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#31 of 82 Old 02-11-2013, 10:51 PM
 
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I see no issue with holding kids accountable and helping them (with out forcing them) to reach a goal that they have asked for help with. I do the exact same for my husband all the time! He will ask me to remind him to do XYZ or to help him to make a plan and stick with it (currently its eating better). I feel its totally (or even MORE) appropriate to do that for ac child who asks. I loved the example of helping them by setting up their stuff and making tea for them at a specified time. They can always choose to drink the tea and not do the math if they really really feel like not doing it, but I think most kids when wanting to reach a goal and asking for some reminders and would appreciate that kind of non-coercive help. 

Just like an adult helping another adult. :) 


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#32 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 02:25 AM
 
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There are some complicating factors in this family. Mom used to do all the active unschooling facilitation. Dad was philosophically in complete agreement, but mom dealt mostly with the kids while dad worked away from home a lot, so I don't think he had much of a sense of the nuances of the day-to-day flow. Then dad had a cardiac arrest, retired from work (he's an older dad, now in his 60's) and mom went to work full-time-plus this past fall. Dad is still finding his feet with the on-the-ground, day-to-day aspects of home-based learning. He is trying to carry on with what mom was doing, but I think she may have been offering a fair bit more active support than he was aware of. I know the mom really well; the dad not so much -- and she did do a lot to support and nurture and inspire when she was the stay-at-home parent. So dad is still kind of figuring it out, and my tendency is to cut them some slack on all of this and not really judge or presume. They're still finding their way. Maybe dad wasn't burned previously, but mom was, or dad interpreted something in a way that made him think mom was, or ... well, who knows?

I wasn't trying to ask "Who is right in this case?" but just to discuss the issue it raised in a more general way.

Miranda

I'm not saying he's a bad dad, if that's the judgment you mean. I was *trying* to discuss this in general, but have been told, repeatedly, that my opinion is wrong! I'll take my opinion and go, then.
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#33 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 07:23 AM
 
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I wasn't trying to ask "Who is right in this case?" but just to discuss the issue it raised in a more general way.

 

 

What about my suggestion of helping the child create their own schedule to achieve their goal?  First you would need to talk with them and help them define the goal.  Then help them set alarms and maybe set up their workstation for them as someone else suggested.  


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#34 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not saying he's a bad dad, if that's the judgment you mean. I was *trying* to discuss this in general, but have been told, repeatedly, that my opinion is wrong! I'll take my opinion and go, then.

 

No, please don't go! I just think it's not really the role of this board to decide whether the dad ought to make more effort or let it lie -- we're not part of their family, so we can't truly know. 

 

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#35 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 07:58 AM
 
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Not a judgment, I think everyone reads the situation and has a first impression, and different people are falling on different sides of this.  We really have no way of knowing if our impressions would be backed up if we knew more.  I fully concede the possibility that my first impression is incorrect.

 

It seems like everyone is more of less on the same page with regards to the issue in general.



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#36 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What about my suggestion of helping the child create their own schedule to achieve their goal?  First you would need to talk with them and help them define the goal.  Then help them set alarms and maybe set up their workstation for them as someone else suggested.  

 

Yes, I think this is a great suggestion. For me that discussion of the desired schedule is the obvious first step. And if the schedule doesn't stick easily, you need to revisit the issue to talk about what tweaks would help. I think weekly discussions, at least until there's a really good flow happening, are a great idea.

 

We haven't had much luck with alarms here, though, because alarms reside in one location, and kids and families roam. Even if we situate an alarm in a central area or make a point of having it follow the child around if he or she moves, life throws us curve balls and often we're gone to town on an errand or someone shows up for a visit or we're outside playing or doing yard work, or the kid has just stepped into the bath or something. Alarms also don't have a built-in flexibility that says "it's getting to be mid-afternoon, so if you want to do half an hour of math before dinner, you should think about whether you want to play a whole game of Settlers of Catan, or maybe choose something shorter, or maybe do your math now and play a game after." Alarms just beep ... and my kids find that often they might have good reasons for not necessarily dropping everything and moving to the appointed task at that instant, for wanting a little flexibility, but once the alarm has not been immediately heeded it provides no additional guidance.

 

We have better luck scheduling things for after meals. So rather than saying "Spanish at 12:30" my kid will say "Right after lunch, before I get started on anything else, I'll do a few minutes of Spanish." Because even though my kids are responsible for preparing their own day-time meals (we do dinner as a family meal but the rest is free-ranging) they do invariably eat something that they would call lunch.

 

I find that sometimes there's a magic in revisiting a scheduling expectation that has unravelled and simply asking "Is this still something you want to do?" For instance, last fall my youngest said she wanted to do outdoor exercise with me three times a week. It was really tough to schedule, since there are so many variables in our lives that squeeze in, so while we initially tried "after breakfast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays" that regularity fell apart quickly and after that we just did our best to find windows for it. But she didn't seem enthusiastic, and after enduring a few weeks of declined invitations and moaning over being too tired or not liking how cold and wet it was or whatever I gave up. Then over the winter holidays I took some time to revisit her plans and ambitions for the year and we talked about that outdoor exercise thing. Surprisingly, she was very enthusiastic to delve into it again. She regretted having got out of the habit, and was excited about doing a lot more in the way of winter sports -- trying out XC skiing, getting out on the hill for some downhilling, building an igloo, skating, snowshoeing. We didn't end up changing anything about the original plan. She had just realized that despite her occasional lack of enthusiasm on any given day and during certain seasons, she did still really want to be active outdoors on a regular basis, and felt it was worth pushing herself a bit harder than she had.

