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#1 of 11 Old 10-19-2012, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I had heard of unschooling and was even trying to decide between homeschool, our local public school, school of choice into the next district of public school because it is really an excellent school, or the charter Montessori we have.  Lots of good choices.  However, kindergarten just got switched to full day here, and I don't think my son would be ready at 5 to go all day. 

 

However, I want to know if we are on the track or unschooling, and I wanted opinions on what I do now. 

 

I wanted this to be a "practice" year to see if I really had the time to teach him because we moved into a fixer-upper house that we are constantly working on, we haven't even taken the stuff out of our boxes, and we travel a LOT.  My husband is in the Reserves and we go with him.

So, I keep having it on the backburner to teach him this and that.  The funny thing is, he keeps beating me to it.  First, he learned to spell his name.  Then, he learned to write it (this has only happened once).  Then, he learned to count to 40 (but kept missing 13, so I had to keep telling him to put that in).  Then last night he counted to 100 but asked me at each interval, like 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 what words those are.

 

Earlier this week he wanted to know if the body was made of muscles.  He wanted to know how the Earth stayed in space.  He wanted to know the difference between a state and an island, and what state are we in, and what state is his grandparents in.  So we checked a LOT of books out of the library, on the body, on space, on the US and world maps.  After going through those books during the day and at bed time, he wanted to know more about blood because blood wasn't in the book we got.  So we checked out some books on blood, and he went through those.  I told Daddy next week that they are going to make that model of the planets, one of the books has a page on doing that.  Two of the books on the body are experiments to do (mostly with movement and such).

 

I have to admit, I am so super excited about all of this.  Is this how unschooling goes?  Because if I kept him home from kindergarten next year, I was so worried about curriculums and everything - I have a lot of homeschooling friends, and they all use curriculums, including for preschool.  What do I do now?  Do I need to carve out specific time every day to work on this?  If I don't put enough time into it, will his interest fade?  Do I need to organize and plan, like go through certain parts of the book and follow up with one of the experiments?

 

I am just excited and don't want him to lose his momentum.  He does still play most of the day, but will occassionally grab one of the books and sit down and flip through it, or bring it to me and pick sections for me to read.

 

 

Thanks!

 

Angie

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#2 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 08:06 AM
 
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I have to admit, I am so super excited about all of this.  Is this how unschooling goes?  Because if I kept him home from kindergarten next year, I was so worried about curriculums and everything - I have a lot of homeschooling friends, and they all use curriculums, including for preschool.  What do I do now?  Do I need to carve out specific time every day to work on this?  If I don't put enough time into it, will his interest fade?  Do I need to organize and plan, like go through certain parts of the book and follow up with one of the experiments?

 

I am just excited and don't want him to lose his momentum.  He does still play most of the day, but will occassionally grab one of the books and sit down and flip through it, or bring it to me and pick sections for me to read.

 

 

Thanks!

 

Angie

Sounds like you have an active little kid on your hand.  He's going to make HSing seem easy for you.

 

Yes, unschooling goes very much like that.  

 

In addition to the child-led learning you've described is involving children in adult activities-- maintaining the car or bicycles, stitching buttons on clothes, voting, balancing a checkbook, crochet, weeding, building the shed.  If the faucet needs a new washer, see if he wants to help.  This is how he learns within the context of real life--by living it!


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#3 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the reply!  I wish I had unschoolers living near us.  I guess we have already been doing some of what you said.  He has helped us plant trees, garden, helped Daddy build shelves in the barn, and sometimes helps cook.

 

I have to say, though, I started to read through some threads, and it seems like many people let the kids choose their activities even including TV, movies and videogames.  I cracked down hard 1 1/2 years ago because I thought TV was getting out of hand, and now my son doesn't ask for it so much, though I will do PBS kids in the morning sometimes, or a movie here and there.  But I became pretty strict on it, because he acts, plays, and enjoys life so much better it seems when he isn't watching so much.  What are others TV opinions?

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#4 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 02:26 PM
 
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 What are others TV opinions?

You will find varying opinions on TV and games.  It is typical to have the unschooling philosophy creep into daily activities such as screen time, food and sleep times.

 

Warning:  Blanket statement ahead!

 

Unschooling is based in part on trusting that a child will learn/asked to be taught/discover the stuff that needs to be learned in the course of their daily lives.  You are also trusting in his abilities to guide his own day, work through his own boredom, know when he's ready to move from counting to addition or take a break.  If you can trust in these things, why not trust him to know when he's hungry and tired?  If you can trust him to read much of the day, can you trust him to watch the TV much of the day?

