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-   -   define unschooling (http://www.mothering.com/forum/439-unschooling/1385194-define-unschooling.html)

3lilchunklins 06-17-2013 12:14 PM

What does unschooling mean to you and your family?
Do you have methods, if so what are they?

moominmamma 06-17-2013 05:23 PM

To me unschooling has never said anything about learning methods, or what is being studied, or how, or in what order, or with what amount of structure, or at what pace. It only speaks to why the learning is taking place as it is, the answer being "because that's how the child wants it."

 

All children are different, and their learning changes as they get older and their interests change. At various stages my kids' learning has been completely unstructured and freewheeling and entirely devoid of anything that looks like "school" or academic learning. At other stages I've had kids ask me to help provide structure and structured resources so that they can learn something specific or achieve a goal they have for themselves. If the kids are in charge of their own learning, that's what is important to me.

 

Having said that, I've discovered that some people have very different definitions of unschooling, and that it's very easy to get caught up in semantics. What I like about this forum is that people here tend not to get their knickers in a knot over definitions. I have no interest in becoming a member of, or even speaking to, the unschooling police. :)

 

Miranda


Attila the Honey 06-17-2013 05:43 PM

I keep it simple - to me, it's child led learning.   It can (and for us, does) involve any method there is, pretty much.


Nazsmum 06-17-2013 06:38 PM

Unschooling is going with the flow. Repecting the child's pace of learning.


3lilchunklins 06-17-2013 06:55 PM

Yea exactly, it's because there's such varying degrees of unschooling, that I draw a major blank on what unschooling looks like ykwim. I'm asking for each families particular take on it.
Sorry I was posting as a reply to the 2nd poster. But took my time on it and it ended up way down here lol

RiverSky 06-19-2013 11:10 PM

Living as if we are on a fantastic vacation, all the time.  A life of adventure and interesting activities, and parties and friends and museums and clubs, activities, beach and park days, reading as much as we want, watching marathons of our favourite shows, learning about whatever we want, whenever we want (or can).  


Fillyjonk 06-20-2013 01:26 AM

I think the reason you would be drawing a major blank on what unschooling looks like is that it really is so different to all families. Its a bit like saying "What does family life look like?" or "What does a good holiday look like.". I truly don't think its possible to generalise much. Honestly, I know families who I would consider undoubted unschoolers who actually have kids in school. 

 

The best I can come up with is that unschooling is about giving a child as much freedom and autonomy as possible over their life, with that including education and other areas depending on the family beliefs.

 

When you say "methods," what would you be meaning by that? The only methods I find relevant to unschooling would be those for living as a family. 


3lilchunklins 06-20-2013 10:09 AM

Methods, Idk, whatever that means to you as an unschooler. I'm thinking of leaning towards unschooling with my youngest who should be starting kindergarten. I homeschool my older 2 kids, but my 5 year old, he goes in extremely short spurts where he wants to learn. But he has a super short attention spam and gets frustrated easily. I'm still trying to teach him how to write his name! I took him to a story time geared for kindergarten readiness and I was a little embarrassed that he was the only one who couldn't recognize his numbers and letters. But it feels wrong to force him to sit and learn stuff that he has no interest in. Yet, he has to learn these things... That's why I was asking

SweetSilver 06-20-2013 10:19 AM

"Define unschooling"

 

It is different for every family, but I can tell you what unschooling parents understand, and why we keep coming back to post on this forum instead of elsewhere:

 

      (Forgive me if I use the term "we"--I am presuming to speak for others here, but ultimately myself)

 

We understand that our learning is child-led, even if that means in some families that independent reading doesn't kick in for some kids at a later age.

 

And we understand that being child-led, children take different paths, and we understand when that path is divergent from our children's path, including delays, aversions, obsessions, giftedness, learning styles, etc.  These different paths are not aberrant, not superior or inferior, they all have value.

 

 

We understand that the barriers between "learning" and "real life" aren't real and we seem proud of that view.  Usually that's the first thing we talk about when someone asks us about unschooling.

 

And because of that, we see value in most everything, and we usually don't think that academic learning is superior than other pursuits, and in fact in the early years, we tend to think the opposite.  

 

And we don't frame our lives around what skills our kids need to please their boss or work well in a conference room (and some of us have difficulty disguising our contempt for that goal--how did I do?)

 

We don't stress too much about the individual pace of a child's development, and if we do, we tend to think in terms of "deschooling" ourselves (and then we post about it to rid ourselves of the rest and get talked down from imposing curriculum orngtongue.gif).

