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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First a bit of background. I have two children in public school. One in college. The three youngest are almost 9, 6 1/2 and 4 1/2. They have never gone to school. I turned to unschooling after much reading and thought and though Hanna expressed an interest in school when she turned 6 I discouraged her from it and she never went. This year she came forth wanting to go to school again. We talked about it at great length and even discussed how we might get around the vaccination issue (there are no exemptions here. you want to go to school you get vaccinated). But in the end she chose to stay home BUT specified that she wanted to do school at home.<br><br>
I think there's peer pressure from her friends and from family playing into this. And we are extremely rare as an unschooling family in Saudi Arabia so it's not like she can look upon other unschoolers as an example. So I agreed we'd do some sort of curriculum on a schedule through the week. Books, workbooks and worksheets - that sort of thing. And of course her sister and brother are going along with it, wanting to do school too. So we are now sort-of-curriculum schooling.<br><br>
I hate it. It's everything I don't want to do. I'll admit that it does bring about a sense of organized accomplishment. We did X, Y, Z today and here's the paperwork to prove it. And here's the path we have laid out for the year. And we're "off" two days a week. Makes for a much more organized day for me. But it's just so YUCK! Especially trying to cull the materials we need from the bookstore here and the internet (that can be such a drag!)But they seem to be enjoying it!! And it really takes us about 2 hours a day to move through the quasi-"school"day I've mapped out.<br><br>
Where did I go wrong? Maybe <b>I</b> didn't make unschooling happen as it should have? Maybe <b>I</b> should have done more with them, opened up more things for them to be interested in? I read about unschooling lives and it seems we were pretty much living an unschooling life, albeit socially limiting due to the lack of things here to avail ourselves of such as museums, libraries (one library here in this huge city that we can go to and the hours that we can make it are so limited), classes and activities for children outside of school stuff.<br><br>
I'm so sad. But they're fine. Should I be fine too?
 

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I´d be fine - well, maybe not fine, I can definitely see how it would feel yucky and disappointing for you, but I still think it´s unschooling. Quite a few of the unschoolers we know (even here in California, Unschooling Capital of the World) decide to get structured at various times, and do all the curriculum stuff. Our neighbor decided a year ago, at 13, that he wanted to join a local Independent Study Program, which requires weekly meetings with a teacher, homework from the same books the schoolkids use, grades, and the whole shebang. He was unschooled until then, but he seems really, really happy with the ISP. His older brother happily unschooled without any formal curriculum until adulthood, but this kid is different, and it´s okay.<br><br>
I don´t think you failed, or anyone failed. Actually, it sounds like you handled it all quite wonderfully. I know that I was really surprised the first time Rain chose to do really schooly stuff, but it´s not the same for her, because it´s her choice to do it or not do it. It isn´t the schooly stuff that´s bad, really, it´s how it´s usually used,and your kids are using it their way.<br><br>
And maybe one or more of them will come decide it´s not their cup of tea and dump the school at home stuff,and that´ll be fine, too (and maybe more fun for you!). In the meantime, you can take their schooling time to do stuff you enjoy <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Dar
 

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Perhaps they will tire of it soon? Or maybe there is a way to meet their need for structure and accomplishment while still having a feelign of freedoma and creativity for you? Maybe somethign like unti studies, or Waldorf style blocks? I don't think it makes youa a failure that your children want some structure- people have diffeent needs. My kids also needed some structure, but I did a bunch of research on Waldorf and now I feel very insppired in our homeschooling.
 

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Isn't AP about following your child's lead? If this is what they want, and it certainly isn't hurting them, what's the problem? I personally need structure to learn so I wouldn't really enjoy the unschooling thing either. What is wrong with some structure? It sounds like they are doing just fine!
 

