlier. I hope it didn't come across judgmental - that's not how it was meant. I think we all have different times in our lives when it's harder to get into motion and keep things happening that result in joy and satisfaction. I wish you all the best in finding your solutions. 

 

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#12 of 74 Old 04-17-2012, 09:38 PM
 
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Laurie,

 

I can identify with the OP a bit, especially when she said this:

 

"Tired of feeling like I'm not a RU if I push too much.  Tired of feeling like I am doing my kid a disservice because she isn't learning anything.  Tired of her being lazy and not doing anything but go from screen to screen to screen to screen (computer, TV, ipad and Ninetendo DS)."

 

Now, my son is 9 and I only just now got him his first video game (Minecraft) because it seemed very creative and all his wonderful homeschool friends are into it. I don't have any intention of getting another game, nor any hand-held gadgets he could have his nose in all day. But even this one game is now a problem. Here's the problem, though....

 

It really means a lot to him. He loves it, he's creative in it, he takes pride in all the things he builds or potions he makes, or whatever. I like that he has something that is "his" (in the way that we grownups have things that are ours...like our jobs, or our hobbies) and that he directs and masters on his own. He even reads about it (I print Wikipedia pages out for him, at his request.) All good. Except for the part where now it seems to have ruined him for anything else. No matter what else we do, it's "I want to get back to Minecraft." And I hate this. My little outdoor kid no longer likes to go out in the yard, except briefly. I've had this discussion with him, about the need for balance between different aspects of his life, being for his own well-being & all that, but I can't help but feel I am tearing his heart out when I take away this thing he prizes so much. And he's not in school (he's much like your son in temperament, I think); he hates structured classes,.....I can identify with the OP because I am so terrified that I'm not pressing him to get competent in certain key things (like problem-solving, approaching math without freakouts, observing schedules when they do happen to exist, etc.) i.e. basic skills that, not having them, he'd be held back in life and if, god forbid, something happens to us and he has to go to school. (we are older parents so I have this "need to be prepared" in the back of my head at all times.)

 

I digress. Back to my concern. You say "no video games" and I wish to heaven we were back there. We're actually going to send him to Sudbury Valley school if they'll take him  :-)

but between now and next fall, we've got to live with him. How can I know what's the right thing to do? Limit the video game (i.e. "2 hours per day") and risk being one of those "too rigid" or "controlling" parents?? Take it away completely and break his heart? (You would not believe the red-eyed tearful reaction I get from him at the mere thought)

 

I am at a loss. I tend to feel like the OP, in that I waffle from feeling like I don't make him do enough, to perhaps I make him do too much....I desperately need to deschool. I also know that at Sudbury Valley they will not stop him from playing the game all day if he so chooses, but it doesn't bother me as much there because he will also be with kids of all ages and lots of other things to do, not just sitting at home with me. He will, I imagine, quite naturally gravitate to many other activities because of the temptation of the lovely setting and the other kids there. Whereas here, the normal model of unschooling; ie. taking part in life, just isn't happening. He does help out around the house, but only coerced, such as "you can play Minecraft after you pick up the clothes on your floor." He won't cook with me; getting him to garden with me is like pulling teeth.....back when he was six years old he was a learning machine, soaking up science and chemistry and nature at a staggering pace. Now, not so much. He's a one trick pony.

 

There's addiction in our family and I wonder if, by giving him this game, I have done something akin to handing a 9-year old a beer. Seriously I don't know. Scares the heck out of me. I talked to a research psychologist I happen to know, and he says that video games aren't addictive in & of themselves....that we all have activities we love passionately, and that if he weren't learning something & being challenged by this game, he wouldn't do it so much. On the other hand I hate what it's doing to us. If I didn't moderate the video game usage at all ( a la Dayna Martin and other RU folks) then he'd be there all day long. No sunshine, no activity, no physical mastery of anything other than a computer mouse, with whatever ill effects come from staring at a screen all day. So I really feel it's up to me to do something....but what? that's the question.

