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#1 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi ladies--

Okay, I'm faced with a situation here at home, due to a debilitating but non life threatening illness, where I will have to 1) put the kids in public or private school, or 2) leave them to fend for themselves academically here at home.

What I read about unschooling homes is that the moms are very involved in the child-led learning. I simply cannot do this right now. It is all I can do to get the basic chores in the house done, and it is too exhausting and tedious to teach the kids to help me. Don't unschoolers get the kids involved in all the household chores, etc., like cooking, to teach them about things? I simply do not have the energy right now to turn bread baking into a big math and science lesson. I cannot be at their beck and call when they feel like having me help them read a book in Spanish.

The kids help with small things here and there, but because of how the house is set up (it is too treacherous for them to get to the washing machine in the basement, the steps are broken; the sink in the bathroom doesn't work and you can't draw water and drain water simultaneously in the tub, so they can't clean the bathroom) they can't do a lot of things I might otherwise ask them to help out with.

Before I got sick, we had a very structured homeschool. They learned a lot-- but I can't do that for the foreseeable future. So like I said, I can either stick them in school, or sort of say, "Good luck guys, here are the books, here's PBS, and I'll take you to the library once a week."

To put it plainly, I can't be child-led right now-- I need to be left alone (in terms of homeschool anyway-- I do feed, clothe, and love them!) so I can recupurate and take care of myself.

So I'd like to ask all experienced unschoolers-- given all this, do you think I can/ should unschool as described two paragraphs up for a while?

thanks!!
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#2 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 11:18 AM
 
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First before anything, I hope you will accept my sympthay for your unfortunate illness and challenging situation.

If it would not be too demanding financially, perhaps you could arrange for an older teen/babysitter to watch play with the kids a couple times a week for a few hours, during which you could catch up on the chores. Also, since you have multiple children, they will often be able to play amongst themselves, and have fun together even if you can't always participate.

BTW, who says unschoolers turn bread-baking into math lessons (lol)?? Bread is bread. We bake it because it tastes good. The end. Unschoolers who cling to the idea of teaching will handicap their own understanding of how learning works, so it would be best to discard that from your speech. Unschoolers do fun things. We learn from them, but the focus is on the joy. Not math lessons.

Be Well,
Jenny
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#3 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 01:34 PM
 
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I don't really think any kind of structured learning is really necessary at all in early childhood. I actually think it's fine to just let them be kids. They learn a heck of a lot that way. I'm not sure how old your children are but if they are pretty young I see nothing at all wrong with just letting them play etc. If they are older and read then it would be quite easy for them to learn, even in a semi-formula fashion w/o you.
I do the same things you are doing I just clothe, feed and love'em.
Good luck mama!!!

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#4 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 04:04 PM
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I do think there's a big difference between unschooling and just leaving kids on their own. Kids need someone there to help them find resources, answer questions, expose them to various things, and interact with them. If you aren't able to do this, then I do think your kids need to be with someone who can. You can do this from your bed, though, if you have the energy. You don't need to be doing household chores with the kids to unschool - heck, you can hire a housekeeper and unschool.

I do think finding another adult to come be with your kids part time might help, so you can rest. I also think the ages of your kids matters - if they're, say, 10 and up, they don't need the kind of full-time "watching" they do it if they're 5 or 6.

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#5 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not leaving them on their own LOL-- I just meant in terms of learning. When we were doing a very structured homeschool, I called the shots about when and how we homeschooled. I scheduled heavily. But I've found when I let the kids lead the way, they expect me to drop everything at their whim and go explore rocks with them or something like that. Right now, that kind of thing's out of the question. It's far more exhausting, it seems, to homeschool in a child led unstructured fashion, than in a structured fashion, and I can't even do the latter right now.

I'm not lying in bed while they roam around the house.

But the high demand sort of "pay attention to me, I want to learn this now now now now!!!" is beyond my scope at the moment. Can I say, "Go learn it on your own???"

The schooled kids are at a 4th and 1rst grade level. Two others are too young for formal learning.

