Let's talk about unschooling really - or ramblings of a very overtired mama *LONG* - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 12:58 AM
 
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Yeah I guess I can't be an unschooler because I really believe in child-centered learning far more than child-led. And if "freedom" in education breaks down the very reasonable structure and boundaries in our family I don't need that part of it. I thought uunschooling was about learning from life and honoring our children's natural ways of learning from life. I certainly do that.

Free-for-all computer and TV would not fit with my personal vision of being a responsible parent. School has about nothing to do with it because "school" isn't how we homeschool. Maybe we're lost in no-school/no-unschool land.

I don't mind being "eclectic" I feel like we have more freedom to make decisions this way than I would as an uncschooler--how ironic. How could I close down an option for learning than made everyone in my family get along better and feel more stimulated. Tihs is not measured by "school" standards but by "how we live well together" standards. But I'm not as progressive about parenting as some folks, I guess, and don't really want to be.

I've probably gotten myself on ignore now oh well.

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#32 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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GRRR I just typed up a very long post and it disappeared!! WAHHH

OK basically I just wanted to say:

Ahhh very interesting!

"On the one hand, under the idea that unschooling is absolute child led learning, in order to truly let your child be the person they want or were meant to be, we cannot impose our will on them in any way. Limiting access to TV or video games or anything else, setting bedtimes, assigning chores, etc. would be imposing your will on your child. This would stifle the natural development of the child."

I think this is just absolute garbage! I know it's not coming from you Alysia but rather from what you have been gathering and many have talked about these ideas in this thread.

Different families have different things that are ok and not ok. So if a family is not ok with tv, computers, video games (whatever) and their child wants them...is the family supposed to run out and get these things? Even if they feel that they are harmful to the child?

I've been at this for many years now and I just really HATE the HUGE misconception that unschooling means that the children do whatever, whenever, no matter what age. I haven't met one unschooling family yet that this would be true of....even those that spout such things on other sites

This idea of that parents are not to "impose" anything on their children is just garbage. I'm sorry but anyone that believes that is fooling themselves. We all impart our values on those around us. Maybe I wouldn't use the word impose (although their are times when it probably fits) but still I'm sorry I don't believe that there is one parent out there that doesn't impart something to their children whether intentional or not.

So if our child wants to run out in front of a speeding car just to see if it really would hurt....is this really something we would allow? If one's child decided they wanted to spend all the families money on whatever...would this be ok?

We all have our own boundaries and whether we want to say so or not - we all have our limits too.
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#33 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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deeporgarten ~ you are doing just fine! Don't allow anyone else to define what you are doing.

Honestly....I really wonder if some of these things that are brought up really are part of being an unschooler if those who coined "unschooler" would have been able to fit into the definition.

Again - I truly do NOT think it's a laundry list of what we do or do not do but more our mindset and philosophy. I think it's about our overall attitude about learning.
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#34 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:21 AM
 
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I do let my kids watch as much TV as they want but they don't tend to watch more than I'm comfortable with,kwim. They get on-line some not too much though. They would probably get on more if my dh or I didn't use the computer so much.
I think the concept of unschooling has a wide range of what "fits" in with it. I do think everyone in a family needs to do chores, it's part of being a family member imo.
My kids do probably 95% (rough estimate) of what they want to thru out the day and I'm fine with "dictating" that other 5% because as a parent I think it is my place. I'm not really looking for raising "unprocessed" children ( anyone who has read that book you know what I'm talking about). I think it is great in theory but wouldn't work for my family.
I don't find limits or boundaries to be bad things.
I know some unschoolers who ask their young child/ren if they are confortable with doing a certain activity and I'm more inclined to evaluate the activity and if I find it unsafe/inappropriate then I say no (no matter if my child would be comfotable or not). I think both of our reactions to this is in the realm of unschooling.
I don't think unschooling absolutely needs to flow into other aspect of parenting our children but I think it does in a lot of cases. I don't see why bed times and chores is inherently connected to how you choose to school or not school your child, jmo.

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#35 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by clothcrazymom
Again - I truly do NOT think it's a laundry list of what we do or do not do but more our mindset and philosophy. I think it's about our overall attitude about learning.
I agree with this. I was trying to say something along these lines but don't know if I was clear.

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#36 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by deeporgarten
Yeah I guess I can't be an unschooler because I really believe in child-centered learning far more than child-led. And if "freedom" in education breaks down the very reasonable structure and boundaries in our family I don't need that part of it. I thought uunschooling was about learning from life and honoring our children's natural ways of learning from life. I certainly do that.