 

I don't think I'm quite wording this well.  Needless to say, it's a continuum that runs right into non-educational territory.

 

For the record, we have screen limits in our house, but they are getting a bit squashy honestly.  (Those limits are also to keep dh from zoning out!)  The girls watch the tube in the morning while I dink around on the computer.  The TV goes off after an hour or two, depending on what they choose to watch.  My oldest likes doing gymnastics while we play the competitions from this summer.  I don't count that, for the most part.  We have bedtimes and I limit the sugary stuff.

 

I do see how what I do doesn't fall in line with what many consider "unschooling", but it doesn't distress me.  I do what works for now.  It could be that I am doing a disservice by not giving my girls the chance to self-regulate their screen time or their bedtimes or their sugar consumption, but I like the immediate benefits these limits give our family, and they are not arbitrary--they are based on trial and "error".  They are not written in stone-- I am ready to drop these limits as soon as I see signs that doing so will not affect the family negatively.  Recently I tried dropping bedtimes, but that didn't work so well, so now we are doing relaxed bedtimes--an improvement, but not total trust.  I have written before of my regret that I began motherhood with the idea that All Children Need Early Bedtimes.  To some extent, I feel like I have sowed the harvest I am reaping now.  Ah well.  You work with what you have!

 

There are some that might look on limits like these as not in line with "unschooling" and therefore do not consider us an USer (luckily, those people who are hard-assed about this are not posting on our unschooling board).  Well I have a couple points to make about that.  One:  I don't recall that John Holt, the "father of unschooling", ever defined unschooling in such a way.  I'm not aware of any discussions he had equating TV with unschooling.  Holt discussed unschooling as an educational choice.  Two:  I'm OK with the fact that the definition has moved well beyond its initial use, and if someone states I'm not USing because of _____, I say "Whatever."  When I say "whatever" I mean it to the depths of my soul-- I am the Zen Master of Whatever-ness. orngtongue.gif

 

To make my point, finally, you will indeed find that many, if not most "Unschoolers" will have few if any limits on screen time, but some do.  And luckily, on this board, this isn't a problem in any direction.  I understand why people would let their kids do what they do.  I get the reasoning.  But, whatever.  They are not me, their kids are not mine, and, well......whatever.


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#5 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks for the in depth reply!  It really is just one of those things, take what works well for your family, leave the rest, I think.  I wanted to reply to let you know that I think you are lucky you started with bed times.  I always had the trust the child philosophy, and so I can't get my kids to go to bed before me, even if it is 1 AM, and I can tell they are super overtired.  I want "me" time in the evening, and NOT having a bed time is not working for me.  I actually have a goal of working to put them to bed at 8.

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#6 of 11 Old 10-20-2012, 04:43 PM
 
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The grass is always greener, I guess!


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#7 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 07:22 PM
 
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I don't recall that John Holt, the "father of unschooling", ever defined unschooling in such a way.  I'm not aware of any discussions he had equating TV with unschooling.  Holt discussed unschooling as an educational choice....

yeahthat.gif

 

We don't have TV.  We watch something after dinner and that is it. We have always been this way, so no fuss.  We do audio books in the day time and some ipad story times.  Same goes for junk food.  We don't have any in the house so no haggling over when and how much.  The absence of TV/junk food means a general unawareness of it all. And in this case, ignorance is definitely bliss :)

 

My husband talked about games like minecraft and we have decided we won't get it for the kids.  So, that won't be an issue either.  We also don't have any games on our ipad (tons of stories and edutainment apps but not outright games).  They don't miss what they don't know.  Such peace :)  I feel like these limits on ready-made entertainment spigots have forced my children to learn to self-entertain and come up with their own games/work plans/ideas about how to spend their day.  They daydream, look over their books, they sit around and think about the clouds.  And I am delighted that this is the case. 

 

I don't much care for the "radical unschooling lifestyle".  I think it is misguided at best.  However, I find the educational philosophy of unschooling fascinating and rings totally true for me.  So I unschool and our children are thriving.  That is all it matters.  I am not loyal to any philosophy.  I don't follow anything.  I learn from my own and others experience here.  I apply what I think will serve my kids' best interests and that is really all to it.  

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#8 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 08:24 PM
 
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My husband talked about games like minecraft and we have decided we won't get it for the kids.  So, that won't be an issue either.  We also don't have any games on our ipad (tons of stories and edutainment apps but not outright games).  They don't miss what they don't know.  Such peace :)  I feel like these limits on ready-made entertainment spigots have forced my children to learn to self-entertain and come up with their own games/work plans/ideas about how to spend their day.  They daydream, look over their books, they sit around and think about the clouds.  And I am delighted that this is the case. 