 

I think I am being a wishy washy parent on the one hand, and too controlling on the other. I wonder if you or anyone's got any advice.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurieACouture View Post

Hi, I am an unschooling Mom to my 18 year old son and an Attachment Parent. I work with parents through Unschooling and AP coaching on how to make unschooling work. It sounds like your anxiety about the natural process of learning could be affecting the children. It might help to de-school yourself and your idea of what learning should be. If you are trying to direct the process or coerce your children to do something "schoolish", that is not unschooling. Children learn naturally when they are in natural environments. Spend the majority of the time outdoors, and when indoors, the TV should be off, no video games. If you visit my YouTube channel, LaurieACouture, I have six free videos about the unschooling process. Feel free to contact me- I love helping families find joy in the unschooling life!



 

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#13 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 01:56 AM
 
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For unschooling to work imo, trust is the most important thing. I am unschooling for the relationships. WE don't limit or have rules and this has been key for us. I am absolutely amazed by what my children are learning adn that they seem more affectionate since I ahve been trusting them more. Quite often when I clean or cook, they want to help. Not always but sometimes. Its not a perfect life but there are wonderful moments. With presence you will see they are not doing nothing (is that possible?). It does sound like you are struggling so I don't want to make any assumptions but wanted to share how RU works for us.
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#14 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 07:02 AM
 
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Do you have any suggestions about how to handle that fear that when you see them spending ALL WAKING HOURS at the video game, you feel you're seeing addiction in progress and you've done a horrible thing by bring the game into their life in the first place? (see my above post) It's a shame because I was the initial skeptic who finally happily changed her mind and said he could get the game. I wanted him to have the social experience of it with his friends, the computer literacy, the creative & problemsolving work that goes into it, all of that. He learns and does a lot on it. It's not the content of the game that I worry about, but other things, like how to deal with the rest of the family, the unhealthiness inherent in lack of physical movement, variety, balance, etc.

 

I agree with you about the trust, and how much better it would be if we weren't at cross-purposes all the time. I know it would help the relationship. But then I flash forward to him at age 14 or so, unable to function in society and hopelessly addicted to games. And it chills me to the bone. "What have you done to your kid?" I can almost hear the critics.

 

I am just praying that this democratic-free-school we're considering works for him. He used to attend a smaller version of one (which closed) and he loved it. I loved it too. Kids of all ages spending the day together freely, with lots of different things to do. In an environment like that, learning & usefull skills can't help but happen. Not so much with the being-a-mushroom-in-the-basement approach we're seeing now.
 

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For unschooling to work imo, trust is the most important thing. I am unschooling for the relationships. WE don't limit or have rules and this has been key for us. I am absolutely amazed by what my children are learning adn that they seem more affectionate since I ahve been trusting them more. Quite often when I clean or cook, they want to help. Not always but sometimes. Its not a perfect life but there are wonderful moments. With presence you will see they are not doing nothing (is that possible?). It does sound like you are struggling so I don't want to make any assumptions but wanted to share how RU works for us.


 

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#15 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 07:13 AM
 
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NellieKatz, he just got the game recently, right? So it's a new passion for him? Not dismissing your concerns but I know my son gets very intensely focussed when he discovers a new passion. A year or so ago, he discovered Little Big Planet 2 and everything was about the game. I mean, everything-- he talked about it non-stop, he wanted bedtime stories about LBP, his art and craft activities were based on it, he played "levels" as he walked down the street. He got into designing his own levels and was very creative with the game... he learned a lot and was very excited about it. I did worry a bit about how consuming it was... but it wore off. Now he plays occasionally- once every week or two-- and that's about it. He's on to other things.


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#16 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 07:33 AM
 
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There's addiction in our family and I wonder if, by giving him this game, I have done something akin to handing a 9-year old a beer. 