Free-for-all computer and TV would not fit with my personal vision of being a responsible parent. School has about nothing to do with it because "school" isn't how we homeschool. Maybe we're lost in no-school/no-unschool land.

I don't mind being "eclectic" I feel like we have more freedom to make decisions this way than I would as an uncschooler--how ironic. How could I close down an option for learning than made everyone in my family get along better and feel more stimulated. Tihs is not measured by "school" standards but by "how we live well together" standards. But I'm not as progressive about parenting as some folks, I guess, and don't really want to be.

I've probably gotten myself on ignore now oh well.
: *I'm* not ignoring you, Deeporgarten! I pretty much agree with everything you said! Except that dh just hid the TV! :LOL Seriously, the kiddos were just way too enamored of it. They play so much more imaginatively when it's not around. They are little though -- 2 and 4 -- so I don't feel we're depriving them of any super educational opportunities or anything. We can cover Sesame Street stuff in other ways.

O.K. -- back to lurking! This is a very interesting thread.

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#37 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:29 AM
 
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I was getting a little sarastic there though and I really don't want to be a stinker. I just can't help it sometimes.

And I'm trying to remember that when we are introduced to an idea that is attractive and legitimate it is easy to take it to extremes. This has happened to me so many times when I get excited about something great. And that energy does take us in good directions for learning. Some of it we just have to try out, I guess.

My kids would just love to watch television all day long and they wouldn't just stop after a little while-- I have seen kids of all ages do this in other people's homes. For years and years. I cannot imagine doing this. What does it have to do with holistic learning? It's like buying half junk food and half healthy foods and telling your kids they can eat whatever they want whenever they want. I know families who do this kind of thing too. It does not work out well. I feel like even such things as this fall under this weird defintion of unschooling.

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#38 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:37 AM
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I'm not sure I see unschooling as child-led or child-centered..."child-led" implies someone following, and my child isn't the "center". It's just life, everyone living thei own and helping each other out.

Bringing up stuff like "the freedom to look at porn at age 5" is a straw man... what 5 yr olds want to go look at porn, unless they're trying to deal with something yucky that happened in their lives. It doesn't happen. Rain has had plenty of opportunity to look at online porn, but as far as I know she hasn't. If she wants to later, as a teen or whatever, it's okay with me. I don't think that has anything to do with unschooling, though.... except that the more limiting there is in any area, the less the child is free to explore.

So, I could say I unschooled, but my kids weren't allowed to watch tv, play computer, read books, or play musical instruments... and I required them to spend 8 hours a day working our family farm. That's going to be a really different unschooling experience than a child who has more time and access to more resources. Most people fall somewhere in the middle...

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#39 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:42 AM
 
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Different families have different things that are ok and not ok. So if a family is not ok with tv, computers, video games (whatever) and their child wants them...is the family supposed to run out and get these things? Even if they feel that they are harmful to the child?

Yes! On unschooling.com parents - even long term unschooling parents, even long term posters on unschooling.com are taken harshly to task if they don't run out and get a T.V. or computer, or gaming machine or whatever.

I've seen parents say that their children really don't like computer gaming machines - and some of the regular posters on unschooling.com argue with these parents! The regular posters are so sure that these parents are not really seeing their children, that they are stifling their children, or ignoring their real needs. It's like they cannot possibly entertain the idea that a child might not want a Gamecube (I think that's what they're called).

I ended up feeling physically ill much of the time I was reading on that sight. There are some posts, and some posters who are truly wise, and certainly have children's best interests at heart. But if what they preach is what makes a "true unschooler" - I'm not interested.

My children do not want a Gamecube. They play with these types of games at their cousin's house, and at friend's houses, but they have never asked for one. This summer, we've had many family meetings about living in a small house with four people and one T.V. situated in the main living area. I haven't posted anything about this yet, because I wanted to see how it went first, but we made a family decision to disconnect the cable, move the T.V. to a less public area, and only have DVD and VCR available. We decided (all of us together) that we would try this set up for 3 months, and re-evaluate at the end of that time.

So far - I have to say.....It's GREAT!!! I thought we were a happy close family before - but not having the T.V. blaring away for hours upon hours a day has been such a gift to our family life. My daughter (7 - almost 8) was the one who was watching the most - easily 30 hours a week. Her desire to watch T.V. was becoming so intense that she was starting to choose T.V. even over going to the beach, or dance classes!

