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View Full Version : Washington Post article on unschooling and...eating??



Firefly_Mom
04-27-2010, 08:46 PM
Yet another in the long line of unschooling articles that have come about due to the hatchet job, oops, I mean "well researched and balanced segment" on unschooling that aired on GMA last week. This one is titled: "How do unschoolers learn what to eat?" (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2010/04/how_do_unschoolers_learn_what.html)

I'm not even sure where to start with this thing. I know it was meant to be serious, but I couldn't help but laugh and be puzzled - often at the same time. Let us set aside, for a moment, the fact that the question posed was asked in earnest. I couldn't help chuckling at the line "especially as we await delivery of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans." [emphasis mine] Does anyone pay attention to this anymore? Besides the lobbyists, I mean. I again snickered when I saw the poll: Do humans need to be taught what to eat? [again - emphasis mine] Oh, I don't even know where to go with this one!

Well, at least it's not another anti-unschooling piece. :p

Shoe
04-27-2010, 08:52 PM
I am really not sure what to make of that article...it left me scratching my head...and laughing...

Snoopy
04-27-2010, 10:29 PM
I read the title to my husband (who is far from being an unschooler) and he couldn't believe that it was a real article, not something from The Onion!

I think that the issue of whether kids will make the "right" nutritional choices when left to their own devices is interesting, but it seems like a big stretch to segue into it from the radical unschooling article. To me it sounds like she's trying to drive traffic to her blog post by linking it to an article that probably generated lots of traffic to the site.

Interestingly, each of my kids would have a different approach if left to their own devices. As it is, I cook dinner and they have to eat what's on their plates, but they make their own breakfast and pack their own lunches. I provide healthy and unhealthy snacks and they eat what they pretty much want, as long as they ask if they can have a snack first (and if it's too close to mealtime, I tell them no). At any given time, we have fruit, carrots and cukes, yogurt, granola bars, cereal bars, cookies, crackers, popcorn, ice cream... available to the kids.

Noah, free from the influence of his peers because he is homeschooled and younger, most often makes healthy choices. He will have 3 cookies but not half a box. He will, most of the time, choose a piece of fruit over a sweet. He makes his own lunch and it's usually a bologna sandwich (with or without cheese), and lots of fruit. He will snack on carrots in the car.

His siblings, not so much. It's all about packaged snacks (popcorn, crackers, cookies, icecream, etc...). They go to school so are more influenced by what their friends eat, what they see advertised around them, and what's convenient: mac and cheese, pizza, fast-food type of food.

So I would say that YES, homeschooling seems to have had a positive effect on my son's diet. After all, if there are no chicken nuggets/pizza/fries available at home, he won't get to eat them. We are not unschoolers and definitely NOT radical unschoolers in any part of our life (shudder!) but he is allowed to make his own food choice a lot of the time and he chooses healthier foods than his siblings who go to p.s. Maybe the solution to the "public health crisis" is to promote homeschooling more?

Firefly_Mom
04-27-2010, 11:13 PM
Maybe the solution to the "public health crisis" is to promote homeschooling more?

Hehe - maybe! We do lean towards unschooling (not radical unschooling) and we don't really put limits on how much or when our son can eat. Of course, this was true even when we he was in public school, so I don't think it has much to do with our style of homeschooling. He has always been a voracious eater (even more so now that he's a teen!) and typically eats 4 full meals a day, plus snacks. He generally chooses healthy food, but we also rarely have junk food on hand. Part of the reason for this is because we both have food allergies/intolerances, so most processed foods are out for us anyway. The only time I limit how much he can have of something is when I want to ensure that I get some! ;)

Riceball_Mommy
04-27-2010, 11:28 PM
I let my daughter pick out what she wants to eat usually. I'm kind of going the opposite route of what I had with my parents growing up. What I make for dinner is an option but if she wants left overs, soup, or something else she can have that. Like most of you have said, I just try to make healthy options available and let her choose for herself.

Also how many people really do pay attention to those guidelines? I think more people pay attention to the latest diet trends.

JinxieFox
04-28-2010, 04:32 AM
What a silly article! I am so sick and tired of all this parent-bashing! Sure, I look at some parents and think, "People should have to take a test to become a parent." But those are personal opinions about individuals. I think that all this parent-hating in the media needs to stop! I just don't get it... this trend to distrust and mistrust parents. It's really insulting. Blech! to the people writing these articles and perpetuating the idea that somehow parents are incapable of parenting.

