Non radical unschoolers, are you out there? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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Okay, I'm going to be more open about why we are not RU (or non-coercive):

I really like the idea of non-coercive parenting, for the most part.

But there are two reasons it's not for my family:

1.) I don't have the energy. I am recovering from celiac disease and trying NOt to fall back on the examples of my childhood. I simply don't have the physical energy or the patience to keep up with my boys if I don't control their behavior somewhat. This means "wrestling" my toddler to bed (lovingly, ) every once in a while because I need the break and I need him to get the rest so I can handle him later. This means not letting the boys eat their smoothies in the living room usually, because I can't handle having to scrub the carpet every day and shampoo the carpet monthly. I wish I could be more flexible, and I try to be as flexible as I can, but realistically I need to enforce some coercive decisions for my own sanity and my childrens ultimate happiness.

2.) We are religious and we believe that some things are right and some things are wrong. I believe it is my duty to pass on my morals and values to my children. When they are old enough they can choose for themselves, and I certainly hope they do-- I don't want them to follow my spiritual path just because I did, I want them to follow their own consciences. I also believe that children are born perfect and that in a perfect world they could make perfect choices, but there are too many beguiling, addictive and confusing temptations out there-- especially in the media and in regards to consumerism. Sometimes we just have to say "no".

3.) Diet-- I and my boys have food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities. I have to be careful of what they eat or else their behavior rages out of control and they are unhappy and can't sleep. When it comes to most of their food problems, there is no room for moderation. I have to enforce this, and yup, sometimes it's coercive.

Now, I suppose someone might say that I can still be RU, but I did join an RU Yahoo Group last year, and left it fairly quickly because I felt incredibly out of place there.

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#62 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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We unschool, but are not RU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by canadiangranola View Post
I feel really conflicted about the whole thing, seeing my child as a happier kid when he sleeps, and me as a better parent when I can firmly and calmly set some limits for our family.
I've struggled with the same issue in the past, and still do a bit. But, I am feeling more confident about my parenting approach. I've grown to see the goal as a happy, healthy family moreso than any one "ideal" philosophy. We do what works best for us, and keeps our family happy and healthy.

And my confidence has improved the family dynamic, too. When I was conflicted, I was inconsistent and stressed, and I was kind of doing each "style" poorly . Now I see that, for us, it is far better for me to be high-nurture/high-control with confidence than high-nurture/low-control with stress and doubt, kwim? So, while high-nurture/low-control may be ideal for some families and children, I now fully believe that high-nurture/high-control is *also* valid in the younger ages, and I can embrace it with confidence.

FTR, I am still pretty "low-control" compared to a lot of parents.....just "high control" compared to RU or UP or CL (or add your letters here ) It is all relative.
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#63 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 01:20 PM
 
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I don't see anyone here having said that they believe RUers don't keep their kids safe, or have their best interests at heart. Perhaps some RUers get a lot of flak for their choices and are a little defensive

My problem with the RU philosophy is the belief that all children will self-regulate if given enough space and time. I just don't believe this. This hasn't been my experience with my ds.

My ds (and me too) has been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (or Sensory Processing Dysfunction, these days.) This is a relatively common neurological condition, it means that you process sensory information, and react to it differently. In his case, he is very insensitive to sensory information. He doesn't feel full. He doesn't feel pain. He doesn't feel discomfort, or at least, pays no attention to it. When he was a baby he would nurse until he threw up, then go back to the breast. He weight 28lbs at 6 months when I finally started giving him table foods to save my poor breasts.

Last year, he broke his collarbone (he and a friend rammed into each other on their bikes, for fun.) It took him 6 hours to mention that his shoulder felt a bit funny and there was a new bump he was (pretty) sure hadn't been there before. When he broke his wrist, it took him 2 days to bring it up to me. He broke his ankle on a hike and finished the hike (45 minutes on rough terrain.)

