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Mariam
06-26-2015, 04:29 PM
We (DH and I) have decided to unschool this next year. In some ways it scares the hell out of me, but it also is very liberating.

We quit the formal lessons. It wasn't pleasant for anyone involved. While I am concerned about math and reading, I think I can cover this with what he wants to do. Here is what we are doing and I think I will plan to do for a while:

Watch videos - DS loves watching videos and he learns so much from them, that I let him watch them almost without restriction. Bill Nye is a favorite, as well as BrainPop. And of course the zillions of videos from YouTube, PBS, Netflix, AmazonPrime and others. He learning more about a topic from videos than he could any other way right now.

Play board games. DS loves board games. I just purchased a bunch of games, some with the specific purpose of learning math and he loves them. (He even knew that he was learning math and didn't care. :D)

Read. We are reading lots of books. We just sit and read. We also use the books as a foundation for learning about other things. We are just going to read as much as we can.

Science experiments - DS loves science and it never seemed like school to him. I will continue with the Pandia Press lessons, as well as other things. I just modify them a little so that he will get the most positive experience. (I use less writing and have him take photos or make videos instead of drawing/writing when he doesn't feel up to it.)
And he is doing so much math with the experiments that I sometimes wonder why I worried.

Journal writing - DS has asked if he can keep a journal. (Yippee!)

Jr. Ranger programs. DS loves the junior ranger programs through the NPS and I discovered that there are a bunch that kids can complete remotely or online.

What I am going to try are video games. He has shown little interest in playing video games with the express goal of learning math or reading as a way to move forward with the game. He loves video games, but games that are overtly for learning have not been a big hit. On the upside he needed more reading and writing skills for Minecraft and Terria so his skills are getting better. We will see.

Field trips and traveling. Also, I plan on making sure we do regular field trips and take advantage of informal programs in the area.

He asked to do projects on bald eagles and penguins. So we are investigating that and we are trying to decide how to put together the info on a poster or a booklet.

In writing this all out, it doesn't seem unschoolly, but anything that is seemingly directive is only because DS wants it (like the science curriculum and jr. ranger programs) and because it is what I need to help him accomplish his goals.

IEF
06-26-2015, 04:40 PM
Congratulations! My ds finished his Math book early and I do NOT want to accelerate him (BTDT with older siblings and not going there again) but he had no trouble at all adding a column of two digit numbers with regrouping when he wanted to add up his own Yahtzee score yesterday.

Last night he was up way too late designing and drawing his own set of Minecraft playing cards.

You might want to check out John Holt (http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Without-Schooling-Grassroots-Movement/dp/0913677108/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UT) and the Hegeners (http://www.amazon.com/Homeschool-Reader-Collected-Education-1984-1994/dp/0945097255/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1435347295&sr=8-3&keywords=Mark+Hegener) for inspiration if the modern authors seem to strident or if card, dice, and board games appeal to him more than video games.

I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

Elly
06-26-2015, 04:59 PM
Sounds like fun :)

Elly

atomicgirl
06-26-2015, 05:03 PM
What I am going to try are video games. He has shown little interest in playing video games with the express goal of learning math or reading as a way to move forward with the game. He loves video games, but games that are overtly for learning have not been a big hit. On the upside he needed more reading and writing skills for Minecraft and Terria so his skills are getting better. We will see.

This is exactly the reason my son (just turned 8) has learned a lot of things. Thanks to Minecraft and Terraria he reads, calculates probabilities (and place value), types, and does research. He's also greatly improved his perseverance, and problem solving skills (Oh the hours he spent strategizing to kill "The Wall of Flesh". Months! I've never seen him so proud, though, as he was when he accomplished it.) He now also researches astronomy and other sciencey things he finds interesting. I'm not quite ready to go all unschool with him, but the experiences with video games have me wondering if it could work for him.

