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Kylie
04-21-2011, 02:58 AM
Anyone consider themselves a Project/Inquiry based homeschooler?

You knowRegio Emilla/child directed.

I've been devouring the posts over at Camp Creek blog and keen to discuss this more with families using this approach....especially if you've gone from a teacher/parent led homeschool environment.

CrazyCatLady
04-21-2011, 08:23 PM
It is another one of our influences, but I find it very difficult to implement as a homeschooler because there is a lot of group work and children sparking ideas off of each other. I mix it with Montessori and unschooling.

I have spent a while thinking about what this means, about how they fit together, and I have come up with the following:

Children want to learn
Children are construcutivist and active, they make their own knowledge, they are not passive receptors of knowledge.
All these approaches:

are all respectful of the child, and treat the child as capable
see learning is a social behaviour, it happens in social groups (be that families, classes or the wider community).
focus on making sure the environment is adapted to the child, and that the child can learn from the environment
give the child good quality, beautiful and lasting materials to use, particularly in the arts.
are hands-on approaches to learning
use minimal worksheets

We try to have it quite child led, but also realising that DS's are not really old enough to come up with his own plans and things essentially in isolation, so I usually try to offer suggestions and ideas, but let them take it where they will.

I don't know how helpful that is to you, but it is something I have been thinking about for a while.

We have been doing this approach pretty much from birth, so I don't know how the transition would go, but when I was teaching, I found that when I started to incorporate some of that into my classsroom, the children were quite varied in there responses. Some embraced it, some struggled. It depended very much on the child.

Now I am going to check out that blog!

farrarwilliams
04-21-2011, 09:23 PM
I really like what I know about Reggio Emilia. Such a good concept. I like that it's child inspired but not child-planned, if you know what I mean. We've done a little of that, though not as much as I anticipated that we would before we really got started homeschooling - in part because it was hard to sustain things for the kids. They would be interested in something then lose that interest so fast that the "project" would become a struggle. Whereas if we were more top down, then somehow that led to a greater sustained interest. It feels quite wrong in my mind to say that. But... that's been the case at our house. Weird. But one of our co-ops is a little like this. It's not quite as organic as some of the things I've read about Reggio Emilia, but the kids suggest and decide the topics together and the parents try to help build activities that the kids are interested in around those units. And that has worked really well.

Kylie
04-21-2011, 10:44 PM
Ok so some of you know that I struggle and go back and forth between natural learning/unschooling and the traditional teacher/parent led approach.

I am yet again in the 'struggle' zone. I often blame this on having a toddler in the house and that does contribute because we simply don't have the flexibility at this stage, although I know that this period will be short lived.

We (I) have been making a concerted effort to tackle subjects like geography, history and science this year (last year we barely did anything formal) and I feel as though I have to 'make' my kids do the stuff I've organisef. Even though they call it 'fun school' when we are on those subjects there's no real desire, no spark, no excitement and it is deeply saddening on various levels to me. One why should I bother putting in all the time and effort preparing stuff if the kids really aren't getting much out of it and two I am very saddened at their apparent lack of interest in learning about the world around us.

It's not like it is plain boring, we use NO worksheets for these subjects and we never EVER will! For geography (continets) we read some, watched some you tube vides, made dough continent maps. For History we are doing Mesopotamia, we've read some, did a bit of the history pockets (they are somewhat busy work), completed a paper mosiac replica from ancient sumer and are in the middle of building a model Ziggurat. For science, we made a weather vane (the kids were quite impressed with that), collected rain drops (coloured tissue paper over plain card held out in the rain) and of course did some reading.

I don't over work the kids, we only do formal bookwork 3 days a week and the extra's like science, history etc only happen 1 - 2 afternoons a week, they have loads and loads of downtime. I have always been very aware of that and are more than happy with the levels they are both at whilst still only doing sit down book work 3 mornings a week.

From all of my reading and meditating on this I know that unschooling is not for us. I could never get over all of my fears and my total control freakish attitude hehehehe However all of the posts at Camp Creek Blog really resonated with me and maybe, just maybe project based learning is something we could possibly do. I know it would look different at home than in a classroom with a large group environment.

I would still need the kids to do formal language and maths though, I simply can't let go of that.

However I keep second guessing myself on the whole idea. What if there is no spark? What if they don't want to learn about anything? What if they never pick up a history book ....ever? What if? What if? What if? I'm not sure if there are simply too many what if's for me to even consider this route. At least with my plans I know that they will cover most things, even if it is only once, during their schooling years.

I also realise that we can trial this for a year or so and see how it all goes there's nothing saying we can't go back, but then I feel we would have wasted another year!

Really I know this is a decision only I can make but I value your thoughts and opinions on child directed investigative learning. And if any of you have gone from a parent directed to a more child directed approach. Especially in regards to making your self 'available' to the children. I think that is my biggest struggle, being able to say yes and being available to aid them in getting their ideas off the ground.

Gee I'm not sure if any of that has made sense lol!

farrarwilliams
04-21-2011, 11:47 PM
Kylie, I totally get what you're saying. I also sit in between that space and am never sure exactly where I want to fall. I know that philosophically, before we started homeschooling, I thought we would be slightly unschooly (though not totally) but then two things happened. First, I met actual unschoolers and was not really comfortable with their parenting or the sort of weird vibe where anything formal you did had to be looked down on. Second, my kids just didn't respond well to the less structured things and time. The same thing happened to me when I first started teaching - where my philosophy met reality and had to bend.

One of the things I like about what I know about Reggio Emilla (and I only know a little, so if there are any experts, then I would love someone to correct me) is that like with unschooling, you let that spark in the child open the path to the learning. But unlike unschooling, the teacher/parent still has a huge role to play in creating the curriculum and pushing the kids to learn more and make connections. I also really like that there's this formal piece at the end where you write the curriculum after you've done it. Backwards curricula. That totally resonates with me from my years teaching. The problem I see is that you have to wait for that teachable moment when something presents itself. Then you have to sustain the interest. It's a lot of work and from my standpoint, it seems like it would be more work for homeschoolers than for schoolkids, which is something that I rarely feel about anything in education, which I usually feel is easier for homeschoolers. But I think it can be easier to sustain interest in project learning with a group than with individual kids - or at least, that's been my experience - even when the kids are the ones who provide the topics.

But I know what you mean about that spark. Is there a topic that *does* get them going? For us, I feel like our science program has been very top down and yet so driven by their spark of interest in it.

dbmamaz
04-22-2011, 12:25 AM
I also find my kids are often short on sparks. So i'm mostly settling for a regular, predictable schedule and trying to do things that are at least inoffensive. Raven kept asking how to spell words, so I brought out my spelling curriculum, and he was in tears . . . so I dropped that. But when I was showing him a science curriculum i was thinking of using, he voluntarily sat while i read it. So we continued, but it does have worksheets - which sometimes he's ok with, but not if it goes on too long. But he loves science and sometimes I think its worth pushing through something he doesnt mind so that when he's older, he has a solid enough basic understanding that he will find something that sparks, and he'll be ready.

yeah, i have some sort of weird mix between the philosophy of TWTM and the Moore's better late than early . .. but as long as we arent having any major rebellions, I keep pushing forward.

wow, i bet that was just more unhelpful rambling. its been that kinda night.

