I am no longer a supporter of unschooling :( (BIG vent, dont read if ur going to be offended) - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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#121 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 01:15 PM
 
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Yes, I agree that people say "look at what a difference all this work made in getting my two-year old to read" when really the reason so much work was required is that two-year olds aren't developmentally ready to read. I think that is a major issue in public schools too, and the study in question suggests that it is a serious issue issue with the way math is generally being taught. But to say that math practice that is developmentally on target gets in the way of learning math isn't really addressed at all by that particular study. So I think it is wrong to use that study to conclude that practising math will get in the way of learning it.

I have a certain personal experience that leads me in that direction. As a high school student I was sooo into John Holt, and wanted to be unschooled. And while I understood the concepts we learned in math, I did not see the necessity to practice by doing the homework, and I never bothered to learn my multiplication tables either. It was a poor decision on my part. Not only did I later find that I couldn't do the operations with any reasonable speed, and that I had to re-think procedures every time I wanted to do them, I was stunted in my ability to get to a deeper understanding of the concepts because I hadn't spent enough time absorbing the medium. I'd compare it to a person who learns colour theory, but never gets to mess around with actual paint. Time spent messing around with the paint not only improves your facility and understanding of the colour mixing theory, but you begin to see the deeper relationships of space and colour that you simply can't learn theoretically.

Facility is also an issue too - speed and making things second nature. When I was a soldier, we had to learn all the rifle drills for loading, saftey, and clearing stoppages, in this way. Someone had calculated how often one had to practice this before it became an automatic reaction (it was a large number, over 1000 times I believe). Understanding the theory helped at the beginning, but making it an automatic process simply took time. Now, not all skills need to be learned in this way, and it is worthwhile to think about what they are, but they do, I think, exist. Fixing a stoppage in the middle of a battle (for a soldier), writing in one's native language, and basic math operations (for most people) are good candidates for things that one can benefit from accomplishing without having to consciously think it through.

Understanding before practice is to my mind a given, but I don't know of any school either that says it is a good idea to practice things one doesn't understand. They may mistake when that is (like the math students being moved on to abstract operations too early) but they are still thinking that the students understand the concepts they are teaching.
That was very well said.

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A very interesting read!!

I'd like to preface this reply with we now do public school but we did homeschool in years previous with a major leaning to unschooling..I really hate labels lol

Our experience was much like the op's we believed that the kids did not need formality, we visited museums we did outside nature stuff, had a huge library of books at their disposal..we engaged them as much as our budget would allow..my 7 yr old (6 at the time) THRIVED he self taught himself to read because he wanted to play world of warcraft and knew that he needed to be able to read the quests

My daughter on the other hand..not so good. She's now 9 (8 last yr) and could barely write her name, or any letters without a model..and reading..not happening..you can prob look back at some of my posts on this forum where I was FREAKING because she was not learning at all.

So life threw us a major curve-ball we HAD to put them in public school.

Long story short, My DD ended up being diagnosed with a cognative disability..she is in a self contained room most of her school day and just now starting to learn sight words. DS is thriving at school, top of his class etc.

But the point I wanted to make with this post is that often-times as parents we overlook the not so good things about our kids, we need an outsiders POV to say hey something isn't right here..

Our Dr's never paid that much attention to DD to find anything wrong with her..shes fine physicaly..maybe because we are low income and don't exactly have the best care around, who knows..and I dont blame the Dr's honestly they have 50 people to see without insurance. so its bound to happen that things they arent neccesarily going to look for isnt going to be evident to them in 1 yearly visit. (and I will shut up before my health insurance rant kicks in lol)

We did associate with other homeschoolers, but my gut tells me most people didn't pay that much attention to her (as most adults don't) to see there was an issue, or they were to kind to discuss it with me..My degree is in Marketing and DH in computer science, neither of us has any education background whatsoever..So we went to the public school system with our tail between our legs saying we are at a loss..its all our fault etc..Yes there was a whole lot of guilt and frustration and *clears throat* debates over wether we just screwed up or if there was something wrong. And now even after shes getting all the services she needs we still feel guilty that we didn't send her to school earlier because she lost out on a few yrs of services.

