Unschoolers - talk about your journey to unschooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 59 Old 04-22-2006, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Disclaimer - This is not meant to be a debate thread. I know not everyone here likes unschooling or believes in it but we all seem to get along (mostly ). We all do what we feel works best for our kids, right? Please though, this thread is for those who *do* like unschooling and think it's wonderful and want to talk about it.

I want to chat about the journey to unschooling

Those of you who identify yourselves as unschoolers, were you always *there*? If not, how did you get there? How long did it take you and what was the journey like?

UnschoolnMa, your kids were in school at one point right? When they came out were you instantly unschoolers or did it take time? And Joan, you've mentioned you tried school at home for what, a day? Knowing you as I do, that totally cracks me up to think about Lillian, I love hearing your stories about how you tried to be more "schoolish" in the beginning and your son led the way to a more relaxed life. Other unschoolers please chime in too, I'm just giving examples

For those who think unschooling is great but don't feel that they are all the way there yet (by your own definition) talk about that too please

I think unschooling is the way to go but sometimes I think I'll never be completely deschooled myself. Like the other day when my son read his first word and I found myself quizzing the poor boy! (I stopped myself : ) And sometimes I find myself in lecture mode, yakking at my poor kids with glazed over eyes, (I like to talk, I'm a chatterbox, I can't help it )

I'm not looking for advice or anything. I'm pretty happy with the kind of unschooling mom I am. I'm not perfect, but pretty darn good I just want to hear some stories
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#2 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 12:22 AM
 
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We are mostly unschoolers, but not completely. I do talk to them and teach them things, but only at their own pace and only if they're interested. I was attracted to the idea of unschooling when I first learned about it before I had kids, and it just sounded too good to be true. I hated school when I was a kid and I hated the idea of subjecting my kids to it, but I didn't like the idea of homeschooling because I was thinking of school-at-home and for some reason I thought that this would be like being in school all the time. I felt sorry for hs'ed kids because home and family were my sanctuary from school, and I thought hs kids were deprived of that. So I didn't think of hs'ing as a good idea until I learned about unschooling. At first I had some of the usual concerns (how will they learn to write a research paper?), but as I learned more I became even more attracted to the idea, and I decided that I would want to unschool any children I had.

My dh took a bit more convincing. He was concerned about hs'ing in general and especially unschooling. But he decided to trust my judgement because I was the sahm and child-rearing was my realm. And he has been pleasantly surprised that our dd learned to read at age 4 and is now at 6 an avid reader of chapter books and that our 3 yr old ds is asking questions constantly and learning about everything he picks up.

I am not completely on board with the more "radical" unschoolers because I do believe that it's our job as parents to teach in some cases or to help them learn. But I think this can be done without assigned work or coercion. This fits in with my broader philosophy of child-rearing, that we should teach them and make things available to them, but not, with a very few exceptions, to force things on them.

And since becoming a hs'ing parent I have reformed my impression of those who hs with a curriculum, too. In most hs'ing-with-curriculum families, it is learning from your parents, not living with your teacher.

Unschooling has enabled me to learn so much from my children. It's sort of funny that these little people are such an inspiration to me. I want to protect them and liberate them all at the same time. I know we could not have the relationship we do now if they were in an institutional school.
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#3 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 03:42 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC

UnschoolnMa, your kids were in school at one point right? When they came out were you instantly unschoolers or did it take time?

Great thread idea! I guess I wouldn't say we were instantly unschoolers after leaving school, but it really didn't take all that long. At first we were still somewhat in a "must do" frame of mind. We weren't following a real schedule or a list of assignments, and we never had a curriculum but we were still focused on school work. Also I was a bit nervous at first that we were doing something illegal (even though I really understood that we weren't) so that was a little freaky too.

Eventually I read up on unschooling more and more, and I would share my findings and ideas with the kids. In no time at all really we were unschoolers. We already parented gently, tried to come to agreements as a family, etc. Unschooling fit into that very well, obviously, and then one day I was just standing there washing dishes or something thinking "Whoa. Where has this been all my life?".

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#4 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 08:36 AM
 
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[QUOTE=ShannonCC And Joan, you've mentioned you tried school at home for what, a day? Knowing you as I do, that totally cracks me up to think about [/QUOTE]

Well, then, this will really give you laugh...When we pulled my oldest out of school, I actually had TEXTBOOKS here. Since it was February, I *knew* that I needed to finish out the school year in line with what they had been doing in school. So, I'd bought textbooks, and outlined the rest of the "school year" with them, figuring I'd then have time over the summer to figure out what books, etc. we'd need for the following year. I'd printed dittos off the internet, gotten loads of stuff from my school-teacher sister, and set up a work table. I mean...that's what school is, right? Books and desks and assignments? I didn't have any idea what "type" of homeschoolers we were, but we certainly weren't UNSCHOOLERS--I mean, they did NOTHING all day, how neglectful!! *MY* child was going to get an education.