 


This is how I feel about it.   Even I have to discipline my time on the computer and prefer to have everything off during the day, though the newness wears off and it gets easier.  I can't agree or disagree with your psychologist friend, but I know first hand how addictive video games *feel* and you do get sucked in, even as an adult.  I personally feel that, if it walks like an addiction and talks like an addiction, then for all intents and purposes it is an addiction.  So, I find myself keeping the TV turned off after our first video of the day, turning off the computer for the day to prevent distractions.  I just can't imagine how a child is supposed to handle this.  

 

Normally I don't really talk about it much with other unschoolers because not only do I think I am in the minority for limiting screen time so severly but also I don't know that I am doing a service to my kids in the long run.  I like the immediate gains that I can confidently tie to not having screen distractions during the day, but I cannot be all that certain that the gains will be permanent.  It could be I am preventing them from learning to discipline themselves at an early age.  Perhaps I am placing undue importance on the other things that keep them busy. But I don't feel that in my heart.  

 

But, just like NellieKatz, will there come a time when my curious kids deserve some video game time?  What to say then?  My heart wants me to banish them forever.  Yet I give them a small monetary allowance to start learning how to deal with desire and disappointment and longer-term goals of saving for what you want, and money is far more corrupting and addictive than video games.  My reason is that it's best to start learning early with small amounts of money.  Am I giving them a "beer" when I start them on allowance?  Am I better off keeping them from the world of money until they are older?  Maybe it seems more benign because they are not sitting on their duffs "staring at a screen" to get it?

 

I trust my kids in a lot of ways.  But if I can't even trust myself with something, why would I trust that my kids will have a different experience?  That's another reason I don't normally talk about it.  Other people might have more trust in their kids in this area because they themselves don't find them that addictive?  Others might ignore the issue because they are avid gamers themselves?  This issue can be influenced by so many individual factors we cannot say for sure who might be unduly affected.  So, we trust them and sometimes this seems to backfire for us. 

 

(Since I've shared reasons why I normally don't talk about it, BTW, I'll say also that threads usually discuss problems when kids already have video games and the troubles that can come with them, and the suggestion of "just don't start" is pointless and unhelpful.  I mention all this because I'm glad NellieKatz shared what was happening to encourage her to give one to her son to play.  I've always wondered, how does this start?  Well, there is one story.)

 

 

 

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#17 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 07:45 AM
 
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That is a good point. I have myself as an example. When the internet first came along and I discovered chat rooms, I was THERE 24/7. Couldn't get enough of it and it was way out of balance now that I look back. But now I am repulsed by them. I think they are stupid, an immature time-suck and I never go to them. So this had crossed my mind...that my son is in the initial wave of excitement and that if we don't pick at it like a scab, maybe it will subside on its own; we just need to have faith. Possible. Thanks!
 

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NellieKatz, he just got the game recently, right? So it's a new passion for him? Not dismissing your concerns but I know my son gets very intensely focussed when he discovers a new passion. A year or so ago, he discovered Little Big Planet 2 and everything was about the game. I mean, everything-- he talked about it non-stop, he wanted bedtime stories about LBP, his art and craft activities were based on it, he played "levels" as he walked down the street. He got into designing his own levels and was very creative with the game... he learned a lot and was very excited about it. I did worry a bit about how consuming it was... but it wore off. Now he plays occasionally- once every week or two-- and that's about it. He's on to other things.



 

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#18 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 07:58 AM
 
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This is something I think about a lot. When was the last time that someone who was addicted was helped by someone OUTSIDE that person preventing access to their addiction of choice? It's not possible. I mean, it might help in that it would allow for other passions to take root if he weren't 24/7 on one passion. But as for self-discipline, no one outside the person can develop it for them. They can't tell them when their body feels full of food and it's time to stop eating; they can't tell them what it feels like to get dizzy from too much alcohol and maybe learn to hate that loss of focus & control, they can't tell them when their eyes are bugging out from too much screen time. etc etc.....what I'm saying is the "self-" part of self-discipline really does mean that it's something they need to develop. And that is why I have never fully micro-managed such things, as much as it tempts me.