Sheacoby-- you say you just feed, clothe, and love them. Are they "okay" academically? If they were plunked in front of a standardized test, how would they do? I'm not saying I want to teach for testing purposes or anything. although I live in a state that requires standardized tests. I'm just really curious about this. What happens when you just feed clothe and love them? Do they actually learn more? That would be a hoot!

thanks.
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#6 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 05:16 PM
 
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I have some questions for you.

How do you think your kids would react to being put in school? This must be a hard time for them. Even if you haven't told them about your illness, I am willing to bet they have picked up on something being wrong. If they would enjoy school that's great, but I know for my child if I were really sick and then I decided to send her away from me to school, that would be incredibly stressful for her. I would rather she learn nothing (which is impossible by the way!) and just be home with her family than to put her in school when I was sick. I just recently read some really inspirational emails about two families who had to deal with hard situations like this and decided to just drop the academics until it was over. One story was by a woman who wasn't even a homeschooler until she took her son out of school to accompany her with her sick dd to a hospital far away. After months of that and "no learning" they went home and they found he was ahead of his school class. Now they are homeschooling

Is this something that you will recover from or is it lifelong and you have to change your life for good? That would color my answer too.

Also, you do NOT have to drop everything the minute your child asks a question. Even if that were unschooling, it would only be possible for SAHPs of singletons, right? You can tell your children "that sounds interesting! Let's write it down and look it up later when I'm not so tired". My dd and I try to keep a log of questions she has. Sometimes we forget to research them of course But often I'm in the middle of something or we're out on a walk and she asks me something I don't know, or whatever. So later we google it or ask her dad or go to the library or something.

I would still ask them to help out with things they *can* help out with but that's not my educational philosophy but my parenting philosophy

You say you can't do school, but how much are you talking about? Can you still talk to them just like a normal (non-homeschooling :LOL!) parent? And can you read to them every now and then? If the answers are yes then you can still homeschool. Throw away the curriculum, the workbooks and anything that your kids need served to them on a platter.

And absolute worst case, you *can* put them in school in the middle of the year if it's not working for you.

I hope you are recovered soon!
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#7 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 05:31 PM
 
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Yes you can say "go learn it on your own". Do you have dictionaries at home ? Do you have an encyclopedia set ? I know you have the internet , and it has TONS of information.

Who says it all or nothing ? There is a happy medium between unschooling and homeschooling.

Have you looked into video homeschooling ? Or homeschooling on computer ? What about books on tape ? It doesn't take too much energy to sit at the computer and print out pages. You can even have your fourth grader do that.

Sending them to school will increase your stress level , increase THEIR stress level and your days of relaxing at home will be over very quickly.
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#8 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 06:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee

But the high demand sort of "pay attention to me, I want to learn this now now now now!!!" is beyond my scope at the moment. Can I say, "Go learn it on your own???"
Being a homeschooling mom doesn't mean that you are required to be an Activity Director 24/7. Nor does it mean that you are required to be going places non stop

I don't particulary agree that unschooling moms turn baking into a major math lesson or make a big deal about cooking and cleaning with the children. I don't. Unschooling is about living your life.... not about making your life be all about teaching your children.

I think you might be surprised what happens with your children when they are enabled to not only choose what it is that they are interested in learning about but also the way in which they want to learn about it. I think it's a wonderful thing for children to be given the opportunity to be able to ask the questions and find the answers.

I would agree with what Dar said. I don't know the extent of your illness...but if it is such that you are not able to care for your children then I think you really need to get some assistance. If it is such that you are able to care for them (which it sounds as if you are) then I think unschooling would be very workable. Actually, given that in the past your children have been homeschooled in a very structured way...it may be very good for them to be "deschooled" for a period of time.
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#9 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 06:30 PM
 
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Meowee, I don't think Dar was implying that you are leaving them on your own, she was saying that you're right to assume that your kids may need some educational support even as unschoolers. That doesn't mean, though, that you need to be academically at their beck and call.

