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#1 of 17 Old 02-11-2002, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a question for all of you more experienced homeschoolers. Our oldest daughter just turned six. She is very bright and claims to be totally on-board with the whole homeschooling thing. But we (or maybe just I) have a bit of a problem...

Kindergarten is optional here, so we weren't under any pressure this year. I ordered the Oak Meadow first grade curriculum because she wanted to learn how to read and I figured that with a then-two-year-old sister and a newborn brother it wouldn't be a bad idea to experiment a bit with approaches and routines before we needed to report to anyone. Anyway, my daughter loved the fairy tale portion of the curriculum and she likes the math stories about the gnomes. But she hated writing numbers and she isn't too fond of the word families. She likes when she can read words, but she doesn't like sounding them out. She loves to write thank-you notes and letters to family, but she doesn't like always like putting things in her portfolio book.

We had similar problems with swimming lessons. She loves to swim and loved taking lessons. Until she got to be good at it. Once she could really swim and her instructors started working on form and endurance (and it wasn't all fun, all the time) she started to refuse to get in the water. We stopped taking her to lessons, hoping she would miss having the opportunity to swim over the winter, but she doesn't seem to care.

Now she is doing the same sort of thing with the homeschooling. Every time we sit down to do something, she has some sort of issue with it. Either she doesn't want to do math today, or she hates the word families, or she doesn't want to paste the project into her book, or she doesn't want to label the parts of the tooth, or whatever the thing is to complain about today.

Generally speaking, we have tried to provide her with opportunities to do things she wants and likes to do. We haven't made a big deal out of it if she has decided she doesn't want to do it anymore. After all, she's only six, things are supposed to be fun. But, when it comes to education, we don't have a whole lot of choice. If we homeschool and she chooses to do nothing, it is possible that we won't be permitted to continue. That's it. That's not mom being mean. That's the law, that's life, too bad. I have tried to explain that while there might be some things she doesn't really want to do, there would probably be more of them if she went to school and she would have less discretion over when and how to them. I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

Also, I am beginning to have some issues with the idea that I am letting her think it is OK to quit when something is difficult or not enjoyable. I don't think giving her that idea would be in her best interest.

Part of me thinks that I should just leave her alone and not try to do anything schoolish until she gets bored enough to ask. Given that she is bright, I don't think she will sit around for too long. At the same time, I realize that by September we need to know if we can make this work (earlier, really, since I need to submit a proposal). I really don't think sending her to school would be the best thing for her, but I am unwilling to spend every day fighting with her. I really want to find a way to make this work, but I can't do it alone. Please help.
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#2 of 17 Old 02-11-2002, 08:15 PM
 
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your dd sounds a lot like mine!! she also likes to write, but doesn't like to sounds out words.

we plan to do Oak Meadow 1st grade next year - I'm glad to hear about your experience with it.

I've learned a lot about teaching dd from violin, and i've discovered that she needs to feel like she is leading. For instance, if the violin teacher gives her a practice sheet with 5 pieces on it that she is supposed to practice every day, she will only do 3. If she is given 8 pieces, and is to choose only 4 every day, she will do anywhere from 4 to 10 (adding 2 of her own choosing!).

The way I approach it is to have minimum expectations for the day - violin practice, 5 minutes minimum, and homeschooling, about 30 minutes minimum (we use Five in a Row). If she wants to do more, she can.

Would it work for you to use the Oak Meadow as a guide, but not think about having to do everything every day? Try two weeks where you only do what dd wants to do, and see what happens>
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#3 of 17 Old 02-12-2002, 11:04 AM
 
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Your DD would be in Kindergarten if she went to school, but you are requiring that she do first grade work. Why? You say that kindergarten is optional, but you are fighting with her every day. Just stop. Put everything away.

Read to her from whatever she wants to listen to. Let her play with art supplies. Cook with her. Play games and go back to having fun. If there are kindergarten skills she hasn't mastered, then work on those. If not, don't require a thing from her.

If you are committed to homeschooling and are flexiable about HOW it works, then it will. You are forcing your DD to do work that is either too hard for her or is developmentall inappropriate and putting tons of pressure on both of you to Make This Homeschooling Thing work. If you tell us more about exactly what is required by your state, we can brain storm on ways to stay within the law and not fight with your child.