So, after a couple of days, I noticed that he was almost as miserable as when he was in school (the moaning about work, the holding his head in his hands in boredom, laying across the table and doodling on his paper instead of working were my first clues.) And *I* was miserable too--I hated putting assignments together, I didn't like feeling like I was "making" him do this work. I didn't "make" him do other things, so this wasn't at all in line with the way my parenting was evolving.

He was really into dinosaurs at the time, so I thought I'd try a unit study. That ended almost before it started--anything that looked or smelled remotely like school turned him off, and trying to fit math/geography/writing, etc. etc. into a unit on dinosaurs wasn't turning him on to those subjects, it only turned him off of dinosaurs. That was his passion, and I didn't want to be responsible for destroying it, so that was the end of unit studies.

Then, I decided we needed to "deschool." But, I was really nervous about what looked like "doing nothing." So, in my head, I kept track...I read him a story, and that "counted." He played a word game with me, and that "counted." We cooked together...math. He looked at a map with me and planned a route...geography. I wasn't quite convinced it was "enough" but I was intrigued to see where it would go.

And we just continued on in that way. Eventually, it got difficult for me to keep track of subjects--did YuGiOh! count for anything? Was that board game math, or reading, or logic, or??????? So, then I graduated to journals where I just kept track of what he did, which was sort of dry, as journals go, so I added pictures, and ticket stubs and other things and it turned into a scrapbook and before I knew it, we were too busy DOING things to record it in the book, so even that fell by the wayside.

And of course, I've seen them all learn what they've needed to learn, they're happy, they're nice kids, they're interesting and interested and I've come to see that schools don't have a monopoly on what counts. It all counts.

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#5 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 09:20 AM
 
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When I was in highschool, I was good friends with an former-unschooler, who had just decided to join the public school system for 8th or 9th grade. I later went on to start babysitting for his younger siblings, and that branched out to babysitting for that families unschooling friends' families! So anyhow, it's always been there.

But I had kinda forgotten about it by the time we had DS#1, and a lovely woman i knew was opening a Waldorf pre-k. So we tried that (and plus my best friend was sending one of her children there, too), and it really did come in handy b/c I was pregnant with complications and had non-stop medical appointments. Then the Waldorf collapsed, and we lived so rurally that the reality of driving that far each day and paying that much was not good! Then my best friend who's daughter was also at the pre-k with Clay, invited me to an unschoolers get-together, and it all fell into place from there. I went to the library and got all the books I could about it, and gradually switched over my circle of friends to include mostly unschoolers/homeschoolers

So, I guess you could say it was peer pressure!

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#6 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 12:17 PM
 
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I guess I have always unschooled, since my kids are young (just about to turn 6 and 3) and I have no plans to introduce a curriculum. I don't even remember how I slid into unschooling...I know that real life friends of mine use Calvert, etc and I thought that is what I thought I would always do. I think I started exploring unschooling online and the more I ruminated and thought about the subject the more it resonated with me...jiving with how I thought about kids, lack of coercion and forcing them to learn, my thoughts about the education system or even a curriculum or school-at-home (why should have I learned about medieval history in 11th grade anyways and does that really make me a well rounded person, ? I would highly recommend Wendy Presnitz book "Challenging Assumptions in Education" )

I used to read online sites like unschooling.com, .info, etc and sites like Sandra Dodd's and others, and be excited yet at the same time a tiny bit skeptical, especially as alot of what I was reading was with older kids. Yet now I see my daughter (the 6 yr old) doing things like asking incessantly what things say, starting to read a word here or there, somehow "knowing about" mathematical concepts I have no idea how she grasped, and starting to write because she is printing in situations that are relevant to HER, like wanting to make a grocery list like me, not because there are tears and a forced time of writing every day. This is not to say I don't have doubts, because believe me I do, mostly about me, like am I "doing enough" with them (as a lot of other people I read about seem to have a much more exciting unschooling life ), should I be "forcing" her a little more to write as she has not done any for a month or two now, will she ever "keep going" with the "math stuff"...every time I have a doubt I see how much "deschooling" I have to do in my own mind. I look BACK at both my kids and where they have come from, and what they now "know" compared to an earlier age, and that is what is helping to reassure me, not thinking OMG will they be able to read, EVER? . It helps to look at them now, not as a 15 yr old in the distant future.

I love how everything connects in my unschooling world, like the kids have been interested in animals, the older kid especially, which has led to anatomy (thiers and ours), geography, bacteria, oceans, maps of the world, outer space and the planets, wild vs tame animals which has led to domestication which has led to history, etc etc...with how one thing leads to another I have no problem with "history" and science being taught. Mostly it is fun to discover things together...right now we put out a bird feeder and have had fun dealing with that.

