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#1 of 8 Old 04-30-2013, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I ask my child this everyday and everyday it's the same answer. "Watch TV" I don't know what to do. That's literally ALL she wants to do. She will do other things if I make her turn it off or just plain don't let her turn it on but it's a melt down each and every time. 

We don't have cable so she is usually watching PBS or the like so it is educational. In the spirit of unschooling should I really be trying to focus her attention else where? 

I'm so tired of that damn box I want to throw it out. 

Suggestions, advice... Help!

She's 5 and half and shows little to no interest in doing anything but play pretend. I feel like I'm doing something wrong when all our other unshooling peers are already taking their education by the horns. 

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#2 of 8 Old 05-01-2013, 06:04 AM
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wow you have unschooling peers?  It's hard for us to find any unschoolers in real life. 


anyway ... do you play pretend with her?  Though it doesn't necessarily come naturally to me, whenever I play pretend with dd, I get more of an insight into what she is thinking and interested in and this is one activity that has infinite variety.  We do this not only with dolls, but also or even more often with blocks, beads, even flowers in the garden (which she pretends are different houses, and the garden is a "village")

no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#3 of 8 Old 05-01-2013, 08:01 AM
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Stop asking the question.  I start some days by telling the girls what I need to get done.  I remind them of what we've been wanting to do.  I do ask that question, but usually not in such an open-ended context.  


Admittedly, though, that doesn't get to the heart of the problem: wanting to watch the TV all day.  We've recently dropped TV restrictions, but it is still not a free-for-all.  We definitely talk if I'm tired of hearing the TV on all day and the sun is shining and it's bike riding time.  If they are insisting, I go outside and work around the yard and they inevitably follow me.


Anyway, no magical advice for you. Good luck!

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#4 of 8 Old 05-02-2013, 06:30 AM
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Play, especially pretend play is so important to a child's development.  It is their work.  It is how they learn. 


Most evenings I will ask my kids what are some things that they would like to have happen the next day, especially if we don't have much planned.  If they say watch tv then we make an agreement about the ONE thing they would watch and stick to that plan.  There are many days here where the tv isn't turned on.  We have a family movie night and the kids know that the tv won't be on each week much beyond that. 


Does your child like board games?  You could shop for some together at the local thrift shop or toy store.  Many board games involve lots of "education" regarding math, making decisions, probability, etc.  Chess and checkers have a lot of strategy....card games are great.


What about art?  You could plan one day a week is art day.  You could go to the craft store and pick up some supplies that interest her...little canvases and paints, clay, beading supplies, origami, colored pencils and sketch paper.  It would be great if it is an art form that interests you as well.  You can make art side by side.  


Cooking?  Declare a baking day...or a day where she helps with dinner prep.  You can look through recipe books, go to the store, prep ingredients, set the table.


Nature day...go on a little walk around your neighborhood, visit a park, visit a hiking trail...take colored pencils and sketch books and sketch what you see together.


Library day...browse and check out books together


Think of how your daughter can be included into hobbies you have...would she like to give it a try? 


At 5.5 years they don't have the ideas of what is possible for the day.


Sometimes I think the term "unschooling" is taken too literally.  I consider us an unschooling family...I don't force my children to learn things they don't want to.  But, I do try to expose them to lots of things, like what I mentioned above.  They don't have unlimited freedoms with the tv and computer.  We had a time a few years ago where my son watched more tv than normal for a week or so.  It became addictive for him.  He couldn't think of anything else to do.  He cried and carried on.  It felt like the creativity had been turned off in his brain.  So he took a 2 week break and we came to the balance that we have now.  He thought about it a lot for the first few days but then got used to it and doesn't ask as often.  We also don't have our tv in the living room, where we spend most of our time, so it isn't a constant reminder.  Maybe there is another room in your home that can house the tv.  We have ours in an extra bedroom that we use as our office...tv, computer, couch. 


I think it is really ok to put a limit on something that is bothering you.  You are the Mama.  When we say "no" to something we are saying "yes" to something else.  By saying "no" to the tv, what would you be saying "yes" to....reading, creating, cooking, gardening, playing games, learning a new sport, meeting friends at the park, swimming, skating, biking. 

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#5 of 8 Old 05-02-2013, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by sleepypeanutsmom View Post

I think it is really ok to put a limit on something that is bothering you..... When we say "no" to something we are saying "yes" to something else.  By saying "no" to the tv, what would you be saying "yes" to....reading, creating, cooking, gardening, playing games, learning a new sport, meeting friends at the park, swimming, skating, biking. 