I can completely understand where the OP is coming from, its a very hard slap in the face when everything you believed to be true turns out to be not true for you..I'm not at all saying unschooling or homeschooling doesnt work, but it doesnt work for ALL kids,even in the same family. There are certain milestones that every kid should meet even unschooled kids (ie wring their name) should hit at some point in the younger years, not only because of a possible disability, but because NONE of us knows what the future holds..and for parents like us who denied all the signs there was any issue other than shes just not ready. like alot of people and the OP we got swept up in the hype and by doing so totaly failed to acknowledge her needs.
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Thank you for your story, it's similar to mine. I think that we all tend to expect our kids to be a certain way, and so we assume that our beloved academic theories will work for them. But that's not always the case. Different kinds of kids have different needs.
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#122 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 01:27 PM
 
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School at 3 really is the norm, now. And the daycares are all busy being educational, quizzing toddlers on their colors, teaching the alphabet and numbers, teaching names of body parts... Unschooling 3 year olds would be letting them be, letting them explore, letting them learn. It can only be called unschooling because schooling is now the norm for that age. What unschooling is to me is just continuing how I parented ds as a toddler, facilitating him as he learns. It's really just parenting and an absence of school and externally directed learning, just like when ds was 2. So I agree that the idea of unschooling a 3 yo is odd but I totally understand why people use that term with that age.
I have a 3 year old who attends preschool, and every single mom friend I have has a 3 year old who attends either daycare or preschool, and I really have to disagree with you. I hear a whole lot about these preschools where kids do worksheets all day (or, really, at all) on homeschooling communities, but I can't say I've ever run across one. I'm sure some exist, but I think that, just as (as has been discussed in this thread) the concept of what kids do in k-12 classrooms is sometimes misunderstood, the concept of what the vast majority of preschools do is misunderstood.

I certainly know of none where multiplication or division is covered. I do know one homeschooling dad who is extremely proud that his 5 year old has finished every level of Kumon workbook, though.

That said, I'm a little confused about what is wrong with introducing colors, letters, and body parts to 3 year olds. I'm trying to phrase this in a respectful way, but I really hope you're not saying that unschooling parents don't/shouldn't even talk about these things with their children? Singing songs, playing eye spy or movement games, reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You see, talking about which crayon the child is using? Because that's how preschools teach these things, and that's how most parents teach these things (I think. Though I think there is also research about class/education differences in the way that parents talk to their children). If indeed what you are saying is that these topics should be completely avoided lest the child be coerced into learning anything at all that isn't spontaneously generated in his mind, then I think that this may be where the divide between unschooling in the way that a child plays video games 10 hours a day and never leaves the house, and unschooling in a way that the child is exposed to a wealth of learning opportunities and given the tools to access them, begins.

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#123 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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If this were something obvious, I can't understand why the OP would be so shocked that her DD was that much behind. Surely, if my 9 year old still wasn't reading and I had to put her in a public school, I'd be preparing myself and her to the fact that she'd be behind and would need time to catch up. The OP sounds like their experience was sudden and shocking. Without more details, this is rather difficult to comprehend. The original post simply doesn't make much sense, other than the OP is frustrated with her situation and is venting.
I think that if your primary source of information about public school comes from homeschooling forums, it would be quite easy to come away with the idea that schools have incredibly low standards, that public schooled children merely parrot back memorized facts and have no deeper understanding of concepts, that they are unable to connect learned information to real-world contexts, etc. There's been a fair amount of that in this thread alone. So I can easily see how an unschooling parent who doesn't have much contact with her local schools could not realize what the performance levels are for a particular grade.

