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#1 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you are a seasoned unschooler with child/ children 9 and older, what, if anything, makes you doubt unschooling? How do you deal with your worries? 

 

My children are 10 and 8 and I go through stages of solid confidence that we are on the right track, and stages of panic and worry that I'm failing them, especially my oldest. 

 

How do you get through the periods of worry and how do you recover? I tend to get stressed out and tell my kids that there are some skills that are simply necessary, and that they need to apply themselves in order to master those skills. Then they get stressed out, and after a week of a "new schedule" which is usually something very minimal, like 10 minutes of math a day, we get relaxed and back to the old normal.

 

However I believe that my periodic mini (and mega) freak outs and how I deal with them harm our unschooling journey. I need a new way to get over my worries without undermining the unschooling way in the eyes of the kids. I think they start getting the idea there's something wrong with the way we homeschool and that they are behind and missing out on things, and worst of all, my insecurities are to blame. I want to have a fresh start, and I hope it isn't too late. 

 

FWIW, I get panicky when one of my children realizes they are missing a skill that their peers have, and instead of trying to acquire it they choose not to participate in the previously coveted activity that required that skill. 

 

My panic inducing issue #2 I'd like to be able to really prevent myself from giving any unsolicited advice, even if the result might "look badly" on me. Like last week when my 10 yo was making notes from a video to show to her mentor. It was the first time ever that she was making notes, and I should  have just kept my mouth shut. I was proud of her effort, she was doing great. But she wanted me to sit with her, to watch the (boring to me) video with her, and I did spent a good chunk of time on this. When she was at the bottom of the page, instead of starting page 2, she started squeezing the rest of her notes between the lines. In little circles. I asked her whether she was planning to redo it or to give it to her mentor just as it was, and she didn't think anything wrong with her notes. My suggestion that the notes weren't very legible this way and my offer to show her at least two possible ways of making notes that are easier to read weren't met with any kind of eagerness. I have to admit that I was worried what her mentor would think of me. I worry that I'd look like a neglectful homeschooler. I really wish I didn't say a thing and let her to continue to be the one in charge of her process, and yet, unfortunately, this cycle is quite common for us. 

 

Any ideas or advice for me?

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#2 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 04:13 PM
 
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I used to have an annual freak out, since we have to do a portfolio and evaluation every spring. For the most part, the freak outs rolled off my son's back. So I don't have much in the way of advice on how to avoid them. He's nearly done with school, so I worry less. Plus I see what he's capable of doing, how confident he is, and what his plans are for the future.

Try not to worry about worrying. Just keep the freaking out small. Maybe schedule reviews throughout the year, so you can see progress, would help.

Enjoy the adventure as much as you can. If you never worried, I'd be worried about you. Take care.
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#3 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 04:30 PM
 
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My oldest is just turning 10.  I have mini freak outs.  Maybe once a year?  The last one consisted of me printing off spelling lists off of the computer and grilling my children. eyesroll.gif  I do do some things like math with them but it is because they love it and look forward to it.  I sometimes will pick up a good unschooling book and it gives me more confidence.  Sometimes if I worry I will read a book to them on that topic. lol  They love reading time so this smooths out my worries.  

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#4 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I used to have an annual freak out, since we have to do a portfolio and evaluation every spring. For the most part, the freak outs rolled off my son's back. So I don't have much in the way of advice on how to avoid them. He's nearly done with school, so I worry less. Plus I see what he's capable of doing, how confident he is, and what his plans are for the future.
Try not to worry about worrying. Just keep the freaking out small. Maybe schedule reviews throughout the year, so you can see progress, would help.
Enjoy the adventure as much as you can. If you never worried, I'd be worried about you. Take care.

I have quarterly freak outs. She isn't confident, that's what contributes to my freak outs. I know it is her personality, though. She doesn't like anything academic. She tells me she isn't interested in anything unless it is self-initiated, and she finds most things boring. 

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#5 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest is just turning 10.  I have mini freak outs.  Maybe once a year?  The last one consisted of me printing off spelling lists off of the computer and grilling my children. eyesroll.gif  I do do some things like math with them but it is because they love it and look forward to it.  I sometimes will pick up a good unschooling book and it gives me more confidence.  Sometimes if I worry I will read a book to them on that topic. lol  They love reading time so this smooths out my worries.  