CrazyMom
06-26-2015, 05:43 PM
We unschooled K-7 and loved it. No one ever believes me when I say I have never had a single argument with my kid about doing her school work. It's dead true. We never did. I loved that time with her so much:)

I will make one cautionary statement about Unschooling. I think it's an amazing approach for elementary (I wouldn't do it any different), but I think at some point you have to think about learning integration. If your kids have an interest in higher learning, college, etc....they will eventually need to have the skills to adapt to a conventional learning style/study method. Study skills, testing skills, tolerance for doing things "the teacher's way" yada, yada....(Elle had very few problems adapting...but it's something you need to talk about, think about, address, and prepare for)

While we were unschooling, Elle read every day. She wrote every day. She did math every day. (except for one weird year around third grade when she absolutely would not do formal math, but was making a ton of progress on measurement and fractions in the kitchen, so I let it slide)

I do think kids, particularly unschooled kids, need to have strong reading skills. I don't think they get strong reading skills from worksheets or curriculum nearly as much as they do by ceaselessly reading things they love that hold their interest. A HUGE part of our unschooling day was going to the library, getting a million books and researching a million interests. Reading was Elle's favorite thing to do in the world...and I think that made a serious bridge for her when she integrated back into formal education.

Writing is huge, too. Again, my theory is that kids learn to write by actually doing it. A LOT. I didn't care what the kid was writing as long as she wrote every day. It opened a world of writing that she enjoyed doing....and cared about doing well. It's amazing how much a skill improves....when you care about what you're writing!

I strongly advocate trying to keep roughly at grade level in math, reading and writing.....but let the rest follow the kid's interests. If they want to do history, do history. If they love science, do science. Take advantage of things going on in your community for kids, help your kid follow an interest, help them network, suggest they write to an expert for advice, show them how to do periodical searches and internet searches and how to tell the difference between a well cited source and a fluff source. If they have a dream and you have the means to help them follow it....do it! On any scale you can. Root for their passions and enjoy the ride. Make an idea an action:) Find the verbs that go with the adjectives. Get in the canoe, get on the horse, hike into the woods, attend a criminal trial at a county court, build the igloo and spend the night in it! Drive a dog sled, make an arrowhead, fly homemade kites, explode a mud pile, make a fish wheel, rebuild an engine!

I have learned so much in life....through my kid's interests and curiosity.

Best wishes!

muddylilly
06-26-2015, 05:48 PM
Awesome! Good for you.
Jr Ranger Program is pretty cool too. We live very near North Cascades National Park, so my boys started with that one first :) Lots of fun!

RTB
06-26-2015, 07:06 PM
Good for you! My DS is the exact same way - he learns so much from media (same sources you use too).

I think this is where we are headed eventually (with DS and where we are w/ DD now).

I follow a blog who's author follows Thomas Jefferson Education method. I've read the book, and generally, the ideology of the method is not for me, but I really like the idea of structuring time vs. content. Interesting concept on still giving your days rhythm.

Your ideas look great! Good luck for your next year. Excited to see how it goes.

ETA: If you don't mind - Where have you find the Jr Ranger that is online? My dd loves these.

Mariam
06-26-2015, 08:08 PM
ETA: If you don't mind - Where have you find the Jr Ranger that is online? My dd loves these.

Here is a list of all the Jr. Ranger Programs: Junior Rangers | National Park Service (http://www.nps.gov/kids/jrRangers.cfm)

I had to dig around a little. The national programs were you can download the books and complete them and send confirmation back are at the top. The list of all the national parks that have jr. ranger programs are listed. Now, some of the parks you actually have to visit, but others such as the national parks that are in Alaska can be done remotely and sent in. You have to look at each national park individually to see if they offer a remote option.

Then they have the WebRangers program which is completely online and covers other projects. You can find it on this site: Kids | National Park Service (http://www.nps.gov/kids/)

Also check with your local state parks I discovered that some have state park jr. ranger programs.

Mariam
06-26-2015, 08:37 PM
Some might be interested in these two books. A friend recommended one of them and we started talking about the act of play and its role in unschooling.

The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by David Elkind
http://www.amazon.com/Power-Play-Learning-Comes-Naturally/dp/0738211109/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435360324&sr=1-2&keywords=importance+of+play

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
Amazon.com: Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (9780465084999): Peter Gray: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Free-Learn-Unleashing-Instinct-Self-Reliant/dp/0465084990/ref=pd_sim_14_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=0VCVTWA1MANTXEJP5CWW)

While am still reading these books, the authors really started me thinking about what I was doing. I remember when I was in school and I learned what was interesting and ignored what was not. I still don't know my times tables, but I managed to survive.

I'm going to disagree with CM on reading and math. I think the desire to learn is the most important aspect of unschooling (and I am even questioning that statement). DS is still a struggling reader and I would probably be more concerned if he did not have a desire to learn.

