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#1 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi there!
We're new to the whole homeschooling/unschooling thing. Oldest son (almost 6) started Kindergarten in the local public school this year and it's been a disaster. He's distracted, just wants to socialize, won't do his work and is BORED. So, school calls meeting, says it's ADD, we take him to get the full eval. with an independent psych.--he's gifted but totally not being challenged. We tell school, they say who cares, gifted programs are "elitist," we're not going to challenge him, he just needs to behave and do his work (but if he had learning disabilities, they'd have programs and aides lined up to help him). Sooo...we're starting the homeschooling thing, but think what our son really wants is the socialization first, education second. Once the first is satisfied, then he'll throw himself eagerly into his passions.

That said, we're looking at a local Sudbury school. Anyone familiar with the model? We've done all the research and it's intriguing to us, think it might be the right thing for our little guy. It's a HUGE leap of faith for us that he'll pursue his own interests and that we don't push him to "learn" or take "classes," but that the learning will occur on its own. I think we're worried that he'll have trouble when he goes to college years from now because most programs have pre-requirement subjects one must take before one gets to one's "major/interest" and that is very anti-unschooling philosophy. Any thoughts?
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#2 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 07:39 PM
 
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It's a HUGE leap of faith for us that he'll pursue his own interests and that we don't push him to "learn" or take "classes," but that the learning will occur on its own. I think we're worried that he'll have trouble when he goes to college years from now because most programs have pre-requirement subjects one must take before one gets to one's "major/interest" and that is very anti-unschooling philosophy. Any thoughts?
If he pursues his own interests, and his interests lead him to wanting a college education, why would he suddenly come to a full stop? Don't you think he'll consider what a college would require for admission and fullfill those requirements if it takes him where he wants to go?

If I wanted to learn to play the piano, it would be silly of me to refuse to touch a piano. If my child wants a college degree, it wouldn't make sense for her to refuse to study that which would earn her a degree.

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#3 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 07:40 PM
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I've seen/heard about a number of Sudbury-inspired schools - some have been good, some haven't been, many of closed after a few years. They've all been schools, though, with all of the limitations that implies, including limiting the kids he's able to hang out with and play with during the day to those who attend that school. Unschooling has allowed us a lot more freedom.

Your little guy is only five right now... he has a good ten years before he'll need to start thinking about college. If he wants to get into a college program that requires pre-reqs, he'll do that - unschoolers are like that. As a teen, he'll certainly be able to understand the hoops he'll need to jump through and with your help, he can do that.

You don't have to take the whole leap of faith now, though... you can unschool him now and reconsider in a year, or two, or five... what he does at 5 or 6 really has no impact on his college appolications...

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#4 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's my understanding that this is "the" original Sudbury school been around since the 60's (Sudbury Valley) and we're really intrigued... That said, our only holdout is that we feel our son needs to learn basic things like decent handwriting and sentence structure. Is it terribly unschooling to supplement at home with a few things--things he needs to know?

We really do feel like unschooling is the best decision for him, but he can be so pigheaded if he doesn't want to do something. How do you handle basic things like math and writing?
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#5 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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He WILL want to learn to read and write. He just will. If he really is pig-headed, having that pushed is only going make it more difficult for him to learn that.

I've done a fair amount of reading about the Sudbury Valley school and I love the philosophy. If we lived near a good SV school and could afford it, I'd consider sending my kids. Although the more we unschool and the more I find out about unschooling, the more I feel that it is the superior option!

Marja: consensual-living, unschooling, piano-teaching, doula and mom to 3 creative, independent people:
DD, 8, DS, 6, and Baby DS born July 1, 2010 Married to DH for 10 years!
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#6 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree--the more I learn about Sudbury, the more I LOVE the concept! It's a huge leap of faith for us, but if I can go from control freak/medical background to trusting my body to grow babies and nurse wonderfully, then I think I can trust my child to learn what he'll need and want to learn. Even my husband and I think that if we'd been able to pursue our passions much earlier in life, we'd have been much happier in "school" and not "wasted" years with all the other junk!

