Unschooling public school-help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 05-26-2005, 11:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Let me begin by saying that I have always wanted to unschool but since I am a single mother and don't have the type of skills to be a successful wahm I cannot keep my children at home. Honestly, my dc love going to school- some of the time. I have handled this in the past by listening to my children, giving them a voice in choosing their school, making sure I find every schooling option available, and giving them as much freedom as possible in making their own "daily" choices. If my schedule permits I let them stay home from school, I assist with homework when requested but I leave it up to them whether they do it or not.

I found an article a long time ago about how to implement unschooling principles in the public school environment and now I can't find it. I would love any suggestions about how I can let the spirit of unschooling into our public school experience. I do plan on providing my dc with a copy of the 'Teenage Liberation Handbook' when I find one and I will be happy to let them unschool when they get old enought to stay at home alone. I don't know when or if this will happen since they are both very social and love being around other kids.

All I can do for now is find the best situation for them and let them choose whether or not to stay. My dd goes to The San Antonio School for Inquiry and Creativity and my ds will start there next year. My dd doesn't want to go everyday but, overall, really likes it there. They don't have uniforms or much of a dress code (unheard of in this city) and some of her teachers seem to appreciate her (she is an intelligent drama queen) I have been able to talk to her about the rest and she seems happy with the situation.

How can I set this up so she will have the skills and motivation to unschool later on if she would like?
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#2 of 11 Old 05-27-2005, 07:11 AM
 
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That's a great book. Llewelly wrote another one, called Guerrilla Learning- How To Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School that you might find helpful.

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#3 of 11 Old 05-27-2005, 09:31 AM
 
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Quote:
I have handled this in the past by listening to my children, giving them a voice in choosing their school, making sure I find every schooling option available, and giving them as much freedom as possible in making their own "daily" choices. If my schedule permits I let them stay home from school, I assist with homework when requested but I leave it up to them whether they do it or not.
This was us a few months ago. I decided to try and mix unschooling and public school but it became impossible for my 8y/o. J was in a gifted school with a heavy workload and no mercy. This turned her off to anything even remotely academic and school became a place that she enjoyed socially, loved the enrichment classes (piano, Spanish, art Studio), but became unable to respond to forced learning anymore. I let her stay home when she wanted, but then she'd miss a whole lot (usually a quiz or important assignment). Homework was such a disaster every night. I tried leaving it up to her, but she had no interest. They were making her do this work and she didn't see the point. So I did end up taking her out of school and we have been happily and successfully unschooling ever since (with a small, futile attempt at some structure when she first came home).

We couldn't implement much choice where she was, but if your school allows some freedoms, then this may work a bit for you. There will be many things your dc will have to do but since they seem to like the place, it may not be difficult. I would suggest being as big a part of their learning as you can. Turn homework into a fun game or research answers together (even when you know them). Let them type homework on Microsoft Word. Take a topic they are learning about and go on a fun field trip about it. I believe enjoying the work is how most kids succeed. I'm pretty sure that no matter what, your dc have to get to school by a certain time, have to be there 6 hours, and have homework and tests. Those are the unavoidables if you're a part of the system. I've gotten my oldest dd to understand and enjoy the process (she's in public school - 6th grade). She does very well in school, enjoys the work, and still finds her own interests and creativity outside school. This week she created her own website, researched faeries, and started a new book. I can see her self-motivation/direction is still there. The pre-teen attitude is something I can do without, but aside from that, school is where she wants to be and she fits well. So for you - keep the motivation and enjoyment up, encourage separate interests that are all their own, be a huge part of their school world, and really listen to and trust them. Good luck.

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#4 of 11 Old 05-27-2005, 09:38 AM
 
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Whenever your children become interested in something help them pursue it. Take them to as many places as possible to inspire them. Library, farms, zoos, writer's conventions, local celebrations. Whatever is happeing in your area that might inspire them.

Introduce them to as many things as possible. Arts and crafts, sports, astronomy, cooking. Don't push but allow oppertunities to present themselves. Leave books and articles that might intrest them laying around.

Most important of all IMO is to continue your own development and show them that you continue to learn all the time too. Learn how to knit or play the piano for example.

Read anything by John Holt. The Unschooling Handbook is also very popular.
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#5 of 11 Old 05-27-2005, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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These are great suggestions- keep them coming!

