Non radical unschoolers, are you out there? - Page 4 - Mothering Forums

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#91 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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This phrase made me laugh with understanding. I read it to my dh and he chuckled as well.
I am off to our local homeschooling conference this weekend with Mary Griffith and Ren Allen in attendance! We'll see what new great insights I will gain! Maybe I will be less confused by all this, but I doubt it!
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#92 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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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.

Oh no, my df is very creative and did offer some incentive here but he wasn't ready. She respected that, and let him have the time he needed. Her children are also very creative.

I don't have that sort of patience. I am sure I would have picked him up and put him in the carseat...trying to make it pleasant and all, promising whatever he wanted from Dunkin' Donuts or something... but no, over an hour is beyond my patinece. It's me, who only is influenced by the theory, who lacks creativity. I am a very patient person, a non -violent person....but that was beyond my personal limit. I accept who I am...and I am nowhere near where my friend is (who is granted, 'older; by 18 monsths, but still...lol. )
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#93 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 01:31 PM
 
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If I'd waited an hour for a child to get into the carseat, I'd have probably been yelling at my child by the end of it, or at the very least completely worn out and drained later in the day when the child needed my attention for other things, and I would have been likely to yell at that time.

It would have been much more respectful for my child to have a few minutes of being forced into the carseat (if "I have to pee and my legs hurt from standing here so we need to go drive home now." didn't work) than to have hours of me feeling totally overwhelmed and drained from hanging out for an hour by the car.

Then again, I was never the mother of just one preschooler. I've always been balancing the needs of at least two kids- DD2 was born before DD1 was old enough for playdates. I've never had a time when I really had nobody waiting for me at home or nothing I needed to do when I got there. Maybe I could have gotten into playing WITH my child in the car before buckling us up and driving home and not felt resentful about the time at all.

And anyway, who knows if this is a regular occurance for her, or just a fluke that you happened to observe. She might have had a particularly fun time with him that day by the car.

Anyway, let me share a particularly non-RU moment from a few weeks ago:

DD1 had a friend sleeping over, and all 3 girls were playing together. I'd gotten DS to bed and I was ready for bed myself, but I knew that if I woke up to a messy kitchen I'd be resentful. I wanted to get things cleaned up before going to bed- plus there were gluten crumbs on the table and I didn't want to personally touch them (and I shouldn't have to when I have kids as old as mine.)

I was having trouble getting their attention to tell them what needed to be done. I finally said, quite loudly but not yelling "Last time I checked, I was the adult here!" All 3 girls then listened when I spelled out exactly what chores needed to be done, and 5 minutes later the house was cleaned to my satisifaction, they were back to playing and I was headed to bed.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#94 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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wonky wonky
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#95 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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Not a fluke. She and I have been close friends for nearly a decade. She's the real deal. I have learned a lot from her. But my personal limits are different. We're both very relaxed and very thoughtful parents... we compliment each other well and ask advice of each other. She's a few steps ahead of me in the RU department. I'm happy where I am at with it. I know myself too well. I couldn't wait for an hour to buckle up the carseat, or wait 4 or 5 yrs for a kid to be toilet trained. I break out the M & M's. But we each resepct each other's styles and/or limitations.

It's all good and the kids are all thriving with the particular mothers they are stuck with.
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#96 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 01:50 PM
 
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And anyway, who knows if this is a regular occurance for her, or just a fluke that you happened to observe. She might have had a particularly fun time with him that day by the car.




I was having trouble getting their attention to tell them what needed to be done. I finally said, quite loudly but not yelling "Last time I checked, I was the adult here!" All 3 girls then listened when I spelled out exactly what chores needed to be done, and 5 minutes later the house was cleaned to my satisifaction, they were back to playing and I was headed to bed.
lol I have a child who likes things much more black and white. It was a real learning curve for dh and me, that's for sure. He would have appreciated that right off the bat. He became much calmer with some clear cut statements-- and a chore chart even, that listed what days he's supposed to clean out his cat's litter box. Who knew?
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#97 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 04:05 PM
 
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lol I have a child who likes things much more black and white. It was a real learning curve for dh and me, that's for sure. He would have appreciated that right off the bat. He became much calmer with some clear cut statements-- and a chore chart even, that listed what days he's supposed to clean out his cat's litter box. Who knew?
That's totally my ds. Saying things like "I feel calmer when the house is clean" would totally mean nothing to him. He'd just blink at me and think "So, clean the house then"

