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View Full Version : Advice for unschooling my 4 year old



TriciaJ
10-20-2012, 09:19 PM
This style is what attracts me most, and the more I read the more I like it. I just wondered if anyone has any advice that has unschooled their kids at this age. I know all kids are different, but I'm open to any advice from real life experiences. Or if you read any books on the subject that really inspired you?

Jfisch4
10-20-2012, 11:29 PM
That's pretty close to the path we're going down, here. My twins will be 6 in February. I found that structured lessons were not working out when the kids would go spend time with their dad and come back with nothing written in their planners and I'd have no idea what they had accomplished for the week.

I really enjoy just being there to teach them whatever they want to know, and there is definitely no shortage of curiosity around here. My biggest hang up is letting them do things like play video games or watch TV if that's what they choose. They get to, but I don't encourage it and I try for only one day a week. Most of the time, if they suggest it, I suggest we play a board or card game instead, or do a craft. So, we end up not being quite as lenient as some unschoolers I've heard about. But I think that's okay. We do what works for US... and us includes me. :)

I also keep folders full of worksheets and educational activities similar to what they would be getting at this age in public school. They sometimes specifically ask to do a math worksheet. Other times, I work math in by getting them to figure out things like how old my partner is if I'm 25 and he's 2 years older than me, or how many tortillas we need if we are making quesadillas for 5 people. I'm sneaky. :P

The best reading encouragement I've found is telling them I'm not going to read it for them. They are curious enough to want to know what a sign says, and get frustrated when I won't just hand them the answers... but they read it if they really want to know.

Interestingly, friend of mine (who was unschooled to the point that his mom filled out his standardized tests for him, because she didn't believe in testing) shared this video today:


http://youtu.be/k0fgtvbMT7k

Suki
10-20-2012, 11:41 PM
The great thing about unschooling four-year-olds is that it's pretty much what any great mom would do with a 4-year-old in the first place: Explore the world with all the senses, enjoy new experiences, enjoy familiar places and activities, read great books, make lots of art, make lots of messes, cook, clean, decorate, explore. Even if you weren't an unschooler, worksheets and "school learning" should have no place in a four-year-old's life. This is a fabulous time for exploring the world. Make the most of it.

Suki

farrarwilliams
10-20-2012, 11:44 PM
Everyone should "unschool" at age four. ;) At that age, we just kept educational games, art projects, etc. on hand for when they seemed right. We took lots of field trips. We basically just went with the flow.

For us, at age 5, we did start setting aside a specific school time and a routine, but it was still very little curriculum and mostly games. And by age 6, we were using curriculum, so unschooling isn't the ultimate path we followed. I would say follow your gut and see what's working for you.

jessica14
10-21-2012, 02:50 PM
I totally agree farrar. At 4 and 6 its about exploring, crafting, having a print rich environment, learning through play, and socialization. Public school is so academically oriented and it was really hard for my DS who is just about 8. He is finally getting it, but at that early age, it really didn't help him "get" it all that much. Good programs or good home environments should be based on developmental appropriateness and not workbooks. For me, (who doesn't unschool), its just good common sense and not a philosophy for this age group.

TriciaJ
10-21-2012, 08:48 PM
I really enjoy just being there to teach them whatever they want to know, and there is definitely no shortage of curiosity around here. My biggest hang up is letting them do things like play video games or watch TV if that's what they choose. They get to, but I don't encourage it and I try for only one day a week. Most of the time, if they suggest it, I suggest we play a board or card game instead, or do a craft. So, we end up not being quite as lenient as some unschoolers I've heard about. But I think that's okay. We do what works for US... and us includes me. :)

I also keep folders full of worksheets and educational activities similar to what they would be getting at this age in public school. They sometimes specifically ask to do a math worksheet. Other times, I work math in by getting them to figure out things like how old my partner is if I'm 25 and he's 2 years older than me, or how many tortillas we need if we are making quesadillas for 5 people. I'm sneaky. :P

The best reading encouragement I've found is telling them I'm not going to read it for them. They are curious enough to want to know what a sign says, and get frustrated when I won't just hand them the answers... but they read it if they really want to know.