Thanks, that's a good idea about read alouds. We do them too, and they both enjoy them. I could be more pro-active with the topics we read about. 

 

There isn't anything that she loves and looks forward to, especially nothing academic. She says she hates math. 

 

Whenever I read an unschooling book I worry more. They always talk about children who are passionate and enthusiastic and excel at at least one area. She isn't excelling in anything--she's average. Which is not necessarily bad, but I haven't found a book that would talk about average kids who are little generalists and are not internally driven. 

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#6 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 06:52 PM
 
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I'm on the hairy edge of unschooling, so take my opinion for what it's worth.  I deal with my anxieties by talking to my kids, and sometimes those conversations are "I don't think you're where you need to be with this skill, I can think of these ways of dealing with it, what do you think?"  and we come up with a plan for working on catching them up on the skill they lack.  They get a lot of say in how we work on the skill, but they don't get to reject working on the skill unless they convince me I am wrong to be concerned.  

 

Right now, the skills we're working on this way are math and handwriting.  I feel like they're fundamental skills and they are things where some steady work can make a big difference.  And my kids aren't where they ought to be with them, and getting themselves organized to improve is more than they can do right now.  

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#7 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm on the hairy edge of unschooling, so take my opinion for what it's worth.  I deal with my anxieties by talking to my kids, and sometimes those conversations are "I don't think you're where you need to be with this skill, I can think of these ways of dealing with it, what do you think?"  and we come up with a plan for working on catching them up on the skill they lack.  They get a lot of say in how we work on the skill, but they don't get to reject working on the skill unless they convince me I am wrong to be concerned.

 

Right now, the skills we're working on this way are math and handwriting.  I feel like they're fundamental skills and they are things where some steady work can make a big difference.  And my kids aren't where they ought to be with them, and getting themselves organized to improve is more than they can do right now.  

I really like the bolded phrase. I used something similar with her once, and it did the job--she very quickly proved she could do it. 

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#8 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 08:35 PM
 
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When I read your worry number 1, I thought, I too have that, pretty much same story. 

 

 

Quote:

 

FWIW, I get panicky when one of my children realizes they are missing a skill that their peers have, and instead of trying to acquire it they choose not to participate in the previously coveted activity that required that skill. 

 

 

Then when I read #2 I thought WOW I think that exact same thing has happened to us.  With only minor details altered.  

 

Actually preparing for the annual review has become easier these days.  I have managed to figure out things she likes doing that are easy to save and put in a folder.  Writing was a hard one ... now we have started a blog.  Even if she writes once a month that gives us enough material.    Social studies was quite nebulous ... isn't it happening all the time (just like all our learning is :lol) ?   But we started Highlights Top Secret Adventures which just delight reviewers to no end.  THen when that waned we started interviewing people and videotaping it.  I don't take in the videos to show the reviewer but I make a list of them.   

 

 

I think wrt #2, once you realise that the cause of your panic was that it would reflect badly on you, then it is easier to control it.  dd also is the type who would rather squeeze in more sentences at the bottom than actually turn the page - turning the page seems like making an investment in a whole new page ... it disrupts her flow.  if I say nothing she might just go on writing, in ever smaller letters, but if I suggest she turn the page she will probably just declare the page done.  So really, if I want to encourage writing (which I do) then is it not in my own interests to let her write and not interrupt?  

 

THe other thing I have learned not to do is take photos.  Again, this is something the reviewer suggested when I told her that it would interrupt our flow if we tried to write everything down.  But can you believe even the mere thought of getting out the camera can be enough to ruin a project?  

 

The times I have those "I am so glad we are unschooling" moments usually happen when we are just having a conversation, usually lying in the bed or when she is in the bathroom.  Some of  these conversations are so amazing.  So the more we have of those, the less time we have to worry.

 

Back to worry #1 though, I just try to keep talking about it and figuring out a way that she can work on that skill.  It has worked with a few things, and gone nowhere with others.  Right now typing here it would be easy for me to say that this is fine, in fact, it feels just fine to me, but I won't say that those others won't cause me to worry again sometime. 

