What to do..unschooling (long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 12-29-2004, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am mom to Emily (13) Jasmine (4) and Theo (4 months) living in a little UK village.

I really want to do unschooling, to live an unschooling life, but my eldest has reservations. We have tried nearly all the different home school methods over the past 5 1/2 yrs and they always start off well then lead to resistance, and tears. I love the idea of unschooling and think it is the only way to go.

When I asked my dd about her reservations, she informed me that yes it may be fun until she becomes 16, and is then unable to go to college becasue she hasn't done her GCSE's (UK qualification most colleges ask for) She is afraid she will end up stupid, doing a job that she hates and said it will be because she didn't learn anything (think she means academics)when she was younger.

There are a lot of 'shoulds' and 'meant to do' 'at her level' in her speech probably from dh who believes it is our job to challenge and stretch her. Dh also believe unschooling is better for those who are artistic based and not academic based!! grrrrrrrrrr

How can I help her see unschooling can be what she wants it to, that she can do anything and life can continue to be fun- because I believe it can and there are always choices, and that you don't have to take a job you hate and you don't have to go to college because all your friends are (she doesn't want to play catch up) But there is a lot of comparison to her peers how they are going to college...it's like she doesn't know who she is and what she wants to do..I feel for her and really want her to see life full of opportunities.

I know with unschooling if she wanted to do GCSE's, academics etc then she can do this, but in real life she doesn't actually do the work that is required of this (eg she goes on about wanting to keep up on her maths, but doesn't do the maths course) so what she is saying she wants to do doesn't match her actions.

Dh thinks any children who are given the choice will take the path of least resistance and will just laze about, with the tv on and it will become a habitual way of being. And that certain personalities reach adulthood with a deterministic view that there is little they can do to change their lives. He is worried that dd is that way, as she seems to get so fed up, eg she didn't want to go to our Home educators Christmas concert as they all play musical instruments and are very good, she said she felt so dumb compared to them. (However J got up and sang twinkle twinkle little star confidently) But then Emily doesn't try to change this.

At home when not with others she is happy, singing and chatting to me (she wants to do courses on interior design, photography and get singing lessons, but is worried that she is not doing her GCSE's instead). When she is with others, the comparisons come out

Any ideas where to go with this?
~Amanda~

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#2 of 13 Old 12-29-2004, 07:58 PM
 
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I may be a little out of my league as I have only started officially hs this yr.

We are an unschooling family as I don't think I could dissapline myself to be "schooling at home" and if that is what we wanted we would have sent ds to ps. We are not an artistic family at all. My dh is a science guy and I'm kind of a nilly nally person. C is our math child as well. Not much art or music here.

I think in order to unschool you need to just let things be. Don't push your dd into anything, even the hs events. Allow her to do her own thing without pressure to "graduate". After sometime(maybe a couple of months)sit down with her and ask her to write out a plan of what she wants to do in life(further then just college at 16~say 25yrs of age). If it's interior design, then take the time to help her research what it is that she needs to accomplish to achieve it. Then get her to write up a plan of attack on how she will achieve it. Then after that it will be up to her to either do the work, ask for assistance in signing up for or getting to classes or mentorship programs. If she ends up doing nothing and does not achieve her goal when she wanted(16~go to college with friends)then she has no one to blame but herself.

If left to her own devices she will do the things she wants to do. Even one who is "lazy". That is a description of me, but even as a teen, I would spend time on things I enjoyed and wanted to do. I wanted to go to college so I eventually knew I had to do the work in order to get there. I also put a goal on myself to achieve honours. I missed it by a couple of marks but by that time I knew I gave it my all and it no longer mattered. I still enjoy being lazy infront of the tv but am always learning too.

HTH
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#3 of 13 Old 12-29-2004, 08:55 PM
 
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I would just point out to her that her speech is not matching her actions, and that she can meet whatever requirements she desires to meet. She may be having trouble grasping the idea of total and complete freedom, and that anything she has an interest in doing can be done *but* she must decide to do them. This can be tricky for alot of older kids that haven't unschooled especially I think. Tell her she can meet the GCSE's if it is her goal, and that you'd be glad to assist her if she has any questions. (You've probably already told her that now that I think of it lol)

Lazy is a loaded term, and though its almost always used negatively, I think it can be a positive thing. Lazy gives us a change to just be... to "mentally/physically chill out" so to speak. Meditation is "lazy" if you think about it. Our family has no issue at all with TV viewing and it is indeed on for a large part of our day here. There are great things to be learned everywhere! Perhaps she might benefit from listing her learning desires and goals on a sheet of notebook paper. Sometimes writing something out can help us get a clearer picture of where we really want to go. Does she have a career direction or two in mind? Does she love animals, art, science, architecture, retail, etc? She just needs time and encouragement to overcome the "have to" and the "supposes to be's" lol. Wishing you both well.