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#124 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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i am having a bit of a hard time understanding how an 8 year old can be 4 years behind. my soon to be 9 year old is just grasping reading, and i would say if he was plopped into school right now he would be 2 years behind in reading (he reads at a "1st grade level" but would be in 3rd grade if he was in school), on the other hand, he is well versed in science, and history well beyond what a 3rd grader gets in school. his math skills would probably be a year behind, but then again i am not sure about that even. as we moved across the country and my dd who wanted to go to high school last year and this year is having issues with the school she is in now being behind what she did back east.

i guess it depends on maybe how you set up your space? we have loads of books, i spend a good part of the day reading things to the kids. we have fun games (that may have a "math theme" or something like that), we even have a world history book in the bathroom (lol). there is the opportunity to find something out all over the place. plus being around others has opened their eyes to other things as well, stuff i wouldn't have thought of. i think schooling in general really is a community effort. it takes all sorts of people opening up windows and doors and turning on lights to really get people thinking. i don't think it is any better for a child to spend 7 hours a day with one person in a class room all day. one thing that people would ask me (after the how do they socialize. lol) is how can I possibly teach them everything they need to know? well i am honest, i can't... BUT i do know those who can and places to look for information and honestly the question can be turned around to a school situation too... how can a 3rd grade teach know everything there is to know? they can't, they know what they are planning on teaching the child and if the child wants to know something else, they must look to someone else for that information.
as for prepping for possible school... my oldest son is toying with the idea of going to 8th grade next year. i would say the one area he is "behind" in is possibly math. so he has decided that he will work thru a math textbook we have at home and get himself up to speed. but honestly he may not be behind considering the schools here. lol

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#125 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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lach - I agree with you. I haven't read everything, but skimmed this thread and read some posts.

I think there is a fine line, and often people feel the need to "belong" to a certain philosophy that often gets twisted by others and mis-used/misunderstood.

Preschool can be a good way for kids to have structured play time, meet families, etc. How is that bad? I have a lot of experience teaching small children in an informal manner, and they ALL are eager to learn and explore. Drilling with flashcards for an hour and making them memorize this and that, is FAR different than discovering shapes with blocks, group activities/games that teach the alphabet/counting etc. Kids like this!! I think letting kids be natural learners is positive, and structure as needed the older they get is good. So when I look at a worksheet and it says "color all the round things green" and DD who is 4 doesn't want green that day, she wants purple and wants to color the square things. PUblic school really has no choice with so many kids than to teach a "when i say this, do that" thing, and all line up to do the same thing etc......but I have found lately that people do not want to be associated with any style of public teaching in such an intense way that they almost push the kid the other way and don't want them to do anything formal at all.

I don't call myself anything. IF someone asks me where my kids go ot school i say "I school through an online acadaemy." This always sparks at least one question and I explain further if wanted/needed.

Sometimes I think a parents own tendencies, or desires can get in the way of what the child actually is capable of or would like to do. I think the terms "unschooling" "homeschooling" "public schooling" have so much inbetween and often get the eye roll from the other party. I try not to judge. I think if you try to conform too much to any one philosophy you really miss out.

The sad truth is from the age of 3 is when you CAN really put your kid in preschool, and often parents these days are looking to get rid of the kid for as much time as possible LOL. Parenting and schooling is tough work, and most of us are doing our best. SOmetimes for whatever reason we choose the wrong path, but you can always try something else and get back on track. My kids both have different learning styles, and social needs. I'm fortunate to be able to keep a full time homemaker job and not work out of the house. We sacrifice a lot to do it, but it is worth it...definately a full time job
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#126 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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There's been a fair amount of that in this thread alone. So I can easily see how an unschooling parent who doesn't have much contact with her local schools could not realize what the performance levels are for a particular grade.
But the OP has a husband who is studying to be an elementary teacher, and had her children tutored over the summer. I would have thought that would give their family at least some ballpark idea of any profound lags.

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#127 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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But the OP has a husband who is studying to be an elementary teacher, and had her children tutored over the summer. I would have thought that would give their family at least some ballpark idea of any profound lags.

Miranda
We also had a private tutor for our DD who was a teacher before she had an life threatning accident and she blamed DD's lack of retention on our homeschooling causing a severe delay. When we enrolled in ps, the principal admitted on paper thats exactly what it looks like but on the 2nd day of school THEY were calling me to get my approval for testing thanks to her having a teacher who had experience dealing with sp'ed children. So in all fairness to the OP the "idea" may have been completely different then the reality

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#128 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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We also had a private tutor for our DD who was a teacher before she had an life threatning accident and she blamed DD's lack of retention on our homeschooling causing a severe delay.
But the delay was recognized, even if the cause of it was mis-diagnosed, true?

