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View Full Version : Tell me it's okay to UNSCHOOL!!!!



Rebecca in Texas
09-20-2010, 03:36 PM
This is our first year btw. DD's are 9 & 11.

Okay, here is my issue... All day long I hear, "Can I just do this part, so I can hurry and be done?" or "This is too hard. I hate doing this." or "How much longer are we going to have to do this?"

They absolutely have no interest in learning any of it, and they're whole goal is to get the work done as quickly as possible. I'm thinking I should just take the unschool approach and save us all some stress for a while, but I'm so afraid! I'm scared they'll end up behind, they won't be prepared for college, they won't learn how to follow directions, they won't learn how to sit down and complete a job, and a million other things that I won't take the time to list.

Have there been any research studies down on unschooling? Is there any data or articles I can read?

I bought them a few books on identifying birds, rocks and insects. My 9 year old daughter really ran with identifying the rocks and started a collection where she has organized and labeled all of them. However, my 11 year old daughter is interested in nothing but tv, video games, and going next door to my aunt's (who always gives her her way) house. She doesn't want to do anything educational at all.

MamaB2C
09-20-2010, 03:58 PM
Why not mentally commit to unschooling only temporarily, as a way to "deschool" since it's your first year? Maybe revisit the issue in a few months. I figure either you will then see that unschooling works for them and they are learning, or they might be ready for more structure, or something in between.

Even 6 months of no structure would not be permanently detrimental. One thing about unschooling, it is 24/7/365 :)

You could also try setting them a goal or project, and let them determine how they want to complete it. I saw this on another board (I have paraphrased it), and kept it because I found it brilliant


Allow kid to choose a topic. Your guidelines would be that she must give you information in all subjects related to that topic which includes one writing project, one real life math project and one science experiment as well as scientific and historical info. You can also add that she must use at least one textbook, one "living" book, one video and one website. This will feed interactive need as well as
guide her into learning through books and help her develop research skills.

EXMAPLE: Topic is Lions: Within your established guidelines, she may write a poem if she is
studying poetry at the moment. Or if she is studying the best way to write clear instructions, she could write out directions to find a particular place related to the topic (and thus get in some map and geography skills). Or she could write a creative piece. For math, she could learn to mix the best milk replacer for an orphaned lion and how much it would cost – lots of work with fractions and decimals as
the lion grows and needs change.

Science would include notes on lions including their classification, diet, range, behavior and so on. Their range would lead to historical info of the area (South Africa, apartheid, native peoples and how
they interact with the lions and their history…). Her lab experiment would be based on some chemistry or physics fact that she found interesting. Her presentation can include a lot of drawing or crafts and multi-media as well as narration or a play or speech, not just lines of notes. Lapbooking and
notebooking are good places to start. She can do all of this digitally with a blog. This sounds like a lot for you but if you allow her to choose and do her own work, all you have to do is listen to her as she brainstorms and ask her a few leading questions if needed. Then you can view the final product and show her how much she can learn on her own. You don't have to do this in exclusion to a more structured program. She can do one or two of these a "semester" but must complete her daily work first. Let her choose the topic and the work.

Rebecca in Texas
09-20-2010, 04:15 PM
I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get them to work independently. They don't want to do ANYTHING on their own. If I don't have them working on something specific, they pretty much just wonder around the house.

I just told them that for the next week they don't have to do any assigned work. The only rule we are going to have is that they are doing something educational or watching an educational tv show between the hours of 9 & 3. They were pretty excited when I told them, but we'll see how it actually works out. The next week, I may try introducing the project idea.

I'm feeling frustrated today, but I know we'll get through it. After having them in public school for all those years, I'm just going to have to deal with the damage that has been done. :(

hockeymom
09-20-2010, 04:16 PM
I think it was firefly_mom who suggested The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith to me when I was starting out last year (sorry if I didn't give credit to the right person!). I found it extremely inspirational also highly recommend it.