 

They say that (law of attraction-wise) that you get what you think about the most. You will attract what you most fear. Sheesh. That alone is an argument for letting up.

 

And another thought is, if it IS addictive and what I'm seeing IS addiction, then that ship has sailed. I have nothing to lose by letting it continue to see if (a) it will abate naturally & maybe it wasn't addiction or (b) if help or intervention really ends up being needed. Because seriously, the short-term effects are mostly on us, his parents. As for him, he's fine with it. He's having a blast. The only negative to HIM is US. In other words WE ask things of him and he moans or complains about it. It's we who have problems with worrying about his future because he doesn't do X,Y or Z (we parents SO need to be deschooled!)

 

Maybe I worry too much. So he doesn't do chores or study his ABCs. I am the one with The Waltons in my head; maybe I'm the one with the problem :-)

 

 

 

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Normally I don't really talk about it much with other unschoolers because not only do I think I am in the minority for limiting screen time so severly but also I don't know that I am doing a service to my kids in the long run.  I like the immediate gains that I can confidently tie to not having screen distractions during the day, but I cannot be all that certain that the gains will be permanent.  It could be I am preventing them from learning to discipline themselves at an early age.  

 

 

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On the media, I think adults struggle with this too, sometimes, and limits are not necessarily a bad thing. I know adults working on their dissertations and writers working on novels who have trouble with getting sucked into forums, Facebook, etc. and get programs that shut off access to such sites after a certain amount of time. I've taken breaks from places that overstress me. I think that can be a good thing to teach a child or help them learn, to manage media for a happier life. You could certainly talk to the child to see if there are limits that he/she feels will help them accomplish other things they want to accomplish too. 

 

I'm not an unschooler though, and we do have strong media limits, being more waldorf in philosophy. But books, and even TV, have more of built in stopping points than many games, which I think makes it easier to set firm limits like "you may watch one episode" or read a chapter, or even finish the book. I let DD stay up late and skip a homeschool day just to read when she's really into a long book, but I know that it will be a 2-3 day process at the longest. 


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#20 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 08:26 AM
 
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Personally, I find I can get caught up with labels.  I have done so much research on unschooling and I don't want to give that up.  Like if I give instruction over something or we do Math I am giving up that title.  Just like people who RU.  It may not be working for them as a family but they don't want to change because that is who you are.  Radical Unschoolers.  I don't think it needs to be that way.  It is OK to step back and rethink things.  It is OK for your kids to help you more.  There is so much information out there that it is hard to give up our ideal of how we want to parent.  Even when it isn't working.  We don't RU, we unschool.  Your kids will turn out just fine and so will mine.  People who homeschool with turn out just fine too.  Just different.  We put so much pressure on ourselves to fit inside some kind of box.  I say this because I do this.  I worry that if I coerce my children to learn say...math, I am kicked out of the unschooling club.  I think we should all do what works for us and our family.  No one way is the right way.  

Here is what I do.  My 6yo son is very much into the Titanic.  If I want to incorporate some "subjects" into this I can read with him about it, measure how big the titanic was outside, do art projects about the Titanic, learn about what made it float and run, where it was going and where it sank... So much can be taught with just that.  And is this unschooling?  I have no idea.  Is choosing books off of the shelf and reading about a variety of stuff unschooling?  Still, no idea.  I just do it because it helps calm my worries and they enjoy it.  Now if my children weren't liking what we were doing I would change it up.  I would get them involved in it more.  I don't make them do anything (well except help around the house) but educational wise, I don't.  

So what about figuring out what they are interested in and throw some stuff in there.  Do it with them.  I liked Lillian's ideas.  There are so many things you can do and have fun with.  So they like video games.  What about playing them with them.  Find out what they love about them and go with that.  Find out how video games are made.  Where around the world are most video games made?  Just have fun.  I wouldn't be ok with constantly cleaning and my kids not doing anything.  I would feel disrespected and resentful.  Other parents may be just fine with it.  It is all in what works for your family.  If that isn't working for you you could start giving them some responsibilities around the house.  It doesn't make it wrong, it's what may work for you.