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I think it's just fine too! If they all truely love the structure it will stick. Maybe in time you'll end up with just her doing school at home and the other kids will revert to what they were doing before. Maybe they all will. But it's THEIR choice and not something you forced on them so it's all good <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> I think you should pat yourself on the back for being willing to help your children learn *their way* even if it's not the path you would choose.<br><br>
I have an unschooling friend whose 7 year old told her she wanted to "do school". My friend was of the same opinion as you <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> She settled on a curriculum and now whenever her dd wants to they do it. Sometimes they do it every day and sometimes weeks or months go by and her dd doesn't ask for it.<br><br>
My dd, 4, sometimes likes to "do school". Which, at her age, lasts about 5 minutes most of the time :LOL I think we went 20 minutes once. Lately I'm not sure if I should call myself an unschooler but she's definitely learning what, how and when she wants and that's what's important to me.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I guess I find it hard to look at schoolish learning as fitting under the unschooling umbrella. And I find it hard to "teach" what's on the learning list for the day. Before it came so natural and easy and spontaneous. They learned so much just by us living life together. Now it seems so unnatural. So.... planned.<br><br>
*sigh*<br><br>
But they are content. And they are happy to go off after school's over and find things to do with the rest of the day. I'm sure I could do something to improve what we are doing. My "curriculum" was to download the curriculum samples for their grade levels from the Oak Meadow site and use that as my guide. So yes, maybe I could look for something more interesting and creative and free-ish. krisday, can you point me to something online for Waldorf curriculum reading?<br><br>
Thanks everyone. I appreciate your perspectives. I guess they are still unschooling - in a school-ish way. And at their choice and their freedom to do, not do, and quit whenever they want. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Oh Cynthia, I do feel for you because I know how "yucky," it feels as you so aptly put it. We have been there over the years a couple of times and I think it is often around that age of 9 that they really want to get schoolish.<br><br>
Just last night my 9 and a half yo dd explained to me how homeschooling is done. She said I need to get her lots of books and she needs to do math and all the subjects every day. I attempted to explain, once again, our unschooling philosophy. She simply said ok, then I will just do math 3 times a week. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">: I guess she just isn't getting it. This came after spending an afternoon with her friend who is schooled at home, so I do understand, but it hurts that she feels I'm not doing it right.<br><br>
My plan is to give her some schoolish stuff to do and let her decide when to do it, or we (9yo, 7yo and I)can all set down at the table and "do some school stuff together." It is hard to tell if she is wanting more structure in her own life, or just wanting to "fit in" with what she percives to be the "norm."<br><br>
Dar, your post encouraged me, as I don't know many unschoolers irl, but am surrounded by the school at home mentality. I agree that unschooling is really a state of mind and even if you are doing very "schoolish" things you can still approach them from the unschooling mindset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks barbara. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
It is not an enjoyable part of my day and I try really hard to not let them see or feel that. Today they've only done a third of their menu of subjects, choosing to play and do other things not on today's "list".<br><br>
I think it's the sense that she's not like everyone else because she doesn't go to school. It's hard for her to see that she really is just like them and even better in many ways because of the freedom and relaxed life she has compared to what it could be if she were in school or in a rigid boxed curriculum and teacher-student situation with expectations and deadlines.<br><br>
I asked Hanna today - "How did you learn to read?" she said "I don't know. I just learned from listening to you read and asking you what word this and that was". So I told her to ask her cousin (the one who always goes on to her about school) how she learned to read. It will be interesting to hear the response and see if Hanna can appreciate that her learning path is different but has been a very enjoyable one.
 

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Cynthia, I think this is very common and totally normal. They are taking advantage of the freedom they have and choosing to do things different. I agree that it could be a stage, in fact I suspect that it will lose it's appeal after awhile. Regardless this is child led so I don't think you should feel bad about their decision. Although I can see how it doesn't jive with what you want. But your a good mom because you have complied with their request to do things more formally.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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Sure Cynthia- here are the best site for Waldorf homeschooling:<br><a href="http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/" target="_blank">http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/</a><br>
Here's another good one- be sure to look at the curriculum reviews if you are looking at curriculums<br><a href="http://www.waldorfresources.org/index.php" target="_blank">http://www.waldorfresources.org/index.php</a><br>
and this one has a swap board<br><a href="http://www.waldorfresources.net/" target="_blank">http://www.waldorfresources.net/</a><br><br>
If you want a curriculum guide (like the Oak Meadow), with a more wholistic, more truly Waldorf feel - Path of Disocvery is only $15, and just packed with ideas for all areas. It's not planned out with daily lessons like Oak Meadow, but it will help you to lay out the curriculum yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks mamas! I feel much better about this (though it's still a drag personally).<br><br>
Thank you Khris for the links. I'll give those a look and see where we head over the next few weeks. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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It is funny this has come up. I was just chatting with someone the other day about unschooling and how children sometimes aren't as excited aobout it as thier parents aren't and what would we do then? I know two people were who were unschooled. they both had pretty negative things to say about it (not that they wer ehomeschooled but specifically the unschooling part) and it got me to wondering what is it that chidlren really do want. Unschooling didn't work for us (and as a child wouldn't have worked for me for the same reasons) because dd needs to know exactly what is expected of her and needs to be able to check things off her list and be able to say "You aske me to this, I have done it. be happy" at the end of the day. I rememebr open ended projects just drove me up the wall and would leave me sittng and wondering what was it the teacher wanted anyway. But then again for me school was more about getting the teachers approval than learning anythihng.<br><br>
Anyway, I am sorry it is such bummer for you. Don't assume it is just your child feeling like they want to fit in. Perhaps they want to see how much effort you are willing toput in (of course thay are probably missing or taking for granted all of the effort you are currently putting in) . One option would be to have them find thier own cirriculum and make thier own lesson plans. You could check them for completeness or just let it go. The whole thing has tons of useful stuff to be gleaned and since you are unschooling it is no big if they miss a whole subject etc. . . . They are happy because they have thier homework and structure and they know that there s ap rice for that.
 