It is possible that she has learned everything about swimming that she wants to (or is ready for) at this time. We really don't have to continually be getting better and better at everything we do. Why don't you take her swimming during open swim time instead of lessons? Swiming should be enjoyable. Stopping lessons shouldn't be the same as stopping swimming.
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#4 of 17 Old 02-12-2002, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Linda, I always love reading your posts because you sound so mellow and easy-going. Anyway, maybe I need to provide a little more information to get the best help. I selected the Oak Meadow curriculum after reading Waldorf Education, A Parent's Guide. I really liked the Waldorf method of "overlapping" subjects and building from year to year. I reviewed the Kindergarten curriculum on-line and determined that my daughter already knew all of that information and was looking to do more advanced work. I am not "forcing" her to do work that is too difficult. In fact, when we actually do the work, it doesn't take very long and doesn't seem to be particularly challenging for her.
As far as not doing anything because Kindergarten is optional, I can only say that it is optional--legally. All of my daughter's friends started school this year or last year, and she wants to be doing school work. She very proudly tells anyone who asks that she is homeschooled and she takes ballet and she is learning Spanish and on, and on, and on... Also, while I don't want to be pushy with her, I don't think that just because she knows what the school thinks is appropriate for someone her age to know that we shouldn't do more. Part of why she isn't in school is because I don't think they know best.
In addition to wanting to establish some sort of system, schedule, plan of attack (whatever you want to call it) for getting work done now and in the future, I have also noticed that things go more smoothly around here when there is a plan and when I am more involved with the girls. Left to themselves, they do a lot of bickering and there are lots of tears.
I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that when you have a lesson plan or curriculum approved by your school district that you should anticipate following (more or less) and completing (most) it. I know this is somewhat flexible, but you can't throw the whole thing out because your child "doesn't feel llike it." My frustration is that I am trying to help my daughter learn to do what she wants to do (she has asked to learn to read, to learn Spanish, to be able to buy things by herself, and lots more), but she wants everything on her own terms. She wants to click her heels and be able to read, speak Spanish (and Chinese) fluently, balance a checkbook, pay bills, and dive in the Olympics, but she refuses to sound out words, repeat foreign words, learn basic math, or do a couple of laps in the pool. Life doesn't work that way. Which brings me back to my original post and the question of how we simultaneously "don't push" in order to keep learning fun, yet at the same time avoid giving our children the idea that things are always fun and easy. Being good at things usually requires effort and often requires that we do things even when it isn't our first choice of things to do.
I don't want to make my daughter miserable, but I do want her to give her best effort and to expect the best of herself. How can I do this without expecting anything of her?
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#5 of 17 Old 02-12-2002, 02:11 PM
 
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please bear with my ramblings - I'm also trying to work out these issues!

I think when children say, "I want to learn to read" or "I want to learn Spanish" or whatever, we don't always understand what they mean. After all, they also say "I want to drive the car", but we don't even register that as a possibility at age 5 or 6! But since reading and learning other languages appears to be within the realm of possibility, we jump on the bandwagon of trying to help them obtain their goals. but maybe she expects to learn Spanish the way she learned English, very easily, by hearing you speak it all the time. or maybe she is happy just learning a few words in Spanish, or some songs. (or maybe she likes to be able to say she's learning Spanish, because she's trying on different 'hats'). She'll figure out soon enough that she can't converse with a native Spanish-speaker, and then perhaps she'll want to make more effort to learn more (or maybe she won't).

I think she will make the best effort and expect a lot of herself if you keep your expectations in the background. think about how she has learned best so far - it HAS been effortless. she learned to walk and speak and dance and sing as naturally as she learned to breathe at birth. but remember that it also took a long time, and some things came more easily than others.

I agree that it can be helpful to have a plan - my dd loves to do 'school'. but what we actually do every day can really vary a great deal. having a plan does not have to mean inflexibility - i see the great advantage of homeschooling as being able to perpetuate learning as a fun, self-driven thing, which is allowed to lag behind or fly in front of the schools.