 

btw dd is 9  ... I have to figure out how to update my signature.


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#9 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 08:44 PM
 
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 dd also is the type who would rather squeeze in more sentences at the bottom than actually turn the page - turning the page seems like making an investment in a whole new page ... it disrupts her flow.  if I say nothing she might just go on writing, in ever smaller letters, but if I suggest she turn the page she will probably just declare the page done.  So really, if I want to encourage writing (which I do) then is it not in my own interests to let her write and not interrupt?  

 

THe other thing I have learned not to do is take photos.  Again, this is something the reviewer suggested when I told her that it would interrupt our flow if we tried to write everything down.  But can you believe even the mere thought of getting out the camera can be enough to ruin a project?  

 

The times I have those "I am so glad we are unschooling" moments usually happen when we are just having a conversation, usually lying in the bed or when she is in the bathroom.  Some of  these conversations are so amazing.  So the more we have of those, the less time we have to worry.

 

Lurking.  No kids over 9..... just popping up to say I am trying to figure this out myself.  My answer to the bolded statement: yes!  I believe it because stuff like this happens here quite a lot.


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#10 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When I read your worry number 1, I thought, I too have that, pretty much same story. 

 

 

 

 

Then when I read #2 I thought WOW I think that exact same thing has happened to us.  With only minor details altered.  

 

Actually preparing for the annual review has become easier these days.  I have managed to figure out things she likes doing that are easy to save and put in a folder.  Writing was a hard one ... now we have started a blog.  Even if she writes once a month that gives us enough material.    Social studies was quite nebulous ... isn't happening all the time (just like all our learning is :lol) ?   But we started Highlights Top Secret Adventures which just delight reviewers to no end.  THen when that waned we started interviewing people and videotaping it.  I don't take in the videos to show the reviewer but I make a list of them.   

 

 

I think wrt #2, once you realise that the cause of your panic was that it would reflect badly on you, then it is easier to control it.  dd also is the type who would rather squeeze in more sentences at the bottom than actually turn the page - turning the page seems like making an investment in a whole new page ... it disrupts her flow.  if I say nothing she might just go on writing, in ever smaller letters, but if I suggest she turn the page she will probably just declare the page done.  So really, if I want to encourage writing (which I do) then is it not in my own interests to let her write and not interrupt?  

 

THe other thing I have learned not to do is take photos.  Again, this is something the reviewer suggested when I told her that it would interrupt our flow if we tried to write everything down.  But can you believe even the mere thought of getting out the camera can be enough to ruin a project?  

 

The times I have those "I am so glad we are unschooling" moments usually happen when we are just having a conversation, usually lying in the bed or when she is in the bathroom.  Some of  these conversations are so amazing.  So the more we have of those, the less time we have to worry.

 

Back to worry #1 though, I just try to keep talking about it and figuring out a way that she can work on that skill.  It has worked with a few things, and gone nowhere with others.  Right now typing here it would be easy for me to say that this is fine, in fact, it feels just fine to me, but I won't say that those others won't cause me to worry again sometime. 

 

btw dd is 9  ... I have to figure out how to update my signature.

 

 

Misery loves company? I'm glad I'm not alone, though I don't wish these issues on anyone, obviously. 

 

I thought she'd be excited about having a blog, but she found this idea crippling. She feels she'd be under pressure to write regularly. Though right now she is writing an essay. She really doesn't like to break up activities into steps, she starts with the top. It is a struggle for her, but she seems to enjoy this process most. She doesn't like that the "steps" don't have a purpose of their own. So she doesn't want to write a paragraph--she wants to write an essay. 

 

I think I read somewhere that documenting what a child does helps with realization that the child actually does a lot (or at least more than the parent thought.) Thank you for the reminder. I will start documenting, and hopefully this will be a good refresher for me. 

 

Exactly the same situation here--moment of "unschooling is the best thing that happened to us"...and then moments of utter panic. I'm fortunate that DH is supportive and usually manages to calm me down. 

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#11 of 45 Old 11-18-2012, 09:09 PM
 
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I thought she'd be excited about having a blog, but she found this idea crippling.