As for meals, I basically give my son either-or choices for meals, although not necessarily every single day. When I do feel like planning a menu for the week, I always make sure to include something I know he enjoys and would choose on his own. So we have a little of both. But his meal choices, when given, certainly aren't "crap or crap". Ha ha.

dbmamaz
04-28-2010, 10:05 AM
I think this was specifically in response to the first video about radical unschooling, where there was a clip of a kid eating a chocolate donut, and a parent saying, oh, thats what you're having for breakfast, ok. And of course, I'm thinking, even before we went off gluten, I bought donuts about once every 2 months . . . so, if you are worried about a kid eating nothing but chocolate donuts for breakfast, shouldnt you be wondering about how much junk the parents are buying? I put this on a fb link to this article, too - my mom had a degree in nutrition and she said that in studies, toddlers who are given a broad variety of healthy foods, will choose a perfectly balanced diet over the space of the day. So if you are keeping the house stocked with as much addictive junk (msg and hfcs) as the kids are willing to eat, and you arent making healthy, tasty meals and you arent keeping appealing healthy foods around, you could have a problem. But people who arent sucking down fast food usually will, if given options, choose a healthy variety.

well, except my 6 yo who would live off of rice and meat . . . so i give him vitamins. My older boy suddenly liked vegetables around 7, and by 12 would eat all manners of soups and stews.

Firefly_Mom
04-28-2010, 01:24 PM
So if you are keeping the house stocked with as much addictive junk (msg and hfcs) as the kids are willing to eat, and you arent making healthy, tasty meals and you arent keeping appealing healthy foods around, you could have a problem. But people who arent sucking down fast food usually will, if given options, choose a healthy variety.

Is it weird of me to admit that I love peeking into other people's shopping carts when I'm at the store, just to see what kind of crap they have in there?? ;) I'm always flabbergasted when a parent insists that their child will (for example) only eat pop tarts for breakfast. Does it never occur to them that if they stopped buying the pop tarts, the child would indeed find something else to eat?? But again, I think this has far more to do with parenting styles than educational styles.

belacqua
04-28-2010, 02:44 PM
Firefly_Mom, I'm with you on the vicarious thrill of peering into shopping carts. I find myself making up scenarios about what people's days are like based on their grocery shopping. I never did come up with a satisfactory backstory, though, for the woman with twenty four boxes of frozen dinners and three 25-pound sacks of carrots (horses? juice?).

Snoopy
04-28-2010, 04:30 PM
Firefly_Mom, I'm with you on the vicarious thrill of peering into shopping carts. I find myself making up scenarios about what people's days are like based on their grocery shopping. I never did come up with a satisfactory backstory, though, for the woman with twenty four boxes of frozen dinners and three 25-pound sacks of carrots (horses? juice?).

Ha, ha, I do that too but usually I tell myself stories when I see men shopping. With the women, I think to myself that I probably have coupons for everything they're buying. Sometimes I'll offer them to people if I know I'm not likely to use them. Right now I have 8 coupons for free boxes of BOCA products that expire tomorrow and no room in my freezer (I had forgotten about the coupons!) and it's killing me. If it weren't for frozen products, I'd get them for a food pantry or something. And Publix won't let me leave the coupons on the shelf, I was told by the local manager that their clerks are trained to clean all the aisles and throw the coupons away when people do that. Isn't that dumb? Ugh.

24 boxes of frozen dinners, that's kind of sad. Of course, if I lived alone, I'd probably never cook just for myself anyway. It'd be eating out or sandwiches... or poptarts ;) I do buy them for the kids when they're on BOGO sale and I have coupons, which is not often. They eat them for snack (I've learned not to stock up on them because no matter how many boxes I have, they'll be gone in one afternoon... hello, 4 teens and a twen at home!) and so do I when I have a craving. I'd rather they have them for snack after school so they're free to get all hyped up if that's the effect it has on them (Noah gets hyper, the others don't so much), than for b'fast and then I can't get Noah to concentrate on his school work (says the mom who stocks about 20 different kind of sugar cereal for the kids' breakfast... lol)

melgriffin03
04-28-2010, 05:30 PM
I don't really understand why unschooling was brought up. Perhaps to boost search engine hits for the article?

I think for some people, yes, they do need to be taught how to eat. It seems like more often I'm seeing carts filled with Totinos pizzas and a case of soft drinks and nothing else. But, I also think that if you fill your fridge and pantry with mostly healthy food choices kids will most of the time choose healthy foods, at least mine do. Maybe it's not that kids need to be taught to eat healthy but that adults do because we've been conditioned to eat all the junk food/fast food.

hjdong
04-28-2010, 10:32 PM
Is it weird of me to admit that I love peeking into other people's shopping carts when I'm at the store, just to see what kind of crap they have in there?? ;) I'm always flabbergasted when a parent insists that their child will (for example) only eat pop tarts for breakfast. Does it never occur to them that if they stopped buying the pop tarts, the child would indeed find something else to eat?? But again, I think this has far more to do with parenting styles than educational styles.

Once at someone's house, upon being offered a Pop Tart, James said, "What's that?," the mom looked at me and said, "Oh, you're one of those." One of those what? One of those that feeds my kid food for breakfast. He was 5 at the time. Last night, at dinner, the server asked him what he wanted to drink, James, politely (I could have cheered), asked the selection. After the server went through them, he said - not so politely - "I'm not a grown-up!," in reaction to all the sodas.