I also think that a very useful lesson for children to learn on their own is how you sometimes have to make an extra effort to learn something important. an example from my own life is that my mother paid for 8 years of piano lessons, but did not monitor whether I practiced. I think she erred in the opposite direction, but it was also beneficial for me to learn that you get out what you put in - everyone else I knew who played piano could play circles around me (though I was a killer sight-reader). At 21, I took up the harp. Having learned what NOT practicing got me, I immediately put 1-2 hours a day (sometimes even 3) into practice. Within 1 year I was playing intermediate to upper intermediate pieces.

so your child will definately learn that some things take effort, and if something is important enough to her, she will make that effort when she is ready.

you might check with other local homeschoolers to find out about getting your curriculum approved - i've seen many suggestions on unschooling websites that you don't have to actually follow your curriculum once approved.

or think of it another way - submit your curriculum as 'reading/math/social studies/art/p.e./science' with as few specifics as you can legally submit -- then, if a particular curriculum or approach stops working, or if it works for some subjects but not others, you can switch mid-stream.
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#6 of 17 Old 02-12-2002, 04:30 PM
 
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I have to agree. I don't think that one person can motivate another. (Bribe, yes, but not motivate.) If something is important to a person, the motivation will come from within. What does your daughter enjoy doing when she's not doing school work? It sounds like she was motivated to learn to swim...was she motivated to learn to walk? to color/paint? to ride a bike? swing? Since you're not required to "do school" I would say stop doing school. That doesn't mean she won't learn anything...there's no way you can stop her from learning, it just may be that she won't learn what's on YOUR list of things to know, or in the order in which YOU feel she should learn them, but she WILL learn. FWIW, you might want to check out this site: http://mhla.org/Officialrequirements.htm
you might have more freedom than you realize in MA.

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#7 of 17 Old 02-12-2002, 08:27 PM
 
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Sorry my first post was so off! I have a friend who is making her poor 5 year old do first grade and he is miserable, and that is what I thought of when I read your post

Things around here go better when I have a plan, too.

When your DD is doing something on her own (building with blocks, creating with art supplies, dressing up her dolls ANYTHING) if she has a problem or gets stuck, what does she do? Does she quit altogether, want you to fix it, or try several solutions on her own?
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#8 of 17 Old 02-12-2002, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Linda-- Frustration takes many forms with my daughter. I Hadn't noticed a pattern, but then, I hadn't looked; I'll have to pay closer attention. I can tell you, however, that sometimes, like with dressing dolls, she will simply ask me to do it. Sometimes, like with swimming lessons, she will pack it in altogether. Sometimes, like with tying her shoes (which she taught herself at five), she will sit and do it until she figures it out. And sometimes, like with balancing objects, she will end up screaming or crying because "it won't let me do it!" and she doesn't want anyone else to do it for her. She knits, and she absolutely hates asking me for help when something doesn't come out just right. She loves puzzles, but she will do the same one over and over rather than try a new one that is more difficult (but not out of her reach). If we work on it together, she insists that I have the "easy part" (I couldn't possibly just be good at it after countless years of practice).
One thing I have noticed, which is not too terribly surprising, is that she has less patience and a shorter fuse later in the day (don't we all). Unfortunately, it is often later in the day that boredom finally kicks in and she asks to do a lesson. I hate to say it, but depending on the time and her mood, I often refuse--things can deteriorate quite rapidly and get pretty ugly. I really don't want that association with homeschooling, so I usually suggest something else and say that we will do the lesson in the morning. Of course, in the morning she is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and totally uninterested in my approach to doing anything.She told me earlier that she wishes the fairies would come and make her able to read. I told her I wished they would come and clean my house. Then I got up and washed the kitchen floor, and she told me she didn't feel like doing word families today...
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#9 of 17 Old 02-13-2002, 09:43 PM
 
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Hi there. My post is a little long but I really felt compelled to respond. Forgive my tone if I am coming off to sound too harsh.

How would you feel if you did away with the curriculum? How do you think she will feel? Or how about putting that curriculum in your library of resources and let her come to it on her own? Seems like she liked the more "fun" stuff and didn't like the blatant "learning" stuff. Takes the fun out of learning. Maybe she is not a person that reads by phonetics. Not all are. She could be a sight reader. Do you ask her to sound things out? Does she ask you to sound them out for her and if she does...do you make her try first? Maybe it would feel good to her for you to help when she needs it instead of expecting her to work it out. If she is having a hard time reading a word, just say it for her. She won't feel so resentful toward reading...