 

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#37 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 09:23 AM
 
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Yes, I think this is a great suggestion. For me that discussion of the desired schedule is the obvious first step. And if the schedule doesn't stick easily, you need to revisit the issue to talk about what tweaks would help. I think weekly discussions, at least until there's a really good flow happening, are a great idea.

 

We haven't had much luck with alarms here, though, because alarms reside in one location, and kids and families roam. Even if we situate an alarm in a central area or make a point of having it follow the child around if he or she moves, life throws us curve balls and often we're gone to town on an errand or someone shows up for a visit or we're outside playing or doing yard work, or the kid has just stepped into the bath or something. Alarms also don't have a built-in flexibility that says "it's getting to be mid-afternoon, so if you want to do half an hour of math before dinner, you should think about whether you want to play a whole game of Settlers of Catan, or maybe choose something shorter, or maybe do your math now and play a game after." Alarms just beep ... and my kids find that often they might have good reasons for not necessarily dropping everything and moving to the appointed task at that instant, for wanting a little flexibility, but once the alarm has not been immediately heeded it provides no additional guidance.

 

We have better luck scheduling things for after meals. So rather than saying "Spanish at 12:30" my kid will say "Right after lunch, before I get started on anything else, I'll do a few minutes of Spanish." Because even though my kids are responsible for preparing their own day-time meals (we do dinner as a family meal but the rest is free-ranging) they do invariably eat something that they would call lunch.

 

I find that sometimes there's a magic in revisiting a scheduling expectation that has unravelled and simply asking "Is this still something you want to do?" For instance, last fall my youngest said she wanted to do outdoor exercise with me three times a week. It was really tough to schedule, since there are so many variables in our lives that squeeze in, so while we initially tried "after breakfast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays" that regularity fell apart quickly and after that we just did our best to find windows for it. But she didn't seem enthusiastic, and after enduring a few weeks of declined invitations and moaning over being too tired or not liking how cold and wet it was or whatever I gave up. Then over the winter holidays I took some time to revisit her plans and ambitions for the year and we talked about that outdoor exercise thing. Surprisingly, she was very enthusiastic to delve into it again. She regretted having got out of the habit, and was excited about doing a lot more in the way of winter sports -- trying out XC skiing, getting out on the hill for some downhilling, building an igloo, skating, snowshoeing. We didn't end up changing anything about the original plan. She had just realized that despite her occasional lack of enthusiasm on any given day and during certain seasons, she did still really want to be active outdoors on a regular basis, and felt it was worth pushing herself a bit harder than she had.

 

Miranda

 

I totally understand the alarm thing.  Honestly for me they don't work either but for my husband they work perfectly!  I am more of a "right when I wake up" or "after the ____ meal" or "before I lay down to bed" schedule person too.  My loose schedule is important to me because it helps me but I know that doesn't work for everyone.  It really sounds like everyone in the discussion is pretty much on the same page.  Helping to facilitate our children in learning to achieve their goal through time management skills is a good thing.  A parent reminding their child is not too much different than having them set an alarm really.  The child is getting a reminder.  I don't think anyone subscribing to the un-schooling philosophy would advocate forcing a child to sit down and do something even if they expressed interest or asked for it at one time.  We all know this is not the way for a child to learn.  I also agree that goals and schedules should be revisited often.  


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#38 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 09:32 AM
 
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I'm not saying he's a bad dad, if that's the judgment you mean. I was *trying* to discuss this in general, but have been told, repeatedly, that my opinion is wrong! I'll take my opinion and go, then.

 

It really sounds like everyone in the discussion is pretty much on the same page when it comes to her original question even if we differ in who we "side" with as far as father or son.  I think we all agree that we should facilitate our children in learning to achieve their goals through obtaining time management skills.  We may have slightly different ways to facilitate but that is okay and necessary because we are all dealing with different children/families.


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#39 of 82 Old 02-12-2013, 12:59 PM
 
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Such an interesting thread! Can I just say though that the comment "I see no issue with holding kids accountable and helping them (with out forcing them) to reach a goal that they have asked for help with. I do the exact same for my husband all the time!" has really clarified something for me. Now I do this. I scaffold for my kids all the time, I do the thing of making sure that they have what they need to do the thing they've said they want to do and asking if I can get them anything and so on. But I'm also studying, myself, a fairly difficult (for me!) degree which takes up pretty much nearly all of my kid-free time. Now if my partner were to start asking if he could help, if he could get me a drink and so on, before I'd sat down and got started, it would truly drive me up the wall, because, rightly or wrongly I'd interpret this as him trying to coerce me into studying. Which would be incredibly unfair on him because he'd literally be just wanting to make me a cup of tea and truly not caring in the slightest whether I was going to study or not, I think its just that learning, for some people, is an incredibly personal and quite private thing. (obviously not for everyone though, if it works for you then absolutely great)

 

So this thread has given me a load of food for thought. It obliquely reminds me of something John Holt wrote once-"a word to the wise is infuriating.".


