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modmom
04-14-2014, 09:03 PM
I don't think I could completely let math go. Can you "school" a subject and "unschool" the rest? Has anyone done this successfully?

ejsmom
04-14-2014, 09:23 PM
I guess a true unschooler would say "no", however the beauty of homeschooling is that you can make it look however you want, and do whatever works best for you and yours.

We do something similar, though more structured. We do a few short lessons by subject, and I introduce things. Then I see where my son goes with it. He'll often come up with an idea to make a movie, go to the park and explore something, or create something, or research some aspect about something that I never considered. When that happens, and it almost always does, I just encourage him to go with it. He knows that his own interests and curiosities are just as important in "homeschool" than any sit down for math lesson time.

So our mornings are structured with math, handwriting, and grammar, and then he does a brief lesson on something in science, history, art, or music, (or cooking, fitness, nature, gardening) usually 2 or 3 things, and we see where he goes with that. That would be more child-led, than unschooled. Yet he has plenty of free time to direct what and how he will learn, probably more than anything else we do, and will often come in with a frog or bug and next thing he's researching that and drawing it or making a movie about it....I can honestly say I never know what our days will bring.

Experiment with it - see what feels right to you, and works for your children. Then change it all up if you want!

Avalon
04-15-2014, 12:19 AM
Depending on where you live, you can do anything you want to do. I suppose I've often "unschooled" a lot of social studies and language arts, because my daughter lived and breathed everything to do with pioneer life and medieval times for a LOOONG time. Why create lessons around stuff that she was doing every waking moment? If she spent 3 days working on a medieval newsletter, or adapting a folktale into a script for her friends to act out, I wouldn't make her sit down for some grammar or writing assignment.

I did very little math with my son for a long time because he picked it up so quickly and was way ahead of grade level. I've only started to insist on regular practice this past year, and he's almost 12. He's just getting to the point where he can't do every single thing in his head.

On the other hand, my son has never voluntarily done much writing, so I have recently had to force him to devote some time to it. My daughter has ALWAYS needed to work on her math regularly and methodically.

I suppose the answer to your question is that it depends on your child's strengths and weaknesses, and your personal views on how best to address them.

Mariam
04-15-2014, 12:58 AM
We do. We have formal lessons in reading and math and the rest is done in unschooling style.

I strew a lot of materials (usually videos and apps) and we go to the library to see what he interested in and we go from there. Sometimes I suggest going to a museum or on a field trip, which he is always game for and we see if his interest continues or if it is a one time thing.

Depending on what your state requires, it can be done.

farrarwilliams
04-15-2014, 08:06 AM
I know a lot of families in that category. They do math and occasionally a few other things - special unit studies, phonics in the early years, or they require that the kids read for a certain amount of time - that sort of thing. But mostly they're not doing much formal schooling at all beyond some math.

And I would note that's a lot closer to the original unschoolers - the John Holt followers.

modmom
04-15-2014, 08:15 AM
Thanks for the replies. I do think we'd also have to continue handwriting, as my DS really seems to have it out for anything having to do with a paper and a pencil.

Looking forward to being more relaxed next year.

mamaraby
04-15-2014, 09:41 AM
I think you could make an argument that for writing, BW could be kind of unschoolish depending on how you used it. It's not my cup of tea, but there's that. I say do whatever you want, modmom! Your kids are young - at this stage I've found that more relaxed is usually the right answer. They have lots of school ahead of them - I'm not a fan of RU, but I think you could still build foundational skills, establish hooks for future learning, and manage to do so in a relaxed way.

What about unit studies? Lapbooks? In other words, one general theme and then hit your major subject areas around that theme. For my 6yo and 4yo this is such a hit! In the interests of full disclosure there is some major Christian content at these links and you may need to do some editing/selective printing, but I really like the free printables at Homeschool Creations (HomeschoolCreations.net - a homeschool blog (http://www.homeschoolcreations.net)) and (www.homeschoolshare.com (http://www.homeschoolshare.com)). For instance, skip the dinosaur lapbook at Homeschool Share...they use an AIG book...grumble, grumble.

Anyway, I skip the file folder thing and instead make a pocket ala History Pockets (12x18 sheet of construction paper, the end folded up 7" so it's now 12x11 and then I cut 3" off so it's 9x11, staple the one side and the 3-hole punch the other and it fits in a binder). The we stick copywork in there (cut a smidge to fit), coloring pages, little booklets, etc). You could also do this centered around Magic Treehouse books. There's an online passport at the MTH website, but there are also printable ones floating around.

It's a little crafty and YMMV (also a lot of prep work for mom), but something like that could come at learning/writing kind of sideways.

Norm Deplume
04-15-2014, 10:01 AM
We're "moderately unschooling" here too. We do some math pretty much every day, we've done some formal grammar, and are beginning to take writing more seriously, etc., but virtually none of it includes sitting at a desk. The radical unschoolers would not count it as unschooling, the classical folks would call us serious slackers. "Eclectic" is the word I use most often.

farrarwilliams
04-15-2014, 09:16 PM
Yeah, I agree that BW can be unschooly depending on how you do it. I think if you say to the vast majority of kids, "Hey, want to read fun poems and eat scones and have my complete, undivided attention for an hour?" they'll mostly say, "Oh, most definitely."

Penguin
04-16-2014, 01:32 AM
That's what I did for most of my oldest's 2nd grade year. I started with a plan but we gave up on it because he was reading the books way ahead of our scheduled lessons. We just did math and I tried to make him practice handwriting, and the rest was "unschooled." It worked pretty well for us for that year.