He needs to be taught to respond to sensory input, and just telling me to leave my child alone and he'll figure it all out doesn't work. He physically can't self-regulate. I don't feel like prefacing every comment about my son with his neurological diagnoses, and basically all this is really none of anyone's business, so I don't write it all out. So when you read my posts, please don't assume that I just don't know about how great RU is and I need to be educated. Cause I'll then spend some time educating you about the wonderful world of neurological differences (not being sarcastic, it's great over here, there's so much sensory input most people are missing, really.)

What really gets to me, though, is the conversation I had online and IRL too many times to want to do it again. The RUer explains to me all about how all children can learn to self-regulate, I explain that my son is "special needs" (I cringe at that term, there is nothing wrong with either ds or me, we're just different), and the RUer tells me, apologetically, "well, all "normal" children" I usually just let this go. The NT (neurologically typical) usually don't have much experience with people like me, don't get how unbelievably offensive this is, and I'll educate them overtime (or just ignore them and go about my own "special" life.) But, from my point of view, this just basically discounts me and my kid. This is saying "my theory works, your kid is screwing it up, so let's just forget about him."

RU doesn't work for us, because it stems from an assumption that is not valid for all children. My son will never just learn to self-regulate. He is not neurologically wired to self-regulate. It's not the I haven't tried it, or haven't tried hard enough. It just doesn't work for all children.
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#64 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 01:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
We unschool, but are not RU.



I've struggled with the same issue in the past, and still do a bit. But, I am feeling more confident about my parenting approach. I've grown to see the goal as a happy, healthy family moreso than any one "ideal" philosophy. We do what works best for us, and keeps our family happy and healthy.

And my confidence has improved the family dynamic, too. When I was conflicted, I was inconsistent and stressed, and I was kind of doing each "style" poorly . Now I see that, for us, it is far better for me to be high-nurture/high-control with confidence than high-nurture/low-control with stress and doubt, kwim? So, while high-nurture/low-control may be ideal for some families and children, I now fully believe that high-nurture/high-control is *also* valid in the younger ages, and I can embrace it with confidence.

FTR, I am still pretty "low-control" compared to a lot of parents.....just "high control" compared to RU or UP or CL (or add your letters here ) It is all relative.
I have a lot of problems with letting things go completely, because of how well both ds and I can do it

We both have numerous neurological diagnoses, and I have ADD. Left to my own devices, I would drift around in happy little fog, occasionally wondering what that rumble in my stomach was, and when was the last time I ate. I need to have a schedule, just to make sure I eat, let alone anything else.

Ds and I work best with some external structure, because we have no internal structure of our own. We're both pleasure seekers who happily spend all day indulging in whatever makes us happy, and forgetting all those unnecessary annoyances like meals, paying bills, cleaning, showering

But my body, and my landlord take exception to this , so some lists and some routines are in order over here.
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#65 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 01:49 PM
 
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Alima,
I'm right there with you. Both of my boys have SPD/SID (as do I). We've had the same experience with self-regulation simply not being a reality. We unschool because of DS1's SPD, but radical unschooling wouldn't work for him any more than public schooling would. RU might even be more detrimental to him. I totally feel you on the judgement encountered due to it. I've been there, too. You are so not alone.

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#66 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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My dd has SPD and anxiety (which I suspect are intertwined). Her anxiety often makes her *extremely* resistant to the things that will be healthy for her, and ultimately make her happier (like taking classes, gaining independence from mom, some days just leaving the house.....). She typically chooses to escape from whatever causes her anxiety, which leads to ever-increasing list of "anxiety causing situations" and an ever decreasing list of "ok situations"--and an increasingly unhappy child. When I adopt a more confidently authoritative approach, her circle of "ok situations" begins to open up, and the "anxiety inducing situations" decrease a bit. But she needs a big strong PUSH in the right direction!
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#67 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 02:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anne+arun View Post
a
Have you ever been chatting to another unschooler about your choices only to find that a friend who has chosen to send their children to school has felt judged by what you are saying?
& etc.

