An exercise in pleasing everybody all the time... *looonnng post is long* - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 11 Old 08-08-2013, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
Dela's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My nieces and nephews just completed their first full week at our home (as opposed to just weekends). So far everything's going smoothly, especially considering we're combining two largeish families into one really large family.

 

The one thing that is really taking me down is the flow of the day. It's not working. Some of the children crave structure, that could be fulfilled by having a loosely structured school day. Some do not. We have about an even split in this house now. What to do, what to do?

 

DH and I, with help from the oldest few children, have brainstormed several possibilities for the upcoming "school year." All the children will be staying home I think. So it's an exercise in meeting the needs of those who need more structure and direction, and not burning out the ones that don't. These are (we think) the most viable, but with DH stumped and the kids not able to agree on anything, it seems like it's being left up to me.

 

 

Option 1: Everybody over a certain age does light "school," but on a relatively flexible schedule. Year round school with frequent breaks, but no long blocks like a 3 month summer vacation.

Pros: Provides structure. Not rigid. Plenty of room to take off whenever we feel like it and go do stuff. Gives a certain rhythm to our days. I can easily keep track of everybody's work, needs, and tailor the work to them.

Cons: Our kids who do really well with unschooling get swept along with it and may resent it. The structure of our days doesn't allow us to pursue individual passions as intently, even though it does leave some room for that. Sets up a teacher/student dynamic that the new children may find difficult and adversarial, given their past experiences, and which may be detrimental to bonding with us and/or our kids.

 

Option 2: Everybody unschools and we just deal with the current chaos until things settle, the cousins "deschool" (they've been homeschooled their entire lives, but more strictly than we ever would), and we only lightly schedule and structure our days.

Pros: More time to develop and explore passions. More peaceful and happier for most children. No double standards. Kids seem to fight less when less structure and coercion is involved. Getting to know the new children in a more positive and less pressured environment that doesn't set us up as teacher/student.

Cons: Getting over that hump may be a long journey. Can't keep track of things easily. The "squeaky wheel" principle in large families, wherein the child who commands the most attention gets it, could cause some children's needs and desires to fall through the cracks if we're not really diligent about it.

 

Others option considered was to have some children unschool and some not, but it seemed like a middle ground that would end up not pleasing or benefitting anyone, and created a huge double standard that would breed resentment on both ends. No go.

 

 

I'm torn. The first solves immediate problems but might aggravate or give rise to new ones, while the second may provide more long-term benefits but will be a massive adjustment on top of many others going on in our house right now. Anyone have any insight? Thoughts? Opinions? Possible compromises that I'm not seeing?


Peaceful, homeschooling, UC/HBing, select vaxing, breastfeeding, intactivist mama to a bunch of small people.

Dela is offline  
#2 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 01:39 PM
 
phathui5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Oregon
Posts: 17,474
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

Hm, I'd probably go with Option 1 in the beginning, then reassess in a few months.

 

How old are the assorted children? What have they all been used to doing?


Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
phathui5 is offline  
#3 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
Dela's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
 

Hm, I'd probably go with Option 1 in the beginning, then reassess in a few months.

 

How old are the assorted children? What have they all been used to doing?

We've thought about doing it as a temp option too.

 

The kids are teens through toddlers, mine included. My oldest two were in public for a couple years, now back to unschooling. The other kids were all homeschooled, but in a more strict school-at-home style, with heavily religious curriculum that... let's say for diplomacy's sake, left a lot to be desired in both the scientific and critical thinking departments.


Peaceful, homeschooling, UC/HBing, select vaxing, breastfeeding, intactivist mama to a bunch of small people.

Dela is offline  
#4 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 05:34 PM
 
Piglet68's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Posts: 11,097
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I feel like I'm missing something, because I'm not clear on why you can't do both. Create a daily schedule for those who need/crave it, and let the others fill in their own time. Can you not do sit-down homeschool time with one group while the other group has free, unstructured play/exploration time?

 

With that said, one way around this would be to institute Project Time, where you devote a certain block of time to each kid, or in your case since you have lots of them, maybe one block per two kids. With some of the kids, this time may look like sit-down schoolwork, following a curriculum, etc. With the unschool-y kids, it would be genuine mentorship with them directing the show (a la Project Based Homeschooling).

 

This way, everybody gets their bit of focused time with you, but it looks different for each kid or couple of kids based on their needs.  


teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

Piglet68 is offline  
#5 of 11 Old 08-11-2013, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
Dela's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post

I feel like I'm missing something, because I'm not clear on why you can't do both. Create a daily schedule for those who need/crave it, and let the others fill in their own time. Can you not do sit-down homeschool time with one group while the other group has free, unstructured play/exploration time?

