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  1. #1

    Default Tell me it's okay to UNSCHOOL!!!!

    This is our first year btw. DD's are 9 & 11.

    Okay, here is my issue... All day long I hear, "Can I just do this part, so I can hurry and be done?" or "This is too hard. I hate doing this." or "How much longer are we going to have to do this?"

    They absolutely have no interest in learning any of it, and they're whole goal is to get the work done as quickly as possible. I'm thinking I should just take the unschool approach and save us all some stress for a while, but I'm so afraid! I'm scared they'll end up behind, they won't be prepared for college, they won't learn how to follow directions, they won't learn how to sit down and complete a job, and a million other things that I won't take the time to list.

    Have there been any research studies down on unschooling? Is there any data or articles I can read?

    I bought them a few books on identifying birds, rocks and insects. My 9 year old daughter really ran with identifying the rocks and started a collection where she has organized and labeled all of them. However, my 11 year old daughter is interested in nothing but tv, video games, and going next door to my aunt's (who always gives her her way) house. She doesn't want to do anything educational at all.

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  3. #2


    Why not mentally commit to unschooling only temporarily, as a way to "deschool" since it's your first year? Maybe revisit the issue in a few months. I figure either you will then see that unschooling works for them and they are learning, or they might be ready for more structure, or something in between.

    Even 6 months of no structure would not be permanently detrimental. One thing about unschooling, it is 24/7/365

    You could also try setting them a goal or project, and let them determine how they want to complete it. I saw this on another board (I have paraphrased it), and kept it because I found it brilliant

    Allow kid to choose a topic. Your guidelines would be that she must give you information in all subjects related to that topic which includes one writing project, one real life math project and one science experiment as well as scientific and historical info. You can also add that she must use at least one textbook, one "living" book, one video and one website. This will feed interactive need as well as
    guide her into learning through books and help her develop research skills.

    EXMAPLE: Topic is Lions: Within your established guidelines, she may write a poem if she is
    studying poetry at the moment. Or if she is studying the best way to write clear instructions, she could write out directions to find a particular place related to the topic (and thus get in some map and geography skills). Or she could write a creative piece. For math, she could learn to mix the best milk replacer for an orphaned lion and how much it would cost – lots of work with fractions and decimals as
    the lion grows and needs change.

    Science would include notes on lions including their classification, diet, range, behavior and so on. Their range would lead to historical info of the area (South Africa, apartheid, native peoples and how
    they interact with the lions and their history…). Her lab experiment would be based on some chemistry or physics fact that she found interesting. Her presentation can include a lot of drawing or crafts and multi-media as well as narration or a play or speech, not just lines of notes. Lapbooking and
    notebooking are good places to start. She can do all of this digitally with a blog. This sounds like a lot for you but if you allow her to choose and do her own work, all you have to do is listen to her as she brainstorms and ask her a few leading questions if needed. Then you can view the final product and show her how much she can learn on her own. You don't have to do this in exclusion to a more structured program. She can do one or two of these a "semester" but must complete her daily work first. Let her choose the topic and the work.
    Last edited by MamaB2C; 09-20-2010 at 04:16 PM.
    Alabama Gulf Coaster,
    Learning and loving life with DS 6 and hubby of 21 years

    DS is in public school, but we enrich and expand at home

  4. #3


    I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get them to work independently. They don't want to do ANYTHING on their own. If I don't have them working on something specific, they pretty much just wonder around the house.

    I just told them that for the next week they don't have to do any assigned work. The only rule we are going to have is that they are doing something educational or watching an educational tv show between the hours of 9 & 3. They were pretty excited when I told them, but we'll see how it actually works out. The next week, I may try introducing the project idea.

    I'm feeling frustrated today, but I know we'll get through it. After having them in public school for all those years, I'm just going to have to deal with the damage that has been done.

  5. #4


    I think it was firefly_mom who suggested The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith to me when I was starting out last year (sorry if I didn't give credit to the right person!). I found it extremely inspirational also highly recommend it.

    I think there are several camps within the unschooling movement. Some self described unschoolers declare anything that "looks" educational to be off limits (ie: worksheets, textbooks); others happily use them and still consider themselves unschoolers. The general idea is that it's an interest led philosophy of education, but rarely hands off like the talk shows would have you believe. We unschooled over the summer (now we're somewhat more structured) and if anything, I found it takes a lot of involvement on the parent's part to chase down all the trails a child might want to run down and explore.

    It sounds like maybe your kids just need to deschool a bit; that is, have some time to get public school out of their systems. Homeschooling doesn't work like public school but it can be hard for kids (especially if they have been in the ps system for several years) AND parents to figure out those differences and create their own expectations. Maybe ditch the curriculum for now and allow them to explore whatever they feel like. It might feel like they aren't doing much, but kids have a natural desire to learn and may just need some space to rediscover their interests.