 

Actually it is "our blog" and has both of our names on it.  I think this has helped a lot - at first I was writing more than she was actually, but still not more than once a month, on average.  I put up recipes of stuff we made together or games we played ... so it was about things we did together.  

 And whenever I tell people that she has a blog she emphatically corrects me and says "we have a blog."    I have learned not to suggest that she write something  - just like what you said about the pressure.  


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#12 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually it is "our blog" and has both of our names on it.  I think this has helped a lot - at first I was writing more than she was actually, but still not more than once a month, on average.  I put up recipes of stuff we made together or games we played ... so it was about things we did together.  

 And whenever I tell people that she has a blog she emphatically corrects me and says "we have a blog."    I have learned not to suggest that she write something  - just like what you said about the pressure.  

That's a great idea! At one point we tried having two separate blogs, but for some reason I didn't think about a joint blog. She doesn't like sharing about herself, though, so we might want to focus on something else than our activities. She's very practical, and if a blog is private, she doesn't see any reason for writing, and if it is public, then she frets about what to share. 

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#13 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 06:27 AM
 
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I hear you on the practical bit.  That is why we started with recipes, so that we'd have a place to "keep track of them."


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#14 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hear you on the practical bit.  That is why we started with recipes, so that we'd have a place to "keep track of them."

This is simply great! I'm not into recipes, so I didn't think about it. But I have a feeling she might actually like it. She likes baking, and always complains that I adjust the recipes so that they are "too healthy." This way if I start writing down my recipes on the blog, it will be more organised and I will be able to keep track on how I alter them, and then report on the results. 

 

Now, I'd like to integrate the blog idea smoothly. We've talked about blogs before, and she even said she'd start one when she turned 10, but then decided against it. She knows that I view it as one of the possible ways to practice writing--I did show her my cards, basically telling her that since she needs to practice writing, she could choose the way she wanted to do it. If I start it myself, she is unlikely to join. I'll need to time it carefully with my new baking adventure! Oh, I wonder if I could write down my recipes, and ask her to review them, even if I type the reviews myself at first. 

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#15 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 08:18 AM
 
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Wow, how alike we are!  I too alter recipes, substituting whole grains for refined, reducing sugar, etc. 

 

In fact, the first post on our blog is just such a recipe ... for something normally made with white rice, where we used brown.  Whenever people come over, they are surprised to see this so it made sense to put it up and share it.

 

Just thinking aloud ... if you have a special recipe that both of you like, maybe you could document the process of making it sometime.  Then you could put it on the blog and maybe share it with grandma or someone - and they might post a comment.  

 

Anyway, all the best with integrating the idea smoothly. 


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#16 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 08:21 AM
 
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My unschooler is 9 now, and I have three older kids, all involved in traditional education formats now (college and high school) who were unschooled into the teen years. 

 

I try to reduce the risk of episodes of panic by creating copious documentation of the things my kids are learning. I try to observe sensitively and open-mindedly, and I record the learning and growth I see in a private blog or off-line journal as if I were creating a persuasive portfolio for a detached but kind supervising authority. Then, when I start freaking out over some lack, I go back and read the last few months of documentation and I am reminded to focus on all the good stuff, and not just the currently worrisome issue. It helps balance my perspective.

 

I have to say that unlike some of you, I have found the camera extremely useful in this. Perhaps it's a question of saturation: I take so many pictures, and so do my kids, and so many of them never see the light of day, that snapping a shot has no particular relevance for them. It's not as if they think "Oh, mom is expressing that she places a particular value on what I'm doing right now, and is going to 'use' what I'm doing to prove that we are homeschooling adequately." Around here, the cameras (and we have several) are always going. My kids take pictures of their cupcakes, a weird shaped stick they found, the dog's footprints on the deck, themselves wearing a nice outfit, a drawing they did, the finally-clean kitchen utility drawer... and I take pictures of lots too. It doesn't feel to us like anything judgmental or threatening or artificial. We use the camera to notice or celebrate the smallest things, and that makes my portfolio-keeping very easy. I just look back through the last couple of weeks of photos, add a handful to the blog, and write a few explanatory paragraphs. 