 

With that said, one way around this would be to institute Project Time, where you devote a certain block of time to each kid, or in your case since you have lots of them, maybe one block per two kids. With some of the kids, this time may look like sit-down schoolwork, following a curriculum, etc. With the unschool-y kids, it would be genuine mentorship with them directing the show (a la Project Based Homeschooling).

 

This way, everybody gets their bit of focused time with you, but it looks different for each kid or couple of kids based on their needs.  

There are things I've left out, because I already wrote too much ROTFLMAO.gif

 

The reasons we don't want to unschool some and homeschool others are...

A: it creates a double standard. Ordinarily this might be something we would work around, but the balance with the nieces and nephews in the home right now is delicate and seeing some kids compelled to do certain work while others don't have to could very quickly create conflict, and it doesn't send a very nice message to the ones that are unschooled either. We already have some real jealousy issues (and not just with the newer kids, our bio kids are experiencing a huge shift too) we're working through and even for the kids who innately crave structure, seeing others get to play and experiment as they choose would probably be maddening to them if they were getting frustrated with a workbook or didn't want to do school that day.

B: It would get incredibly confusing and take up much more of our time than it would if we were to have everyone on the same page, whichever page that was. Like I said in my OP, it seems like a middle ground where nobody really wins.

 

 

I do love the idea of project time, no matter what route we choose. I just think we do have to pick one route (at least on a temp basis) and go with it for everyone, because of the aforementioned balance. But project time will definitely be a part of it, seems more useful the more I think about it!


Peaceful, homeschooling, UC/HBing, select vaxing, breastfeeding, intactivist mama to a bunch of small people.

Dela is offline  
#6 of 11 Old 08-11-2013, 10:22 PM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dela View Post

even for the kids who innately crave structure, seeing others get to play and experiment as they choose would probably be maddening to them if they were getting frustrated with a workbook or didn't want to do school that day.

 

I too am having trouble understanding why this constitutes a problem. If they innately crave structure, why would it bother them to see others getting days that don't have the structure they want? I'm not trying to be argumentative. I have an unschooled kid who loves structure. She sets up lovely schedules for herself and if her older siblings are lazing around on computer games or hanging out with friends she tends to plug away self-righteously at her schedule and look down her nose at them and their lack of productivity. If she is frustrated with her schoolwork that's a problem with her schoolwork and we'll tackle the frustration, but even if she shifts gears or drops it for a while she still wants that structure and therefore will find ways to make it happen. I can see how it would be maddening if the structure was being imposed against their will upon one child but not upon another. But if the desire for structure is coming from the child, I don't see why it would be a problem. It's as if you asked a child if he wanted some broccoli, and he said yes, and then looked across the table and saw that his cousin had said no and wasn't eating any broccoli. Why would that make him angry, or seem unfair?

 

Personally I don't think it is a double standard to give each child the degree of structure he or she wants. That's the beauty of homeschooling: being able to individualize the learning approach for each child.

 

miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

moominmamma is online now  
#7 of 11 Old 08-12-2013, 02:17 AM
 
Fillyjonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 825
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)

Hmm I think I might get it. Is it that you see your nieces and nephews as needing the structure but being tempted away from it by the unschooling of your own kids?

 

What I don't think you've said is how old they are. If they are young, then I'd say deschooling could be a worthwhile investment. If they are older, obviously its more tricky. One book I rather liked as a young adult was the Teenage Liberation Handbook. What its good for is that its a straightforward and non patronising guide for teenagers unschooling themselves.

 

Is it worth trying to talk with all the kids about what they actually want here and coming up with a rhythm between you for how the day needs to go? I'm terrible for structure, for having each day with the same rhythm and this whole Waldorf "wash on Monday" malarky BUT I can see that, in a situation where there are quite a few kids, for everyone to know that, at nine we breakfast, between nine and eleven parents are available and we do sit down work together as a family, could be helpful and calming. 

 

Its can't be an easy situation for any of you. I'm assuming that there's some reason why you have your nieces and nephews with you, that there is a reason their own parents aren't teaching them in the day? So there's probably some kind of crisis or difficulty that they are processing too? Do you think a possibility could be to talk with your own kids, and say, look, the cousins have a really hard situation going on and to also change the way in which they are taught is going to be too much. How about you find something to do, in those hours I'm working with them, that doesn't look too much like raucous fun. Maybe those could be the hours you sit quietly with a book. 

