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mitch77
01-27-2013, 05:19 PM
I've finally decide to let go. I have a 4 mo old baby and an almost 3 yr old that seems to have a bad case of the terrible twos or middle child syndrome. :rolleyes: They are making it very difficult to consistently do school with my ten year old. So, after much deliberation and some reading, I've decided to try unschooling for a bit. It seems better than looking at my unmarked checklists each day. :o And hopefully this way I can spend more time with my newly displaced toddler.

I'm just not quite sure how to start. My ds 10 loves science, the outdoors, and reading, so I don't think I should worry too much. But what about output? He reads alot, but he doesn't do many projects, he doesnt even play legos anymore. Surely unschooling doesn't consist of just reading. I feel that he should employ his knowledge somehow. We have loads of science books that have projects and experiments, but unless I initiate them he won't do them on his own.

So, how do you strew? I've heard many people on here talk about it, but not quite explain what it is they do. Do you just leave books and games lying around the house, if so, what kind? How do you deal with the clutter? How do you deal with small people getting into things meant for big brother?

Stella M
01-27-2013, 05:58 PM
Don't forget conversation counts as output! And if you are spending lots of time together, conversation about the books you are reading is pretty much guaranteed.

Employing knowledge is something I tend to think of happening consistently slightly later than 10, although obviously all children are different. Your son may still be in the 'drinking it all in' stage.

If you need output for 'proof of learning' purposes, you could raise some options, like blogging or keeping a learning journal, with him and see what he thinks.

I had mixed success with strewing. Often it worked better for us if the kids chose their own materials outright. I think my strewing enthusiasm was sometimes overwhelming and put a subtle pressure on the kids.

farrarwilliams
01-27-2013, 06:19 PM
We don't unschool, but I find strewing is great. It's not like you're literally leaving something out messily (though you can), but more that you just take new things out or change your organization system to highlight new things. The things can have a place that they're put away. I mean, if it's a good learning game, if you have a place for games, just put it there. I find part of it is using it myself and letting them find me and get interested. Or just saying, hey look at this.

mpippin
01-27-2013, 08:06 PM
Here are some of the things I do.

*window sill strewing: bird book, binoculars, plants, magnifying glass, seating
*bathroom strewing: rotating, uh, toilet time entertainment, to include interesting news clippings, books on various topics, brain teaser puzzles, pencils, and note pads
*hallway bookshelf strewing: rotate stock. Add new elements. Working to add seasonal scene to this area

As you can see, none of that is in the way or cluttered. We live in a tall, narrow home in Germany so everything I do has to be compact. Those are three clutter-free ways I've found to add learning to our days.

As for the young child issues, it's been a while for me, but using higher strewing surfaces should do the trick, depending on age.

albeto
01-27-2013, 08:12 PM
I've finally decide to let go. I have a 4 mo old baby and an almost 3 yr old that seems to have a bad case of the terrible twos or middle child syndrome. :rolleyes: They are making it very difficult to consistently do school with my ten year old. So, after much deliberation and some reading, I've decided to try unschooling for a bit. It seems better than looking at my unmarked checklists each day. :o And hopefully this way I can spend more time with my newly displaced toddler.

I'm just not quite sure how to start. My ds 10 loves science, the outdoors, and reading, so I don't think I should worry too much. But what about output? He reads alot, but he doesn't do many projects, he doesnt even play legos anymore. Surely unschooling doesn't consist of just reading. I feel that he should employ his knowledge somehow. We have loads of science books that have projects and experiments, but unless I initiate them he won't do them on his own.

So, how do you strew? I've heard many people on here talk about it, but not quite explain what it is they do. Do you just leave books and games lying around the house, if so, what kind? How do you deal with the clutter? How do you deal with small people getting into things meant for big brother?

Keep in mind you don't have to drop everything at once. If you find certain things work well with formal lessons, continue doing that until they are no longer working well. I think there exists a bit of a trap to fall into when beginning unschooling. People start all gung-ho, treat each day like Summer Vacation but With Lessons Hidden Throughout The Day. They try to keep it up for a few weeks, or months, worry that their children aren't learning enough, and call it quits.

One thing you can do to try and avoid that is take of one month for every year of education. For you, not your child. If you have a high school diploma, you'd take off 13 years (including kindergarten). If you went to college, add a month for each year. You'll find that might feel like an awful long time just to try something. That's why I would start it off slowly, just stop incorporating the subjects you are most comfortable dropping off, until the others slip away as well.

What you should find by the end of your first year, is that when you try and sneak lessons in, through lectures, requiring certain reading, forcing field trips, signing your child up for every activity related to the subject he mentions when grandma asks, "What do you want to do when you grow up," your child will start to pick up on this manipulation. I wish I could find a less divisive word than "manipulation," but I think it's an accurate one, especially from the point of view of a child who is getting out of the habit of following directions and getting into the habit of finding his own direction.