 

If I do overstep myself and have a moment of panic, imposing or threatening to impose, or complaining to my child about a lack I'm feeling, I find it best to open-heartedly apologize and lay my cards on the table. I explain that as a parent who grew up in the school system and who interacts with lots of people who continue to operate on that model, I sometimes can't help but fall back on some of the silly assumptions that I grew up with. Since I care deeply about how they turn out, sometimes I get overly anxious or upset, and I take it out on them. I'm sorry. I can see that they are amazing people, that they care about growing up to be kind and competent human beings, etc. etc.. And so I ask them to forgive me, but also to understand that (a) I am subject to worries -- it's a parent's prerogative to be so -- and (b) the world does tend to operate on the assumption that people will acquire certain skills by certain ages. If they understand those things, they'll realize it's not about them. 

 

It's funny, my 9-year-old is incredibly precocious in most of her learning, but this thread provoked a few little anxieties in me, because it occurred to me that she has never written enough that it would fill a page, experiencing the urge to squeeze extra writing in rather than start a new page! So even after years of pretty successful unschooling of kids through to near-adulthood, and seeing my eldest thriving as a capable independent adult, I can still feel those worries lurking in the back of my mind. 

 

Miranda


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#17 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 12:18 PM
 
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I don't worry anymore, but I did sometimes when the kids were younger. Mostly it was initiated by xh's attempts to make the kids look or feel like morons to justify treating them badly. =( Early on, I started just testing them annually, and showing them the results. They never actually tested below grade level on anything, but we would work a little bit on areas they wanted to work on. Dd especially was never happy unless she tested clearly above grade level. Ds was generally happy as long as he was at least on the higher end of average. Starting at around age 10, they both started asking for more structured curriculums and schedules. We've played with a lot of options, but only recently found a good fit. Mostly, they had it in their heads that maybe "everyone does it" the way they do because it's better. They had to explore the concept for themselves before deciding that "everybody's" priorities don't actually include doing what's best for their kids either educationally or social/emotionally....and that they are ok with our priorities being different. 


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#18 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My unschooler is 9 now, and I have three older kids, all involved in traditional education formats now (college and high school) who were unschooled into the teen years. 

 

I try to reduce the risk of episodes of panic by creating copious documentation of the things my kids are learning. I try to observe sensitively and open-mindedly, and I record the learning and growth I see in a private blog or off-line journal as if I were creating a persuasive portfolio for a detached but kind supervising authority. Then, when I start freaking out over some lack, I go back and read the last few months of documentation and I am reminded to focus on all the good stuff, and not just the currently worrisome issue. It helps balance my perspective.

 

I have to say that unlike some of you, I have found the camera extremely useful in this. Perhaps it's a question of saturation: I take so many pictures, and so do my kids, and so many of them never see the light of day, that snapping a shot has no particular relevance for them. It's not as if they think "Oh, mom is expressing that she places a particular value on what I'm doing right now, and is going to 'use' what I'm doing to prove that we are homeschooling adequately." Around here, the cameras (and we have several) are always going. My kids take pictures of their cupcakes, a weird shaped stick they found, the dog's footprints on the deck, themselves wearing a nice outfit, a drawing they did, the finally-clean kitchen utility drawer... and I take pictures of lots too. It doesn't feel to us like anything judgmental or threatening or artificial. We use the camera to notice or celebrate the smallest things, and that makes my portfolio-keeping very easy. I just look back through the last couple of weeks of photos, add a handful to the blog, and write a few explanatory paragraphs. 

 

If I do overstep myself and have a moment of panic, imposing or threatening to impose, or complaining to my child about a lack I'm feeling, I find it best to open-heartedly apologize and lay my cards on the table. I explain that as a parent who grew up in the school system and who interacts with lots of people who continue to operate on that model, I sometimes can't help but fall back on some of the silly assumptions that I grew up with. Since I care deeply about how they turn out, sometimes I get overly anxious or upset, and I take it out on them. I'm sorry. I can see that they are amazing people, that they care about growing up to be kind and competent human beings, etc. etc.. And so I ask them to forgive me, but also to understand that (a) I am subject to worries -- it's a parent's prerogative to be so -- and (b) the world does tend to operate on the assumption that people will acquire certain skills by certain ages. If they understand those things, they'll realize it's not about them. 

