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#1 of 22 Old 12-22-2002, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have posted on the unschooling.com forum but sometimes the answers don't always seem friendly! Just wanted advice about unschooling. What do you do if your children play all day and watch lots of TV? Mine have never been to school and spend a lot of time doing this. Do you worry they will grow up and blame you if they want to go to uni. or get a highly paid job and can't because they don't have the qualifications or know the right stuff. If you unschool do you make your kids do math or reading every....day?week?..Do your kids suggest academic style work ie. projects etc. Do you leave things lying around you would like them to do? How old are your kids and how long have you unschooled? I'd appreciate any answers-friendly please!!
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#2 of 22 Old 12-22-2002, 10:45 AM
 
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Hi! This is our 3rd year hsing. My children are 11, 8 and 2. The oldest two went to ps for 3 years and 1 year, respectively.

This is what we do:

While we went through a no-tv period, we do watch it now. There are a number of programs on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV, TLC etc. that my kids have loved and that have sparked an interest in various topics.

I will sometimes ask my oldest to turn the tv off--he seems to be the only one of the 3 who overdoes the tube.

I think that "play" is important -- for everyone, so I wouldn't limit that. I don't give assignments but we do have loads of things around the house for them to do--arts and crafts supplies, pattern blocks, geoboards, board games, card games, science-in-a-box type projects, books and books and books, computer cd's, magazine subscriptions, Legos, puzzles, etc.

I think that if you want them out from in front of the tv, there needs to be an alternative--resources available to them which will spark an interest in other activities, yk?

I am forever suggesting trips, tv programs, articles, games, projects that I think they might be interested in. (Ds is very into construction/architecture as well as the prehistoric world; dd is our artist/mathematician.) Sometimes they're interested, sometimes not. We make weekly (at least) trips to the library. They choose books they want, but I also bring home books about things that I think they'd be interested in and just leave them lying around for the kids to "discover." Although the oldest 2 are readers, I still read aloud to them daily.

As far as university goes, they're too young to be planning for that right now--the most that an admissions office would be interested in would be the "high school" years. If they decide to go to college, I'd help them to research the admission requirements and then map out what they'd need to do to meet them. We talk a lot about different people's careers--it's not important to me that they go to college, but I do hope that they choose a career that they'll enjoy. You know, the whole, "do something you love and it won't seem like work" thing.

My feeling is that, my role is to expose them to lots of different subjects/topics/experiences and then to help them follow their interests. At the moment, we're visiting construction sites, talking to contractors, researching architectural styles and such, because that's where ds' interest is. If, later on, his interest is in going to college, or choosing a high-paying career, I'll help him research and plan for that.

Since I am a product of schooling (rather than unschooling) I sometimes have doubts about what they're up to--that's when I look over my journal. I always ALWAYS am impressed by what they're working on. We don't have worksheets or test scores to file away anywhere, but looking over the journal always helps me to see just how much learning really is going on.

ymmv, but hth!

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#3 of 22 Old 12-22-2002, 09:47 PM
 
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Joan, could you describe the journal a bit more? Is it your own personal journal, or one that you all contribute to? What sorts of things to you write there, and what role does it play in your children's education, etc?

New to this myself and VERY curious!

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#4 of 22 Old 12-22-2002, 10:16 PM
 
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Piglet, it's just my own personal journal. I write about things the children are doing, trips we make, some of their questions or observations, funny or interesting things they've said.

I might write that we played Monopoly and note that my 8 y/o is very good at making change, or that it led to a discussion about what a "monopoloy" is and if the good and bad points of having one. I might note what books we're reading or discussions that have resulted from our reading...that dd is using some new vocabulary words in the correct context simply from hearing "Nancy Drew" read aloud...that we baked a cake and the kids doubled the recipe, figuring out what 3/4 + 3/4 is, etc.

I'd note different observations...that they worked particularly well together one day, or that they were clever problem-solvers...I'd include stories of trips to museums or other places, times they've helped out a grand-parent, dd's involvement in arts and crafts classes, ds's work on his new paper route, holiday activities...

