Using classes (art, drama, etc.) while unschooling - ? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
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MIL brought up this question while drilling me to death the other night (10 pm after long day, last day visiting after three weeks, etc. You get the picture!). BTW when I first brought up unschooling with her, 3 weeks ago, she was excited about it. So I must have done something in the meantime to piss her off because she was not nice the way she drilled me.

Ok. So by unschooling I am attempting to avoid the many pitfalls of public education, one being - for me - keeping my child from an authoritarian approach to teaching.

So what happens when my dd takes dance lessons, for example, and the teacher is highly authoritarian, the lessons extremely structured, etc.

I told her that then it's my dd's choice. She has chosen to become involved in something like that and because of that she enters it with an inner conviction. Right?

And what do I tell people when they ask, "Well what if then she wants to quit and you've already paid up, etc. etc. ad nauseum."

Can you tell I'm tired of answering questions? :LOL
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#2 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 09:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ParisMaman

I told her that then it's my dd's choice. She has chosen to become involved in something like that and because of that she enters it with an inner conviction. Right?
Right. At least, that's MY feeling on the subject.


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Originally Posted by ParisMaman
And what do I tell people when they ask, "Well what if then she wants to quit and you've already paid up, etc. etc. ad nauseum."
Well, if you feel like having that conversation, you could find out the answer (maybe you can get a refund on untaken classes? Maybe transfer unused ballet classes to, say, tap classes? whatever) and give them the details.

Personally, if someone is asking with true curiosity, I have no trouble discussing the issue and my beliefs, but if I'm getting the third degree, I tend to want to just end the conversation. Maybe you need a polite but definitive response that will curtail the questions? "Oh, that's so nice of you to be concerned about our finances--we'll be just fine." Then change the subject.

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#3 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
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I never feel like having that conversation.

I rarely get simple curiosity, either.

But that particular question came from one of those qugar-sweet missionary women who somehow make you feel evil every time you open your sassy mouth. Gotta watch your cussing, you know? Hee hee. I don't cuss except in type. Anyway, I felt obligated to answer politely.

Seriously, the question had more to do with responsibility than finances. Like, "You must follow through because we already paid!"
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#4 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 12:18 PM
 
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I can understand the concern with money. But really, if one is taking a class, isn't the goal to get something out of it?

I compare this to those who belong to the "clean-plate" club. My SIL is forever trying to cajole my kids into eating everything on their plates, because throwing food away is wasteful. I say that forcing food into a body that doesn't need nor want it is wasteful. Either way, it's wasteful. You can be wasteful the easy way (tossing the food), or wasteful the hard way (arguing, pleading with child to eat when they're full).

Same with paying for a class that turns out to be undesirable. Sure, it's wasteful to just quit the class. It's also wasteful to keep going if it's just for show. If the kid isn't interested or feels uncomfortable, they won't benefit from the class. It's a waste of your time to talk them into going and a waste of their time to be there.

Lots of places will do a trial class. My boys did trial classes for both gymnastics and karate. They might not experience everything they need to know during the one trial class, but it's better than nothing.
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#5 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 02:40 PM
 
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I wonder about this too...I know for us I think I want them to at least try it, if it was their idea, but money *is* an issue for us, so maybe it would be more about that than the responsibility of finishing something they chose to start.
I also hate the idea of other adults in authoritarian positions treating my kids as less than a person(like many, many kids are treated). I am truely appalled at how grown ups treat kids half the time...it's nuts. I am just not sure what to do about it. I guess part of it is dealing with other people, possibly a learning experience?? LOL
I will be watching this thread...I feel like such a newbie...there is so much to learn (and unlearn)while I deschool myself(and try to help hubby through it).
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#6 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 03:27 PM
 
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Both of my unschoolers will be taking classes this fall, or at least they plan to at this point. My son wants to take Japanese and maybe a science class. My daughter hopes to get into a book club and a music class. In our case most of that will be free of charge, but I understand the issue of class fee's too.

We take classes on something because the subject speaks to us, or moves us in some way. If that isn't happening then the person taking the class is just a space filler, YKWIM? I encourage the kids to think about what classes they really want, and we go from there. I *love* the response given above of " Thanks for being so concerned about our finances! I think we're going to be just fine though". All of that said with a terrific sugar sweet smile of course LOL! Kristi

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#7 of 15 Old 08-13-2004, 07:19 PM
 
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I think it sounds like your mom is still really excited but thinks it sounds too good to be true and just wants to tie up all the loose ends and doubts in her head. (I am an optomist and truely want to believe that every one has good intentions :LOL )

As for the classes things. That is obvious - Well at your childs leading and whatever they want to do and blah blah and it is temp and they really can quit whenever you have decided they can quit (this is of course depndant on the second part of her question)

Here is what I do. They have to finish out whatever i have paid for. the furthest I will pay in advance is a month. If ther was something we had to buy by way of equipment of uniform we would sell it and they would have to pay me the difference if i felt we hadn't gotten our moneys worth. If I felt they weren't going to stick with it I might make they pay any equipment/recital fees out of thier own pocket. dd bought her sparring gear with Christmas money and she has gottne 9 months use out of her uniform. So she wouldn't owe me anything. when she wanted to quit after 3 months I told her fine but she had to pay me back for her brand new uniform (where we go they let you wait a couple of months to get a uniform) also she would have to finish out whatever month we had paid for. But if the money wasn't a big deal to you and you were more intrested in looking for different experiances to try then whats the big deal. it is your money not your moms.

