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Kim
11-23-2011, 02:21 PM
Okay, here's my dilemma -

The first year of homeschool (last year) I did the government curriculum. Partly because I am a teacher and like the curriculum, partly because I expected my daughter to return to school for grade two, and also because I get more funding this way.

But, here we are in the second year at home, and I resent telling my daughter what to do, when to do it and how to do it. It makes sense for a school system to have a curriculum, but I don't at all believe it's necessary at home.

My daughter actually likes most of what we do. And the structure helps me prove to the homeschool worker that we are actually accomplishing something.

But the problem for my daughter is that her time (at least a part of the day) is dictated by me which causes a lot of problems, and I'm always trying to get her to stop talking incessantly so her work doesn't take forever.

And for me it's difficult because I am so NOT a routine person. I feel soooooo bored with our life.

The idea of letting her totally pick what she wants to do in a day is so appealing. I think mostly it appeals because I could let go of this great checklist of things that have to be done this year. I feel so oppressed by this checklist that I feel I can't really enjoy the process or relax and just enjoy learning with my kids.

I'm not really worried that my kids won't learn anything. They keep busy all day long and as they get older, I'm confident that they will develop more sophisticated interests.

I think the problem is that instead of joining in with their learning, I'm forced into a teacher - student relationship which just doesn't work well all round.

So, a long preamble, but I'm thinking about switching directions. It means telling the homeschool worker that I am changing programs, giving up funds, and risking that if my daughter goes back to school sometime, she won't have had the same program as the other students. I just so want to hear your experiences, thoughts and so on about unschooling or near-unschooling. Is it working? Do you feel good about it? What do you like? Any suggestions or comments for me?

Thanks!

dbmamaz
11-23-2011, 02:50 PM
Ok, i'm not an unschooler, and I dont think we have a lot of unschoolers (at least radical unschoolers) here - but I have heard that it can be HARDER for teachers to really get in the swing of homeschooling in a more relaxed manner, because first you have to UNLEARN what you know!

I call myself 'relaxed ecclectic'. We do use a schedule because it works well for us, but there are so many places to land between radical unschooling and school-at home! For me, I wouldnt be willing to totally drop math and language arts, because I think those are things that really need to grow every year. But for me the key is finding programs to use which are such a good fit for your kids that everyone enjoys them. for example, some people really like hands-on math programs like math-u-see because there is less worksheet-type work. My younger son has been doing very different sorts of math because he likes it - reading through murderous maths and primary grade challenge math. But after trying all sorts of alternatives for my teen, Singapore math works best because its a clean, orderly, text-book like system.

I am actually doing history this year - but we just read about it and stick things on the wall for timeline. no worksheets. and science, again, i try to follow their interests and let them lead (but we still schedule)

my boys would do nothing but play video games all day if I didnt have scheduled school time, which is i why I dont unschool. but the reason I gave you my example is just to maybe help you think about different things you could relax or not relax as much, the ways you can look at your kids and yourself and figure out what will work for you guys.

it can be a hard transition but you gotta trust you'll find something better on the other side! and even if it works for a year, and stops working . . you get to change again. and again!

Kim
11-23-2011, 03:01 PM
Thanks for your encouragement. It helps to hear your ideas. And you're right, if I change the way we're doing things, it doesn't have to stay that way forever. If it doesn't work, we can change it again. The thought of going 'unschooling' does give me a bit of a badass thrill though. I kind of relish telling my husband's vice-principal that we've decided to unschool! Of course, some things would still be definitely off-limits during the day (tv, computer games).

albeto
11-23-2011, 03:28 PM
I kind of relish telling my husband's vice-principal that we've decided to unschool! Of course, some things would still be definitely off-limits during the day (tv, computer games).

Ooh, I wouldn't say the "U" word just yet. You might find yourself on the defensive for all kinds of society's ills. :rolleyes:

Everything you said in your OP resonated with me. I'm finding that tv and computer games are just one of many tools in their box of tricks to learn and grow but limiting it with younger kids is admirable, imo. Should you decide your kids will go back to a brick and mortar school, it won't take long for you to catch them up to the curriculum they'll be following so I wouldn't worry about that.

