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#1 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all!

Wanted to know if anyone could clarify for me the difference between unschooling and homeschooling and the philosophy behind each?

I'd appreciate your insight
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#2 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 11:16 AM
 
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Homeschooling is providing your child with an education mainly at home (of course some of it happens in the community as well). Unschooling is a type of homeschooling that is child-led learning. Other types of homeschooling are parent-led.

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#3 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks!

How does that work exactly? Unschooling, I mean.

Bear with me...I am very new to all of this.
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#4 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 11:21 AM
 
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a good book

www.unschooling.com

The Unschoolers Handbook
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#5 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 11:32 AM
 
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I have the Unschooler's Handbook on loan from the library right now. It's great. My biggest challenge is to not act annoyed when every tiny act I do is met with a long stream of questions. Unschooling seems to be a lifestyle, not schooling from age 5 to 18. My take is that you are supposed to foster your child's endless curioisity (think of a 2yo, that kind of desire to learn) by:
1. answering their questions lovingly, no matter how constant they are
2. model learning for them by reading and doing interesting things for yourself
3. strew their paths with a variety of educational things: books you think they might like, paints, measuring cups, rulers, puzzles, blocks, etc.

It doesn't seem like an educational approach, rather a parenting or even a lifestyle (for yourself) approach. It does not seem to fit with lots of parent-led things in other life areas. I've learned that you can borrow 10 library books that you think they might like and place them on the coffee table, but you can't ask them to read them and get upset if they don't.

To me, it seems like a good amount of work, in being available to answer all questions, follow all leads and interests they come to you with, providing them with learning opps like trips to market, museums, etc. It means being connected with their interests and giving them an environment to explore them, but not leading them.

I'm only in the first couple of chapters though!

ETA: There's no curric, no learning objectives. You provide the positive, resource-filled environment for them and are available to answer questions. They learn what they want to learn and how.
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#6 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 12:12 PM
 
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I just want to point out to LeftField that homeschooling (not just unschooling) is really a lifestyle. Most homeschoolers regardless of their style (myself and the many homeschoolers I know) provide lots of love to our children, provide our kids with good modeling of learning and doing, provide a learning environment with interesting toys and books, and take trips to market, museums, etc. We all use "teachable moments", so in some ways we all unschool.

However, as a classical homeschooler I also expect and require my children to learn certain things and read certain books. When I go to the library and bring home those 10 books, I read them, my kids read them, sometimes we read them together, but they DO get read (unless I think they are just too boring, and then we check out something else ;<) . Through those things I require of them, my children are exposed to things they never would have come across in our local museum, they never would have chosen to read on their own, and maybe they will find an interest they never would have even known about otherwise. But we are certainly very busy unschooling with the rest of our time.

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#7 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 12:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField

To me, it seems like a good amount of work, in being available to answer all questions, follow all leads and interests they come to you with, providing them with learning opps like trips to market, museums, etc. It means being connected with their interests and giving them an environment to explore them, but not leading them.
But isn't that what parents DO? Don't we all answer our kids' questions? And if they say they're interested in...say...dance--wouldn't most parents look for a performance to take them to or ask if they'd like to take classes? Any good parent would be connected with their kids' interests and give them an environment to explore them, don't you think?

I think that the main difference between unschooling and homeschooling is that, with unschooling, there is no curriculum planned by the parents. The children explore their own interests and lead their own education. As a parent, I see myself as a resource person, or facilitator, but not a director of their education. I don't give assignments, or tests or have an outline of what they'll learn or when they'll learn it. I point things out all the time--"Here's an interesting article" or "This museum looks cool" or "Should we read this book a loud?"--stuff like that. They're always free to follow through or not. Also, unschoolers tend to see value in all experiences--reading, writing and arithmatic are no more or less important than playing with Legos or climbing a tree or arts and crafts.

(edited to add) I don't think that unschooling prevents one from using a curriculum--provided that it's what the student chooses to do.

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#8 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 01:48 PM
 
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I didn't say that other parents don't do those things. I was simply saying that, according to the Unschooling Handbook, those things are essential to successful unschooling. I am still learning about unschooling, just a newbie, and examining all the styles of homeschooling. If you have any in-depth questions, I'm not really the person to ask. I'm just enjoying the Unschooling Handbook and wanted to share what I'm learning. Or better yet, check the book out of your local library or visit the websites listed.

It's my impression that unschooling isn't simply education without a curriculum. It is a whole lifestyle, more like the belief that learning permeates everything, so that you can't draw a distinct line between "now we're learning math" and the rest of life. It seems like the parents is always on; if the child asks a question, there's no delaying it, but you immediately help the child get the answer.