And I suppose that's really what I'm doing with my middle one now. I'd like to be more organized, but I'm not. We're doing reading and math regularly and other stuff when we feel like it.

BakedAk
04-16-2014, 11:37 AM
We started out as "Classical" and devolved (or evolved) to moderate unschooling, thanks in part to my lack of organization and my Boy's distrust/hatred of anything that I suggest as a "subject" or "topic." We do a little math and grammar, a little history (mostly me reading to them) and a little writing, sort of organized in workboxes, in the morning. After that, it's what ever they're interested in. Which, right now, means Star Wars, Wimpy Kid, and Harry Potter.

Norm Deplume
04-17-2014, 10:19 AM
After that, it's what ever they're interested in. Which, right now, means Star Wars, Wimpy Kid, and Harry Potter.
I'm reading "The Wee Free Men" aloud lately, and there are some terrific "vocabulary" words in there, as the main character is 9 and "read the dictionary all the way through. No one told her you weren't supposed to." :D

BakedAk
04-17-2014, 11:17 AM
I love vocabulary that arises from reading. "Morbid" and "cauterize" are two that are big around here lately. (Wait 'til I post the peep diorama pictures. :) )

banjobaby
04-17-2014, 11:29 AM
What about the term "relaxed" instead?

Pumpkin+Bear
04-17-2014, 12:10 PM
We do the subjects that I absolutely wouldn't be able to stand not doing--for us, math every day, grammar once a week, and Latin once a week--and then every day we have "productive time." During that time I do more hands-on schoolwork lessons with my younger daughter, who just thrives on the one-on-one attention, and my older kiddo is welcome to join us or do productive work of her choosing. She's VERY into earning Girl Scout badges these days, and since many badges are quite academically rigorous (or can be altered to be!), she spends a lot of her productive time doing things like making stop motion films to earn her Entertainment Technology badge, or making a campaign poster for her Inside Government badge, etc.

That being said--I LOVE a good anecdote!--I think that your family can school itself anyway it wants to. Sometimes I find that, in certain company, the term "unschooler" can be a charged one, so I second the "relaxed" term.

Teri
04-17-2014, 12:40 PM
We were kind of backwards. We did unit studies early on and we basically unschooled math until about age 9. So, I think you can do whatever you want. LOL

Marmalade
04-18-2014, 05:54 PM
This sounds like us... I don't know if you can say I've been successful but that's because the kids are still young. Ask me in about 10 years.

It works for us though.

And Farrar-I really haven't read much from John Holt or the early USers because the RUN group really scared me away from that lable. I was really optimistic that he had a different idea in mind than what I started picturing when I first looked into US. Now I think I should give John Holt a try. Thanks.

Norm Deplume
04-18-2014, 06:13 PM
And Farrar-I really haven't read much from John Holt or the early USers because the RUN group really scared me away from that lable. I was really optimistic that he had a different idea in mind than what I started picturing when I first looked into US. Now I think I should give John Holt a try. Thanks.

I read a number of blog posts a while back about people getting scolded by the RUs about "doing it wrong" i.e., setting limits or guiding children in any way. I wish I'd done a better job of bookmarking those. They were really good for me to read when I was trying to wrap my head around unschooling vs. what felt to me like "unparenting." I've skimmed several John Holt books and they seemed much more like what I'm going for.

dbmamaz
04-19-2014, 09:24 AM
It always strikes many of us that 'unschooling' should have such strict rules that no dissent is allowed. Thats just extremely dogmatic anti-schooling, its not living as if there were no schools. thats why i call myself 'relaxed eclectic' . . . i do what works for us.

farrarwilliams
04-19-2014, 10:19 AM
Yeah, I dislike how RU's have tried to own unschooling. We started out thinking we'd be more unschool leaning and I think we would have ended up where we are no matter what, but the RU's definitely were a part of me not wanting to hear more from unschoolers for a long time.

crunchynerd
04-19-2014, 11:23 AM
There is so much brouhaha about the term unschool, that I tend to avoid it too, but I like "moderate" appended to it. We're either "moderate" unschoolers or eclectic homeschoolers, whichever fits at the moment.

I believed I was an "unschooler" because the first time I saw the term, was in reading Holt, and I liked it.... but then later, discovered that a lot of other people had their own personal vision of what Holt meant by it, that was really incompatible with my own interpretation, and whereas I was happy to say "potayto, potahto" they tended not to be, so I decided it's easier just to not use the term. I think John Holt is probably the only person who can claim the right to define what he meant, himself, by the term he coined, but see the parallel in this, to religion?

I believe in learning by living, but if I left it strictly at that, most people don't need more than elementary arithmetic, and not even a very good ability with it, either. There are very few jobs and walks of life out there, where a person needs, on any kind of usual basis, much more than addition, subtraction, and a bit of multiplication and division, and fractions useful in cooking.

But I don't want my kids barred for life from the walks of life that DO require far more than that, you know? If they end up wanting to be lumberjacks, or working at most jobs that require a degree but for no actual good reason, fine. But if they aren't able to USE math, to exercise logic creatively, or to learn math beyond what was needed by European peasant serfs in 1380, they won't even be able to have a chance at any other aspirations, and part of homeschooling to me, is being able to keep their options as wide as possible, and let them have the ability to choose their destiny to a greater degree, not a lesser degree.