I guess the main difference that I see in the comments by some RUers that I find discourteous is that those comments tend to paint all kids with the same broad brush, with the idea being that if "the rest of us" would just do it right, our kids would respond favorably, whereas the majority of non-RU comments I see are qualified by an explanation of why a certain thing works/doesn't work for a specific kid or family.

dm
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#68 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 02:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
My dd has SPD and anxiety (which I suspect are intertwined). Her anxiety often makes her *extremely* resistant to the things that will be healthy for her, and ultimately make her happier (like taking classes, gaining independence from mom, some days just leaving the house.....). She typically chooses to escape from whatever causes her anxiety, which leads to ever-increasing list of "anxiety causing situations" and an ever decreasing list of "ok situations"--and an increasingly unhappy child. When I adopt a more confidently authoritative approach, her circle of "ok situations" begins to open up, and the "anxiety inducing situations" decrease a bit. But she needs a big strong PUSH in the right direction!
Oh man, I (was) right there with you. When ds was 6, another kid told him that all green food is poison, so he FREAKED out at anything with green in or on it. A spot of green on that yellow apple? "ohmygod I'm gonna die!!" The green flecks of parsley in ramen noodles? "You're trying to KILL ME!!!" That lasted about 3 years,

Happily, he did "grow" out of it, like everyone told me he would (it's not like the 4 years of OT had anything to do with "growing out of it" ) Well, maybe his 14yo boy appetite has something to do with it, too,

The worst was dealing with a kid who would eat crayons, sticks, rocks, but not fruit , try explaining that at the next mom's group meeting
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#69 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 02:46 PM
 
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I really don't believe that RU is right for everyone, at all, and I am in no way trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do. I just want to throw out there that my ds has SPD/SID and we have no problem with RU. It works best for us. His Neurological differences just mean that I need to be extra careful in helping him learn to self-regulate in a way that works for him. If he never learns to self-regulate he won't be able to have a healthy adult life (I know everyone knows this and I'm just pointing out the obvious, but it's an important part of it for us.)

I still do therapy with him, and he knows how important it is to learn how to receive messages from his body, but if he doesn't want to do it, we don't (this is especially important because of his SPD). What I don't do is force him to do things he doesn't want to do. I strongly encourage him to try to new foods, not shove people, get the rest he needs, eat healthy foods, eat when I see that he needs it, etc. I don't make him do it, or tell him he must, but we talk about how it's important and why. I want him to listen to his body and learn the subtleties of when he's hungry, tired, or stimi, instead of doing what he needs simply because I insist, or seeking sensory input in an inappropriate or unhealthy way. I find that RU is the best rout for us to learn this.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that just because someone is not NT doesn't mean they can't RU.
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#70 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 02:59 PM
 
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I guess what I'm trying to say is that just because someone is not NT doesn't mean they can't RU.

Of course. I am saying that my dd does better when I do require some things, and that is why I am not RU. Cause, ya know, this is a thread for non-radical unschoolers and all . I'm sure that you could find a lot of people with experiences similar to yours on a RU thread! But it still would not be my experience.
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#71 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 03:15 PM
 
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IIf he never learns to self-regulate he won't be able to have a healthy adult life (I know everyone knows this and I'm just pointing out the obvious, but it's an important part of it for us.)
.
Again, of course

If the implication is that not allowing a child to attempt to self-regulate at 3 or 7 or 10 means that they will never learn to self-regulate, well, that is certainly not true ime. Many families find great success by being high-control with younger children, and gradually increasing freedom as the child ages. I kind of see this like every other developmental milestone; when my child is ready, she masters it quickly. When given a responsibility she is not developmentally ready to handle, she struggles unnecessarily. So I am learning to keep her responsibilities at a 7 yo level, and confidently take over the bigger decisions until she is developmentally ready to handle them.
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#72 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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Really, I'm not accusing anyone of anything. It's just that sometimes you hear a lot of 'one cannot expect xyz of a child with SNs', and usually this is just a misunderstanding of what people are talking about. In this case I think there is a large misunderstanding of what RU is. But, of course, that is why there is another thread to talk about it on. I just wanted to address that specific issue because, for me personally, it has been very confusing to navigate because, we are not typical and so often people use being not typical as a reason for not doing xzy (in this case, RU.)
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#73 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 04:52 PM
 