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#4 of 13 Old 12-29-2004, 10:31 PM
 
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I'm not familar with the requirements in the UK, but I can tell you my experiences here in the USA. I have 3 grown children that were unschooled throughout, as well as 4 still unschooling at home. Two have gone on to college and have done exceptionally well, the oldest graduating with his Masters degree. They did not have any trouble passing the college entrance exams, or managing the academics, even though they did not do an enormous amount of academics prep.

My feeling is that children will do what they have to to acomplish their goals. You may need to remind her what her goals are and help her to find the study materials that she will need to complete those goals, but if she is motivated she can do this. On the othe hand if she is really more interested in the arts, and only giving lip service to the academics because she feels this is where the money lies for a good future, you may hae to spend some time finding out what her real goals are. The point being, she can do whatever she wants, but her motivation won't be there if it is not what she wants and enjoys, but simply what she feels she ought to do.

I know this isn't an easy spot for you and your dd, but I'm sure you will find your way through it all and in the process she will discover her true passions, and calling in life.
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#5 of 13 Old 12-29-2004, 10:53 PM
 
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"How can I help her see unschooling can be what she wants it to, that she can do anything and life can continue to be fun- because I believe it can and there are always choices"
Show her what and where some of those choices are, and how to go about making them happen.

It is a very hard thing to feel like you're at an age where you should be working towards something, but not having the faintest idea what you want it to be or how to go about getting it. The conventional wisdom is that you figure it out through doing school, and that even if you don't know what it is *now*, at least you'll already be on the road to it, just by virtue of having done a certain amount of academic work. Well, you are telling her that this conventional wisdom has a lot of flaws in it. Great, fine, but what then does she replace it with? One thing the school route has going for it, is it is a concrete choice, and it's right there for her to take, even if she's not put one bit of thought into it. In that respect, unschooling can look very hard and scary. Unschooling is all her, nobody telling her what to do or paving the way. I'd bet all she needs to let go of this anxiety is for you to make a concentrated effort to hold her hand for a while and show her, or even just talk about, the opportunities. But in a precise, concrete way. It's probably not going to do much good at this point to just talk about it theoretically.
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#6 of 13 Old 12-30-2004, 05:53 AM
 
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May be instead of saying that you are going to unschooling forever, you could talk about her taking a year off GCSE prep work to explore interests -- take the interior design course, photography etc. May be helping her write down what she wants to explore would help her feel more like it was an actual plan. I think that trying to avoid a job one hates is a good goal, but one must know what they enjoy before they can do that!

May be saying that it is for one year would make it less scary. GCSEs are harder than the tests American kids take and the whole system is far more competitive and more rigid. My DH is a Brit and I have neices and nephews over there. How many years does she have left before "O" levels? My DH never took his "A" levels and he has a very successful career. There are successful Brits who took alternative paths.
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#7 of 13 Old 12-30-2004, 09:02 AM
 
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move into unschooling
but this doesn't mean your older daughter has to quit studying if this is what she wants to do. What it does mean is that she has to be responsible for her own work, you can offer guidance and help but it is not your roll to be an enforcer to the amount of work she gets done. My kids really took off on different things and it was usually more in depth than would have been the normal course of study in a subject. The key thing is your children know how to learn, and should have a desire to do this the direction they take can easily be self guided. so she has a goal, have her map out how she is going to achieve it. Then she knows what she will be needing to do. Are there study guides for the GCSE? this would help her to evaluate what she needs to be learning. as for your other kids it would be much easier to work them into unschooling have you looked at Charlotte Mason and the outlines of info she put forward? It can be helpful and is very similar to unschooling
just some ideas, hang in there it looks as if you have your hands full.
PS
none of our children went to school till college and we unschooled the entire time.
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#8 of 13 Old 12-30-2004, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Emily would be starting her GCSE's Sep 05 done over 2 yrs to go into college at 16. Some home educators do them over 1 yr so if she wanted to do higher/Alevels of a subject the latest she could start is Sep 06- but that is to get into a 6th Form college (who only take 16-18 yr olds)

Other colleges take students of any age. Theses courses are pure acaemics split into subjects, eg I have 9 GCSE's and 3A levels (French, biology, sociology) plus a degree..none of which I now use. I didn't train for my career till I was 26. dh left schhol with nothing, at 17 decided he wanted to be a pilot, then did night school to get what he needed for the pilot course- but he doesn't want that for her...................

If she wanted to do the GCSE's as schools here do, that is open to her, but any prep for that has been met with resistance, she sits there telling me she hates doing it.