 

It's funny, my 9-year-old is incredibly precocious in most of her learning, but this thread provoked a few little anxieties in me, because it occurred to me that she has never written enough that it would fill a page, experiencing the urge to squeeze extra writing in rather than start a new page! So even after years of pretty successful unschooling of kids through to near-adulthood, and seeing my eldest thriving as a capable independent adult, I can still feel those worries lurking in the back of my mind. 

 

Miranda

Thank you for this. I need to get serious about the documentation. I've done this in the past. I wasn't very diligent, but I think even that did help. I've been doing a mental review of her endeavors in the last months, and I'm a little bit more relaxed now. 

 

Whenever I panic, I do end up explaining to the kids my reasons, similarly to what you mention. I'm sure my 10 yo understands, but she is also very impressionable. I hope that long term she will be affected by my sane moments and our discussions, than by my panic. 

 

Now, about your DD's not writing a page--mine wrote in pretty large letters. ;-) Why do these worries always resurface? Darn.

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#19 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't worry anymore, but I did sometimes when the kids were younger. Mostly it was initiated by xh's attempts to make the kids look or feel like morons to justify treating them badly. =( Early on, I started just testing them annually, and showing them the results. They never actually tested below grade level on anything, but we would work a little bit on areas they wanted to work on. Dd especially was never happy unless she tested clearly above grade level. Ds was generally happy as long as he was at least on the higher end of average. Starting at around age 10, they both started asking for more structured curriculums and schedules. We've played with a lot of options, but only recently found a good fit. Mostly, they had it in their heads that maybe "everyone does it" the way they do because it's better. They had to explore the concept for themselves before deciding that "everybody's" priorities don't actually include doing what's best for their kids either educationally or social/emotionally....and that they are ok with our priorities being different. 

Thanks for the reminder. The reason we unschool is because we don't care about every body else's priorities. 

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#20 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My unschooler is 9 now, and I have three older kids, all involved in traditional education formats now (college and high school) who were unschooled into the teen years. 

 

I try to reduce the risk of episodes of panic by creating copious documentation of the things my kids are learning. I try to observe sensitively and open-mindedly, and I record the learning and growth I see in a private blog or off-line journal as if I were creating a persuasive portfolio for a detached but kind supervising authority. Then, when I start freaking out over some lack, I go back and read the last few months of documentation and I am reminded to focus on all the good stuff, and not just the currently worrisome issue. It helps balance my perspective.

 

I have to say that unlike some of you, I have found the camera extremely useful in this. Perhaps it's a question of saturation: I take so many pictures, and so do my kids, and so many of them never see the light of day, that snapping a shot has no particular relevance for them. It's not as if they think "Oh, mom is expressing that she places a particular value on what I'm doing right now, and is going to 'use' what I'm doing to prove that we are homeschooling adequately." Around here, the cameras (and we have several) are always going. My kids take pictures of their cupcakes, a weird shaped stick they found, the dog's footprints on the deck, themselves wearing a nice outfit, a drawing they did, the finally-clean kitchen utility drawer... and I take pictures of lots too. It doesn't feel to us like anything judgmental or threatening or artificial. We use the camera to notice or celebrate the smallest things, and that makes my portfolio-keeping very easy. I just look back through the last couple of weeks of photos, add a handful to the blog, and write a few explanatory paragraphs. 

 

If I do overstep myself and have a moment of panic, imposing or threatening to impose, or complaining to my child about a lack I'm feeling, I find it best to open-heartedly apologize and lay my cards on the table. I explain that as a parent who grew up in the school system and who interacts with lots of people who continue to operate on that model, I sometimes can't help but fall back on some of the silly assumptions that I grew up with. Since I care deeply about how they turn out, sometimes I get overly anxious or upset, and I take it out on them. I'm sorry. I can see that they are amazing people, that they care about growing up to be kind and competent human beings, etc. etc.. And so I ask them to forgive me, but also to understand that (a) I am subject to worries -- it's a parent's prerogative to be so -- and (b) the world does tend to operate on the assumption that people will acquire certain skills by certain ages. If they understand those things, they'll realize it's not about them. 