In a very weird way the non-coersion of RU would feel very coersive to me with this particular kid. Talking about how I feel, and not directing him in exactly what I want would leave him very confused and would feel really passive-aggressive to me.
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#98 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 04:55 PM
 
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That's totally my ds. Saying things like "I feel calmer when the house is clean" would totally mean nothing to him. He'd just blink at me and think "So, clean the house then"

In a very weird way the non-coersion of RU would feel very coersive to me with this particular kid. Talking about how I feel, and not directing him in exactly what I want would leave him very confused and would feel really passive-aggressive to me.
LOL Mine is 14 as well, and when I've said things like that he's said things like "You always want me to do all the work!" It took me a long time to understand his thought process. If he were my oldest or only, I would be like "Man, I've done something so wrong here". Since I have 3 other children who aren't quite so ...something...I realize it's simply a personality trait...or something. I really have no idea what it is...

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#99 of 117 Old 03-07-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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Then again, I was never the mother of just one preschooler. I've always been balancing the needs of at least two kids- DD2 was born before DD1 was old enough for playdates. I've never had a time when I really had nobody waiting for me at home or nothing I needed to do when I got there. Maybe I could have gotten into playing WITH my child in the car before buckling us up and driving home and not felt resentful about the time at all.

I was having trouble getting their attention to tell them what needed to be done. I finally said, quite loudly but not yelling "Last time I checked, I was the adult here!" All 3 girls then listened when I spelled out exactly what chores needed to be done, and 5 minutes later the house was cleaned to my satisifaction, they were back to playing and I was headed to bed.
I've often wondered how different I would be if I were able to just parent one child. Some things would be a lot easier and I'm sure I'd be able to do things my kid's way a lot more, but when I start to feel guilty about the things my 4 year old misses out on because my 2 year old is always tagging along, I focus on how my kids always have someone to play with and how great it is in the long term. Not saying that you're feeling guilty or anything, just saying that I know what you mean about things being quite different when you've got multiple kids needing different things.

And the cleaning up thing seems totally fine to me, too. Luckily my kids are both at a stage where I can say, "If you don't help me pick up, then it will take longer and we won't have time to go out" or "If the house doesn't get picked up, we'll have to do it in the morning and miss playgroup" and they generally jump to help. Although I did have tell them the other day (when we didn't have anything else planned) that if they didn't help pick up, then they were going to have to stay out of the playroom for the rest of the day, as I was getting WAY too grumpy about the mess and didn't want to yell at them.

I wonder if the needing specific/direct instructions is partly a guy thing. My husband needs the same thing (step by step direct instructions), and my boys do, too, but they're still little. Oh, how I long to be able to just say, "Clean up" and have them know what to do.

-Rachel
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#100 of 117 Old 03-08-2008, 06:17 PM
 
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We are not radical. I think of us as either VERY liberal homeschoolers or very conservative unschoolers.

ZM
me, too. To each his own and I know that RU works for lots of families and I understand why. My kids are not good at self-regulating and they still need the guidance of us (the parents) to help them learn to recognize their own needs and respond to them.

We have limits, boundaries and rules. Our home is not a democracy, in that way. Everyone's feedback is sought, discussed and respected but at the end of the day the big decisions are up to Dad and me. We always act in their best interest but, like I said, they just are not able to self regulate freely at this point.

Now off to read this thread!
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#101 of 117 Old 03-08-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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sigh.

well, I'm sorry I went and did that! This started out as a "non-radical unschoolers check in here" thread and then, sure as the day is long, it disintegrates into a battle. There is no real definition of RU. There are many, many different interpretations but definitions are only decided by those who preach them.

It just always makes me sad to see groups of parents who share a common goal of healthy, happy children divide and put up barriers all based on wording. It's ridiculous. I'll go back to the logical threads with discussions about topics that support and help my family.
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#102 of 117 Old 03-10-2008, 08:09 AM
 
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Oh no, my df is very creative and did offer some incentive here but he wasn't ready. She respected that, and let him have the time he needed. Her children are also very creative.