    I'd recommend taking this time to play with your kids. Take them to museums, to the park, hiking in the woods, playing at the beach. Hang out at the art museum or the zoo if you have one, let them explore them freely without expectation. Take them to the theatre, sign up for a new activity they show interest in, show them how to bake a loaf of bread/sew a seam/knit a scarf/whatever you love to do. "Play" can be extremely educational and is bound to light new fires.

    Your kids are NOT going to fall behind. You clearly care about their education and take it seriously; taking some time off will not hurt them in the long run. It will give you the opportunity to reevaluate the curriculum you are working with, and to change whatever needs tweaking so they can be inspired by it rather than dragged down. It will also give them the opportunity to rediscover their interests and to shake ps out of their systems. Learning should and can be fun, and we learn best when it is.

    Here's a website to get you started:

    Wishing you all the best!
    Mama to one son (12)

  6. #5


    I agree, if this is your first year you should sit down with the kids. Determine an amount of time where no school work will be done. Make sure they know when you are going to get back to it. But let them unschool and discover the love of learning again.

    Now If I had done this ( never did mine weren't in school ). But I would have a strict time for electronics, and time to unplug. Just because I would assume most would be on the phone, computer, or glued to the TV. To me deschooling purpose would be partly to have them seek out things to kill the boredom LOL.
    Jana - Better Early than Late. Secular Homeschoolers! Combined family with 7 adult children and...

    StartingOver again with our younger ones:

    Quince - aka Word Smith ( 10 ) -
    Emma - aka Perfectionist ( 8 ) A History of Us, Book Shark History and Literature, Human Odssey, Saxon 6/5 ( Quince ) Saxon 7/6 ( Emma ), Madrigal's Spanish, , Latin Prep 1, First Form Latin ( Secular enough for me ), Elemental Science Biology for the Logic Stage, Analytical Grammar, IEW SWI A, and tons of literature.

  7. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Rebecca in Texas View Post
    I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get them to work independently. They don't want to do ANYTHING on their own. If I don't have them working on something specific, they pretty much just wonder around the house.

    The public school system doesn't want kids to think independently, but one of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that we get to allow or remind our kids how to learn *for fun*. It might take some time though, since they were in brick and mortar school for so many years.

    What kind of guidelines are you giving them for ideas next week? How involved are you between those hours (and why are you sticking to public school hours?)? It's pretty hard for someone to do "something educational" on their own for 6 straight hours--are you clear about what your expectations are? It just seems like a lot of time to figure out what to do; even unschooling can and should have structure and guidelines.
    Mama to one son (12)

  8. #7


    I just wanted to give you permission

    And in addition to the suggestions above, I would say that goal-setting isn't incongruous with unschooling. Ask the kids if they maybe have a goal for your first year of homeschooling. Something they want to do, experience, learn about, etc. Could be more than one thing. I find that setting goals helps people get clear about their purpose and to work towards it (even if you don't totally achieve it).

    And add that I'm pretty sure there have not been studies done about unschoolers. There have been very few studies done about homeschooling in general. However, I'm sure it'll be fine. You can find many successful adults who were unschooled. The anecdotal evidence is there that it does not destroy kids and many (if not most) would speak favorably about it.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
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  9. #8


    The time frame of school hours I gave them is just because that's the time that just the three of us are home. After about 3:30 it gets a little crazy around here, because I have a teenage son in public school. He comes in and many days drags friends in with him. Then my husband gets home from work. Then everybody is sort of in and out. There's no need to try to keep them "involved" after that time, because there's so much going on in the house.

    The "guidelines" I gave them are to do something educational or something that requires physical effort during the day. They can ride bikes, swim, study bugs or rocks, play a learning game, watch discovery channel, etc. I just want to see what they choose to engage in when I tell them they need to be doing something educational. I'm probably going to leave them to their own devices for the whole week and just observe what kinds of things they choose to do during the day.

  10. #9


    Sounds like a good experiment to me, I'll be interested to read your results
    Alabama Gulf Coaster,
    Learning and loving life with DS 6 and hubby of 21 years

    DS is in public school, but we enrich and expand at home

  11. #10


    What I'm finding interesting about myself is I'm generally a pretty confident person and tend to listen to my gut feeling about things. However, when it comes to yanking my kids out of public school and letting them just hang around all day with no direction, it just goes against every single thing I have been taught my whole life. In my rational mind, I know they aren't going to die from not doing schoolwork for a week or even a year, but the neurotic side seems to be taking over when it comes to this little bitty issue of my children's education. lol!

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Tell me it's okay to UNSCHOOL!!!!