Kylie
04-22-2011, 03:09 AM
My Ds at least isn't short on sparks, it is more that he would prefer to do something else rather than what I have prepared...to a certain degree. He is always coming to me with questions and thoughts and I will generally just answer them or tell him we will cover that during XYZ! When really, if the interest is there then maybe we should be following through on that interest.

That is also one of the reasons why I have been building an extensive library at home so that I can offer books on a wide variety of topics when ever a spark arises....however it is also realising the difference to a question they want answered and a desrie to really learn more about something isn't it!

It's also not like they detest what I am doing, but they certainly don't come running when I tell them we are doing ABC! I mean just earlier today Ds walked past the replica mosiac we did for Sumer and said how cool it was!!! But at the time he really didn't want to do it....go figure!!!! I think I just need to allow myself to let the kids go off on their own tangents a little and not be so rigid with stuff.

My other concerns are the possiblity of a very disjointed 'project' if it is completely left to them. I am all for assisting, offering help advice etc etc but the whole idea of project based learning that is the child's project not ours and we simply need to be there to help them along with a nudge here and there only if needed and to supply whatever they ask for, books, dvd's craft equipment etc.

I've actually always been a bit of 'backwards planner' to a degree. Keeping track of what the kids have done instead of what I have planned for them to do, so it's not that I don't value that. It all comes back to me and being able to let go of the strings just slightly....I'm so all over the place with this, as you can tell from my disjointed natter ;-) But then for sure my dd will just want to do some damn project on fairies for goodness sakes...I am fairied out!!! The other issue is half baked projects going on. I mean they need to learn to start and work on something from beginning to end, but then their end may be completely different to mine ;-) lol

From day one I had envisioned the kids taking over and directing the majority of their education and this (if I take baby steps) is moving in that direction. I know for certain I do not want to be force feeding high schoolers and if I don't start slowly now I know is that where I am going to end up.

I think I'll try and sit down and talk to them and see what they think about it all.

hockeymom
04-22-2011, 04:42 AM
Great discussion. This definitely resonates.

I've struggled mightily with this and haven't yet found our happy balance. Like Farrar, I started our journey thinking we'd be more unschooly (not completely) while complementing my son's need for structure. What I've found, and this might not be helpful, is that if I leave too much to him he just doesn't know where to go with it. There is no lack of sparks but he needs directions to be in a box, if that makes any sense. He just can't figure out his own path even when he wants to learn something. It's a quirk of his personality that encompasses not only academics and learning but his play and sports as well.

I've decided to go a completely different direction than our eclectic style we've adopted and try a more boxed type curriculum to see if that doesn't put our lessons more in the terms he can understand (MBtP). I'm hopeful he'll get the structure he needs (today we must do X because the program says we must--that's something he can respect) yet allow plenty of space for natural learning within its boundaries, satisfying my need to see him stretch himself.

I think we are trying to reach similar goals and while my natural instinct would be to run with a more open learning environment, it just doesn't work with my kid. I'm looking forward to hearing how it plays out for you.

farrarwilliams
04-22-2011, 12:06 PM
Yeah, great thread.

I guess I see that my kids have lots of sparks, but I worry that I'll actually destroy those sparks if I make them into the formal learning stuff. Yet, I feel like the formal learning stuff is important. But if my kids were to show an interest in bugs, then I had them doing all their subjects through that (which, as I understand it, is one of the concepts behind truly project based learning, as opposed to something like unit studies) then they have to go from having an interest in bugs and some questions about bugs to counting and adding bugs (math), drawing bugs (art), writing about bugs, spelling different types of bugs, exploring the history of bugs, learning about the science of bugs... Well, you get the idea. Before I had kids, I knew a lot of kids who were stuck in the "little expert" phase and I can imagine that this sort of learning would be PERFECT for them. I sort of had the idea that most kids secretly wanted to be a little expert, but peer pressure, school, formal learning, etc. pushed it out of them. Well, my kids have completely dispelled me of that notion. They're interested in things and they go through phases of interest in stuff, but nothing like the sorts of obsessions that some kids get. In fact, by the time they've asked the question, sometimes they're ready for another one, but sometimes they couldn't care less.

So while I like the idea of integrating this more - having school and life be more together, which is sort of one of the things I feel is missing in some ways from our whole lives at the moment - I'm not sure it will work for us without falling apart and being more unschooly than I want to be. But I do try to encourage their sparks in other ways - in their free play and free time and just in their lives in general.

There was this article about creativity awhile back that made a big splash in the media. One of the quotes that stood out for me was this:

“…highly creative adults tended to grow up in families embodying opposites. Parents encouraged uniqueness, yet provided stability. They were highly responsive to kids’ needs, yet challenged kids to develop skills. This resulted in a sort of adaptability: in times of anxiousness, clear rules could reduce chaos—yet when kids were bored, they could seek change, too. In the space between anxiety and boredom was where creativity flourished.”

I guess one of the things that appeals to me about Reggio Emilia is exactly that - that it attempts to walk a line between freedom and rules by giving the kids the onus to really drive the topics and the learning, yet also attempts to rein that chaos in by having the adults help direct things. It's a fine line - one that unschooling doesn't really recognize. I don't feel like I can carry this out in our schooling per se, but I do feel like I'm trying to strike an overall balance between formal learning and free play and discovery in our lives. So for me, that has to be enough.

Okay, this is something I could talk about for ages. I hope other people have contributing thoughts.

dbmamaz
04-22-2011, 12:49 PM
Great quote! certainly what I strive for, but i'm afraid anxiety/fear tend to dampen creativity around here at times

CrazyCatLady
04-23-2011, 06:34 AM
Ahh, okay, I misunderstood :)

I understand trying to balance! In fact, for a long time this has been the hardest thing I've had to try to work out. My oldest needs more structure than I would, in theory, like to give him. Now I'm just starting to figure out that "Follow the child" means listening not just to what they say, but also to what their behavior is telling you. So the constant craving for TV and computer, the "button pushing", and all that was as much asking for learning as if he said he would like to do some math now.

But don't think I've got it all figured out!:D I am still trying to find the magic solution.

Kylie, it sounds like you want to build in more structure than a "free-for-all". Have you tried negotiated projects? (I'm new so I don't know what you've done already, sorry) They come to you with an idea or an topic they want to learn more about, and you negotiate a contract for what they will produce and when. You could even specify they have to cover at least one project in each subject area over whatever time period makes sense to you. Just another option to think about.

wife&mommy
04-24-2011, 01:06 PM
I feel this way often, too! I totally thought we would be more unschooly but I knew I couldn't do it radically. I wanted still a list of goals to accomplish, etc. but be really open to how we accomplished that. This year we did that, and while I think it went OK, I wanted a little more structure for next year. We decided to go with MBTP and we have been doing it a few weeks and I really think it is *perfect* for us. The kids can get creative with it but it still provides a structure and clear outlines if we need them.