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#40 of 82 Old 02-13-2013, 06:26 AM
 
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Great thread!

 

I tend not to push things.  Suggest and remind, yes; push - no.

 

Sometimes reminding over and over again can feel like nagging.  When that happens I check in: do you want me to continue to remind you of xyz?

 

I also try to honour where they are right now.  Simply because they said they wanted more math several weeks ago, does not necessarily mean I should impose it now.  If DD said "I want to learn more math" on a Tuesday, and on a Wednesday I said "let's do math" and she did not want to as she was colouring, and on a Thursday she did not want to as she was playing a video game with her brother - am I supposed to make her?  Isn't that placing a value judgment on activities - the math you mentioned earlier is more important that the stuff you are doing today?  

 

I do think some kids lack discipline and know-how when it comes to meeting goals they know are good for them.  Eventually their desire to meet their goals will be higher than their desire to do something else - which is when learning appropriate time and organisational management will kick in. Trying to do so before the kid is ready will result in some power struggles. Adults tend to see the big picture, so I think we can get a little frustrated and worried when we see them stuck at one developmental stage rather than moving into another. Patience for parents is often the order of the day!  

 

 I tend to talk out loud about my own time/organisational management issues as a way to role model project attack skills.  With my older children (particularly my eldest) we will have brainstorming session - paper included, and make lists of what needs to be done to move from A-B.  I prefer to help them figure out all the steps they need to do to complete a project instead of creating the steps for them.


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#41 of 82 Old 02-13-2013, 08:38 AM
 
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Such an interesting thread! Can I just say though that the comment "I see no issue with holding kids accountable and helping them (with out forcing them) to reach a goal that they have asked for help with. I do the exact same for my husband all the time!" has really clarified something for me. Now I do this. I scaffold for my kids all the time, I do the thing of making sure that they have what they need to do the thing they've said they want to do and asking if I can get them anything and so on. But I'm also studying, myself, a fairly difficult (for me!) degree which takes up pretty much nearly all of my kid-free time. Now if my partner were to start asking if he could help, if he could get me a drink and so on, before I'd sat down and got started, it would truly drive me up the wall, because, rightly or wrongly I'd interpret this as him trying to coerce me into studying. Which would be incredibly unfair on him because he'd literally be just wanting to make me a cup of tea and truly not caring in the slightest whether I was going to study or not, I think its just that learning, for some people, is an incredibly personal and quite private thing. (obviously not for everyone though, if it works for you then absolutely great)

 

Now that you mention it, that is EXACTLY how I would feel towards DH (however irrationally)!  Pressured, pushed, and kicked out of the driver's seat.  Motivation drained.  Granted, I think children need more help than adults, but it's definitely something to keep in mind with each child's personality and learning style.  Thanks!

 

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Eventually their desire to meet their goals will be higher than their desire to do something else - which is when learning appropriate time and organisational management will kick in. Trying to do so before the kid is ready will result in some power struggles...

 

 I tend to talk out loud about my own time/organisational management issues as a way to role model project attack skills.  With my older children (particularly my eldest) we will have brainstorming session - paper included, and make lists of what needs to be done to move from A-B.  I prefer to help them figure out all the steps they need to do to complete a project instead of creating the steps for them.

 

This is what I believe in.  I think they may need some help brainstorming the "how" of time management (depending on age) and then need reminders/support, but I don't see why the organization shouldn't be just as child-led and child-entrusted as the choice of the pursuit.  To me, that's simply congruous with unschooling philosophy.  Here, they are learning time management - I'm not going to be any more aggressively involved than I would be in facilitating any other kind of learning.


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#42 of 82 Old 02-13-2013, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You raise a good point about how I'd feel if my husband made the tea and set up my work space. Yes it would feel controlling. However, in my defense (because it was my example of what I might do for my child), my dd loves the whole business of sitting down at the kitchen table and "doing schoolwork" and likes me beside her to give feedback and just a sense of company. So when I get things all organized for us and make myslf available to her for that kind of focused time she appreciates it. It's also not something I'd do if I was anticipating resistance; I've just noticed that it helps her transition to know that I'm ready and everything is set up.

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#43 of 82 Old 02-13-2013, 11:27 AM
 
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You raise a good point about how I'd feel if my husband made the tea and set up my work space. Yes it would feel controlling. However, in my defense (because it was my example of what I might do for my child), my dd loves the whole business of sitting down at the kitchen table and "doing schoolwork" and likes me beside her to give feedback and just a sense of company. So when I get things all organized for us and make myslf available to her for that kind of focused time she appreciates it. It's also not something I'd do if I was anticipating resistance; I've just noticed that it helps her transition to know that I'm ready and everything is set up.

Miranda

I thought of your line about setting up tea and inviting her to the table, and wondered if it was a little manipulative (or bribe-ish, carrot/stick thing…).

 

I have come to the conclusion that intent and reception are important.  

 

If putting out tea is done to manipulate someone into doing something or reward someone for doing something, then it is problematic.

 

If putting out tea is just trying to create a nice environment to work in, that is fine.  It helps to establish a positive mood.  I crank up the music when I clean the house and do get myself a tea when I am doing unpleasant sit down chores (tax time!), there is nothing wrong with that.  

