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#1 of 9 Old 06-15-2013, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are in a massive decluttering/organizing mood here at the moment! It doesn't happen often, heh, so gotta take advantage of it when it does. :)

 

I'm curious how you all organize kid-related stuff in your house... do your kids have specific play or art or learning spaces? My oldest, 9, doesn't really play with toys but is really into reading and cartooning so right now he has space for that. I would like to encourage a bit of interest in science and math, make it fun, and have some tools, books etc that I'd like to draw attention to as we definitely have an out of sight, out of mind thing going on here, but also 'strewing' often doesn't really do much (unless he is genuinely interested, but I guess that makes sense), so not quite sure about that. It feels a little in your face and unnatural to set up this space specifically for science and math, but as they are at the moment they just get lost amongst the rest of the house stuff...

 

Just wondering how it works at your house?

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 9 Old 06-16-2013, 11:28 PM
 
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We have several tall cabinets and bookshelves that house the bulk of our homeschool 'stuff'.  When it comes to subjects my kids aren't super interested in (math for one, reading for another), I schedule time not content.I ask that they do x hours a day or week on it. They are free to use whatever we have on hand, ask for something else to do it, etc. but I ask that spend some time doing it. We're unschoolers too, but I also do occasionally 'make' my kids do things too. 


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#3 of 9 Old 06-20-2013, 12:50 PM
 
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Our house is a normal house, I think, and I don't believe it's any different just because we are unschoolers.  

 

We have a living room and a family room, and in the family room, we have two bookcases filled with board games and puzzles, because we couldn't figure out any other place to put them, plus my 11 year old daughter's computer and computer desk are in there (her room is too small to fit it), as well as a sectional, tables, and an entertainment unit with TV and game cube and PS2 (oh, and a globe!  how unschooly of us!).  Along a big wall along our living room and dining room, we have 5 bookcases which consist of my and DH's books.  We are both avid readers and I always longed as a child to have a dedicated library in my home.  

 

Our toddler sleeps with us in our room, but we have a big den with doors that is her playroom, and it have two tall bookcases filled with pictures books and books that my older 2 (14 and 11) have outgrown, but that are older than what my 2 year old would read.  She also has a toddler style sling bookcase filled with board books for her.  Plus, there is a train table, doll house, activity tables filled with toys, toy boxes, a couple of plastic bin storage units, etc.  

 

Our older kids, son and daughter, have their own bedrooms.  My son has his computer in his room, plus 3 bookcases of his books plus storage for things like lego and collectibles that he likes.  He has a couple of dressers and a bed.  My daughter has a loft bed, dresser, two bookcases filled with books, an expedit unit with bins in it for her toys (playmobil, littlest pet shop, lego, stuffed toys) as well as a table which she uses for sewing (she hands sews all sorts of things, stuffed animals, bags, blankets) and other activities.  

 

Since I believe that math and science are a part of life, I have never set up any specific areas for things like that, unless you count the lego table we used to have.  If you want your manipulatives and toys and activities to be more visible, then buy tall bookcases and store all of that neatly on shelves.  You can rearrange the shelves occasionally to please yourself and to move things around, which might give your son new ideas.  I used to do that sort of thing when my children were smaller, and I would try to rotate toys more often, so they didn't get bored!  Expedit units from IKEA are also some of my favourite, favourite pieces of furniture for holding and organizing just about anything, so if you can affford to line your walls with those, go for it!  :D

 

Off topic but mentioned by someone else, I don't understand when people say that they require certain subjects for their children but call themselves unschoolers.  Why oh why?  Why not just call it eclectic or relaxed homeschooling?  It's just so confusing, I believe.  I don't get it...but it does seem to be pretty common in this forum.  But...that's neither here nor there.  

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#4 of 9 Old 06-20-2013, 02:26 PM
 
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Our house is just a cluttered house with six busy people sharing not very much space. 

 

Kitchen-dining area has ledges all around, and on one ledge we store any textbooks or workbooks that have been used in, oh, the last year, plus a lot of stationery type stuff and a few art supplies: watercolour paper, graph paper, calculators, stapler, glue stick, drawing compass, paper punch, tape. We currently have a world map on our dining room table (youngest dd's request). 