I am SOOO so so so scared of ruining "the spark". My kids certainly have it right now and I don't want to do anything that may jeopardize this. I try not to talk about any of the work we do negatively at all and keep it really positive. The other day my son asked my husband to play something with him and my husband told my son, "No, mom is going to do some school work with you so we can't play right now." and I was upset! That is exactly the kind of thing I want to avoid. I mean I know it is a little thing, but I think that type of wording does have an effect. No he can't play with his dad before he goes to work because he has to do school. I know that is fine for some families, but for ME, I want us to work school into the day instead of working the day around school if that makes any sense. We still get it done, but we go about it differently. My take on it was go play with your dad, we can do school stuff after he leaves, ya know? And I don't even call it school... I just say hey we are going to do this. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think words have a lot of impact. :)

HeidiinCA
04-24-2011, 01:19 PM
This is such a great discussion! I hs'ed the first time around when my oldest were in 3rd and K, and my 3rd was 2-so I absolutely know where you're coming from. It was tricky to balance it all out. I'm a morning person-and my natural inclination was to school in the am, and then chill in the afternoon-but with a toddler in the house I needed to switch it up so we could do more "school" in the afternoon while he was napping. I loved the idea of child led and following rabbit trails-which we did, but I am WAY too anal retentive to be without a schedule and more formal "lessons". I did a mix of Explode the Code, Handwriting without Tears, some grammar programs, Math U See, some fun science experiments and FIAR. In retrospect, it was all good-but I definitely stressed about trying to make sure we were covering the basics (in case we sent them back to school-which we did, and they were ahead!) but also doing the "fun" that they wanted to check out. In retrospect, what we all remember from that year is FIAR, lots of field trips and tons of read -a-louds. Any way-obviously, no answers for you! But I'm sure you're doing great. I guess the best "advice" is to keep in mind what your overall goals are. For us, we wanted them reading, writing and at least "grade level" for math. And because our kids were still young, covering the basics really didn't take more than a few hours a day-leaving plenty of time for more fun exploration.

Valerie
04-24-2011, 07:11 PM
I am really enjoying this topic! I am pretty new to homeschooling, this is my first full year with three kids. (My oldest is on her second year at home - but is in 10th grade and mostly using OM materials. She chose them and likes the textbook approach.) But for my youngest two I am attracted to unschooling to an extent, but really more from the child-led standpoint and wanting to keep learning fun. We are currently using a variety of things for my 8 yo, but really focusing on reading (dyslexic), writing, and math right now. I am planning to start on MBTP this summer, and it sounds like it will be a good fit. I also wanted something that could take the "sparks" and help me to turn them into fun learning experiences, and this sounds it is what I need. I had not seen the Camp Creek Blog before reading this thread, but I am really enjoying reading it now.
Thanks for starting this discussion and sharing this information!

Stella M
04-26-2011, 12:53 AM
I think it's really hard to kill the spark :) Especially out of school. One thing I did take from unschooling is the focus on life long learning. It really takes the pressure off, knowing that you don't have to follow every little spark - a child has his or her whole life to follow through with their learning.

Skills, on the other hand, are totally my responsibility to follow through on now and maybe I'm mean, but I don't much care how fun it is learning to read or write, just that it gets done efficiently so they can get on with using their skills in a way that works for them.

Kylie, I know you can see all the little flaws in your homeschooling but from the outside it's easy to see that even without the perfect method your kids are going to grow up well-educated!

I've read the Camp Creek blog too but a while ago. I found the idea of keeping a running journal on the children's ideas and activities a bit odd. How can you even do that when you are homeschooling ? Direct, participate, observe and reflect at the same time ? Maybe with one...I don't know, it seemed a bit unworkable to me.

lakshmi
04-26-2011, 02:24 AM
Okay, I am going to comment before I go read the Camp Creek Blog, but I find it curious that as HS parents we all sort of saw ourselves as being unschooly. That makes me laugh, then the need for something to do sets in. I sort of liked workbooks and stuff when I was a kid, so maybe that rubs off on my kids. Of course at 5 & 6, school isn't much.

This thread has given me lots to think about. Maybe I am actually unschooling and just don't know it. But doesn't that mean that the kids are actually learning on their own? I see some of that, but it all sort of looks like play. I am working on building trust with the girls. Sounds silly, especially considering that I've always been good at follow through. If you do "A" then "B" will happen. BUT as they age, that if /then approach isn't working. One kid works well with "school" and the other doesn't. So I thought it was about trust.

Trusting to learn and be there even if we weren't "doing school" I have no idea what I am doing and after reading all these carefully considered, thoughtful responses I feel a bit like I am just blathering on. Projects and unit studies are a lot for me. All the projects we do seem to be dull and boring. And the whole concept of a lapbook looks hard and silly and rewarding all at the same time. ( I am throwing in lapbooks because that seems like a project to me.) More rambling.... I am stopping now.

Stella M
04-26-2011, 04:11 AM
Well, don't feel bad about not doing lapbooks Lakshmi! We've never done one here, to no ill-effect I can discern :)

Stella M
04-26-2011, 04:20 AM
I went back to the Camp Creek blog to check I was thinking of the right one. It's really interesting but the idea of the project journal doesn't speak to me at all.

More and more I think there isn't a 'right' method to home ed. There are just multiple methods; some educate a particular child more enjoyably and efficiently than others. There are so many variables - parent's temperament, child's temperament, interest, aptitude, support or lack of...sometimes it all hangs together and sometimes it all falls apart :)

Really, if your child is literate and numerate, and you have a decent relationship with him/her, how much of the rest is icing on the cake ? Nice if it pans out, but no-one will starve if it doesn't.

Sorry Kylie, that's a bit OTT of PBL.

CrazyCatLady
04-26-2011, 06:03 AM
That sounds like unschooling to me, lakshmi. At lest the non-radical-unschooling that I subscribe to! Top me it doesn't mean a complete lack of formal learning, it means looking at the child, and what he or she needs and wants and what they rest of the family needs and wants too. I don't think unschooling necessarily means the children learn everything on their own. (I know some people feel that way, but a lot of people who call themselves unschoolers do not) I think children are naturally drawn to learning from adults they respect and trust. It's how we have evolved, and it is survival instinct. That's why I like the term natural learning, because it doesn't necessarily rule out learning with textbooks or explicit teaching.