This also applies to manners. Leaving kids to raise themselves as, essentially, pigs destined for rejection by most civilized societies on earth, closes doors for them. It isn't freedom, it's bondage. Ignorance is bondage.

So I don't feel like leaving it up to them never to learn math beyond the basic addition needed to pay for a video game, supports any kind of true freedom for them, and in my heart, unschooling is about providing them with more freedom to choose their destiny as adults... which paradoxically means, not leaving them on their own, to find their own way completely unaided and unguided, as kids.

Geek mom Tabitha
05-02-2014, 12:11 PM
We do. I call us borderline Unschoolers because every now and then there is schooly work going on. Math is one of those things I have the kids re visit on a monthly basis and then teach something new. They also do a science project every year, but they choose it and its fun for them. I like to take whatever they are interested in and explore it with them. You can turn anything into a learning experience. We were really into the Last Airbender series, so I did some research and showed the kids where all of the elements of the show came from, what bending styles were inspired by, the architecture in the series, the themes of redemption and revenge. Its all how you look at it. You can see a kid playing Minecraft and think that kid is wasting his day or you can say " hey, can we build the sphinx? or the Eiffel tower?" And they know if they want to learn more about something all they have to do is ask and I will help them find the answer. Right now the kids are really into youtube shows and want to make one, so yesterday we had a production meeting and this summer we plan to get our own show online. When you homeschool you should never be held back by labels. Haters gonna hate, do what feels good for your family.

modmom
05-05-2014, 04:21 PM
Thank you for the replies! I guess I'm thinking more about "interest based" or something like that. I totally agree with what you all are saying, and would never call myself an unschooler IRL, because I know how loaded the term can be!

Pilgrim
05-14-2014, 09:11 PM
I don't think I could completely let math go. Can you "school" a subject and "unschool" the rest? Has anyone done this successfully?

We fell into something similar this semester. We have gone through both planned and unplanned life interruptions. We 'let go' of social studies and science, the kids' strongest subjects, in lieu of going with the flow. They've been able to look into some things on their own, though we never required it. When it came to spelling, handwriting, and math, it was much easier to stay on our original path. Reading has been the tough one. It's been very difficult to 'require' reading on a regular basis, and neither kid enjoys it enough to read on their own -- though DS's obsession with Minecraft has him reading and spelling quite a bit.

Our fears about unschooling morphing into laziness have come true, but we've also had opportunities to do some things none of us considered before. We won't be doing it again in the future, but every experience teaches us something.

mountainmama
06-17-2014, 05:42 PM
I could have written this it is exactly the way it goes here too with interests and work.

Marmalade
06-18-2014, 03:20 PM
It always strikes many of us that 'unschooling' should have such strict rules that no dissent is allowed. Thats just extremely dogmatic anti-schooling, its not living as if there were no schools. thats why i call myself 'relaxed eclectic' . . . i do what works for us.

I know this quote was 2 months ago but I just saw it. I really agree with this! It really has bothered me that the RUN side of unschooling seems to treat non-"unschoolers" differently than they want us to treat our children. I thought that a huge part of their philosophy involved leading by example...

And I've also gone with the same title that you have. We are relaxed eclectic. emphasis on relaxed. and eclectic.

dbmamaz
06-18-2014, 04:01 PM
haha thanks, glad I came back to read it!

Lazybones
06-20-2014, 04:01 PM
Hi, I am brand new.

We are unschoolers, or relaxed, or eclectic, or what-have-you. I have personally never adopted the term "radical" because it never felt very positive to me, I interpret "radical" in general to mean inflexible and unreasonable, but that might be my own personal bias. I do like moderate.

Anyway, we are unschoolers, but I almost hate that label or any label because all I am really doing is what works for my daughter. When and if it stops I will drop it like a hot potato! For her age, 10, she is at or beyond a level in subjects that I am comfortable with and she's happy and it's working out.

I don't feel that personally unschooling but pulling out a math curriculum would work *for us*, because she'd fight that math curr. tooth and nail and it'd almost create this weird "stop what you are doing, now learn" dynamic that we don't currently have going on. But that is just us now. I definitely feel like it's more important to do what works than it is to find a niche to fit into or a label.

Leanne71
06-21-2014, 09:01 AM
Eclectic here, which works for us, but with our new enforced curriculum we may need to alter how we do things. We will just have wait and see where this ball lands.

crunchynerd
06-21-2014, 04:31 PM
Hi, I am brand new.

We are unschoolers, or relaxed, or eclectic, or what-have-you. I have personally never adopted the term "radical" because it never felt very positive to me, I interpret "radical" in general to mean inflexible and unreasonable, but that might be my own personal bias. I do like moderate.

Anyway, we are unschoolers, but I almost hate that label or any label because all I am really doing is what works for my daughter. When and if it stops I will drop it like a hot potato! For her age, 10, she is at or beyond a level in subjects that I am comfortable with and she's happy and it's working out.

I don't feel that personally unschooling but pulling out a math curriculum would work *for us*, because she'd fight that math curr. tooth and nail and it'd almost create this weird "stop what you are doing, now learn" dynamic that we don't currently have going on. But that is just us now. I definitely feel like it's more important to do what works than it is to find a niche to fit into or a label.

