My mother is concerned about some of the practical aspects of homeschooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My mother, who isn't a huge fan of homeschooling but has tried to be supportive, brought up some concerns she has.  She says that she feels my kids will do fine academically being homeschooled, but believes that by not having to go to school day in and day out, at a specific time, doing activities they may not always enjoy and so on, they will be poorly prepared for life.  She says that most jobs, even when people mostly enjoy their work can be drudgery at times.  She worries that because my kids don't have a specific schedule or dead lines, and get to choose most of their own activities, etc, they will struggle when the time comes for them to have 'real jobs' in 'real life'.  I respect her judgment so I decided to mull over what she said.  After discussing this with my DH we came to the conclusion that school doesn't have to be the only place for people to learn these skills (if that is what they can be called). According to my husband's personal experience, having an actual job as a teenager is probably  the best way to learn.( And if my kids want to be able to afford to buy and do the things they want they will have to get a job!)  Also, my husband says that he has noticed that some people at his job really struggle with those issues and they were NOT homeschooled.  It seems to us (mainly by observing our own children) that some people have sort of a natural ability to be on time, stay focused, keep going even when it gets boring, etc (like my 11 yr old ds).  Other people need to work at it more, mostly through experience, and even then it might be a life long struggle (being the 'free spirit' that I am, I have struggled with these issues myself).  Another thought to consider is that I do have things I require of my kids that they may not always enjoy, like chores.  And they have to take the good with the bad or the fun with the boring when they work on their interests.  For example, my 13 yr old ds has a pet ball python and he is completely responsible for its care, which includes cleaning its habitat and so on.  So, I am wondering what your thoughts are on this?  I know this topic will come up again with my mom and I would sure like to have a lot of good, reassuring things to tell her so she can mull them over... :) 


Mama to to 2 teenagers, 3 preteens, and a 1 yr old nursling and wife to dh who keeps me young.  Chose to take the pass less traveled by, and indeed it has made all the difference!

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#2 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 07:57 PM
 
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Traditional homeschooling can certainly involve deadlines - there's absolutely nothing that says it can't - and in the range of subjects that you may consider your child needs to be a successful adult, there is probably something your kid will feel is drudgery.  (You're in the unschooling forum, so I'm not sure if you mean to take more of an unschooling approach, which would mean that "but Mom, I can impose a deadline" isn't so strong an argument.)

 

For traditional homeschooling though, "Mom, I can impose a deadline just as well as anyone with a teacher's certificate," seems like a fine argument to me.

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#3 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 08:02 PM
 
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I think school did the opposite for me. Showing up where you told, when you're told is not the same as time management. Now that I am an adult with no one to answer to, my time management skills are seriously lacking and it is really frustrating.

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#4 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am mostly unschooling my kids, I am just having a bit of a struggle surrenduring control when it comes to reading, writing, and arithmetic, though I feel I'm getting closer. I haven't completely disclosed to my mom my actual educational philosophy (which the more I read about others' experiences with unschooling, the more I like and agree with.). She knows we don't have a lot of structure and I think that is what makes her nervous. If I was more traditional and she was able to witness my imposing strict schedules she probably wouldn't be as concerned, but she knows me well enough to know I don't 'do' structure that well. She doesn't realize I actually have purpose to my decisions in choosing to have less structure. I have attempted to explain certain aspects of my educational philosophy but she just looks at me and smiles, without a lot of comprehension. I agree with fruitfulmomma that being forced to make deadlines and such doesn't encourage self initiative. Not to mention that school hardly gives real life experience. My teachers gave us loads of chances to hand late work in, unlike my college professors and certainly not like my bosses.

Mama to to 2 teenagers, 3 preteens, and a 1 yr old nursling and wife to dh who keeps me young.  Chose to take the pass less traveled by, and indeed it has made all the difference!

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#5 of 13 Old 07-31-2013, 01:56 PM
 
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My mom has also voiced the same concerns to me, knowing that Im not disciplined myself in sitting the kids down and 'doing school'.
What I have told her is this:

We are creating Independent Learners.
They learn largely independently on their own time tables because that is the best way to prepare them for a future in a field they will love despite the hardships. The foundation of a building looks nothing like the building itself. It is deep and wide and prepares for the coming weight of the building. So it is with learning. You are building a foundation of a Love for Learning complete with an intrinsic motivation or self- motivation to complete their tasks- which is the only meaningful motivation. A worker who isn't self- motivated will hate their job regardless. Imposed deadlines do not create better workers. And when it comes to deadlines- life has plenty of its own deadlines.
I need to get to the bank before it closes so I have to hurry up and get dressed. I need to get to sleep tonight or I will sleep in and miss my play date at the park. These are all learning experiences through life. I do not need to make my kids sit at the kitchen table and grade or test them for them to learn them.
It sounds like you and your husband are a great team. Trust your kids.
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#6 of 13 Old 07-31-2013, 03:12 PM
 
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My reply to your mom would be that enforced "habits" may give the illusion of self-discipline, but they're often nothing of the sort. The child is not necessarily developing persistence, self-motivation, strong values or a stalwart work ethic, but may be simply demonstrating compliance. Just as making a child say "thank you" every time he's given something does not in and of itself create feelings of gratitude, making a child attend school for hours a day does not create an appreciation for the values of persistence and commitment. 