That is what is wonderful about homeschooling/unschooling.  We can change things up and see what works.  

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#21 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 09:00 AM
 
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This is something I think about a lot. When was the last time that someone who was addicted was helped by someone OUTSIDE that person preventing access to their addiction of choice? It's not possible. I mean, it might help in that it would allow for other passions to take root if he weren't 24/7 on one passion. But as for self-discipline, no one outside the person can develop it for them. They can't tell them when their body feels full of food and it's time to stop eating; they can't tell them what it feels like to get dizzy from too much alcohol and maybe learn to hate that loss of focus & control, they can't tell them when their eyes are bugging out from too much screen time. etc etc.....what I'm saying is the "self-" part of self-discipline really does mean that it's something they need to develop. And that is why I have never fully micro-managed such things, as much as it tempts me.

 

They say that (law of attraction-wise) that you get what you think about the most. You will attract what you most fear. Sheesh. That alone is an argument for letting up.

 

And another thought is, if it IS addictive and what I'm seeing IS addiction, then that ship has sailed. I have nothing to lose by letting it continue to see if (a) it will abate naturally & maybe it wasn't addiction or (b) if help or intervention really ends up being needed. Because seriously, the short-term effects are mostly on us, his parents. As for him, he's fine with it. He's having a blast. The only negative to HIM is US. In other words WE ask things of him and he moans or complains about it. It's we who have problems with worrying about his future because he doesn't do X,Y or Z (we parents SO need to be deschooled!)

 

Maybe I worry too much. So he doesn't do chores or study his ABCs. I am the one with The Waltons in my head; maybe I'm the one with the problem :-)

 

 

 

 

The reason I don't worry about my ds's extensive computer use is that he is generally willing to get off the computer to do something else fun or interesting. No, he won't choose to go help me garden, or ride his bike around the block, and he might be reluctant to go on a family walk, but he's happy to meet a good friend for a nature hike or go to a cool museum or something. He has been using the computer all along so getting to use a computer is a given (he has his own). The kids do need to learn how to moderate their use and balance their lives. Since ds has been using the computer all along, we've been guiding him with that all along, mostly focusing on getting some outside time and some exercise. 

 

And I've head the same experience as you with my own use. The internet is great fun but eventually aspects of it get old and boring and I'm less interested. Then something else comes along, like Ravelry, then Pinterest, and my interest in the computer goes up for a while. Until I start to notice how repetitive it all is. I've had the same experience with TV series. I'll lose interest because the characters keep getting into the same predictable stupid situations. Because my ds has gamed for years, I've seen his interest in many computer games wane. A few are really good games and he still revisits them. Minecraft is new for him, too, and we've had many walks and nature hikes where all he wants to do is discuss it. It seems to not be the main topic as often anymore. But he still plays it daily in rotation with other games.

 

If your ds gets accepted to the Sudbury school, I'd say resolve not to worry until he settles in there. 
 

 


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#22 of 74 Old 04-18-2012, 02:45 PM
 
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I think you could see a lot of improvement by doing two simple things: 1) turn off or severely limit the screens, 2) require that the kids help out with household chores.  Maybe the screens can be the payment for the chores.  You are NOT your children's slave!  They need to experience picking up their own messes.  There's nothing wrong with asking them to pull their own weight.  Even a very young child can put away their own clothes, help wipe down bathrooms, scrub dirty spots on the floor.

 

As far as the screens-- even RU have screen policies.  For one we couldn't afford all those gadgets for our kids so they don't have some of the things you mentioned.  If they wanted a DS they'd have to find a way to earn money to buy it themselves.  If they wanted to run the computers all day long they could find a way to contribute to the utility bill.  Gadgets are not a human right!