We've flirted with curricula here and there, but with a relaxed open palm rather than an iron fist, you know? Soroban abacus did good things. Khan Academy is an on-again, off-again thing for DD: pushing it rigorously creates an unpleasant feel to it, and there's no benefit in that. I'm learning all about mathematical constructivism, which I didn't even know the term for until recently, and upon finding out about it, found it to be what I was leaning to and discovering already, but wishing for more guidance in how to go about supporting kids constructing math by needing it as a tool, rather than being told about algorithms first and then practicing using them until the routines are memorized (which is the more traditional school method in the US).

So I checked out "Young Mathematicians At Work" on constructing number sense, arithmetic, fractions and decimals, and lastly, algebra, and am taking my time reading them to help gel my understanding of how to better draw out my kids' ability to construct math themselves, so they own it.

But as for structure and curriculum, I'm no longer passionately convinced it can never be beneficial, nor do I assume it's necessary. We dabble and explore, try this and that, and keep what we like and grow from.

We're browsers!
But I too steer clear of trying to identify myself as any kind of declared unschooler, simply because I don't decry any and all use of curriculum. I have seen it be helpful, and seen it not be helpful. I've seen kids be self-starters, and also seen kids who need a push, and even seen that happen in the same kid at different levels of development, so am no longer willing to pin myself to any dogma. And labels and classification systems seem to always crystallize into a dogma of one kind or another. We'll be the Artists Formerly Known as Unschoolers! HAHAH

Lianne13
08-11-2014, 09:49 AM
Thanks for all of the opinions in this post. I have begun reading up on unschooling and radical unschooling and find it a bit fascinating. We are ditching most curriculum this year as we complete our 2nd year homeschooling. We leaned on Time4learning in the beginning and now I am ready to rely less on curriculum. I only really see us incorporating unschooling into part of our lives as I could still never allow a child (or someone else's in my home) to climb my furniture, waste food, draw on walls, or kick the cat without comment. We are after all a military family so discipline is sort of a given.

Maxaroo
08-12-2014, 04:00 PM
We 'unschooled' most of last year, which for the teenager meant lots and lots of Minecraft, learning about game development, exploring the world of computers, building a computer and taking apart Nerf guns to mod them. He moved from one interest to the next at his pace and the experience was rather refreshing to witness. He also is a self-motivated reader and tears through books if he's interested. I got a kick out of listening to the bigger words coming out of his mouth and thinking, "where did he pick up that word?" The year gave me an opportunity to get an even better grasp of what interests him.

This year will be the first year of high school. I'm a little apprehensive about unschooling in high school, so math/grammar/writing/history are on the docket. I've also set up a literature shelf and have been stocking it with books across different genres and subjects; from this we'll be reading daily. He will explore guitar and programming as he sees fit and I'll follow along behind him wherever else he goes, gathering up activity that is credit-worthy to record it. I am certain the year's subjects will ebb and flow just like they always have for us.

I think John Holt was a reasonable man with terrific insight into the way kids learn. People sure have interpreted his ideas in wacky ways. Our whole homeschooling adventure since 4th grade has been one of trial and adjustment; along the way I'm figuring out how to serve him while taking into consideration the kinds of choices he'll be faced with as an adult.

Hah - the thing that freaks me the most is DRIVER'S ED.

Lianne13
08-18-2014, 09:01 AM
Vicki, You said this " I'm a little apprehensive about unschooling in high school, so math/grammar/writing/history are on the docket." I see people say this often that once kids get to high school they start focusing more on core subjects and doing more documentation. So would you say then that by this time the families aren't really unschooling anymore? We are on grades 4 and 6 for our girls and so I want to do unschooling but am wondering that this will only really be able to last until they start hitting 9th grade where a more structured approach does have to take over. What do you think?

Avalon
08-18-2014, 11:18 AM
Vicki, You said this " I'm a little apprehensive about unschooling in high school, so math/grammar/writing/history are on the docket." I see people say this often that once kids get to high school they start focusing more on core subjects and doing more documentation. So would you say then that by this time the families aren't really unschooling anymore? We are on grades 4 and 6 for our girls and so I want to do unschooling but am wondering that this will only really be able to last until they start hitting 9th grade where a more structured approach does have to take over. What do you think?

I know you weren't asking me, but here's my 2 cents anyway :) My impression of unschoolers in my community is that by the time they get to high school age, you have some idea what their interests & aptitudes are and what direction they might like to go. If you're confident they're heading towards an engineering degree, then by the time the kid is 15, they themselves know that they need to study the higher-level math. If your kid is totally involved in the arts, well, they're probably already immersed in a music or performing education, including reading literature, etc.... Also, most unschoolers I know aren't married to the idea that the kid needs to start university at age 18, so they have more time to get those academic pre-requisites done, if they're really necessary. Maybe they'll start post-secondary at age 20 or 21, maybe they'll be travelling, maybe they'll be starting a business based on some cool project they've been working on through their teens, etc...

I think it's hardest if you have a teenager with no particular passion, drive or interest, or if their interests don't really lend themselves to a career. My own teenager is mostly interested in being a mother (?!?!) Seriously. What do you do with that? I'm talking to her about other possibilities, since one of the key responsibilities of motherhood is to feed & house your children.

Lianne13
08-18-2014, 01:00 PM
Thank you Avalon for responding, your opinion is most welcome. I do need some help though.

