8yo says he doesn't know anything - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 05:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all. My oldest son is 8 and is unschooled. He brought up the idea of school yesterday (it comes up every now and then) but said he'd only want to go to an easy school because he doesn't know anything. Setting the school issue aside for a moment...

 

I've tried pointing out the stuff he does know, talked about how there's a big variation in how much/what kids know - public schooled, homeschool, unschooled or whatever, that he could learn about whatever he wants to, he has that ability, and that no matter what he does or does not know he is wonderful, loved and worthy.

 

But he ain't buying it. Any ideas on how to help him with this?

 

I don't want him to go to school just because he thinks he needs to in order to 'know stuff'. On the other hand, I don't want him to be scared of going to school (if in fact he really wants to go) because he thinks everyone knows more than him and he'd look stupid.

 

In theory, if he wants to do more academic formal learning we can do that at home. In reality, I'm massively sleep deprived with a 20-month-old that doesn't sleep well, I'm an emotional mess because of it, I bounce between being all "yay homeschooling' and 'boo homeschooling' and thinking he'd be better off in school...

 

Also, I've always felt that if we get to a point where he really wants to do formal learning then he should go to school. I'm not a teacher. Quite frankly, I suck at explaining things! We also butt heads a lot when I try to explain things to him, or he starts acting all silly. Neither are good! But I'm not sure he'd learn well at school either. He doesn't do well in big groups. So going to school and struggling with learning would not be good for his confidence either.

 

OK I think I'm rambling now. Any thoughts greatly appreciated!! :)

 

THanks!

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#2 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 06:31 AM
 
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We have had this happen  ... that and any serious expression of boredom is my alarm to see that we make our lives more interesting.  Get out and do things.   Or get supplies to do things at home.  Doesn't come naturally to me but if I want my daughter to enjoy the freedom of unschooling, then we had better do enjoyable things.    When we do those things then there is no boredom, insecurity, etc.

 

The one time she said this "I don't know anything" - we were visiting some friends whose kids are both high achievers in school, sports and music. 

 

I wasn't sure what exactly my role was in cushioning the blow.  I did not want to make light of their achievements, nor did I want to "outdo" them by showing off hers ... 

 

 

hoping others have ideas to share ... 


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#3 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 06:32 AM
 
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I don't know if this is helpful, but I loved the few occasions when my ds would get together with other nice homeschooled kids of mixed abilities. One time when ds was 8, he called me in to read something on the computer, and a slightly older kid brightly spoke up "Oh, I can read that!" He said it in a proud to be able to help way, not at all in a superior way. Now ds plays Minecraft online with younger cousins and helps them read and spell things. It's so nice seeing the teamwork with kids of differing abilities when they aren't being competitive about their knowledge.

 

But sometimes kids are more competitive and ridicule someone who doesn't know what they do. I see it in schooled kids more, kids quizzing other kids to prove they are better, but we've experienced homeschool kids doing it, as well.

 

Anyway, maybe some mixed ages situations where he had the opportunity to help other kids would help. But I don't know how easy that would be to make happen. Kids sometimes find themselves comparing their knowledge to the grownups and don't realize how much they know compared to peers. 


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#4 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 07:01 AM
 
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I feel like I shouldn't say anything. I was a teacher. I don't plan to use curriculum until my kids hit high school subjects but the fact that I plan to use them at all means I feel like I am not technically an unschooler. I'm fairly confused by this as a movement.

 

I think my job is to be a guide for my kids so they can learn what they need to know and what they want to know. I would not be homeschooling them if I thought I couldn't do that. When I read materials about unschooling (and I've done quite a bit of reading) it seems like a lot of the reason it works out for kids is because they are put into situations where they were presented with more ways of learning. They were coached and guided, it was just not done in the obvious highly structured ways. But there was still kind of a guiding hand and help.

 

I don't want my kids to grow up believing they are wonderful and kind and worthy no matter what they do. I have a really bad background with some sociopathic people who hurt me very much who would be quite happy to tell you how wonderful and kind and worthy they are. I'm not saying anything bad about you for feeling that way. :) I have had very different life experiences from normal so I have some very different reactions. I don't think everyone has to be like me.

 

If my eight year old told me they didn't know anything I would say, "Well, what do you want to know?" I would find two or three really specific goals (music, art, reading, math, whatever) and have the kid make up a plan for how to attain some currently fantastically hard seeming goal (I would help with details about Cold Hard Reality.). Then I would be kind of a jerk about enforcing the schedule FOREVER because that is how you learn.

 

But that's me and my extreme biases. I'm not sure if that makes me an unschooler or not. I troll this forum because I feel inspired by unschooling but I'm pretty sure I don't count. Ha.

 

 

Err, I walked away from the thread for a bit and decided to come back and say that I would react that way because that is what I do for myself. Every few months I decide what project or goal I am working on for the next block of time and I schedule myself. Otherwise I am a depressed mess on the couch. So it's not like I think that all people need to function this way. I do this because I kind of have to and my kids will unfortunately have to kind of live with it.


My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#5 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 07:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
But that's me and my extreme biases. I'm not sure if that makes me an unschooler or not. I troll this forum because I feel inspired by unschooling but I'm pretty sure I don't count. Ha.

lol.gif Refreshing honesty. So much nicer than some "trolls." I never mind differing opinions, myself, as long as people are honest about where they are coming from and respectful of my point of view, too.

