April Unschooling Thread - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 42 Old 04-01-2017, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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April Unschooling Thread

Anything goes!

A question: To what extent do you think empathy is (or is not) the basis of your unschooling approach? I'm thinking of your own empathy here, you as the unschooling parent....

miranda

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#2 of 42 Old 04-01-2017, 05:01 PM
 
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#3 of 42 Old 04-01-2017, 06:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Anything goes!

A question: To what extent do you think empathy is (or is not) the basis of your unschooling approach? I'm thinking of your own empathy here, you as the unschooling parent....

miranda
I dunno...like 100%?

Odd how Facebook spies on one...I just got invite to Corazon concert in Silverton. A bit far, I'm afraid...

I guess we did the reverse-March thing this year: in like a lamb (with almost summer like weather), out like a lion. Husband just left for work, where it is 51F with 37 mph wind. (Yesterday I got pushed across the parking lot by such a strong puff of wind that it took a second to decide that I would go down the stairs...wouldn't have if there weren't a railing! (or maybe sitting down?) Anyhow, hoping we get some much needed rain tomorrow.)
Tonight I ran interference on Zela's spelling...after four years she can whip out a three page (single spaced) paper in about an hour in Google Documents; I get most of the spelling and then her computer reads it to her and she gets the rest, a Good Thing because the microphone is broken on this computer and I can't talk with her! (and she's parsimonious about her tracfone minutes...)

Deborah
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#4 of 42 Old 04-01-2017, 11:40 PM
 
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That list of 'goals' I posted back in January- more progress!!

Kid is responsible for his own cell phone bill- transferred the billing info to his own bank account. Had a discussion that *I* didnt feel since he is working 6 hrs a week (up to 10 this summer) AND still getting allowance plus extra money for doing things around the house that *I* should also pay for the cell phone. Options were: he could pay for phone ($20), he could give up allowance ($50), or he could not get extra $$ for doing random things. He chose to pay for phone!!!

Kid is registered and scheduled for driving lessons. If all goes as planned he should be able to get himself to campus for 8am summer sessions. Class is 8-10am M T W Th, break 10-11, then work 11-2, home by 230/3 most days and then I can have the car for appts and things.

Once we get an insurance quote, I will tackle how the payment on that is going to work.

His pay should almost double this summer based on hours worked. He is only taking one class, physics lab and the feedback is that the class isn't that difficult and the prof isn't hard. Hoping for good news on this one.
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#5 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 09:13 AM
 
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Subbing. Off to work. I will try to keep up a little better this month. March was insane!

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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#6 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I dunno...like 100%?
Yes, that's what I was thinking, which is why I wondered about the rest of you. I used to talk about trust being at the root of my unschooling philosophy, and I do think it's crucial, but I think that trust depends on empathy. I have to understand, or at least want to understand, my children's point of view in order to trust that the choices they make based on their point of view will be valid. I have to learn enough about their view of the world in order to see that their decisions and inclinations make sense. I may not understand all the time, and that's where trust comes in, but I need to understand often enough that I feel my trust is well-founded.

That's weird and slightly scary about your Facebook invitation to Fiona's choir concert!

Miranda
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#7 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Kid is responsible for his own cell phone bill- transferred the billing info to his own bank account.
Cool! Especially that he's paying for it!

Fiona doesn't pay her own. Partly because her cellphone is instead of a land line at our house. And partly I guess because we are pretty frugal about allowance and Canadian cellphone service is really expensive compared to the US. She gets $28 Canadian allowance per month (about $20 US). She does cover her Spotify subscription out of that with direct payment out of her bank account, and contributes $2 for an extra Netflix screen, which brings her allowance down accordingly.

I've always figured allowance is an artificial tool for teaching money management and the life-learner in me thinks artificial tools should be replaced as soon as is practical with real tools (i.e. income from real work). If allowance is too generous (the definition of "generous" being very socially and culturally dependent of course) there will be no incentive to find work-for-income.

AI think I'm lucky that my kids have found income sources from relatively young ages, whether from cottage-industry style entrepreneurship (egg sales, or selling handmade products at the Community Market), babysitting, busking with their music, or more mainstream work like arts-camp counsellor jobs or dishwashing or housekeeping or working as baristas. So their minimal allowance could realistically be supplemented by age 11-12 and eventually discontinued about age 14 or 15. We're almost at that stage with Fiona.