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Really, I'm not accusing anyone of anything. It's just that sometimes you hear a lot of 'one cannot expect xyz of a child with SNs', and usually this is just a misunderstanding of what people are talking about. In this case I think there is a large misunderstanding of what RU is. But, of course, that is why there is another thread to talk about it on. I just wanted to address that specific issue because, for me personally, it has been very confusing to navigate because, we are not typical and so often people use being not typical as a reason for not doing xzy (in this case, RU.)
I'm not typical. I don't RU. I don't RU largely because we're not typical. This is my choice. I'm open to hearing about RU. But I'm really tired of being "educated" about my choices by people who don't really want to listen to me or my reasons for not choosing something. I don't "use" being not typical as a reason. I wasn't happy to have to go to the extent of explaining some of my son's difficulties on a public board.

So I'll just shut up now
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#74 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 04:54 PM
 
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#75 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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It's just that sometimes you hear a lot of 'one cannot expect xyz of a child with SNs', and usually this is just a misunderstanding of what people are talking about.
Point noted.

But, having had some posters share their personal (very personal) experiences here, can we assume that the people on this thread have made an educated choice about choosing to or not to RU their child with SN? I like to hope that we can give other MDC posters the benefit of the doubt that they know their own child best. :
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#76 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 06:03 PM
 
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I like to hope that we can give other MDC posters the benefit of the doubt that they know their own child best.
I was trying to make it very clear that I am not questioning anyones choices. I am well aware that parents know their children best and that there is no way I can make a reality based assessment of someone's life based on a message board post. Really, I'm not. I just simply wanted to point out that being Special Needs (and specifically SPD) does not disqualify someone from practicing RU. This was something I have seen repetedly misunderstood, or written off, and I found very discouraging. I would have liked to see someone says it can be done when I was searching for answers. Sorry too hijack your thread. I really was trying to be respectful.
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#77 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 08:04 PM
 
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So I'll just shut up now
Please don't!

It's important for all of us to hear different perspectives. I do hope however that anyone else who feels the need to educate others about what RU is or isn't for them will be respectful enough to do that in the thread started specifically for that purpose.

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Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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#78 of 117 Old 03-05-2008, 09:22 PM
 
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as an aside, Im wondering... those who unschool but dont RU.

Have you ever been chatting to another unschooler about your choices only to find that a friend who has chosen to send their children to school has felt judged by what you are saying?

arun
I totally agree with this viewpoint. I feel we can say what we believe with the INTENT of sharing, instead of the intent of being evangelical. I've had a horrible time connecting with others lately, and have felt so alone, because most of my friends either a) don't have kids and think my children's gleeful squeals are much annoying and I should control them, or b) have kids and send them to school and think I'm judging them when I say something like, "I've decided to homeschool."

It's difficult to discuss these viewpoints on a forum sometimes. I feel that intent is a cornerstone in peaceful parenting in general, and peaceful relations with others. It's easier to feel those vibes of good intentions when you're discussing something online.

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#79 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 02:36 AM
 
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think they would get more radical as their children age I answer a loud YES

we started out the year kinda elcetic(our first year homeschooling)
now we really ended up unschooling.

as the girls age I definitely see us letting go of bedtimes and screentime restrictions!! As a baby and toddler we did let her sleep whenever we wanted.Lots of trips to the playground at 1am...LOL

by time the second arrived I had to give in to schedule somewhat to survive!! Now I have to have bedtimes or the kids would never make it to activities and such.They are to young to plan ahead on their own.

we'll see where this journey takes us!@!