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#129 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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The sad truth is from the age of 3 is when you CAN really put your kid in preschool, and often parents these days are looking to get rid of the kid for as much time as possible LOL.
As I said, I have a 3 year old in preschool (she was actually in preschool last year, too, in a Montessori toddler program), so I don't really think it's sad that this is an option. As you said, different things work for different families and for different children. Would I send her to a preschool where thy did a lot of worksheets? No. But those don't actually exist where I am... a friend looked! And if there were actually a market for that (besides my one kinda crazy friend), I'm sure it would.

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#130 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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This only makes sense to me as an argument if homeschoolers don't take their child to museums and zoos for all of summer, or school vacations (which take up about a total of 5 weeks during the Sept-June months that school is in session). And you'd be missing all of the special events that these places hold specifically for children, which they schedule at the point when most children can attend.
I'm not really sure what you're trying to say? I find that if we go to museums on public school holidays, summers, and weekends, we don't experience as much in same amount of time as we do by going at non-crowded times. How, exactly, is that an "argument" that you can judge as true or false?

I sometimes go for special events or to meet friends afterschool hours or on weekends or during the summer. We don't learn as much or see as much on those days as we do when we go on "school days" in the morning, when the curators/keepers are happier to talk to a well behaved and interested child or couple of children. Or when there are homeschool classes with a limited class size and not a drop-in afterschool "special event."

I do actually tend to avoid museums and zoos and such when public school is off for a day. All the public school parents go at the same time then. We do playdates with our schooled friends on those days and catch up with them; or we still do homeschool. During the summer, the crowds are at least a little smaller since everyone doesn't go on the same day. I never, ever go on the "free" days in the summer, because you will see virtually nothing of the animals and lots of completely horrid human behavior.

I'm not an unschooler, and as I said before, sure public school and private school parents take their kids to cultural events and places too. I find that we get more out of these experiences by doing them during homeschool-hours, at less crowded times, than we did when did them as public school parents when school is out. YMMV. And anyway, this has nothing to do with unschooling versus public schooling anyway. Sorry for the tangent.

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#131 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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regarding the little ones (3 year olds and such) how do you not do stuff with them? i don't get that. my 3 year old is forever asking questions. so i don't need to sit down pull out the blocks and go over shapes and colors and numbers and letters because he asks ALL THE TIME! lol what is this? what is that? what does this say? etc.

aslyn: are you saying your child had/has a learning disability? i am a bit confused by what you wrote. do you feel that it might be something the OP is also facing but is being told it is the homeschooling? just want to clarify. thanks.

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#132 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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But the OP has a husband who is studying to be an elementary teacher, and had her children tutored over the summer. I would have thought that would give their family at least some ballpark idea of any profound lags.

Miranda
I thought those were two different posters?

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#133 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:40 PM
 
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But the delay was recognized, even if the cause of it was mis-diagnosed, true?

Miranda
yes this is true, it was recognized that she was delayed by the tutor.

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#134 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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regarding the little ones (3 year olds and such) how do you not do stuff with them? i don't get that. my 3 year old is forever asking questions. so i don't need to sit down pull out the blocks and go over shapes and colors and numbers and letters because he asks ALL THE TIME! lol what is this? what is that? what does this say? etc.
Ha ha, that is my question too. Also, how do you force a 3 year old to do something, academic or otherwise? Really, I'd LOVE to know. Then maybe I could get my DD to put put away some of her toys or put on clothes without a big fight!

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#135 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:47 PM
 
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I thought those were two different posters?
No, I don't think so. Marilynmama is the original poster. See her other posts here about her husband being in college f/t to be an elementary schoolteacher and here about the tutoring.