 

I imagine kids can smell whether you are trying to manipulate them or just create a nice environment miles off. 

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#44 of 82 Old 02-14-2013, 10:26 AM
 
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I stepped away from posting here, but we've been struggling with this lately (as my earlier posts show, I think) and I appreciate the thread.

 

Our situation is that my daughter wants quite badly to have done her math, but she never wants to do it. She has ambitions that require math, and she doesn't want to give those up, but she's also 12 and she procrastinates. I'm not comfortable with stepping back letting her not do the math and suffer the consequences, because I feel like that's foisting too much responsibility on her. If she were in school she wouldn't have to find the internal fortitude to do this all on her own. 

 

We have discussed it, and hopefully have found a better plan. We talked about thinking of her math as something she has committed to do, and so on the days she does math, she's not doing it because I'm making her, or because she's choosing to, but because she's honoring her commitment. It seems to make it easier, so far. We'll see if this helps long term. 

 

I think I may be out of step with many of you because my kids aspire to attending college, and also struggle with time management/motivation. I feel like if I don't help, their tendency to push off difficult/uncomfortable tasks (a part of ADD) could do them real harm, and addressing it is part of parenting the kind of kids I've got. Generally if I provide some structure and support, our house seems happier. I'm sure that if my kids were naturally driven to finish things and plan long term, all of this would seem absurd.

 

I haven't commented directly about the father in the story because I don't have any background about them and their family (Moominmama shared a little, but I still don't feel capable of judging them in any way). My one thought is that generally I think its good to look for ways to say yes when a kid asks for help. The father's answer seems a lot like "I didn't like it when people did that for me when I was a kid, so you don't get to know how you would feel about it" and that doesn't seem particularly unschooly to me.

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#45 of 82 Old 02-14-2013, 11:00 AM
 
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None of what I post below is about you, as it sounds like you have a good plan for you and yours, and that you have come to this plan with much thought.  That is all that really matters.  My thought below are because your points are interesting and I love a good discussion.

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Our situation is that my daughter wants quite badly to have done her math, but she never wants to do it. She has ambitions that require math, and she doesn't want to give those up, but she's also 12 and she procrastinates. I'm not comfortable with stepping back letting her not do the math and suffer the consequences, because I feel like that's foisting too much responsibility on her. If she were in school she wouldn't have to find the internal fortitude to do this all on her own. 

 

I think this very much depends on the age of the child, and to a less extent, the school the child attends.  My older children (age 14 and almost 17) do go to school - and the school is filled with people who either flunk a class or are screened into a lower class because they do not have the fortitude to power through something they would prefer to not be doing.  

 

 

 

I think I may be out of step with many of you because my kids aspire to attending college, and also struggle with time management/motivation. Oh, I don't know about that.  My older 2 do intend to pursue post secondary education, and one does struggle with time management and organisation.  He struggle with motivation when it is not something he is interested in.   I don't think that is 100% a bad thing (the motivation) it might just mean he has to pick and choose his classes and career with a fair bit of thought and knowing himself.

 

 


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#46 of 82 Old 02-14-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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Ah moominmama, no, the tea/workspace thing is really coincidental-its a long thread and I think I hadn't read back to your original post in the session I was writing my reply. I was just giving the example of my partner making me tea or providing encouragement as something he might do, and entirely kindly and with absolutely no intention of coercing me into studying at all-but that I'd find personally difficult and counterproductive.  But not because tea is being made! Think we just happened upon the same example, as something a third party might do in support- I really didn't have your post in mind when I was writing, though having read back I see why it might have given that impression. Apologies for that. 

 

I was responding specifically to the poster who said that (and to that poster, sorry if I'm wrongly paraphrasing) it was ok to hold kids and adults accountable to their stated goals. Now my feeling, which comes from my feeling putting adults into the equation and I'm generalising out to kids, which seems right and fair-is that, actually, no I don't want anyone else holding me accountable for my goals. My goals are my goals. If people want to offer me help, and genuine help to reach them-and making me a cup of tea and so on, great-that is one thing. The issue is with the phrasing-"holding accountable for their goals". Help, IMO, needs to be something that can be freely refused, otherwise it is not help but something else.

 

I don't think it is at all manipulative at all to be setting up a workspace or making tea or anything, as long as the learner remains in control and knows that they can genuinely say no. I'm guessing that, actually, your daughter is probably able to say no if she doesn't want to work that day, and knows she can say no. In that situation, making tea and setting up a workspace is just a nice, kind, helpful thing to do. And it will depend so much on how it is done. There is a world of difference between making  a cup of tea and setting up a workspace to lure a kid into studying, and doing it because you know that when they are through their own choice studying, they appreciate having something hot to drink and knowing where their pencils are. 
 
I think, ultimately, it comes down to honesty. Were my husband to say, "You know, I want you to do that work now. I want us to have time together this evening. What can I do to help get you started? ",  I'd be totally fine with that. (and he would and does say that). I might well say to him, "listen, I need to get myself studying every evening once the kids are in bed. Would you mind bringing me a cup of tea so it doesn't feel so lonely?". What I'd have problem with if if he did that without being asked and then, if intimated that I didn't appreciate it, he then continued to do so (once, fair enough, we all get things like this wrong!) . Or if he clearly was setting up the environment as some kind of hint to me that I ought to feel I should study (I feel I must make clear he would never do this!) .That would feel manipulative. As long as the lines of communication are open I truly don't think an issue is likely to arise. And fair enough, adults and kids are different and the relationship is different. Its just one way I keep a check for myself on whether the way I'm behaving toward these kids is vaguely respectful. 