One other thing I struggle with is a lack of real life support, I just moved to my area a year ago and still do not know alot of people, the local homeschool group is almost an hour away, and the few homeschoolers I have met are school at home...it is nice for all our kids to hang together but it is hard for me as I feel I cannot express my doubts and fears to them...that is where online support is nice. Dh and I both work part time, so is is hard tobalance that as well. Overall, I would much rather be unschooling than to live the two income both-with-a-full-time-job and kids in school life anyday!

Thanks for listening to my journey

Great thread! Looking forward to reading everyone else's replies!

Tina, dp James, dd Stephanie and ds Jonathan: here in Canada, eh??!?!

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#7 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 12:56 PM
 
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Ds is still young (not yet 5), but what appeals to me about unschooling is that it seems a natural extension of how I see my role of mother to be a facilitator to ds exploring his interests. If he wanted to lock and unlock a door a zillion times as a toddler, than I helped him do that until he was done. It's why I've never been able to do limited screen time. He was so interested in working the computer starting at 18 months and it would have been out of character for me to not help him investigate it. I always felt that letting babies, toddlers, children explore their world as much as they wanted, on their own schedule, would encourage their inquisitiveness. Having a world full of limits (like a school environment) is squelching. I did try to send ds to school last fall and had no wish to hs, but could not bear to see all my hard work of the past 4 years ruined and ds miserable.

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#8 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 01:54 PM
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I think my daughter decided that she would be unschooled, and I followed along. Before she was school age we went to some homeschool group events, and I read a lot of GWS, but I thought that as a single mother with no child support that I wouldn't be able to homeschool... I was in college when she was younger, and I graduated right before she turned 5. She went to kindergarten at a Reggio Emilia-Whole Language-Anti-bias charter school on the Oakland-Berekely border, and I taught ED/BD kids... and it was a nightmare. The school sounded good on paper but the implementation as lacking (and because we moved we weren't able to see it when it was running).

Rain was unhappy and unsafe, so I pulled her midyear and moved her to a teeny tiny Montessori school (about 15 kids grades PreK-8). She wasn't very happy there either, but at least she was safe... they were, I think, thrilled to have an acaemically advanced kid, so they pushed her a lot... which meant she had to read a really boring set of readers and do math worksheets and write at least 2 pages in her writing journal. Well, her fine motor skills were typical of a 5 year old, and Bank Street readers suck. The stories in her writing journal would start out with things like, "The sun is really a star. It is a big ball of burning gas. A long time ago, people thought the sun was a agod." and would end with "The sun is warm. The sun is hot. The sun is good." because she got tired of writing and had to still fill the pages.

We finished out the year, because the class I was teaching had been through way too much turmoil that year, and then I took a leap of faith and decided to homeschool, although I had no idea how I'd support us. Being homeless and homeschooling sounded better than the year we'd had, during which Rain regularly melted down into violent, explosive tantrums at least 3 nights a week, lasting for hours. She was however, perfect at school, so clearly it was a problem with her home life... um, sure.

When she stopped going to school she refused to read or write. At all. I tried to get her to read with me, maybe alternate pages, but it was a disaster. She had a brief fling was a math workbook, but then tossed that aside. I was worried that she would never get back to doing all of the things she had done before kindie, so I pushed. She pushed back, and said no way. I gave it.... by August I'd decided that before kindie she had been doing second grade level stuff, so if she did nothing for two years we would be fine.

Luckily, before 2 years passed she was doing lots of great stuff, and I had let go of the stuff she wasn't doing - mostly writing and math. In September, she went into the bedroom and loudly read a new book we'd gotten outloud, but she wouldn't read in front of me for a few more months. Once she started again, though, she never stopped. She was also building altars to Zeus and asking me to read her every version of The Odyssey that we could find, so I figured she was okay... and she was.

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#9 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 03:27 PM
 
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I'm so written out for this week - was really on a jag - so I'll get back to this next week. But I have a comment. Shannon, you wrote:
Quote:
And sometimes I find myself in lecture mode, yakking at my poor kids with glazed over eyes, (I like to talk, I'm a chatterbox, I can't help it )
I personally don't think that particularly conflicts with unschooling - it's just who you are. I don't believe in putting a lot of effort into getting religious about unschooling as an ideology - your intent will carry you just fine and your kids will keeping you aware. Lilllian
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#10 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 04:38 PM
 
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I'm a teacher (I know, "Boo! Hiss!" ), but I always hoped to hs my kids. Ironically, when Taro was 4.5, we moved and I took a job at a private "accelerated" and "academic" school. So Taro spent preK and K in a very traditional, structured environment. He was happy and did well-- mainly because he finished his work fast and then got to play.

For "first grade" we sent him to a Sudbury Valley Model school ("Hey, it's unschooling at school!"). He loved it, but kept getting in trouble. The year after that, we started to hs!

I was paranoid about meeting State requirements , so we followed a curriculum. Taro did very well, but it was a struggle. He enjoyed any material I presented, but HATED doing anything written.