Another thing you should find by the end of your first year, is what kinds of things really do excite your kids. Those are the things you'll want to provide (what is often called, "strewing"). In my opinion, strewing books that don't appeal to anyone's attention just increases the stress of "learning through unschooling," and stress is not conducive to learning in general. Instead, during this first year, I would encourage you to spend as much time as you can with your kids. Let their interests guide your days. Let them become the experts in something and you be the eager student. Learn along with them, see what inspires and excites them, and contribute to it in the ways you can. For example, if your kids like science, you have access to transportation, you provide nature walks in different areas. Even if you wander around and goof off, never filling in a nature book or learning to identify different birds, your kids are learning something, and experiencing these things that really do count as learning (read the link in my siggie for a better explanation for how kids learn through play). Part of what they're learning is social skills, as they learn about the world through you, they learn what you know, what you think, why you think it. You learn the same from them. They learn to pay attention to these details, and that's where learning comes in - they have the advantage of not being distracted from noticing these details.

As your 10 year old gets older, some interests will become more sophisticated, and others will be replaced. Each one is important and valuable, in my opinion, because he'll be learning all kinds of information through natural means. The academic subjects can be learned formally another time (high school for example), and you'd be surprised how quickly a 15 year old can catch up with what his peers have been spending 5 years to work through. In the mean time, he will have had the opportunity to pursue other avenues unavailable to his peers, giving him not only another environment from which to learn, but a different set of skills that will help him prepare for whatever it is he decides he wants to do with his free time ("when he grows up").

Also keep in mind that a ten year old's interests do mature before they reach 15, just like they matured since age five. If he wants to play nothing but video games, join him, see what it is that is appealing, offer the opportunity for him to experience other things related (like a military history museum for someone who likes to play Call of Duty), and explore interests from there. When he's 15, 20, 25, his interests will certainly have evolved. In my experience, kids who know the taste of autonomy don't want to be cooped up in their mamma's basement for the rest of their lives. Once they learn they can spread their wings, they want to know how far.

In the mean time, read up on unschooling, and keep close with your kids.

And have fun.

:)

crunchynerd
01-27-2013, 09:44 PM
I'll be watching this conversation with interest, because my curriculum work with DD8 comes and goes. The house being a disaster also comes and goes, but mostly stays, lately. The food allergies are a LOT on my plate right now, especially with DS5, who has maniacal freak-outs when he gets an exposure, but sometimes also just because he's tired. Just staying present and loving them is all I can do some days, aside from bare basic life-support housework (such that we have clothes to wear and food to eat).

Output is just us noticing what they are doing, when they are able to do what they want to do.
My daughter makes a tremendous amount of output on any day she is free to work on some creative project or another. One week she built a cardboard ventriloquist dummy as big as her little brother. Other times, her output isn't tangible. Sometimes, when we are taking a break from curriculum, she just wants to clean and decorate her room, and then bask in the glory of it. I would want to, also!

My husband and I, although we see that The Logic of English has done her a lot of good, are realizing that the kids' brains aren't like the refrigerator, where the light is only on when we have the door open so we can examine and rearrange the contents. ;)

rueyn
01-28-2013, 08:05 AM
First: apparently I've been "strewing" and didn't know it. First time I've heard the term :D

Second: for us, output comes in the form of conversations and questions. When ds asks deep questions about things he's been exposed to (recently or not), I know there's thought/processing going on, even without having him write a term paper on the subject.

Our talks take place during non-stressful times: breakfast, a long walk in the woods after lunch, just before bed. When the two of you are relaxed, and it doesn't feel forced (i.e. teacher/student) - that's the time to do it. 95% of the time, I let him lead the conversation, just to see where it'll go. But I share something of myself, too, especially hopes, dreams, and mistakes.

I think keeping a blog is a TERRIFIC idea, especially for a 10-year-old. It doesn't even have to be made public, but something like Evernote, where he can store pictures and ideas. Writing, imo, is critical for boys, because they seem to have a tough time naming their feelings and sometimes even figuring out the why behind them. Putting it down on paper or screen would help them navigate.

rktowne
01-28-2013, 09:00 AM
Strewing. Huh. I guess that's what I've been doing and didn't know it as well!
When I had boys around 10 & 12 I also had a little one underfoot to entertain. "Strewing" probably started with entertaining the little guy. I'd put together a basket that he was only allowed to play with during times I was working with the other 2. The toys in there were off limits otherwise. It made them so much fun because they were the forbidden toys and it worked like magic for me to get some sentences put together without interruptions. These were no special toys, they were simply rotated in and out of storage areas so they seemed new to a little guy.
You know, they attracted the big boys too. Of course they did. I quickly found out that if I wanted to work with one of them and the little one was distracting then I could offer to the 3rd one to play with the baby. We did well in 2 by twos.
Somewhere in those years it dawned on me that I could help to make other "school" things quite attractive by limiting was was available and then by rotating things away and back again. Books, games, science kits, craft supplies....
As they got older I realized that I could really co-ordinate things together and pull out resources as a study of a subject got started. Soon they developed great skills in looking for resources to fit their interests. Awesome.

So, I guess that's strewing. Interesting.