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#23 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 08:13 AM
 
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I don't believe in living my life fitting into someone else's standards. That includes any labels-- such as what defines an unschooler or radical unschooler or whatnot. It sounds to me that you are not happy. That is a catalyst for change right there.

 

I don't care if the world says I am not an unschooler because I teach my children math. So be it. When my children are adults, I am going to have to stand in front of them and tell them that I did the best that I could-- that I did what I thought was right. If I let them sit around and pick their noses all day long and never do math....well....to me, that's not doing MY best. I'm not comfortable with that.

 

This is YOUR life. You are the parent. Nobody else is. You need to make an executive decision on what will/won't work. Sure, you will sometimes fail. Yes, there will be setbacks. Yes, you will probably see a bit of dissension in the ranks.But...you've gotta do what you need to do.


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#24 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 08:16 AM
 
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One more thing: I agree with the previous poster...my kids have to help out before any screen time.

 

Screen time starts somewhere around 3 in our house. It lasts for 2 hours-- in which they can do a Wii/movie or just movie. They have to do TWO chores before they turn on that screen. Sometimes they are bigger chores, sometimes I'm looking for something tiny that they can do fast.

 

Just wiping down toilet seats is such a help. Bringing down trash cans. Putting laundry on. Unloading the silverware drawer.

 

I didn't help out as a child (didn't have to) and I can honestly say as an adult....you're not doing the kids any favors. It is so much harder to learn these tasks as an adult when you are already set in your ways.
 


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#25 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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One more thing: I agree with the previous poster...my kids have to help out before any screen time.

Screen time starts somewhere around 3 in our house. It lasts for 2 hours-- in which they can do a Wii/movie or just movie. They have to do TWO chores before they turn on that screen. Sometimes they are bigger chores, sometimes I'm looking for something tiny that they can do fast.

That seems very sensible. A chance for you to have a break and pull dinner together.
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#26 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 12:19 PM
 
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Update on my last post, for any parent who would find it helpful:

 

The other day, DS(9) and I had a HUGE drama about Minecraft. He was acting out, moaning, curling up in a ball, crying, whining, you name it, because he couldn't spend the day on Minecraft and I put my foot down. He really lost it, the whole "you are totally breaking my heart; you don't love me, you are taking away the most important thing to me; I love it as much as I love you...." Emotions ran high.

 

Eventually they calmed, and I problem-solved with him. I said that when he curls up in a ball on the couch and goes full-on drama with me, that leaves ALL the problem-solving up to me. His voice doesn't get heard. I asked "Do you want me to be like a dictator and make all the decisions about Minecraft or do you want your voice to be heard?" So he got involved. The bottom line was:

 

His position: he wants unlimited minecraft

My position: I want (a) "balance" for him (i.e. a balanced life that involves sunshine, physical play and also helping out around here; (b) peace & no moaning, complaining etc when he couldnt be on Minecraft, (c) dinners where he's not wolfing down half a plate to run back downstairs and play, (d) peaceful evenings.

 

We found our middle ground, which is VERY liberal on the Minecraft time but seriously, if I get my things (above), I don't mind if he spends a long time down there.

 

The deal is:

--He can sign onto Minecraft at 9am as usual (if he has brushed his teeth; we needed to link those two or he'd keep forgetting teeth)

--Between the hours of 11:00 and 1:00 there are no screens (similar to what his best friend has at her house). It will be lunch and/or outdoor time, garden work or whatever.

--He can sign back on at 1:00 *IF* he has done any chores I ask, and by this I just mean picking up the daily flurry of stuff on his floor, or put in a load of laundry, or whatever minor-but-helpful task needs doing.

--Minecraft ends for the day at 5:00pm (it had been 8pm before). It's DH's computer and he needs it at night. DS has been a rotten negotiator; DH often feels like he's begging to use his own computer. So this new earlier cutoff time is good.

