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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

I've posted occasionally on this forum before, but not for a good while. DD just recently turned 7 and is unschooled. She's never been to school and doesn't want to go because (she says) she likes having a say about what she's working on. She also dislikes situations where there are punishments.

It seems that unschooling is going well for her - she's learning lots and seems fairly happy generally.

However she does sometime express boredom and she wishes she could see her friends (most of whom are at school) more often. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, she makes a lot of demands on our time as she almost always needs someone to play with and pay attention to her, and this can be stressful as we have other commitments and also sometimes simply need a break.

DH and I are both self-employed with somewhat flexible hours. For various reasons, so far it's tended to be me who mostly spends time with DD. DH does help but if I added up all the time he spent with her it would come to about 1.5-2 hours per day maximum. There are often days when he barely interacts with her at all. Some of that is because of work but also he takes a fair amount of time to just unwind and relax - and I really don't mean to begrudge him that, I know he needs it. However I must admit that at times I find myself resenting his freedom.

His help certainly is much better than nothing. In fact it would feel unfair of me to ask more of him - he's an older dad, his health isn't the greatest, he was ambivalent about having a child in the first place (when he found out I was pregnant the first thing he said was "my life is over":serious:) and he doesn't completely agree with homeschooling. In his way he really loves her but he gets burnt out quickly when they're alone together.

DH thinks our time crunch would be eased if we put DD in school, and he doesn't share my reservations about it. He hated school himself but he puts the problems he had down to personal defects of his own, rather than to the system. (DD's friends in school, on the other hand, tell her she's lucky not to have to go :frown::frown:). I've tried many many times to discuss this with him, but he just doesn't seem able to go there.

We have very little backup help; my mother is in another country and rarely able to help as she has her own issues, our siblings are unavailable, and we know very few other families around here who are unschooling.

Anyway, sorry if this is incoherent. I'm in an exhausted phase at the moment. I thought about posting this in the 'personal growth' forum but decided to put it here instead as the unschooling is such an important part of how we spend our time and in a way it's the backbone of our overall family dynamic.

Thanks for reading this far!

[edited to correct typo]
 

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Well, mine have never been to school either, but it seems to me from observing the lives of our friends and neighbors that school dealings take up so much time that they really don't gain much free time in the end.

I do understand though. I have a newly 7yo too that still needs a lot of attention; it's a hard age in some ways. Do you have any classes or sports programs nearby that she could participate in to get a break? At that age even the homeschool classes we've done are mostly for fun and thus unschooler friendly. Or parks with other kids she could play with while you work (if your work is portable) or read or whatever?

We spend a lot of time at crowded parks because dd7 has an insatiable need for human interaction and I can only engage for so long. ;)
 

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Little doesn't self entertain at all
In fact I thought I would start working on that with him and so I took a base line
It was 6 and a half minutes!
I run a business so I get needing to work, what I started implementing this month was from 2-3 if we are home, he listens to an audio book and I work. After 3 he can do what he likes, which is almost always screens.
On the DH side, I think 1-2 hours is a long time, when my DH is working outside the home, he's self employed too, I try not to ask too much from him on those days.
Anna
 

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I have a relatively unavailable husband. He works long stressful hours, and more than half the time he's home he is on-call with instant response time expected, so he can't really "engage" ... always on edge, ready to dash.

I'm fortunate that my kids are relatively good at self-entertaining, but a couple of thoughts spring to mind that might help you.

The first is to treat self-entertainment as a project or skill that you ask her to work at. Explain that you need a bit of alone-time every day to be happy and healthy, and you think she's old enough to begin to help you with that. So let's start with 30 minutes after lunch, and aim to get up to 90 minutes over the next few months as she gets better at it. During that time you will go for a walk or have a bath or be in your bedroom with the door closed, and she can start figuring out what keeps her happy and entertained when she's by herself. (I'm assuming here that her dad is home, but not really available. Obviously she'll need someone available for emergencies.) Do some brainstorming with her to come up with a list of things might want to do to fill the time happily. Make it a visual list if she's not reading yet, organizing it according to whatever makes sense for her. Offer to provide her with new materials and resources if she'd find that helpful ... do what you need to help make this time feel like a special adventure for her. Be clear about the expectations: what sort of emergencies or problems make it okay/necessary to seek out a parent, what activities are off-limits, which ones might require special permission. Perhaps if you treat this as a project that gives her more grown-up responsibility and independence, and which has a fixed time-period, she'll relish the opportunity.

The other thing ... I wonder whether you could help her and your dh find some several-times-a-week tradition where they can each get a bit of what they need, but together. For instance, perhaps you make popcorn and then leave while they watch a movie together on Tuesday and Friday evenings. Or perhaps if she's involved in an out-of-home activity, he could be the one to take her there, and work away on a laptop during the activity, and then bring her home.

I've noticed that men who had terrible school experiences don't necessarily end up drawn to homeschooling as a result. It's as if their years of suffering and survival would suddenly seem meaningless if they had to face the fact that it was all unnecessary, that institutional education is not the only way to learn, it's not a requirement for childhood.

From what you've said about your family relationships and his attitude to homeschooling, I suspect it's going to primarily fall to you to hold the fort with your dd over the next few years. The good news is that it will start getting easier soon. Kids tend to become more understanding, more capable, less demanding of parental energy as they head towards the tween years, and they tend to get more involved in independent out-of-home things as they get older too. So if you can only find small tweaks to help over the next year or two I expect you'll start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A very belated thanks to everyone who answered my post, and apologies for not replying sooner. We've had a difficult couple of months as my DH had an accident that required time in hospital and then crutches, and I had a lot of work commitments that couldn't be postpoted.

Interestingly, DD was rather heroic during the initial 'emergency' period when I really couldn't be available to her much. I arranged for her to spend time at friends' houses in order to meet my work commitements and she went along with it all very calmly, showing much more flexibility than usual (while she generally is fine with doing group activities away from me that she's chosen, such as dance class, she doesn't like going on playdates to friends' houses.)

However, once DH was back at home she suddenly became extremely resistant to anything out of our normal routine. I'm sure it's all part of the process of working through what's happened (and I'm sure I have my irrationalities about it too).

Anyway, now I have a bit of time to think about your suggestions and I'll certainly give them a try.
 

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I'm so sorry to hear about your DH, that sounds really hard. I think your daughter's reaction sounds completely normal, but perhaps the fact that she had that in her when your family really needed it can be something to get you through the rebound of her regression, and that the pendulum swing will hopefully find centre.
Take care
Anna
 
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