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#136 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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As I said, I have a 3 year old in preschool (she was actually in preschool last year, too, in a Montessori toddler program), so I don't really think it's sad that this is an option. As you said, different things work for different families and for different children. Would I send her to a preschool where thy did a lot of worksheets? No. But those don't actually exist where I am... a friend looked! And if there were actually a market for that (besides my one kinda crazy friend), I'm sure it would.
I think you misinterpreted what I was saying. I am saying that people who are uninvolved with their kids and put them in preschool like them out of the house. I am all FOR preschool if it works for you. What I mean is that sadly there ARE people who misuse school, and view it as a daycare service. I even know a mom of an elementary student who wants to homeschool becuase the child isn't learning, but she can't stand the thought of her at home during the day and having to do things with her. She actually wants to send her to school during the day to have her gone, then expect her to be able to tutor and learn after a 6 hour day
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#137 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:53 PM
 
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It is not clear to me whether the OP did not know what third graders are doing or if she simply had no idea how far behind her DD was. Not having done any assessment or formal teaching she may have assumed a greater mastery than her DD really had.

I do think there are a number of contradictions in much of the discussion surrounding US, and those contradictions can make it difficult for parents to really understand what they are getting themselves into. I, for one, have a hard time reconciling the oft given advice to "relax and not worry," in the face of a parent's concern about a learning disability, with the oft repeated assertion that US is actually harder than "school at home (although honestly I have never heard anyone other than unschoolers say this)," and that US parents are engaged in a much more extensive effort to provide a constantly rich, creative, exploratory environment for their children.

And, the constantly repeated stories about the children who cannot read or write at age 9 or 10, who in a matter of months catch up and surpass their schooled peers, are rarely balanced in US discussions with examples US'd children who do not catch up and who struggle with high school and college level work.

I totally get that unschooling is a choice and parents are free to make it, but it definitely has pros and cons, and I can really understand how the OP feels betrayed by all the assurances that she was undoubtedly given.
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#138 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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It is not clear to me whether the OP did not know what third graders are doing or if she simply had no idea how far behind her DD was. Not having done any assessment or formal teaching she may have assumed a greater mastery than her DD really had.

I do think there are a number of contradictions in much of the discussion surrounding US, and those contradictions can make it difficult for parents to really understand what they are getting themselves into. I, for one, have a hard time reconciling the oft given advice to "relax and not worry," in the face of a parent's concern about a learning disability, with the oft repeated assertion that US is actually harder than "school at home (although honestly I have never heard anyone other than unschoolers say this)," and that US parents are engaged in a much more extensive effort to provide a constantly rich, creative, exploratory environment for their children.

And, the constantly repeated stories about the children who cannot read or write at age 9 or 10, who in a matter of months catch up and surpass their schooled peers, are rarely balanced in US discussions with examples US'd children who do not catch up and who struggle with high school and college level work.

I totally get that unschooling is a choice and parents are free to make it, but it definitely has pros and cons, and I can really understand how the OP feels betrayed by all the assurances that she was undoubtedly given.
Well said.

OP, I'm sorry for your experience. It's hard when we watch our children struggle, especially if it's "our fault." I hope she catches up and does well with public school. Thank you for sharing your story, I think the negative stories (whether it's ps, us, or hs) are just as important to hear as the positives.
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#139 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:04 PM
 
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aslyn: are you saying your child had/has a learning disability? i am a bit confused by what you wrote. do you feel that it might be something the OP is also facing but is being told it is the homeschooling? just want to clarify. thanks.

h
My DD has a cognative disability, AKA mental retardation, just below the moderate level..With this type of disability unlike add/hd and other more obvious issues with LD's most kids aren't diagnosed until they are school aged because its not until 2nd or 3rd grade that things start getting much harder and they get noticed because they aren't learning at the same speed other kids are..in DD's case she has MAJOR retention issues..it takes her months and months of day in and out practice to learn something..We have said that she got to about 5 yrs old and just stopped learning, which is very typical for a kid like her. Since DD was not in school, and we were not looking for the signs of a problem it was not picked up on.

I am not saying that op's child has an LD..my post was more in general that sometimes as parents we look at our children through "rose colored glasses" and don't see that there are any issues. However, coming from the standpoint of having a kid like DD. I wouldn't rule out requesting further testing to see if there IS an issue if the school is claiming the child is so far behind they are required by law to provide services.

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#140 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:08 PM
 
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Thank you for this wonderful discussion!