We are Air Force so our 9 1/2 year old says that's what she wants to do (wants us to sign her in at 17) and is a total self starter, so unschooling with her will be cake. Our 11 1/2 year old is our issue. She is wishy washy with no patience. She jumps into a million things and then as soon as she finds out something requires serious thought she quits and moves on look for the next fun, easy thing. She is one of those kids who is very smart but refuses to apply herself and would rather play minecraft or mario all day. We have to put a strict 1 hour max time limit on any of her gaming because it makes grouchy. I cannot see how she would take learning by the reins. To me she is the classic example of an uninterested, lazy teenager and it drives me insane. Any time I mention ways to help with her focus or impatience (yoga, meditation, journaling) she gets all moody like I think she can't ever do anything right. What does she expect though with her behavior? How do you unschool a kid like this? I think she might improve if we just pulled all video games from her. She's the one we really think need to go in the Air Force so she can have someone there to constantly lead her to what she needs to be doing. People say kids grow out of this phase but we all can say we know adults who never "grew out of it."

We do lead by example as my husband and I have university degrees and can always be found teaching ourselves how to do something new. We have a pretty large amount of resources for the kids to use, and while the younger kid can often be found reading something the older girl would rather waste time playing with the cat or watch the most ridiculous goofoff videos on youtube if we didn't draw a line sometimes. I know there is something going on in her head, I just wish she would let me in on it.

If anyone wants to talk with me about this on the side feel free to message me.

Norm Deplume
08-18-2014, 01:45 PM
I know you weren't asking me, but here's my 2 cents anyway :) My impression of unschoolers in my community is that by the time they get to high school age, you have some idea what their interests & aptitudes are and what direction they might like to go. If you're confident they're heading towards an engineering degree, then by the time the kid is 15, they themselves know that they need to study the higher-level math. If your kid is totally involved in the arts, well, they're probably already immersed in a music or performing education, including reading literature, etc....

I was going to post this same thought, but couldn't make the words happen. It's the same basic thing that my unschooling friends have said about their teenagers.

Norm Deplume
08-18-2014, 01:50 PM
Our 11 1/2 year old is our issue. She is wishy washy with no patience. She jumps into a million things and then as soon as she finds out something requires serious thought she quits and moves on look for the next fun, easy thing. She is one of those kids who is very smart but refuses to apply herself and would rather play minecraft or mario all day. We have to put a strict 1 hour max time limit on any of her gaming because it makes grouchy. I cannot see how she would take learning by the reins. To me she is the classic example of an uninterested, lazy teenager and it drives me insane. Any time I mention ways to help with her focus or impatience (yoga, meditation, journaling) she gets all moody like I think she can't ever do anything right.

I'm running all over the internet suggesting the book "Smart But Scattered" these days. It addresses helping kids with executive function skills, and with my 9.5 yo boy (who sounds a lot like your dd), I've figured out that his wishy washy, lazy, work-avoiding behavior is not really that so much as it is a lack of ability to be different, if that makes any sense. The book is widely available in libraries, and it might give you some insights into your daughter's behaviors.

Lianne13
08-18-2014, 06:13 PM
Thanks I will look into this book.

Maxaroo
08-19-2014, 01:44 AM
Hi Lianne13 - Avalon nailed it when she described older kids starting to carve out their paths, making it easier to design high school homeschooling. The main reason I dabbled with unschooling was to get a clearer picture of what my son's true interests are when left to his own devices. Once I stepped back and out of the way, I learned quite a bit about his tendencies and passions.

Having said this, I am acutely aware that he, too, tends to migrate to Youtube/video games when bored, somewhat like your daughter. Overall he is good at teaching himself new things, but he needs help setting boundaries. My apprehension over unschooling won out for this year, our first year of high school. He will have quite a bit of freedom in learning programming and guitar, but I thought it important to introduce him to a bunch of literature, world history and biology. Who knows, maybe one of these will spark him in a direction.

Have you read Grace Llewelyn's Teenage Liberation Handbook? It's radical and fun and helped me let my guard down. I admire teenagers who embrace unschooling in high school and wish I had the courage to just completely give him total freedom, but I can't seem to muster the courage. There is enough of the same sort of behavior you described with your daughter in my son for me to feel he needs some infrastructure, at least at the beginning of his high school years. With time I may really step back again and give him the reigns. You know your kids best. She may want to read Ms. Llewelyn's book at some point and give it some thought as an option for her own education, with the understanding that you would expect her to be doing at least something that you and your husband deem worthwhile. It certainly can be a point of discussion as she nears high school age, to allow her to think about it and give input into how she wants to proceed with her education.

Ultimately you are her guide and you see the big picture. If whatever method you are using for her isn't working, you can change it. We see what others are doing and tend to doubt ourselves until we figure out what works best for our kids. You don't HAVE to unschool - not at all! It may not be a great fit for her, but you'll figure that out as you go. Good luck.

Lianne13
08-19-2014, 10:03 AM
Thanks Vicki for the book recommendation. We are making sure that both girls have structured learning for math and are hope to see them set their own flow for other topic. There are still a few years till we reach high school so I will try not to be to hasty and see what develops. Thanks for your thoughts.

Avalon
08-19-2014, 12:23 PM
Thank you Avalon for responding, your opinion is most welcome. I do need some help though.