She has decided she is done with babysitting, though. She is really good at it but she just finds it too stressful when it doesn't go well, and she has had enough experience where it hasn't been easy (sick kids, kids with separation anxiety, weird chaotic living arrangements, etc.) that she would like something more comfortable. So we'll have to see what she decides to do. She has committed to two weeks as a dance camp counsellor, and she has her own week-long Suzuki / chamber music intensive in August. Those commitments will put constraints on her ability to find mainstream summer employment.

(My other kids are at least holding their own over the summer. Eldest has a Tanglewood fellowship for most of the summer and will try to rack up as many hours of work at her on-campus job as her student visa allows in the weeks on either side of it. One thing she's really frustrated with is that she can't freelance as a musician the way she did as an undergrad because policing of the student-visa prohibition of off-campus employment is apparently quite vigorous. Middle dd will be doing basic training with the Canadian Armed Forces and getting some hours in the naval reserves. Ds is hoping to have full-time employment "in the industry" for credit in his college co-op program, though that depends on a lot of administrative hoops being successfully jumped through. He's got most of them sorted... )

Miranda
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#8 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 10:30 AM
 
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Empathy... I guess I'd say that most things I do *well* probably have a basis in empathy. But sometimes I have to trust without understanding the kids' perspective. For me, this has come up a lot with things like YouTube videos. Often, I don't understand just what one of my kids is getting out of watching a certain video or channel over and over again, and my kids are young, so not always able to really verbalize it to me effectively beyond "I like it" (especially the 6yo). I've generally found that trusting them works out well though -- trusting that even if I can't see what they're getting out of something, they must see it.

And speaking of those YouTube videos, I have a question I want to throw out there.

To what extent has unschooling created or intensified a unique family-specific culture within your family?

Sometimes, I feel like my kids are living in a cultural bubble, just the two of them. They started, years ago, with an intense interest in science videos, and that's permeated their whole life and play ever since. They draw imaginary electron transport chains and imaginary gene expression in colorful imaginary worms, and play together pretending to be organelles or microbes. Because they've had so much time to go their own way relative to time in a larger pool of kids, they have basically entirely replaced kid pop culture with their own geek culture. It's kind of funny sometimes when their friends come over.

And when I add that to the weirdness us parents have provided for them (living in remote Alaska and regularly doing long wilderness expeditions), I wonder what they'll think of growing up nearly entirely apart from their own country's culture.
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#9 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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To what extent has unschooling created or intensified a unique family-specific culture within your family?
Haha! Massively!

You probably didn't know me then, but my three older kids definitely had their own alternate reality for many years. They had a place called Euwy World, and it had its own characters, stories, mythology, songs, economy, history, etc. etc. Everything they talked about was laced with Euwy World references. Did I ever share the radio spot we did about Euwy World? I should try to dig out the mp3...

When Erin got to be about 13, she decided to study pop culture the way she studied other things. She immersed herself in the topic on the internet ... a crash course, if you will. The effects rippled through the younger kids over the next few years. Because they were tweens and teens when they exposed themselves to it, they went in with eyes open, with critical thinking skills and values they held fast to. At times I worried about the depth of their fascination... but it was all good. They were integrating it, making sense of it, not swallowing it whole.

They all hit adulthood with a sufficient understanding of mainstream culture, able to integrate in urban college situations without coming across as crazy-weird backwoods hippie kids. And yet they appreciate the fact that they came to mainstream culture from an alternative perspective. They attach a lot of value and nostalgia to the alternative / family-specific culture they created and grew up in.

It's a gift, I think, this opportunity to shape your own world as an unschooled child unpressured by mainstream culture.

Miranda

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#10 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I found it ... it was one of a 12-part series targeted at parents exploring homeschooling in our area. I put it up on SoundCloud maybe four years ago because Erin wanted to share it with the National Youth Orchestra tour bus ... her friends wanted to hear about it because she had been sharing stories about her delightfully weird childhood. And then a couple of years ago Noah asked for the link to share with his friends. So that tells you something

Euwy Radio

Miranda
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#11 of 42 Old 04-02-2017, 04:21 PM
 
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Funny you should ask about 'culture'. I'm in this grad level class 'social and culture psych'. Basic theory behind the class is you need to provide structured environment for children to learn culture and society. That with out these 'structures' children will become lost and unable to identity with their cultures. Also with out these structured time frames?? children will not be able to identity other cultures and chaos will ensue for eternity. (along with racism and other horrible things).