This year, partly as a sound educational move and partly as the whim of a verge-of-going-crazy mom, I asked him if he wanted to unschool.



He's happy; I'm happy. He's learning lots! We're never going back!
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#11 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 06:28 PM
 
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We've been "officially" unschooling since last Wednesday! I read most of John Holt's books when ds (our oldest) was around 2, I believe. I was inpired and excited and "knew" our kids would never attend school. Then, long story short, we ended up putting him in our local Waldorf inspired charter school for Kindergarten this past August. Lots of our friends have their kids there and seem to love it. I was also feeling rather overwhelmed with two dd's 19 months apart, felt like ds need the socialization and stimulation, etc. I had also been looking into curriculae (right word for the plural?), thinking we needed something more "structured" than unschooling.

Ds seemed to love his school for about the first 4 months of the schoolyear. He talked about it happily and looked forward to going every day. THings changed, gradually, after the winter break. He'd say he was too tired to go, he was bored of the same circletime and storytime being repeated over and over again. A couple of weeks ago, I had a conference with his teacher, and she recommended another year of kindergarten for him based on a number of factors which basically stem from Waldorf philosophy--which we have since realized we disagree with in many ways. DH and I discussed the issue intensely for the next few days. I think it took us about three days realize that we wanted to unschool, and it just felt so RIGHT. All our worries and tension melted away--no more rushed mornings, no more 30 minute drive each way to school, no more trying to convince ds that school was still fun despite the boring repeated stories and circletimes. We talked to ds about it, and he immediately knew what he wanted, and seemed relieved to be leaving school.

His last day was last Tuesday, when his class celebrated his sixth birthday. The ceremony involved telling the story of DS being up in heaven with his guardian angel before birth, which is so NOT what we believe (and we told ds this later!), and made us even happier to be getting out.

Since Tueday, DS has been making dozens of paper airplanes, playing at the park several times a week with friends, climbing rocks, playing with his sisters in the backyard, drawing tons of pictures (with black crayons, even!), hatching seamonkeys, watching a tv show on alternative fuels with his dad, counting blocks, and just learning all the time. I am loving our laid-back mornings and evenings--no more nagging about it's-bedtime-cause-there's- school-tomorrow, rush to get everyone dressed and fed and in the car so we arrive on time and don't need a late pass--just no rush or tension anymore about our children's education and the rhythm of our family's life in general. I am reading John Holt again and becoming newly inspired. DH has said several times that even though he has to work (which he does from home), every day feels like a weekend.

So we're just beginning, we love unschooling so far, and I'm enjoying reading everyone's stories. Keep them coming!

Heather

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#12 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 08:29 PM
 
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To understand our journey, first you have to understand my dd. Sorry, it might get long...

J (9 now) was always a precocious kid. She wrote her name at 2, read small words at 3, chapter books at 4, taught herself cursive at 5, etc. This did not mesh well with school. In preschool she was in time-out a lot, mainly for not feeling like participating in circle time, talking "out of turn", or getting up and walking around for no reason sometimes . Her teacher always looked like she'd rather be somewhere else (and I found out she was fired a few years later for shaking a child) . In Kindergarten, the teacher thought she understood J and gave her "jobs" to keep her from getting too bored and to satisfy her need to move around. At one parent-teacher conference, she told me that J was "way beyond" the phonics workbook they were doing so she had J sit in the back of the room reading a book and then writing a full page summary of it. Ok, I understood the good intention there, but after that year, dd hated reading and writing. :

First grade was horrible. Her teacher really hated her. J was kicked out of an advanced reading group for "excessive talking". She was accused of things she didn't do. The teacher would dismiss the kids and shake her head at me in disgust and J would come out crying on more than a few occasions. This was when I first started researching homeschooling. Later on, the teacher had the good sense to recommend J for a nearby gifted academy - although her exact words were, "..but I know she won't get in" . J took the test and was, in fact, the only kid to make it into the program from her school.

I thought the gifted school would be the answer. J would be among her academic peers, the teacher will understand the personality traits that go along with giftedness, and all will be well. So, second grade was not so bad. Every one of J's teacher thought she might have ADHD, though. I had her tested that summer and the pediatric neuropsychologist said that base solely on the teacher's assessment (4-page checklist that I filled out,too) J definitely has ADHD - when shall we schedule a follow-up visit so we can talk about medication. Needless to say, I think that woman was a nut.

In 3rd grade, J calmed down tremendously. After a few months, the thoughts of ADHD was turned into ADD-inattentive. I kept hearing that J couldn't focus, but knew the work. Her science teacher even gave her an A+ on the report card when all J's tests were below 80%. When I asked her why, she said she knew that J understood the work, but just wasn't a test-taker. By this time, I had noticed J's "spark" was gone. That wonderful fantastic love of learning full of curiosity, motivation, and enthusiasm had disappeared. Homework was a struggle, classwork was a struggle, concentrating was a struggle.