 

 

When a radical unschooling dad says "My son didn't read until he was 12.  I think that kids need to get all that play out of their system", we understand.  (Then we are secretly glad our kids picked up reading by 8, and pray vigorously for the kind of serenity that dad has--true life anecdote, BTW.) 

 

We understand that when parents post here instead of another forum (especially about non-education issues-- and there's a Learning At Home forum, so why do we choose to post here?), they do so because they don't usually want comments such as "impose lessons", "you're the parent!", "take away privileges".  Unschooling seems very AP, but unschoolers tend to take it a bit further, and later, and especially in more areas of life.  That doesn't mean that USing families don't have chores or no TV restrictions, and we may have very good arguments for them in general but especially for our family, but I think there is an understanding and tolerance when other families make different choices.

 

We tend to be apologetic when we do impose certain restrictions, and often fall into the trap that this is an unschooling failure.  (Then we post about it.)

 

 

I'm sure I'm missing some things that belongs on this line.  (Something like-- we don't predict dire consequences for kids who have no interest in spelling!)

 

 

Summary:  I think for me it's more how I view the varying expressions of unschooling that unites me with other unschoolers rather than my family's particular flavor of it.


SweetSilver 06-20-2013 10:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3LilChunklins View Post

Methods, Idk, whatever that means to you as an unschooler. I'm thinking of leaning towards unschooling with my youngest who should be starting kindergarten. I homeschool my older 2 kids, but my 5 year old, he goes in extremely short spurts where he wants to learn. But he has a super short attention spam and gets frustrated easily. I'm still trying to teach him how to write his name! I took him to a story time geared for kindergarten readiness and I was a little embarrassed that he was the only one who couldn't recognize his numbers and letters. But it feels wrong to force him to sit and learn stuff that he has no interest in. Yet, he has to learn these things... That's why I was asking

And unschoolers would look at this and think "the best and proper time for a child to learn this is when they are ready and they want to.  They will be ready, eventually.  No worries--perfectly normal.  He's acting like he's--5!"  And most especially, "He'll catch up, and when he does, everything will come more easily."

 

School-proponents (and school-at-home) tend to think the earlier, the better.  Thankfully we are starting to see inklings that this will start swinging in the other direction eventually.


Fillyjonk 06-20-2013 12:38 PM

OP thank you for clarifying. Its always quite hard to answer when you are not sure where the OP is after. 

 

You mention you are homeschooling two older ones. I'm not sure how it would work to unschool just one out of three. Unschooling to me is deeper than just not requiring work, say, its a philosophy. 

 

There are many other philosophies that believe in delayed academic work. Steiner, for example, and I believe Enki. There is a solid child-psychology basis in delaying work til age 7. Actually, I can't think of a serious child psychologist who recommends early academic work. I can say confidently that based on my own kids, delaying work til age 7 makes no difference. It sounds like your third child may always need a different approach-third kids seem to be like that, in most families I know its the third kid who really turns everything on its head in some way.

 

 


3lilchunklins 06-20-2013 01:42 PM

Well the older two did go to public school for years, so homeschool is a fairly new venture for me. If I had started out HSing I might have pondered about USing earlier.
Idk, he's definitely more of a "strong willed child" than my other 2.

RiverSky 06-20-2013 01:57 PM

Well, I don't think a 5 year old who doesn't want to be told what to learn and when is "strong willed" as if that is a bad thing.  I think it's totally normal.  My son is 14 but went to public school for kindergarten.  He was already reading before kindergarten but his teacher told me that over half of the children in the class (in a predominantly, over 90%, white school - meaning no language issues to deal with as the kids were native English speakers) didn't know their alphabets yet AT ALL.  She was starting from the beginning and felt that was totally normal.  Within a couple of months, they were almost all caught up and beginning to read though.  I don't actually believe all children need to read by then and know of quite a few very bright children who didn't learn to read until closer to 10 or 11 and that is fine, too!  

 

Anyway, I agree with the PP who said that it doesn't make much sense to unschool one while the other two are homeschooling - it's a philosophy not just a "he won't let me teach him so I'll call it unschool", in my opinion.  But, why not relax your academic requests of him and focus on fun stuff and following his interests?  Like, focus on one or two field trips a week, going to homeschool park days, and focus on all the wonderful growth, joy and learning that all of your children can glean from those lovely things?  I know there is a lovely preschool-kindergarten "curriculum" on the http://www.besthomeschooling.org website, have you seen it?  It can give you tons of fun ideas to enjoy with all of your children, so that you won't feel such a need to worry about academics, which can come later on, much more easily than trying to force feed them now when he's not interested.  