 

I would tell your mom that my plan is to nurture the sentiments and values behind the habits, so that the habits flow naturally from internal motivation and don't require propping up with extrinsic structure -- structure that often only works so long as it's enforced with threats and punishments. That's not the work ethic I want! 

 

And as a parent whose kids are mostly a fair bit older than yours, I've taken your approach and seen the results. My kids have headed off to high school at various ages and done well with schedules and accountability there. And they often comment how ironic it is that whenever there's any slack given, they're the only students in their classes -- they, the self-styled homeschoolers -- who actually want to be at school, the only ones who actually want to learn when they're not been forced to. That ought to tell you something about the value of forcing all that structure on kids for so many years. 

 

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#7 of 13 Old 07-31-2013, 05:49 PM
 
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The way I see it, you could go round and round on debating this topic forever.  There isn't going to be a "test" to prove who's theory is correct between your mum's point of view vs. your own.  There is a TON of gray area.  

 

For instance, if a child goes to public school, but has parents who get them to school late often and don't help monitor their homework, the child is not developing great time management skills.  

 

On the other hand, if a child is homeschooled, but the parent rarely holds the child accountable to follow directions, should they be "take out the garbage" or "be ready to leave by 12:15"...then the child will not develop great skills re time and following directions.

 

 

Can you raise a homeschooled child to be a productive citizen who arrives to work on time in their adult years ?  Of course you can.

 

Did you have this concern before your mother decided to share her concerns with you?  It may be important for you to be confident in your decision to homeschool before you face the judgments of the world, because, believe me, people love to "question" homeschooling.

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#8 of 13 Old 07-31-2013, 09:55 PM
 
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Nobody, whether they unschool, are independently wealthy, or living their dream life...nobody goes through daily life without having to do things they don't want to do. 

 

I used to get asked this question a lot when we first decided to homeschool/unschool. Kids definitely do not get much freedom to choose in their lives. They get dragged to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, they sit in cars while their siblings get driven to activities, they don't get to choose when mama or dad can come and play with them, help them with their toy, etc. 

 

Life is full of frustrations, disappointments, challenges, and other things that help us grow as people. Sh*t just happens, y'know? 

 

After you've lived a bit of the unschooling life you will be able to give your mum very concrete examples of the kids learning these lessons, and IMO they are far more valuable because they weren't artificially imposed on the kids. And the kids get to see your daily life and see that even grownups don't get to do everything they want all the time. 

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#9 of 13 Old 07-31-2013, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate everyone's comments. I especially hope to convey to my mom the idea that by homeschooling I am helping my kids develop intrinsic motivation to have good work ethic. As much as I believe she would appreciate the value in that, I think she would still struggle to wrap her head around the method (of unschooling). I don't blame her, though. It isn't easy to go against the grain of society. I consider it a gift of sorts that my husband and I are able to let go of being beholden to societal ways.... or maybe we are just weird. smile.gif. Either way, I think it's great and I wish more people could be more open-minded. I also want to mention that whenever my confidence in my decision to homeschool/unschool starts to flag, I find reading these posts to be very motivational and reassuring... So thanks everyone. smile.gif
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Mama to to 2 teenagers, 3 preteens, and a 1 yr old nursling and wife to dh who keeps me young.  Chose to take the pass less traveled by, and indeed it has made all the difference!

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#10 of 13 Old 08-01-2013, 05:26 AM
 
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hmmm I'm on the fence here.

 

I'm going to be honest and say that yes, I think this can be something that homeschooled kids can struggle with. We're actually at a Waldorf family camp this week that seems to involve all sorts of ungodly starting times, being here one minute and somewhere else the next, and honestly, my family is struggling. Its the quick changes of pace that is giving us whiplash, you do one thing for an hour then something else, even if you haven't finished the first thing. My older two do a lot of stuff like scouts where that can be the deal but me and my youngest are not really used to this. OTOH my mum, who has been a teacher for the past 45 years, is camping with us and is struggling just as much, probably more. 