My research on homeschooling had once again resumed. I knew it would work and that J would love it. I talked to J about it and after a couple of weeks, she came to me saying she was ready to homeschool . We both needed time to "deschool" and I let her do whatever she wanted at home. She chose to print out science worksheets and have me grade them for her. She wanted to be quizzed on spelling words and multiplication problems. I researched curricula during this time and decided on Charlotte Mason. J enjoyed the copywork, narrations, nature walks, etc. - for a few weeks. I saw she was happier and in a better mood more often. But then, she would want to skip certain subjects on the list. And eventually we just stopped altogether.

I believe we both just morphed into unschooling because even a loose lesson plan wasn't going to work. She needed total creative and academic freedom. She needed to explore her world on her own terms. She needed to learn how to just "be".

Now, it's been over a year since this unschooling journey began. J has reagained a love of learning I haven't seen since she was 4. All the missing creativity, motivation, and enthusiasm is back : . She has many many interests - lots of them still hover around some schoolishness: World cultures, maps, capitals, oceans, science experiments, outer space, gardening, cooking, arts and crafts, American Girl dolls, HTML coding and creating websites, lots of trips, and last week she expressed an interest in learning algebra. I peruse the worldbook typcial-course-of-study sometimes (NY has strict regulations, paperwork, and testing, so I keep tabs on her learning level, sigh) and she remains at 2-3 grade levels ahead.

I try not to involve myself too much, but I will always be provide her with resources, opportunities, ideas, and suggestions. She does love to involve me, though! And asks to be taught certain things she's interested in. She has deschooled a LOT and, as everyone I know has also noticed, there are no signs of ADHD or ADD-inattentive at all anymore : . She is a competitive dancer, going to practices 3-5x a week, we are part of a wonderful homeschool group (with lots of unschoolers!), and she is slowly feeling more comfortable speaking to adults she just meets. She has more friends now than ever before, too.

I have learned so much over this past year. Unschooling is just right for us. I couldn't even imagine ever changing that. And I'm excited to announce that we will also start homeschool ds-5 next year. I never knew life could be so big and juicy.

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#13 of 59 Old 04-23-2006, 11:47 PM
 
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I'm another one with young kids (oldest is about to be 5). I was never a big fan of unschooling; it seemed pretty out there to me. My oldest son, however, while having an early academic slant, was always highly resistant to instruction or guidance of that sort. He was interested in very specific academic things, as I said, from toddlerhood, but he would absolutely not tolerate someone saying, "Ok, so, let's do this." He wasn't interested, because he was figuring stuff out in his own way.

I thought he'd outgrow it, but his disinterest turned into automatic counter-suggestions on his part, "No, I have an idea. Let's do this instead." He was very busy little person...it just occurred to me that people telling him what to learn or even suggesting educational goals was messing up the way he was doing it. He knew what he was doing and we were going to mess it up. I sincerely believed (and still do) that we could squelch his spirit (I know that sounds really touchy-feely) by trying to direct him. I couldn't bear the thought of that.

So, I decided that I should probably learn about unschooling and get over my discomfort with it, since my son was basically choosing that method. Around that period in time when we were adjusting to the concept, my son abruptly developed a very long-lived and intense passion for the Solar System. He constantly asked questions that were difficult to answer and before we knew it, he had pulled us along into several "subjects" just from that one interest. That was a significant time for dh and I, because we realized that he could learn a great deal from solely his own initiative. It was like an "aha" moment for us...we learn all the time...things are connected instead of compartmentalized into subjects...children don't need to be managed in order to learn...the most meaningful things we learn and remember are things that interest us.

I probably had more to say but it's bedtime and dh just came in to remind me of the time. Please forgive typos or whatever. I wrote this in a rush.
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#14 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 12:10 AM
 
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This is my first post in the homeschooling forum.

I've been homeschooling for 16 years now. We did take a break for part of my oldest ds's second grade. I was working 2 jobs and going to college full time. I felt that I could not teach him properly. I was really wrong. We both hated that period of 2 months. I pulled him out of school because even though it was supposed to be "one of the best" schools in the district, it was horrible.