Having said that, I agree with Melissa that there isn't one right method and different children need different things.

farrarwilliams
04-26-2011, 09:57 AM
I'm with you Melissa about the project journal... (nice to see you back, by the way!). The idea that we should direct, observe, participate and reflect are all good concepts... but it does feel like project based learning asks us to do it all at once, which feels a bit overwhelming, if not impossible. I make separate time for us to stop and reflect (every two months when we update portfolios) and I find that's plenty.

Kylie
04-26-2011, 06:30 PM
interest in bugs and some questions about bugs to counting and adding bugs (math), drawing bugs (art), writing about bugs, spelling different types of bugs, exploring the history of bugs, learning about the science of bugs...

Ok so this is something that doesn't sit well with me. Why do I need to impose some arbritrary exercise upon the child for the sake of the topic? I get that the idea of project based learning is to learn as much about a topic as possible, BUT when I start dictating what they have to do then surely that would, in a great deal of cases kill the original spark. At the end of it all, the only real input the child has had is to come up with the idea of what to study in the first place and not exactly going with their own desires on it are they?

If on the other hand the project easily led itself to say 'story writing' about bugs, well yes it would and should be encouraged but not neccessarily enforced. I might as well continue on the path I am heading. I plan, I dictate, they do....and that sounds a lot harsher than what it really is ;-) LOL!

For me that is why I would continue on with a Math Program and Language Arts Program...project learning would be for everything else. :-)

Kylie
04-26-2011, 06:34 PM
Kylie, it sounds like you want to build in more structure than a "free-for-all". Have you tried negotiated projects? (I'm new so I don't know what you've done already, sorry) They come to you with an idea or an topic they want to learn more about, and you negotiate a contract for what they will produce and when. You could even specify they have to cover at least one project in each subject area over whatever time period makes sense to you. Just another option to think about.

Actually yes, this has been in my thoughts and probably, Negotiated Projects (I like that title ;-) ) is where I would start until I could see that all of us were comfortable with that type of learning.

However I haven't spoken to the kids about all of this yet. I chose to forget about this over our every long Easter Weekend and just enjoy some time with the family :-)

albeto
04-26-2011, 08:26 PM
I would still need the kids to do formal language and maths though, I simply can't let go of that.

That's what I used to think. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/14389275/And-Rithmetic-by-Daniel-Greenberg#fullscreen:on)

I'll let the article explain, but in my experience, waiting until the child is motivated and more mature has made all the difference in learning the same information in a fraction of the time. I figure if my children take community college classes or homeschool curriculum math and lang. arts starting at age 16, or even 18, they're no farther behind their cousin who is doing the same thing despite 13 years in a conventional school setting. Surprisingly, they are learning maths and language arts because language arts is how we communicate and they're learning to pay attention to details, and math is how things relate.

In the meantime, they're exploring some pretty fascinating things given the freedom to start and stop as they wish. Not only that, they're developing the kinds of social skills I learned after college, things like self-reliance and initiative and courage. My 11 ds called lego Mind Storms customer service to talk with someone there about his program. He's not a robot genius or anything, he just had a question he couldn't answer and new I couldn't help. So he called someone who could. Good grief, I think I was 25 before I could talk to an adult without feeling intimidated!


However I keep second guessing myself on the whole idea. What if there is no spark? What if they don't want to learn about anything?

Do you think that's likely? Did you offer them curriculums when they were 2 and 3 and 4 to show them things like ponies are sweet and huge tractors are cool and going fast in a wagon is thrilling but sliding down the stairs on a piece of cardboard is something that you can do even when it rains outside? Children are wired to play. We learn through play and play is natural. We can't not do it. What I'm learning is that play looks differently for a 13 yo than it does for a 3 yo but it still functions as a means of learning. At 3 play was pretending to be a grown up. At 13 it's the same thing. Plastic kitchen toys are replaced with classic literature and Life of Fred (because geometry is "cool").


What if they never pick up a history book ....ever?

There's the History Channel, there's Life Magazine photos, there are historical novels, there are songs and paintings and fashion and machinery and websites and more importantly, there are people to ask! These things are all tools, and so too are books. And libraries have tons of 'em! When a tool is a means to an end (a resource to satisfy a curiosity or satisfy an interest), there isn't the same stigma attached to it as when it's a requirement to satisfy someone else's interest. My 11 asked us the other night about communism and Russia and the Cold War. It was about a 5 min conversation but one that will be threaded into the next time that subject comes up. Eventually, all these events will weave a knowledge of 20th century history. It will be added to the Military Museum we visited weeks ago when he looked at the different guns (machines are cool) and I looked at the photographs (history is cool) and we noticed there's a huge difference between the Spanish American War and Vietnam.

All these little things we noticed are slowly but surely woven into the Big Picture. It's just out of sync with the state scope and sequence of 20th century history. Dd, otoh, was telling us about her steampunk book that takes place in an alternate WWI and fashion is the segue to history for her as machinery is for her brother. Her other brother gets it through medical history because physiology is his main interest.



What if? What if? What if? I'm not sure if there are simply too many what if's for me to even consider this route.

Oh, I KNOW! The most helpful thing I'd heard was the idea of deschooling. One month of deschooling (treat it like summer break) for each year of school. Only I'd heard this applied to the child but for the first time I recently heard it apply to the parent. That means for me, 13 years of elementary and secondary school followed by four years of college. That means 17 months for me to stop seeing events compartmentalized (history, maths, language arts) and start seeing a life lived learning (including non subjects like social skills and confidence and creativity and thinking outside the box to find alternative solutions to things I never thought of as problematic but are because they're hindering creativity).



I also realise that we can trial this for a year or so and see how it all goes there's nothing saying we can't go back, but then I feel we would have wasted another year!

I will admit that I haven't read the blog you reference but as I understand Life Without a School Curriculum, the time isn't wasted because it's being used in a very productive way - fostering and strengthening relationships between family and child and his or her world.


Really I know this is a decision only I can make but I value your thoughts and opinions on child directed investigative learning. And if any of you have gone from a parent directed to a more child directed approach. Especially in regards to making your self 'available' to the children. I think that is my biggest struggle, being able to say yes and being available to aid them in getting their ideas off the ground.

Goodness I rambled. I'm so sorry. I've been coming back to this all day, in between times spent with my kids. My kids first went to public school, then parochial school, then came home to school (one at a time, classical curriculum) and I've tweaked and tweaked and tweaked until I got to the point where I stopped asking them to do things for school. Instead, I watch them, I participate with them in their interests, I do what I can to spoil them with experiences (by saying "yes" to their requests as much as possible). I read about unschooling, I read about psychology (only because my oldest is a neurology buff), I learn about human development and find examples of learning in my kids' naturally inspired day.

For example, today we biked downtown twice, once for lunch, the second time to go to the bead store (we ran out of time the first time and had to get to a guitar lesson). While eating hot dogs for lunch we talked about the Royal Wedding coming up. Not so much about the royal wedding, but about Princess Di, life in the 80's, Prince Charles and his affection for Camilla and how that must have felt for Lady Di, self-cutting, depression, paparazzi, and on and on.