By the way, Marja, congrats on the doula training! We had a doula with #2 and #3 and my husband and I rave about the experience. I'd never birth without a doula, it was wonderful!!!
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#7 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 10:09 AM
 
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That said, our only holdout is that we feel our son needs to learn basic things like decent handwriting and sentence structure...
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... I think I can trust my child to learn what he'll need and want to learn.
These two thoughts are contradictory to me. If you trust your child to learn what he needs, and he needs to learn handwriting and sentence structure, then he WILL learn them. Of course, he may never need decent handwriting, and other "basic" things that you feel he needs to learn he may not learn.

I don't think you can have it both ways.

If you're going to require that he learn particular skills, I'd say just be upfront about that and not go into it saying that you trust him to learn whatever he needs to learn.

Otherwise, you're basically saying, "Son, I trust that you'll learn what you need to learn and that you'll pursue your own passions. Here is a school that will support that. Except that we don't trust you to learn handwriting or sentence structure, so we'll insist you take lessons in that whether you want to or not."

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#8 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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See? This is the kind of help we need, thank you! It's requiring a massive change in our thinking, so forgive us if it takes a bit to get there, we're learning too!

I think our worry is how to survive in an increasingly globalized market where the competition from other countries is fierce and will only get more so. My husband works in the technology sector and he's constantly complaining that he can't find qualified Americans who have the skills they need, nor the motivation to learn them. We want our son to have the skills he'll need to adapt in the world. You're right, I am contradicting myself, I'm still trying to get my head around it! Is the point not necessarily that he will get certain skills at a Sudbury school, but that he'll learn how to get what he needs, so that if he sees something he wants to do in life, he'll be able to go after and learn the skills needed for that thing? How will that be perceived by the outside world because he doesn't have basic "skill set" in the traditional sense? The employer(s) may not see the "better" ability he has for learning because they don't "get" his education. Because unless he starts his own company, he will be evaluated against the rest of the mainstream world. How do you handle that?
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#9 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 10:39 AM
 
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See? This is the kind of help we need, thank you! It's requiring a massive change in our thinking, so forgive us if it takes a bit to get there, we're learning too!
I'd venture to say it's been a massive change in thinking for most of us.


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I think our worry is how to survive in an increasingly globalized market where the competition from other countries is fierce and will only get more so.

ooooooohhhhhhh, you should talk to "Alexander" (haven't seen him post in ages, come to think of it. )

Okay, check this out: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...nformation+age

If you found that interesting, do a search for "Alexander" (username) within "Learning At Home." He has muchh to say about the information age/v/industrial age education as well as the Sudbury model and unschooling.

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#10 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 10:54 AM
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-=-How will that be perceived by the outside world because he doesn't have basic "skill set" in the traditional sense?-=-

What makes you think that he won't gain basic "skills" in the traditional sense living an Unschooling life? Our children learn basic skills, but as a side effect of living a rich, full, exciting life together. They may learn them on a different time line, but by the time he is out looking for a job way in the future he will obtain them. He will want to more than likely....it isn't something you have to force him to do at all.

-=-The employer(s) may not see the "better" ability he has for learning because they don't "get" his education.-=-

Why would it even come up really? I don't remember having an employer asking me about my education in such detail, or comparing my basic "skills" to others. So many kids are homeschooling now your son only has to share he was homeschooled. It really isn't a big deal.

Living this life Unschooling for us means learning to be *Present* with our children where they are in life *Now*. We strive to move from a fear-of-the-future mindset that most in our culture live in. The examples you share are not real-life examples, they are fear-based questions of things that more than likely will never come up in life, so why waste time discussing hypothetical situations? There are millions we could come up with, but how many of these fear-based hypothetical situations will actually come to fruition? Not many I am sure.