I don't have that sort of patience. I am sure I would have picked him up and put him in the carseat...trying to make it pleasant and all, promising whatever he wanted from Dunkin' Donuts or something... but no, over an hour is beyond my patinece. It's me, who only is influenced by the theory, who lacks creativity. I am a very patient person, a non -violent person....but that was beyond my personal limit. I accept who I am...and I am nowhere near where my friend is (who is granted, 'older; by 18 monsths, but still...lol. )
I'm sure she and her kids are great--she sounds like a sweet, loving mom. There must have been times when she couldn't wait for each child to decide to be ready, but also didn't use force or threats either. Maybe she just used some type of gentle solution when she really needed it (like another child was waiting to be picked up, fi) and otherwise was content to wait. I see nothing wrong with that, I don't think it's ridiculous or anything, I just can't imagine that being a requirement of calling one's family RU--I wonder if your friend sees it that way. Either way it's interesting to think about.
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#103 of 117 Old 03-10-2008, 08:15 AM
 
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sigh.

well, I'm sorry I went and did that! This started out as a "non-radical unschoolers check in here" thread and then, sure as the day is long, it disintegrates into a battle. There is no real definition of RU. There are many, many different interpretations but definitions are only decided by those who preach them.

It just always makes me sad to see groups of parents who share a common goal of healthy, happy children divide and put up barriers all based on wording. It's ridiculous. I'll go back to the logical threads with discussions about topics that support and help my family.
I'm sorry that you're sorry, but I really don't see it as a thread that was turned into a battle. It was interesting to read through. Of course there will be some differences in opinion as people explain why they don't practice something other people do. There will be some misconceptions thrown in and others are going to want to clarify those to an extent. It would be the same if there was a "non-unschoolers check in here" thread on the other board.

Maybe there could be monthly support threads for both RUers and non RUing USers or something.
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#104 of 117 Old 03-10-2008, 12:25 PM
 
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sigh.

well, I'm sorry I went and did that! This started out as a "non-radical unschoolers check in here" thread and then, sure as the day is long, it disintegrates into a battle. There is no real definition of RU. There are many, many different interpretations but definitions are only decided by those who preach them.

It just always makes me sad to see groups of parents who share a common goal of healthy, happy children divide and put up barriers all based on wording. It's ridiculous. I'll go back to the logical threads with discussions about topics that support and help my family.
I think it got a bit heated, but things seem to be resolved, with some better understanding both of what RU is, and why some of us choose not to practice it.

I'm thinking a monthly support thread where we could discuss how to approach problems we are having from a non-RU pov would be great. I've discussed here, at length (sigh) about why complete non-coersion doesn't work for us, and ds has been asking me for help on how to make him do things (so, does that make us more RU or less RU? ), specifically exercise and get ready for football season in a few months. I'd love to have place where I could bounce ideas off similarly minded parents and learn from things they've dong.
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#105 of 117 Old 03-11-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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Well, crap. See, this always happens to me. By the time I get online and actually see a thread, there's too much catching up to do. At some point I'll go back and read the entire discussion, but for now I'm just going to go in blindly and answer the original question and hope that I don't upset anyone too badly or restate anything that's already been beaten into the ground.

Yes, I consider us unschoolers. We're very AP, we solicit our kids' opinions, and we're anti-testing/curriculum. But the more I lurk in unschooling mailing lists, the less "radical" I feel about it. I have always felt very strongly about taking my kids seriously but it seems to me that many of the folks who wear the RU badge go to the far extreme of allowing the children's needs/wants/desires to completely direct the lives of the rest of the household.

I'm sorry, but this isn't The <insert child's name> Show. We're still a FAMILY. We *all* have needs--both individually and collectively--and while I do try to be fair to what my kids want, I refuse to become a doormat by just conceding to their desires if they conflict with my/our overriding principles, values, or needs as a family.

I believe that one of the most important things a person of any age should learn is reasonable limits and self-restraint. Always saying "yes", IMO, cripples a child's ability to think critically...and of course there's the old fashioned idea that something that is waited for, or worked for, or done without, is often valued more highly than something that comes without effort.

So no, we don't use a curriculum. But we do have a (general, fluctuating) bedtime and provide healthy meals and demand certain "chores" that benefit the family as a unit. Living completely by any one person's whims (and neglecting the boring/yucky/uninteresting/difficult things) just doesn't seem to be a healthy situation for the family as a whole.

So, what is a non-radical unschooler, then? The most conservative liberal?

See, that's why I hate labels and tend to just go with "autodidact" and leave it at that.
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#106 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 10:21 AM
 
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And in case that came off too "judgy", here's the kinder, gentler version I've been thinking about ever since that post.