I guess school makes it easier for the parents as they can hand the responsibility over. Or maybe it buys the person time till they are 18 to decide what to do. Either way I am happy for her to do this at home trying out new things till she finds her calling. I can understand how hard it must be for teens to be expected to know what career they want to follow (her 12 yr old friends are always telling her what they want to do) She feels so much pressure from thi.

But whilst she is trying things I want her to LIVE, not be in'the waiting place' till she hits the magic age of 18 when she belives it will all be easier then (well GCSE's sure are!)

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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#9 of 13 Old 12-30-2004, 06:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mand
I guess school makes it easier for the parents as they can hand the responsibility over.


Quote:
I can understand how hard it must be for teens to be expected to know what career they want to follow (her 12 yr old friends are always telling her what they want to do) She feels so much pressure from thi.
Yes, but many of them will change their minds or end up with jobs they hate. I think that a teenager who has time to explore different options through informal classes and unpaid internships has a better shot at ending up doing something they actually like.

It sounds like she is really torn between wanting her GSCEs and not wanting to do the work for them. On one hand she thinks you should make her do them, but at the same time she complains the whole time.
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#10 of 13 Old 12-30-2004, 07:14 PM
 
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She might benefit from ideas in The Teenage Liberation Handbook.

It sounds like normal teenage angst to me, btw. Get it through her head that it's her path, and her decision, and her responsibility. It's your job to provide opportunities, hers to explore and, yes, do the necessary work.

Peer pressure can be very overwhelming, as can mainstream media pressure, more so than many people realize. You might find Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of our Teenage Daughters enlightening. It certainly made me think. Encouragement to blaze her own path may well be drowned out by other voices. But it pays off in the long run.

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#11 of 13 Old 01-01-2005, 10:52 AM
 
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I just don't know how to give you advice about this, in the US although there is college prep through the high school years at schools you don't have to do that to get into college. There are other avenues for college entry. Careers can be held off for many years by some young adults real stuff that comes down to field of study after the first 2 years in college- for most things.So we are talking someone around 20 deciding what to do- not to say that 16 yo students aren't encouraged to think about a career and then pick the best schools and then target getting into them straight from highschool.
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#12 of 13 Old 01-03-2005, 08:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda KS

Yes, but many of them will change their minds or end up with jobs they hate. I think that a teenager who has time to explore different options through informal classes and unpaid internships has a better shot at ending up doing something they actually like.
I agree with you Linda. My 17 year old daughter is interning (and getting paid for it) With a dressage horse trainer at the Equestrian Center near us. The education she is getting is amazing and something she could never attain in college. In fact the girls that are coming out of expensive, prestigious universities with degrees in Equestrian Science are having a hard time finding a pratical use for their degrees. Most barns want experience and are not impressed with a degree if you can't show them what you can do. My daughter has always wanted to work with animals and we thought the only path open to her was years of college in hopes of getting into vet school or eventually being accepted by a wildlife santuary/zoo, etc. Now she is seeing that her real education can come from hands on training while getting paid for groom and stall work. She can work there and get a buisness education at the local community college so that she can go into buisness for herself eventually.

My 14 year old dd is also persuing her dreams by taking private lessons in dance in hopes of eventually teaching. She may find that college is the way to go, or she may simply enter competitions to make a name for herself and work for her current teachers or start a buisness of her own in a neighboring town.

There are a mulitude of choices for young people to follow their dreams and make a living for themselves. College is only one of the options available for them to persue an education and career.

I wish you all the best in exploring your options and helping your children to realize their dreams.
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#13 of 13 Old 01-04-2005, 02:23 PM
 
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Hmmmm

I'm in the UK too - and have lecturered and taught.

TBH - GCSE's aren't worth a doobry in the scheme of things if you have even a vaguely capable child. Is she totally set on this one college? Does she realise that she could move straight onto a degree without doing any FE for example (through doing OU courses)? Or she could choose a vocational qualification and start it now through the Open College?

You *may* have to pay for these options - but a lot less than it would cost you if she was in school (which is currently reckoned at around £1000 per annum ($1930 at todays exchange rate) in books, stationary, uniform, travel, lunches/snacks, activities, trips, sports equipment; etc. before any petrol costs to you for getting her there/to the bus stop etc.).

I suspect that she is simply suffering teenage angst, as another poster suggested. I would also seriously advise *against* that sort of 6th form college, over a tertiary college. An FE college would be a fuller mixture of ages, offer a wider range of courses, and she would have lecturers who would treat her as an adult and are qualified and experienced in facilitating adult learning - rather than having school teachers, which tends to be the case in 6th form colleges limited to the 16-18 age group. Believe me - the styles are *very* different :-)


Yours,

Helen
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