My simple answer for the past 6 weeks has been this is 2017- can't we all just get along and teach 'be nice' and tolerance. Also children can learn about others from the internet, books, tv, movies etc. Apparently I am wrong.

I was really hoping the class would teach actual Culture and how to work with the nuances of other cultures in the theraputic relationship but no go on that one.

Fingers crossed, only 2 weeks left until a better and different class.
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#12 of 42 Old 04-03-2017, 06:21 PM
 
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Forgive me if this comes out wrong...I think that we live in our culture. I don't fit in with many people. But I will come across a few people that get me. I get them. We click. That is where I belong. So, where do I fit in??? Well, somewhere. Just not with most of the people that I come across.

I am respectful of all different people. I know that sometimes I am very much miss understood. But at the sometime I try to give people space to be who they are.

My kids are given space to explore where they fit. I think that is the only thing that I can do. I try very hard to have them be true to themselves without hurting/disrespecting another.

Just had to say...
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#13 of 42 Old 04-11-2017, 04:18 PM
 
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Well, April is one of my favorite months I have been enjoying the nice weather. We are getting outside so much more.

I hope that everyone is enjoying life.
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#14 of 42 Old 04-11-2017, 05:41 PM
 
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We bought a 40' motorcoach and are planning lots of travel with our two boys. Super excited!!
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#15 of 42 Old 04-12-2017, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Normally April is one of my favourite months, but so far this year it is more like March so I'm still waiting to start feeling the love. We did have a break in the cold damp weather today finally; there was sun for a couple of hours and the temperature briefly hit 50ºF.

Fiona's choir was singing a couple of performances in our village today. I drove back there from Town to help out with catering the dinner. This is I think the eighth year I've helped provide food for this group of 65 teenagers on their performance day in the village. The first year Erin had just joined the group. The next year she and Noah were both singing in the choir. A couple of years later it was Noah and Sophie. Then a couple of years later just Sophie. And now it's Fiona. Pretty cool. Anyway, my food crew and I are getting pretty slick at putting on this dinner. We had the whole thing ready in just two hours, followed by 30 minutes of serving and an hour of cleanup.

Tomorrow I'm meeting one of my long-time virtual unschooling friends. I think I may have actually first met her here at MDC although she hasn't been here in years. I know her better now through Facebook, SelfDesign and various provincial on-line groups. She's a writer (primarily of YA fiction) and is in the middle of a book tour for an award-nominated book on LGBTQ Pride she wrote for middle-schoolers. Fun!

On Thursday our former liaison teacher with SelfDesign is coming by for tea to pick my brain about her own kids' educational choices. Her girls are 8 and 10, and have been pretty much unschooled all along. She's no longer sure that's right for her eldest, who keeps expressing a desire for school, tries if for a day or two and then bails, then wants to try again... I think several of us have seen ambivalence in our kids over the issue of school vs. unschooling.

Miranda
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#16 of 42 Old 04-12-2017, 09:30 AM
 
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I love April too, though not because it's spring in the usual "green stuff" sense. It's kind of summer-winter in a way. Lots of sunny beautiful days, light until after 9PM, but still snow on the ground. Freezing at night, and above during the day. We've been taking advantage by doing lots of skiing (trying to fill up on snow because we'll be in S America next winter, and will skip winter all together). Then it'll be time for beach camping/low tiding, then planting the garden when we can see the ground in May sometime. I love spring!

Miranda -- I'm sure I know the friend you're talking about (also only online). Say hi to her for me.

My kindergartener has been visiting school occasionally. It's kind of interesting to pick her brain about it. At the once-a-week or less level, she says she enjoys it. When I ask her more specifically, she says almost everything they do is not very interesting. She liked that she got to use a sewing machine, do a collage, hear a story, and go to recess. Otherwise she said it was boring, and was particularly incensed by a way-too-easy math test on counting because she says she likes multiplication best. She's my social kid, and the most likely to be ambivalent about school later.

My second grader is convinced he won't go to school ever except maybe college, and I'm inclined to believe him. I'm also becoming more convinced that he's somewhere on the dyslexic end of things, and as he gets simultaneously much farther ahead and farther behind, he's about the least fit for standard school kid I can imagine. No one who knows him (even big pro school people), think it'd be a good idea for him or the school!
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#17 of 42 Old 04-12-2017, 09:42 AM
 
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BIG NEWS!!! First official driving lesson yesterday!! Progress being made. Homework from 'driving school' to PRACTICE DRIVING' before next weeks lesson... hehe. So kid will be driving me around this week. fingers crossed. Then he has a month break and no lessons until June when he has 2 and the final test and hopefully a license, because this mommy is tired of being a taxi service.