I hate to make generalizations, but when you seek a group of like-minded people it's fair to say that you often notice certain trends. And within the RU groups that I've lurked thus far, it seems to me that I find this overriding attitude of countering one extreme (perceived rigidity) by espousing the complete opposite extreme (universal permissiveness). Personally, I prefer a constantly-adjusting-to-the-situation moderation.

Clear as mud?
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#107 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 10:47 AM
 
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For me, I see that every freedom has an accompanying responsibility, and if a child isn't ready for the responsibility, then giving them the freedom may not be kind. In less general terms, I think that not every little kid is able to plan their own sleep schedule or make good food choices, because doing this sometimes requires that you not live entirely in the moment, and that's not an age-appropriate expectation of a 4 year old. I expect that by the time my kids are in their teens, our home may look a lot like an RU home, but for now I don't think it would be right for us.

I don't think MDC RUers do this, but my impression based on other RU groups is that generally the plan for RUing with little kids is to stop helping them manage their sleep schedule/ food choices/whatever, and then try to help them learn from miserable experience. I know this isn't a necessary part of RU, but it seems to be common enough that I don't want to take on the label. I had to leave an RU list for families with young kids because I couldn't stand the stories where parents proudly talked about letting their kids binge on junk till they're sick. It seems to me that if that's happening on a regular basis, something's not working right, but clearly to them it was an acceptable part of the process of learning to self-regulate. So I guess I'm missing something.

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#108 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 11:00 AM
 
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I admit I have a hard time with the food stuff. I do think little tastebuds deaden over time when they are exposed to so much sodium, artificial flavors, HFCS etc. As an occassional thang, I'm OK with 'junk' food, but on a regular or daily basis I am not. And I am not OK with little bags of cheetos or fast food resturants as a matter of course. Maybe it's not really RU to eat a lot of junk, but it's something I notice among some folks who are calling themselves RUs. I don't do food fights...but I also don't buy a lot of junk on a regular basis.

I also notice some temperaments do better with clearer boundaries. Sometimes a simple "Time to go babe" or a "No way babe, that's not safe" is kinder for a young child than all the talk and disucssion in the world. Sometimes tired children need to be parented to sleep rather than left to wander and cry until they 'ready' to fall down in a pile of exhaustion. Some self-identified RUs do parent to sleep and some wait for the heap of silence of a fallen child. Theory and practice vary. Sometimes I don't even know what the heck people think they are doing.

Some people will call that unparenting and some people will call it CL or RU. I don't know what to call it, but I know that growing children often need us to step in and help. Sometimes they need us to shut up, to stop yammering, to stop asking unanswearable questions incessantly.
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#109 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 11:06 AM
 
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Sometimes a simple no is kinder for a young child than all the talk and disucssion in the world.
:

It has taken me a few years (and a few months of family therapy) to fully accept this is often the case for my dd.
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#110 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 02:09 PM
 
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How amazing that this thread it here! I have only just recently been giving this some thought after some discussions with other moms who do it. If we find that it is something that will work for us I would like to do a mix of HM curriculum based and the unschooling, though I prefer the term child-led learning. I am not sure how it will go though because DD1 seams to thrive on structure and I'm just not that structured of a person.
So, I think that as she gets older it will only naturally flow more into the US as she learns about different subject and topics and can choose by the options presented to her. I hate to give it a label though. I hate labels though.

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#111 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 03:21 PM
 
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I haven't read the thread yet, but it sounds like an interesting one.

My first exposure to unschooling was through a self-labeled radical unschooler and it really turned me off. I was in the first year of a preschool homeschooling co-op with someone who came to the end-of-year planning meeting for the second year and was just really negative, shot down everyone else's ideas, and the only suggestion she offered up was to never plan anything so the kids could completely lead. But we already had access to playgroups almost 7 days a week, and a number of the kiddos in the co-op were leading by expressing a desire for some structured activities. We were left wondering why she had joined the co-op in the first place if it was so counter to her beliefs. Now I think she was maybe new to claiming the label and feeling a little defensive/zealous about it, the way many of us do when we're on to a new idea.

I always figured it would be hard for anyone to know what new things they wanted to explore if they were never exposed to them, so I've tried to provide my kids with plenty of opportunities without forcing them to participate. Then I read some threads online and a few books that led me to realize that there's a difference between radical unschooling and unschooling, and I fall somewhere into the unschooling/eclectic homeschooling groove. I can see how RU works well for some families, but it's not the right fit for us, as I understand it. I'm really not a regimented learner/teacher either though. The thought of sitting over my kids at the table, making them do worksheets and following someone else's curriculum, just bores me and I think it would bore them. I see myself as more of a guide and sharing participant with my kids. I can teach them, but they teach me a lot, too. We're walking this one together.