We are Air Force so our 9 1/2 year old says that's what she wants to do (wants us to sign her in at 17) and is a total self starter, so unschooling with her will be cake. Our 11 1/2 year old is our issue. She is wishy washy with no patience. She jumps into a million things and then as soon as she finds out something requires serious thought she quits and moves on look for the next fun, easy thing. She is one of those kids who is very smart but refuses to apply herself and would rather play minecraft or mario all day. We have to put a strict 1 hour max time limit on any of her gaming because it makes grouchy. I cannot see how she would take learning by the reins. To me she is the classic example of an uninterested, lazy teenager and it drives me insane. Any time I mention ways to help with her focus or impatience (yoga, meditation, journaling) she gets all moody like I think she can't ever do anything right. What does she expect though with her behavior? How do you unschool a kid like this? I think she might improve if we just pulled all video games from her. She's the one we really think need to go in the Air Force so she can have someone there to constantly lead her to what she needs to be doing. People say kids grow out of this phase but we all can say we know adults who never "grew out of it."


I honestly think there are some kids who are great candidates for unschooling and other kids who need some external direction in order to thrive. I suppose I arrived at this conclusion because I have one of each. My daughter has frequently acquired passions and interests that have kept her happy and busy for months. My son needs a schedule. He is actually HAPPIER if he knows what's expected every day. The trick for us is having two different sets of rules around the house.

I've set it up more-or-less that we do "schooly" work in the morning, activities & outings in the afternoons, free time in the evenings (when I usually work). Personal projects and research count as school work. My son has a list of school work that he can choose from, and he's a hard worker so he normally gets a lot done. If he has an idea for something else he wants to do, then he can do that instead of what's on the list. The general mantra is "It's time for work. If you don't like the work I've laid out, choose your own work." Examples:

Playing with the dog is not work. Researching dog-training methods could be work, until it devolves into watching endless YouTube videos by Cesar Milan, in which case it's probably time to pick something else to do.

Building with Lego is not work.
Building something new in Minecraft is not work.
Doing all the levels in that neat learn-to-program website we found yesterday can be called work.
Almost anything done at the piano is work.
Building all the paper airplanes in your airplane book and making a chart to compare how far they each flew can probably count as work.
Baking cookies might count as work, unless you keep doing it over and over to get out of working.

Over the years, through many negotiations, the kids have figured out what does and does not count as work. Plus, they're pretty good negotiators, too.

IEF
08-19-2014, 01:56 PM
I like Pat Farenga's definition:

When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. (http://www.holtgws.com/whatisunschoolin.html)

and consider John Holt's literary heir to have more authority than all those unpleasant people on the internet who have redefined and hijacked the term to the point where I don't want to use it (the word, not the philosophy) any more.

So a rose by any other name. I do what I do and my 6yo gets to make the same choices his siblings did 20 years ago, I just won't call it "unschooling" any more unless I'm around other old timers.

ChildoftheMoon
08-22-2014, 01:46 AM
I like Pat Farenga's definition:

When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. (http://www.holtgws.com/whatisunschoolin.html)

and consider John Holt's literary heir to have more authority than all those unpleasant people on the internet who have redefined and hijacked the term to the point where I don't want to use it (the word, not the philosophy) any more.

So a rose by any other name. I do what I do and my 6yo gets to make the same choices his siblings did 20 years ago, I just won't call it "unschooling" any more unless I'm around other old timers.

EXACTLY! Perfectly put. I rarely use unschooling to describe what we do anymore, unless speaking with someone I know well.

Lianne13
08-27-2014, 10:37 AM
I honestly think there are some kids who are great candidates for unschooling and other kids who need some external direction in order to thrive. I suppose I arrived at this conclusion because I have one of each. My daughter has frequently acquired passions and interests that have kept her happy and busy for months. My son needs a schedule. He is actually HAPPIER if he knows what's expected every day. The trick for us is having two different sets of rules around the house.

I've set it up more-or-less that we do "schooly" work in the morning, activities & outings in the afternoons, free time in the evenings (when I usually work). Personal projects and research count as school work. My son has a list of school work that he can choose from, and he's a hard worker so he normally gets a lot done. If he has an idea for something else he wants to do, then he can do that instead of what's on the list. The general mantra is "It's time for work. If you don't like the work I've laid out, choose your own work." Examples:

Playing with the dog is not work. Researching dog-training methods could be work, until it devolves into watching endless YouTube videos by Cesar Milan, in which case it's probably time to pick something else to do.

Building with Lego is not work.
Building something new in Minecraft is not work.
Doing all the levels in that neat learn-to-program website we found yesterday can be called work.
Almost anything done at the piano is work.
Building all the paper airplanes in your airplane book and making a chart to compare how far they each flew can probably count as work.
Baking cookies might count as work, unless you keep doing it over and over to get out of working.

Over the years, through many negotiations, the kids have figured out what does and does not count as work. Plus, they're pretty good negotiators, too.

Well your method is sounding very close to what we have been doing. There is a fine line sometimes as to what counts as work or not. I saw something I feel proud of yesterday. The older daughter who I felt needs a bit of unschooling guidance went off on her own yesterday just fine. We were loosely reviewing spelling of the states and afterward on her own time she got out an atlas book and then drew little pictures next to the states representing something from that state. Next she got out a 300 piece states (includes hidden pieces shaped like each state) puzzle and put that together and then took the shaped pieces and traced them all onto paper as a map, labeled them all and then colored it with colored pencils. Voila! There went some new unschooling jitters put at ease.


I like Pat Farenga's definition:

When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. (http://www.holtgws.com/whatisunschoolin.html)

and consider John Holt's literary heir to have more authority than all those unpleasant people on the internet who have redefined and hijacked the term to the point where I don't want to use it (the word, not the philosophy) any more.