So...what is she doing instead of watching Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for hours straight? Dancing - choreographing dances, learning French, reading, painting, swinging, skating, boogie boarding at the beach, building sand castles, hiking, gymnastics, soccer, memorizing her lines for her two parts in the play "Ella Enchanted," drawing, learning to play chess, cooking, playing with friends, etc. We've had a great summer!

It's not that she wasn't doing some of these things before, it's that she now has about 25 more hours a week to do these things. And - I'm going to go out on a limb as her mother who knows her very well and say - she's definitely happier. I have never been a T.V. limiter before - but it's never taken over either of my children's lives to the exclusion of other activities before. And, to be clear - we just disconnected cable - we have not limited their hours of watching, or anything like that - AND we came up with this plan as a family. We have Netflix, and the children can choose any DVD they want - even Nickelodeon shows, and Disney Channel shows, if they'd like. They can watch DVDs and videos whenever, and however long they want to. The only difference is that they are not under the influence of commercial T.V. Wow! Big difference. I think my daughter is watching about 5 hours a week now. If someone wants to try to convince me now, that commercials don't have that much influence on a child's T.V. watching behavior - I have a single subject study going on in my own family right now, and I can tell you - there is a huge difference.


I know that thinking that my daughter doing all these things is better than T.V. kicks me right out of the unschooling camp as far as radical unschoolers go. And, since I've been able to see the benefits of limiting access (by cutting off the cable) to certain types of T.V. experiences, I have to say - That Is Just Fine With Me.

Are the activities my daughter's particapting in now better for her than 30 hours a week of T.V.? Uh....IMO, hell yes! YMMV - and that's O.K.

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Laura

PS. deeporgarten: I love love love your posts and the way you express yourself. Keep it up, please.
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#40 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 01:54 AM
 
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We don't have cable and I am very happy with that.
I haven't been to unschooling.com in a very long time and only went there briefly before so I'm not familiar with what "rules" they have for unschooling.
I actually would be bothered if my children spent all their time or a majority of their time watching TV or playing video games. If that happens I will more than likely set limits. My dd has a gameboy color and one game, she and ds play it sometimes (a friend of our family gave it to her). My children spend the majority of their day playing and that I am very okay with. They are still quite young and I think that is exactly what they should be doing.

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#41 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 05:34 AM
 
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You're right, clothcrazymom, that's not coming from me. That's my interpretation of what I got from some people at the other site. I'm sure I impose my will on my ds a lot. At the very least, I influence his thinking every day. I don't see how it's possible to not have limits and rules and such for a household.

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#42 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 11:18 PM
 
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Oh the joy of finding like-minded souls on this subject! The problem I had with the "other site" was this- Why is it so wrong for parents,who have YEARS of experience in life, feel that it's damaging to their own childs well being to direct or lead this child in any way? And yet,these same grownup people have no problem telling other grown up parents "the way things should be done?" Does this mean that it's wrong and damaging to tell grownups what to do also? In which case,should there be anyone giving advice on the way "things oughta' be done?
Just thinking about some of the reactions I read to some very innocent sounding posts over there...just seemed like a whole lot of negativity. I think advice can be helpful and wonderful,and when someone is happy and successful in their family,great! Tell me all about it! Tell me what you did,or what didn't work for you. But please don't insist that there's only one way to do things, or else I don't fit. homeschooling in general is all about our different ways of succeeding!
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#43 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 11:41 PM
 
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Dar,

I'd love to read more about how you use life as your school. Do your children do any type of academic work or do they just live and learn? If they don't do any type of academic work, how does this affect any reporting you have to do to the school system, assuming you have to report on something? If they do academic type work, what is it? When I say academic work, I mean do they use any books or pc programs or anything like that?

When I said child-led, I meant that the child picks what she wants to do and how she wants to do it and the parent provides the tools need as is reasonable. I did not mean that the child leads the rest of the family in what is going on.

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#44 of 52 Old 07-27-2004, 01:39 AM
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Just live and learn. There are no reporting requirements here, because legally my daughter is a private school student. The gov't never even gets her name in the system.

"Child-led" implies someone following, doesn't it? At least that's how the term strikes me. Here it's more child does her thing, I do my thing, we help each other out, and we tend to spend a good bit of time together.

I don't read much on unschooling boards because honestly, after a short while it was just the same old stuff over and over and I got bored. However... if people go to an unschooling board and ask questions, I would assume that they wanted someone to tell them how to unschool - assuming that's what they're asking about. And I would tell them, because I know a fair bit about it. I do the same if my kid asks about casting off, or doing laundry, or spelling a word, becuse I know about those things. Sometimes someone won't ask outright but it will look like their struggling, and then I might offer help - "Are you having trouble casting off?" or "Are you wondering if unschooling is working because your kids don't know their multiplication facts?".