Keeping on grade level with anything is not as important. I want to scaffold skills appropriately, but not at the expense of his interest. He will learn it when he is ready and wants too. Some skills can be learned rather quickly when motivated, including math. But at the moment, we are ahead in most math. And what schools teach in math, the clock and money are still confusing, but I don't consider them important to move forward in math. As I mentioned, our science experiments require so much math that we are moving faster than if we followed the curriculum.

The funny part is that we have been unschoolling for everything except reading and math. We just decided to go all the way this year. DS has told me on multiple occasions that he loves to learn but he doesn't like school. That is driving my decision to unschool more than anything.

I don't think I'm going to need to worry about preparing him to transition, because if he really wants to go to higher education, his desire to learn how to do it will override my wanting him too. (That and he is only 7). As someone who teaches in higher ed, no matter how much we work to move students in a particular direction, it won't work if they don't desire to do it.

RTB
06-26-2015, 08:40 PM
Thanks! We do the JR programs, but I did not know some could be remote.

Marmalade
06-26-2015, 08:40 PM
Honing in on your section about video games. Scribblenauts is a great game for spelling. (As well as creative thinking) You should check that out. My 9 & 11 year old boys love it.

meaganp
06-26-2015, 09:00 PM
For what its worth, my husband vastly improved his reading, typing, and vocabulary playing EverQuest, one of the original MMORPGs. He'd group up with his real life friends, but they'd have to type in the little chat box to coordinate in real time against enemy attacks. If you type or read too slowly, you die. His vocabulary improved because those fantasy games really do have elaborate language for spells and armor and crap like that. I just asked, and off the top of his head, he remembered learning "voracious brutes," "tenebrous mountains," and "agility" from EverQuest. LOL!

atomicgirl
06-26-2015, 10:25 PM
For what its worth, my husband vastly improved his reading, typing, and vocabulary playing EverQuest, one of the original MMORPGs. He'd group up with his real life friends, but they'd have to type in the little chat box to coordinate in real time against enemy attacks. If you type or read too slowly, you die. His vocabulary improved because those fantasy games really do have elaborate language for spells and armor and crap like that. I just asked, and off the top of his head, he remembered learning "voracious brutes," "tenebrous mountains," and "agility" from EverQuest. LOL!

My husband credits "Scepter", a completely text based rpg from the dial-up days, with his 120wpm typing speed. He also ran a BBS back then and made most of his friends on-line, as early as middle school. Since he's a respected scientist these days he finds my concerns about "screen time" to be unwarranted, and perhaps even silly...

CrazyMom
06-27-2015, 06:45 PM
My concern about strong reading skills for unschooled kids is based on the idea that it's very difficult to follow your interests and learn more about them without this fundamental skill. Self-led learning is fundamentally the core of "unschooling". (once again, I fully acknowledge that people define this term in vastly different ways)

A kid who can read well.....can teach himself anything. Reading is freedom. It's the keys to a world of knowledge. It's the basis of all ability to do independent research.

A kid who can't read well....is severely limited in his independent exploration. It's an unfair disadvantage. (to me, anyway)

I do understand concerns about keeping "the desire to learn" intact. And can see where this might cause pause for the parents of reluctant readers. I agree that it's worse to make a subject toxic by forcing progress...than to give time and space needed to discover a love of mastery.

That said, I can't think of a more important skill than reading...to throw every teaching strategy possible at.... Unlike most other subjects....The idea of backing off on it and letting reading happen when it happens....really concerns me. Unless there are developmental issues with a particular child, it seems (to me) unwise to miss developmental advantages for learning language that young children naturally posses. It's a harder skill to master as you get older. Even for children.

A huge part of reading...is being read to, creating a culture of reading in the home, integrating reading into fun, enjoyable activities.

There's a ton of research on kids who fail to read well by third grade....and none of it's good. About 30% of third graders will have low reading scores. These children account for almost 70% of all high school drop outs. Poor reading ability effects independence and self-esteem and future success in dozens of measurable ways.

Not meaning to say....they must read at grade level! Crack the whip! Force the issue! Create hatred for reading!

What I'm trying to say....is that developing a love and mastery of reading is SO important that throwing all your creativity, ingenuity and custom ideas at it....is warranted on a daily basis.

LOVE this goal in the OP-----> "Read. We are reading lots of books. We just sit and read. We also use the books as a foundation for learning about other things. We are just going to read as much as we can."

IEF
06-28-2015, 12:00 AM
If you're interested, ds and I would love to have you join us for game night (https://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/showthread.php?p=5381383).