So a rose by any other name. I do what I do and my 6yo gets to make the same choices his siblings did 20 years ago, I just won't call it "unschooling" any more unless I'm around other old timers.

Great quote indeed. I am in agreement on the 2nd comment; creating their own learning situations/lessons is one thing, but allowing a child to disregard all etiquette and responsibility is unhinging.

modmom
09-18-2014, 04:07 PM
Well, I landed somewhere between ecclectic and project based this year. We are still doing math, Latin and grammar, the latter 2 because he requested. He has other stuff going on, so I'm relaxing. Maybe not complete unschooling, but it feels closer to that.

CrazyMom
10-20-2014, 01:27 AM
Unschooling....the Schizophrenia of the education world. LOL

I've always called myself an "unschooler". Had no idea there were so many official weird variants! LOL.

My logic was un=not school=curriculum driven conformity jail.

I had some basic objectives in mind for elementary that I suggested my kid get done sometime before seventh grade, and I wanted my kid to read well early. But beyond that, I didn't worry about anything formal/scheduled/graded/etc.

*Gasp*! Could I possibly be something other than a true "Unschooler"?

Yep, a lot of people have used the word and hung their own definition on it. Have I ever met two "unschoolers" with the exact same set of objectives or methods or definition of the philosophy? Nope.

I think "Unschooler" is sort of like "Agnostic"....it can mean different things to different people, and if it feels right...it's right. In my mind....unschooling means approaching the issue of education in a way that is significantly different from traditional methods...that is more student-led.

Dictionary.com says the definition of "Unschooling" is "a home-school education with the child taking the primary responsibility instead of a parent or teacher; also called child-directed learning, self-learning "

By this definition, what we did fits. I had input about what skills I thought were a good idea. I offered a lot of ideas, and was involved a lot when my daughter invited my help.....but I didn't run her day. I didn't require anything of her on a daily basis, or insist that she use any particular method. There were no assignments, evaluations, etc.

That said...she did master the five skills that I thought were important for her to master by seventh grade......which seems to conflict with other definitions of Unschooling.

Ultimately...there's no denying she was in charge of her daily learning, and deciding to follow my advice about key skills.

There's some gray area, for sure.

Here's my thought. For fourteen years, I called myself an Unschooler. My kid calls her elementary years "Unschooled". We lived it. It was the best word we had to describe what we were doing, and I think a lot of folks are in a similar (and different!) situation.

Maybe "Unschooling" is a catch all term like "Schizophrenia"....it describes something that has several components from a list of traits...but doesn't necessary have to embody them all.

Yep. I'm an Unschooler. Anyone who says I'm not can go sit in syrup. Let the bees get ya. LOL.

So there!

Lianne13
10-20-2014, 09:39 AM
CrazyMom, I would be interesting in what your "five skills" were that you set for her to master?

BakedAk
10-20-2014, 10:21 AM
Lianne13 - head over to the "Dropping Math" thread - there is a discussion there about Crazymom's philosophy and 5 points.

CrazyMom
10-20-2014, 01:22 PM
CrazyMom, I would be interesting in what your "five skills" were that you set for her to master?

K-6 Here's my idea of what (I think) kids actually need to learn: I call them the Elementary Big Five.

1. To read really well. MOST IMPORTANT skill.
2. To organize and write down their own ideas. (Doesn't have to be perfect, just a basic ability to come up with a concept, introduce it, do some exposition, and tie up a conclusion. Spelling and punctuation doesn't have to be perfect either.)
3. Knows arithmetic facts. Can add, subtract, do long division, multi-digit multiplication, decimals, time, money, and has a good understanding of measurements and fractions.
4. Has a basic understanding of the Scientific Method, and can apply it to a real life question.
5. Knows how to use references, the internet, and the public library effectively.

That's pretty much it. K-6. Seven whole years for just those five things. Anything extra is gravy.

Again, I didn't "set" or "require" them. She asked me for advice about "what are the basic things everyone should know?" That's what I came up with. She agreed. Sometimes she wanted me to suggest some strategies for learning them, sometimes she wanted nothing to do with my ideas. Ultimately, it worked out really well for us. Not saying this is the road for everyone. But I loved unschooling.

Lianne13
10-20-2014, 03:41 PM
Thanks BakedAk, I do not think I have read the Dropping Math thread at all. I do not get to spend much time on the forum but it is always the first place I come to when I have questions.

CrazyMom, Thanks for laying it out there. Well then I guess I could say both my 5th and 6th graders can do those things. So is there a top 5 for after 7th grade?

CrazyMom
10-20-2014, 04:11 PM
Thanks BakedAk, I do not think I have read the Dropping Math thread at all. I do not get to spend much time on the forum but it is always the first place I come to when I have questions.

CrazyMom, Thanks for laying it out there. Well then I guess I could say both my 5th and 6th graders can do those things. So is there a top 5 for after 7th grade?

Nope. By 7th grade they're pretty much people with their own ideas and plans. Might as well strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

7th grade/ 8th grade is the BIG fork in the road with the BIG decision.

Home School High School? ....or traditional High School? They don't mix and match very well.

From a practical standpoint, it's a lot easier to leave traditional school and finish up with a home school diploma....than to try to place a home schooled kid in traditional school half way through. Can be a nightmare to get schools to accept homeschool credits for graduation. Many flat out won't.

Both paths are great.

In seventh grade my kid informed me she wanted to be a geneticist.