The wedding will be televised live on the west coast at something like 2 am. My kids want to stay up. Well, I know there's not much "educational value" in watching a wedding at 2:00am, but there is some great value, imo, in making memories with Mom (and Dad, who will likely be snoring by then) snuggled up on the couch, drinking herbal tea and munching popcorn and watching tv at the time most decent folk are sleeping. That's a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity and the only reason I would say no is because it's late. But who says we have to get up early in the morning? Why not say "yes" and give them this experience? Eventually more information will be woven into this experience, like medieval history, the feudal system, cultural revolutions, the Beatles, those bear-fur hats and the Caspian War, military customs, philanthropy, land minds in Vietnam and the survivors who benefited from Lady Di's attention to the cause. Egads, that's a lot to miss out on in a way that will be not only fun to learn but mean something because it will be associated with the memory of snuggling on the couch in the middle of the night while most decent people are asleep. Just us, our family, doing the unexpected, bonding.

Not only is the education getting in there, little by little, more importantly, imo, relationships and bonding is getting in there. I say this is more important because, like my college roommate's father once told her, "Any shmuck can pick up a book and learn - I'm sending you to college to schmooze with people and get ahead in life." So he was a character but the message always stayed with me. Anyone can learn by reading a book (or experiencing an event). After all, isn't this why we educate at home? We know it isn't the teacher that is the important ingredient. But making relationships and knowing how to be trustworthy, compassionate, courteous, motivated, creative, analytical, skeptical, and look at the world with a child-like wonder is the kind of skills that separate successful people from 9-5 workers who need to be reminded by bosses to please be on time and don't answer your cell phone when talking with a customer.


Gee I'm not sure if any of that has made sense lol!

I was right there where you are. It took a lot of scrutiny to decide to take this path. So far, I'm so pleased. My kids are learning things I think will make their lives enjoyable and we're all enjoying each other much more in general because the stress has been cut down. Things they can't learn in a textbook or worksheets or on my schedule. I don't expect this time to be wasted, but if I'm wrong, I know there are resources that will pick up the pieces, the academic pieces. I don't think I'm wrong because at age 13 I'm starting to see my dd interested in those things that really are more academic in nature. It's more cerebral "play" and she enjoys it. And why not? She's wired to play and learning happens through play.

dbmamaz
04-26-2011, 08:47 PM
Albeto, your post there is really inspiring BUT . . . I have struggled with this a lot. I read one article which really resonated with me saying that, for unschooling to really 'work', your kids have to be fairly (ack, that word again - entreprenuerial, spelled wrong tho). My younger child may be, but my older one isnt, and I wasnt. I seriously remember being SO grateful when people spent time planning things for me to do. also, my kids are so video-game addicted that i would have to address that directly, whereas now its just a byproduct of school time (no non-approved electronics during school time). My kids are really happier on the weekdays when we have organized activities than they are on the weekends when they have totally unstructured time.

oh, and another problem . . . i dont know history. today my 7 yo asked me a question about history we havent covered yet . . .and I had NO idea. and no, they WONT come with me to the computer to look it up unless i FORCE them and then they wont pay attention. I mean, i do have to force them to come to the table to read the history book for 10 minutes, but its something we do together away from a screen, so they WILL engage with it. When i try to look things up on a computer, they wander off. They dont have the attention span.

of course, the older one is bipolar and autistic and the younger one . . . i have no idea. but he couldnt function in a classroom at all. He likes Time4Learning and he likes reading both fiction and non-fiction books in his bed with me . . . so thats most of what we do.

and me, I love structure. So . . . while this unschooling model is a revelation that works great for many people . . . its just not for everyone.

albeto
04-26-2011, 09:05 PM
This thread has given me lots to think about. Maybe I am actually unschooling and just don't know it. But doesn't that mean that the kids are actually learning on their own? I see some of that, but it all sort of looks like play.

It's how all animals learn as they mature and humans are no exception. No one teaches the preschooler how to play Mommy or Time Travel Cowboy or Aardvark or Princess Unicorn Fairies, but these fantasies all have value. They allow the child to process dangers in their world within the safety and security of their boundaries. Time Travel Cowboys can be shot by Martians but the next second they jump up again and are off. They learn how to lead, how to follow, how to compromise, how to incorporate their favorite books and tv shows into a novel setting. They learn how to balance when running really fast over a dirt hill and how to handle disappointments that inevitably come up.


I am working on building trust with the girls. Sounds silly, especially considering that I've always been good at follow through. If you do "A" then "B" will happen. BUT as they age, that if /then approach isn't working. One kid works well with "school" and the other doesn't. So I thought it was about trust.

Letting go of a curriculum has allowed me to let go of authority for the sake of control. Instead, my kids are learning to come to me because they appreciate my advice and counsel and support and compassion when something goes wrong. There are fewer battles because I'm supporting them, they're not supporting me and my agenda. That means I've got to let go a lot of my own desires in the name of compromise, but the benefit of that so far has been kids who notice when I want something and go out of their way to pamper me simply because they feel more affection.

Besides, I feel personally, that raising a child as a child for 2 or 3 years and then expecting them to behave like a young adult isn't respecting them or the process of childhood. I didn't consider crying a temper tantrum when they were hungry and wanted to nurse, even if I knew they weren't really hungry. It wasn't an imposition on my time and body because it was a bonding experience and pleasurable. When they were done and hopped off my lap and ran off without nary a look back at me, I didn't feel left out. I felt proud to see them go with confidence. I think 13 is the same as 3 in that way. Clearly, I don't nurse a 13 yo any more, but I do stop what I'm doing and give her my undivided attention if I can, giving her that kind of emotional nourishment she needs to go without looking back, with confidence.


Trusting to learn and be there even if we weren't "doing school" I have no idea what I am doing and after reading all these carefully considered, thoughtful responses I feel a bit like I am just blathering on.

Projects and unit studies are a lot for me. All the projects we do seem to be dull and boring. And the whole concept of a lapbook looks hard and silly and rewarding all at the same time. ( I am throwing in lapbooks because that seems like a project to me.) More rambling.... I am stopping now.

When my mil was visiting she asked if the kids were going to do reports on the things they enjoyed. Dd was playing a lot of Rock Band Wii, Beatles. Will she do a report on the Beatles? Well, not if I want her to continue enjoying learning about the Beatles for the sake of enjoyment. I could have her do a power point presentation and correct her spelling and require she uses three different sources of information (only two can be internet), require she puts dates of major political events at the time to show her knowledge of British or European or 20th Century History. Or...I could let her tell me as she finds any excuse, what she's learned. And when we come across something that reminds us of the Beatles, a song or a hair style, or the date 1969, we notice that there are other things that are associated with that song, that hair style or that date.