 

These are the immediate benefits, for sure, and this is why I choose to place limits on it.  To a large degree, they have accepted limits on TV, junk food, etc. and I think it can be a good lesson to learn.  I am not, however, entirely convinced that this is the absolute right way to go about this.  I definitely see the reasoning behind the radical unschooling philosophy, and it will be a matter of a just a few years to see if the external limits I have place come crashing down in a metaphorical orgy of TV and video game all-nighters, Red Bull, chocolate and cheetos, because I failed to give my kids a chance to create their own internal limits.

 

????? 


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#9 of 11 Old 10-21-2012, 09:36 PM
 
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These are the immediate benefits, for sure, and this is why I choose to place limits on it.  To a large degree, they have accepted limits on TV, junk food, etc. and I think it can be a good lesson to learn.  I am not, however, entirely convinced that this is the absolute right way to go about this.  I definitely see the reasoning behind the radical unschooling philosophy, and it will be a matter of a just a few years to see if the external limits I have place come crashing down in a metaphorical orgy of TV and video game all-nighters, Red Bull, chocolate and cheetos, because I failed to give my kids a chance to create their own internal limits.

 

????? 

 

I plan to loosen the reigns as they get older, slowly but surely giving them full control over their computer use and DVD/shows/movie.  So, I don't foresee a "metaphorical orgy" happening.  Things are as they have always known them to be.  Nothing is forbidden.  They think we watch shows in the evenings because that is how things work not because they are not allowed to in the day time, KWIM?  And we just don't have junk food in the house -- again, they are not forbidden from eating it at their friends' house or anything like that.  We just don't have it so it does not come up for discussion at all.  

 

And should the metaphorical orgy happen, I will have no issue with that too.... the excitement would wear off and they will miss doing things they have learned to do instead of plugging into the TV and just go back to it once the newness wears off.  I think it is our responsibility to help our kids develop good habits.  I am trying to lay a foundation here -- well developed palates and the time and opportunity to learn to spend time with their own selves doing their own things -- I think unlimited use of the computer and TV prevents that development from happening in certain kinds of children and creates an environment of chaos.  We live in an unprecedented time when these things are ubiquitous.  

 

And think about it, what is wrong with giving children certain levels of autonomy when they are able to reason and responsibly use it? Since when in life do we always get to do what we want?  Life sets limits.  Living a lot of the time is is all about working within certain limits.  The way I see it, I am setting parameters within which my kids are given the opportunity to develop in all sorts of ways.  Within those parameters, they set their own limits and make their own choices on the daily basis by deciding when and what to do (do I paint or do I read? Should I look at books or should I write books?  Should I eat bread, apple, or cheese?etc)  My parameters will widen as they get older until eventually they take over setting their own parameters.  This makes sense to me.  

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#10 of 11 Old 10-22-2012, 04:55 PM
 
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I have a 5 and 2 year old : ) Nice to see someone with a younger child!

 

For me unschooling goes like this - I have a ton of inspiration I keep in folders and notebooks...math games, Waldorf-type verses, science experiments, seasonal activities. I make a list at the beginning of the week of things I'd love to do. This includes baking, crafts, stories (this week it was the free pumpkin Sparkle story) and whatever else. Normally during the week we have a bunch of activities too (we have a field trip day, DD does horseback riding, and we try to have one playdate..) so in between that when the kids aren't playing or outside doing barn-stuff we do whatever's on the list! No real structured curriculum and a ton of time for imaginative and outside play. I do limit media but since we are movie buffs I do let kids watch some things I love - and in the morning while I have my tea/coffee they are allowed a few shows. DD loves Magic School bus. 

 

I think at that age they just need so much time to play and ask questions which it sounds like your child is doing  - wonderful! I also think following the families rhythms (cooking, cleaning, gardening) are super important and there's so much organic learning going on at that time. 

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#11 of 11 Old 10-22-2012, 07:17 PM
 
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I think you are TOTALY on track (Not that I'm an experienced unschooler, just a widely read one). I feel like unschooling is cultivating that curiosity and helping it find answers. Sometimes just a question or a suggestion to a kid can be enough to launch them into a whole new field of study, other times the shrug it off and do something else! lol! But with a kid that curious I think unschooling is a great fit and will work well. :) Have fun! 


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