 

"Family room" has a gaming computer, a baby grand piano, and my iMac and file cabinet (for my work), plus the printer and a big shelving unit packed with sheet music, craft stuff, a microscope. Also scattered around are about 8 violins and violas in various sizes. 

 

Above the family room is a loft / crawl space. That's where we try to send the clutter, the toys (my kids don't seem to play with toys any more, and so the Playmobil and K'nex and marble run are up there) and the seldom-used stuff like photography darkroom equipment, slide projector, loom, large-format paper. Theoretically the kids can play up there, but it's stuffy and hard to move around in except on your knees, so even when they were younger, they tended to use the family room floor.

 

Our living room is small, but there's a TV in there, and the wood stove, and seating for four plus a bit of floor, and there are four tall bookshelves.

 

This is a three bedroom house, but we've carved another bedroom out of the partial basement for dd14, and partly winterized a tiny cabin on the property for eldest dd. So dh and I are the only ones sharing a bedroom now. But the bedrooms are too small for much, so the kids have laptops that they mostly use elsewhere. Each bedroom has a small shelf for books, and a small dresser.

 

The stairwells are packed with bookshelves too. 

 

About "partial unschooling" I agree that it doesn't really fit my understanding of what unschooling is. To me it would be like saying you're a vegetarian for breakfasts and lunches but not for dinners. But I honestly don't mind if other people disagree with my understanding of the term, so long as the discussion here is supportive of autonomous child-led learning. 

 

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#5 of 9 Old 06-21-2013, 01:38 AM
 
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"Off topic but mentioned by someone else, I don't understand when people say that they require certain subjects for their children but call themselves unschoolers

 

Ok here is my 2c, I think unschooling is a great philosophy but doesn't work for every kid in every family at every time. One of the hardest things I think for a lot of unschooling parents is accepting that right now, unschooling just isn't an option that is working for them, for their kid, whatever, and deciding that insisting on teaching a few subjects would still be better than sending a kid back to school. The other side of the coin would be parents starting out, trying to generally apply unschooling but with a sense that they want the basics done. I personally feel that, as a rule, people who have done some unschooling tend to do more and more. Thinking back to being vegetarian, I'd have felt a lot more in common with someone who was trying to reduce their meat intake, perhaps doing it by saying that at certain times of the day they didn't eat meat, than someone who just ate meat, and I'd see the partial vegetarian as someone potentially in transition and/or doing what they felt they could. A bit of unschooling, or reaching toward unschooling, is way better than none at all and any unschooling should be celebrated. If nothing else it shows that people have grappled with the issues.

 

I've also heard, many times, criticism of people who, say, have bedtimes for kids or restrict sugar or TV as not "proper unschoolers" when actually I'd see them as proper unschoolers, just not RUers. And tbh I don't see that as productive.

 

I'd also point out that for partial unschoolers there is a lack of support generally, I think. Most boards I can think of have an unschooling board and a mainstream HE board. I think a lot of eclectic homeschoors, who might insist on, say, math, but would often do that very collaboratively with their kids, generally just don't relate to the talk about "Miquon vs Singapore 4B" talk, except sometimes when its on this board in a more consensual/unschooling context. My sense is that this needs to be a space where unschooling doesn't get flamed, and it would be totally fine to start, say, a RUers daily thread where participants needed to be RUers, but that its appropriate to have space for people on the journey and on the continuum. I can think of several posters on here who are open about being on a journey, about sometimes feeling the need for academic validation, and I have learnt so much from those posts. I appreciate that Mothering isn't like other fora in this regard.

 

The ONE point I'd make is that I think people who are not fully unschooling do need to be aware of that and aware that their experiences may well not be representative of the unschooling community, in exactly the same way that being a partial vegetarian but ordering a ham sandwich if it looks especially delicious does mean you haven't really had the proper vegetarian experience.

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#6 of 9 Old 06-21-2013, 08:27 AM
 
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Everything is on the floor.  It's helpful when you don't have room in the cabinets, or those cabinets and shelves are used for fairie worlds.

 

I don't mind some of the more "educational" stuff gets mixed in.  They get discovered that way, eventually (and hopefully it isn't a library book).  I don't bring things into the house and "strew" it, as most unschoolers understand the word.  I bring it in, show them this new cool thing and it gets lost in the detritus.  Math blocks get used for robots--you get the idea.  It's OK for stuff to get lost for a while and forgotten, even the school-type stuff.