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Maybe they just need to see that they are already doing the work.<br><br>
Perhaps keeping a detailed journal of what they do in the day and then breaking it into subjects would be enough to prove to them you really are "dping school" all day. It would relaly suck, but after a month or so they may be comfortable knowing that you really are teaching them math and science and grammer and such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good points lilyka. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's their life and future and not mine. So wherever they want to walk (with my guidance beside them) that's where we'll go. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I'm one of the few curriculum-users (OM) in our HE circles, because. . . well, for several reasons.<br>
If my 'unschooling' kids wanted structure I'd (of course!) certainly encourage it, but I'd make THEM do it!<br>
I'd have them design their own routine--which topics, when & how, etc. and leave it up to them to implement as well, rather than you having to map it out.<br>
As an 'unschooling' parent I wouldn't feel a 'need' to know what their actual plan was unless they felt a 'need' to inform me.<br>
Just because it's planned and prepared for does not mean it's not 'unschooling' if it comes from them!<br>
Some of us have temperaments that just are happier when we feel organized and do like a sense of accomplishment. For me it's very stressful to just 'wing it!' for anything--except, of course a day of planned spontaneity! ; )<br><br>
Others dislike any kind of planned anything ('so YUCK!', LOL) and find that to be actually stressful. Just different personalities!<br><br>
Maybe your children are seeking a sense of rhythm? Personally, I think in a world in which children have so little control, to many it's reassuring to know what's going to happen next, even if it's as simple as Monday is library day, Tuesday is community service, Wednesday we go to a park or nature center, etc.<br><br>
I mean as adults, how much would we get accomplished without a routine like laundry day, grocery day, when to start dinner for DP, etc.? Unschoolers are working all the time, just as we are parenting all the time, but sometimes it's nice to be able to step back, look at the big picture and see all that you do every day.<br><br>
Last year our weekly HE group (the unschoolers) vetoed my suggestion that we each take a week in turn and plan that day's activity. This year, not only are they doing that, they want it all themed and organized! I love plannng & preparation, I like organizing (that preparation schedule on the 'fridge when guests are coming to dinner is mine!), but I'm resistant to being told WHAT to plan. Math? I'm not interested in planning a math activity. A craft? OK. What do you mean it has to use apples or pumpkins?! So to ramble back to my point, the needs of both groups and individuals can change drastically over time. I don't suspect that this groups current path is going to last, but I'm happy to try it out and see where it goes and what we learn in the process.<br><br>
2 hours a day, 3 days a week is nothing! The 'school-at-home' types (not me either!) would laugh! Your children are learning what THEY choose to learn in the manner in which THEY choose to learn it. That's unschooling! If you were to impose on them your ideas on how it should be done, it may or may not be 'unschooling', but it's certainly not 'self-directed' learning, which, to me, is the crux of unschooling.<br><br>
So those are my rambling 3am musings.<br>
Please ignore caps--they're for emphasis, and not 'yelling' since I can't underline or bold while (nursing) typing left-handed!<br>
Teresa
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I don't think it would work for us to insist that they be the ones to put their "school" together and make it happen themselves. They seem to want me to "teach" them and give them assignments and homework and such. And they want to move from grade to grade and receive reports and certificates and all that. As I see it they want to be like their friends and family that do and have these things.<br><br>
Not that your words were meant for me personally Teresa. Just thinking about what you've said and trying it on for size. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
lilyka, I'm curious about your two friends who had bad things to say about unschooling. Can you share more?
 