Not that I see anything wrong in asking about these hypothetical situations. I am sure there are people who will give you great answers to them, I am simply sharing why I don't waste my time living in fear of the future. I know from living this life that living in the *Present* and striving for *Joy* everyday is the best way for me and my children to get the most out of life together. All the "skills" you are referring to are acquired when the kids need them in life. Why would they want a job where they don't have the "skills" to work there? Why would your child even apply for a job they didn't have the skills for? If they don't have the skills, and they want the job bad enough, they will strive to acquire them in order to get the job. It's all about internal motivation. Again, it's not a big deal...it all works out.

-=-Because unless he starts his own company, he will be evaluated against the rest of the mainstream world.-=-

This comment shows me that you have a ways to go climbing up the ladder of understanding. This is great! The journey is all part of it!
You are insinuating it seems, that he will be somehow "lacking" being Unschooled and you fear him being compared to others who went through the "system". As most people know, so many schooled kids slip through the cracks to the extent that some never learn how to read just to give one example. A "traditional" education is no guarantee that he will gain the skills you think he needs in life. Not by a long shot.

Learning to *Trust* that he will gain the skills he needs to gain is an important aspect of this type of life, whether you are Unschooling or send our child to Sudbury School.

Do you think kids who were Unschooled stand out in the crowd? Well, they do, but usually in amazing ways! They are often times more outgoing and confident from never being compared to others their whole lives. They were never labeled "behind" or "gifted" because in truth, neither of these labels exist in real life. It is only in the artificial structure of school that they exist. They are of no use in the real World at all and using either of them is damaging to a child once they are out in the real world.

This is all I have time for, but I wanted to say "Welcome" to you on the beginning of your Journey to understanding a more Joyful, connected way of life with your family! I think it is great you are looking for alternatives to the traditional schooling model. Good luck with your climb up the ladder!

~Peace & Love, Dayna
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#11 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 07:24 PM
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I was thinking about this thread today... my daughter (who just turned 15) has been taking classes at our state university for two semesters now. She's in English 101 now, and instead of a class today the professor scheduled meetings with small groups of students. Rain wound up with 2 boys (well, men, I guess, since they're 18 or 19) she didn't know, from another section. They were all supposed to have written a rough draft of at least three pages, based on one of three articles they had read. Rain was the only person who had three pages, and the only person who has used the correct font and layout style, as specified by the professor. Hers was the only essay written in formal, academic language - the others used phrases like "this is crap." One of the two had examples for his essay that were totally unrelated to his topic (topic was corporal punishment in school, and he threw in stuff about the increase in obesity). It just went on and on...

ANyway, they clearly got into college somehow, but they don't write anywhere near as well as Rain does.... and yet she wrote almost nothing from the time she was 6 until she was about 10 or 11 - when she could suddenly wrote beautifully. The schools will tell you it doesn't work that way - that skills like writing or reading are picked up slowly and incrementally over time, which justifies spending an hour a day, 5 days a week, for years and years teaching them. With many of the unschoolers I've known, though, it works exactly that way. If I look back, I can see that she was reading during that time, and absorbing knowledge of how words and sentecnes and paragraphs are constructed, and developing an ear for good writing... but it didn't look like she was learning about writing at all.

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#12 of 14 Old 03-04-2008, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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All of you--you are AMAZING women, thank you! I've been reading your responses to my husband and we are SO excited and SO sold on the concept of unschooling and Sudbury education. I love the idea of homeschooling/unschooling, but honestly, I just don't think I can "let go" enough to have the boys around all day and not be a control freak about their learning. Truly, this is a journey, but learning about unschooling has caused both my husband and I to reflect on our own learning experiences and our current parenting styles. We're fairly laid back (my husband more than me), but we're really beginning to trust the idea of unschooling and feeling so trusting about our children's ability to take what they'll need from life to learn, to learn at their own pace, etc. We're still figuring out how to pay for a Sudbury school, but I think it's the best step, at least for now, to trust them and put them (well, only our oldest is old enough yet) in an environment where they can experience that complete trust and empowerment. Maybe down the road I can facilitate their unschooling at home, but with 3 boys of very different ages (the baby is a wee demanding) and very different interests, I'm not sure how to multitask and provide what each wants when he wants it, in terms of learning. I was an only child, so learning to juggle 3 has been a learning experience already! I just want to be honest with myself about what I think I want to take on right now, and my "getting up to speed" and losing my control freakedness will take time--time I don't want to delay their passions and learning.