I don't go around telling happy school-at-homers or unit-study-ers that they're doing something wrong, just like I don't tell Rain that her spelling is unconventional, if she's happy with it.

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#45 of 52 Old 07-27-2004, 05:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigeresse
Also, when Holt defined unschooling and described how children naturally learn, it was before the proliferation of computers, internet, Nintendo, and TV's with 27,000 channels, not to mention way more "options" (overstimulation) for kids outside the home. I really think this has changed the face of "natural" learning.
I hope no one minds me jumping in late in the discussion here. (I haven't had much time to visit the boards lately so I just saw this tread and the title peeked my interest.)

I agree that things have changed enormously since the 70's and the beginging of the modern day homeschool movement. There is so much more information and resources that my younger children have at thier fingertips that my 3 oldest (adults now) did not. They grew up without a computer in the home and a simpler life, but because of the unschooling mindset that they all have, they eagerly, and easily, learned the skills they needed or wanted to know when they needed, or wanted to know them. Isn't that really what unschooling is all about?

My younger 4 children (7-16)are growing up with the internet as a part of thier lives and have naturally learned how to use it for their own interests, just as they have naturally learned to benifit from our garden, the beach, the woods, and the park's nature centers.

In my experience, unschooling is more of a way of approaching life, than a method of teaching, or learning. It involves looking at everything in life as an adventure or oppertunity to understand something. This takes the pressure off of the parent to "teach" and frees the parent to simply enjoy life with the child.

I find that there are times when I teach something to my children, such as when Heidi wanted to learn to crochet. It was natural for me to show her how to hold the crochet hook and yarn and explain how to read a pattern or improvise with her own ideas. The key is that we enjoyed this experience, she gained a skill she wanted to learn, and I had a great time watching my child blossom in this area.

It works the same with more academic areas such as math, reading and spelling. I've found that trying to have "lessons" rarely acomplishes what I had hoped for. When the child has the need to know, they are ready to learn in a very short time, and the information will be readily internilized.

I have found that the technology available to us now does not hinder unschooling, but rather makes it even simpler. Now we go to the web instead of the stack of encyclopedias, however we still maintain a large library of books that are refered to just as frequently.

One draw back I have found, is that, unlike my older children who are avid readers, my younger children are more inclined to want to see a video than to read a classic. Perhaps this is simply a sign of the times. We continue to expose them to the classics through theater, videos, and the many books on our shelves which we talk about endlessly.

In the end, we can only hope to expose them to all the world has to offer and encourage them in thier journey. Ultimately they must find their own way in this brave new world in which they find themselves. The child or adult with an unschooled mind will be able to excell in any enviroment.
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#46 of 52 Old 07-27-2004, 10:26 PM
 
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To me, child-led means the child leads himself. The child leads his own learning. That's what I meant, anyway.

So, if unschooling for you means just living and learning, what do you do when your child doesn't want to learn? I know, that's not really true. I just can't think of any other way to say it. For example, my ds refuses to do anything with the family, even things he enjoys and has previously expressed an interest in. I planned a trip to some water falls here that we had been to before because when we went before my ds couldn't swim and he was upset about that. When I told my ds we were going back to the falls and he'd be able to swim this time, he refused to go. He won't go to any museums or the aquarium or the zoo or anything with me. He says he wants to be a chef but would not go to a culinary camp. I try to find things for him to do that he has expressed interest in but he won't do any of them. I don't push him. I don't nag him about these things. I just mention them when I come across them.

Is this just an adolescent phase that I should just let go of? If I wait long enough, will he eventually want to do more with us? Or should I start to insist that he go with me to these things? It seems if I made him go, it wouldn't really be unschooling anymore. What would you all do in this situation?

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#47 of 52 Old 07-27-2004, 11:41 PM
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I think it depends on why you want him to come with you. If you want hm to come with you to a museum because you want it to be a Family Outing and Family Bonding Experience, and he's part of the family, then that's one thing. If you're wanting him to come because you feel like he isn't learning and needs to get out and do and see things, that's another. We do some of the former - but then Rain never really minds, I think it makes her feel like a valued family member. She's actually pretty flexible about doing stuff, as long as it doesn't sound school-y to her.

With the latter, I think that forcing the issue would be contrary to unschooling. Offering is good, like you're doing, but other than that I'd give it time. Oh, and you can also go do cool stuff yourself and bring back interesting bits that you think he'd enjoy, and he might prefer that.