More details at IRC channel #lgn on Freenode at 7:30 PM US Central time next Saturday, since 8:30 was too late for folks on the other side of the pond, and I think it's going to be freeciv
(https://play.freeciv.org/) next time.

Mariam
06-28-2015, 02:36 PM
If you're interested, ds and I would love to have you join us for game night (https://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/showthread.php?p=5381383).

More details at IRC channel #lgn on Freenode at 7:30 PM US Central time next Saturday, since 8:30 was too late for folks on the other side of the pond, and I think it's going to be freeciv
(https://play.freeciv.org/) next time.

Let me check it out and see if I think that DS can handle it. Thanks!

IEF
06-28-2015, 02:45 PM
Let me check it out and see if I think that DS can handle it. Thanks!

Here (http://www.jadedmeta.net/lgn.html)'s a better link--it's new and plans keep changing.

pdpele
06-28-2015, 08:13 PM
Mariam - you've inspired me! Thanks! I've got some new ideas about how to do this with my DS (err...or...our version of it, anyways). I'll post about them soon...as long as they aren't epic fails. Well, maybe, even if they are. :o

crunchynerd
06-28-2015, 10:12 PM
I want to hear more about Terraria, because we are currently doing a 30-day cessation on screens, because my son's attitude and behavior were really getting BAD with an apparent addiction to Terraria in particular. When I witnessed him talking nonstop to himself, telling a story out loud about a character he made up, while playing completely unrelated games of Terraria meanwhile, but acting explosive when interrupted, I figured we needed an intervention.

So far so good...it has actually helped his attitude, to HAVE to do other things, to read books, to interact with others instead of nonstop Terraria, which was his urge, previously. And I'm pretty sure he's just biding his time til he can have it back, but I'm not sure the Terraria is good for him. He did finally beat the Wall of Flesh, but I was getting mighty tired of the icky sound effects, the horrible imagery, the whole thing. I think maybe 7 is too young for that much Cthulhu. Or maybe 7 is too young, for too little else?

But am interested to hear what others' experiences have been, pro and con, with Terraria, because I'm not into removing things a kid enjoys so much, lightly. Then again, I wouldn't let him sit and eat 20 cupcakes a day, either, just because he enjoyed them. Still, if others are finding it a non-negative influence, I want to hear that side of it too.

Mariam
06-29-2015, 01:36 AM
Mariam - you've inspired me! Thanks! I've got some new ideas about how to do this with my DS (err...or...our version of it, anyways). I'll post about them soon...as long as they aren't epic fails. Well, maybe, even if they are. :o

I'd love to hear about your plans. Who knows, my idea could fail horribly too. At this point if it fails, at least I didn't have to argue about it with DS. And I may not know if it failed. If we don't argue, he enjoys it, and if he knows something tomorrow that he didn't know today, would that be a success. (Though today DS asked me what the difference is between nuclear fission and fusion. I don't f'n know and this is not covered in our science curriculum. :_l: )

Mariam
06-29-2015, 01:44 AM
Crunchynerd I don't know if I have a good answer. DS tells me quite a bit about Terraria. For us, the screen time can be an issue no matter what the game is at the moment. He plays it on a tablet and the battery eventually runs out, so he is done for the day.

For me, DS who is also 7, is still learning to read. What I don't like is to have to read every little thing, so to have those games he does need to spend more time reading, which is a plus.

Sarmis40
06-29-2015, 11:42 AM
I am inspired by this thread! I have been trying to decide what to do for my dd's education next year. We have been hsing for two years and I just can't handle the argument anymore. She is not happy doing lessons and is not learning much. And I am dreading every minute of it. She is going into third grade and her sister is going into K. My little one really wants to go to kindergarten at a b&m school. I worry about putting my dd8 back into school for third because that is a high pressure testing year around here. And she doesn't want to go. I am leaning toward unschooling at least my dd8. I would love to do it with both but dd5 is way more social and needs to always be doing things. Not sure I can keep her interested. I am reading Peter Gray's book too. Its inspiring.

Mariam
06-29-2015, 08:52 PM
There is an Unschooling group - It would be great to talk about our ideas and what is working and not working.