The first cell phone bill went direct to his account this month, more progress.
I had to file taxes in his name this year, more progress.
I sent him to financial aid to figure out the mess the school created on his behalf and he got it cleared up - took to trips but he got it done.

My own class is wrapping up this week (thurs-wed) and will be done in a few days.. I cannot wait for the new one. I know it seems like I say that everytime but honestly this one was BAD. I was hoping to learn so much about cultures and different client styles and how to help/adjust therapy etc but it was a class lead by a facilitator who saw racism everywhere and couldn't wrap her pea-brain around people getting along with eachother. So I spent 8 weeks learning about how awful society is and how evil people are, instead of learning about CULTURE and how to embrace others. uggghhhh.
Next class: psychopharmacology... YES!!!! I loved the last drug class, drugs fascinate me so I'm hoping this one is amazingballs.
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#18 of 42 Old 04-12-2017, 10:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Miranda -- I'm sure I know the friend you're talking about (also only online). Say hi to her for me.
Had a great afternoon with Robin ... we compared notes endlessly about our freakishly similar weird kids, and I think you would have fit *right* in . Unfortunately I didn't see your post until just now so I couldn't pass along your regards.

I never cease to be amazed by the extent to which online relationships are accurate predictors or real-life ones. I am never surprised when I meet the people I've known online for years. They're always just like they should be.

Miranda
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#19 of 42 Old 04-18-2017, 02:08 PM
 
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We went to the Bronx Zoo today...
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#20 of 42 Old 04-19-2017, 09:32 AM
 
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I have been skiing nearly every day the past week and a half or so, some with the kids, some with grownup friends. Took my 8yo 3000 feet up a mountain, and on several smaller steeper runs. I'm finally reaping the rewards of teaching them to ski -- the kids can do big fun mountain days that are fun for me too now. I only wish I had gear the 6yo could use to ski up the mountain. I'm still stuck carrying her skis up while she walks. The mountains are so amazing in the spring.
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#21 of 42 Old 04-20-2017, 09:34 AM
 
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My second grader is convinced he won't go to school ever except maybe college, and I'm inclined to believe him. I'm also becoming more convinced that he's somewhere on the dyslexic end of things, and as he gets simultaneously much farther ahead and farther behind, he's about the least fit for standard school kid I can imagine. No one who knows him (even big pro school people), think it'd be a good idea for him or the school!
So, while it is not something I feel absolutely sure about I too have been wondering lately if my almost 9 year old might be "somewhere on the dyslexic end of things." It really is not about the fact that he isn't reading yet. I feel comfortable with a later age of reading given the many years I have been reading stories of those who learned later and just a general trust in the process of learning. However, I came across this list on a blog about an unschooling child recently diagnosed with dyslexia:

Challenges with the Alphabet – mostly lowercase letters – which can be tricky because some letters have multiple sounds. Others look very similar to each other.
Writing letters and numbers backward.
Flipping letters and numbers.
Difficulty remembering left from right.
Has a hard time learning to tie shoes so she prefers slip ons only for the time being.
Trouble with buttons and snaps on clothing.
Up until recently she had trouble with Rhyming.
Difficulty with speech and pronouncing words – flipping her words when speaking. I do this all the time.
Trouble remembering symbols.
Trouble following directions that go beyond one step at a time – I can’t say to her “the applesauce is in the fridge, on the 2nd shelf, towards the back in the red bowl, on the right side.” That’s too much information at one time.

The usual dyslexia lists focused on school specific types of skills never meant much to me. But if things like trouble with rhyming, tying shoes, word pronunciation, and following multiple step directions are truly an indicator than it is definitely a possibility. I'm curious if you are willing to share mckittre what it is with your son that makes you wonder about dyslexia.
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#22 of 42 Old 04-20-2017, 10:46 AM
 
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Sure. I'm happy to share.

1: family history. My husband and his sister are mildly dyslexic, their father was more severely dyslexic.

2: a discrepancy with himself. This kid is actually extremely academic. He can absorb and understand college level science and abstract math topics almost effortlessly, but finds reading very hard.