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#8 of 15 Old 08-14-2004, 01:05 PM
 
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My kids have taken different lessons at different times. I don't have any rules about that they have to go for a certain period of time and they don't pay for any equipment or any of that (I always figure that we are still getting off way cheaper because we are not being nickled and dimed to death from the schools). I have learned that it's best for me not to buy into the deals of enrolling for a year or whatever because that may not be realistic. Often classes will have a trial period. Also many of these classes will have their own changes. I've had the situation where they end up changing times or teachers often. So I think it's best to stick with a short term agreement.

As far as teachers go...I've seen all sorts! I really go for the few freebie or whatever the trial period is so that the kids can get a good idea of how the teacher is and see if it's really what they want to do. But as I mentioned, sometimes the teachers will be moved around but then I make sure that we always have the option of either changing the class for a different teacher or leaving without penalty. When my children were younger I paid more attention to how the teachers were and sometimes would not go for certain circumstances. But there have been times when I thought there was no way one of my children would want to have a specific teacher or that they wouldn't do well with them at all and have found the opposite to be true. So you just never know.

I'm definitely not one that expects a child to make a major commitment to classes. I think it's good for them to try things out and experiment. Since we do have 3 children we do sortof limit how many classes they take at any given time though. We live way out in the boonies and we're only going to spend so much of our life in the car. Plus they have to balance with the other children's wants/needs as well.

To the OP - I don't know how old your child is. I really waited until my children asked to do different classes and at young ages I did take an active role in picking who was teaching and what was going on. I'm not one for structured activities for very young children. For a long time we did very open ended play type situations rather than many of the typical classes that people go for. Even now they look for places that are more about fun and not all about competition.

And as far as the MIL goes - it's really not her business. I mean I know she's just trying to be involved and show she cares. One of the big lessons for me in raising my children was to learn that it really wasn't everyones business as far as all the specifics. I had to set up some boundaries for myself and not allow others to be giving unsolicited advice/opinions. I used to feel some sort of obligation to answer all the questions and often would let myself be caught off guard. Once I realized that I really did not have to answer everything (and certainly not in any great detail) That made a HUGE difference for me.
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#9 of 15 Old 08-14-2004, 01:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 2tadpoles

Same with paying for a class that turns out to be undesirable. Sure, it's wasteful to just quit the class. It's also wasteful to keep going if it's just for show. If the kid isn't interested or feels uncomfortable, they won't benefit from the class. It's a waste of your time to talk them into going and a waste of their time to be there.


My dd took ballet. She asked for it on numerous occasions til I finally I signed her up for a local school. They run through the "school year" (though we only started in November). By the spring she was bored. I *did* keep pushing her to go each week but that's because every single time I asked her if she wanted to quit she would enthusiastically tell me no, she *loved* ballet, she just didn't want to go *this* week. Finally, after more than a month of that routine, she admitted she wanted to drop it. Oh, the utter relief that washed over me :LOL A few months later she told me she wants to sign up again : I told her that I think she is not ready for a 9 month commitment and I will try to find her a different ballet class that isn't so long. So far I haven't found one but she also hasn't brought it up again. I swear, sometimes she doesn't *really* want to do things, she just wants to think about doing things, imagine them, pretend she's doing them, and possibly get a taste of them (like one time, or one week of something). I think that's part of being a kid though

Really, I don't understand why I'm having a hard time finding organized activities for a 5 year old that *aren't* incredibly long. I know my dd is not your garden variety kid, but honestly, do most 5 year olds really do ok with committing to a class for 9 months? I would very much love to be able to sign her up for 1 month of ballet. It just doesn't seem to be happening.
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#10 of 15 Old 08-14-2004, 03:23 PM
 
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For us there are many factors that go into the decision to quit an activity.

The first is probably age and maturity level. If a 4 or 5 year old tries ballet and wants to quit at any time - no problem. My daughter has been in ballet since she was 3 1/2. She'll be 8 this month. When she was 6, she went through a period of time around the end of the year when she didn't want to quit, she just didn't want to go "this week." I figured out that she didn't want to go because she was involved in a particular T.V. program, and didn't want to miss the ending of it. So, we talked about that, and just didn't watch T.V. an hour or so before it was time to leave for class. That was it - she really did want to go, but it was very hard for her to break away from the T.V.