 

When the house is tidy, for a millisecond because my girls get inspired and excited about getting all their stuff together, I have a cabinet where more crafty stuff is stashed, but their stuff is mingled with my stuff, it's all very democratic.  My stuff is available for them, mostly.  Crochet hooks used for fairy brooms must be returned!  If they were as good with everything else as they were with this, the house would stay tidy, but alas.

 

We do have a corner for the girls' toys.  We used to have a playroom, which was right off the kitchen, the space that is normally used for the family room, we just put their stuff in it.  But they enjoyed playing in different parts of the house.  Now in our new house, stuff is stashed where we can.  We now have a lot of storage tubs just stacked up in corners.  They have self-designated a rug for much of their "deskwork" (actually their copying games that they use storage lids as desks).  These projects get shuffled to the side by feet when not in use.  And of course, they do a lot of their projects at the dinner table (only table, really).

 

Now, I think getting lost in a cabinet is different than getting lost on the floor.  Stuff that's put away gets forgotten about--permanently.  I still have yet to devise a system that is organized that also encourages exploration.  It's been the observation that has saved me some sanity, not unlike the starter pulled aside from a batch of sourdough.


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#7 of 9 Old 06-21-2013, 10:58 AM
 
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling I find most people seriously confuse unschooling with a subset of it that many folks subscribe to sometimes called TCS (Taking Children Seriously--sort of unparenting in a way) or Radical Unschooling. Unschooling as a broad description certainly does include specific subjects and it isn't 'partial unschooling' or any such IMO. Radical unschooling which falls more towards the TCS spectrum certainly would find issue with requiring anything of children. Both are still unschooling by the definition set forth by the 'creator' of the word, John Holt, but I think the radical unschoolers try desperately to claim that you cannot be an unschooler unless you do it just like they say. I think RU'ers are usually the most vocal at trying to claim that you can call yourself an unschooler unless you x, y, z and don't a, b, c when in reality, RU is the subset of unschooling. They are the ones on one end of larger spectrum of the definition of unschooling. You'll note further down in the wiki, it is explained similarly as well stating that Sandra Dodd coined Radical Unschooling as a subset. 

 

And, back to the topic at hand. If you feel like a specific science/math area is too in your face, perhaps you could find some things more related to art/drawing but that include some science/math in them. For example for us, my oldest is very into art and drawing, and learning to draw realistic people set him onto delving into ratios, because to get people drawn realistically, you need to use some specific ratios. So, he was very into looking up how to measure/calculate those ratios, and in doing that, he needed to learn some additional math to get those calculations to work.  My middle son really likes taking things apart and seeing how they work which has led to a lot of finding books on electricity, engines, etc. and then in figuring out/fixing he's learned a fair amount of science. So, in your case, maybe taking those natural inclinations toward art and finding some books/materials that use math/art or science/art and look at them with him. 


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#8 of 9 Old 06-21-2013, 07:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RiverSky View Post

Off topic but mentioned by someone else, I don't understand when people say that they require certain subjects for their children but call themselves unschoolers.  Why oh why?  Why not just call it eclectic or relaxed homeschooling?  It's just so confusing, I believe.  I don't get it...but it does seem to be pretty common in this forum.  But...that's neither here nor there.  

 

 Confusing to who?


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Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

I'd also point out that for partial unschoolers there is a lack of support generally, I think. Most boards I can think of have an unschooling board and a mainstream HE board. I think a lot of eclectic homeschoors, who might insist on, say, math, but would often do that very collaboratively with their kids, generally just don't relate to the talk about "Miquon vs Singapore 4B" talk, except sometimes when its on this board in a more consensual/unschooling context. My sense is that this needs to be a space where unschooling doesn't get flamed, and it would be totally fine to start, say, a RUers daily thread where participants needed to be RUers, but that its appropriate to have space for people on the journey and on the continuum. I can think of several posters on here who are open about being on a journey, about sometimes feeling the need for academic validation, and I have learnt so much from those posts. I appreciate that Mothering isn't like other fora in this regard.

 

 

There is now a Facebook group called "Unschooling Spectrum".  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

The ONE point I'd make is that I think people who are not fully unschooling do need to be aware of that and aware that their experiences may well not be representative of the unschooling community, in exactly the same way that being a partial vegetarian but ordering a ham sandwich if it looks especially delicious does mean you haven't really had the proper vegetarian experience.