We put our formerly unschooled 5 and 7 year olds in a charter school this year. While the seven year old is just beginning to read, and is therefore "behind" some of the others his age, he has so many areas of himself that are very well-developed. And, while I have received some ridicule (from random internet strangers with nothing better to do, I suppose) for allowing him to spend hours on Legos, I absolutely admire his tenacity and persistence, which shines anytime he sets his mind to creating something new. He moved from Legos to K'Nex and Erector kits, incorporating motors and gears, as well. So, tell me he wasn't developing a love of engineering...go ahead, I dare ya!

So, to the OP, I say, "Kudos, mama!" You chose to try a new way, learned a bit about it, felt that awful feeling of, "Uh-oh, what have I done??" and are making adjustments. I believe that is what good parents do for their kids. If we don't allow for flexibility and re-evaluate how things are going from time-to-time, well, that's where the "doing the kids a disservice" comes in to play. Srsly. Please know that changing your mind because something isn't working is one of those wonderful abilities we share as humans. Not everybody does it--many are stubborn and hold-fast to that "my way or the highway" mentality (which I have seen among my hs and us'ing peers, btw), but you aren't one of those narrow-minded individuals!

Big s to you, and know that it will be okay. Take it one moment at a time and find joy in every effort your dd makes. That's what it is really all about .

I wish you and your family the best and that you find peace with your decision.

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#141 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:08 PM
 
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And, the constantly repeated stories about the children who cannot read or write at age 9 or 10, who in a matter of months catch up and surpass their schooled peers, are rarely balanced in US discussions with examples US'd children who do not catch up and who struggle with high school and college level work.
i wanted to comment on this, of course i will preface this with i don't know ALL the unschoolers out there, so this is just what i have seen in the unschooling communities i have belonged to over the years... that the kids who read late, do catch up. i have yet to see one of the kids actually not do well when they decided to go to some sort of formal educational setting (whether it was a community class or actual school or college later).
my own son who is a "late reader" and is "behind" by public school standards is really doing well. in fact each day he reads he is getting more and more. he really wants to read now, so he has a passion for it and is doing great. i can see him being up to grade level in a matter of months, because now he is ready (emotionally and intellectually) to read, where before he wasn't. so i can see it being easier for him to get... BUT he also has no learning disability, so that would change things if that was the issue.
it reminds me of potty learning for some kids. some kids get it early and are going on the toilet at 18 months, and others (like my dd for example) wasn't ready at 18 months, she was ready at 3, and when she did it she had no accidents at all. she went from diapers to toilet it seemed in a week or so. i knew of other kids who were forced early and were still having issues 2 or 3 years after they were "potty trained".

h

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#142 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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My DD has a cognative disability, AKA mental retardation, just below the moderate level..With this type of disability unlike add/hd and other more obvious issues with LD's most kids aren't diagnosed until they are school aged because its not until 2nd or 3rd grade that things start getting much harder and they get noticed because they aren't learning at the same speed other kids are..in DD's case she has MAJOR retention issues..it takes her months and months of day in and out practice to learn something..We have said that she got to about 5 yrs old and just stopped learning, which is very typical for a kid like her. Since DD was not in school, and we were not looking for the signs of a problem it was not picked up on.

I am not saying that op's child has an LD..my post was more in general that sometimes as parents we look at our children through "rose colored glasses" and don't see that there are any issues. However, coming from the standpoint of having a kid like DD. I wouldn't rule out requesting further testing to see if there IS an issue if the school is claiming the child is so far behind they are required by law to provide services.
ok that makes sense. thank you.
i could see where if you were told your child was 4 years behind the other kids, when they are only just 8... i think i would want a better eval. because that doesn't seem right. from what you said about your own dd, she could/would have been years behind if at around 5 she just "stopped learning". because although i can see a child being behind, i can't see it being years behind in any normal circumstance. it is either a bias against homeschooling or a possible real issue with the child's ability to learn and retain information.

h

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#143 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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I do think there are a number of contradictions in much of the discussion surrounding US, and those contradictions can make it difficult for parents to really understand what they are getting themselves into. I, for one, have a hard time reconciling the oft given advice to "relax and not worry," in the face of a parent's concern about a learning disability, with the oft repeated assertion that US is actually harder than "school at home (although honestly I have never heard anyone other than unschoolers say this)," and that US parents are engaged in a much more extensive effort to provide a constantly rich, creative, exploratory environment for their children.
I don't see any contradiction here, nor do I see anything that requires any kind of reconciliation between competing ideas. Could you explain what you mean?