 

It's funny, my 9-year-old is incredibly precocious in most of her learning, but this thread provoked a few little anxieties in me, because it occurred to me that she has never written enough that it would fill a page, experiencing the urge to squeeze extra writing in rather than start a new page! So even after years of pretty successful unschooling of kids through to near-adulthood, and seeing my eldest thriving as a capable independent adult, I can still feel those worries lurking in the back of my mind. 

 

Miranda

I wrote a lengthy reply to this, but my post is being pre-approved. I just didn't want to seem that I ignored good advice. 

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#21 of 45 Old 11-19-2012, 08:54 PM
 
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My son is 16, and a self-proclaimed writer. Still, at 10 he didn't write. He and I read lots! I read books to him, he read chapters of Harry Potter to me while I did other work. But no writing. He did make up stories and tell them to me. Then one day he thought of a story that was too long to tell in an hour, so he started typing it into the computer. Then he worked slowly. Now he types faster than I can. But math was and is a chore. We all have our talents and our pleasures. If writing is not something she enjoys, language arts can be reading, a grammer game or computer game. Maybe when she's older she'll have a reason to want to write. Is it necessary that she do it now?
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Writing down notes / key points from the videos that she watched was completely her choice, as she wanted to share the notes with her mentor. My problem was, I think, that I wasn't comfortable with the format that started to emerge.. I wasn't clear in the first post--it is not that she just started squeezing the last lines at the bottom of the page, in smaller letters which I would've been okay with. She went straight back to the top of the page, and started using spaces between the lines to write down new information. Yes, I did think how this would reflect on me, as she were planning to share the notes with her mentor, and didn't think she had to rewrite. Her mentor is a wonderful, wonderful person, but she is not my friend, and her background is in education, and I do get a little bit nervous sometimes.  

 

Then yesterday a good unschooling thing happened. She researched, on her own, how to take notes. Told me about the Cornell system, but said she didn't like it, but she knew exactly what it was and how it was used. We read over the Cornell method together, and I mentioned what points could relate to her note taking, like leaving spaces between new ideas. We also talked about all the cool stuff she learned while researching-note taking, even if it was unrelated to note-taking.

 

She redid the notes--there were some jammed lines, but overall the page was legible and she was proud of it. FWIW, her notes were about 20 words and a sentence, so it is not like she had to rewrite a great amount of work. 

 

She also said that since she wrote down the information twice, she pretty much memorized it, so she didn't have to show the actual notes to her mentor. So a lot of positives came out, but after a really big turmoil. 

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My son is 16, and a self-proclaimed writer. Still, at 10 he didn't write. He and I read lots! I read books to him, he read chapters of Harry Potter to me while I did other work. But no writing. He did make up stories and tell them to me. Then one day he thought of a story that was too long to tell in an hour, so he started typing it into the computer. Then he worked slowly. Now he types faster than I can. But math was and is a chore. We all have our talents and our pleasures. If writing is not something she enjoys, language arts can be reading, a grammer game or computer game. Maybe when she's older she'll have a reason to want to write. Is it necessary that she do it now?
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So a lot of positives came out, but after a really big turmoil. 

 

Wow, I agree about a lot of positives coming out of it! Way to go, both of you!

 

Miranda


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#24 of 45 Old 11-21-2012, 05:45 AM
 
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Don't you guys think some of the freak outs are good for us in a way though?  I mean, I think for me at least, I need to evaluate to see if our unschooling approach is working for us and the kids.  I would like to see evidence that it is working and I imagine mini-freak outs force reassessment which I think is necessary (at least for me).  It is the only way I will be able to correct the course should we be heading the wrong direction.  Some panic is healthy and constructive IMHO.  

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#25 of 45 Old 11-21-2012, 07:28 AM
 
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Don't you guys think some of the freak outs are good for us in a way though?  I mean, I think for me at least, I need to evaluate to see if our unschooling approach is working for us and the kids.  I would like to see evidence that it is working and I imagine mini-freak outs force reassessment which I think is necessary (at least for me).  It is the only way I will be able to correct the course should we be heading the wrong direction.  Some panic is healthy and constructive IMHO.  

