Combination of more formal hsing for core subjects, and unschooling for the rest? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 10-12-2013, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm still trying to improve our homeschool journey with my ds8. My dd9, who's in public school this year (and seems to thrive a lot better there than at home), has been home with us on Fall break, and I was really really sick for a big part of the week, for sure bronchitis, possibly beginning of pneumonia, so we didn't do any school this week at all. I'm finally much better, no more fevers at least, so we should be able to start back up when dd goes back to school on Monday. I've been doing a lot of thinking this week, and talked to ds a bit also today, trying to find out how he would like to learn. He surprised me by saying he really likes his math curriculum, but also did say that a lot of the exercises are too easy. He said he liked the first few of each new concept, but then gets bored and doesn't want to do anymore of it. Pretty much the same with his language arts curriculum, although he said he loves the writing section of it (he's been writing his own fiction story, without any curriculum telling him to!). He also likes to read somewhat, but gets tired from reading sometimes. Not sure where that comes from, he's a good reader. He does have sensory processing dysfunction, although a lot less so than when he was a toddler and preschooler, then he actually had occupational therapy for that, until age 3, when he "aged out" of the system. Most of what's left is obvious with his eating (he doesn't like it when foods are mixed together for instance, such as in a casserole, or liquid soup with pieces in it, or even a sandwich, he always wants things separate, nothing can even touch), and he also sometimes has some trouble transitioning to a different activity. But overall, there has been a tremendous amount of improvement over the last 5 years, so I'm not too worried. 

But here's the catch, he pretty much hates every other subject, other than his music of course; he LOVES his cello! And he does like science experiments, but not really learning/reading out of any science curriculum, let alone doing a science workbook! History or geography curriculum? Forget it! Dd was the opposite when she was still at home; she loved history/geography, art, and even science, but hated math and language arts (except for reading, which she loves) with a passion.

But, ds is one of those kids that asks a million questions a day, about a million different things, most of which are in some shape or form related to either science or history or geography!!!

So tonight I told him I'm ditching all science, history and geography curricula we have in the house for now (he gave me a giant hug when I told him that!), and will just continue to do my best answering his questions, and try to go more deeply into some of them, by either looking up online, go to the library, help him look things up in the children's dictionary we have at home, or the children's atlas, etc. He seems very fascinated with London and England in general these days, so there's a good start. Both my husband's parents were born in London, and this seems to really spike an interest in ds. He's also always rejected any formal art curriculum, but really seems to enjoy informal, fun, free art projects, so I'll just let him explore art on his own also.

 

So does such a hs'ing style exist, using more formal curricula for writing/reading and math, but let the child guide as far as the rest goes? And also let the kid guide as to how much they practice a concept in those areas before going on? Hopefully I'm doing the right thing here. It surely will lighten our days quite a bit, as it's always been a struggle to get him to even focus for a short time on any science or history/geography or art lesson. What should take 15 minutes, usually ends up taking more than an hour!! And by the time we're done, he's either mad at me or in tears, and I'm trying to hide either or both! I can't do it anymore... I'm thinking that so long as I teach him how to read and write, and do math, he can read and learn about other subjects later if he wants/needs to, right?

 

Sure not always easy, this hs'ing journey...

 

Thanks,

 

Edith

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#2 of 14 Old 10-13-2013, 01:06 AM
 
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If you are doing it, then it exists as a style of HSing! Seriously, there are no right and wrongs here. If you mean, can it work to unschool for everything except the basics, then yes, I'd actually say (funnily enough) that that's how most British homeschoolers I know tend to work. (we have almost no legal requirements around homeschooling, and the law almost sees unschooling as the default) . Give it a try! 

 

(i am a Londoner too-if there are any specific resources that could help I might be able to point you in the right direction. I do think its a really fascinating city, my favourite in the world, biased though I am.)


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#3 of 14 Old 10-13-2013, 08:39 AM
 
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It was situations like this that people came up with the terms "relaxed" or "eclectic".  I don't think there is a specific philosophy or movement associated with them.  It would seem rather counter to the whole point, because the point to me seems to be "do what works for your children and your family for as long at it is working, and change it if it's not."  They are not so much specific labels as simply catchalls, but most homeschoolers are familiar with these terms.  They seem to be used interchangeably.

 

The publication that fits best into this category is Home Education Magazine.  By philosophy, it is a secular unschooling publication, but it pulls in writers/parents in from nearly every corner of the homeschooling universe.  I have always loved reading HEM, and they were the first to inspire the idea of homeschooling when I stumbled across it at the library long before I had kids (beyond the kids I nannied).