 

I'm pretty sure this is mostly an 8 yo boy issue. Probably girls, too, but I'm only experienced with raising a boy. They hit a stage where they become aware of how little they know but are overwhelmed thinking about the work involved in mastering those things. And those things do get easier when they are older. My son was a late reader and writer... I'm finally seeing him picking up writing (as in typing for himself rather than dictating) at age 11.

 

Finding some interesting things to do, like Cheery suggested, sounds like a good idea to me. Although a little boredom can be good for kids, not enough interesting opportunities can lead a kid to dwell and feel insecure. 


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#6 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone! I definitely think we need to liven up things around here a bit. I'd already been planning to create a schedule of sorts for the fall (which is so NOT me, though I do love my to-do lists! ;) ) because I find that we spend our days following the toddler's lead and things for my 8yo fall aside. That's stuff in the house, I should clarify. We are always out and about with his friends and doing 'field trips' etc for him. It's the at-home part we struggle with. I get caught up with housework, nursing and a cranky toddler and Alex (my 8yo) gets left to his own devices and he's never been good at filling his time well. I consider one of the benefits of homeschooling to be the freedom and the time to pursue your own interests, but for him, I honestly think it's too much free time. So anyhow, I'd been planning on being all super organized this fall (hah!) and scheduling in time that is especially for him, where I'm available to help with any projects or playing or learning he wants to do - and trying to actually follow through with it! :) I was just not prepared for his "I don't know anything" declaration or the suggestion of school. It threw me. Three days before school starts! Heh. But we've talked about it more and he says he wants to stick with homeschooling so I guess I need to make sure I liven it up a bit! :)
 

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#7 of 10 Old 09-02-2012, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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rightkindofme - you are cracking me up! :) In a good way, honestly. ;)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post

I don't want my kids to grow up believing they are wonderful and kind and worthy no matter what they do. I have a really bad background with some sociopathic people who hurt me very much who would be quite happy to tell you how wonderful and kind and worthy they are. I'm not saying anything bad about you for feeling that way. :) I have had very different life experiences from normal so I have some very different reactions. I don't think everyone has to be like me.

 

If my eight year old told me they didn't know anything I would say, "Well, what do you want to know?" I would find two or three really specific goals (music, art, reading, math, whatever) and have the kid make up a plan for how to attain some currently fantastically hard seeming goal (I would help with details about Cold Hard Reality.). Then I would be kind of a jerk about enforcing the schedule FOREVER because that is how you learn.

 

Just wanted to clarify - I didn't say I want him to believe he is wonderful no matter what he does - I said "no matter what he does or does not know he is wonderful, loved and worthy" - 'what he does or does not know' - I meant I don't care if he knows a zillion things or knows nothing - his wonderfulness is not dependent on how much he knows. I hope that makes more sense - I think you may have read it wrong? :)

 

And, really funny, but after I posted this thread he and I were talking and I asked him about what things he specifically would like to learn about and we had a chat about how to go about doing it. For me unschooling doesn't mean no intentional learning! But I won't be enforcing a schedule for him. I believe it's up to him to manage his learning, with me to help and guide him along the way. The problem is I also can end up a depressed mess on the couch, hehe, if I don't feel like I'm meeting goals and being productive. I can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing - the need to meet goals or feel unworthy! ;) So I think he struggles with some of this too - follow-through, you know? We had a 'planning date' last January where he talked about things he wanted to learn about but a lot of the goals were never met. Because life happens, you know? So we are still working on this! :)

 

You might like this site if you haven't come across it yet - http://project-based-homeschooling.com/

It's all about mentoring learners. It's the direction we are headed in. I still consider it unschooling for us, not that definitions should matter too much. :)

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#8 of 10 Old 09-05-2012, 06:02 PM
 
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hi, i'm lori and project-based-homeschooling.com is my site :)

 

i agree partly with rightkindofme — i think it’s important to respect his feelings and sit down to decide what he wants and thinks he needs to know. however, i wouldn’t enforce the schedule :) — instead, i would help *him* set his goals and meet them on his own.

 

if he’s not sure what he “needs” to know but he has a nagging feeling he doesn’t know enough, you could help him by looking at the learning standards for your state for his grade. he could see in black & white what kids his age are doing in public school. maybe he would be satisfied with what he knows; maybe he would be turned off by the work they have to do. no matter what his reaction, you could work with him to decide what he needs to do so *he* feels satisfied that he knows what he wants/needs to know.

 

i wrote recently on my blog about how i have twice-yearly learning conferences with my sons and we discuss their goals and how my husband and i can help them meet those goals: http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog/learning-conferences

 

project-based homeschooling is just purposefully mentoring kids so they can learn to direct and manage their own learning — it’s completely compatible with unschooling, as beckington said :), but it’s compatible with *any* kind of homeschooling. you just make time for your kids to take charge of some of their own learning.

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#9 of 10 Old 09-05-2012, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hah, hi Lori! I'm already over at your site - just going there now to follow up on some of my posts there. See you there! :)
 

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#10 of 10 Old 09-06-2012, 08:31 AM
 
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ha! i’m over there, too! see you there! :)

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