It would be nice to have support doing something so unscripted.

mckittre
06-30-2015, 04:34 AM
I'm not sure I buy the idea that you have to read to independently research things. I think modern technology can, in some cases, turn that upside down. My kindergartener managed this past year, through some modeling kits and a variety of interactive websites (some of which played videos, others of which had graphical games or graphics embedded within wikipedia articles and the like) to teach himself chemistry. I mean, teach himself chemistry to a level that exceeded most of the adults around him (except me, and I have a molecular bio masters degree), which he would then use to explain to people the reasons behind the strength of different acids and bases, what makes a molecule explosive vs. stable, and a variety of other things. He didn't have the math of a high school chem class--but he had a lot of the concepts. There happen to be some awesome chemistry resources online, but really this works for a lot of things. The ability to ask mom to write "volcano erupting" on a sheet of paper for you, which you can then type into Google Images or YouTube can allow a kid to go pretty far in independent research (lots of documentaries, for one). Even when he was 4, he could research and learn skills like origami independently.

He was 5 then, and is about 6.5 now. He still can't read. And we're still unschooling. I do think it's important to read. I'm sure he'll want to, and I'll surely help him as much as he wants me to. But I don't think it's holding him back from voracious consumption of science concepts and other things. Nor from lecturing random adults on everything he knows!

Soulhammer
07-01-2015, 06:49 PM
I think I'm going to unschool or very, very gently school DD5. I am not even worried about reading. I got the full Starfall to occupy her while I worked with her older brother. I read to her tons, but just by using Starfall and a drawing app on our computer (big touch screen), she's learned her letters, sounds, blending to sound out words, some math skills, songs, some writing, and lots of other things. She can even read some of the BOB books.

My aim was to hold off on any academics--just play, do errands, and read lots of books--but the technology in our house means she can learn on her own. She's already figured out that while I'm a good shortcut and can read the books with lots of words, she doesn't need me to learn stuff. That's so powerful. My son, in PS until 5th grade, is only figuring this out after four years of homeschooling.

Mariam
09-21-2015, 04:36 PM
Update -

I thought I would update on our experiment on unschooling

It actually is going well. DS is motivated for learning and comes to me on topics.

We are doing science experiments sporadically. Mostly because of the time investment we end up doing about 3 lessons in a day, once a week. I was concerned, but he seems to be retaining the information even when he gets it a large group. Who knew?

We collected a survey over the summer. (Many of you may remember the outer space survey I posted.) That went well and we are analyzing the data now. DS likes to do it in sections as we look at the results and consider how we want to organize the information. For example, we spent an 90 minutes tallying the ages that were listed and decided on how to categorize people's ages. I will post the results of our survey when we have the data tabulated and put on a poster. :)

We have been doing more field trips and library visits. These of course are a big hit. We use the books DS brings home as a foundation for other topics to explore.

DS has come to me with topics he wishes to learn. He wants to learn about roman numerals. He wants to become better at memorizing his multiplication tables and wants to learn more about division. In general, he expressed interest in being better at mental math, so I have been working on that with him.

We read daily. The books generally have topics that are somehow related to history and/or geography, so we focus on aspects of topics related to the storybooks he is reading.

Board and card games have been a big hit. We play Sum Swamps and Mille Bornes regularly and DS addition skills are improving rapidly.

He discovered limericks, so we are reading a book of family-friendly limericks and we are working on creating our own.

DS is also fascinated with riddles, so he has been making up these rhymed-poems that are riddles.

He is becoming more of an independent reader slowly. He is mostly motivated with his video games and they have helped him move forward. He is always surprising me with how much progress he is making.

And we continue watching videos about a variety of topics. DS has access to a huge online library that I have created for him that he can pick and choose what he wants to watch. He also as access to BrainPop and other video apps.

The biggest downside has been consistency. Sometimes he comes to me with something that needs some planning and sometimes it takes the momentum out of the learning, but he seems to bounce back, especially if he is really interested.

TFZ
09-21-2015, 09:12 PM
There are family friendly limericks? I only know the one...

I'm so interested to read this thread. I was having ds around the time it started. So glad things are going well!

HawaiiGeek
09-21-2015, 10:53 PM
Arnold Lobel's book Pigericks is very good.

HawaiiGeek
09-21-2015, 10:56 PM
I love this thread, was just focused on limericks and had to post that before I got off track. Please keep letting us know how it is working and thanks for sharing.

crunchynerd
09-21-2015, 11:24 PM
I hope to hear more from Mariam!