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Brie was in 6th grade and I was in 7th., Her and her sister assumed thier mom was lazy for not plannig assignments etc . . and doing what the other homeschoolers did. they said "She doesn't care if we do anything. she just passes us" They were certain that thier education was not impoortant to her and were kinda bummed that they couldn't go to school because they were scared that they were missing out on stuff. They didn't have a lot of respect for thier mom. I haven't seen them in a very loing time.<br>
Leslie satarted homeschooling in 5th grade and says her mom was "too lazy to teach me" even though they traveled all over the pace and learned all sorts of intresting things and she is now working on her doctrate and her sister started the right busines at the right time and is doing very well. It was very hard for them though and they resented having to work so much harder than everyone else to leasrn the things that other people already knew. For examople all the extra time they had to spend catching up in college because they didn't know basic things. I think it was especially biting for them because they are in an ethnic minority and "uneducated" is what a lot of people assume about that particular ethnic group. So here they are trying to get into college without ever having any higher math teaching, bad grammer etc and everyone with thier stereo types, never mind all thier accomplishments. She just didn't feel prepared for the rest of her life accedemically speaking and wishes someone had forced her to work harder in certain areas. She had no way of knowing how much it would help her. talking with her about her experiance went a long way towards showing my views about how my children's education would be. I think unschooling is perfectly valid so long as your child is in tune with it. they need to know how much work you are doing and how much work they are doing even if it doesn't feel like work to them. I also think it is important to teach our children how to learn things they are not intrested in and keep them caught uo with thier peers because when all the other 8 year olds are reading fluently and you are still barely decoding its gotta suck, every one will notice and all the educational philosophies in the world aren't going to make it any better. y/k. So after talking to those two people (the only two I know who were unschooled) I have trouble going with a pure unschooling route. But your children may be older and more able to understand and you more aware of the need to teach them that this is why we do what we do and here are all the ways you are just like the other homeschoolers. I guess it just all dependds on the family. I know it is only two people but every School at homer I have talked to raves about thier educational experiance (which is just weird to me )
 

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I feel I know very little about this subject, so these are just thoughts I'm having reading this thread.<br><br>
It does sound as though your kids are picking up on what the other kids are doing, and wanting that for themselves.<br><br>
But I couldn't help but think of myself as a young child. When I was about 4 I taught myself how to write in cursive using a little book we had lying around the house. It had the letters and little dashed lines that you could copy the letters on to. I absolutely LOVED doing this and soon could write (I was an early reader and speller). I also had similar workbooks for maths and did those, on my own, because it was "fun".<br><br>
As an adult I've come to recognize how much I like my work to be ordered, have discernable levels and goals, and how much I enjoy mentally ticking off each goal as I get to it. That's why I love dressage so much. It's an equestrian sport with clearly defined levels; you have to do a tests each level and there are clearly defined goals in terms of what skills you and your horse must posess for each one. Things like that really turn my crank, and I think because of that I'd be totally lost in an unstructured environment.<br><br>
I also liked what lilyka said about honouring the kids for who they are. My children may not like structure. I am interested in hs over u/s because I like and thrive on structure, but if they don't like it, I know I'll have to figure out how to be looser and more free. It is, after all, all about them, right? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Are you on the Unschooling.com boards and Yahoo group? It's a great resoucse, if you're not and I highly suggest both.<br><br>
Second, my little one is too young for me to have any personal experience in this realm, but I plan on unschooling and here's some advice I've seen offered to others in your situation:<br><br>
Ask the children what they want from school - what is it that they're not getting now that they want? Packed lunches? A bus ride? Worksheets? Whatever. Then do your best to provide them. If it's worksheets, you might shiver with distaste as you habnd them out (LOL) but hand 'em out and see what they do with them. Don't make deadlines, don't coerce or *make* them do them, just give them the opportunity. They probably WILL tire of them.<br><br>
Someone else suggested keeping a log of their activities, and I think this is a great idea. Lots of kids seem to get to an age where they begin to realize they aren't doing school like everyone else and feel like they should be, just because everyone else is. Your keeping some kind of log of their learning can help them realize how much they're learning and they can look back at their accomplishments. Sometimes it's hard to realize how much you've learned when you're "playing" all day!<br><br>
Maybe some organized classes would help too? Dance or something? They might want to get out and interact in a more organized fashion with other kids - and still be able to go home and play, rather than do school!<br><br>
Ride it out - they'll come around. They're just experimenting with schooly ideas and will figure out that what they've got with unschooling is way better!
 
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