I agree. That's why in another post I recommend just keeping it low key, so the child(ren) don't feel like they're being punished, although I worded it differently, then. Anyway, yes, I think reevaluating from time to time is good.
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Don't you guys think some of the freak outs are good for us in a way though?  I mean, I think for me at least, I need to evaluate to see if our unschooling approach is working for us and the kids.  I would like to see evidence that it is working and I imagine mini-freak outs force reassessment which I think is necessary (at least for me).  It is the only way I will be able to correct the course should we be heading the wrong direction.  Some panic is healthy and constructive IMHO.  

 

 

A freak-out where you re-evaluate and question is great. A freak-out where you impose blame or dramatically different expectations on your children, fueled by your own anxiety -- not so good. It can damage your relationship with your kids and their sense of being trusted and worthy of trust. It can send the message that your "trust" is contingent upon their satisfying some sort of hidden agenda.

 

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#27 of 45 Old 11-21-2012, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't you guys think some of the freak outs are good for us in a way though?  I mean, I think for me at least, I need to evaluate to see if our unschooling approach is working for us and the kids.  I would like to see evidence that it is working and I imagine mini-freak outs force reassessment which I think is necessary (at least for me).  It is the only way I will be able to correct the course should we be heading the wrong direction.  Some panic is healthy and constructive IMHO.  

I think the panic stages are productive, it is just because of DD's personality (and mine) they can be quite emotionally challenging. You're right: panic=regrouping and leads to progress. LOL

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#28 of 45 Old 11-21-2012, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A freak-out where you re-evaluate and question is great. A freak-out where you impose blame or dramatically different expectations on your children, fueled by your own anxiety -- not so good. It can damage your relationship with your kids and their sense of being trusted and worthy of trust. It can send the message that your "trust" is contingent upon their satisfying some sort of hidden agenda.

 

Miranda

Unfortunately my panic tends to lead me in that direction. I'm conscious of it, and I really work hard on not going there. I've never gone as far as to impose dramatically different expectations, or to blame the kids, but because of my daughter's sensitivity to anything which is not internally motivated, even the minimal changes  or imbalances in this area are taken deeply, or I'm afraid they are. We do go full circle with discussions, where I explain myself and the sources of my panic, and the ways to work around it. So I hope she's learning that not everyone can stay absolutely calm and even headed through everything, and that parents are vulnerable as well. I'm only human. There's usually some relief and a forward movement. So something is working. I wonder if this is healthy, but maybe for her personality this is the best we can do for now. 

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#29 of 45 Old 11-21-2012, 08:46 AM
 
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Writing down notes / key points from the videos that she watched was completely her choice, as she wanted to share the notes with her mentor. My problem was, I think, that I wasn't comfortable with the format that started to emerge.. I wasn't clear in the first post--it is not that she just started squeezing the last lines at the bottom of the page, in smaller letters which I would've been okay with. She went straight back to the top of the page, and started using spaces between the lines to write down new information. 

 

I think I am an unschooler, but my kids are still younger than yours. I used to teach high school and this kind of visual organization stuff often comes quite late. If your daughter is struggling with notes at 10 but she is actually getting them down--even though they are messy and chaotic then I would do a happy dance. :) 

 

I have no idea how I will find my Zen with the process over the years. I'm crossing my fingers.


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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#30 of 45 Old 11-21-2012, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think I am an unschooler, but my kids are still younger than yours. I used to teach high school and this kind of visual organization stuff often comes quite late. If your daughter is struggling with notes at 10 but she is actually getting them down--even though they are messy and chaotic then I would do a happy dance. :) 

 

I have no idea how I will find my Zen with the process over the years. I'm crossing my fingers.

Interesting, thank you. I have been thinking how I learned to take notes (very good notes too, as they were very popular in college). 

 

I think we copied a lot of notes in middle school. Our teachers wrote them on the board, and we had to copy them, and there were precise directions in terms of how to indent and how many lines to skip. I really like copying as a learning tool, probably because I loved copying as a child. It was the least labor intensive exercise--rather than needing to come up with my own ideas, I had to just focus on being neat. Naturally, this approach doesn't work with my daughter. The idea of copying is very alien to her and frustrates her very much. 

 

For me, learning how to take good notes was a gradual and rather passive process for me. I never had to actively learn how to take notes. 

 

Just some ruminations on how people learn. 

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