Do you find unschooling hard? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-29-2005, 02:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not 100% into unschooling, but I certainly lean toward that end of the homeschooling scale. Especially now, since dd is in a preschool, we just live and learn the rest of the time -- we don't have a home preschool or anything. But as I look toward next year (dd's official start of hsing) and think of the options, I'm coming to the conclusion that while she would respond just fine to unschooling, I would have a hard time helping her make it work -- at least in the early years.

I knew of a teenage girl who had been unschooled who was less than thrilled with her education and said that her mom was too lazy to teach her. I fear that would be *my* dd's assessment of me in 10 years if I tried to unschool. : My bright and curious child has told me of several things she wants to learn about or learn to do that I have dropped the ball on. I'm realizing that without some time set aside -- call it "school time" if you must -- I just might not get around to helping her learn what she wants to know when she wants to know it! When she gets older, she can take more responsibility for her own learning, but for now, if she wants to learn to write better, or learn about different parts of the world (two of her recent requests), it's up to me to help her with those things.

As a result, I'm leaning more and more toward having "school time" next year -- probably a couple of hours 3 days a week -- mostly as a discipline for myself, rather than for dd. It would still be fairly child-led because dd would have a big hand in setting the agenda for each day/week, but it would be more structured than I had originally planned. Am I the only one in this situation?? And can anyone please suggest a cool phrase to replace "school time"? Bleck -- I really don't care for that term, but I'm having a hard time thinking of an alternative I do like. "Learning Time" is even worse, IMO because it implies that "learning" is limited to what we do during that time.

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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Old 03-29-2005, 04:58 AM
 
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Darn, I was just about to go off to bed, but I saw your question and just had to take a peek. I just have to toss in a few words now, and will probably get back and post more tomorrow.

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Originally Posted by luv my 2 sweeties
I knew of a teenage girl who had been unschooled who was less than thrilled with her education and said that her mom was too lazy to teach her.
That is not "unschooling,"as you know. That's just laziness. Unschoolers I know spend a lot of energy in enthusiastic activities with their kids. You have a bright and curious child - and I'm sure you're bright and curious yourself. So you'll continue being bright and curious together! And bright and curious people ask a lot of questions, look things up, do projects, go places, do science experiments, play games, read piles of books, do art projects of all kinds, take classes out in the community, explore fascinating Internet websites, do group activities that center around learning and fun, etc. Take a look at some of the fun things you can do for math alone:
The Delights of Exploring Math with Your Child

Quote:
My bright and curious child has told me of several things she wants to learn about or learn to do that I have dropped the ball on. I'm realizing that without some time set aside -- call it "school time" if you must -- I just might not get around to helping her learn what she wants to know when she wants to know it!
Instead of calling it school time, why not just keep a prominently placed calendar marked with when you're going to help her learn more about x, y, and z - and then do it. You can keep a list going of things you need to pick up from the library for all this, and have a set day of the week that's library day. A set time of day that's game time - and keep a host of educational games of all kinds at your fingertips, and play them at pre-reserved times. Great educational games are not necessarily games made specifically for educational goals - see the math article above for some fun games. You can have a day marked on your calendar when you pick out educational videos from online rental sources to order, a set time of the week when you watch them. You can regulate your own planning and scheduling without ever having to think in terms of school time, but just in terms of when you do specific interesting things together.

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Am I the only one in this situation??
Not at all! Some of us are simply not as good as focusing without a framework. But you can think in terms of "Science Tuesday Afternoon," "Library Monday Morning," "Wednesday History Time," "Daily Morning Walk," "Cooking Time," and other things can be woven in on an ongoing basis in a number of ways. etc.

Gotta' get to bed!!! Lillian

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Old 03-29-2005, 12:26 PM
 
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Stephanie, I'm not what you'd call a radical unschooler but I don't see why what you're talking about wouldn't fit with unschooling. You're not saying you're going to get a curriculum and make her stick to it right? And you're not saying that you won't ever help her with things at other times right? You're just saying that it would help *you* to have some time set aside just to help her with her interests. Time where you aren't trying to cook, pay bills, whatever. I think that would be good for every day even. If you were talking a structured learning time then yes, limiting it would be good but you're basically just saying putting aside a chunk of time to have some one on one "quality time" with your daughter.

Or how about just "scheduling" time when she asks? You're in the middle of cooking dinner and she asks to learn about spiders. Tell her sure honey, how about after dinner, tomorrow after breakfast, etc. And then write it down for both of you to see.

And finally, don't worry if you are an unschooler or not It's just a label. Worry about whether you and your child are happy with what you're doing. If that leads you to radical unschooling or school at home, as long as everyone is happy then that's great
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Old 03-29-2005, 12:55 PM
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I go through waves where I doubt my ability and think my kids are way to bright and creative for me...BUT over time I have come to realize that I am a an indpependant learner and so are they. When they have a question they can't figure out they ask and if I don't know the answer, we find out. As long as we make time to do things out of the house they stay intrigued and inquisitive. The only thing that every really throws us for a loop is the long cold winter and being shut up in the house for long periods of time.
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Old 03-29-2005, 03:06 PM
 
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I find the concept of unschooling hard, but I don't think it necessarily is hard. By that I mean, my brain is not wired in a way that can make sense of unschooling but for others it seems to be just the ticket. As Abraham Lincoln is said to have said, "For people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will like."