I have been really lucky so far with her schools. She went to a half day kindergarten at a small Catholic school when she was 5 and loved the social interaction but wasn't into the academics at all. The next year we moved in September and I kept her at home until the end of October when she started in a full day bilingual immersion program at the kindergarten level. The next year we moved again and I had her start 1st grade at the charter school where she is now. After 8 weeks the Superintendant tested her and moved her to 2nd grade. She has done really well with this teacher and I really wish the teacher would the same teacher would do 3rd grade next year. She is so flexible, marks all Ciara's absences excused, doesn't care if I pick her up early, doesn't assign specific homework, doesn't care if she finishes the leftover school works she brings home sometimes... I guess if Ciara was behind it would be a different story but since she has been doing really well the teacher lets her do her own thing.

I think homework is an evil conspiracy against joy and freedom :LOL and I have explained my dislike to the teacher so she totally understands my thoughts on it. I will never make my kids do homework and if they bring home more than a small amount I will discuss the problem with the teacher. I don't understand how kids are supposed to enjoy school in they have to bring it home. They are at school enough of the day already. Projects they choose and enjoy working on are great and I will support and help them but I will never force learning. My dd does not do well with this at all and will completely shut down and/or resist and make all of our lives a living hell. My ds is okay in a more structured environment and doesn't seem to mind having his education directed.
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#6 of 11 Old 05-27-2005, 01:07 PM
 
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It sounds like are you are doing a fantastic job, Poppy Mama! I was going to give you the same book suggestion as Joan did: Guerilla Learning... But I have to say, it sounds like you are already doing what is suggested in the book and could probably write one yourself :LOL .

We do have the choice to school or homeschool, and for about 1 1/2 years, my son chose to homeschool, and my dd chose to go to school. It was tough taking all the homework, etc. seriously!

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#7 of 11 Old 05-29-2005, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Openskyheart

The homework issue is probably the biggest one for me with lack of recess following. My dd actually told me the other day that she thought I should pressure her more because she rarely does the small amount of homework she has. I told her I can't do that- I am always happy to help her (if I can understand what the teacher is wanting : ) but I will not engage in any kind of a struggle to make her do it. It is important for my sanity that she be in charge of whether or not she chooses to learn something.
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#8 of 11 Old 05-29-2005, 08:57 PM
 
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We are unschoolish, but my son wants me to "make" him do certain things, especially math work, so I don't feel right calling us unschoolers somehow, even though he's the one who's asked me to make him work! :LOL .

I've come to realize that he really does want to do it, but he does not have a good internal clock, and really wants someone outside of himself to regulate that part of his life for him. I've realized that - Hey! I work well with external schedules, and due dates, etc. too. I've come to see that, when I was working and had a report due on such and such a date I was sort of "made" to do that report , and that ds is asking for "due dates" for his work too.

I will also tell you that I don't really like to make him do the work. And he doesn't cheerfully rush to the math books when I remind him to. And then I remind him that he's the one who wanted to be made to do it, and I would be perfectly fine with *not* making him, if that's what he wants. But he keeps insisting that he does want me to make him. :

I pretty much suck at being consistent with a schedule - other than getting my kids to their classes or park days, or whatever - but I've been thinking lately that maybe if he and I sat down together and came up with a schedule like: MWF math from 9 - 9:30 or 10:00, something like that, then that would be "making him" in a way that serves both of our needs.

Anyway, as I was reading your post, I was thinking - Oh yeah, I can relate. And I was also thinking that maybe your dd needs or wants some kind of external structure for getting her homework done, and maybe the two of you can brainstorm solutions.

And...if you come up with some that work for you, please, please share them with me, so I can try them out too!

Laura
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#9 of 11 Old 05-29-2005, 11:56 PM
 
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Sorry to interrupt but
Quote:
Originally Posted by Openskyheart
I will also tell you that I don't really like to make him do the work. And he doesn't cheerfully rush to the math books when I remind him to. And then I remind him that he's the one who wanted to be made to do it, and I would be perfectly fine with *not* making him, if that's what he wants. But he keeps insisting that he does want me to make him. :
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#10 of 11 Old 05-30-2005, 12:21 AM
 
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Are there any democratic schools in your area? They are basically unschooling schools, and some are publicly funded.
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#11 of 11 Old 05-30-2005, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Unfortunately not. The closest I can come is the school she is in where there is no uniform or dress code and they work more student paced than regular public schools. I keep hoping though.

I will think over the summer about how to help her with her homework procrastination but I don't think I could bring myself to be bossy about it. It causes bad feelings and we have so little time together as it is.
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