Swim. Seems like she took the class to learn how to swim and to ENJOY being in the water and feeling confident about oneself. Once the class turned into "form and endurance" it obviously took the fun out of it for her. Did she say she wanted to stop the classes? Did you ask why? What if she could just take free form swim or not actually take a "swimming class" but get free time to just swim for fun. Perhaps she no longer misses the swim classes bc what's to miss? They are instructing her to move a certain way for a certain amount of time. For a child who is not interested in learning professional swimming skills--that type of thing is plain boring.

Issues when time to sit and do something. How about not setting aside "special time" to do certain "learning" things. Follow her lead when she shows interest or when she asks questions. Does she have to sit down and "do math" everyday? If so why? Wouldn't it be more fun and possibly more productive to incorporate math into your daily life (baking, food shopping, banking, allowance, etc)? Her complaining means something. She is trying to convery a message to you. She obviously likes homeschooling but what it really sounds like is she doesn't want to follow a curriculum. She doesn't want you to impose what you deem as "things she needs to learn". She wants to play, explore, and do whatever is on her mind.

"When it comes to education, we don't have a whole lot of choice." I would disagree with this statement. We *DO* have choices. If it's choices and options you need, then seek them out. Information is everywhere. Learning is everywhere and occurs all the time. With children and adults, sometimes that learning is "invisible". Do you feel that "children if left to their own devices..." will do what? Nothing? Cause chaos? Learn "wrong" things? Children are curious sponges that just don't quit. They are constantly questioning, constantly learning whether you "teach" them or not. Perhaps an option for your family is to be the "facilitator" of your childs education. Let her lead, surround her in a rich environment, "strew her path with interesting things" (I grabbed that quote from The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith which was actually snatched off Sandra Dodd at unschooling.com)...you will be amazed at how much she and YOU will learn.

You had mentioned if "we homeschool and she chooses to do nothing, it is possible that we won't be permitted to continue. That's it. That's the law." What state do you live in? People are often mistaken when they think If my child doesn't doing anything that appears to look like "schooled" learning (sitting down, workbooks, and such)--s/he cant be learning. Why is it that whatever they DO choose to do (that is otherwise outside the scope of "schoolishness") with their time, considered "nothing"?

What is wrong with "quitting" (as you put it) or setting aside what one may not be ready for? Seems to me like many parents want kids to like something and like it forever. Why not dabble here and there, pick at things, put things aside, sample them, have fun in doing that? You said it yourself. The child is 6!! Let her figure out what's worth continuing. You said in school "she would have less discretion..." but she still has less descretion to choose at home if Mom even gently imposes what's worth sticking to, what's worth learning, what's on the lesson plan for the day, and when she can or can't learn something.

Stop fighting with her. Trust your insticts...just think. Some parents ignore this innate ability every day and continue to just take the role of being the "parent in control" but they don't actually "parent" or nurture or tune in or even listen to the child. Leave her alone to figure out the things that get her juices flowing...neither of you will be disappointed.

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#10 of 17 Old 02-13-2002, 10:02 PM
 
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If kicking the whole "lesson plan" is too radical or scary for you. Maybe you can change things around a bit. Maybe during the day when she is "bright-eyed, bushy-tailed" and not interested in your approach--allow her to put YOU on HER approach =) Whether that means getting outdoors, cooking something, arts n crafts, pc game, reading any book of her choice, role playing, or doing "nothing" etc. Nothing can mean she is fantasizing wonderful things, daydreaming about who knows what, or making wild connections between things she's seen or heard in the day. And nothing can be just that: nothing. Sometimes a little bit or a lotta bit of "nothing" is necessary. Then in the afternoon when she is bored, let her pick what lesson she wants to do. And as far as the sibling squabbles go when they have nothing to do. I think part of that is normal behavior but maybe if they knew that their time was totally their own--they'd find more "constructive" ways of getting out their energies.