 

Another possibility that occurs to me is to do something structured, adult directed, but not schoolwork, with all of them (perhaps in small groups). Building, gardening, something challenging. Writing a novel, making a quilt. So still schoolwork, kind of, still structured, but more fun. Maybe have a chat with them and decide with them what skills they would like to learn, but then require them to do it in those hours, in the most fun way possible. 

 

Good luck to you, I can't imagine this is an easy situation. 


Raising Geek_Generation_2.0 :LET ds= 10 ; LET dd1= ds - 2; LET dd2=dd-2; IF month=0.67 THEN LET ds = ds+1; 
Fillyjonk is offline  
#8 of 11 Old 08-12-2013, 10:57 AM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)

I too would be interested to know that ages of the kids and how many there are. It sounds like a lot, maybe 8 or more, and a range of ages up to 13, but with toddlers or babies too? Clusters of similarly-aged kids? Non-readers? I'm also thinking that several of these kids' learning you have not been intimately involved with in the past. If that's the case, I would think of this as a parental-time-and-energy-management issue rather than a homeschooling-unschooling dilemma, and that the considerations for solving the problem are more practical than philosophical. I would think that a daily and weekly rhythm would be incredibly important, due to limited parental time and organizational energy. I think that a certain amount of intentionality will be necessary in ensuring that the needs and desires of the individual children will be met. And I also think that collaborative group-based learning activities would be a really efficient use of parental energy. 

 

For the rhythm I would have a family meeting and look at ways to organize chores, individual-learning time, meals, active and free play, out-of-home activity commitments, errands, etc. etc. We've always preferred to anchor our rhythm or schedule to mealtimes as much as possible rather than the clock. So ... before breakfast we'll try to get ___ done. Right after breakfast that's when you guys can ___. After lunch is a good time for ___. The hour before supper would be best for ___. That kind of thing. 

 

As for intentionality, I would meet with each kid individually and help them identify what they'd like to learn, and how and when. Explain to your bio-kids that due to the additional demands on your time and energy, you're concerned that unless you agree on some sort of plan, their needs may kind of slip through the cracks. You want to be able to give them the time and attention they need, but without some clear direction from them about exactly what it is, you may fail to adequately support them. With your nieces and nephews, I would come at the same sort of conversation from a different slant. Explain to them that with so many kids homeschooling, you need them to take a role in directing their own learning: you can't do it all for them. So you'd like to identify their interests and goals for the next few months so that you can figure out what part of that they need you for and what part they can do themselves. And perhaps they could come up with a project idea or two to start things off. And when would they like to work on that? And what will they need from you? etc.

 

Several years ago my family (4 kids) and another family (5 kids), both of which were out-and-out unschoolers, decided to meet for a half-day a week for some collaborative learning. As parents we thought it would be fun social time for the kids, and a way of offering some novel learning experiences. The kids were all over it, because they liked the idea of a block of fun learning time together focusing on things they were curious about. For about a year we used science as our main theme, with each session focused around a topic (eg. the physics of flight, solar system, snow science, plant reproduction, hydrology) and included a snack inspired by that theme, one or two open-ended activities or "challenges," some demonstrations, maybe a craft-like activity or an experiment. Another year we explored various international cultures with the preparation of a country-of-the-week feast as the central activity. For a while we had natural-history-and-local-history themed family hikes, with wild-crafting, photography, nature guides, survival skills learning, etc. etc. There was a fair bit of prep time for some of this, and it could be a challenge meeting the needs of kids from 3 through 15, but by and large it was meaningful and productive and several years later my kids still talk about those sessions and what they learned and how much they enjoyed them. Nothing was imposed upon them: it was just part of our routine that on Fridays we'd do this, and it was only rarely that one or two of the teens would wander away and not participate at all. Again, I think it would be worth framing this as "I have limited time and energy for all of you, so here's something we can all do together that I think will be fun and productive. What do you think?" You could even ask each child to suggest a couple of topics and rotate through the various suggestions. A half-day a week doesn't seem like much but our explorations were wide-ranging, multi-level and creative, and covered SO much ground.