Can't agree that it's so important to stay with school standards on everything Or Else, because my DS7 did much better waiting on a lot of things. Just because schools say children should be reading at 5 doesn't make it so. Some can, but most aren't ready then, and it's a lot easier to just wait until they are ready, than to try to force them to be ready when they aren't. Enough homeschoolers report late bloomers who weren't ready til 8 or 9, who then did very well, for me to believe that not reading at grade level is such a reliable prediction of future problems at that age. Perhaps in public school, not reading at grade level by 3rd grade IS a reliable indicator of future doom, but perhaps that's because of things unique to public school, like negative labeling that actually affects expectations of the child?

Since those things don't exist outside schools, and apparently being 8 or 9 when starting to read isn't some indicator of problems later, for homeschoolers, I think that "not reading at grade level by 3rd grade indicates future problems" may be more about the nature of public schools, than the nature of reading.

TFZ
09-21-2015, 11:41 PM
It's absolutely about the nature of public schools. At the third grade level students are expected to make the jump from learning to read to reading to learn. While language arts is still taught, learning how to read is not the focus. Students still learning to read at 8 or 9 and in the third grade will certainly continue to struggle because there is no or very little phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency practice. Unless there are interventions made from extra intensive instruction or from someone outside the classroom they won't receive the remedial reading instruction that is so important for growing reading and writing skills.

Late blooming homeschoolers have a distinct advantage over public school counterparts because they are receiving instruction that meets their needs as readers whether they start reading early or late. Teachers know that you have to meet the child where they're at. However, there were so many times when I felt like my hands were tied. It was tough to watch a bright little kid repeatedly fail because they weren't fluent at age 7. They could be brought up, but in the meantime I had to keep shuffling them along, handing them back failed test after test, when I could have been using that time to help them learn instead. Ridiculous.

Mariam
09-22-2015, 12:35 AM
crunchynerd - I agree. Homeschooling lets DS take reading at his own pace. Sometimes he struggles and I just want to pull out a phonics book, but I hold back. He is learning how to read by my reading to him (as well as dad reading too).

By giving him time to work out how he wants to do it, I am discovering that he seems to be more of a whole word reader than phonics reader. I do ask him, when he is struggling, if he wants to work on it more. He says no, he just wants to sit listen to me read. Sometimes he will do some reading aloud for a sentence or two, but mostly it is just me reading to him.

One thing I have learned by stepping back is that he has his own way that works for him. For example, over the summer I learned that he likes to work on projects and learning after lunch. Asking him to do anything in the morning (except for a field trip) was always met with resistance. I wanted to get school done for the day and then he could play. By letting him construct his own schedule (within reason) I am able to help him learn more by using a schedule that works better for him. Now don't get me wrong, he still has semi-structured times for eating, bath, bedtimes and the like. I find that his most productive time is after lunch and between dinner and bed time. Not my ideal time, but we can do things without conflict, so I am willing to accommodate that. So afternoons are for more ambitious projects like science experiments and evenings are for games and reading. If he is having a lazy afternoon, then he watches videos.

This sounds so structured, but it really isn't. I don't have lesson plans. I have a list of things that we can do and DS chooses from it or not. There are days when we don't get anything done that would overtly be considered school. And that is ok too. There are moments that surprise me, like the other night when we wanted help with his multiplication tables. We spent 30 minutes working on them before bed. And that was us just reciting them out loud, no worksheets, no evidence of work, just our discussions. Which reminds me, I wanted to get the Schoolhouse Rock, multiplication/skip-counting videos on his tablet so he can watch them on-demand.

Now I am rambling. :)

There is so much I am learning about this process. I am less scared than I was in June and more optimistic about the process.

Diggerbee
09-23-2015, 01:14 PM
Public schools where I live don't teach phonics at all, or for very long. This ensures many kids will get stuck at the third grade reading level, because that is when children start reading more technical text that contain larger compound words and words with more Latin and Greek Roots as well. By trying to replace phonetic reading with "whole language" reading, you are basically making the kid memorize what words look like, rather than teaching them the skills to sound them out phonetically which impairs their ability to recognize those roots, suffixes and prefixes. At that point it doesn't matter what the "bloom-time" is for a child, because in that situation the institution has failed to give them the tools they need to successfully advance in this skill.

I loved reading the initial post Mariam. That sounds great. I am glad that things are working out for you this way. The kids and I do a bit of that. We are on Ted Talks right now, going through those 15 minute lectures is great fun. You can access Ted Talks online or on a Roku.

Mariam
09-23-2015, 06:16 PM
We love TED Talks. DS has some of the TED education ones that he watches quite a bit.

Mariam
10-01-2016, 06:48 PM
Well it is now October and we have ditched formal schooling again.