Just every day life, basically. We also keep a scrapbook. (Not that it's up to date, but my intentions are good!) The kids contribute to the scrapbook when they want to. This is just a keepsake for us...a book of memories...something to look back on. Lots of photos and captions, ticket stubs, things the kids have written or drawn--the usual scrapbook stuff.

When I start to feel like we're not "doing" anything, I look over the journal and scrapbook and end up feeling pretty good about what we're doing.

I also figure that it could double as "documentation" if we were ever to move somewhere that required it.

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#5 of 22 Old 12-23-2002, 02:37 AM
 
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Joan has given some very good suggestions.

We have been unschooling since the 80's and have "graduated" three children so far. Still have 4 at home. My sons both went to university and my daughter married young and is a SAHM of the most adorable little boy!!

All of my kids have spent lots of time "unwinding" in front of tv, or reading a book, or playing all day! It is part of life! When they wanted to know something they did. And the cool part of unschooling is that it doesn't take long to learn something when you want to learn it. If you wait till the child asks, then you don't have to teach and teach,over and over. They will be motivated and internalize the material very quickly. Think about it...isn't that true of yourself. If you are reading something because it is good for you, you often won't retain the information. However, if you are reading something because you want to learn about it and are interested in the subject, you will quickly learn about it and be so amazed and excited by your newfound information!

Yes, I have felt guilty over the years about time we have "wasted" and all the great educational things we could have done but never got around to. I think that is part of parenting, there is always more you could have done. But then we all know families that try to "do it all" and burn out quickly. I like to think we have had a good rythum to our days, and given plenty of time for daydreaming and imaginations to develope. I'm proud of my grown children and have no regrets. I don't think they do either. Maybe a few. I know that one son has said he wishes he would have not wasted so much time his last year at home, but I think that has less to do with unschooling then with his own self-discipline. They all feel grateful that they were given the freedom to learn in their own way and follow their individual interests. Both my married children plan to homeschool their own children.

I don't know if this answers your questions or not, but hopefully you will not fret about "wasted" time. When I got to feeling that way, I would pack up the kids and head to a museum, the zoo, or a park. That would help to change the atmosphere and often spark some creativity that would last for weeks in our home.

Namaste,
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#6 of 22 Old 12-23-2002, 06:56 PM
 
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Barbara, thanks so much for posting--we're pretty new to this so I always love to hear of families who are "old-timers" (and I use that term with the greatest respect!) It was wonderful to hear that your children are happy with their lives--one of the greatest accomplishments, imo.

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#7 of 22 Old 12-24-2002, 02:14 AM
 
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Thanks Joan!
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#8 of 22 Old 12-24-2002, 06:23 PM
 
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Thanks for the info!!

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#9 of 22 Old 12-29-2002, 02:38 PM
 
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Unschooling confession time
I would say we do a bit too much tv, too. Luckily our big one broke two weeks ago and we got to see how cool life really is without one. I'm now determined to work on limiting *screen time* (we got a 19" loaner). The hardest part is mommy readjusting *her* focus It's nice to get the house stuff done while they're entertained ~ I'll just have to learn to love Monopoly Jr. as much as I love washing the dishes :LOL Honestly though, we got several board games this holiday and most of them can be played independently with minimal input from mommy. The living room floor is covered in art opportunities: magazines to cut up (glue stick & scissors for the asking), crayons, markers, paper, colorbooks. The play room is full of play, including a table with a 100 piece puzzle that Hayden (4) is determined to do himself, but allows Hannah (6) to help with. Books, books, books everywhere! I'm reading my books, I'm reading their books, they're asking about mine and I'm telling. It really is UNschooling ~ letting the kids do all the cool things you wish you could do while you were stuck inside the classroom. There is no right and wrong. If it works today great! Chances are, it won't work tomorrow :LOL Eh, too much tv? maybe too much mommy? never!

~diana ild

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#10 of 22 Old 12-29-2002, 03:37 PM
 
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I love reading all your replies.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#11 of 22 Old 12-30-2002, 03:28 AM
 
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To have the freedom of unschooling work, in addition to providing opportunities for learning & allowing decision making on their part, I've found that I need to help, by protecting them from things that are harmful- like too much TV.