We started homeschooling in California and the only thing that I knew was that we had to belong to a charter, an umbrella or go with the school districts program. So it was schooling at home and even though he wasn't in public school, we hated the pressure, the set curriculum, etc. The teacher even said once that he should be held back because he was not "emotionally developed" to handle the 5th grade and I should hold him back even though he got A's in everything. I was like WTC..."he is excelling academically, but just because he seems emotionally immature to you, I should make him repeat the 4th grade???" I placed him a charter school that year.
When we moved to Colorado while he was 12, I found out that there were basically no rules here...we had to keep records, test or get evaluated every other year and send in a letter of intent. WOW!!! We started deschooling. I let him do the things that were interesting to him. I let him read the books he wanted instead of being from some predetermined list, I let him take up the subjects he wanted to learn, I let him choose what he wanted to do. My only rule was that he could not spend the day watching t.v. all day or play his video games all day.
That went on for 2 years. When he started high school, we both agreed that we should cover some of the subjects that would go on his transcripts. He wanted trig and calculus. He has already done geometry and algebra 1 and 2 on his own. We also had covered what would be listed under English, British and World Literature. He spends most of his day writing online so we counted that as Composition, so we were pretty much done with h.s. He is graduating this year at the age of 16 and has covered more subjects than I could have ever hoped in p.s.
Our journey of unschooling has let him explore things that he would not have normally been able to if we were doing a curriculum. He has learned Latin, a little of Russian and French on his own. He writes at a level that most novelists would be proud of.

My eight year old on the other hand, loves to do worksheets. We go to the stores and find books that he thinks would be interesting and he will start on them. He loves doing geography and multiplication worksheets. Other than that he loves to be out in the backyard building things with scrap wood. He is in the process of drawing out blueprints for a miniature house he wants to build. I think he will be more of the eclectic type homeschooler. But I trust him to choose the type of learning he finds best for himself.

Hope this wasn't too much of a book.

Shianne
I am just me. Cert. HHP and Herbalist and mom to three wonderful home educated boys.
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#15 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 12:51 AM
 
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I think it just happened for us. I always took DS5 out when he was little, we had a family zoo pass for the past 5 yrs, we would go see kids shows, check out local museums etc... then dd3 came long, we had a double stroller and would just go... now with dd 7 mos and the dd8 and ds10 we have tons of fun. this weekend we saw a puppet show- at the local puppet theater of which we are members and see almost everything they have -called 'hotel saguaro' about the cacti and life in the desert. so that can be " art/theater, science, history and english'.

i try for 2 'field trips' a month, for example the zoo and a puppet show... sometimes we do more... in the summer we hit the museums, science center etc...
a couple weeks ago we all headed out to the botanical gardens for a special butterfly exhibit so we got to see the gardens and sculptures as well as butterflies so again science and southwest history...

i try to get to the library at least 1x a week for story time and all the kids go, even the 8&10 yr olds.... it teaches them to be quiet and patient lol
also it covers 'reading' all the kids get books and the oldest 3 read at advanced levels
sometimes i get some books that relate to our trips..
ds 5 loves racecars , we all help out cooking,

we own workbooks but most times they are forgotten about.. the kids love activity books and IMO a word search is just as good as a spelling sheet

we hit the park for gym class...

i just cant see us all sitting around the kitchen table with me passing out lessons... YUCK and i cant ever see sending the kids to real school... yuck

i love days when everyone is lazy and we just 'learn' in jammies... i can go on and on but i wouldnt have it any other way...
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#16 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 01:09 AM
 
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I don't have any kids (yet), but I was unschooled until I entered public school in 9th grade. The decision to unschool (though I hate that word... what we did was "natural learning") started when my mom saw John Holt on a talk show in the late '70s. At the time my older brothers were quite young (born in '75 and '77, I was born in '85) and my mom hadn't really though about school until then, but what John Hold said on the show really struck a cord with my mom and made sense to her. She began reading all his books and quickly decided that she wanted to homeschool. This became a problem when she found out that homeschooling was not allowed in Nevada unless they lived a certain distance from any school (which they didn't). So my parents sued the county and won. There was quite a bit of fuss about this and they were in the newspaper and met John Holt (I think a few times).

At first, they tried to use a more structured approach, but my oldest brother was very resistant. He would get stomach aches, headaches, etc. whenever doing phonics or whatever. He was mostly resistant to leaning how to read (my other brother taught himself to read at 5). So my mom read to him instead. She read, and read and read. They did do some structured learning, but not much. This continued until I was born. Due to me being an extremely needy baby (I'm sorry, I'm sorry! lol) my mom decided to send my brothers to school in the late 80s. They went first to a very small private church school for a year, and then continued in public school. At the time my brothers entered school, my oldest brother still couldn't really read. After entering school, he quickly caught on and ended up taking all honers classes in high school, and being class Salutatorian. My other brother also did well in school, but took a semester off and homeschooled during 8th grade (I think).

After all this it was no surprise that I was also homeschooled. Much less structure this time. I can count on two hand what we did for "learning." My mom read to me. A LOT. No, a LOT. Mostly chapter books, children's classics, and historical stuff. I cooked with my mom (learned a lot of math this way. mostly fractions, and found my life passion: baking). Every once in a while (once every month or two? Or three or four?) I would do a page of math problems. We did science experiments when the mood stuck, and researched things that I was interested in at the library (like I said, there was a lot of reading). We took field trips (everyday business with my parents, and with several local homeschool groups). Like my oldest brother however, I had trouble learning to read. I finally did at 9 1/2 when I picked up a picture book (with the intent of looking at the pictures while I waited for my mom to have time to read it to me), and to my surprise realized I could read it. In one summer I went from not being able to read at all, to reading my grade level, and within the next year was reading about 3 grade levels above my age. I spent the vast majority of my time reading until I entered high school, when I no longer had time. My mom continued to read to me until I moved to another state at age 17 (and I still miss it a lot!).
I did pretty well in school, but I have no doubt that my experience would have been VERY different if I had been in "real" school from the beginning.