Indeed--don't be framed in by a philosophy so much that you don't see solutions outside of it.  There is a lot to be said for kids finding their way through the "TV-phase" (or whatever you call it) but it doesn't necessarily happen in a way that is palatable to most parents, and TV does seem to be addictive for some.  


So, I love what TV brings us, but I don't want it on all the time.  We are going through a TV-heavy phase right now.  The girls are finding a lot recently that really sparks their interests-- the Electric Company, the Lone Ranger, River Monsters, How to Train Your Dragon, the Hobbit-- so we are spending more time than I like on the couch or in front of the computer, but it still seems to be balanced and they have a lot of interest in other things.  The important thing is, moms know their kids and we know when things are out of balance and we can intuit when they could use a bit of a push onto other things.


You could use her favorite TV subjects as a jumping-off point for books and outings and other mom-powered activities.  You could also plunk yourself down next to her for some of the TV watching.  Grab a magazine or tablet or book, your knitting or mending or just cuddle up close and enjoy the show.  That way she gets some time with you doing what she likes, and she is reassured that you don't disapprove of all TV.  It's a jumping-off point for conversation, and now you have a shared experience you can talk about together.


TV does seem to get kids into a spoon-feed-me-entertainment mindset, so it could be that you need to spoon-feed her something that might re-spark her motivation and pull her out of any funk she might be in.  I suspect that my 8yo dd1 is in something of a funk, unrelated to TV except that watching it is soothing.  I'm still trying to figure out what that is.  I think it's a transition, or I think it's allergy-related or something, but my brain is always trying to pick up any hints from our day that could help her ease past this.  You could do well to be on the lookout for something similar with your daughter.

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#6 of 8 Old 05-02-2013, 12:30 PM
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I agree so much with the above posts especially sleepypeanutsmom on what unschooling is or isn't. Dont follow other people's rules on unschooling. What does it mean to you? For me, it's opening the door to something new to learn but letting my son lead the way. He wont walk through the door if he's stuck in front of the TV wink1.gif boy do I struggle there sometimes. What it isn't is letting my son fully dictate our life or all his habits. the TV would never go off!
If she likes to play pretend then play with her. Incorporate little things into it that help her learn and make her interested. Lots of good suggestions up there.

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I love showing my little sweetheart (now a busy preschooler!) the world!

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#7 of 8 Old 05-03-2013, 03:56 AM
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There's a sense in which, for some kids at some ages, choosing to watch TV is a way of not choosing at all. It's saying "I will sit there and allow that box to decide what happens to me today. That way I don't have to initiate anything or think about what I want to do. The flow of one show after another will make all the choices for me." For young kids, who lack the abstract thinking and planning skills necessary to generate activity ideas easily, the TV can be an easy way out. But the child is not making the choice -- she's contracting out all the choosing to the TV programmers.


In my family we found it useful to allow whatever TV was planned in advance -- consciously chosen -- but insist that the TV be turned off when that stuff was over, to avoid letting the TV choose for the child how the rest of the day will go. I liked that this encouraged planning and gave my kids the freedom to choose whatever they wanted. The only thing they couldn't do was turn it on just to channel-surf to see until something sucked them in. And I liked that they were seldom organized enough to plan things out and follow through, so the TV rarely got used.


We also talk a lot about balance in our family. My kids know that sedentary activities should be balanced with active ones, passive ones with creative ones, solitary ones with social ones. When they were young and complaining of having nothing to do, or else defaulting to the TV or computer, I'd help them create lists of possibilities and organize them in similar ways. At one point we had a sheet of paper divided in quarters, two columns of inside & outside, two rows of alone & together, and we brainstormed together a bunch of ideas and put them in the appropriate quadrants. Then if my children wanted to find something to do, they could ask themselves whether they wanted (or needed) to do something inside or outside, and by themselves or not, and then look through all the possibilities in that quadrant (or ask me to read them aloud if they weren't yet reading). That was helpful at getting them off and running when they were "stuck". 



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#8 of 8 Old 06-16-2013, 12:00 AM
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First, I do restrict the amount of TV watching in my house (we don't have cable but do have netflix).  I agree with a previous poster, unschooling looks different to everyone (and if you need to limit tv in your house then you should). 


If your child doesn't know what they want to do each day I would rephrase the question.  Find out what activities are happening around town (libraries have great free activities) or visit the nearby zoo.  Then afterwards ask what part they liked the best and encourage her to persue that.  Like last month, we went to the library and made paper Greek drama masks and the kids asked what Greek Dramas were, so we went inside and got some books on Ancient Greece.  Thats how it starts for us.

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