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

moominmamma is online now  
#9 of 11 Old 08-12-2013, 11:40 AM
 
onatightrope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 305
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I like Moominmama's last post. I think that a certain amount of routine is going to be necessary to make sure that no one is slipping between the cracks. My initial focus would probably be on making everyone as comfortable as possible-- if no schooly work stresses your nieces and nephews out, then get them some schoolwork. I'm not sure what led to you taking your nieces and nephews on like this, but I suspect that the transition may be kind of hard on everyone, and I would be more worried about emotional and physical issues than academics for the first few months.
 

onatightrope is offline  
#10 of 11 Old 08-12-2013, 12:57 PM
 
Piglet68's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Posts: 11,097
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Now that I'm getting to understand the situation a bit better I can see why you asked your original question. 

 

I agree with the others, and it sort of relates to my first post, that you will probably need some kind of rhythm and/or routine just simply to manage your own time effectively, and be sure nobody falls through the cracks. 

 

I also know what you mean about needing to impose some structure on kids who may not think they need it. My kids have autism and while I suck at routines and schedules, I've learned that they do better with structure and rhythm, knowing what comes next, etc. so I try really hard to do so. 

 

I think moominmama has some great ideas. 


teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

Piglet68 is offline  
#11 of 11 Old 08-12-2013, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
Dela's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Thank you all for your input. I'm still digesting all the good ideas here, and it's helped me to see what it is we really need. And consider options I have no idea why I didn't think of to begin with!

 

 

All the kids combined are all very close in age, stair stepped really. In the interest of their privacy, I won't say much about why the nieces and nephews are with us, but suffice to say there is no reunification possible and they have endured a lot. I will say that they are not with their biological family because of matters that had nothing to do with the quality of their care, but rather of the circumstances their parents put themselves in. They were well-cared for and experienced no major abuses. The children lived with my parents for almost a year, which was stable if not particularly happy. They've only just started staying with us full time. We moved here in order to help my parents raise them and maybe take some of them on weekends, but did not initially expect to take over their care. Until the last couple weeks we were actually functioning on the assumption that they wouldn't be with us permanently/full time and while it's a welcome reversal of expectations, it's still been a lot to take in. 

 

They are adjusting far better than I could have expected. They do have some trauma, but they are healthy (physically, mentally and emotionally) as could be expected. The older kids see a therapist once a week individually and are doing well. They're resilient and all are still healing and learning to trust, but mostly they're normal, usually happy kids. They're bonding incredibly well with our kids. That's not to say there are not trials and stress but it is going relatively well. I am also aware that this could be and possibly is a honeymoon period, but we'll cross those bridges when/if we come to them.

 

For the record, it's not just/all the nieces and nephews who need structure or who could do without it. Several of the nieces and nephews would do very well in total unschooling, and my oldest child is the most desperately in need of structure but also the one who doesn't want it. A year ago that would not have been the case, but she's having a very rough time right now with all the stresses and she's just starting puberty on top of that so... yeah.

 

 

 

I am leaning toward a lightly structured semi-unschooling deal. What I've been thinking of is a 3-phase day with a lot of flexibility and spontaneity built in ;)

 

Right after breakfast and cleanup (most kids seem to be early risers in our house), everyone does some of the basics. I'll give them a good bit of choice on the materials but everyone over age 7 or so will do "school." This will help the nieces and nephews catch up and recover from years of poor/misinforming curriculum and give me an easy way to assess their states and needs, academic and otherwise. Younger kids will have a special area to go and play with educational materials, watch nature videos, or play games with each other quietly (HA!). Depending on what time we get into the rhythm of starting, maybe this will go to mid-morning, or if we start later, up to lunch or so.

 

Afternoon thru dinner will be free time and for these kids, that typically means outside, which is great because it'll give me more time with the littler kids. I've noticed most of the kids get lazy after lunch, rest/do quiet things for a little while, then just want to GO GO GO until dinner. This would allow lots of time with friends, for free play, and maybe for some of the kids to do organized outside activities too if they wanted.

 

After dinner they seem to want something to focus on and this would be an optimal time for "project time." Since DH gets home around 4PM this would give them two adults to come to and ask for help or guidance on whatever they're working on, academic or not. With DH home we could be a lot more productive and there'd be less chance of someone getting lost in the shuffle and not getting the attention they need.

 

Thinking of maybe doing this 3-4 days a week. Weekends are totally theirs, and maybe we'll make one day an adventure day. Appointments tend to take up one day out of the week right now, so no "school" that day either. This would also give me time to focus on any problems they may have, give extra attention, etc.


Peaceful, homeschooling, UC/HBing, select vaxing, breastfeeding, intactivist mama to a bunch of small people.

Dela is offline  
Reply

Tags
Homeschooling , Education , Unschooling

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off