In the interests of getting more group activity with other kids, I joined my local hs group. So far we haven't made to any program but I am still get all the messages on the group list.
There are a lot of messages about problems people are having. I stop myself from replying because I think I am coming from a more self-organized-learning end of the spectrum. If someone says, "should I allow my 9th grade daughter to listen to music while reading?" or "I am having a tough time keeping my 1st grade child on schedule, she takes 2 hours to do 45 minutes worth of math" I just want to say, they can figure out what works best for them, you don't have to micromanage, you can trust them, etc. Not in those words, necessarily, but those would be the thoughts behind whatever I might respond.
These are just a few examples. So far I have been keeping quiet because I don't want to "cause trouble" so to speak. But after all they did put the questions out there to get views of others, so why should I discount my views?
The group is defined not by any specific approach to hs, but just by geography - the county that we are in.
And lurking around for a while to get a feel for the messageboard and personalities is always a good idea.
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I generally don't reply to message/email unless its someone I know. I've found that hs groups tend to have certain 'types' of people in them. Some parents tend to be mega helicopter parents and seem to want to micro-manage every second of the kids day. Others are truly looking for direction but don't want to listen to anything outside their comfort zone.
So unless I've been to a couple park days or field trips and have a feeling for who the mom's are and how the family is set up, I just keep quiet.
I also need to remind myself that I am homeschooling a 12 yr old who is very independent and this is our 7th year so my kiddo is well on his way and basically doesn't need me for much. Not all kids are able to function at his level and not all parents have my comfort level.
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I guess the main thing is to respect where people are coming from. Most homeschoolers are surely aware of unschooling and how it works, if they are not unschoolers it is usually because they have chosen not to be so (IME. But I am not familiar with the US homeschooling scene). IMO there ARE good reasons not to unschool, practical ones, specific to individual families. TBH, if nothing else, some families just want to get through the work that they consider need doing, then have other time for other things (this is us, I'm afraid, and its informed by me being a student as well-we're unusual I think too in that we started as unschoolers and became more structured. We're time constrained more than ideology constrained in many ways, though i accept that a radical unschooler would find another solution) . If I had one kid, or even two, I think I'd unschool, but with three, close together I find I need to be more organised! And I also found I needed my older kids reading.
Unschooling has a lot of insights for everyone IMO and you shouldn't feel you can't share them. However I think it might not be too helpful to share your underlying frustration with the paradigm of structure. As someone who really does get unschooling but has decided that, for now, it isn't for our family, I'm afraid I do find it a bit patronising when people ask me if I've considered not abusing my kids by making them do math. I can see how someone would feel the need to make their 1st grader sit at a table til they had done the work-I guess if that's where you are, and they are messing about, perhaps you feel the need to get them to accept the need to work ( though personally I'd never do that (aside from the fact my kids don't start ti age 7 -second grade? if they hate it that much, fgs sort it out, change it around! And 45 minutes for a 1st grader seems ott to me but still). Listening to music-well my kids love music and actually they can't fade it into the background, if one of my kids had music on NO work would get done. A RU might say, well the music is where they need to be, and great-but the person posing the question is obviosuly not a RU.
HS groups do without a doubt have "types". Tbh anyone who is so focused on their way of doing stuff that they see alternatives as borderline child abuse is a bit of a PITA. Sorry, but unschoolers can be as dogmatic and evangelical as anyone!
So I guess its like anything else, be respectful, and nice and you'll be fine!
I wouldn't jump into telling someone they should let their 9th grader listen to music unless I had firsthand experience with a kid that age studying with music playing, or the person who was asking was someone I knew. Generally my rule is that I only give advice if I have a relevant personal experience for the specific question they're asking (i.e. if someone asks about a particular math curriculum, I don't reply with "I've never tried that, but I love ___" ) unless I know the person well enough to know they're open to considering other curricula.
I also try to put myself in the shoes of the person who is asking, and be as non-critical and supportive as possible. The homeschooling world is a small place, and you don't want to become known as the woman who started that big fight on the e-list before you have a chance to meet people in person. Not starting trouble, especially when you are hoping to use the list to make friends, is a good goal.