A few acquaintances have asked me lately if we're planning to continue homeschooling and if we enjoy it. I think about missing all of these cool realizations and imaginings and breakthroughs my kids have and I can't imagine it. I love showing them new places, new activities, new people and seeing where they go with the experience. It's such a blast!
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#112 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 03:35 PM
 
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I recently attended an unschoolers conference and heard it mentioned several times that unschooling is not unparenting. I really liked that explanation. We do have some limits at our house that may not fall under radical unschooling but I still identify our style as unschholing.
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#113 of 117 Old 03-12-2008, 07:58 PM
 
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I also notice some temperaments do better with clearer boundaries. Sometimes a simple "Time to go babe" or a "No way babe, that's not safe" is kinder for a young child than all the talk and disucssion in the world.
Yes, ita. I think even bigger kids need some full out guidance that falls outside of the RU definition of a "parental need for control". I think it is the savvy parent that can discern when a child may be asking for boundaries or guidance without really asking. It may be easier for some kids to let a parent lead in making a decision (which could be described as nudging or even coercion, I suppose) thereby relieving the kids of some of the burden in taking full responsibilty for those decisions.

Unschooling has taken on such a new life in the years I have been homeschooling...I mean back when my oldest was little, it meant not following a set curriculum and becoming at peace with learnning that happened just living life. You wouldn't want to interrupt a deep involvement w/legos to do "schoolwork" but you could say, "dad needs to get up at 6 so the rest of us need to get to bed at a reasonable hour so we don't disturb him". This gets confusing to me, I must admit.
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#114 of 117 Old 03-14-2008, 05:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tigeresse View Post
Yes, ita. I think even bigger kids need some full out guidance that falls outside of the RU definition of a "parental need for control". I think it is the savvy parent that can discern when a child may be asking for boundaries or guidance without really asking. It may be easier for some kids to let a parent lead in making a decision (which could be described as nudging or even coercion, I suppose) thereby relieving the kids of some of the burden in taking full responsibilty for those decisions.

Unschooling has taken on such a new life in the years I have been homeschooling...I mean back when my oldest was little, it meant not following a set curriculum and becoming at peace with learnning that happened just living life. You wouldn't want to interrupt a deep involvement w/legos to do "schoolwork" but you could say, "dad needs to get up at 6 so the rest of us need to get to bed at a reasonable hour so we don't disturb him". This gets confusing to me, I must admit.
Well said! ITA, For the most part I think we are pretty radical but there are times when I pull rank, so to speak. My kids pretty much regulate themselves and they have a lot of responsibility in that area, but there are times when I need to say hey, you are gonna be tired and crabby if you don't get enough sleep, or spend too much time watching tv/playing games. We also have certain tasks that need to get done around the house, and I'm not opposed to reminding them and/or asking for help in that area.
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#115 of 117 Old 03-14-2008, 11:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all for your replies. As the original poster, I just wanted to add that in my searches online I had only found self defined RU groups, and was just curious to see what else was out there. The philosophies of letting a kid learn what they want to know and when just resonate so strongly with me, but not all of the seemingly RU type things (child led bedtimes, etc) really seem to fit with my need for balance in my own life...(I am a better mother when I get to have evenings to myself after our kids are asleep....as I spend every moment of every day with them otherwise, for example).

Anyway, never meant to start any quests for definitions or need to defend ones own parenting/schooling style, just curious and looking for like minded folks.

Peace,
Anno
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#116 of 117 Old 03-15-2008, 03:40 AM
 
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I hope you have found some like minded folks here. For the most part I have found unschoolers to be really tolerant of various interpertations on how to walk out the unschooling life. Every household has different rhythms and unique personalities that come into play. We can certainly be respectful of our own need for quiet time in the evening, or other needs, without feeling that we are compromising our children's autonomy or ability to self regulate. Different personalities and ages of children make up unique family situations and unschooling, weather radical or not, does not mean unparenting.

As a parent we have a responsibility to lead by example and guide our children with respect for their individual interests, talents, and gifting. unschooling does not always mean a hands off approach, although it does mean a respectful, non-coercive approach.
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#117 of 117 Old 03-15-2008, 04:10 AM
 
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Don't have time to read the thread but I definitely will, as we are definitely non radical unschoolers.
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