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#144 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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It is not clear to me whether the OP did not know what third graders are doing or if she simply had no idea how far behind her DD was. Not having done any assessment or formal teaching she may have assumed a greater mastery than her DD really had.

I do think there are a number of contradictions in much of the discussion surrounding US, and those contradictions can make it difficult for parents to really understand what they are getting themselves into. I, for one, have a hard time reconciling the oft given advice to "relax and not worry," in the face of a parent's concern about a learning disability, with the oft repeated assertion that US is actually harder than "school at home (although honestly I have never heard anyone other than unschoolers say this)," and that US parents are engaged in a much more extensive effort to provide a constantly rich, creative, exploratory environment for their children.

And, the constantly repeated stories about the children who cannot read or write at age 9 or 10, who in a matter of months catch up and surpass their schooled peers, are rarely balanced in US discussions with examples US'd children who do not catch up and who struggle with high school and college level work.

I totally get that unschooling is a choice and parents are free to make it, but it definitely has pros and cons, and I can really understand how the OP feels betrayed by all the assurances that she was undoubtedly given.
Very well said.

I haven't had the impression that the OP didn't recognize a delay in her child or wasn't concerned or didn't try to do anything about it. Yet there seems to be a fair amount of insinuation in some posts to this effect. It's very common to read a lot of reassurance that delays are not something to worry about, that they don't require any intervention, and that unschooled children will quickly overcome any gaps in learning. That's all standard unschooling dogma. I get the sense that the OP received a lot of this kind of advice, and is now suffering a lot of guilt for relying on it.

Marilynmama, I think you were brave to post and share your child's experiences and your feelings. I'm sure you knew, as a long-time unschooler, the kind of reaction you were going to get. Every parenting choice has consequences. You're dealing with some negative consequences right now, but I'm sure there have been a lot of positive consequences too. Once your child has overcome her problems, I hope you'll both recognize and remember those positives.
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#145 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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I do actually tend to avoid museums and zoos and such when public school is off for a day. All the public school parents go at the same time then. We do playdates with our schooled friends on those days and catch up with them; or we still do homeschool. During the summer, the crowds are at least a little smaller since everyone doesn't go on the same day. I never, ever go on the "free" days in the summer, because you will see virtually nothing of the animals and lots of completely horrid human behavior.

I'm not an unschooler, and as I said before, sure public school and private school parents take their kids to cultural events and places too. I find that we get more out of these experiences by doing them during homeschool-hours, at less crowded times, than we did when did them as public school parents when school is out. YMMV. And anyway, this has nothing to do with unschooling versus public schooling anyway. Sorry for the tangent.
I agree and I must say that beating crowds is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling-we can go during school hours! I went during a day off school to a major museum once...never again!!!

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#146 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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... that the kids who read late, do catch up. i have yet to see one of the kids actually not do well when they decided to go to some sort of formal educational setting (whether it was a community class or actual school or college later).
While I agree that most do, I personally know two who didn't. One has Irlen Syndrome, and can read well with tinted glasses, but his spelling ability is negligible, and despite his parents' attempts to protect him from the fallout, the fact that he didn't learn to read until age 12-13 has affected his confidence in his intellectual ability. He still believes he's stupid. He's 20 and his attempts at coursework have all been derailed by his inability to see himself as an intellectually competent human being.

I know an almost-18-year-old who learned to read at 8, but not fluently until about age 10. He hates reading, hates writing, can't spell, and attempted high school last year and this. He has required tons of accommodations and alternate study routes, and has really struggled. He's soldiering through, but it has been a really tough slog. He still doesn't read and comprehend well, and he can't express himself easily with written language. He's been tested for LDs and nothing has been found, though they have diagnosed him as dysgraphic based on his extreme aversion to written work.

I do think kids like this are the exception though. I've known dozens of late bloomers who have entered the school system very successfully in good time.

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#147 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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Sorry everyone. I just feel very hurt and upset with MYSELF right now. I hope everyone can understand....