History is everywhere, I can't not see it. My kids can't avoid it as long as they live with me. Science is everywhere and dh can't not see it. They can't avoid knowing general natural history but the boys are interested in scientific things anyway. My oldest is a physiology nut. Dh is an evolutionary entomologist so evolution is kind of a second language around here. Wondering how the limbic system evolved to regulate music with an emotional response is interesting because evolution is interesting. My dd is more creative and artistic in her interests but she can't escape science. My sons will appreciate classical music and impressionist art and funky reggae because she can't not see art everywhere and that's what she talks about. My youngest is an engineering fan so he talks about mechanics and math. We can't escape it. Because we spend a lot of time together, we share each others interests because, well, it's kind of interesting!

My kids are leaning to trust each other in a new way. They're each little experts at something and therefor have valuable information to hear. Also, because our days are organized around their interests, we have lots of opportunities to support each other, comfort each other, inspire each other, and generally learn to trust each other and learn what it means to be trustworthy.

farrarwilliams
04-26-2011, 09:50 PM
It's funny how we often start in one place and end in another. My initial interest in education started with two books - Summerhill and The Teenage Liberation Handbook, both read long before I had kids or even a proper job. I really thought I would end up unschooling. And then I worked in alternative schools - in one place where I could do anything I wanted practically - and I slowly got more and more comfortable with structure and have seen the value of it more and more for kids, relationships, quality of learning, etc. I'm absolutely still really influenced by those first two books - and by wanting to help kids find that spark and be lifelong learners and all that. But I've moved away from that in other ways.

But Albeto, you obviously went the other direction. But that's cool too. :D

Ariadne
04-26-2011, 10:18 PM
Albeto, did any of your kids go through a stage of wanting to be led more? Of being very uncomfortable with the idea of "driving"? Yeah, I've heard of people saying that is a sign of "deschooling", or whatever the term is. I'm not so convinced that's it's not just what Cara said above, just a lack of entrepreneurial spirit.

I don't have kids itching to have lots of free time. Well, maybe one. Not the other two.

albeto
04-26-2011, 10:19 PM
Albeto, your post there is really inspiring BUT . . .

I hope I don't come across as suggesting this is *the* way to go. I'm trying only to share my experiences, not convince anyone to do what we do.


I have struggled with this a lot. I read one article which really resonated with me saying that, for unschooling to really 'work', your kids have to be fairly (ack, that word again - entreprenuerial, spelled wrong tho). My younger child may be, but my older one isnt, and I wasnt. I seriously remember being SO grateful when people spent time planning things for me to do.

None of my kids are entrepreneurial either and neither am I. I expect (and hope) my kids will pursue college degrees. I think they expect it as well. Their interests involve classical education. I just think they can get to college another way.


also, my kids are so video-game addicted that i would have to address that directly, whereas now its just a byproduct of school time (no non-approved electronics during school time). My kids are really happier on the weekdays when we have organized activities than they are on the weekends when they have totally unstructured time.

We had this experience as well. It was a long transition and I didn't realize I was working towards unschooling but I don't find that any more. Again, I don't mean to suggest you'd have the same experience, but for us that lost feeling didn't last when the kids started to take their interests more seriously and we started to explore them together.


oh, and another problem . . . i dont know history. today my 7 yo asked me a question about history we havent covered yet . . .and I had NO idea. and no, they WONT come with me to the computer to look it up unless i FORCE them and then they wont pay attention. I mean, i do have to force them to come to the table to read the history book for 10 minutes, but its something we do together away from a screen, so they WILL engage with it. When i try to look things up on a computer, they wander off. They dont have the attention span.

Mine don't either! I had to learn to stop giving a lecture or try to convince them to look it up. I found that when I thought I was giving them information, in reality I was teaching them to not ask me because I was nagging them about stuff they weren't interested in. Now I give them the short answer, same as if any friend asked me a question. I'm finding as their attention spans increase and as they find themselves motivated to learn something, they spend the time learning.


of course, the older one is bipolar and autistic and the younger one . . . i have no idea. but he couldnt function in a classroom at all. He likes Time4Learning and he likes reading both fiction and non-fiction books in his bed with me . . . so thats most of what we do.

and me, I love structure. So . . . while this unschooling model is a revelation that works great for many people . . . its just not for everyone.

My oldest is PDD-NOS and his general anxiety is nearly insurmountable. Mental health issues really need individual attention and I know just enough to know that when you know one kid with autism, you know one kid with autism. The bottom line is you know what works for your family.

albeto
04-26-2011, 10:31 PM
Albeto, did any of your kids go through a stage of wanting to be led more? Of being very uncomfortable with the idea of "driving"? Yeah, I've heard of people saying that is a sign of "deschooling", or whatever the term is. I'm not so convinced that's it's not just what Cara said above, just a lack of entrepreneurial spirit.

I don't have kids itching to have lots of free time. Well, maybe one. Not the other two.

Yes. My dd is just now, after a couple months of not asking her to do school work, deciding what she wants to do with her time. She still feels a bit restless, feels like she's not doing enough, but one of the reasons we moved towards unschooling was because when she'd express this, I'd offer her [what I thought was] great school projects and ideas and she just didn't want to. It was hard. It was confusing. It was boring. But she didn't know what else to do. I spend more time with her than anyone else, "playing" along side with her, seeing what it is she gravitates towards. She's got a pattern too (music and art) and she's just now learning to be proactive in doing what she likes rather than to waiting to be instructed.

Kylie
04-26-2011, 11:02 PM
That's what I used to think. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/14389275/And-Rithmetic-by-Daniel-Greenberg#fullscreen:on)

I'll let the article explain, but in my experience, waiting until the child is motivated and more mature has made all the difference in learning the same information in a fraction of the time. I figure if my children take community college classes or homeschool curriculum math and lang. arts starting at age 16, or even 18, they're no farther behind their cousin who is doing the same thing despite 13 years in a conventional school setting. Surprisingly, they are learning maths and language arts because language arts is how we communicate and they're learning to pay attention to details, and math is how things relate.



Ok amazing article, fabulous....for those kids that were in a group where no doubt one or two decided they wanted to learn arithmetic and the others followed suit. What if one child (at home) NEVER chooses to do that? I wholeheartedly see where true unschooling with a loving, attentive, giving parent could/would be wonderful for all involved. In fact I never really had an argument against it when unschooling happens in the environment I described.

I also have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that 12 long years of math could easily be completed in 1. Just as Ruth Beechick professes that 12 long years of grammar can easily be completed in about 12 weeks if the child is mature and ready enough to tackle it ;-) ..... that's not to say that one should simply leave those things to chance. We've barely done any grammar and my DS knows quite a bit though.

I am thoroughly enjoying reading your replies so please don't stop as unschoolers such as yourself really make all of us homeschoolers take a closer look at what we are doing at home. One thing that has really worked for us is reducing our bookwork to 3 days a week for 2 hours (9 yr old) 1 hour (6 yr old, nearly 7). Everyone is happier and more free with that set up.