He does eat junk, but in moderation. I don't have to tell him all day long "eat this not that;" he's learned through experience what happens if he eats too much sugar.

Firefly_Mom
04-29-2010, 01:51 AM
Maybe it's not that kids need to be taught to eat healthy but that adults do because we've been conditioned to eat all the junk food/fast food.

I think a lot of people assume that real food takes too long to prepare, so they eat/serve fake food instead. In reality, real food can be even faster than junk or fast food (especially if you factor in the drive time to get to the restaurant). I mean, what could be faster than throwing some meat and veggies in a crockpot and turning it on? But I know families that will spend an hour at a restaurant in the evening because they "don't have time" to spend 15 minutes in the kitchen in the morning. Makes no sense to me.

Firefly_Mom
04-29-2010, 02:02 AM
Once at someone's house, upon being offered a Pop Tart, James said, "What's that?," the mom looked at me and said, "Oh, you're one of those." One of those what? One of those that feeds my kid food for breakfast.

Like there's something wrong with you because you don't feed your kid Pop Tarts?? That's hilarious! I mean, I'm sure that every one of us eats something that would make somebody else go "Ewww. I would never eat that."

Snoopy
04-29-2010, 07:45 AM
I think a lot of people assume that real food takes too long to prepare, so they eat/serve fake food instead. In reality, real food can be even faster than junk or fast food (especially if you factor in the drive time to get to the restaurant). I mean, what could be faster than throwing some meat and veggies in a crockpot and turning it on? But I know families that will spend an hour at a restaurant in the evening because they "don't have time" to spend 15 minutes in the kitchen in the morning. Makes no sense to me.

So true and don't forget to factor in the wait time to get IN to the restaurant too. I'm making chicken cacciatore in the crockpot today. Hmmmm, crockpot!

Shoe
04-29-2010, 07:58 AM
So true and don't forget to factor in the wait time to get IN to the restaurant too.Get IN the restaurant??? I don't understand...don't you just order through the microphone and pick it up at the drive through window??:p

Museling
04-29-2010, 09:53 AM
Once at someone's house, upon being offered a Pop Tart, James said, "What's that?," the mom looked at me and said, "Oh, you're one of those." One of those what? One of those that feeds my kid food for breakfast.

Lol, see, mine would have said, "I'm too young to eat anything with fruit in it." (not that pop tarts actually have fruit...but I digress) He's still trying to pull that (I think he's just super sensitive to the citric acid) but now it's, "I have to wait til homeschool to eat fruit." Do we see a pattern here? So we just keep offering it to him as he gets older. I think he also has an adversion because he got really sick one time (when he still ate fruit) and the grape medicine made him turn into Linda Blair.

Being a mom of a very picky eater, I wouldn't respond well to that. Logan's always been on the lower end of his BMI, and I'm not going to go crazy trying to give him the most balanced meal because he will hungerstrike me. So I do what I can, where I can and I'm trying to stave off a resistance to a certain food because I've traumatized him with eating it. The perk of a picky eater though who hates fruit- he also hates sodas and most candies so I'm not complaining too much. :)

Though, I have to share, he LOVES blue cheese. Straight up and the stinkier/runnier it is, the more he loves it. I'm a brave eater and he will eat certain blue cheese that I can hardly look at (that is not food, it's compost!). That and coffee beans (he gets 1 a morning when daddy makes his coffee). My child is weird!

Riceball_Mommy
04-29-2010, 10:14 AM
I just need to say, I need a crock pot. Also I thought my daughter was weird because she liked feta and sundried tomato sauce. Also people look at me weird sometimes when I say she likes salad. She's not allowed to have sodas, though she thinks they are yucky anyway so it works. (And if she ever points out my hypocrisy with the sodas I'll stop drinking them before I hand her one).

melgriffin03
04-29-2010, 01:46 PM
Once at someone's house, upon being offered a Pop Tart, James said, "What's that?," the mom looked at me and said, "Oh, you're one of those." One of those what? One of those that feeds my kid food for breakfast. He was 5 at the time. Last night, at dinner, the server asked him what he wanted to drink, James, politely (I could have cheered), asked the selection. After the server went through them, he said - not so politely - "I'm not a grown-up!," in reaction to all the sodas.

He does eat junk, but in moderation. I don't have to tell him all day long "eat this not that;" he's learned through experience what happens if he eats too much sugar.

It took me awhile to get used to the "You're one of those", "Oh, I could never do that" comments but after almost 5 years I just smile blankly and nod my head. We don't buy poptarts or nutrigrain bars very often because we try, although we sometimes fail, to stay away from HFCS.

melgriffin03
04-29-2010, 01:49 PM
Get IN the restaurant??? I don't understand...don't you just order through the microphone and pick it up at the drive through window??:p


My kids just looked at my like I'm crazy cause I laughed so hard at that.