 

DS says (smiling) "oh my! That's a possible 6 hours!" I said "Yes, but that's not a guaranteed minimum. If we have errands or whatever, you will have less." (there are frequently errands, needing to pick up DH at work, etc.)

 

I wrote on the whiteboard:

--No whining, moaning, begging when you are not on minecraft.

--No more interrupting our "grownup time" downstairs late at night, which he's been doing a LOT lately.

 

Sound fair? Yeah!!!! he said. And on our first day this has worked well. He went down there and came up at 11am. "Mom, I am in the middle of something right now, can I finish and then come up?" "Yes , if it's brief." Five minutes later "I had to come up; it was going to take too long."   :-)  

 

Later, on the way back from errands I said "Before I sign you back on this afternoon, I want you to pick up your bedroom floor." "OK."

And here's the thing. When we got home, he went in there IMMEDIATELY  to do it. No reminding was needed. woo hoo!

 

So his last hurdle today under the new system is going to be avoiding the moan-fest after 5pm. But the way I see it, if I am left alone all day to do my own work, then by 5pm I am ready to do things with him, like reading books with him, playing games, taking a walk, whatever.

 

This may sound like a liberal, squishy, policy, but remember...my goal wasn't to minimize his Minecraft; it was to have an integrated child who can have lots of Minecraft yet still function in the family. This looks promising!

 

 

 

 

 

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#27 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 01:05 PM
 
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So when is his "school time"? Minecraft is cool but it in no way replaces the myriad of things a person needs to know in life.
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So when is his "school time"? Minecraft is cool but it in no way replaces the myriad of things a person needs to know in life.

 

"School time?"  This is the USing forum.   

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#29 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 06:19 PM
 
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So when is his "school time"? Minecraft is cool but it in no way replaces the myriad of things a person needs to know in life.

 

I don't think you'll find much "school time" on the unschooling board, LOL!

 

As I see it this kid has up to 6 hours a day on Minecraft. That leaves him at least 8 other waking hours in the day in which to encounter, explore, discuss, practice, experience and learn things that Minecraft doesn't "cover." Not to mention that he has months and years in his future when Minecraft may be less important to him.

 

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#30 of 74 Old 04-19-2012, 07:31 PM
 
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Thanks Miranda! Plus, we must remember that within the Minecraft he is learning things too. And reading (he reads the many Minecraft Wikipedia pages I print out for him.) And problem-solving, self-direction, pride in accomplishment, socializing with friends (they share ideas and Minecraft "recipes" and strategies). As well as learning about negotiating and what's valuable to the family during all these discussions!

 

And yeah, it's the unschool board.  :-)   Learning is in the air and is a 24/7 thing. Like today at the playground when a discussion of race and nationality and country-of-origin came up. Or in the car when a discussion cropped up around something heard on NPR. Or at the dinner table when DH talks about history. Or when I read his chapter books to him and we talk about & look up new words, discuss plot twists, concepts like trust, honor, loyalty, deceit, work, and many other things that come up in the story. Yes, he doesn't drill his math facts, and I wish he did more than I could get him to do on that, but outside of that he has a well-fed mind.

 

But I do have a schooled heart myself, so I took great pleasure in the fact that last night, when Minecraft was cleanly OFF the table for the night, we suddenly had time to do things together. And, for the first time in ages, we were able to curl up on the bed together and go through a stack of library books like we did in the old days. I read to him about electricity from the Ask magazine for kids, and from a book about the US government. As unschooly as we are, this stuff still gives me a thrill. And it exposes him to concepts that are new and/or which connect to things he's already learned. win-win

 

 

 

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I don't think you'll find much "school time" on the unschooling board, LOL!

 

As I see it this kid has up to 6 hours a day on Minecraft. That leaves him at least 8 other waking hours in the day in which to encounter, explore, discuss, practice, experience and learn things that Minecraft doesn't "cover." Not to mention that he has months and years in his future when Minecraft may be less important to him.

 

Miranda

 

 

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