I too wish the fairies would come and clean my house too =) If they do ever make an appearance, be sure to send them my way!

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#11 of 17 Old 02-13-2002, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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monstermomma-- You don't sound harsh at all, and your suggestions were great; please stick with me, here, 'cause I think I am caught in the middle. I was initially drawn to the idea of homeschooling by way of unschooling. I don't think kids left to their own devices will do nothing (indefinitely), and I don't think that doing "nothing" is either always nothing or always bad. That said, I also think that human nature, except in rare instances, is to take the path of least resistance. Which is not to say that kids (and adults as well) don't learn new and interesting things all the time, but rather that there are lots of things they wouldn't learn (for various reasons) without some sort of outside motivation/stimulation. For example, I hated algebra. I sucked at algebra. I got a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about algebra. But today, I can solve for "x" if I have to. Granted, I don't often have to, but on occasion, it comes up (and generally, it has been easier not to have had to learn it on the spot). Which brings us to two issues: first, while I'm certainly not going to try teaching my daughter algebra this week, when does one stop saying "but she's only six (or seven, or seventeen, or twenty-seven...)." It seems that using that "excuse" if you will, implies that there is an age at which one begins to expect a little more. When, exactly, would that be, and wouldn't it be better to start small, even at "only six?" Second, I guess I ultimately believe in some sort of basic, bare-bones, classical education. I think school tends to beat dead horses, and that I could have finished my 12 years of undergraduate work in four or five if I had been left alone, but I do think there are certain things people need to know to be well-educated and to feel like they fit in with their age cohorts. I can't imagine never having read Dickens or Shakespeare, and people make references to Homer and various myths all the time; I know kids are reading more since Harry Potter, but how many would be reading tis stuff if left entirely to their own devices?
So, monstermomma and others, please don't give up on me yet. How do you make all of this mesh into a coherent plan and a livable life?
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#12 of 17 Old 02-14-2002, 12:53 AM
 
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I think you have to wait until she wants it as bad as she wanted to tie her shoes! When your DD wants to do something, she has what it takes inside her to figure it out.

I agree with your last post.

This is how I look at education:

There are the 3 Rs. Kids have to learn this stuff to function. These subjects are skills that build on each other. It doesn't take 12 years of all day instruction. In fact, it takes very little instruction. I used to tutor literacy and our tutees went from illiterate to functionally literate (approx 4th grade) in about a year and half, meeting twice a week for 1 1/2 hours with a tutor. I have no doubt that a child could skip reading instruction all together until 3rd grade and be "at grade level" in 1 year. When someone is motivated and ready, this stuff doesn't take long to learn so there isn't any reason for us to feel rushed or pressured.

Math is the same way. Grade school is very repetitive. One kid in our homeschool group didn't do any formal math studies the years he would have been in 4th and 5th grade. When he was 6th grade age, he decided he wanted to study algebra. He completed 4th, 5th and 6th grade math in less than 2 months, and started on a pre-algebra book (which really slowed him down). He mom was shocked at how easy it was for him to catch up and how little new material was presented in 4th-6th grade math.

Younger kids (like ours) are building important skills through play, cooking, art, games etc that will make these core subjects easier for them when the time comes. The better a child's language skills are when they begin reading instruction, the more quickly and easily they will progess.

Science, history and geography aren't skills -- they are knowledge. They don't build on each other the same way the 3Rs do. (in math, you need to understand basic addition before double digit addition will make much sense, but you don't need to know the parts of a plant to learn a little about the solar system). We use exciting books and fun experiences. We flow with what jumps out at the library.

Great literature is so wonderful that I think most kids who can read well, have had a love for books and stories instilled in them by being read to, and have plenty of free time will eventually enjoy them. I plan to always read aloud to my kids, even after they can read themselves. They already enjoy classics like the Wizard of Oz and Charlotte's Web, and some day I will introduce them to the authors you listed. But instead of doing an assignment in a text, we will curl up on the couch with a good book. I think that litature anthologies produced to introduce students to great writers frequently work like vaccines -- the student gets a small dose and it makes them immune from ever getting the real thing.

