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I am feeling like as my children get older, I want to start some more "formal" academics. This is making me feel kind of neither here nor there, because it seems I am surrounded by radical unschoolers or die hard school-at-homers. Just wondering if anyone could relate
 

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ME.<br><br>
We were unschoolers, then the kids went to school, and we are now considering pulling them to school at home. We are all looking forward to learning together.<br><br>
"Book learning" isn't all bad, as there are a lot of things that you just can't learn without some sit down structured academics.<br><br>
I feel like I am also surrounded by people on opposite ends of the spectrum. I would love to find some relaxed book learners!
 

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We are in the middle, too. We were unschoolers for awhile, but my kids really just weren't happy. They like me to have a plan, and they are happiest when our days have a bit of structure. One of them likes to be sure that she is up with what her peers are learning in school (they other doesn't care).<br><br>
I've found that a little structure goes a long for us, and I often don't feel like I fit in any where in the homeschooling community.
 

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I just say we homeschool in a very relaxed, eclectic, Autodidactic way.<br><br>
We're not structured, nor are we radical unschoolerish either. We're in the middle of the road, leaning mostly on the relaxed side of things. We allow all sorts of tools, even schoolish like tools, but we don't dictate the children use them unless they enjoy them and want to. We do require that in the mornings only educational choices if electronic media is used, and we do require at least 20 min. a day each of Math and Lang. Arts from our oldest and 10 min. for our middle child, to ensure we are complying with our state laws. They choose how they do their required learning and what tools they use in order to continue to do a forward progression in state required subjects. I don't teach, they teach themselves. If they need help, we figure it out.<br><br>
It wasn't until this year that we started requiring our middle child (now 9) to start making a focus of Math and L.A. for 10 min. each daily, mostly because she really wanted to learn more, and asked for more structure and a keep track chart of what she is doing for her own benefit.<br><br>
Our youngest (5) still does his own thing, and will continue until he asks for more.
 

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This will be us. I have been fine unschooling while the children were young. My older son will be 7 soon, and I'm thinking by the end of the year I'd like to start some "formal" academics. Nothing over the top, but some basic work on handwriting, math and spelling.<br><br>
It was important to me that they spend their youngest years free of stress with time to play and be creative. And while I want that to continue for as long as possible (their entire life would be nice!) I also want to make sure they get the basic academics covered in a timeline that somewhat corresponds to other children their age.
 

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As unschooly as I keep trying to be, my kids really do like having a daily/weekly schedule. I suppose this comes from them having been in school for a time - maybe it's "comfortable". I don't know. But I see no problem with it, as long as it's what they choose.<br><br>
So, usually on Sunday evenings we sit together and decide what we feel like doing that week. We use what we have and incorporate some of the grade-level guidelines that I reported to the district that we would actually do <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"> . I do enjoy it as well, since it seems to tap into my latent type-A, over-organized personality. And I also notice a change for the better in the kids' attitudes when there's structure in their day.<br><br>
I'll admit I tend to get more of a feeling of peace when I can "see" the academics they're learning. I can't help it. My state is so heavily regulated that I do sometimes worry that the state won't find what we do adequate. Although I know it is. I find it's easier to homeschool when you have structure than to not - reporting to the state is easier, keeping records is easier, knowing their learning style and how to help them is easier, and preparing for their future is easier.<br><br>
But that's just us. I wouldn't worry about having a set "style". Do what is right for you and your family. Follow your heart with it. If you're surrounded by families with different hs styles, don't feel alone. You might just get some great ideas from both ends of the spectrum.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes">: Interesting topic.
 

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This is my plan for DD -- to gradually move into some academics as she gets older, but still following her lead on it.<br><br>
I've come to this way of thinking in part due to my experiences with DS... I tried too much structure and rigid academics too soon, and we're STILL recovering from that. We backed waaaay off and have gotten more unschoolery over time. But as he's been getting older, the bookwork-type stuff has become less of a hassle. He's more willing to do it and what's more, he's more INTERESTED in this kind of learning.<br><br>
He's almost 10 now. If I could do it all over again, I would have done NOTHING school-ey until at least age 7 and more likely 8, which is when he started being more open to bookwork kinds of things.<br><br>
Now this also jibes with how school is done in some other countries. I think it's Norway... for instance... that formal schooling doesn't start until age 8. And their graduates are among the top-rated in all of Europe. Whereas England, where they start at age 3-4, is among the lowest-rated.<br><br>
All my personal observations and research has led me to believe one basic thing -- ALL children should be "unschooled" until at least age 6-8 and more usually 8-10. After that point, it depends on the personality and development of the individual child. But before that, it's very, very, very rare that any kind of formal academic learning will be at all beneficial to the child.<br><br>
When a child is old enough to start to have a broader understanding of the world around them, then they will usually naturally gravitate towards wanting to learn more concrete and academic things. They'll be thinking about what they might want to do with their life and will have a more mature understanding of "I need to study *this* in order to do *that*" and thus have the INTERNAL motivation to learn rather than it just being something imposed.<br><br>
Or even if it's not career-oriented, by that age they are able to intellectually understand the value in learning "stuff", even if it's not something they would have automatically chosen on their own. So they are - usually - more open to parents "assigning" topics if that's the path you'd like to take.<br><br>
So yeah... I totally think it's a good way to go. I think that *many* unschooled kids end up doing that on their own anyway -- not a parent-imposed structure, necessarily, but a self-imposed program based on their likes and needs. Unschooling doesn't mean "no academics at all, ever, even if the kid wants it", after all.<br><br>
I mentioned in a thread on another sub-forum, a book called "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards". Its primary point is that children up to a certain age (the age varies depending on the specific skill in question) children learn best in a natural setting, just absorbing stuff on their own, NOT by being "taught". Parents are learning partners, yes, and guides/helpers, but not "teachers". In fact, too much "help" and academic "teaching" can actually cause problems!<br><br>
This is *not* a homeschooling book -- it often is mentioning how such-and-such an approach will help the child be ready for such-a-such an issue when they get to school. But it's very easy to read it from the unschooling perspective and see that the research shows nothing but support for unschooling the preschool child!! It even uses the phrase "teachable moments" <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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That would be me!<br><br>
Radical as I am, I have had to listen to my kids - the idea is to meet their needs, not mine.<br><br>
YoungSon has autism and severe dyslexia, and at 11 he asked to go to public school this year! I really tried to talk him out of it, we looked at several private schools, I offered him "school at home", and every alternative I could come up with. Well, 6 months in, he is thriving, socially, if not academically. Educationally, I still question what they have to offer, but it is clear that this is the right move for him. He has my full support, but I still think like an unschooler: you don't have to do the homework if you don't want to, let's go to the beach today, etc.<br><br>
BigGirl and I are still looking for the right balance. It is my style to make lots of stuff (books, activities, supplies) available, then step back until invited. But I think my daughter would benefit from a more formal structure and curriculum (her idea more than mine). She tried Connections Academy, but we both were put off by the requirements. Now we have ordered the History Oddessy middle ages curriculum, and plan to work through it together, in a fairly structured fashion. Also Saxon Math, if we can find what we did with the books a couple years ago.<br><br>
I thought about changing my signature as these changes came about (foster dumpling is required to be in PS too), but it occurs to me that letting go of my personal needs, helping each kid find their own comfort zone re: academics, structure, etc. is really more in the spirit of unschooling than imposing my radical beliefs. No matter how right I am.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 
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