DS8 has been getting more and more fidgety about what we were doing. Opposed to a year ago, we started it when it was really rebelling and we had too many other life issues going on, now he uses his words better and we are having more meaningful discussions about learning. We also have more family time without the problems that were plaguing us last year which helped move us in this direction. The summer went great, we were doing more formal schooling, but he is done now.

I just think this kid likes to go back and forth.

He asked if he could go back to focusing on math through board games. Or actually playing board games to learn anything else. He dislikes overtly educational video games, like ones where you have to solve a math problem to move forward, but he likes it when it is a board game. Who would have guessed? This is the kid who loves video games.

We still do science experiments and DIY.org projects. Getting back with the jr. ranger programs. I want to do more field trips and activities outside the home. The DIY projects have been a real hit with him. He likes the badges and he has a goal of accomplishing all of them.

One positive is that he is volunteering to go outside to play in the yard. This is usually an issue, because of bugs, but now it is cooler, the bugs are going away. And he is more adventurous about meeting other kids. There is much to be said about learning about how to deal with yourself and deal with the outside world before academics. I am way more concerned about mental health.

IEF
10-01-2016, 07:49 PM
The going back and forth between unschooling and formal lessons is normal.

I think it took Tammy Takahashi to get that through my thick skull several kids ago.

JC Haley
10-05-2016, 01:10 PM
I have always taken the unschooling approach with my kids. They just don't learn well any other way.

Sherlock (DD) is a high functioning dyslexic and Gameboy (DS) is a high functioning autistic (I'm dyslexic, too). I don't look at us as disfunctioning... I just think we are running different operating systems than the norm.

Anyway, Sherlock was reading at a 7th grade level when she was 7 (that is after I removed her from public school where they said she couldn't read past an emerging 1st grade level). Her favorite line to use is from Big Bang Theory: "I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested."

My son couldn't spell basic words (but he could read...figure that one out) until he was 9. Now he looks at a list, memorizes it, and can spell any of the words on demand. When my son is left to do his work according to the schedule that is comfortable to him, he excels. But, when he is forced to keep an artificial schedule, his focus and attention go out the window. He is 14 and I have noticed over the last three years, he has become more flexible when it comes to moving out of his comfort zone.

Mariam, I think you should let your son continue on his quest to find what works for him. He will start to build patterns of learning that are hidden under the surface. It may look like he is changing his modus operandi on the outside, but at his core, it sounds like he enjoys hands on learning. 'Doing to learn', so to speak.

And the whole morning thing, I totally get. Sherlock was never a morning student. In fact, every single morning that she woke up from birth to about 5 years old, she would wake herself crying. It drove me crazy and I wanted to know why. I couldn't wait for her to start talking so I could ask her what was wrong. When she finally could talk and explain herself all she could tell me was, "I don't know." I almost went insane over that one.... but then I realized that she just wasn't a morning person. Her body, for whatever reason, would flood itself with crazy sad chemicals in the mornings and they would work their way out as she got up and moved about. The human body is an amazing thing!

The public schools don't know how to deal with the kids that are running the new operating systems and they don't want to take the time to figure it out. Instead they create new methods like classes for "emotionally challenged" kids or special ed or they just ask that the kids be taught online from home.

I have two step-sisters who are special ed teachers in public schools. They are about 10 years younger than me and they see nothing wrong with the public school approach. I also have an ex-SIL that was a special ed teacher for many years (she is 8 years older than me). She quit her job 10 years ago because she said the system was like Bedlam and only getting worse. It is very sad that homeschoolers are the ones under the microscope. :confused:

aschr923
10-06-2016, 11:52 AM
Hello,
All your posts have been quite encouraging to me. I am a second generation home-schooler with a preference for teaching to my child's interests, which can change from day to day like most kids. I was pleased to read that other children learn a number of skills from Minecraft. My little one is learning to spell, read, type and practice public speaking all because she likes to play the game and watch You Tube video's about the it. She uses the same skills playing Roblox which also teaches her on-line etiquette. I love that not all learning must be done in a "traditional" style. Any activity can be used to teach something, and teaching a love of learning, i.e. exploring, will make life an adventure even when we are eating the same breakfast cereal that we had yesterday.