I do think alot of what you're seeing now is the deschooling process, more than true unschooling. He's only been unschooling a short while, right? I think right now he's going to be leery of anything that seems "educational" or structured...by daughter only went to kindie, and very funky kindie at that, and it stiill took 6 months or so for her to recover.

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#48 of 52 Old 07-28-2004, 12:46 AM
 
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Yes, I think you are right that he is still deschooling and I have a feeling it will take him a long time. Not only was he inschool for 7 1/2 years but most of it was very difficult for him behaviorally. He is absolutely resistant to anything that remotely resembles schooling.

I want him to go with me on outings because I'd like for us to do things together and I want to learn more about where we live, see the sights and all that. It's not necessarily that I think he should go because he needs to learn this or that but I think he might learn something along the way. To get to the falls I was talking about, you have to walk through some botanical gardens and my ds didn't want to do that. If he's extremely resistant to something, I think I'll try what you said and go by myself and bring stuff back.

I'm sorry if I've sort of highjacked this thread.

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#49 of 52 Old 07-28-2004, 12:51 AM
 
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What would you all do in this situation?
If it were just between me and the child, I wouldn't push it. I offer plenty like you say, but I don't make my dd do anything that she didn't want to just because I thought it was "educational". However, like you, I have two kids and some day soon, my younger one is going to have opinions on what he wants to do So some day I can see me making my dd do something because her brother wants to do it. Or making her brother do something because his sister wants to. Or one doesn't get to do something because sibling doesn't want to. But even in those cases, I would try and find a way to compromise (maybe the trip can be done on a weekend so Dad can stay home with the reluctant child? Or the child can stay home alone once they are old enough).

And I have the same thought in my head about the term child-led. I always felt it meant that the child led themselves and led their own education. I don't know who made up the term and what the "right" definition is though.
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#50 of 52 Old 07-28-2004, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Alysia ~ I think you just have to back off. And for some even offering in the beginning may be too much. From what I've seen...there is a huge difference between those that need to go through the deschooling process and those that haven't had that experience (we had only a short period of that time in comparison since we only had one in kindy also).

I think for one thing it may help if you shift how you are looking at this: "what do you do when your child doesn't want to learn? " even with your disclaimer. It may be really helpful for you if you understand that even in his resistance and his seeming to not be in a learning mode...he's learning all the time. Maybe it's just looking differently than you would like or expect it to. At this point too...even if you think you have "backed off"....I'm sure Ryan picks up on any anxiety you may have. Children can be very observant and really absorb what's going on with us. I think it will take you being really ok with it all before he can start to decompress.

But anyway....I know for my own mind there are times when I just remind myself that they are ALWAYS learning even when it doesn't look like I think it should. Remember most of us have our own "deschooling" process to do too. Even for those of us who don't have children that needed to go through much of that, many of us (parents) needed to go through quite a bit of it.

Since there is the matter of your wanting to go and do all these things....maybe like others suggested, you could go ahead and go on your own. I think the natural process is to share what you experienced. You may find that he's even resistant to hearing that if he's feeling like you have an agenda about it.

It's really been a very short time. I know that it's very very difficult for most parents to "relax" and trust going through the "deschooling" process. At this point your youngest is just a baby so there isn't an issue of needing to balance the needs/wants of both children in terms of going places. You have plenty of time for all that....I wouldn't worry about that today.

Maybe it would help to think about it in these terms: he's been in the school systems for x number of years and you gave it a chance for all that time, you both deserve the same chance with this

And yes I think it's partly adolescence and definitely mostly moving out of the school mode especially since he was having such a struggle with things. He's learned to not trust "educators" so it's natural for him to be resistant. I really do believe if you let go of it and give him his time he will come to things naturally. Even when he does, it may not fit what you think it should be though.
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#51 of 52 Old 07-30-2004, 02:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife
Yes, I think you are right that he is still deschooling and I have a feeling it will take him a long time. Not only was he inschool for 7 1/2 years but most of it was very difficult for him behaviorally. He is absolutely resistant to anything that remotely resembles schooling.
Alysia, I think you have answered your own question here. Just let him live and enjoy himself. In time he will seek out more "educational" persuits. Boredom is a great motivator. Kids need time to "de-program" from the school mindset, and it is very individual how much time each person needs. It can be hard on the parent to watch and wonder if this child will ever do anything that remotely resembles learning....but your patience will pay off in the end.
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#52 of 52 Old 08-19-2004, 05:47 PM
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