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#4 of 14 Old 10-13-2013, 10:27 AM
 
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This is how we approach it. For reading, spelling, grammar, and math stuff we lean toward classical education. History is on audiobook. For now, the rest is about conversations and observations. My oldest is 7.

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#5 of 14 Old 10-15-2013, 08:16 AM
 
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To the OP I would say, it doesn't matter what you call it. if you are wondering whether mixing approaches like that makes sense, that is a deep question which I toss and turn at various times and finally resolve only by recognizing that it is always already mixed.  

 

We use textbooks but my dd always talks back to the book, feels free to alter it, and never feels obliged to agree with them (even when they are right).  If you can read against the grain and treat a textbook like any other book and treat a book like any other resource, then I don't see that using a textbook is any litmus test of whether you are hs or us. 

 

Sweet Silver, I too am a fan of Home Education Magazine.  The link you posted goes to an old page though, try this: 

http://homeedmag.com


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#6 of 14 Old 10-15-2013, 09:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by rumi View Post

 

Sweet Silver, I too am a fan of Home Education Magazine.  The link you posted goes to an old page though, try this: 

http://homeedmag.com

Thanks!


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#7 of 14 Old 10-15-2013, 10:55 AM
 
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 "if you are wondering whether mixing approaches like that makes sense, that is a deep question which I toss and turn at various times and finally resolve only by recognizing that it is always already mixed.  "

 

so very true. 

 

And the other thing to remember is that no one else is dealing with your kids or your situation.


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#8 of 14 Old 10-15-2013, 01:08 PM
 
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But just to mix it up a bit, I'd like to say that as an unschooler I would be wary of taking subject categories too seriously, or of designating certain subjects as "core" or "basic" and therefore benefitting from / requiring greater structure or planned-learning.  


no longer momsling.GIF or ecbaby2.gif orfly-by-nursing1.gif ... dd is going on 10 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?

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#9 of 14 Old 10-15-2013, 01:20 PM
 
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But just to mix it up a bit, I'd like to say that as an unschooler I would be wary of taking subject categories too seriously, or of designating certain subjects as "core" or "basic" and therefore benefitting from / requiring greater structure or planned-learning.  

I agree.  It is problematic.  As an unschooler (yes, I choose to use that label) I feel it sends the message that the "really important stuff" can't be learned in a non-structured, child-led way.  In fact, I think doing it this way can *possibly* make other areas of study *more* difficult if children aren't trusted to manage the "core" subjects without adult oversight.  I really do feel that it can undermine things.

 

But, not always, and others might be more focussed on needing a certain outcome, and that's OK, too.  I think if parents are observant and generally value a child-led education and value their child's input, they are also capable of seeing if and when the child-led areas are being undermined by this arrangement.  


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#10 of 14 Old 10-18-2013, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all! And thanks for the link to Home Education Magazine; will check that out for sure.

 

It seems like this is working out so far, keeping math and LA a bit more structured, and letting him have more choice as far as what to explore and learn about for the rest. He's definitely been a lot more cooperative doing his workbook work for math and LA. Two days this week he actually went to his desk and got a few pages done first thing in the morning, even before eating breakfast, while I was getting dd ready to send off to school, and I hadn't asked him to do that at all! He absolutely loves that I'm letting him skip ahead  more again in both subjects, when things get too easy, and he's super excited about starting some very beginning introductory concepts to pre-algebra on the side (not from his workbook). My daughter needs a lot more structure and repetition to understand things, and since they were both in the same grade, I had gotten used to having them do the same work. So basically my ds got bored out of his mind because we went too slow and there was too much repetition of the same old stuff he understood right away, while my dd felt overwhelmed because we went too fast! Then I tried having them each go at their own pace, but she got super jealous that he went faster and essentially started bullying him all day! Anyway, she ended up really wanting to go to public school and seems much happier there, and now ds is much happier too, now that I am letting him set the pace again. Some days we cover 10 or more pages in either work book, only doing a few problems or exercises per page (math or LA), while other days, when it's either harder or it's a very new concept, he only does one page, but the whole page, and that's ok.

I also found a really good online (free) program that teaches Dutch and he seems to have fun with that too. It seems a bit similar to how Rosetta Stone works, although not completely of course, but it's free!

 

And he's having a great time practicing and playing his cello every day. Most days that's what he starts his day with, sometimes it takes up most of the morning!

 

Thanks again all for helping me figure this out. I'm sure we'll be changing things around more as we continue our homeschooling journey, but for now we seem to have found something that works.

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#11 of 14 Old 10-20-2013, 07:43 AM
 
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My 13 year old dd has just started 8th grade in public school, after being unschooled all of her life, by a mother who sees every aspect of learning that a child is interested in as "core," because it is central to that child's journey. And dd is doing just great in school, because it is where she really wants to be now.