I've mentioned before, but I'll mention it again: for those of us who don't wanna toss out the tube (or, like me, feel it can be a useful tool when not abused & don't want to kill it, just limit its use), I found that the 'lock' feature on our cable is absolutely worth the $ the cable box costs (there is also another non-cable
one-time-buy kind of solution, but I can't remember the name- maybe someone else does? or I can ask my dh when he's around)... it saves sooo many arguments.

The TV is just off, for the most part. If there is something educational, or they just wanna relax w/ the TV on, or whatever, it is simple enough.
Even my teenager doesn't argue about it anymore- she's grown up enough to realize that it's an easily addictive behavior that cuts into study time, cleaning up time, fun time, whatever. (Besides which, I'm pretty reasonable about letting her watch something she wants to watch- it's that glazed, 6 hours in front of the tv when there's nothing on thing I'm trying to avoid.)

As a plus, we get the music channels too- no commercials! (And you can lock stuff there too, if they are listening to something you don't want 'em too- personally, I don't bother. If she liked rap, I might have to! I listen to it in my dh's truck when we are w/out children & much of it- aside from any rants about artistic validity or whatever- is just soooo unsuitable for tender ears. Like mine ) My dd actually listens to classical music from *choice* now- I am not necessarily convinced it improves the brain, but it is a nice thing & I'm glad she enjoys it .

Suse
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#12 of 22 Old 12-30-2002, 06:22 PM
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I believe that true unschooling includes allowing the child to made the decisions about how, when, and what he or she learns, and limiting or banning TV is antithetical to that goal. My daughter has always had free access to our TV, and our computer, and our bookshelves, and the library... it's her life. Some weeks she watches tons of TV, one sitcom after another (although she learns from them - she learns from everything) and some weeks she doesn't watch any TV at all, because she's busy reading, or going to rehearsals, or playing. She has a full palette of options and I trust her to choose the ones that are right for her. I'm not scared of TV, or of what it will do to her - to her, TV is just another tool, no better or worse than books or the internet.

She got a gameboy for Christmas and has been playing it a *lot*, although I got a palm with a bunch of games and I've been playing that a lot, too. We've also watched lots of TV lately - our car has been in the shop since Thursday, it's been raining every day, and we live out in the country. It's okay.

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#13 of 22 Old 12-31-2002, 03:07 AM
 
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Thanks Dar for saying what I was wanting to. I have found that limiting tv, or anything else for that matter simply makes it a "forbidden fruit." Then the child never learns to have self-control in that area. I found that if Dh and I have self-control the children soon do as well. When we binge on tv (or food, or anything else for that matter) we find they will follow suit. Now I must say, I admire those that have tv free homes, but that has never worked for us.

Generally, we don't have tv on during the day, but about once a month or so we will have a "binge" day and just veg out on Animal Planet or National Geographic or some old movie classics. It usually seems to revive us and we all want to get on with life the following day. My kids are all intense and very focused when they are doing something and will find one subject or interest and persue it for hours or weeks. They tend to be that way with music and tv as well. I find if I let them focus on "being lazy" when they want to, they soon get bored and seek out more educational persuits. I trust the kids to choose wisely most of the time, and to learn from their poor choices. However, I often have to referee between them. They are smart enough to find something better when they get bored, but when they start fighting amongest themselves I will usually pack them all in the van and head to a museum or for some open spaces where we can hike and explore.

I think moderation is good, but we often find the balance over a period of time, rather than in each day. An "average" day for us will usually look very lopsided indeed!

Take a look at your life in general, and try to see the big picture. Remember your kids will mirror you, so you had better be at least working on living the way you want to be.

Peace,
b
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#14 of 22 Old 12-31-2002, 07:36 PM
 
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partly, i think of it as courtesy- as i would not keep cases of vodka in the home of a recovering alkie, or buy 5 lb of chocolate & leave it around when my dh is on the atkins diet. if you have kids that honestly get fed up w/ tv and binge for awhile, then go outside and play, that's great- but some of us have kids that would really sit and do nothing but watch tv, much too much.

and is it censorship to refuse them, say, the playboy channel? (i've no problem with nudity, but the fake boobs are evil my dh's ever-so-liberal parents didn't censor him- he got to watch soft-core porn a lot, at 7 yrs old, & it took him awhile to realize real women's boobs *moved*. i've watched my share of skinamax movies, but i still think there is something creepy about watching 'emmanuelle 11' with your children.)