 

I think there are things that homeschooling does less well. Its not perfect and has its weak points. I think its possible that, on balance, an unschooled kid without any natural inclination to keep deadlines could come out of it not knowing how to do that thing where you just focus, and get to the next class or whatever. But I'd say, a. its not really rocket science to learn, its a technique rather than something you need 15 years of experience to do. Its easy enough to learn with a bit of motivation and b. that doesn't render them unemployable. It might mean that a kid like my youngest who is perhaps unusually disinclined to keep to deadlines is unlikely to be drawn to a job which means sticking to a lot of arbitrary deadlines, getting up early, or changing track a lot. She's therefore perhaps more likely to work in a creative field or perhaps academia than maybe business or law or medicine. Which is totally fine with me. Its not like she'd be unemployable, she'd just need to be careful to find a job that suited her and that's pretty important anyway. Part of the reason I homeschool is to help my kids be very sure that they know themselves well enough to choose wisely what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

 

The tack I've always taken with people who have concerns is to recognise them as valid, and recognise that homeschooling has weak points. Its not perfect, especially not in a society which is set up for kids to go to school and with a job market that expects that. I think it can also be very productive to show people that you're aware of issues and are working to minimise them, but that on balance you still feel that the benefits outweigh the negatives. With members of my family who are less positive, its been helpful to show them that homeschooling is a working, though presently non-negotioable, decision. I think that people do sometimes try to present homeschooling as perfect in every way and that's just unconvincing really, everything has downsides.

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#11 of 13 Old 08-01-2013, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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All of this has got me thinking that perhaps it isn't the type of schooling one gets that determines how they will do in their future employment.  I was thinking about my 13 yr old son who I pulled out of 7th grade last year.  No matter what I tried (short of doing it for him) I couldn't get him to consistently do his homework without me standing over his shoulder, and then even when he did it he would usually forget to hand it in.  And then I think about my own experiences and my husband's too.  I did my homework fairly well, but I was always having to do catch up work because I frequently missed school.... and I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I fake-sicked a lot of those days.  I didn't hate school or anything, I just would rather do something else.  Then there is my husband who NEVER missed school but got poor grades because he usually didn't do his homework.  For him, homework was redundant because he often understood and could easily remember what he was taught in class.  He did well on tests and got a perfect score in math on his ACT, but his grades were a C average.  And so when it came to school, we weren't the most reliable, and didn't have the best work ethic.  But when it comes to employment we have done just fine.  I am a SAHM but have been successful in past jobs.  When I went to college I struggled a bit during my first semester to go regularly but I quickly learned that I couldn't get away with it and so I began to take attendance more seriously.  My DH has a great work ethic and his employer is very pleased with him (although he does goof around sometimes, he is very efficient and they come to him when they want something done fast. He is a civil engineer).  Another thought I had is that I did learn to work hard and  be reliable because my mom (who I think is wonderful even if she doesn't love homeschooling ;) ) made me do chores and held me accountable.  I have an 11 yr old son who is naturally good at time management (almost too good, as he can be quite obsessive about being on time) and is a very hard worker, and I have my other son who is rather the opposite, plus I have 3 daughters who are somewhere in between.  I suppose I will have to find ways to encourage those that struggle with work ethic and reliability to learn to better those skills.  I am grateful we have the time to work on it!  I also agree with what fillyjonk when she wrote:

 

"I think it can also be very productive to show people that you're aware of issues and are working to minimise them, but that on balance you still feel that the benefits outweigh the negatives."  

 

Similar thoughts had crossed my mind when I was talking to my mom and I did mention them to her, but she seemed to dismiss them because she probably can't see how homeschooling could have much benefit over public schooling.  In the end, she will be respectful of my choices but it is nice to feel assured by reading everyone's comments that I am not screwing up my kids (at least not by my choice to homeschool. j/k)  I mentioned in another post that I had tried to homeschool (and was drawn to unschooling then as well) in the past but lost confidence and put my kids back in school.  Now I feel really good inside about my decisions.  In fact, I can't wait to get to the school district to sign the wavers.


Mama to to 2 teenagers, 3 preteens, and a 1 yr old nursling and wife to dh who keeps me young.  Chose to take the pass less traveled by, and indeed it has made all the difference!

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#12 of 13 Old 08-02-2013, 06:43 AM
 
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Not all jobs have set schedules. In fact, people are working increasingly by contract and freelancing (whether or not they'd like to) and, in many cases, you can make your own hours.

 

Perhaps by homeschooling them, you are teaching your children to be resourceful, to take initiative, to think outside the box. These are also important work skills.

 

Also, your mother is underselling school a little bit. She seems to think its biggest merit is that it teaches children to tolerate drudgery. Surely she can come up with a better selling point if she really wants to convince you.

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#13 of 13 Old 08-06-2013, 11:07 PM
 
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People always bring up the whole "but how will they learn to deal with doing things they don't like?!?!"

I put it like this:

I LOVE TO SEW. I'm a seamstress and it's something I am passionate about. That being said, I HATE CUTTING OUT FABRIC. Seriously. Not just dislike. HATE. Loathe. Despise! We're talking burning passion of a thousand suns....

Anyway, despite hating it so vehemently.....I still cut out stuff. Why? Because that's part of sewing. I can't do the parts that I love without doing some stuff I hate....but that's okay. It's a trade off I'm willing to make.

Kids are the same and they will do this in their lives. They may HATE something they have to do to get into the college of their choice...but they will still do it because they care about the end goal. They may hate some of the steps they have to take in order to get their dream job, but they'll do it anyway because they REALLY want that job.
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