She also informed me that in order to do that...she needed a real math teacher (*gasp*!)....so she wanted to go to jail school for high school.

As horrified as I was, I listened to her, and let her.

Long story short.....she's currently at the University of Michigan studying Cellular and Molecular Biology, with plans to go to grad school for Genetics.

Go figure...

Here I thought I'd raise a nice hippy artsy nature-girl....and I ended up with a Type A academic. LOL. You just never know.

Lianne13
10-21-2014, 10:17 AM
Our daughters are in 5th and 6th; the youngest swears we have to sign her into the Air Force early at 17 to be a dentist and the older girl has no clue as of yet. Plenty of time to go. The youngest daughter started school late at 6 (Oct birthday) so finally this year after realizing how ahead she has always been we "skipped" her to 5thG so she can graduate at 17 1/2 instead of 18 1/2. She is thrilled and says this will help her meet her goal now for 17; although not much in her daily routine will really change at all, just the paperwork formalities.

For us there is no big decision, they will both remain homeschooled until they graduate. My husband is active duty mil so we move every 3 years. He will still be in when both graduate, it is just easier this way so there are no schools to keep changing.

modmom
12-29-2014, 02:28 PM
Just an update, we are now dropping Latin and only doing grammar and math daily, with everything else child led. We recently went to NYC, so DS is finishing up a lapbook of his own design. :)

mitodi
01-02-2015, 02:33 PM
It depends on what you mean by "school" a subject. I consider us to be moderate unschoolers in the sense that we learn from any resource without a consistent curriculum or schedule. The "unschool" part of what we do is more like going on a nature walk, taking field trip, or doing a hands-on activity(cooking/teaches measurement, etc.). The "schooling" part of what we do could consist of anything from utilizing a 4th/5th grade math workbook, completing a small part of a curriculum, taking an online reading comprehension unit, practicing handwriting from an online homeschool printable/worksheet, etc.

We feel good about it if that is considered "success".

MrsH
01-21-2015, 02:12 PM
Pulled one daughter out at the end of last school year (end of 3rd grade) and now my son, this past October (also 3rd grade) and after trying various approaches, we are stopping everything but math on a daily basis and whatever activities they sign up for. I'll be doing lots of reading out loud and assorted science projects, etc.
They are also on the waiting list for a local center that specializes in Dyslexia treatment or help. Hopefully by the fall, they will have a spot. Worksheets send my son into full on aggressive battles and my daughter is following the rebellion! But they will do math without arguing most days.

Blue Ipsy
01-25-2015, 09:42 AM
This is what we are doing. We do Math everyday. Everything else is up to them. :)

Norm Deplume
01-25-2015, 01:52 PM
This is what we are doing. We do Math everyday. Everything else is up to them. :)

I "force" 20 minutes of reading too. But I'm not picky about what he reads.

CrazyMom
01-27-2015, 04:26 PM
Elle read like a freight train, so I never had to sneakily jack her up about it. But we were library people...finding awesome books was what we did damned near every Saturday. It was our family culture/recreation.

I was inclined to count a lot of real-world problem solving as math. The kid measured and cooked, doubled recipes, measured her room for flooring, compared prices of food items per ounce when shopping for her recipes, built containment for her bug breeding, designed RC airplanes from scratch with Dad, had an obsession with measuring data. How many frogs are singing? What day last year did the Peepers start? When did the Chorus frogs join in? When was the first American toad singing? How many bird's nests were on our property last year? How many babies? How many successfully fledged? How many deer have we seen since the hemorrhagic deer fever? How many deer nests?

Most of her childhood, she was hell bent on being a chef. I figured the best way for her to learn about this was to give her a weekly budget and the keys to the kitchen. She re-arranged the cupboards. She picked her own cookware (kid asked for a Calphalon pan set for Christmas...and got the skillets) She watched food network daily, and worked her shopping lists and budget....with the seriousness of an IRS tax audit. At the grocery store, she carried a calculator, and stayed fifty cents inside her budget. She made large recipes and froze half, turned leftover pot roast into gourmet soup, froze soup, made homemade bread daily, baked cookies and cakes....and LOVED to throw dinner parties and decorate gorgeous cakes. She hunted thrift stores for appliances and presentation dishes. LOL. Seriously....the kid was an incredible cook and entertainer...who could stay inside a budget. I helped clean the kitchen quite a bit, but beyond that...I didn't cook or plan meals for years. I MISS her cooking. So does hubby. It was amazing. Had she decided to follow through with being a Chef...she'd have been brilliant at it.

I got lucky in a lot of ways. Elle was just one of those motivated people who loved to learn, loved to be independent, loved challenges. We were a great team because I'm pretty hands-off and she's naturally driven. I gave her a basic framework....this is what you need to do if you want this to work...this is what you need to think about if you want to have that particular career....this is what you need to get from point A to point B.....but I always let her figure out her own path.

She journaled daily, and made charts of her bug projects and nest surveys. She loved to write poetry and letters and a blog about bugs... so I never worried much about writing.

And while she took a couple years off of formal math....when her interest in math returned, she was obsessed with it. Turned out she had a lot of talent for higher math.

Sometimes I ask myself....if Elle had been a kid who wasn't strongly motivated, who didn't naturally love to independently learn...how would this have worked?

But then I think maybe my early choices with her modeled independence and motivation?

Or maybe....It's all luck and I just got a big assed gift from the cosmos. I don't know.

Maybe kids are all science experiments in the end. You do your best and hope.