Happy Home-Schooling!

crunchynerd
10-09-2016, 09:59 PM
Oh my gosh, you took me back! Just mentioning that Wall of Flesh! I never saw such obsessive persistence in a kid as what I saw in DS (then 6, now going on 9) with that darned thing! I was so sick of hearing about it, but day and night, that was his mission. He was so proud when he did it!
Ultimately I put the brakes on the Terraria, as he was doing it so much he would have one leg jiggling violently from the need to MOVE in response to all that adrenaline, which we all know, being still physically that long is unhealthy, but being still while also in a state of adrenaline, for any length of time, is far worse!
It was affecting his behavior in daily life...he was getting really aggressive.

But the benefits of Minecraft for his reading, spelling, writing, and typing, were HUGE and caused me to start seriously considering whether a more unschooly approach might not be necessary for him. DD12 flounders with that approach, and feels better with steady progress through a textbook, with help as needed, but DS is a different kettle of fish.

I'm only really a stickler about math and handwriting/literacy, anyway, and though DS8 would happily declare handwriting off limits if he were totally self-directed, my stubborn insistence plus adherence to the rhythmic motion method has at least shown some promise.

Mariam
10-10-2016, 02:21 AM
I was a stickler with math and writing too, but I have even backed off of that. Board games and science experiments have replaced the math curriculum. DS actually requests the games and experiments. I have figured out that we can accomplish all of elementary math this way. I am not sure what to do about the writing part. I am working on that. I think if I backed off of wanted handwritten work, it would probably go better.

modmom
02-23-2017, 08:34 AM
Love this thread! I just finished "How Children Learn" and I'm energized and ready to let go of a lot. My oldest is gifted with lots of overexcitabilities and his own ideas about how he should be spending his time so you can imagine how most mornings around here go.

We struggle with screens too, I try to give him enough time daily to accomplish things but not too much that it's all he does. It's tricky to balance!

Mariam
02-23-2017, 12:12 PM
Love this thread! I just finished "How Children Learn" and I'm energized and ready to let go of a lot. My oldest is gifted with lots of overexcitabilities and his own ideas about how he should be spending his time so you can imagine how most mornings around here go.

We struggle with screens too, I try to give him enough time daily to accomplish things but not too much that it's all he does. It's tricky to balance!

Thanks for reviving this thread. It is almost two years later since we have been experimenting with this.

We are still very unschoolyish. We briefly tried to go back to more formal schooling, usually because I panic. :)

I look back on my original list and realize that we are doing much of the same things. DS is using role-playing video games that involve lots of reading. I struggle with the videos games, how much, but I also need them as I do work, so it is a a way for me to get work done. Right now I think I have a routine in place that might work for a while. Our schedule is completely backwards from what one would logically think. DS is not a morning person at all. He is not ready for human interaction until around 10 am and even then, waiting until lunch is better. So his screen time is in the mornings, until lunch time. This is when I am working. Then he breaks for lunch and we do activities. I frame it as quality time with mom, which is important to him right now, so I figure I will take advantage of it since I am sure there will be a time that mom is too embarrassing. ;)

We still watch lots of videos, read books, do science experiments. DS has gone back and forth with the journal writing. It didn't go well after the initial push, but he is now very motivated to keep a journal. He asks for spelling help, but he is the one that brings out his journal on his own. I have started keeping one too, which I think is motivating for him. We will both spend time in the evening writing.

Really, the only things that have changed are the topics and sophistication of his work. We added doing the DIY.org patches and we regularly go to Home Depot for their free monthly craft. He has lots of maker projects going on. We haven't done as many field trips as I would have liked, but I we are working on that. We are also adding art,spanish, and piano, informally.

We have a regular family game night, in addition to working on gaming during the rest of the week for other kinds of learning. Trivia games are of particular interest right now. I had previously looked at Professor Noggin's trivia games and thought DS would find them boring because all one does is answer questions. It turns out when I purchase trivia games with the board, all he wants to do is answer the questions and not use the board. So! I think I will try a couple out.

To keep our board game budget in check, I frequently go to the thrift store to check out the games. A couple of our local ones sell board games for 60 cents each, so I go in every couple of months and pick up a bunch. At 60 cents, they are worth it even if it is for more dice or playing pieces.

Lianne13
03-22-2017, 04:45 PM
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Every year I keep finding myself leaning more towards unschooling, or at least lessening the amount of curriculum we are using. It gets me to thinking about how people make homeschooling harder than it should be. You can learn most everything from books and just getting out into the world, but people buy all this "stuff" that (to me) just creates busy work for their kids to do. It doesn't sound much different than the busy work at school.