Maybe other people do this and don't unschool. That's fine. Again, I'm not the best person to question, as I'm literally learning about this right now.
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#9 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 01:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy in NH
I just want to point out to LeftField that homeschooling (not just unschooling) is really a lifestyle. Most homeschoolers regardless of their style (myself and the many homeschoolers I know) provide lots of love to our children..
Who said that other people don't love their children? I'm simply sharing what I'm learning from the handbook about essential elements of unschooling.
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#10 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 02:20 PM
 
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It seems that at a basic level, the difference is that unschooling puts the child in a place of control over their own education as opposed to having their education directed by a teacher/parent. The child chooses how to spend their time, and parents are around to answer questions or help if it is requested.. but they do not direct their childrens' education. For my family, that means that kids can choose to watch tv, read, play outside, get on the computer, or whatever and it's all just fine.

We often define unschooling by saying that there are no scheduled lessons and no curricula, which is in fact true for many unschooling families. However, if an unschooling child was to choose to use curricula and a schedule for themselves then it is still unschooling- because it was the child's decisions not the parents rule. To be unschooling.. the child would also have to be free to say no I don't want to do that at all, and have that choice respected by the parent. The child learning in the child's own way, on their own timetable, for their own reasons. Unschooling parents (in my experience anyway) do not generally separate "educational" from the "uneducational". We see it as all educational. No one thing is better than any other, it just depends on what a child is wanting and needing at that time.

Homeschooling itself is a lifestyle of course. Unschooling is also a lifestyle. They are different, no doubt about it. But, they both involve deciding that you wanted better than public/private school for your kids- and that is a great thing no matter what you call it Kristi

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#11 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 02:27 PM
 
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"It's my impression that unschooling isn't simply education without a curriculum. It is a whole lifestyle, more like the belief that learning permeates everything, so that you can't draw a distinct line between "now we're learning math" and the rest of life."
======================================
I totally agree. As unschoolers we see that learning happens because we are alive and part of the world around us. We generally do not make subject distinctions, because well.. it would just be really silly since we do not have lessons or a schedule. My kids would get tired of "Now we are learning about moths" (we had a huge moth on our back deck a few weeks back.. was sooo cool!) or "It's time to learn about division" (my daughter asked what remainders were ... )

We just live our lives, and we learn along the way.. together and independently. Kristi

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#12 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the great reply, unschoolnma. I woul be interested to hear more about how you go about educating your children and what has worked the best for you thus far.

Why did you choose to unschool to begin with? Why did you choose it over homeschooling?
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#13 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 03:34 PM
 
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Well said UnschoolnMa!
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#14 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy in NH
We all use "teachable moments", so in some ways we all unschool.
<...> But we are certainly very busy unschooling with the rest of our time.
Just to be clear - this is *not* unschooling. Unschooling is not something you can do in beween your parent-required lessons - it's not another word for hanging out with your kids and doing things that interest them. That's part of what happens when you unschool, but it also happens when you school at home or school at all.

It's like saying that you eat meat for two meals each day but in between those meals you're a vegetarian. You're not - you're an omnivore, even if you aren't eating meat at that moment.

Unschooling is a lifestyle, and it's really defined by the absence of required academics, more than what you actually do instead of those required academics.

Unschooling is not about "teachable moments", either. If my kid makes cookies, it's about cookies, and if I saw this as an opportunity to teach her about fractions and maybe work on some reading skills, that would be working on my agenda, not hers.

I chose unschooling because I saw it as part of the natural progression of child-led weaning, toilet-training, and everything else. I also went to a school for a couple years where a lot of the learning was more child-led than traditional schools, and that opening my eyes a bit to the possibilities. As a kid, I remember being so fascinated with so many things, and not having the time to explore them all... and most of my time in school seemed to be a waste of time, and really boring.

I also read Summerhill, a long time ago...

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#15 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 04:28 PM
 
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also read summerhill, a million years ago.

my dd has chosen to immerse herself in bulgarian, instead of the few choices she would have had in public school. (she reads cyrillic fluently now! wow! and has bulgarian internet friends, is planning a trip next year... why the fascination with bulgaria? i don't know, but it started with watching bulgarian soap operas on international cable, lol. if she'd been in 'school', mine or theirs, it wouldn't have happened.

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#16 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 04:56 PM
 
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Unschooling is not about "teachable moments", either. If my kid makes cookies, it's about cookies, and if I saw this as an opportunity to teach her about fractions and maybe work on some reading skills, that would be working on my agenda, not hers.
I like the way you put this, Dar. I have a couple of teacher friends who's children go to school, and it seems that, for these particular parents, every experience is a "teachable moment" - and it's annoying! They are constantly controlling the experiences, the insights, the learning from all the projects their children involve themselves in. They involve themselves so much, the project is no longer the child's, and the child often loses interest. Then they complain that their child never follows through on his projects!