Loving this new forum by the way...............
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#80 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 03:22 AM
 
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I don't see us getting more radical as the boys get older. They will have their freedom, yes. (I have an 18 year old.) But house rules still apply no matter if they are 2, 10 or 20 if they are still living in my house, my rules. When they get their own place, their house and their rules. There are some things I will not back down on because it would go against my moral conscience.

I remember when I first started looking into unschooling, I joined a group of RU's. It was a nightmare. One lady yelled at me for making my son brush his teeth, actually I brushed them for him since he was still little. She said that I was not respecting him. I told her that I'd rather him be uncomfortable for a few minutes versus being in a dentist chair for an hour being held down while they fixed his cavities. I also told her it was disrespectful to me since I would be shelling out the money to get his teeth fixed. She said that she never forced her kids to brush their teeth and they went days without doing so. (Her kids also had all of their teeth capped.) I also told her that since she is so big on respecting others, why was she yelling at me?
I didn't stay with that group long.

I know not all RU's are like that but the ones that I have met haven't left a very good picture in my head as to what RU is really like.

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#81 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 11:28 AM
 
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OK, after reading through most of the posts in the RU thread, I think I can safely say that I'm not RU, not if the ultimate defining characteristic of RU is "parents' needs and kids' needs are equal, and mom's needs don't automatically carry greater weight just because she's the grownup."

As much as I respect my kids and don't impose arbitrary limits, I do believe that kids need age-appropriate limits and I have ultimate authority in the household. We negotiate, I give them opportunities to self-regulate, but when things aren't working, I will step in and give the "final say". My needs ultimately trump theirs because the whole household falls apart when my needs aren't met.

It's a basic philisophical difference and I know where I stand on that.

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#82 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 01:02 PM
 
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I know I am not RU because I have a dear and thoughtful friend who is. She once waited over an hour..over a literal hour...in front of my house in her car, until her child was ready to get in the carseat. She shared her theory of why she wanted to get home, but he wasn't ready. So she waited. I would have put the child in the carseat long before that--- bribed him with something...anything. She didn't have anyone waiting for her at home, didn't have a child to pick up somewhere etc., so she just waited.

There is no way I could call myself an RU when she clearly, clearly has the patience for something I don't. If I said I was, knowing I wouldn't have waited over an hour when she did, that would dilute what RU is. I could never take that from her.
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#83 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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OK, after reading through most of the posts in the RU thread, I think I can safely say that I'm not RU, not if the ultimate defining characteristic of RU is "parents' needs and kids' needs are equal, and mom's needs don't automatically carry greater weight just because she's the grownup."
First, let me say that I haven't read the RU thread. I'll head over there after this since I finally have more than a few minutes to myself.

Secondly.. I do believe that my needs and the kids' needs are equal, just like I feel like my needs and my husband's needs are equal. That said, I also understand that I can see the big picture *much* better than they can, and that's why I get to make the rules. Let's look at the example of the mom waiting an hour in the car: I totally get that my kids like to play in the car. They love to pretend to drive. LOVE it. We just spent 45 minutes doing this today. But.. when we're heading out of the house to, say.. go to the park to meet up with some friends, my kids aren't always able to look past the immediate "I want to play in the car" and see that the playground will be more fun. I know that they will get much more out of going to the playground and seeing their good friends than playing in the car. I know that they'll be much happier for having done that. Likewise.. if we're leaving the park to get lunch, take a nap, whatever.. even if they *don't* want to eat or nap, I know that their bodies need it, and I know that need is more important than their need to play in the car.

In other situations like.. they're asking for juice but I have to pee.. of course I'm going to go to the bathroom first. If it were my husband asking me to grab him a drink, I'd still pee first, and I don't think most people think their needs are more important than their partner's. I think this also applies to something like the TV being on. If my husband is doing something loud and it's giving me a headache, I feel perfectly okay with asking him to stop (assuming I don't have the option to go into another room). He doesn't stop because I'm more important than he is, he does it out of courtesy and love. If I have music on while I'm cleaning and the kids say it's too loud, then I turn it down.