From that experience, I learned to really discuss their reasons for quitting with my children, rather than just saying - Oh, you want to quit? O.K. Earlier this summer, my son was ready to move into a new Aikido class. He had been in the 6 to 9 year old group for a year, and was ready to move into the 9 to 12 year old group. (He'll be 10 next month). He has had classes with the new teacher before - and LOVED her. Yet, on the day he was to start the new class, he decided - adamantly - that he "wanted to quit Aikido." I know my son well, and knew he really didn't want to quit, so I made him a deal. He had to go to two weeks worth of classes first (4 classes), and if he still wanted to quit, then he could quit. He was really angry the whole way to the dojo, so I also told him that part of our deal was that he had to fully participate for the 2 weeks. I *never* worry about the money that I've spent on lessons, or that it will be "wasted" if they quit - but I just knew he wanted to quit only because he was afraid to move into the big kids' class. So, I also told him that if he didn't go and fully participate for the 2 weeks, he would have to pay me the $55 for the month's tuition (I'd actually paid several months in advance, so $55 wouldn't have even come close to covering our expenses). My son is a major penny pincher, so I knew this part of the deal would ensure his participation.

He LOVED the class, and from the moment it started, had a huge grin on his face which stayed there throughout the class. He loves this class better than he liked the 6 yo 9 year old class. And guess what? I knew he would! :LOL

Now, if I didn't know my son so well, hadn't been really paying attention to how he truly felt about Aikido (loves it), and was not in tune with what was really holding him back (anxiety about practicing with the big kids), I probably would have just let him quit, and that would've been that. I am so glad I did what I did, though. I wouldn't necessarily even recommend my tactics to other parents, because I handled it in a way that was specific to my son, his interests, and his temperament.

That's why it's so tricky to have a hard and fast rule or policy about these things. If my daughter or son really disliked a class, found it just wasn't for them, or were being mistreated by a teacher they could drop the class immediately, no problems, and no worries about the money spent. In the above two circumstances, I knew there was something more going on than met the eye when they said they didn't want to go, and I'm glad I didn't stick to a policy that said: "If the child says they want to quit, they just quit."

My (as usual) longwinded 2 cents! :LOL

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#11 of 15 Old 08-15-2004, 01:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Openskyheart -

Yeah, that's what I do with my dd. She was recently very adamant that she did not want to go to her Russian summer camp-type thing. We talked and talked. Eventually she yelled, "I don't want to eat!!"

So we figured out that she was having a lot of trouble with a new lady who was forcing her to eat at lunchtime, telling her not to move or talk except to ask to go to the bathroom.

We had a nice chat with the directress, who affirmed that the lady has some things to work on.
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#12 of 15 Old 08-15-2004, 02:03 PM
 
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Shannon C--

Have you checked w/ your local parks and rec? Ours offers all sorts of things: dance classes, music lessons, art classes, Spanish classes for little ones, swimming lessons, etc., as well as activities for adults, and the classes usually run for 8 weeks with extremely reasonable prices.

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#13 of 15 Old 08-15-2004, 02:14 PM
 
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I've never understood people who push their children into finishing something that they've paid for, if they don't like it. I wonder what that does to a child in the long run, ie, I won't risk trying anything new as I"m not allowed to then quit if it turns out not to suit me.

I'm not saying that sometimes a little encouragement isn't a good idea, or a little firmness if it's an older child just picking and choosing which week to go for other reasons (like, something better came up, or a friend isn't going this week, etc). And older children can understand that you may be letting other people down if you are flaky about a commitment. But that's not the same as allowing your child to quit if they dislike something after giving it a go.

We quit ballet after three weeks as it became apparent that dd did not like the class. In fact, on week 4 when we arrived, she told me she'd rather go to the pond nearby and look at the ducks. So that's what we did.
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#14 of 15 Old 08-15-2004, 03:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravin
Shannon C--

Have you checked w/ your local parks and rec? Ours offers all sorts of things: dance classes, music lessons, art classes, Spanish classes for little ones, swimming lessons, etc., as well as activities for adults, and the classes usually run for 8 weeks with extremely reasonable prices.
No, I haven't. We don't have a rec center though. We have a parks department and I know they do sports and such but I think it's all outdoor stuff . It's worth a try, thanks
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#15 of 15 Old 08-16-2004, 07:10 PM
 
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I'm not saying that sometimes a little encouragement isn't a good idea, or a little firmness if it's an older child just picking and choosing which week to go for other reasons (like, something better came up, or a friend isn't going this week, etc). And older children can understand that you may be letting other people down if you are flaky about a commitment. But that's not the same as allowing your child to quit if they dislike something after giving it a go.

Couldn't have said it better myself, BritishMum.

Quote:
Yeah, that's what I do with my dd. She was recently very adamant that she did not want to go to her Russian summer camp-type thing. We talked and talked. Eventually she yelled, "I don't want to eat!!"

So we figured out that she was having a lot of trouble with a new lady who was forcing her to eat at lunchtime, telling her not to move or talk except to ask to go to the bathroom

Yeah, kids' thinking can be so black and white. They often need us to help them tease out the real issues and to see that certain problems can be solved without quitting altogether.

BTW - I've been thinking about you lately, ParisMaman. My kids and I are learning French. I'm taking a class through the Alliance Francaise, and the kids are learning along with me. I've been reading a lot about French culture, and have been paying special attention to the cultural ideas about raising and educating children. From what I've gleaned so far, it seems that to the mind of a person raised and educated in France with it's strict education system, homeschooling would be a much more radical idea than it would be in the States. And saying that you're unschooling must be like saying you're from Mars! I admire you and your fortitude, ParisMaman!

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