 

She is needing some extra help with math, which I needed too at times, even though I was always public schooled. But she is nowhere near failing even in that area.

 

I will be honest that, when dd first expressed her desire to attend public school, I was scared that my decision to unschool might really blow up in my face and prove to have been a serious handicap for her. But it hasn't. At parent-teacher conferences last week, all her teachers had such wonderful things to say about her. Her language arts teacher said she was very hardworking, and also a role model, was helping one of her classmates who was having trouble, and was fitting in socially as well as academically.

 

Although I never felt like I wanted my kids to "fit in," I understood the spirit that the compliment was given in. Though it's possible that she does fit in in some ways, I think she also stands out by being highly motivated to learn and to participate in class activities. For her, attending public school is a privilege, and she knows she can always return to unschooling if she wants to.

 

With all of this in mind, I feel very good about continuing to unschool dd2, who is 8, for as long as she is happy doing so.


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#12 of 14 Old 10-21-2013, 08:03 AM
 
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Originally Posted by rumi View Post
 

But just to mix it up a bit, I'd like to say that as an unschooler I would be wary of taking subject categories too seriously, or of designating certain subjects as "core" or "basic" and therefore benefitting from / requiring greater structure or planned-learning.  

 

Agree. You can certainly use an unschooled approach in specific subject areas -- there are no homeschooling police that ensure everyone uses a consistent approach in all areas -- but I think this is not unschooling in certain important ways. That's not to say it's not a valid, appropriate approach for your child in your situation, or that you won't gain a lot from taking part in discussions on this board. But unschooling as a philosophy is generally understood to encompass the inevitability of necessary learning and the interconnectedness of all knowledge and skills, such that circumscribing certain subject for special treatment doesn't fit with the philosophy. So ... unschooling-inspired approach to some subjects, yeah, but "unschooling for science and social studies" doesn't work for me any more than "prep school Monday to Friday, homework on Saturday, unschooling on Sunday (except for church)" would, to make a silly analogy. 

 

Miranda


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#13 of 14 Old 10-21-2013, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I do understand your point, and agree. Sorry. 

 

It does work quite well for us though. He seems to be quite a happy kid right now, and is learning all sorts of things. His main focus is his cello right now. To get an idea of just how much he's into his cello, today he spent a big portion of his morning (from 9:30 until 11 am) playing and practicing his cello (and playing with Maestro, our cockatiel, but mostly with his cello), and then had another 40 minutes of really intense practice after lunch. Tonight we all had a 2 hour orchestra rehearsal, and on the way back, at nearly  9 pm, he asked if he could play his cello for fun before going to sleep (I said no to that one though!).

He seems to at least happily agree to do some math from his workbook each day, and is even excited about the extra little bit of separate exercises I throw in there a few times a week that I found online (introductory pre-algebra exercises for 4th graders). He loves to read in reality, we just have to find books he likes, and he's quite a good writer, so I'm letting him explore in that area too, while still doing some work in workbooks too. I think the key with him is to let him skip as it gets "too easy" for him, meaning he understands how something works, but then going back every once in a while to make sure he remembers. In reality he does end up doing most of the work, especially in math, he just doesn't quite realize it, because he gets to go on so soon. All kids are different. My daughter wasn't happy doing anything until it became boringly easy for her, and threw a fit (quite literally!) every time a new concept was introduced!

I like the idea of letting him look at insects under the microscope (although I hate bugs! LOL). He has this toy bug catcher that he loves to use to go "hunt" for bugs in the back yard with, so next time he catches something I'll see if he wants to look at it under the microscope (after it's dead I guess). Yuck, the things we do for our kids! LOL

 

Thanks again, you guys are wonderful resource for information and support!

 

Edith

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#14 of 14 Old 10-21-2013, 11:34 PM
 
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Ack, I edited my above reply right away after posting, but I guess my <update> click didn't go through. I meant to add that just because you don't have both feet fully in the unschooling camp doesn't mean you shouldn't be posting on this forum, or that you can't gain or offer a lot to discussions here. So long as you're not here to argue against unschooling, which you're clearly not, I personally am thrilled to have you posting here, so I hope you'll continue to do so. No need to apologize!

 

It sounds like your ds is leading a very fulfilling musical life right now. I have to say I'm jealous of the opportunities he seems to have available. After dragging my 10-year-old to yet another junior violin group class with kids years behind her in terms of violin skills, because it's the only collaborative musical opportunity she gets, how I pine for a youth orchestra or chamber group for her. My middle kids have essentially given up studying their instruments over the past 3 years, having long outgrown any teachers in the area and having no meaningful ensemble opportunities. 

 

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