3: a discrepancy with his sister. Kids are different, of course, but she's two years younger, and is picking up many things sooner and more easily. Not just reading, but a lot of those other things on your list. Right and left, sequencing things like days of the week and months of the year, rhymes. It just feels different the way she learns.

4: the types of mistakes he makes. He can't remember which way s goes, hates lowercase letters, writes half his numbers backwards, skips little words reading or substitutes things like slip for spin. And he reads like it's an algebra problem. Carefully applying memorized phonics rules to every word, very slowly.
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#23 of 42 Old 04-21-2017, 03:07 PM
 
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Ugh. I am truly feeling so unhappy right now. What my kids want to do and what I need to stay sane and happy are not meshing at all. Unless it is is "perfect" weather (say between 55 and 65 degrees, sunny, and very little wind) they just want to stay inside and use the various computers, ipads, and gaming consoles we have. I. can't. handle. IT!!! I need to be out of this house. I do not derive pleasure from keeping my house. I don't like to sew, knit, or otherwise craft. I am not musically inclined. Sure I like to read, maybe draw a little now and then and I've got the basic household things that need to be done but that's all I like to do indoors at home. And heck, I'd rather read and draw under a tree or by the water somewhere.

I need to be out in the world, outdoors preferably much of the time, but even looking at the inside of different walls than my own home. I'll go to museums, pools, parks, woods, lakes, gardens, amusement parks, miniature golf, anything!!!! Yes, they do this a bit more willingly in the summer but where we live that season is pretty short in the 12 month scheme of things. I feel like we have the ability to live this amazing life and we take advantage of none of it. And I do know that is an exaggeration but it sure feels like it. The most amazing month we had in the last year was the month that we all agreed to try a month off of our various online activities. After the initial adjustment phase we had so much fun. We did so many things. I didn't have to sit in a house that I am coming to actively hate. And with a 4 year old while I can go out in my yard for short periods of time without them I can't be away for long.

How do I balance this!? I have no issue with what they are getting from the activities they are choosing but I (and yes, I feel they are too) am missing out on so much I could get from doing other things as well. Ugh. This is the worst I have felt about my alignment with an unschooling philosophy ever. Any thoughts, words of wisdom, or just virtual hugs appreciated.
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#24 of 42 Old 04-22-2017, 02:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by healthy momma View Post
Ugh. I am truly feeling so unhappy right now. What my kids want to do and what I need to stay sane and happy are not meshing at all. Unless it is is "perfect" weather (say between 55 and 65 degrees, sunny, and very little wind) they just want to stay inside and use the various computers, ipads, and gaming consoles we have. I. can't. handle. IT!!! I need to be out of this house. I do not derive pleasure from keeping my house. I don't like to sew, knit, or otherwise craft. I am not musically inclined. Sure I like to read, maybe draw a little now and then and I've got the basic household things that need to be done but that's all I like to do indoors at home. And heck, I'd rather read and draw under a tree or by the water somewhere.

I need to be out in the world, outdoors preferably much of the time, but even looking at the inside of different walls than my own home. I'll go to museums, pools, parks, woods, lakes, gardens, amusement parks, miniature golf, anything!!!! Yes, they do this a bit more willingly in the summer but where we live that season is pretty short in the 12 month scheme of things. I feel like we have the ability to live this amazing life and we take advantage of none of it. And I do know that is an exaggeration but it sure feels like it. The most amazing month we had in the last year was the month that we all agreed to try a month off of our various online activities. After the initial adjustment phase we had so much fun. We did so many things. I didn't have to sit in a house that I am coming to actively hate. And with a 4 year old while I can go out in my yard for short periods of time without them I can't be away for long.

How do I balance this!? I have no issue with what they are getting from the activities they are choosing but I (and yes, I feel they are too) am missing out on so much I could get from doing other things as well. Ugh. This is the worst I have felt about my alignment with an unschooling philosophy ever. Any thoughts, words of wisdom, or just virtual hugs appreciated.
Aw, I'm sorry healthy momma. I'm at work so this'll be quick, but it will get better. Yours are 4 and 5 yrs old, if I remember correctly? Those are hard ages and it's especially hard to switch seasons/phases. I remember just sitting down on the steps and bawling because on the first nice day after a long winter-when I'd been dying to get out of the house with my then 3 or 4 yr old-2 minutes into it she screeched "EWEWW! BUGS!" and tried to drag me back inside.
It just sucks sometimes! Keep trying and it'll work itself out.
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#25 of 42 Old 04-22-2017, 08:38 AM
 
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We go outside everyday. Even if it is to go around the corner. My 8yr has a hard time with it...as soon as we are out for a while he does not want to go in.