Sorry I wrote such a novel here. I'm sure it's more than you needed or wanted to know, but I felt like sharing. I fully intend to homeschool (and mostly likely unschool) my kids (whenever I have them, lol), and my brother is planing to homeschool his kids as well.
~Kelsie
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#17 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 02:22 AM
 
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I'm just subscribing and saving my place here. My story feels so long because we just recently fell into a nice unschooling rhythym.

Basically, *I* and my dh had to let go of schoolish thought and thinking. We were taught to think inside a tiny narrow box. Anything outside that box was "the wrong answer" (Whatever the heck that means).

Our entire family is now an unschooling family. It feel free and full of possibility. Mere weeks ago I was holding on for dear life while trying to LET GO of my schoolish upbringing.

Thankfully, the journey never ends. I'll be back to share more and read more of everyone else's posts.
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#18 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, who's next Thanks for sharing all the stories! Lillian, your turn,

Quote:
your intent will carry you just fine and your kids will keeping you aware
Well, the sighing or the "mom, you're annoying me" is my 7 year old's way of keeping me aware,
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#19 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 04:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC
Well, the sighing or the "mom, you're annoying me" is my 7 year old's way of keeping me aware,
Yup - that'd do it.

I really will get to my part eventually. It's just such a big subject, and I keep repeating myself so much...

In the meantime, there's a lot about it in that article I already wrote:
Homeschooling - It's a Wonderful Life
-Lillian
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#20 of 59 Old 04-24-2006, 07:47 PM
 
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I think I unschool. I go through periods of time where I want to homeschool them and then when I look at all the things that I am 'supposed' to do, I cringe. They just seem so ridiculous to me.

I do follow the state guidelines but I really educate my children as I am led within that llaw.
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#21 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 02:19 AM
 
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I always kept homeschooling in mind as an option, from the time I was in high school, and realized how far ahead my homeschooled peers were.

When dd1 was a toddler, I went into research mode. During that time, I discovered the term "unschooling" at the same time I was coming to realize that I thought that style was best suited for true learning, and for fostering a life-long love of learning.

Dd1 has been to school though. I was going to college while she was very young, and initially we used a home-based daycare, which was ideal for her, considering the circumstances. She ended up outgrowing the setting though, and I switched her to a Montessori preschool while I finished my last semester of college. We all liked it quite a lot, but before I even put her in, I knew we'd be unschoolers as soon as I finished school.
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#22 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 03:03 AM
 
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Hi there-

Not a mom yet, but i have a friend with 2 daughters that she is unschooling. i love the idea, as i was bored silly in school and lost most of my interest by junior high. financially, though, dh and i both have to work. has anyone else figured out how to swing this? we are both working at home (farming) part of the time, but it's pretty demanding.

i would love to hear everyone's ideas on this.

Thanks!

Busy mama of
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#23 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 08:19 AM
 
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Just a thought- If you are home most of the time and farming, you could incorporate your lessons into your workday.
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#24 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 10:17 AM
 
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farmama, check out this book: Hard times in paradise : an American family's struggle to carve out a homestead in California's redwood mountains by Colfax, David. Its about a family that left academia to live off the land, build their own house, no running water/electricity/phones, etc. They basically unschooled. 3 of their 4 children went to Harvard.
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#25 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 10:21 AM
 
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I think its safe to say ds led us into unschooling. It started when I realized I couldn't go back to work after he was born and quit my job. Then I couldn't imagine sending him away for pre-school. We discovered homeschooling and joined a h.s. group when he was 3. The leaders happened to be unschoolers and were so great about describing learning through life. We realized how much our child had learned (and taught us!) since he was born. We watched him learn and grow every day. We didn't see any reason to change that...and we haven't! He's only 6 now, but I think its safe to say he's always been unschooled.
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#26 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 11:36 AM
 
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My journey to unschooling came from two things at once. A desire to be less controlling as a mother and observing how well my two children "learned" by simply "living" before Kindergarden age.

By the time my daughter hit five, I was shocked at how fast those five years went and the thought of sending her off was just depressing. She was still very connected with me and it seemed so unnatural to try to convince and her or myself that school was a good thing.

Now she is nine and my son is seven. They are very in charge of their life's and what they choose to absorb. We find our selves going to library book sales or thrift shops and bringing home new interesting books or projects and it becomes as exciting as Christmas around here. We can't wait to dig in.