I think there are several camps within the unschooling movement. Some self described unschoolers declare anything that "looks" educational to be off limits (ie: worksheets, textbooks); others happily use them and still consider themselves unschoolers. The general idea is that it's an interest led philosophy of education, but rarely hands off like the talk shows would have you believe. We unschooled over the summer (now we're somewhat more structured) and if anything, I found it takes a lot of involvement on the parent's part to chase down all the trails a child might want to run down and explore.

It sounds like maybe your kids just need to deschool a bit; that is, have some time to get public school out of their systems. Homeschooling doesn't work like public school but it can be hard for kids (especially if they have been in the ps system for several years) AND parents to figure out those differences and create their own expectations. Maybe ditch the curriculum for now and allow them to explore whatever they feel like. It might feel like they aren't doing much, but kids have a natural desire to learn and may just need some space to rediscover their interests.

I'd recommend taking this time to play with your kids. Take them to museums, to the park, hiking in the woods, playing at the beach. Hang out at the art museum or the zoo if you have one, let them explore them freely without expectation. Take them to the theatre, sign up for a new activity they show interest in, show them how to bake a loaf of bread/sew a seam/knit a scarf/whatever you love to do. "Play" can be extremely educational and is bound to light new fires.

Your kids are NOT going to fall behind. You clearly care about their education and take it seriously; taking some time off will not hurt them in the long run. It will give you the opportunity to reevaluate the curriculum you are working with, and to change whatever needs tweaking so they can be inspired by it rather than dragged down. It will also give them the opportunity to rediscover their interests and to shake ps out of their systems. Learning should and can be fun, and we learn best when it is.

Here's a website to get you started: http://www.unschooling.com/index.shtml

Wishing you all the best! :)

StartingOver
09-20-2010, 04:17 PM
I agree, if this is your first year you should sit down with the kids. Determine an amount of time where no school work will be done. Make sure they know when you are going to get back to it. But let them unschool and discover the love of learning again.

Now If I had done this ( never did mine weren't in school ). But I would have a strict time for electronics, and time to unplug. Just because I would assume most would be on the phone, computer, or glued to the TV. To me deschooling purpose would be partly to have them seek out things to kill the boredom LOL.

hockeymom
09-20-2010, 04:32 PM
I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get them to work independently. They don't want to do ANYTHING on their own. If I don't have them working on something specific, they pretty much just wonder around the house.

(

The public school system doesn't want kids to think independently, but one of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that we get to allow or remind our kids how to learn *for fun*. It might take some time though, since they were in brick and mortar school for so many years.

What kind of guidelines are you giving them for ideas next week? How involved are you between those hours (and why are you sticking to public school hours?)? It's pretty hard for someone to do "something educational" on their own for 6 straight hours--are you clear about what your expectations are? It just seems like a lot of time to figure out what to do; even unschooling can and should have structure and guidelines.

farrarwilliams
09-20-2010, 04:38 PM
I just wanted to give you permission :D

And in addition to the suggestions above, I would say that goal-setting isn't incongruous with unschooling. Ask the kids if they maybe have a goal for your first year of homeschooling. Something they want to do, experience, learn about, etc. Could be more than one thing. I find that setting goals helps people get clear about their purpose and to work towards it (even if you don't totally achieve it).

And add that I'm pretty sure there have not been studies done about unschoolers. There have been very few studies done about homeschooling in general. However, I'm sure it'll be fine. You can find many successful adults who were unschooled. The anecdotal evidence is there that it does not destroy kids and many (if not most) would speak favorably about it.

Rebecca in Texas
09-20-2010, 05:36 PM
The time frame of school hours I gave them is just because that's the time that just the three of us are home. After about 3:30 it gets a little crazy around here, because I have a teenage son in public school. He comes in and many days drags friends in with him. Then my husband gets home from work. Then everybody is sort of in and out. There's no need to try to keep them "involved" after that time, because there's so much going on in the house.

The "guidelines" I gave them are to do something educational or something that requires physical effort during the day. They can ride bikes, swim, study bugs or rocks, play a learning game, watch discovery channel, etc. I just want to see what they choose to engage in when I tell them they need to be doing something educational. I'm probably going to leave them to their own devices for the whole week and just observe what kinds of things they choose to do during the day.