Maybe this is not unschooling. But I like you @Healthymomma I need to get out and I think that all people need sometime in the outside.
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#26 of 42 Old 04-22-2017, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Aw, that's tough. It's a hard age, and it's the end of a long winter, and your kids have developed habitual activities while you're aching to welcome spring... I remember those days. I guess what I have to say is a combination of "this too shall pass" and "I wonder what could be done to help it pass more quickly."

Part of the problem with my kids at those ages was that transitioning took so much energy and fuss ... clothing, snacks, toilet, where are my shoes, one kid wants to wait until after lunch, the other was ready five minutes ago but is now busy with something else, etc. etc. The net result was that going anywhere was overlaid with feelings of frustration and stress. That got gradually easier during the nicer weather when the clothing and winter-gear hassles were no longer part of the equation, but it would take a while for the resistance to ease. I found that with getting outside it was usually best if I could make the getting-ready part of it surprising, joyful and spontaneous, just throw the door open and be out there with an enticing snack beckoning them to come and have some fun. Breakfast in the backyard on a tarp in your pajamas, or a treasure hunt to do, a picnic in the back of the minivan and a plan to watch trains at the railyard. Break down the emotional overlay of stress, bother and preparation with excitement and spontaneity. It'll take creativity and preparation on your part, but it'll pay off, and probably in the long run it'll be less exhausting than been housebound and frustrated.

I found that the draw of screen time was always at its worst after we acquired a new game, a new device or an upgrade of some sort. When children are young the practicalities of finding and purchasing new stuff fall to the adults, so there is some natural influence to be had there. I found if I could avoid new purchases, their interest in the old stuff would wane over time and they would be more amenable to suggestions of alternative activities.

I'm not sure what sort of access you have to the outdoors where you live, but if you have a deck or a yard where you can spend time while "supervising" your kids beyond arm's length, go for it. Start gardening, or weaving a trellis, or building a compost bin or fashioning a cold frame, installing a laundry line, refinishing thrifted furniture, drawing, building, doing yoga... or even just take some of your housekeeping tasks outside and do them there ... chopping carrots, folding laundry. It may not be a hike or a museum, but the fresh air and feeling of being outside the walls of your home will probably be at least somewhat helpful to you, and you might find that you eventually inspire some curiosity and participation by your children.

I found that scheduled activities outside the home were necessary for my ds. If I found something he was interested in participating in, he would be happy to sign up (over the years it was stuff like skating lessons, family garden club, aikido, art class, gymnastics, choir etc.) and the implied commitment would be enough to push him past whatever resistance he might have to the transition. And when there was nothing he wanted to sign up for, we would collaborate to agree on a family-based routine of regular outdoor stuff, like walking the dog together or litter-picking biweekly along the road.

Which takes me to my next suggestion: family meetings. We would sit down with herbal tea and cookies and an informal agenda and talk about "how to make our family work really well over the next week." I'd start out by outlining the things we would talk about, noting some things that had been working really well over the past week. We'd usually touch on things like diet, rest, exercise, intellectual activities, balance of out-of-home and at-home activities, balance of social time vs. solitary time, interpersonal issues, and so on. As the parent I was the meeting chairperson but I did not have any more power than the kids. We'd celebrate what was working well, listen to each others' desires and concerns, and brainstorm to come up with things to try to solve any issues we'd identified.

And so, with an issue like this, I'd say "Right now one thing I've noticed is that you guys want to spend almost all of your time inside. And I would like to do some outside things. " And then I'd describe what I like about outside things... the air is fresh, the sunshine gives me energy, I like moving my body, I enjoy meeting people and seeing new things. And I'd ask what they enjoy the most about the inside things. (It's warm, we can wear pajamas, it's fun, we like playing, there's food, we don't get tired ... )

"So if part of our family wants to be inside, and part of our family wants to be outside, what should we do? Should the inside people always get to decide? Or should the outside person always get to decide? Or should we do some of both?"

And listen to what they say, which will almost certainly be "We should do both. Sometimes inside, and sometimes outside."

And then ask "Okay, how about we do mostly inside things, but sometimes we do an outside thing? Maybe just for a short time every day. Or do you think it would be better to spend longer, but not every day?"