in my state, i have minimum amounts of accountability to the b of ed (i wish i didn't, but there you go- it could be worse- i could live in PA), & there are tests that must be passed, and a certain amount of time spent at study. (i can call 'jerry springer' social studies, and even believe it to be such, but it won't make my dd pass algebra- which is necessary for her to continue to 'unschool'.) whether or not it is my moral or ethical responsibilty to intervene so in the life of my child is debatable; but the fact is that it is my legal responsibility, and i am held accountable.

it may be 'forbidden fruit' to kids w/ no tv, but i assure you it is a lamentably ungilded experience in this house; one can watch what one chooses to watch, *almost* always. and one last thought: i have rights, also, and one of them is not to be subjected to that omnipresent glowing screen 24-7 (regardless of what one's opinions on whether or not to regulate children's behavior are.)

j one more of mho, suse
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#15 of 22 Old 01-01-2003, 12:50 AM
 
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When the TV seems like it is on too much - I turn on the stereo. Yep! If that is blaring music, no one thinks to turn on the TV- just does something else- it is wierd but works great.
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#16 of 22 Old 01-01-2003, 04:25 AM
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I am lucky to live in one of the easiest homeschooling states (although it was a consideration when we moved here) but there are unschoolers living in all fifty states, who don't make their kids study algebra. I'm curious about which state makes passing algebra a homeschooling requirement...

If my dh went on a diet I might ask what I could do to help, like not leaving choclate around, but I wouldn't decide he needed to be on a diet and then put him on it. If Rain said she was concerned about her TV watching we'd work on a solution - actually, there are times when one of us will say something like, "Geez, we've had the TV on all day, let's go play softball" and generally we do.

Rain has never been interested in watching porn, although she's had limited exposure to some pretty tame stuff, like comics and ads and Friends and stuff. If she, as an almost-10 yr old kid, decided she wanted to watch porn I'd probably be a bit concerned, although I'd be willing to watch a little with her if she really wanted to know what it was about. If she watched more than 5 minutes, I'd be really concerned. OTOH, if she were 16 I'd have a different reaction. In any case, we'd talk about the politics of porn...

I do agree that sometimes I get really bugged by the TV being on. When we lived in town we found a small B & W tv in a trash dumpster and put it in the bedroom, and Rain watched that... but here the only way we get any TV is by hooking up to the huge antenna on the roof, so it doesn't work very well. I'm not good at noise and action, my brain overloads. So, sometimes I ask for some non-TV time, and she's pretty willing, since I frame it as my issue (which it is). Other times, like if it's Simpsons and Futurama, I go to another room or outside or something...

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#17 of 22 Old 01-01-2003, 02:52 PM
 
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Dar, wanna be my neighbor? My kids are the same way. We talk, talk, talk, talk, talk ... if I *forbid* something of my kids, it must be accompanied by some pretty heavy justification on my part. They know my #1 job is to keep them safe, so I use that when discussing shows they cannot watch, etc. They know things that are not appropriate for them, but I also tell them that it will be appropriate when they are older. I outlawed the Powerpuff Girls, Hannah (6) doubted my reasoning, arguing that I had never seen the show and I was basing my opinion on others' opinions ... we sat down and watched it together. I described the things I didn't like and she further impressed me with her understanding of fantasy vs reality. I still *outlaw* things I don't like, like Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon only because I feel they have NO redeeming value to us. Should Hayden make such an eloquent argument for watching them, I would have to make concessions for him, too. Funny thing, he has convinced my Dad to let him watch these shows and 30 seconds into it, he's in a fit of giggles telling papa that mommy doesn't let him watch this show because it's inappropriate!!
I'm a firm believer in *What you Resist, Persists* ~ I've learned the hard way with Barbie :sinister aaarrrgggghhh!!