LeftField: My almost 10 year old son asks scientific/engineering questions which are out of my league many times a day. I cannot possibly follow through on every one of them everyday. But we do the best we can. I am so thankful for the library and the internet. Having an engineer for a father/husband doesn't hurt either! What I'm trying to say is, especially with more than one child, it is not always possible to follow up on every little thing. That's O.K. If you are very interested in your child and his/her interests, and you show them that you want to help them pursue their interests, they will develop patience, and will be able to wait until you can get to the internet, or the library, or the museum, or the art supply store, or whatever.

My kids have become great list makers! :LOL And my son now wants to learn how to type and spell so that he can start looking things up on the internet for himself.

It all works out.

Laura
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#17 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 04:59 PM
 
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Homeschoolers lead their children in learning. Parents leading children.

Unschoolers let their children lead. Children leading themselves/parents.

I see positives in both. In both cases children are allowed to explore their own world and develop their own interests. To fine tune their passions.

Homeschoolers don't all have mini classrooms in their homes. Unschoolers don't all let their children run wild. Both are extreme cases.
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#18 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 05:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2boys4me
Hello all!

Wanted to know if anyone could clarify for me the difference between unschooling and homeschooling and the philosophy behind each?

I'd appreciate your insight
I think the simplest way to say it is that homeschooling is doing school at home, and unschooling is just living life and following your children's interests so learning occurs naturally every day- without any curriculum or schedule.

A homeschooler might sit down every afternoon and do certain lessons from her chosen curriculums, then do what they want for the rest of the day.
But an unschooler does what they want to all day long- maybe reading some books they picked out on rockets and planning to build one this weekend, or playing outside, or for older ones even going over algebra text books to get ready for their chosen field- but everything they learn is because either they wanted to learn it, or because it is such an integrated part of life (money, time, etc) that they learned in it just by living.

I would recommend the same books other people did, if you really want to understand it- The Unschooling Handbook and The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith and Teach Your Own by John Holt.
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#19 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 05:28 PM
 
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unschooling: my 3 yr old wants to write a story. he dictates & i write it down, at his request. (when i say 'i like the story better where the mama comes & finds the little lost boy in the forest, than the one where he is eaten by shirt head monsters!' he says, 'mama, it's MY story.' a quick reminder, lol.)

traditional homeschooling: i imagine we would still be practicing letters (till he lost all track of where the story was going!)

just quick examples of practical applications in *my* life.

suse
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#20 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 08:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField
Maybe other people do this and don't unschool. That's fine. Again, I'm not the best person to question, as I'm literally learning about this right now.
I wasn't so much questioning you as trying to get a discussion going. I just found it curious that you said you felt that "unschooling seems like a good amount of work" because it just feels like parenting to me.

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#21 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 08:45 PM
 
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Unschooling tends to be more of a parenting philosophy in raising children than an educational decision.

Homeschooling is more of an educational decision than a parenting philosophy.
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#22 of 39 Old 07-09-2004, 11:34 PM
 
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Hi 2boys4me, I am glad my reply made some sense. I am always half sure that I come off as a total nutjob..but that would be alright too I guess While it is accurate to say that I educate my children, it would be equally accurate to say that they educate me. We are all students, and we are all teachers in my family. My son taught me stuff about space a few years ago. Stuff I am not sure I ever knew, or I knew it and then promptly forgot it (wasn't important or useful to me so why retain it?) We are just a bunch of humans that seek out and drink in the knowledge we need and thirst for. We share that info with each other too.

As far as what has worked best for us... well that would be unschooling! We chose unschooling for much of the same reasons Dar listed in her earlier post. It was a natural extension of what was already going on (to some extent anyway). Our children have always been able to make their own decisions so why should it be any different when it came to learning? I do not feel that they need to have thier lives, or education dictated to them by either the school system or my system. We are a non-coersive type family. I hope that answers your questions a bit. Please feel free to ask more and more if you have them... Smiles
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2boys4me
Thanks for the great reply, unschoolnma. I woul be interested to hear more about how you go about educating your children and what has worked the best for you thus far.

Why did you choose to unschool to begin with? Why did you choose it over homeschooling?

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#23 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 04:34 AM
 
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we homeschool & do not 'do school at home'

unschooling is not the only child led way to homeschool
good luck OP sorting this out

why not just go with what fits your family best and not try to label yourself, I think that is limiting - not helpful in the longrun

mom to ds14 1/2, ds10, ds7, and dd 4 1/2
all happily homeschooled in dif ways that -they- choose
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#24 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 05:26 AM
 
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Vannasmom wrote:
why not just go with what fits your family best ====================================

I think this is a great idea Do what you and your kids are comfortable with. If it turns out that unschooling is your thing, that's great. If you find that it isn't your thing, that is cool too. To each their own and all that jazz.... Kristi

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#25 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 09:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
I wasn't so much questioning you as trying to get a discussion going. I just found it curious that you said you felt that "unschooling seems like a good amount of work" because it just feels like parenting to me.
I guess the reason why I said it was because there's a common misperception (not here I'm sure) that unschooling is totally hands-off. People seem to respond negatively to that, like the parent is not doing anything at all for the child, just letting them take care of themselves completely. From what I've read, it's the opposite. That while the parent is not leading the child, they play a very active role in modeling, answering questions, and making resources and opportunities available. I think that I was speaking to answer that common misperception more than anything else.
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#26 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 09:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField
I guess the reason why I said it was because there's a common misperception (not here I'm sure) that unschooling is totally hands-off.
OIC. Yeah, there was a time, a long time ago, that I believed that unschooling = doing nothing. Obviously, I've since changed my thinking on that!