 

Best of luck!


Fillyjonk 06-21-2013 02:07 AM

Can I ask, you say your older ones were in school for years. Does that mean that you didn't teach them as 5 year olds?

 

I actually cannot imagine trying to teach my 5 year old anything, though she is possibly away with the fairies to an unusual extent. But she is strong willed (omg she is strong willed!). 

 

I think if, by unschooling, you mean letting him not work and discover his own interests, that sounds like a great idea. I'm such a strong believer in the idea that they mature a lot at age 7 (ish) in terms of cognition. I think, biologically, they are not ready to sit and work. 

 

My guess is that you won't find much in the way of unschooling methology because that's just not how it works. Its also not product-orientated at all. So I'd say, be aware that there are other frameworks that do advocate delayed academic work but in a context of producing better academic results down the line.


SweetSilver 06-21-2013 08:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

My guess is that you won't find much in the way of unschooling methology because that's just not how it works. Its also not product-orientated at all. So I'd say, be aware that there are other frameworks that do advocate delayed academic work but in a context of producing better academic results down the line.

thumb.gif


3lilchunklins 06-21-2013 10:17 AM

Well with my 1St, I had all kinda of time and energy to put into teaching him before public school started, but it was still just basic stuff. Like he learned to read and do math at school. Then with DD, she absolutely *wanted* to learn and do any work she could get her hands on, that's just her nature. Plus she missed the cut off date for kindergarten (and cried terribly) so she was nearly 6 when she started school.
Now ds2, he just isn't interested or phased whatsoever. I thought he would want to be like his older siblings, but not so much lol. Every once on a blue moon he gets all gung ho to learn and try to do some work for all of like half an hour.
But ok so 7 is probably more like the age where school will be easier for him to commit to.... Now I don't feel so bad
Now it's just dealing with family criticism... They already hate the whole idea of homeschooling. Geez Louise!

4evermom 06-21-2013 10:26 AM

I tried sending ds to pre-k when he was 4 (because k was full day and I thought that would be too big of a first step.) It was a miserable experience. What might have worked for him was half day school starting at age 8. I could see a readiness for structured activity that he didn't have before. But that doesn't exist in this country. He's a very bright kid and had many prereading skills very young. I thought he was on the cusp of learning to read from the age of 3 and on. But he actually learned to read somewhere between age 8 and 9, lol. Writing and spelling came later.


5blessings 06-26-2013 11:02 AM

I am trying not to repeat what other posters have said, but I consider unschooling more of a way of life.  I would say my kids direct their learning and I influence the environment. 

 

Current Reading Example:  My 8 year old has been reading since 5 because she wanted to learn.  My 7 year old is just getting reading.  My 8 year old loves reading stories.  My 7 year old like creating stories so she wants to read so she can write.  My job is to get my 7 year old beginner-leveled reader books so when she wants to practice reading she can.  My job is to be available so if she wants to read to me, or wants help sounding out a word, I am there.  My job is to get her notebooks so she can create her story books.  For my 8 year old, my job is to take her to the library so she can get whatever books she wants (sometime long mystery chapter books and sometime story picture books -she loves the Berenstien Bear books).  My job is to show her how to find books she is interested in and when she is tired but wants to hear the next chapter, its my job to take a turn reading out loud to her.  My job for my 4 yr old, 3 yr old, and 18 month old is to read to them, and to bring them to story activities where other people read to them.  We don't have required reading times or select reading assignments; we dont have flashcard. 

 

As for your family, dont focus on the negative, find the positive in what he is doing.  Maybe your 5 year old isn't reading yet but he is playing store and counting/adding how many items you had.  Maybe he is drawing with details beyond his age.  (Both were true for my 2nd child)

 

Lastly, if you are concerned with him knowing his letters I would get the LeapFrog videos.  My little ones like Scout (Phonics farm, Shapeville Playground) and Tad (Letter Factory).  They have songs that teach the letters, or shapes, or numbers.  Just don't push them.  He may not want to sit for them, which is fine too.  My little ones also like Super Why and Word World but it pushes the concept of school, so I know some unschoolers that don't like it.  They also watch Curious George, Sid, My Little Pony, and Phineaus & Ferb.  I see reading shows or videos as the same as my older ones watching the History show on the The Great Wall of China or a movie on the Artic.  I have them available or get them from the library when they want them.



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