MamaB2C
09-20-2010, 05:39 PM
Sounds like a good experiment to me, I'll be interested to read your results :)

Rebecca in Texas
09-20-2010, 05:41 PM
What I'm finding interesting about myself is I'm generally a pretty confident person and tend to listen to my gut feeling about things. However, when it comes to yanking my kids out of public school and letting them just hang around all day with no direction, it just goes against every single thing I have been taught my whole life. In my rational mind, I know they aren't going to die from not doing schoolwork for a week or even a year, but the neurotic side seems to be taking over when it comes to this little bitty issue of my children's education. lol!

Wilma
09-20-2010, 05:50 PM
Love Mary Griffith's book. I say go for it. We always start the year out with lofty goals of following a curriculum and it always falls apart when those fun things in life interfere. My suggestion is that you write down what they do so you can see what you've accomplished for your own sense of sanity. For example, we didn't "do" school today, but I would definitely count it as a school day.

My middle and youngest (12 and 10) are in a drama class and they are writing a book right now for a Scholastic Book contest (the drama portion comes in when they write a play based on the book). My 12 yo is organizing a meeting at Panera for her and the girls who are doing the chapter with her. She spent most of the day writing and proofing.

My 14 yo wants to take the lapbooking class in co-op so she can assemble stuff on ancient Egypt. She got a Kindle for her birthday yesterday and downloaded Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dickens and a bunch of other stuff. She has already finished Dr. Jekyll and took copious notes on it.

My youngest went to a state fair academy today where she learned about animals, got to pet pigs, goats and chicks. She also copied down info on the chickens. No one told her to do that. I figure that covers copy work and science. And she had to manage her own money since a friend took her, not me. So we had an econ lesson.

I have just never figured out how to unschool math.

Go for it!

Rebecca in Texas
09-20-2010, 09:18 PM
Love Mary Griffith's book. I say go for it. We always start the year out with lofty goals of following a curriculum and it always falls apart when those fun things in life interfere. My suggestion is that you write down what they do so you can see what you've accomplished for your own sense of sanity. For example, we didn't "do" school today, but I would definitely count it as a school day.

My middle and youngest (12 and 10) are in a drama class and they are writing a book right now for a Scholastic Book contest (the drama portion comes in when they write a play based on the book). My 12 yo is organizing a meeting at Panera for her and the girls who are doing the chapter with her. She spent most of the day writing and proofing.

My 14 yo wants to take the lapbooking class in co-op so she can assemble stuff on ancient Egypt. She got a Kindle for her birthday yesterday and downloaded Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dickens and a bunch of other stuff. She has already finished Dr. Jekyll and took copious notes on it.

My youngest went to a state fair academy today where she learned about animals, got to pet pigs, goats and chicks. She also copied down info on the chickens. No one told her to do that. I figure that covers copy work and science. And she had to manage her own money since a friend took her, not me. So we had an econ lesson.

I have just never figured out how to unschool math.

Go for it!

This is what I want my kids to do!!!! Do you consider yourselves unschoolers or do you add in some curriculum? I noticed you said you haven't figured out how to unschool math...Math is the thing that scares me the most. Everything else doesn't really require the foundation like math does. Grammar does somewhat, but that's used in so much that I could incorporate that into everyday.

Wilma
09-21-2010, 08:08 AM
We definitely have curriculum. I'm just pretty hands off. And I just have to let them go with things that come up. Several years ago we were reading Minn of the Mississippi and we were on a walk. The girls found 2 turtles they names Shakespeare and Edwin. Since we were reading about a turtle, they spent the day writing a newspaper about turtles. I just didn't the heart to stop it.

I need to add with the work, we are in a co-op so most of the work my kids do is based around the co-op. My 2 oldest especially don't do much for me.