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I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes I procrastinate without an external deadline. Even if it's something I want to be done. Sometimes it just takes the adrenaline rush of an immovable deadline to get the juices flowing.

Now, I'm off to make dinner, then I have a book to finish.
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I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes I procrastinate without an external deadline. Even if it's something I want to be done. Sometimes it just takes the adrenaline rush of an immovable deadline to get the juices flowing.

Now, I'm off to make dinner, then I have a book to finish.

 

I agree, but for me, this is a problem.  I don't want to only rush around cleaning when people are coming over or, as I did in college, knock out some giant paper in the wee hours of the morning.  Because you know, that wasn't my best work.  It was plenty "good enough" where grades were concerned, but I didn't put my heart and soul and time and energy into it.  I think that, yes, deadlines can be effective for knocking things out, but not effective at all in terms of teaching time management or self-discipline.  Because I won't be proactive - I won't say "this is happening in a week, so let's break it down into pieces and plan out the effort" - I will wait until the last minute and zoom through it.

 

So, I think that's one point on this thread - yes, things may be accomplished that way, but at what price?  What opportunities for learning were lost along the way?

 

I also agree wholeheartedly with Fillyjonk - I don't want someone lording what I said I wanted to do over my head and pushing me.  That takes the ownership and drive  away from me.  I want it to be my creation, my effort, on my terms.  If my terms require some help or assistance, that's one thing.  If that help or assistance takes the shape of someone taking more responsibility over it than I am giving myself, that's a shift that I'm uncomfortable with.  

 

I don't object to it being thought of as a commitment, however.  Over our lifetimes we make many such commitments - to volunteer work, for example.  It adds a sincerity and maturity to the project - but it is still the child's project, and I wouldn't push, but would rather make observations and ask questions, evaluate why goals aren't being met, etc. together.


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#49 of 82 Old 02-14-2013, 10:32 PM
 
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My point is this : if I, as an adult, sometimes (not all the time) need an external deadline, is it unreasonable for a child to have the same need. I think sometimes parents expect perfection from their children, even when they accept their own faults. It seems reasonable for a child to need help achieving a goal. Of course, if it's stressing the child or the parent-child relationship, then the situation needs to be reviewed, again.

No matter what is done, communication that involves really listening to the child is the key.
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I've been thinking about this and trying to work out why its so irritating to have someone nagging me to do my work for my own good (as opposed to because they'd honestly like to see me once in a while-its totally fair in my book for someone to have complaints about something that impacts them)

 

its because if someone makes me do something for my own good, I've lost ownership and sovereignty over this project. If I ask for help-no matter what the level of help is, whether its proof reading an entire dissertation or making me a cup of tea, then I've retained control. I also need to have control over how to use this help. I need the freedom to say no.

 

Now its entirely possible that I'm hypersensitive to this for reasons of having been in school, and furthermore academically quite pushed (by school, not my relaxed parents-I was double grade skipped and so on). I think some schools can be marvellous places but what I come back to time and time again when tempted by the wonderful offerings of our local community school is that sense that ownership of ones own education is really, really important and I don't see how you can ever have that if you are being monitored and tested. Even with my studying as an adult-I have huge freedom, because even if I get a lousy grade, I can actually redo courses and so on. I do have the time to take the courses as slowly as I want, because I don't see me being able to do any serious work outside the home for another ten years. And yet I do get sad and see it as a reflection of my competence if I get a bad grade and get really happy if I get a good one. I'm pushing myself to finish up in the next year or two and go on to greater things ;-) . And that is NOT healthy for a grown adult, IMO. 

 

I guess if you want to get philosophical, for me, it comes down to deciding who gets to put stuff in your head (that sounds more paranoid than it should!), and also, related, to the idea that learning is for the long haul so I really don't want my kids put off it right at the start.

 

I have to say that its more important to me personally that a child learns to ask for help and to manage a project than pretty much any project they might need to complete at the ages of my kids (my oldest is 9). I honestly can't think of anything which, ultimately, as a homeschooling family, they need to be able to manage to completion-they have time to learn. 

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#51 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 10:27 AM
 
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I' If I ask for help-no matter what the level of help is, whether its proof reading an entire dissertation or making me a cup of tea, then I've retained control. I also need to have control over how to use this help. I need the freedom to say no.

 

I can relate to this, both in how I think about my own work and in how I think about supporting my son with his projects. I sometimes need an external reason to finish something-- for example, I have a new book coming out this month that I struggled with- a lot. I ended up asking my editor to give me a deadline... which I met, because I truly hate being late for anything! I'm pleased with the book, and because the deadline was one I requested, I felt I had control rather than having an unwanted expectation imposed on me.