If parents continue to educate themselves about learning and how children learn then maybe one day unschooling won't seem so radical and more and more homeschoolers will be unschoolers.....maybe just in time for my grandkids hehehehe

From day one I have always hoped that by the time my kids were entering high school age they would be self directed learners and like I said earlier if I continue to 'feed' them their education they will never go looking for it, or atleast they won't be much different than any other kid in school IMHO anyway. So there is this huge part of my heart and my head that knows this could work but then my altered reality hits me like a ton of bricks. My MIL teacher, my dh (who loves HSing but...) and any other outsider I might meet that is astounded that my nearly 7 year old doesn't know all of her letter sounds...shock horror, even other homeschoolers frown on things like that.

The pressure is enormous and unless you can let go of that unschooling would never work because mum would be a pressure cooker waiting to explode and the poor kids would cope that every so often...how's that any better than having them do a small amount of work a few days a week...everyone would be tense wondering when mum is going to crack it because they are spending all day playing Lego's ;-)

Anyway, I am totally rambling now and as you can so I'm no further along in my thoughts on this than what I was when I first posted.

Stella M
04-27-2011, 01:33 AM
I think it's OK to choose to have some structure. Just as it's OK not to.
And it's OK if some of the time no-one is super keen.
Everyone has fallow time. It's OK if the spark isn't a bonfire yet. Or ever :)

When I get overwhelmed with ideas I go straight back to relationships.
What approach builds our relationship ?
Which one tears it down ?

And being self-directed is just one worthy goal among many, imo.

Kylie
04-27-2011, 02:22 AM
Thanks Melissa, succinct and well said :-)

farrarwilliams
04-27-2011, 08:56 AM
Yes, very well said, Melissa! I agree. The relationships are so the center of things.

QueenBee
04-27-2011, 10:21 AM
It's funny how we often start in one place and end in another. My initial interest in education started with two books - Summerhill and The Teenage Liberation Handbook, both read long before I had kids or even a proper job. I really thought I would end up unschooling.

I'm chiming in late as I just saw this thread - great thread!

I'm very similar to Farrar - I started out thinking I would be an unschooler. I was inspired to homeschool by unschooling books, etc. And we are now completely not unschoolers. I have actually become more structured than I thought I would - I think for me it was having four children in under four years that did it. Even as toddlers I kept a loose structure in terms of the day b/c I would lose it. I know unschoolers can have structure - just a different type of structure - but it didn't work for me. I think the looming questions got to me. I respect people that can make it work. And like Farrar, the unschoolers I met up with scared me. We were living in the DC-area at the time and I knew a far greater number of unschoolers then. And I was not okay with what I saw going on. So it turned me off. Last year I read an interesting thread on this board and it resonated with me - basically, a poster commented that unschooler middle/high school worked for her whereas it didn't in the early years. I think we'll probably head more that way.

Anyway, Kylie - I wish you the best of luck with whatever you end up doing. I agree with what you wrote about trying something out and if it doesn't work you can always try something different. Nothing is set in stone. You have to do what keeps you sane and happy, and I think children respond the best when their environment is happy, loving and as stress-free as possible, whether that means traditional schooling, unschooling or anything in between. =)

dbmamaz
04-27-2011, 11:17 AM
True - i once had someone respond to me by suggesting how wonderful unschooling would be for me and, once again, i explained all my reasons for not being unschooler and how well this is working for my kids and that my oldest, at least, is vehemently against the idea as well - and she responded that for her, she was doing school-at-home in the worst way and everyone was miserable, and when someone told her about unschooling it was a lifesaver - but I obviously had already found something that WAS working for us. I do often get defensive (i'm sure you guys havent noticed lol) but also, it has to work for ME . . . when i dont have a structure, i tend to forget all about the kids and get too wrapped up in my own stuff - they really need more of me than that.

farrarwilliams
04-27-2011, 11:47 AM
I We were living in the DC-area at the time and I knew a far greater number of unschoolers then. And I was not okay with what I saw going on. So it turned me off.

Hehe. We saw the same unschoolers!

Actually, I know some unschoolers who are really cool and totally great with their kids. But I've met others who say things like, "We don't believe in any rules" and I want to run away - FAST!

Ariadne
04-27-2011, 01:17 PM
when i dont have a structure, i tend to forget all about the kids and get too wrapped up in my own stuff - they really need more of me than that.Thank you for your honesty. I'm right there with you because one of my biggest impediments to relaxing even more than we have is my sticktoitiveness. You said it perfectly: I get too wrapped up in my own stuff. I get very, very focused on whatever it is I'm doing or learning, and I find it very hard to shift. When this happens I generally find the kitchen a wreck and everyone fighting. So I must stay engaged, and providing structure has been the only way I know how to do that.

I wish I really understood more of the nuts and bolts of how I can stay engaged with the kids when there isn't someone playing the leader role, usually me.

dbmamaz
04-27-2011, 02:45 PM
Natalie, I think its a personality thing, really. LIke how some people's kids wanted more time to do their creative projects and other peoples kids wanted to be allowed to read more advanced books . . .

Kylie
04-27-2011, 05:48 PM
Queen Bee - oh yes the looming questions get me too, right now I cam just answer them where I can, I felt that if we were unschoolers or project based learners I would be required to do more

Natalie and Cara - me too a tee, even now with our structure I always have to remind myself that my number one job is the kids, our relationship and their education. I NEED the curriculum and structure to atleast keep me on track somewhat, but I'm not bound by it.

Anyway the kids and I have started discussing this a little, we'll continue chatting about it and I have loved hearing all of your thoughts on this topic, thanks so much for all of the chiming in ya'll did on it :-)

albeto
04-27-2011, 08:08 PM
You said it perfectly: I get too wrapped up in my own stuff. I get very, very focused on whatever it is I'm doing or learning, and I find it very hard to shift.

What? Momma doesn't get a project?
<stomps feet>



I wish I really understood more of the nuts and bolts of how I can stay engaged with the kids when there isn't someone playing the leader role, usually me.

In essence, you teach them to be their own leaders. You'd provide guidance rather than authority. You'd provide help when they need it and above all, you'd provide your attention which would strengthen the relationship to the point where they don't think twice about cleaning up after themselves or each other, or even you, because that's just what people who love each other and enjoy each other's company do.

Ariadne
04-27-2011, 08:13 PM
you'd provide your attention which would strengthen the relationship to the point where they don't think twice about cleaning up after themselves or each other, or even you, because that's just what people who love each other and enjoy each other's company do.Did you anticipate this?

farrarwilliams
04-27-2011, 09:15 PM
In essence, you teach them to be their own leaders. You'd provide guidance rather than authority. You'd provide help when they need it and above all, you'd provide your attention which would strengthen the relationship to the point where they don't think twice about cleaning up after themselves or each other, or even you, because that's just what people who love each other and enjoy each other's company do.