Here is what we use:
14yo:
History Odyssey (I discuss the history portion in co-op, another teacher does the lit.)
Saxon Algebra (I teach this to her and another boy 2x a week), we are also going to fill in with A Mathematical Mystery Tour activities to break things up in class
Cambridge Latin (co-op)
Physical Science Experiments
Copywork

12 yo
TRISMS History Makers (co-op)
Saxon Algebra 1/2
Copywork
Sits in on the literature for History Odyssey her older sister does (co-op)
Drama/creative writing
Science experiments at home

10yo
SOTW (Activities at co-op)
Health (co-op)
Lapbooking (co-op)
Saxon 65
Science experiments
Drama/creative writing
Copywork

wild_destiny
09-21-2010, 09:15 AM
You have been given some great advice, Rebecca. It seems like your big issue is with getting your children engaged in learning and getting them on board at school time (whether that is between set hours or all day long everyday). You might also try brainstorming your own goals, both long and short term, and then asking your daughters to write or express their goals. If you can agree on any goals, then great! At any rate, maybe you could have them create their own work outlines for each day or week. Also, instead of "doing work", you might ask them HOW they would prefer to learn the material at hand, instead of just rushing to get through it, as in, saying, "Our goal is to learn XYZ. How do you think you could learn this best? How would you like to approach it? And how long do you think it should take?" Of course, at the end of the day, the hair that is lost will be yours not theirs, so do what works for you and your family, not what will please other public schoolers or even other homeschoolers. Good luck and best wishes! (And also hoping for minimal hair loss for you!) :)

Theresa Holland Ryder
09-21-2010, 10:51 AM
Rebecca,

It's okay to do whatever works best in your family to educate your kids. :)

MamaB2C
09-21-2010, 01:00 PM
DS is younger than your kids, but what happened last night was really cool.

I got a big mirror when my brother moved, and had set it on the floor until I could get it hung. DS loves mirrors and was playing whatever mirror exploration games came to mind, and making faces and stuff, and then he said "What if I fell through the mirror?" That led to us starting Alice Through the Looking Glass (luckily I have the collected works of Lewis Carrol at hand!) complete with reading the opening stanzas of Jabberwocky in the mirror, exploring our own "Looking Glass House", and explaining chess, which DS now wants to learn.

Maybe you'll find similar things happen at your house, one things leads to another and everyone is learning.

Melissa541
09-22-2010, 06:09 PM
You poor, stressed out momma!

We're kind of unschooly. Not radical, but definitely lots of child-led learning and a relaxed approach to, well, everything. :) We didn't do a single formal-learning thing the whole first year of Maisie's life (Madison's 2nd grade year) & Madison has not suffered for it whatsoever. She's a bit behind her public school peers with math, as she's just now learning multiplication; however, it's been so much easier for her to pick it up than I thought it was going to be! She asked to learn it & she's totally into it. Is she learning it so well & easily because I waited until she was interested? Because I gave her time to feel comfortable with the math that comes first? She learned cursive the same way - when she wanted to.

The way we do it is I use the "What Your X Grader Needs to Know" (the grade she's in, plus the ones above & below) to talk with Madison about what she'd like to learn this year. We go from there, adding and nixing areas of study as we go. When she shows resistance for a certain topic, I try to find a different way to approach it; if that doesn't work, we throw it out.

For instance, I'd planned to do Geography this year: an overview of the 7 continents, before moving on to ancient history. I thought it'd be helpful for her to have a good idea of where everything was first. Well, she hates what I'd planned. So we're not doing that anymore. Sucks that I'd lost time in planning, but I really believe that she learns best when she's interested in what we're doing. I have no desire to fight her to get her to learn something; it does not make for a happy homeschool.

You may want to check out the Yahoo group Unschooling Basics. You might not want to go as radical as some of the members, but there is some good advice. And if radical fits, wear it! :)

I would totally stop all formal school for atleast...mmm, until after Christmas. Take em to the library (we'll meet you there!), let 'em play. Make materials available, but don't stress it. And, um, join our co-op. They'll learn stuff there. ;)

Rebecca in Texas
09-28-2010, 03:37 PM
I haven't been on in several days, so there were several new posts for me to read. All I have to say is you guys are awesome! Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

Melissa -- we are NOT doing very well at managing to get together! Maybe we should meet at the library one day. Which library would we meet at though????