 

My son has a high need for autonomy, so I am careful to respect and work with that. He is a persistent, determined person who works very hard at figuring out problems when he is curious or invested. Freedom to say no is crucial for us both. As my son gets older, I hope he will be able to identify if/when he needs more structure or support to meet his goals, and that he will be able to find ways to get this for himself or ask for help to find it. I know I sometimes have taken classes (Spanish, pottery, exercise) partly for the instruction, but just as much to ensure that I set aside the time for something I want to do. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to give up the freedom to decide to drop a class if it doesn't suit me-- and I wouldn't insist that my son stick with one either.  


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#52 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 10:48 AM
 
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Freedom to say no is crucial for us both. 

Many parents consider or even agonize over the issue of what kind of parental involvement is consistent with unschooling--or simply right or wrong regardless of labels.  We wonder about strewing or introducing or suggesting or having expectations, and while the issue is more complex than this, at it's most basic is what you've just stated-- the freedom to say no and have that request respected.

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#53 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 10:55 AM
 
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I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes I procrastinate without an external deadline. Even if it's something I want to be done. Sometimes it just takes the adrenaline rush of an immovable deadline to get the juices flowing.

Now, I'm off to make dinner, then I have a book to finish.

 

I agree, but for me, this is a problem.  I don't want to only rush around cleaning when people are coming over or, as I did in college, knock out some giant paper in the wee hours of the morning.  Because you know, that wasn't my best work.  It was plenty "good enough" where grades were concerned, but I didn't put my heart and soul and time and energy into it.  I think that, yes, deadlines can be effective for knocking things out, but not effective at all in terms of teaching time management or self-discipline.  Because I won't be proactive - I won't say "this is happening in a week, so let's break it down into pieces and plan out the effort" - I will wait until the last minute and zoom through it.

 

So, I think that's one point on this thread - yes, things may be accomplished that way, but at what price?  What opportunities for learning were lost along the way?

 

 

My point is that if you refuse to help with time management, and time management is required for the task your child wants to complete, aren't you deciding for them that they MUST learn time management before they' can complete their project? 

 

If a task required reading,writing, or math skills the child wasn't interested in pursuing at the moment, everyone would agree that a parent ought to help with the skills the child lacks in order to support their endeavor. Why is time management different? 

 

I'm sure that I'm bungling things as I try to figure this out, but I don't understand the reluctance to help a struggling kid or the certainty that they have all the time in the world. I know I felt like my kids had lots of time when they were little, but now that we are approaching the high school years, it feels important to me for them to be working on a high school level for the most part during the high school years, because I want them to have the option of attending selective colleges or receiving scholarships. If they are working on a remedial level in high school, that will limit their choices in post-secondary education. So continuing to push things off to "later" carries a cost, IMO. It may be worth it to some kids, but mine don't want to pay it.

 

Also, I think that learning to knock-out unloved tasks when necessary is a good life skill. I'm never going to love folding laundry, but I know how to power through it, and so we don't (always) live with tons of baskets of unfolded clothes. And I would argue that doing something you don't want to do, even if it is at the last minute, still requires self-discipline. We've played around with trying to make all important tasks desirable, and it's like hiding medicine in apple sauce- it mainly ruins the applesauce. Sometimes you can make something a little more palatable (like playing music while I fold clothes), but pretending it's really what you want to do is a lie that makes the whole task worse, IMO. 

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#54 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 11:20 AM
 
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Take what I say here with a grain or a pound of salt.  My kids are still young, and any reluctance to "catch up" with grade-level skills has been minor and easily surmounted.  I have no difficulties with getting my girls interested in academics, they are articulate and highly motivated and work well both in spontaneous, stereotypical unschool-y settings and more organized, structured activities like gymnastics and 4-H and soon, Girl Scouts.  They work well with and understand the expectations involved with these activities, so I have seen they are quite flexible in the settings that they work with.  I also personally know no aimless and frustrated high-schoolers, and ones that might have been close to that description have found their way s adults, either in college or in a trade (my 29yo nephew is completing is electrician courses).

 

So, that said..... what the heck was I going to say?..... Oh yes.  I think that stating in a general way the situation of an older child who is struggling with basic skills they need, a parent needing to make the decision to impose structure in order for them to learn these important skills-- well, it all sounds quite dire.  And I imagine sometimes it can be.  But taken case-by-case, seen in the whole picture rather than focussed on one specific set of skills that need attending to in the face of a kid who probably is not languishing as an entire being, I think that it starts to become less serious.  Is this *specific* situation one that be surmounted and worked around or, yes, plowed straight into when the motivation arises?  

 

The last few years have shown people who are coming around to their life-path well into their 20's, for whatever reason.  My electrician nephew, my niece who, at 26, began a career in the Navy, of all places, my other nephew, now 27, who is discovering his proficiency as a lawyer's assistant (brain cramp--what is the name of that?)  I am watching my sister's kids getting their wings.  3 out of 9 followed the "expected" path of college and then career right after high school.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

ETA:  My 8yo wants to do yoga with me, however her reason for not joining is that all our yoga mats are the wrong color!  Do I let this go until she is old enough to base her decision on something adults value more?  Or do I buy her the yoga mat?  I've already told her how much it costs, and she gets enough allowance and works often enough to be able to save up for one.....

 

Anyway, I though it was relevant to add this.



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#55 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 12:20 PM
 
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I have seen bright kids avoid whole subject areas because they know they're behind and don't have faith in themselves that they can catch up. it doesn't ruin their lives, but it does limit them in ways I find unfortunate.