I sort of believe this too. And I'm hesitant to take the conversation too far off track, because it's been so good! However, I think a lot of APish, unschooly people say things like this but then expect that a belief in this sort of attention and respect will just magically lead to it happening. To me, that's a bit like "The Secret." Just willing yourself to win the lottery, does not lead to winning the lottery. And just believing that mutual respect and positive attention will lead to kids taking charge of their own learning, cleaning up after themselves, respecting boundaries, etc. - well, it might work for some, but I don't think it works for most. I've seen too many parents try to plead with their kids into getting them to clean up, stop being nasty or even stop being violent without any willingness to show authority and the kids don't stop, even though the parents are clearly showing a lot of respect. It just makes me sad because respect has to be a two way street.

Cleaning up, respecting others, respecting property, asking questions, taking initiative, etc. are all are habits that I'm perfectly willing to be a bit top down about - because they're important. But then I give them that respect and attention and that sustains those efforts so that I don't have to nag them about it, they don't question it because they understand it, and as they grow up, they transfer that sort of understanding to new situations naturally and I can be less authoritative on a daily basis while still having kids who are kind, interested and respectful. I guess I would rather exert a little authority when they're young so that they form good habits and are better equipped to make their own decisions when they get older. I've seen kids who had no boundaries when they got to be teenagers and it scared the crap out of me, honestly. Kids are resilient so I assume there's nothing they can't overcome, but the habits of disrespect - for others, for property, for learning and inquiry are so ingrained by then. It can take a serious intervention to change that dynamic. I won't let my kids be those kids.

dbmamaz
04-27-2011, 09:59 PM
But i do seriously believe that there are kids who need more guidance and kids who need less, or at least different guidance. I think thats one of the balancing acts as a parent, is to figure out when your kids need more and when they need less, and not just when you WANT to give more and when you WANT to give less.

and . . .there are things we cant teach because we still havent learned ourselves. I will never be able to give my children the habit of neatness. I have struggled and struggled, but its not something i've managed to master (yes, i've tried flylady). I push myself every day to try to be the parent I want my children to have, but there's only so much I can grow in a day, or even a year.

Stella M
04-27-2011, 10:53 PM
So much of it is temperament. I have a child who really schools herself. I just gather or suggest the materials and help her out with tricky bits. She is a lovely person who helps out, works hard, respects others, is family focused. Then there are the other two...I mean, they're lovely too but boy! they need a whole lot more...guidance ? Structure ? Nagging ? :) :) :)

albeto
04-28-2011, 01:26 AM
Did you anticipate this?

I'm watching it happen. It blows my mind, to tell you the truth!

Kids who would say, "That's not miiiiiiine! I'm not picking it up" become kids who say, "Mom, you look hot. Would you like a glass of water?" Kids who used to walk past dishes are now kids who will bring all of them to the sink, regardless of who used what, simply because I asked for some help. It's a different kind of relationship, one that's more team oriented than hierarchical and I'm finding they preserve their control less because it's not threatened, if that makes sense.

Stella M
04-28-2011, 01:39 AM
It does make sense. The theory of unschooling makes sense to me. We had some great and meaningful times/progress in our home when we were unschooling but...like all theories, it sometimes falls apart when it hits 'life'. Sounds like that's not the case in your home - more power to you! It's always nice to read the unschooling success stories :)

albeto
04-28-2011, 01:40 AM
I sort of believe this too. And I'm hesitant to take the conversation too far off track, because it's been so good! However, I think a lot of APish, unschooly people say things like this but then expect that a belief in this sort of attention and respect will just magically lead to it happening. To me, that's a bit like "The Secret." Just willing yourself to win the lottery, does not lead to winning the lottery. And just believing that mutual respect and positive attention will lead to kids taking charge of their own learning, cleaning up after themselves, respecting boundaries, etc. - well, it might work for some, but I don't think it works for most. I've seen too many parents try to plead with their kids into getting them to clean up, stop being nasty or even stop being violent without any willingness to show authority and the kids don't stop, even though the parents are clearly showing a lot of respect. It just makes me sad because respect has to be a two way street.

Not to detract from the topic any more than I already have, but I've yet to come across any unschooler who advocates this kind of approach. What I'm learning is very time intensive and very much hands-on. It's a proactive way of doing things that doesn't rely on hope or the power of one's will.

Stella M
04-28-2011, 01:51 AM
I agree that unschooling well requires a lot of commitment, energy, thoughtfulness and time, which it sounds like you have in spades, albeto! I have a friend who is a brilliant, wonderful unschooler http://respectlovelearning.blogspot.com

Sadly, some people do call themselves 'unschoolers' without any of the above being evident. Hopefully they're a minority. And radical unschooling - which can be quite rigid in practice - does put a lot of people off unfortunately.

I think it's possible to not unschool and be somewhat more top down in approach and still be respectful of one's children and their processes and build strong relationships.

dbmamaz
04-28-2011, 11:41 AM
Albeto, I have one person who is a sort-of freind, who moved here a year and a half ago, just as I was starting to home school. She is a radical unschooler and her philosophy has been a major part of what made us not REALLY freinds. She insults people who talk about curriculum. She constantly complains about her kids, although she occasionally seems happy when they do something like cook for themselves or perform music at church. She has told me that most of their learning has come from role-playing games (which she and her husband have been doing for 20 years) and television. When she reminds her youngest that he cant come to our house she always has some sort of implication in her tone that 'your poor freind has to stay on a SCHEDULE'. They wouldnt let my son go in to their son's room because it was too dirty . . . but they just kept belittling him for it instead of working with him. She tells me that if they arent awake for dinner, thats their problem and she doenst care if they eat or not.

I spent a lot of time with them when they first moved here, and even started a park day with her. But the number of people who returned dwindled (and i felt some of it was because of how aggressive she was with her unschooling philosophy), and she would never tell me if she was coming or not, so there were days it was just me and my kids sitting in the park by ourselves and I finally gave up.

That was my first real exposure to 'unschooling' and perhaps that helps you understand why I have a generally negative reaction to the word.

albeto
04-28-2011, 02:10 PM
That was my first real exposure to 'unschooling' and perhaps that helps you understand why I have a generally negative reaction to the word.

Yikes.

My sister has a teaching credential and for years after her children were born she worked at a charter school with homeschoolers. She made sure kids were learning academic skills on target and were accountable to the state standards (because the charter school is public). She told me of parents who made excuses for their kids not doing work (any work), kids who couldn't read at high school age, kids who couldn't be bothered with meeting her as their teacher, having one piece of work (obviously scribbled with no effort). This doesn't reflect on all homeschoolers of course, but I'm sure these families are terrible examples that turn many people off homeschooling. Just to say, I totally understand your opinion and I hope I don't come across as sounding like I'm trying to convince anyone. I'm just trying to share our experiences.

dbmamaz
04-28-2011, 02:17 PM
(well, i have to admit, my 7 yo doesnt really write much at all . . . but i'm trying to work on it . . .at least he's reading well now)