 

Filly, I am now just taking your post as a jumping point to ask some general questions to everyone (all of us).  How long do you need to be a vegetarian to have the "proper vegetarian experience"?  In other words, If one has been eating only vegetarian dishes for whatever period of time, and then has a ham sandwich, then go on to be a vegetarian for whatever time... how long do the veg. periods have to be for one to have had the proper "vegetarian experience"?  

 

Is a person who eats a diverse array of fresh fruits and vegetables, knows how to prepare some awesome veg. dishes from around the world, and gardens and grows a variety of herbs and vegetables *less of a vegetarian than* a person who routinely eats tofu burgers, tofurkey and other frozen food section delights, because he occasionally has some meat?  An equally important question -- does person 1 (the occasional meat eater) have anything of importance to contribute towards person 2's vegetarian journey?  

 

It is kind of like the way we try to critique, examine and apply laws -- we often talk about "the spirit" or "the intention of the law" .... What was the spirit/the intention of the idea of unschooling.  Is the definition allowed to change, expand, grow?  Is it an organic idea or is it a pretty static, inflexible thing?  Who decides?  Does it see beyond itself?  

 

I find concepts that are based on purity really interesting because not much in this big, messy thing we call "life" works that way.  These secular ideas based on purity have quiet a bit in common with religiosity -- i.e a set of rules and dogmas.  They are an all or nothing situations.  I find that pretty off-putting; and I think I am not the only one.  

 

So, River Sky, I am pretty happy that this board has been inclusive but then of course, I am not an unschooler as per the definition you speak of.  

 

Edited to add:  

------

I don't claim to be an unschooler not because I don't feel fit enough to say I am, mind you.  My younger daughter has been "unschooled" all her life and I will probably will continue that with her.  She is doing fabulously well.  The oldest one is fine all on his own now and quiet accomplished in teaching stuff to himself and demanding he be taught some things (i.e spelling).  I don't call myself an unschooler because I have no desire to belong to a club that has such an astringent definition of itself.  I also would rather not invite scrutiny from people who hold that definition in such high regard.  I very much value my freedom and latitude as a homeschooling parent.  

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#9 of 9 Old 06-21-2013, 11:41 PM
 
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"I find concepts that are based on purity really interesting because not much in this big, messy thing we call "life" works that way.  These secular ideas based on purity have quiet a bit in common with religiosity -- i.e a set of rules and dogmas.  They are an all or nothing situations.  I find that pretty off-putting; and I think I am not the only one.  "

 

yeahthat.gif

 

My understanding of this board is that its a discussion place and meeting point. 

 

Re the "proper vegetarian experience"-sorry, I did mean that ironically but I accept that that isn't clear (I think I was writing with my British accent!) but actually think it throws up another parallel: I'd say there does exist, or certainly used to, a real hardcore of vegetarians who are not only highly strict themselves (which is fine, we all have our things that matter to us) but also very judgmental (which isn't so fine, tbh). And IME that can be pretty tied into notions of purity, like some people are better than others because of what they eat. And what we eat is so complex-where I am, for example, from an environmental standpoint the best option is probably one that includes locally sources meat and eggs, because in Wales we have quite a lot of land that cannot be used for vegetable farming.

 

And my big problem with judging others and deciding who gets to use a particular label, or join a particular group (co-op?) is that that helps no one. It doesn't help the person being judged, it doesn't help the parents look at all options to get a good sense of what their child needs and it doesn't do much for the person judging either. Home schooling is now reaching middle age as a widespread movement, and I think what we need is dialogue and acceptance not walls. There are no authorities in unschooling or homeschooling. I think whenever we look for labels we need to question why we are doing that. All labels are an approximation, a short cut.

 

I struggle a lot with people not understanding unschooling and being critical of it on that basis. Like you Emaye I don't use the unschooling label but I think its a fascinating and powerful concept. I think for me it depends on where the criticism comes from, a parent struggling to understand and open to dialogue is very different to someone basically completely having a go, misrepresenting it and setting unschooling up as a straw man in order to sell books (this is the first thing I saw on fb this morning). THIS annoys me, its not on to misrepresent unschooling in order to instill academic heeby-jeebies in parents and thus flog solution books.

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