I'm sure there are some situations where I do think my need overrides theirs, but there are also plenty of times when their need overrides mine. But I think you can believe that your needs and their needs are for the most part equal and still not RU.

And as an aside, I'm totally confused why *most* of these issues fit in an education forum. I mean, I get unschooling.. but the *radical* part seems more like a parenting style than an educational issue. Just commenting.

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#84 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 05:55 PM
 
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doobla post
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#85 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 05:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ColwynsMommy View Post
\. \And as an aside, I'm totally confused why *most* of these issues fit in an education forum. I mean, I get unschooling.. but the *radical* part seems more like a parenting style than an educational issue. Just commenting.

And to add to the confusion, I really don't understand or see the difference between unschooling and radical unschooling.

If there really is a difference, maybe we need a Radical Unschooling forum as well. :
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#86 of 117 Old 03-06-2008, 11:36 PM
 
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Well, I checked out the RU definition thread and feel very comfortable to proudly proclaim "We're unschoolers, but we're not radical!" So this thread is my comfort now.

I kind of already knew it, IRL experience and 6 years of reading sites like Sandra Dodd's etc. But I like the RU'rs I know and thought, well if I am one I'd be proud to be like them. But it just couldn't work for our situation and my deep convictions. I am very respectful of my son, but he is just learning how to be respectful of others and that is a lesson, I have to teach everyday whether he wants to learn it or not. Also, food makes up who we are. Many children will eat very unhealthfully if some dietary standards are not in place. I think of this study when I think of kids with restricted diets, self imposed or not. I have to enforce diversity and health in my ds's diet. Definitely not RU when I say, "No, you have had enough marshmallows now. If you keep going your tummy will hurt like last time."
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#87 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 12:11 AM
 
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Well, I checked out the RU definition thread and feel very comfortable to proudly proclaim "We're unschoolers, but we're not radical!" So this thread is my comfort now.
We're here, we're middle of the road, get used to it!

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#88 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 12:57 AM
 
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Not really all that rad here either. Pretty darned relaxed, but it really hit home when we were at Live and Learn a couple years ago that RU wasn't a realistic for us. I do love being around very relaxed and unschooly folks, because it is well, more relaxing! But I do have some standards that I just can't deny. They seem to be part of my maternal instinct and I just can't turn them off in order to approach a more RU lifestyle.

I also was not pleased with the results we had here as I aspired to RU for a period of time. We have always homeschooled and have always been very relaxed, but did have some rules and expectations. When I attempted to release these limits, well, I won't go into all the chaos that ensued, but it wasn't pretty.

I don't think there is any one homeschooling "magic bullet" that will produce the coolest kids. There are so many factors involved that no one philosophy can possibly be the be all end all if only the parents knew how to practice it correctly. I've have met too many awesome homeschooled kids to think otherwise.
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#89 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 01:49 AM
 
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Pretty darned relaxed,
This phrase made me laugh with understanding. I read it to my dh and he chuckled as well.
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#90 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 07:39 AM
 
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We are not RU but lean pretty far in that direction. I don't disagree with RU in theory at all, but I mostly just do what works for us, so some lines up with the theory and some doesn't. I didn't really plan to unschool but it's been really great so far. We've not had any reason to try anything else.

RU definitely works for us for some things. I don't see how I could possibly make *my* DS go to bed and stay there (parenting books say you can't make your kids go to sleep but you can make them stay in bed--oh really? by tying them to it?) so in some ways RU works for us too (DS and I go to bed at the same time and it's peaceful and cozy and happy--no struggles).

As for waiting an hour for a child to get in his carseat, that's fine if the parent was OK with doing that, but I don't see how that defines RU. Some RUers would have found a way to get the child willingly into his carseat within a few mintues. Lack of creativity doesn't really define RU for me.
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