Deschooling/ Unschooling (long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-21-2002, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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My dd is now 11 and went to school till she was 8, I also have J who is now 28 months old. When I took E out of school I tried many different methods of home educating, then came across the theory of unschooling and felt this fitted in with my philosophy of life- I never stop learning!!

The difficulty I am having is to deschool us both. E if she went to school would be at secondary this september. So i try to relax and see where she takes me, but she just wants to play sylvanian families or watch TV- how can I get back her enthusiasm for learning that I see in my youngest? Is it all lost? I consider just going about my day and doing the activities that i want to do eg playing piano, writing, reading etc but fear E will not thrive from this and will just sit in her bedroom on her own whilst I get on with my life.

She genuinely has no motivation to learn new things, when things are a struggle she'll give up. I just worry so much for her as I want her to have the opportunities to achieve her dreams whatever they may be in life, and to not feel that I didn't nudge her enough to stretch and grow. But I don't want to turn my home into a school with timetables like her other home ed friends have.

How can I help her realise life is an education, that we don't need to do 'work' today or workbooks. Will this be doing her an injustice? When she meets with her 'structured' home ed friends she feels she knows nothing and loses confidence in herself. I don't want her to feel we're doing a photography project because we have to for 'home education' instead it's that learning to take photos just might be fun.

Any ideas or thoughts on this?

Amanda treehugger.gif , UK Mum, married to airline pilot Davesurf.gif . Mum to Emily blahblah.gif (20), Jasmine  dust.gif(11) and Theo fencing.gif(7):

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#2 of 5 Old 07-21-2002, 09:42 AM
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Mand, I'm not clear on when you bagged school-at-home and began your unschooling journey, but your situation sounds similar to ours.

I pulled ds out of ps when he was 9 (he's 11 now) and we did school-at-home for a few weeks before realizing that wasn't going to work. I worried exactly as you are because ds didn't seem to be interested in anything besides gameboy and legos. Meanwhile, my (then) 6 yr old was gobbling up info as fast as she could. She is the unschooler that you read about in books...teaching herself to read, designing her own science experiments, writing letters to customer service departments and animal rights groups with valid concerns, setting up her own business, etc etc.

I was afraid that ds would never recover from his ps experiences. and would never learn anything at home.

My advice would be, surround yourself with other unschoolers--if not irl, then online. (Try Also, you might want to try keeping a journal--I was surprised when I did so and found that ds WAS doing more than I thought. He's learned so much about animals--particularly endangered species--through the computer and shows like "The Crocodile Hunter," and magazines. His Lego building slowly grew into an interest in architecture...his tv-watching moved from cartoons to shows like "This Old House" and "Extreme Homes." We discussed different time periods in relation to architecture, differences in building materials depending on thing led to another, yk? He's worked on a number of home improvement projects in our home and in his grandparent's home. He's designed and built toys and cabinets. He's recently shown an interest in movie-making and has been filming some video--and no, he doesn't know his times tables. ;-) But that's okay, because he knows lots of other things and he's finally, finally, interested and excited about learning again!

Waiting and giving them time is really hard, I know, but I'm convinced it is the right thing to do. Good luck.

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#3 of 5 Old 07-21-2002, 12:12 PM
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I would suggest first of all severely limiting TV time if that is an issue, having her help with household chores, and take lots of field trips to try and spark an interest (library, art museum, etc) You also may want to ask her what SHE wants to learn and do with her time. Maybe unschooling, for her, will mean that she will spend time each day working in a book, etc. She may not want to offend you by mentioning it, but I would have a real sit down and find out what she wants to do with her tims and what interests she has in learning.
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#4 of 5 Old 07-21-2002, 01:01 PM
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I second Joan's suggestion of My children are still relatively young and we decided on unschooling from the beginning, but whenever I start to get doubts, I spend a little while on's discussion boards and feel all better.

Another great source for feeling good about what you're doing, if you can find it, is back issues of the magazine Growing Without Schooling. It's no longer in print but I think you can maybe get back issues from Family Unschoolers Network, which is a great catalog anyway.

BTW, I've even read some great stories both on those boards and in that about how allowing children to watch the tv they wanted to watch actually led to some great learning, and about how late readers finally learned to read when they wanted to be able to read the instructions for some new computer game. So I wouldn't necessarily limit tv or computer games or other things that "seem" somehow like they're just hanging out, unless that is something you would do anyway in your life. My dh and I aren't fond of tv for many reasons, so we don't have it on much, but if it is something you are otherwise okay with, you might be surprised by what she learns from it.
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#5 of 5 Old 07-21-2002, 11:11 PM
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mentioned but have your read "The Unschooling Handbook?"
There is some great info about deschooling in there and some
testimonials from parents that had the same problem as you!
Hope it helps!!
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