 

Frankly,  my child in question is struggling largely with having very poor handwriting, due to poor fine motor skills, perfectionism that makes her reluctant to work on it, and the fact that I haven't pushed. Her expectations for her handwriting are that it should be like her age-mates, but they've been writing for years and she's been avoiding writing for years.  Now that handwriting reluctance is spilling over into not wanting to do math (a subject she likes) because it now requires writing (she's been able to work around most of the writing up till now). Giving up on something you love because you don't know how to cope with something you're bad at *is* kind of dire, IMO. 

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 Giving up on something you love because you don't know how to cope with something you're bad at *is* kind of dire, IMO. 

But is not creating a structure to resolve it "giving up"?  Is it the only option?

 

Even assuming it is the only option, if a parent encounters significant amounts of resistance, so much so that it affects other areas outside of the skill in question, how much of the parents efforts are worth that?  Are they worth it?



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#57 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 01:45 PM
 
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My point is that if you refuse to help with time management, and time management is required for the task your child wants to complete, aren't you deciding for them that they MUST learn time management before they' can complete their project? 

If a task required reading,writing, or math skills the child wasn't interested in pursuing at the moment, everyone would agree that a parent ought to help with the skills the child lacks in order to support their endeavor. Why is time management different? 

I'm sure that I'm bungling things as I try to figure this out, but I don't understand the reluctance to help a struggling kid or the certainty that they have all the time in the world. I know I felt like my kids had lots of time when they were little, but now that we are approaching the high school years, it feels important to me for them to be working on a high school level for the most part during the high school years, because I want them to have the option of attending selective colleges or receiving scholarships. If they are working on a remedial level in high school, that will limit their choices in post-secondary education. So continuing to push things off to "later" carries a cost, IMO. It may be worth it to some kids, but mine don't want to pay it.

Also, I think that learning to knock-out unloved tasks when necessary is a good life skill. I'm never going to love folding laundry, but I know how to power through it, and so we don't (always) live with tons of baskets of unfolded clothes. And I would argue that doing something you don't want to do, even if it is at the last minute, still requires self-discipline. We've played around with trying to make all important tasks desirable, and it's like hiding medicine in apple sauce- it mainly ruins the applesauce. Sometimes you can make something a little more palatable (like playing music while I fold clothes), but pretending it's really what you want to do is a lie that makes the whole task worse, IMO. 

Yes to the first part! Why should time management skills already be learned *before* the child learns something else, like math?? That's the parent driving the learning sequence, instead of it being child-led.
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#58 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, here's a story about my ds, now 16 and planning to take Calculus next fall, scoring A's in preCalc, and thinking about a career in engineering, design, computers or digital media, planning to attend college in that vein. He's been an incredible math thinker since a young age: when he was 3 he told me that 4, 9 and 16 were square numbers. But while he had some interest in math games that I offered him, and the math 'discovery lab activities' that I occasionally introduced him to via Miquon Math, he wasn't interested in any systematic learning of math. He's super bright, but has a fierce streak of perfectionism. So much so that he easily becomes paralyzed, afraid to try things that he might not be able to do instantly and well. I was cool with his unschooled math learning. He seemed cool with it too.

 

Then at age 7.5 or so he asked for a math workbook because he wanted to improve his computational skills. He wanted something more systematic and book-work focused than Miquon. We purchased Singapore Primary Math at the appropriate level. He tried it a few times and it was okay, but somehow he didn't ever really dive in. He seemed discouraged that he didn't necessarily always know for sure what the correct answer was, that he would occasionally make an error, or have to puzzle away at something. He'd cry and quit. It was enough to reduce his motivation to negligible levels.

 

A couple of months before his 10th birthday he realized that his "level" in Singapore (where he had left off) was below his grade-for-age, meaning that according to him he was now 'behind.' And at the same time his younger sister began moving towards the same level in the curriculum that he had given up on. He started loudly voicing negative feelings about math: I hate it, I suck at it, math is stupid, that sort of thing. When this happened he hadn't really worked away at math in either a happy or an unhappy way in over a year, so it seemed to me that this was his lack of confidence speaking, and a way of trying to diminish his sister's success and enthusiasm which he felt threatened by. It created a fair bit of stress for his sister as well. 

 

He and I talked a lot about the issues. We talked about his perfectionism, his learning style, his clear mathematical aptitude, his discouragement, his lashing out at "math" and how that was affecting his sister, and so on. He said that he was really mad at himself for not consistently using the Singapore workbooks we'd got a couple of years ago. He said he wished he was still 'advanced' in math. He wanted me to help him progress. I pointed out all the ways that his conceptual understanding of math was advanced, but that wasn't enough for him. We talked about numerous ways to help him master the arithmetical stuff, but it kept coming back to him wanting help sticking to Singapore. He asked me for that help. We talked about exactly what that would look like. I knew he was prone to perfectionistic meltdowns every time he made a mistake or got stuck in something. If he was miserable, if he was crying, should we give up for the day, or for a few days? No, he said. Make me do it, three to five days a week. For how long? I asked. This whole year, he said. I suggested we commit to a month, and reassess at the end of that time to decide whether to carry on. 