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#18 of 22 Old 01-02-2003, 03:15 AM
 
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dar, algebra is part of required high school testing in TN (dd's is coming in May); whether other unschoolers 'make' their children study algebra (and I don't; she chooses to study algebra, because passing the %$#@ing tests allows her to continue studying what she *does* enjoy) is their concern.

i'm finding myself a bit annoyed at the perhaps mistaken impression i've recieved that, because i place limits on my children, i'm a fascist with a schedule & a dozen required textbooks... there are unschoolers in my playgroup who- gasp!- actually partake of a packaged curriculum!

there is support for the position of unlimited sovereignty for children here at Mothering, but my locked tv suggestion was obviously not meant for those who feel that way- many people who unschool do not follow that philosophy, & yet still listen to their children, reason with their children, don't set out a curriculum in stone for them, & allow (yes, that is the bugbear word here, I know!) great freedom in educating themselves.

your position is one in which i find much to admire, & in practice i use much of it on a daily basis (trying to persuade my dh, instead of grabbing, to ask my toddler politely for something dangerous while explaining why it is prolly not a great idea to say, eat the butane lighter, has been tough, but he is making great progress: ), but if you automatically dismiss those of us who do not subscribe to the philosophy absolutely (that's including every vegetarian here who won't bring meat into the house for their kids, for example), a lot of people who may have been willing to give their kids a chance to have more freedom through unschooling may decide that it is too extreme for them .

sorry for the ramble, but i really am afraid that someone who thinks 'oh, but i won't buy junk food, & we don't have a tv, so i can't do this' may fear to travel the rewarding road of unschooling... and i am an absolute advocate of unschooling for every student who chooses it (and yes, i believe that that *should* be the child's decision- see, we are not so far off! )

respectfully, suse
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#19 of 22 Old 01-04-2003, 09:22 PM
 
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It's really interesting reading your replies. I read in a homeschool book about TV being addictive, and I know how this can be ( I love TV). The problem is my eldest wants to watch it all the time, which then means my youngest stops her creative play and 'models' her sister- it's a tough one...I am sure if my eldest had a set in her room (which she wants for her birthday), I just wouldn't see her.

Also to do with unschooling....I just am wondering whether it works for every one.

What if your child really doesn't want to learn, but wants to listen to her pop music and phone friends for most of the time? How long will this go on for? How will she feel when her friends at 18 are off doing their university courses and she can't get in because she didn't study.....(and their mums have forced them to study latin, music, math etc)

I would love it to work so much..dd shows an interest in learning Russian, but wants to make up her own 'Russian' language. When offers are given for resources to learn it, she shuts off, not intersted any more- anything resembling learning and she doesn't want to know...How do you deal with reluctance? You can strew and strew their path, but they don't want any of it, but also don't want school because there you are 'made to work'

How can you relax and trust it will all work out in the end????? For them to be happy doing something they love...does it work for everyone? How many unschoolers have grown up?

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#20 of 22 Old 01-05-2003, 10:50 AM
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Mand


What if your child really doesn't want to learn, but wants to listen to her pop music and phone friends for most of the time? How long will this go on for? How will she feel when her friends at 18 are off doing their university courses and she can't get in because she didn't study.....(and their mums have forced them to study latin, music, math etc)


I think that, in order for unschooling to "work" we need to deschool ourselves--re-think what we define as learning or worthwhile. Some people make careers out of pop music, yk. Or maybe it will be a stepping stone to other types of music or to writing music or poetry or taking up an instrument. Or maybe it'll simply be enjoyable in and of itself. Why is this not okay? As for phoning friends...isn't that a good thing? (There's that old closet subject "socialization.") She's socializing, maybe debating, perhaps figuring out her priorities, learning what it takes to be a good friend--that's GOT to have value.

I doubt it will come as a shock to her, if at 18, her friends go off to college--there's a lot of planning to be done before that first day (SAT's, choosing a college, admission essays, tours, etc. etc.) If that is something that she wants to do, then she will. Some people go to college at 16, 18, 21, 56...when/if she feels that's the road she wants to take, it's a matter of researching the admission requirements and then meeting them. (This actually becomes easier the older you get.)