I feel like I have failed my children. I feel like the unschooling community (which I have been very involved in) has failed me.

I realllly dont want anyone to take my experience and feelings as a *personal* attack on their choices. I am only sharing my experience and feelings.
How has the community failed you? Unschooling is no schooling, and some kids in a natural environment left to their own devices will not choose to learn traditional academics. I thought this was a given.
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#148 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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I don't see any contradiction here, nor do I see anything that requires any kind of reconciliation between competing ideas. Could you explain what you mean?
When a parent is trying to figure out why a child does not seem to be learning they are often told that they should not do anything different (such as try a more systematic approach to reading, for example), that the issue is developmental and children will read (or do math or whatever) when they are either interested, motivated and/or developmentally able. Yet, when anyone asserts that US parents are overly relaxed about primary skill development the response is that you just don't really understand all that US parents are doing. So, I guess there is a bit of truth in that. I don't really understand what the extensive, labor-intensive work is that US parents are doing that is greater than the very labor-intensive work that I do to prepare interesting and engaging lessons in math, writing, grammar, spelling, history, science, language, literature, geography, art, and music. That's ok. I don't have to understand everything, but I have read enough US threads to see that there are definitely areas of confusion and contradiction in the implementation of an only vaguely defined philosophy.

Maybe I should have said confusion rather than contradiction (although I still see it as a contradiction). It is confusing because there is always the mandate to let the child lead. But, a child cannot lead to places he/she does not know exist, so the parent is responsible for opening those doors so the child can then lead. But that is not really, on a metatheoretical level, much different than the more traditional schooling that I am doing. I require certain subjects because a child cannot know what they don't know.

Anyway, this is way beyond the scope of the OP and more of a theoretical discussion about US generally. My point is that I can see where the varied understandings of US might cause confusion for parents who are trying to put US into practice.
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#149 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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Very well said.

I haven't had the impression that the OP didn't recognize a delay in her child or wasn't concerned or didn't try to do anything about it. Yet there seems to be a fair amount of insinuation in some posts to this effect. It's very common to read a lot of reassurance that delays are not something to worry about, that they don't require any intervention, and that unschooled children will quickly overcome any gaps in learning. That's all standard unschooling dogma. I get the sense that the OP received a lot of this kind of advice, and is now suffering a lot of guilt for relying on it.
This was the point I was really trying to make with my original post. In our case it turned out to be something to worry about even while I denied it to myself, overlooked signs etc..there are many many posts about kids learning at their own pace,catching up etc etc...I am not saying the OP denied/overlooked/didn't worry..and if my post came off that way I apologize.

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#150 of 455 Old 09-14-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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i wanted to comment on this, of course i will preface this with i don't know ALL the unschoolers out there, so this is just what i have seen in the unschooling communities i have belonged to over the years... that the kids who read late, do catch up. i have yet to see one of the kids actually not do well when they decided to go to some sort of formal educational setting (whether it was a community class or actual school or college later).
my own son who is a "late reader" and is "behind" by public school standards is really doing well. in fact each day he reads he is getting more and more. he really wants to read now, so he has a passion for it and is doing great. i can see him being up to grade level in a matter of months, because now he is ready (emotionally and intellectually) to read, where before he wasn't. so i can see it being easier for him to get... BUT he also has no learning disability, so that would change things if that was the issue.
it reminds me of potty learning for some kids. some kids get it early and are going on the toilet at 18 months, and others (like my dd for example) wasn't ready at 18 months, she was ready at 3, and when she did it she had no accidents at all. she went from diapers to toilet it seemed in a week or so. i knew of other kids who were forced early and were still having issues 2 or 3 years after they were "potty trained".

h
I know there are clear success stories but there are definitely stories of children who struggle. I think long time members of the "unschooling community" tend to be examples of success stories. In a sense they are self-selecting. The children for whom US was a disaster are more likely to have been put in school for remediation, or remediated at home by parents using a more formal approach to curriculum. I also experienced this sort of self selection in the Waldorf school community. Waldorf schools always claim that children catch up and thrive by the time they reach middle or high school. Of course this doesn't account for all the children who left Waldorf education in late elementary school because they could not read or write or comprehend basic arithmetic.
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