Kim
11-23-2011, 04:00 PM
You have a good point there - that I can catch them up if I decide to sent them back eventually. A really good point. And okay, I won't be too free with the unschooling label until I'm sure we're doing it. But I don't mind having a really good argument now and again. I think part of the appeal of becoming an unschooler is that because I'm a teacher my inlaws, etcetera, who are uncomfortable, to say the least, with homeschooling, get their minds wrapped around it by telling themselves that I'm a teacher and so my kids are getting a good education EVEN THOUGH we are homeschooling. It's too easy for people to dismiss me as not really homeschooling because I'm a teacher and they don't have to confront or change any of their opinions about homeschooling. If I unschool, and experiment with that, then I get to have a real conversation about homeschooling. (at least that's what I imagine).

By the way, I see there is an unschooling group listed on your profile page. I hadn't found that - I'll check it out. Thanks!

Stella M
11-23-2011, 06:06 PM
Although more and more I think that homeschool labels are just as restrictive as any other kind, I'm reasonably unschooling-friendly.

I think exploring non-coercive education can be really interesting and have value for all involved, as well as those onlookers :)

It's just that unschooling well - it's a lot of work. I personally find it a constant challenge and one I enjoy exploring at times.

Unschooling can, ironically, get rather rule bound.

So I say, explore to your heart's content, call it what you like it the knowledge that you don't have to call it anything! and I have a secret admiration for you wanting to challenge your friends and family with some radical ideas!

albeto
11-23-2011, 06:29 PM
You have a good point there - that I can catch them up if I decide to sent them back eventually. A really good point. And okay, I won't be too free with the unschooling label until I'm sure we're doing it.

When my dd tried to be a vegetarian, suddenly everyone was asking her why. What's her moral position on vegetarianism. Where does she get protein, does she miss bacon, blah blah blah (okay, it was my annoying family, but still). She ended up not lasting but if she tries it again she'll know not to "announce" it until it's just such a part of her identity that she is really comfortable in that skin. I approach our days in a very radically unschooling way (no rules, no chores, no bedtimes, etc, etc, etc - our focus is on relationships primarily and to the exclusion of just about everything else). However, now that my dd is 14 and high school age, we do focus on math and history from books (it's convenient that way, it'll give her lots of time to ease into the process, still no grades). If I were to label myself an unschooling parent, I would be opening myself up to defend against all kind of garbage that I only want to get into when I'm in the mood (thus coming to forums). So, that's my two cents. I think Stella is right - there's no reason to adopt a label, not yet anyway.


But I don't mind having a really good argument now and again. I think part of the appeal of becoming an unschooler is that because I'm a teacher my inlaws, etcetera, who are uncomfortable, to say the least, with homeschooling, get their minds wrapped around it by telling themselves that I'm a teacher and so my kids are getting a good education EVEN THOUGH we are homeschooling. It's too easy for people to dismiss me as not really homeschooling because I'm a teacher and they don't have to confront or change any of their opinions about homeschooling. If I unschool, and experiment with that, then I get to have a real conversation about homeschooling. (at least that's what I imagine).

hehehe, I love that reason!


By the way, I see there is an unschooling group listed on your profile page. I hadn't found that - I'll check it out. Thanks!

There are also unschool yahoo groups locally as well as nationally. I would suggest just watching and lurking for a long time. Some people really don't have filters and if you've got thin skin or if you're not patient (read, willing to be confused for a while), it may seem quite abrasive. It's an unfortunate irony that the community that seeks to break from the hum drum of tradition for a better education doesn't tend to be successful in their communication skills.

dbmamaz
11-23-2011, 08:36 PM
Ok, let me clarify that in a very un-PC way. I have heard from NUMEROUS sources that if you ask a question on an unschooling board which makes it clear that you havent fully integrated all of the beliefs of the group leaders, or which seems to be challenging an assumption, you may find yourself under full attack. Or if you say you are unschooling but you are going to, say, limit television time during school hours . . . be prepared to be crucified.

of course, this is heresy since I've refused to be associated w the unschooling title since i had a very difficult 16 mo 'freindship' with a radical unschooler.