Quote:
Originally posted by Mand

I would love it to work so much..dd shows an interest in learning Russian, but wants to make up her own 'Russian' language. When offers are given for resources to learn it, she shuts off, not intersted any more- anything resembling learning and she doesn't want to know...How do you deal with reluctance? You can strew and strew their path, but they don't want any of it, but also don't want school because there you are 'made to work'

What's wrong with her making up her own language? Perhaps she's not using the proper words now, but it's possible she's mastering the sound--the accent, yk? Maybe, by playing with her own version, she'll eventually move on to learning the language--it's possible that the resources offered to her are just being offered prematurely.

I think that a statement like, "anything resembling learning and she doesn't want to know..." is pretty heavy. I suspect that it's tied up in all sorts of value judgments based on what is "schoolish" learning and what is fluff. What she's doing may not resemble the "3 R's" or other "subjects" that are taught in school, but I honestly don't think one can stop learning and be in a stagnant state.

I know I've said this before, but deschooling myself (a continuing process) has been the toughest obstacle to unschooling. It really requires an entire overhaul of what I've defined as worthwhile. (Actually, it requires getting over the idea that some information is worthwhile to study while other info isn't.)

What is taught in the traditional 13 years of school is really quite a narrow body of information--opening up to everything else that's out there in the world can require a huge leap of faith for those of us entrenched in school-thinking.

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#21 of 22 Old 01-05-2003, 02:52 PM
 
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Joan
thanks for you reply, I agree totally with you about school topics being so narrow- all that I believe and that is important to me in my life I learnt AFTER I left school/college/university.

Deschooling is hard (dd was in school till age 8). Sometimes it is so hard, all the home educators around here are VERY structured school at home- my dd can't telephone them during schol hours! Hence I get my support here and other forums, there are no unschoolers near me ( it is called 'autonomous education here!)..

I find it sad that we live in a society where the 3 'r's are all that seem to matter; at what age they start to read, whether they know their times tables etc. I do find it a pressure, it is all around me.. Any good deschooling books to read?? I love unschooling and find it so inspiring to read others experiences of this- so thank you everybody xxx

I love that my dd is passionate about cooking and has an avid interest in History...but society expects her to do other things too...if she has the confidence to be different then that is great, but at the moment she hasn't- maybe with time who knows.

The children are back at school tomorrow and dd to feel like she fits in has drawn up a schedule she wants us all to follow- everything is covered, what time we get up and dress etc- She wants me to enforce lessons from 9 am till 3pm- how do I help her understand unschooling? Is she too young for the Teenage Liberation Handbook?

I have considered a 'not back to school' party or an adventure walk, but am not sure if this will make her happy I don't mind that she wants to 'play school' but when it comes down to the 'lessons' the onus is all on me, it just seems so contrived........Where I have to play teacher and tell her what to learn, I want to follow her interests, and let her develop her own path and I'll walk alongside her for a while whenever she needs me.

When do I get my life in this timetable too?- time to read, to play, to laugh, to walk......

So how do I deschool us both? What can I read? How do I explain it to her and let her know we're not the only ones who 'unschool'?...
Blessings and love
Amanda

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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#22 of 22 Old 01-06-2003, 12:05 PM
 
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suseyblue, I'm sorry you felt attacked about your position. I never ment to make you feel that way. I just wanted to share our experience as an alternative way of dealing with the problem. We have always shared our disdane for soaps and "Jerry Springer" type shows, so our kids tend to share our dislike. That isn't to say we haven't spent some amusing moments laughing at People's Court or the like. I don't want to give the impression that I don't ever tell the kids to change the chanel or turn off the tv when I see it becoming a problem that is either too big for them to handle or they are simply unwilling to deal with themselves. Just like with eating habits, reading, studying, exercize, etc. we are trying to help our kids to have healthy attitudes about tv and learn self control.

Mand, our first son was also in school until he was 8 years old. That first year was a time of "deschooling" for us all. We spent a lot of time talking about, and developing, our educational philosophy. Being involved in that process allowed him to embrace home education and unschooling as his own. He is now an old married man, working on his masters in his own, unique unschooled way! Try reading some of John Holt's books such as Teach Your Own and Growing Without Schooling. He is the father of the modern unschooling movement and you will gleen much from his writings. Give yourself and your dd time to adjust to this whole new way of learning and living. Allow yourself to fumble, make mistakes, and experiment with what works best for you and yours! Just enjoy!

Peace,
b
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