Interestingly, friend of mine (who was unschooled to the point that his mom filled out his standardized tests for him, because she didn't believe in testing) shared this video today:


http://youtu.be/k0fgtvbMT7k

Darn, the sound is shot on my computer or I would watch! Never heard of the guy but looks interesting:}
Funny about the standardized tests...I've got a plan for that. My girl is going to a Montessori right now (minimal...but she loves it), and I think she'll stay there for K (if I can afford it!!)....she might have to go to 1st grade but I'd prefer she didn't. She's just not old enough to come to work with me yet...and she LOVES being around other kids so...if she must go, I plan on being difficult and refusing her to take the standardized tests. I also don't want her on any computers or being rewarded with sugar if she does something right. I'm curious what will happen, will they comply? Fight? Try to bully me? The point being, I should have a say when it comes to my kid. I think the norm is you drop your kid off and let them do whatever they want. Its not happening here....cuz I'll be waiting to pull her out.

Thanks for sharing what you do....I think I need to be more of the mindset of 'figure it out yourself' for certain things. She wanted me to push her on the swing today, so I did three pushes and said now figure it out for yourself (I've shown her 'how' a million times....what good did it do?). Little things like that probably add up, but I need to stop giving in!

TriciaJ
10-21-2012, 08:59 PM
Well, that's reassuring because that's pretty much what I try to do. I did print out some worksheets (we call them 'games' :}) and they sit out if she feels like doing them. There was one day where she did a whole stack...and I got a heaping pile of dishes done, it was awesome. Depends on her mood, I would never force that stuff. But I'm open to something if she'll enjoy it (except for screentime). Since homeschooling seems to be 'learn as you go', I just wondered if anyone had stumbled on anything cool that brought out alot in their child. Like setting something out that they played with for hours....and if they took it any further etc.
Thanks all!

wendygrace
10-21-2012, 10:32 PM
At that age we literally unplugged the tv/video games. It just wasn't an option. We did a lot of cooking, cleaning, hiking, going to museums, parks, nature centers. Play-do was a big thing. Finger painting. And we read, a lot. We spent hours and hours at the library with their story times and craft times and all kinds of things that were "free" in our city for pre-school aged kids. They danced and sang and took gymnastics. We tried all kinds of sports and had lots of free time to just be kids. They had their own kitchen set but were also allowed in the kitchen. We had tons of games like scrabble jr and puzzles. We visited with other preschool mom groups or homeschooling groups with preschool aged children. We rode bikes and roller skated. In general we just explored the world, and our neighborhood and city to its fullest extent. Our area is chock full of fun though. It took some digging but once I learned where to look, there was a lot of stuff available for preschoolers.

Crabby Lioness
10-22-2012, 03:19 PM
I've Classically homeschooled 2 4yos, and it amounted to five minutes of lessons/day. At that age they don't have the attention span or hand strength to do more.

My current 4yo would like to homeschool himself through the Nintendo Wii, but I make him come off it at regular intervals. ;)

They all "unschooled" themselves at that age with whatever they could find to get into.

Homeschool101
11-15-2012, 11:56 AM
I did print out some worksheets (we call them 'games' :}) and they sit out if she feels like doing them.
I think that's the most useful thing you can do right there. Unschooling works great when the environment is full of resources your daughter is allowed to get into... If you have clay over here, and worksheets over there, and markers here, and a calculator by the bookshelves, and Magic School Bus videos lying around somewhere (I still remember more from MSB than all my college science courses), she'll educate herself with very little help from you. Kids naturally recognize that learning is fun, and if you make it easy by surrounding her with the tools, so much the better.

quabbin
12-04-2012, 03:46 PM
What does she like to do that she might learn from? Look for ways to build on that.

DS is almost 5 and has liked...
spending time in the garden,
learning to do some basic housework (sweeping, laundry),
learning about space (books, online videos, toys, field trips),
playing with number toys (hundreds board, balance bears, bead chain for counting, coins),
being read to (fiction and non-fiction, rhyming and prose),
singing (we have a song of the week and sing it each day),
Kumon-type books on cutting, folding, and tracing,
visiting farms and picking blueberries, pumpkins, etc.,
helping in the kitchen.