Learning has never been a chore for them so I know that unschooling has been the right decision. We will continue to learn naturally for many years to come. I have no idea what my children will do with their lives and my dh and I wont be pushing them in one direction or another but Im pretty sure what ever it is they will choose, it will be in the same passionate manner in which they take things on at present.
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#27 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 11:41 AM
 
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I am unschooling my dc, I thought that I would homeschool with somewhat of a structured plan... but I am really too lazy/unstructured/not organized enough to do that. ds is 4 1/2 and dd is 2 1/2. My dh is not totally on board, but he is not against it. I think that he believes the kids will miss out on something if they don't go to school. This is just a guess as dh is not willing to discuss anything lately
I do have one question for everyone... do you plan to continue unschooling when your dc are at high school level? I plan to get the lessons and have their work marked, etc. This is what I did for the 10th grade and I really enjoyed it!!! That is what secured in my mind (even at the age of 15) that I would be homeschooling my children.
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#28 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 12:10 PM
 
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For me, it just took reading about 25 books on homeschooling, all different types. First I read "The Well-Trained Mind" and thought a modified version of classical would be wonderful (I realistically knew I couldn't do a full out version). Then I thought unit studies would be great. Then the more and more I read, and the more I watched my children and thought about how much they had learned without any help, just with regular stories and fun field trips and activities (all of our regular stuff), the more I realized that there was no other way but unschooling and child-led learning. And we LOVE LOVE LOVE it, there is such peace and happiness in our home and so much fun and learning. Free range children. Aaahhhh......
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#29 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 03:23 PM
 
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What a cool thread!

When Kenzie was a little over three, I was surfing the Internet and stumbled upon Jan Hunt's Natural Child Project website. I was so amazed to learn that other people mothered like I did. I wasn't alone. Co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, lots of holding and respect…. After reading through article after article, I came across one by John Holt. By the time I finished it, I had exclaimed "Yes!" and "Well, duh!" about fifteen times. That was it for me. All I could think was, "Why hadn't I already figured this out on my own?" It made more sense than anything I had ever read in my life. Of course people learn best when they're interested in something. Of course we retain information much better when we actively seek it out. Of course learning through life is ideal. So, I bought up lots more Holt books, as well as a few others and pored over them with a permanent smile affixed to my face.

I had been a perfect student all my life. Honors. Awards ceremonies. Plaques on the wall. And I knew it was all a sham. I had always done the least amount of work possible. During high school, for instance, I refused to read any book they assigned simply because I resented the fact that they wanted me to put down what I was reading and pick up a "classic" that didn’t interest me. Really, though, there was no need to read the books; just listen in class and ask a few questions of the suckers who DID read the books, and the tests were a breeze. (I ended up reading most of the books later, on my own – when I wanted to..)

Once I realized I'd be attending the local-yokel university (couldn't leave my all-important boyfriend), I dropped all my honors classes so I could be in easier classes with the kids I liked. I piled on extra courses so I could get out sooner - and it worked. I escaped in three years, rather than the usual four, graduating with 400 people I hardly knew.

All that (and MUCH more) to say that public schooling wasn't for me. It hadn't killed my love of learning, exactly, but it had certainly put a crimp in my style. And I haven't even touched on any of the numerous "popularity" problems or difficulties with specific teachers.

Embracing unschooling took all of about 2 minutes for me. Long enough to read through that article. And Kenzie was only three, so had never been to school. His life just flowed along naturally as if nothing special had happened. We simply continued living life the way we had been doing since his birth. He’s eight, now, and can’t imagine what school would be like. He spends his days playing, exploring the neighborhood, digging through the back yard, acting out Greek myths, drawing, singing, reading like mad, starting RPGs on the Neopets boards, building with Legos and Bionicle and Construx, and snuggling up to me in the big comfy chair to talk.

He tells me he wouldn’t have it any other way.
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#30 of 59 Old 04-25-2006, 04:11 PM
 
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My Journey By Mamaofthree :
MY dd went to school from K thru half of 2nd grade. We pulled her out and started going to a local homeschool group. I let her "decompress" for a few months and then I got some workbooks and such. It sucked, but I kept at it. Then a friend mentioned she used K12 (an on-line homeschool thing). So we did that for a year. But it was expensive. So the following year, I decided that I woul djust order all the school books myself and so I got stuff for dd and ds#1, along with workbooks for ds#2. Then I read "Dumbing Us Down" and I about kicked myself for waisting all that money. I was doing just what the schools were doing, but at home. At that moment we just stopped doing school at home. My kids and I have never been happier. They love to explore and learn. I am happy, they are happy. I love unschooling.
As a side note my dh is worried about their math skills (not sure why, as the older kids are at "grade level") so they now do a few math pages a week. It keeps dh happy and they kids like it, so it is all good for right now.

H

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