We have an interview at Sudbury Valley in two weeks and are SO excited. We have talked and researched extensively and the more we learn and reflect (both from reading and from feedback from you guys), we are SOLD on the idea. If I think back, I didn't really start to enjoy learning until I was in college, in charge of my path and paying for it myself. To be able to give that to our children at such young ages is so exciting. I can only imagine that it will make them the most amazing grownups full of confidence and passion. Have you guys experienced that? Do you love and are you amazed at how your unschooled kids grow and thrive? Again, thank you all--you've given us a lot to think and reflect on and we are SO excited to be on this journey!
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#13 of 14 Old 03-05-2008, 09:54 PM
 
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LaughingRedHead, I am so excited for you and your family!
This leap of faith you're taking IS scary... but so incredible and so worth it!

My brother attended Sudbury Valley (SVS) for about 2 years and loved it. I spent a week there when I was 16, a few months after I'd left school to unschool, to see if I wanted to enroll as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the week, but decided to just keep unschooling, since I was so close to college anyway.
My week at SVS was over a decade ago, and I don't remember all of it, but what I remember most is the "energy" of the children there. Despite being 16, I spent most of my time there hanging out with the younger children, because I love kids and planned on spending my life working with kids - which I'm still doing, at age 29, by the way. Anyway, I know "energy" is a little vague, but it's hard to describe. I felt, in almost every kid I came in contact with, a strong and solid sense of self, self-confidence. I was surprised by the relative lack of shyness. SVS kids easily and naturally talked to me with no shyness, with such clear and direct eye contact, and in confident voices like we were peers, like age was irrelevant. One little girl struck up a conversation with me then climbed right into my lap to examine my necklace.
An 11-year-old girl invited me to go for a walk with her, and right like that, we left the school and just took off walking down the street... we walked for well over an hour, and even though I was already unschooling/"sold" on democratic education/unschooling philosophy, it still amazed me that this 11-year-old girl (ANY SVS student!) could just take off whenever like that. But she, and other SVS students, knew herself so well and was so great at being in charge of herself - so USED to it - that going for a long walk, all the way into a neighboring town, was totally fine. It wasn't like, "Hey, let's sneak off and see how far we can get!" She spent most of our walk talking to me about all these deeply philosophical, abstract things that I, at age 16 and with a decade of traditional schooling behind me, could not fully grasp. I couldn't contribute much to the conversation - I just listened and processed and asked more questions.

I can't wait for you and your children to spend more time at SVS and experience it for yourself! It's so hard to describe the feeling of being there, you just have to be there. There's an ALIVENESS in the air that I had never felt in a "school"...
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#14 of 14 Old 03-06-2008, 10:21 AM
 
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Congratulations on figuring out what is best for your family. As an unschooler and would-be co-founder of a local Sudbury school (not enough interest to get it off the ground) I can totally understand the appeal of both options.

Sudbury IMO is not the same as unschooling, but it's as close as you're going to get in a school setting. For us, the many advantages to keeping our girls home make unschooling more appealing. But if there were a Sud school in our area and I *had* to send our girls to school, that would be my choice. We might even move to be near one if I for whatever reason couldn't keep them home anymore.

Please keep us posted about your Sudbury Adventures! Have you read Free At Last? I might have a copy if you want to borrow it. Also there was a wonderful article in Psychology Today. I had reprints but I gave them all to my former co-founder. I can see if she still has any left if you want to PM me your address.

Best,

-Vijay
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