As far as lessons, we do them. My DDs like them. We general have lessons either right after breakfast or right after lunch. They generally last about an hour. Somedays, do don't do lessons at all. We usually start by be reading out loud (somthing short -- 15 minutes or so) and then doing something active (finger plays, ballet steps ect) and then sit at the table do some work (work books, hands on math, etc 15-20 minutes) then we do something like art, music or science (very messy or noisy and open ended). My kids are neither praised for doing lessons nor punished for not doing lessons. I think that keeping my emotions out of their learning frees them to develop their own motivation. I have it planned, but they have veto power. I don't ask them if they want to do something, I just get started and they generally join right in. Keeping it short and varying the plan helps. Constantly adjusting for what they enjoy is imperative. I think of it as the "trial and error" method of homeschooling. My 5 year old loves workbooks, so I have sought out the best ones made for someone her age/ability level. She hates flashcards so we never use them. Our lessons are truly quality time together where we do things that they enjoy. I think that how ever any of us label our homeschooling, it should be delight driven.

I think that ANY prepackage curriculum would be a diaster for us. We have tossed the whole concept of grade levels out the window (but that is another post).

Different things work for different families and I only share what work for my family so that you can take any of it that helps you.

Back to your other questions -- I don't think there is a magic age when we should suddenly begin power struggles with our kids over their learning. But I do think that the younger the child, the more damage that can be done because their entire attitiude about learning is being shaped.

sorry so long!
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#13 of 17 Old 02-14-2002, 02:58 AM
 
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Cassidy, I was interested in what you said about your daughter not wanting to sound out words when she reads, but enjoying the fact that she can read some whole words. Maybe she isn't a phonetic learner, maybe she learns whole words more easily. Children are all different, and some just skip the phonics because they are visual learners who can memorise the 'shape' of whole words more easily. Sounding out words can be really hard work, and demoralising for these children.

I'm not advocating dropping phonics, which are an important component in learnign to read and write, but maybe you need to analyse her learning style. There is an interesting thread in Early Education started by Peggy about early reading, with some good information about introducing literacy to young children. I thought that you might find it useful if you haven't already seen it.
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#14 of 17 Old 02-14-2002, 03:20 AM
 
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I have to agree 100% with Britishmum here (again!).

Phonics is a steping stone to reading and spelling.

Sometimes kids achieve the basics without the need to do phonics to read. Making her would be a backward step for her. Also, many kids when they read, just skip the words they cannot read, and move right on. Make no mistake...this is a good thing, and although they may not understand what they are reading because of this, they are looking to reach for "the big picture", which is more important than all the ohonics or spelling put together.

Furthermore, she is 6. Late to be trying to "do" phonics if she has not come to you with a request to do it.

She is building her own model of the world. When she can't do what she wants to do, she'll deal with it.

Hope this helps.

a

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#15 of 17 Old 02-14-2002, 08:13 AM
 
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I've just noticed that you live just north of Boton. You can't be much further than 20 miles from Framingham (15 miles west of Boston city centre), where Sudbury Valley School is. This may not be entirely your cup of tea, however, your daughter seems to demonstrate (strong?) traits of individualism so important in education today.

Linda mentions the three Rs, and the fact that it is not possible to easily function without these skill today (or ever!).

Since you are home schooling, you might be interested in the following publication: "Free at Last" By Daniel Greenburg. I can point you in the direction of this site to look at some online chapters from this and other books. Most interestingly, the free chapters are about the 3Rs.

Hope this helps.

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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#16 of 17 Old 02-14-2002, 11:43 AM
 
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Hey Cassidy! I think before anyone can take the first step into Unschooling their children--they need to begin a process within themselves. Otherwise known as, "deschooling". It can be a daunting process, to manually strip yourself of a belief system that possibly was created by society and not nature. Unschooling is not the same for every unschooling family. But I think for most of us, it's much more than an alternative method to education. It's a mindset; a lifestyle if you will.