And just work from there, until there's some sort of consensus.

Have a plan for the upcoming week, and explain that as a family you will try it to see how it works, and in 7 days you will have another meeting and change the plan if you discovered that it wasn't the best and people weren't happy with it.

The magical thing about family meetings for us was that they broke down the assumption that everything was parents vs. kids. For my kids that meant realizing that I was a real person with feelings, rather than an authority or a nag. For me that meant learning that although in the moment they could be very self-centred, my children could make remarkably sensible, sensitive choices when they felt like they were really being heard and valued. Family meetings helped us recognize that we each had valid perspectives and that ultimately we were on the same side, wanting to live together happily, being empowered to solve problems together, celebrating our successes.

Just some thoughts. Also sending virtual {{{{hugs}}}} too of course.

Miranda
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#27 of 42 Old 04-22-2017, 12:35 PM
 
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That is hard. I guess maybe I'm not totally unschooling there either. I've been adamant about the need for daily outdoor time since my kids were tiny, and it's just something we've always done, even if I had to nudge them through the transitions. They have opinions about where we should go and what we should do, but I kind of think that there are certain things so ingrained in a family that small kids don't question them because they assume those things are just part of life. Mine enjoy hiking, skiing, beach play, camping, etc... but I don't think it's ever occurred to them that it's even an option NOT to do those things. Other activities (parties, after-school activities, summer day camps, etc...) have always been framed as a "some kids go, others not" kind of thing, and they've chosen differently every time.

I do think your needs should count as much as theirs.
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#28 of 42 Old 04-22-2017, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do think your needs should count as much as theirs.
Absolutely! And this is part of the finesse of unschooling, isn't it? It's also a rebuttal to one of the common objections to unschooling: "So your kids just get to do what they want all the time? Sorry, the real world doesn't work like that. They're going to have a rude awakening." Well, no, they don't just get to do what they want all the time. They learn to live as part of a family and a community, where there's give and take all the time... it's just that the give and take is built on empathy and understanding, not authority.

Which reminds me that I started this month's unschooling thread with this question:

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To what extent do you think empathy is (or is not) the basis of your unschooling approach?
Up-thread I was asking about parental empathy for the perspective of the children. But it has to go both ways (and with modelling it eventually will, I think). Unschooling only works if the children grow up learning empathy. They won't need to be coerced to learn pro-social skills and attitudes if they are empathic towards others and therefore genuinely want to learn learn those things.

I also take @mckittre 's point about how early consistent parental choices can create a situation where kids unquestioningly participate. I know this gets into an unschooling grey area, but I think that if as a parent you identify basic needs, beliefs and values that you want to pass along, it's fair game to just enact family habits that support them. I never asked my kids if they wanted to compost. That was just always how we did things as a family, and they never thought to question. I never asked my kids whether they wanted to swear off interpersonal violence as a method of conflict resolution. I never offered broadcast TV as an option; we just never had it. For some families participation in religious practices falls in the same category of "this is just how our family works," and for mckittre, self-supported outdoor activity falls in that category. For my kids it was learning to play the violin ... everyone they knew did it, so of course they would, and they assumed so as much as I did.

I think if you can develop this-is-just-how-our-family-works habits gently and non-coercively,
it sure makes things a lot easier. Not that I'm saying it is easy to start new habits like this, or that coercion is necessarily justified when doing so. But I don't think it's necessarily anti-unschooling to have established such habits during the early years.

Miranda

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#29 of 42 Old 04-22-2017, 03:57 PM
 
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2 driving classes under his belt... improving all the time! 6 weeks of free driving with me , then 2 classes in mid june and hopefully a license then.
Kid is looking for a summer job, he didnt get hours at the math lab ( nor did many tutors) so he is applying at the icecream place and a couple other stores near the house. If nothing pans out he can have a lazy summer. 8-10am class then he is free to either work or go back to bed.

Summer is here 98-100 degrees. Blast oven is coming soon.
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#30 of 42 Old 04-23-2017, 07:58 AM
 
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Thank you all for the empathetic and insightful responses in my "time of need." Whew. I think you've talked me off the ledge. There were lots of points you all made that have me working on new approaches and am trying to stay steadfast in making sure "the give and take is built on empathy and understanding, not authority" as you wrote Miranda. I just love the easy going, helpful, non-judgemental tone of this group. Thanks for being here!
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