So, you're right, it's not "hands off." But, you know, it doesn't seem like work because we're all doing what we want to be doing.

And the thing about answering their questions changes as they get older too--little kids ask those "Why is the sky blue?" types of questions on a seemingly constant basis, but as they get older, they're just as likely to go look up their own info than to just ask Mom. (Plus, the discussions/debates get more interesting.) And there doesn't need to be an immediacy to things either. DS1 recently stated that he wanted to start up archery again. I didn't drop everything to go research it, but within a day or two we were at the library and within a week we'd found a coach/range for him. We DO have our busy days, but it's of our own choosing and we can also choose to have our down days, of course.

I got the impression (maybe wrongly) that you feel it's pretty intense. I was just pointing our that it really isn't.

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#27 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 10:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
I got the impression (maybe wrongly) that you feel it's pretty intense. I was just pointing our that it really isn't.
I guess I was nervous that it would be that way, because my current life with my 3 yo is sooo intense. I worry too much, I think, I want to do it perfectly and not stifle his natural curiosity. He's very self-directed and enjoys his own company. That's how I was drawn to unschooling, because it seemed to be the best match for his personality. He's not the kind of kid that I can teach, even if I wanted to. He is resistant to being taught, unless he has initiated it. He doesn't like to be put on the spot. He's very stubborn and strong-minded. I genuinely feel that formal schooling would be a bad fit for him, which is how I wandered over to homeschooling. And now I also think that any attempts for me to lead him would end up with a fight and with him turning off. He has his own quiet agenda and will not be led. That's how I ended up considering unschooling. At the same time, he asks constant questions *all day long*. I'm trying really hard to answer them patiently, but sometimes I feel mentally exhausted.

I think that's why I implied unschooling as intense, because life right now with my ds is intense. He can't read. He follows me around and questions every thing I do, and then hits me with millions of follow-up questions. I keep telling myself that it's temporary. I do love that about him, though, I really do.

I was relieved reading this thread, hearing about older unschoolers, the increase in a child's patience in getting the answers, the self-directed activities. I mean, ds1 is a pretty self-directed kid, but at this young time in his life, he counts on me for many of the answers. It will be fun to watch this evolve.
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#28 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 11:27 AM
 
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We're homeschoolers too. We rarely do "school at home". According to my state laws we need to have the child's work on hand. Even when we do workbooks it's more of a family event full of mischief. We've got posters all over the wall that I bought and the kids like 'em. It does give the appearence that we have a mini classroom here but I'm not that organized.lol

*The alphabet train ( which we use for funny words games),

*the map of the US ( another card game the kids like...who can find which states the fastest) ,

*the world map (that shows the usa in real proportion... who can find Sri Lanka the fastest ? < its' the pear shaped island in the indian ocean.>) ,

*multiplication tables (which we use to tally game scores or figure out how much we need to save to get a new barbie or legos) ,

and a host of other 'school' like posters and items. We do some child-led learning. It's a happy combination that works for us. It took a few years to find the balance. I'm sure in the next couple of years we'll have to balance it again to fit the needs of the family.
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#29 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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WOW! I am so thrilled that I got so much feedback on this thread. I wanted to say 'thanks' to all of you who posted in response to my question. I am very intrigued by thus 'unschooling' method and it has turned into a major discussion topic between me and DH. I will have to do some research and find out more.

I am still open to and ready for any more reading suggesstions and/or insight from all of you.

Thank you!
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#30 of 39 Old 07-10-2004, 12:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField
At the same time, he asks constant questions *all day long*. I'm trying really hard to answer them patiently, but sometimes I feel mentally exhausted...

...I think that's why I implied unschooling as intense, because life right now with my ds is intense. He can't read. He follows me around and questions every thing I do, and then hits me with millions of follow-up questions. I keep telling myself that it's temporary. I do love that about him, though, I really do.
I can relate! (As I'm sure we all can.) Life with little kids DOES take a lot of energy--plus, I see you've got a baby too--so you're probably adding lack of sleep to the mix.


It DOES get better as they get older--honestly.

Single Mom to 3 (12, 17 & 21)  luxlove.gif and dog2.gif.

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