Shannon, excellent points!!

"But I've found when I let the kids lead the way, they expect me to drop everything at their whim and go explore rocks with them or something like that."

Well, maybe then this is a fantastic opportunity for them to develop the ability to self-direct!
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#10 of 14 Old 07-21-2004, 06:32 PM
 
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My dd is the only school aged child I have. She is 7 and I have no idea how she'd do on standarized testing. It's not mandatory in my state and quite frankly I am very against testing anyway. My dd is very intelligent (no not biased at all ) but I can't really break it down into to she knows how do this and that etc. I think my children's play is their learning.
I guess the clothe (actually my ds is almost always nude :LOL) , feed and love them isn't exactly all I do I also answer many questions, and have conversations/interact with them too. I also read to them. When they are older and if interested we might (money permitting) put them into say art or dance classes etc.
I don't think unschooling is for everyone and if you are very concerned with your kids "measuring up" academically to their schooled counter-parts then perhaps unschooling wouldn't work for you. Not to say unschooled kids wouldn't ingeneral "measure up" but I don't see that concept meshing well with unschooling (well at least not how I see it).
Having mandatory state testing puts a different spin on things and I'm not sure how I'd handle that.

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#11 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 01:29 AM
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I think there's a lot of middle ground between leaving them to learn on their own and dropping everything whenever they have a question or want to do something.

I work at home, always have. Sometimes I cannot read, google, or explain something, because I am going nuts trying to prep a lesson or pack stuff or whatever. That's okay. I would say "Go learn it on your own, there's an encyclopedia" because, for my kid anyway, that wasn't how she generally wanted to learn stuff. I might say, "I can't help you with that right now" and then offer options - you could go next door and ask Gordon, orask your brother, or ask me later, or look at those books, or google it... depending on the kid. As long as you're a strong resource for your kids, you don't have to drop everythin for them.

Basically, whatever you do with your pre-school-age kids (assuming your're not schooling them), do with the bigger ones, too...

And yeah, I was just trying to figure out how much your illness really limited you earlier, not trying to accuse you of child neglect. I do think one can parent and unschool even if you're pretty bedridden, but you'd need to have the proper supports in place.

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#12 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 10:37 AM
 
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~~Are they "okay" academically? If they were plunked in front of a standardized test, how would they do?~~

I really don't know how my kids would do on a standardized test. Maybe they'd pass with flying colors. Maybe they wouldn't pass at all. Frankly, WE DON'T CARE! What do standardized tests have to do with learning?? REAL, joyful learning? Absolutely nothing.

I'm sure though, when you say you will only be able to feed, clothe and love them, that you mean at least a little more. I hope you will still have fun conversations with your kids and laugh with them, whenever you can. I hope you still answer (to the best of you ability) all their wacky questions, whenever you can. Not immediately. Not when you are honestly too busy or feeling too sick. But: whenever you can. That is key. Just BE with them. Play with them. WHEN you can. If you can do that, unschooling can work gloriouslly for your family.

Be well,
Jenny
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#13 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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wow, you ladies are better than all the shrinks in the world--!!

basically, I have a recurrent bacterial infection that is antibiotic resistent. I've done a lot of natural stuff to boost my immunity and have been somewhat better lately-- but there was a period six months or so ago where I was bed-ridden. Our little homeschool fell apart.

The kids were only worried when I was really sick and feverish. As long as I'm walking around, they're not a bit worried.

It's been tough. We had just bought a new car, and we can't use it to go out much. I have some homeschool nay-sayers in my family who have told me I'm keeping them "locked up" by homeschooling them.

That really bothered me when they said that, because for Pete's sake, what do they think kids in schools are? They are literally locked up, security guards and all (in my school district, police patrol many schools!), and not only do they have to stay in the same room all day, they have to stay in the same CHAIR all day.

Thanks SOOOO much.
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#14 of 14 Old 07-23-2004, 06:52 PM
 
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That's exactly right! Just goes to show that they are not looking at the issue at all rationally!
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