 

And for that first month I think he cried almost every time -- more than half the time anyway. It was fear that he wasn't smart enough, and it would shut him down almost before he tried anything. I'd let him sit there sniffing and keep helping him. I always asked him to give "three good tries" before we set something aside for another day. So if he said "I don't get it!" or "This is too hard!" I'd say "Okay, that's your first try. Let me show you a different way, and then you can give it your second try." Or I'd say "Remember the steps we talked about ... " and guide him through it, and count that as the first try. I was trying to help him understand at a visceral level that you can't always do everything right the first time, and trying something difficult three times and then taking a break is reasonable. He knew this intellectually, but when it came time to grapple with something difficult, his anxiety would well up and he'd give up. So I redirected him a lot ("let's do something from the geometry section!" or "Let's do a puzzle!"), and we kept the kleenex nearby.

 

At the end of a month we talked things over. He had progressed, but he had experienced a lot of misery. I had supported him creatively and consistently, but I felt awful about it. I asked him if this was really how he wanted to be doing things. I really expected him to quit. But incredibly he said that he wanted to keep going.

 

Somewhere around months 2 and 3 he got over the hump. I suddenly realized that there hadn't been tears in weeks. The "three good tries" thing had become automatic for him. He was progressing -- quickly now! -- and the anxiety was so much less. He could see that he was good at math. That confidence spurred him forward. And then there was a huge breakthrough: after five months he had finished three years' worth of the Singapore program and was now a year or more "ahead" of his age grade. I asked if that was enough, but he decided to keep working and finish out the 6th grade books in the program. 

 

Never again has he suffered math anxiety or lack of confidence. His interest in systematic study of math has waxed and waned, but never due to fear or lack of confidence, and he has always returned to it with enthusiasm when it suited him. He's also proved himself very capable of self-structuring as he's gained a bit of maturity and applied what he learned through his experience with Primary Math to other areas of his life.

 

So I don't know, it seemed to work. Before I structured that "math recovery" year for him, he seemed to be in a downward spiral of anxiety and loss of confidence, and it was spilling over into the rest of his life and into his relationship with his sister. After I structured that year, those problems were essentially solved. Could I have structured things in a gentler way that would have been as effective? Maybe; I'm not sure. Could I have left it and simply continued to express confidence that he would figure out how to self-motivate and self-structure, modelling my own self-structuring? Yes, and who's to know whether he might have accomplished what he needed in order to recover his confidence. We can't live life over again trying a different approach. But I suppose that's why the scenario I mentioned at the top of this thread piqued my interest so much: I was willing to play the math heavy with a kid who asked me to do so, and the outcome had seemed pretty positive. 

 

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#59 of 82 Old 02-15-2013, 10:48 PM
 
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There has been a lot of reference to time management skills, on this thread and others. I've spent some time the last couple days thinking about the importance of time management skills. What kinds of jobs really require them?

Most jobs I considered would benefit more from flexibility, adaptability, and stress management than from time management. Rarely does a person work in a vacuum, alone. Most of the time, we work with others, and the best laid plans of mice and men can be shredded by weather or someone else's poor management. Thus, insistence on a child having the best time management skills may not be serving him or her well. And just as a person with a tin ear cannot hope to hear a song and duplicate it, so to some folks lack something that makes time management work for them.

I expect to get flack for that remark, but it's what I believe, so I'm going out on a limb and stating it.

Getting back to the original example, and looking at it both hypothetically and really, the dad should help his son with math.
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#60 of 82 Old 02-16-2013, 02:32 AM
 
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pek, not sure why you'd be worried about getting flak for that remark, its a valid opinion. Here's my niggle. You say, 

 

Most jobs I considered would benefit more from flexibility, adaptability, and stress management than from time management. Rarely does a person work in a vacuum, alone. Most of the time, we work with others, and the best laid plans of mice and men can be shredded by weather or someone else's poor management. Thus, insistence on a child having the best time management skills may not be serving him or her well. And just as a person with a tin ear cannot hope to hear a song and duplicate it, so to some folks lack something that makes time management work for them.

 

Not sure why these are mutually exclusive. To an extent, I feel my kids need to learn good time management so that they can work well with others. It is pretty frustrating when you are working on a project with someone with lousy time management skills. Its also frustrating when you are working on a project with someone with nonexistent people skills. But what is most amazingly frustrating of all is to work on a project with lousy <insert choice of skill> but who does not at least realise that they are poor at this and that its their issue, that everyone else cannot be reasonably expected to accomodate, say, their desire to roll into work at half eleven (I had a colleague like this once who expected me to stay late to compensate for her inability to get out of bed. I had a one year old at home. Uh, no way).

 

The issue here for me was not even so much her utterly lousy time management (at forty three she was living at home with her parents, and still being treated like a teenager despite holding advanced degrees and earning a good income). The issue was that she expected me to compensate for her lousy time management and was surprised that I woudln't because I wanted to see my kid. She didn't see it as her problem. To me that's a real issue: poor time management can be a comment on the value you place on other people's time, or if its not, if its a real inability to get yourself sorted, it will, I promise, be perceived in that way by others throughout life.


Raising Geek_Generation_2.0 :LET ds= 10 ; LET dd1= ds - 2; LET dd2=dd-2; IF month=0.67 THEN LET ds = ds+1; 
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