My brain is attracted to the structured and the orderly, a place for everything, blah blah blah. Because of this, and because I believe in the concept of a canon, I like the Well-Trained Mind (or at least a WTM-like) approach. And my son is responding very well. So it's nice we're in synch.

My daughter's personality is developing and I can tell that she is wired differently than my son and I. She's more like her father and I'm wondering if unschooling will be more appropriate for her. If so, I'm going to have to deal with it and do my best to reach her in this way that's so foreign to me.

I think the best you can do in this situation is prepare and read as much as you can, meet people who are successfully implementing the approach and, as a previous poster said, watch for laziness. Your idea of creating some structure around your routines is a good one, and you might find over time that it becomes less and less necessary for you as your concerns dissipate. We do a similar thing and use names like "letter play," "number play," and so on.
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Old 03-29-2005, 03:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luv my 2 sweeties
My bright and curious child has told me of several things she wants to learn about or learn to do that I have dropped the ball on. I'm realizing that without some time set aside -- call it "school time" if you must -- I just might not get around to helping her learn what she wants to know when she wants to know it!
I agree with pretty much everything that's been said so far, but I did just want to pull this quote out and add my thoughts on it. I've been unschooling since the get-go (my eldest is 11) and I've discovered that it's immensely helpful to drop the ball at least some of the time. In fact, when I take the ball and run with it, my kids often react with initial enthusiasm, but ultimately their sense of autonomy and ownership and their long-term interest are lessened. If I drop the ball, sometimes my child will pick it up and go amazing places with it -- not always, by any means, and often not right away, but the creativity and initiative that is given an opportunity to flourish is worth losing a few balls over.

Miranda

Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
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Old 03-29-2005, 04:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC
And finally, don't worry if you are an unschooler or not It's just a label. Worry about whether you and your child are happy with what you're doing. If that leads you to radical unschooling or school at home, as long as everyone is happy then that's great
Ditto, ditto, ditto. I get so sick of all the fussing and fuming over the labels. I personally cringe at the idea of "school-at-home," but not if that's the way the whole family enjoys it! It's when it's done from automatic tradition and fear that it's a disaster, which is not going to happen in your case. It's all about being happy and healthy together and keeping the joy in learning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by momminmamma
I've been unschooling since the get-go (my eldest is 11) and I've discovered that it's immensely helpful to drop the ball at least some of the time. In fact, when I take the ball and run with it, my kids often react with initial enthusiasm, but ultimately their sense of autonomy and ownership and their long-term interest are lessened. If I drop the ball, sometimes my child will pick it up and go amazing places with it -- not always, by any means, and often not right away, but the creativity and initiative that is given an opportunity to flourish is worth losing a few balls over.
And some of us dropped the ball quite often! And I think those are important points - my son's most important learning, I feel, was that which he owned. That was what gave him the most confidence and feeling of self-worth as a learner. He recently told a college entrance director that he had more or less been self-educated. I was a little stunned to hear that, but I immediately realized it was true. I contributed a whole LOT in the background and alongside him, but he had so much autonomy that it felt to him that he was definitely at the controls. And he was, I guess - maybe we were humoring one another... Lillian
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Old 03-30-2005, 11:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the encouraging words. I totally agree "to heck" with labels. I'm going to do what works best for us no matter what. I guess I'm just coming to terms with the fact that the way I thought we were going to homeschool in the first couple of years is turning out not to be what's best for us. I'm feeling a little bad that I've told my dd, "Sure, we can do that" and then I never do it. Or I start to do it, but don't follow through. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I can't homeschool (or unschool or whatever) by the seat of my pants -- I'm not that way in any other part of my life! I thrive best with a plan, a schedule, a list, whatever. I know the time we set aside will be very reassuring and useful for me. I'm still a little worried that dd won't like the structure of that, but I don't really have any concrete basis for that worry. She'll probably be fine with it. She's looking forward to "homeschool kindergarten" -- a concept I've talked up since she's in a preschool and knows about "going on" to K. I suppose I have to remember that whatever routine and approach I set in motion will just seem normal to her. She's reading on her own already, but hasn't yet dug into my collection of homeschooing books! She's never even heard of John Holt. :LOL

Thanks again -- I'll be sure to post again whenever I have an attact of the doubts!

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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Old 03-31-2005, 03:04 AM
 
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Well, I did know one mom who was a diehard unschooler - except :LOL for setting aside two hours each morning when her kids were expected to do something educational. She didn't teach or assign lessons during that time, but she wanted them to do something of their own choice that was educational. I think she did a very active job of modeling the love of learning too... Two of those kids are in college now, and two are still teens.

There are a bizillion ways of homeschooling. You've probably heard the expression that there are as many ways of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. I think the same is true of unschoolers.

I think you and your daughter are going to have a lot of fun. Just keep in mind that you can keep constantly changing your way of homeschooling to suit your needs - don't let yourself feel you're failing if it doesn't seem to be working the way you plan. I don't think I've ever known anyone who hasn't had periodic anxiety attacks.

Gee, when you figure that she's already reading, she's already way ahead of the game, so you'll be able to relax and explore other things together. Fun! Lillian
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