It's hard for us parents to think that our children, if given the freedom over their education, can actually become well rounded successful individuals. "How will they learn algebra, history, literature..." if no one is there to motivate them into learning it? For many unschoolers, we believe that children will seek to acquire the skills necessary to do whatever it is they are aiming for. Things the BOE or Mom/Dad or society in general say are "important things everyone should know"--are they really? You said learning algebra made you literally sick to your stomach. Obviously, you didn't have the desire or will to really LEARN it. But you did bc that is what we do in school. We learn, sorry, we make sick attempts to try and learn whatever the teacher tells you to learn. Do you think if algebra wasn't force fed to you--that when you NEEDED to know it--could you not have found a way to learn exactly what you needed? Sometimes, we don't need to grasp EVERYTHING about a subject but just snippits of it in order to complete a task or project or whatever it is you need it for. If we take snippits here and snippits there, eventually there will be a bigger connection and you'll have learned MORE and much deeper. Does age matter? If it does, who created the time line? Of course, if some basics are learned by a late age--it could mean that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But otherwise, people are always believing that there are things that everyone just NEEDS to know. But if you were to quiz them on the spot--do you think most people would know the answers?? The information we process when in school (obviously not for everyone), is gained for mainly one reason. To pass the test. Once the test is over, we give our brain permission to forget everything less of course you actually USE the information. With unschooling, kids set out their own paths. On their way, they discover that they cannot achieve their goal without knowing how to read, use fancy math skills, how to type, or _____ (fill in the blank). Then because they NEED it, they try their hardest to learn everything that is necessary (for THEM. for their LIFE.)! [It might also help to reexamine your views of "success" or being "well-educated".]


I went through what you are feeling right now. But as I started to see my children blossom and REALLY create their own paths and learn things that I never thought they'd be ready for until an older age--I was dumbfounded. I still am in awe and am sure will be for a long time. There is this misconception about Unschooling. Many PS supporters even homeschoolers, view Unschooling as a hands off approach. That the parents do nothing. That is SOOOO untrue. We are heavily involved we just don't "teach". We don't separate learning into two halves. Free time/Lesson time. Every minute is "learning time". When I start to think "man! today we didn't do anything!" But when I break things down, I realize they were learning. Whether it be one tiny snippit or several or one huge snippit. [a happy sigh] Cassidy, learning *truly* happens all the time, it's just not always "on display". You can try your damndest (ist that word?!) to get your child to feel the importance of certain topics or subjects. But true motivation occurs within. As the unschooling parent, it's ok to offer suggestions, ideas or to wanna share your own interests with them (although some unschoolers would disagree). For us, if they aren't interested, I drop it. No biggie. Sometimes, I *do* literally do "nothing". I sit and observe them do their thing. I listen to improvised stories, songs, ideas, "concepts", dreams...we bounce these things back and forth for long periods of time. One little question/comment can open a whole new door to understanding, wonder, what have you. Conversation: it's a wonderful thing =)

A little exampe: my 4yo was not interested in the basics at all. Until he discovered Gameboy Advance and other gaming things. Most games require strategy but more often they require reading skills. All of a sudden my son is on this mission to learn how to read & do math. He spends much of his time using pc games (some are just games and some are "learning" cds). In a short period of time, he sure has learned alot based in the drive that is happening within himself =) His being on the pc, lead him to want to create his own video game. And guess what? He IS learning how but you know...he IS 4. He sits with his dad at the pc, he directs dad. And dad does the code. Aiden thinks "doing code" is the coolest thing on earth right now. He claims "I wanna be the code MASTER!!" His father explained the skills necessary in order to be a programmer, Aiden has made the choice to learn whatever he has to in order to achieve his goal =)

All I know is that Unschooling has been one of the most wonderful discoveries this family has made. When I hear people seeking a different way, I can't help but want to share this with them =)

monstermomma
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#17 of 17 Old 02-14-2002, 01:02 PM
 
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if straight unschooling sounds too scary or unpredictable, try an approach suggested by a couple whose names i forget but they can be found in the "homeschooling book of answers" -- their method is based on the ancient Greek approach to education which has been used for centuries(the trivium) : they let children explore and play, with assistance but minimal direction, until the age of 9-10 - then the basics of reading/math/latin/other languages etc are taught - and around the age of 12-14 a VERY intensive course of study is pursued (history/philosophy/physics/
cartography/whatever). this gives you your classical education, but when the child is not only ready, but hungry for it!

in the meanwhile, start reading oliver twist to her as a chapter book. host a shakespeare reading at your house.
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