As far as shifting gears to unschooling a chord was struck when the OP said "unchecked checklists". Yeah. Hate those. Nothing took the wind out of my sails more than to make a plan and then deviate from that plan to have a totally wonderful day and yet...not a checkbox ticked. Bummer. So along the way I realized that planning was my downfall. :)

I use that same planning book; and journal or record what we DID do. I can't even describe the difference this made for me. At the end of a day when I looked at a blank page and then filled it in. Wow.
Which leads to realizing that we do more school than I could have "planned". Once we stop compartmentalizing activities into one subject area or another we realize that life sort of is a unit-study approach. And strewing is sort of making a unit of study become easily accessible.

As far as your child's output is concerned...model for him. Start out slow and begin taking pictures of the day for you to caption...this is why blogging can be such a great tool. Then get to more in the way of output. YOU create a nice timeline, poster, project, diorama, short play, baked item, story.... He doesn't necessarily know what these things are. Work together but you might do the writing, cutting, gluing, measuring....work together on them and he'll figure out what you are looking for in the world of outputs. At 10 it's quite alright for you to write his words down and then have him copy them in his own hand somewhere else. That's not cheating. :)

I agree with others about keeping the bits of your current day that work and giving something else a shot for the rest. Enjoy 10. It passes too quickly!!

Juno
01-29-2013, 09:32 AM
My husband and I, although we see that The Logic of English has done her a lot of good, are realizing that the kids' brains aren't like the refrigerator, where the light is only on when we have the door open so we can examine and rearrange the contents. ;) Wow totally makes sense for lots of subjects. I don't unschool but there are many days I think about it and wished I did. I just worry because my daughter has struggled with reading. It kind of seemed like many unschoolers I met had gifted kids so of course they were all over reading. I love the strewing idea and viewing my kids differently.
I feel like an idiot I haven't strewn for my kids, just for my spouse lol works good for him so why not.

jessica14
01-29-2013, 02:10 PM
I have to read this more closely. Although we don't unschool, I'm always looking for more information and this sounds quite interesting.

OP, you mentioned that your DS reads a lot and that you were worried about output. One thing that I do all the time for "output" is to discuss the books or subjects we are learning as we drive around. It's very casual and I find out what the kids go out of our projects, lessons, or read alouds.

My 10 year old DD is reading Somewhere Inside by Lisa and Laura Ling. It's about Laura's arrest and captivity in North Korea a few years ago. I have read it and DH has just read it as well. We have had some great conversations about it. It's very casual, but we really know she is "getting" what she is reading.

Do you have some museums by you? We have taken the kids since they were about 18 mos. old. When we started homeschooling, I thought I had to have them journal as they went, but they get so much more out of it if we just explore. Sometimes we do seek out specific things like going to a planetarium but, mostly we just go to have a good time. And I think you can bring your younger children as well and your middle child will have fun too.

mitch77
01-29-2013, 07:52 PM
Thanks for all the replies guys! Discussing what he read, duh! (Hand slapping head) I never even thought about that, but yeah we discuss what he's reading alot, usually as he's getting ready (stalling) to go to bed. He's always teaching me something that he has learned, an interesting factoid or summarizing the fiction book he just read. I'm just so ingrained with the school mentality which tells us that you must learn the information and regurgitate it in a certain way.

Stella, I really like the idea of a learning journal, maybe just a couple of sentences or ideas or pictures or something at the end of the day. I'll see if he's interested in that or a blog. Rktowne, great idea about writing what they actually have learned that day, since we don't have to keep any records in TX I never have thought about it, but that would be helpful to ease my doubts about his learning. And if he sees me jot some things down about our day it might encourage him to journal or blog since I have a hard time encouraging writing since I hate it myself.

I've always been one to follow and encourage his interests, by finding documentaries on netflix or finding the latest Origami Yoda book at the library, emailing him interesting articles. I guess that's kind of strewing, I can just keep doing that and maybe add some games or puzzles or something.

Albeto, thanks for the advice on dropping the subjects little by little. I'm still not comfortable with leaving math behind, but maybe we can have more fun with it. We've been using Singapore, maybe we can finally get around to the I hate Mathematics book that I got so long ago and never looked at :) and I will still make him do Spanish, but instead of worksheets perhaps just by reading a book of interest, or watching Spanish tv.

He really enjoys going to the Arboretum or the Nature Center that are close by and once a month we go to the Science museum. You guys have really allevieated my worries about whether this was the right course for us. I think we're really going to try this for at least a year like albeto said!

4quivers
02-05-2013, 01:52 PM
There are a lot of good things mentioned. With a 10,9, 5, and 2yo I know where you stand! For the older ones, we fashioned a plywood table with a ridge all the way around on three sides with a divider in the middle, then games/toys like legos, k'nex, etc. do not drop to the floor as easily! FYI, it would also be a good idea to have a few high/deep shelves for the olders to put special things i.e. rockets, collections, science kits and such. We still need some.

Also, we have a ton of costumes, and i see them being used a lot in output. They always dress up and re-enact war heroes, magicians, cowboys, etc, the older ones are growing out of them a bit, but are quick to use them with the little ones, using them to tell stories and such. Even a little 2 yo can get excited over a story their big brother is telling them. Output/speaking/acting. Organization is kind-of an oxymoron! I just keep re-organizing because new things are pulled out everyday!