Avalon
11-23-2011, 09:24 PM
Hi, Kim. I live in Alberta, too, so I know exactly what you're talking about. A lot of the school boards exert a lot of pressure to convince parents to go with a "blended" program (this means that certain subjects are aligned with government curriculum). They get a lot more funding that way.

BUST LOOSE! BREAK FREE!! It's limiting in so many ways, no matter what age your kids are. Study whatever you want! Work at whatever pace you like. My 9yo loves 8th grade math and quoting facts about endangered animals. My 11yo adores medieval history, and studying fashion in every historical time period. Neither one can write a 5-paragraph essay, but they are intelligent, interesting, well-read, and articulate.

I'm not an unschooler, definitely not radical. We spend a couple of hours every morning on activities that could be considered school, although my definition of school is pretty flexible. I have always limited TV and computer-time, although less so now that the kids are older and they need time to look things up online. Right at this moment, my daughter is researching the history of Home Children (orphans) in Canada for a "game" she's playing.

Follow your daughter's interests, follow your heart. The purpose of the government curriculum is to meet the needs of "every" child. You have a very particular child who may or may not be interested in a specific topic in a specific grade. It's handy to look at the "year-at-a-glance" list of topics covered in each grade, so you have an idea what things you want to work in, but it doesn't matter if your child learns a specific skill or topic in Grade 2 or Grade 3 or Grade 5. It really doesn't matter.

I have talked to several unschoolers whose kids eventually chose to attend school, and they all say that their kids did just fine. You really don't need a huge checklist to keep up with the schools, and it takes up so much time that could be better spent on your child's specific interests.

Sorry, I got on my soapbox there, but I really can't stand the way Alberta has three different streams for homeschooling, and bribes parents and school boards with extra funding. So many parents get tied into knots over it. Just go parent-directed. You can still follow as much of the curriculum as you want, just without the pressure.

albeto
11-23-2011, 09:31 PM
Ok, let me clarify that in a very un-PC way. I have heard from NUMEROUS sources that if you ask a question on an unschooling board which makes it clear that you havent fully integrated all of the beliefs of the group leaders, or which seems to be challenging an assumption, you may find yourself under full attack. Or if you say you are unschooling but you are going to, say, limit television time during school hours . . . be prepared to be crucified.

I've never felt under attack, but I have seen ideas (some mine) crucified and reduced to a bloody mess. I appreciate cutting through the pc bullshit to get straight to the point, even if it stings my ego a bit at first. For this reason I would suggest a long lurking time. One can't know just what comments are likely to elicit tons of response, but in my experience, the advice is invaluable and worth every cringe.

Kim
11-23-2011, 10:09 PM
Thank you so much for all these very helpful and informative comments! Love it! Keep them coming!

Kim

Mum
11-23-2011, 10:44 PM
Ok, i'm not an unschooler, and I dont think we have a lot of unschoolers (at least radical unschoolers) here - but I have heard that it can be HARDER for teachers to really get in the swing of homeschooling in a more relaxed manner, because first you have to UNLEARN what you know!

This. I've been teaching for 13 years. I've found more and more that a system closer to an unschooling philosphy works best for my son. I've also found that one of the biggest obstacles to getting him to a more unschooling way of life is ME.

Be kind and patient with yourself.

dbmamaz
11-23-2011, 11:43 PM
I can imagine there would be things I could learn from an unschooling forum if I COULD lurk. But i suspect I would be unable to refrain from expressing my indignation at a multitude of things, so I stay away. I did learn a lot from reading about unschooling when I was first exploring, it helped me to relax my expectations. and in the end, when I felt insecure about how much my kids were learning, my freind the 'radical unschooler' always made me feel better. Not by what she said, of course, but simply by observing her children.