Un-schooling

Merry - posted on 06/18/2011 ( 69 moms have responded )

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I don't know where I stand on this, I'm not even sure i understand what it means to un school........



Ready......set........go!

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Tara - posted on 06/19/2011

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Unschooling is different for all those who do it.
I unschool but don't unparent my kids.

Quick run down on a typical unschooling day in our house.

Kids get up when they want.
Kids eat breakfast when they are hungry.
Kids do their chores after breakfast.
Kids go outside if they choose,
Work on existing projects together, read together or go for a walk.
Bake or cook something together, using measuring etc.
Write a letter or two to friends or family,
Build something outside with boxes or wood, or blankets, using measuring and geometry. (we went over Pythagorean theorem this week when we made a new flower garden that was a triangle)
We go to the library each day it's open and right now the girls have decided they are doing a project on the history of our house in our town. So we use the librarians' wonderful brain and our research tools to find out as much as we can and then the girls will put it together into a display of some sort. They think they might do a play about the people who first built it.
The girls are usually responsible for making lunch together for everyone else, they enjoy the team work and the resulting food!!
Art Art Art!! We love art projects. Windchimes (teaching about sound waves) Pinwheels (teaching about wind and air and colour) Sewing, painting (we love painting and have an outdoor paint area for them), etc. etc.
We spend some time doing mad libs together over lunch. My 6 year old knows what a noun, pronoun, adjective and adverbs are and how to use them. They love madlibs and will often go write their own for their sisters or me to do.
More free time to do what they want to do, often my 11 yr old will take a book into the yard and read in a tree, my 8 year old spends a lot of her free time teaching herself guitar and writing lyrics to songs she is composing.
My 6 year old spends most if not all of her free time looking for bugs and frogs in the yard.
We do read aloud reading at least once a day for those who want to take part.
We visit our neighbours, the post office and the seniors center. We help our community, we work on household projects together, we make jam, we bake, we quilt and do needlepoint, we make up songs and sketches and plays.
We direct, produce and film in homemade videos.
The girls choreograph dances etc. to music they like and make music videos.
We watch documentaries together and talk about the content.
We do unit studies on subjects of interest to the kids. We look at different cultures and foods etc. and we recreate them at home.
We travel to different locations to look at historical places and buildings and then go home and try to build them with cardboard.
We look at the designs of planes and try to recreate them at home.
We do science experiments all the time!! They love to see chemical reactions so we use our big science book a lot.
We go for nature walks a lot and if they inspire conversation about something, then we will investigate things further on our own.
We talk a lot. We do math and spelling games in the car, while we are walking and often I hear the girls doing them together in the back of the van.
We do bookwork when the girls decide to, which is every day for my kids. They don't "have" to do bookwork each day. They have their math and spelling and reading workbooks, that I order every year. They use them at their own rate. We cover topics that they will be learning about in our text book, before we get to it in the text books. We do mental math before book math. Book math is easy for all of them, because math has been a part of their lives every day, all their lives. They understood the concept of multiplication and division and were able to do the calculations in their heads long before they saw it in black and white on paper.
Unschooling is not for everyone, and really only works for some people. And I can understand why so many people see it in the negative light it is usually seen in!!
But it works for us, it's been our way for years and all my kids are doing great. Very social, ahead of their peers in maths and Englishes.
And happy, which to me is the biggest most important part of learning. They love it!! And none of it is "forced".
The older they get the more structured their homeschooling becomes. My 15 yr old was unschooled his whole life until this past year when he started taking online high school classes. He is doing great. He's been autodidactic for the last few years and that's great for him, because he can initiate when he starts a new subject and learn what he needs to without having to sit through 75 minutes of someone trying to teach him what he is able to teach himself. And yes is doing awesome as a schooled unschooler.

I don't have any more time, but if anyone has any questions, just post them and I'll check again later.
But every unschooling family will do things differently just like every family whose children attend school.
It works for us, and we love our life. And I know it works, my almost 18 year old son is now taking culinary arts courses, is a volunteer at two animals shelters, holds down two part time jobs and is planning on a career as a chef. He was unschooled and was an autodact as well.
They get their smarts from me, but it is how they use them that matters!!!

Charlie - posted on 06/18/2011

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Unschooling is great for the right individual with a parent who knows how to do it correctly .

The big difference between formal education and unschooling is that formal education tends to be result driven where as unschooling focuses on the process of learning .

It may seem like doing nothing but there ( is meant to be ) method to it , I could call what I do with my two boys unschooling , it is essentially child lead learning , I give them opportunity to learn through play everyday , we cook and they learn maths , measurement , sensory development amongst other things , they paint when I leave paints and leaves out in the playroom and they enhance theri creativity , we read every night and they learn literacy, we do puzzles and they are enhancing their cognitive development

*some* people learn best through hands on experiences , through life and all kids learn through play

I strongly believe in the philosophy behind it however there are SOME people who sould NOT be allowed to unschool or homeschool for that matter ...those are the ones that use it to push their agenda but when done properly .........it is beautiful in fact Reggio , Italy has a whole early learning system in schools based on this very idea .

There is a misunderstanding surrounding unschooling based on how the media portrays it by using the most contraversial types but really it is a flexible , children , it keeps the childs interest by not being so bland ...... when done right it is a rich source of education.

Education isnt a one size fits all and that is one thing I dont like about the overly structured set up of formal schooling and while I know this type of schooling is suitable for some children it really isnt for all children. As long as all of those responsible for teaching the child or is responsible for enriching their childs education take it seriously and keep in mind it is about the childs education then things should work out no matter what style you choose .

Sally - posted on 08/23/2012

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Unschooling is the way most of humanity has learned throughout most of history. If you actually take the time to research why schools work the way they do, unschooling looks even better. The mandatory public school system was not actually designed toe create intelligent, well rounded, thinking people like we have been taught. The people who invented the idea were completely honest that their only goal was to create a docile workforce. All children deserve better than that. Luckily, my children can get it.

Did you know that depending on what you choose to do with your life, with an average curriculum, you have learned 50-90% of what you will use in the "real world" by the end of 5th grade? The rest is review and specialization. Review is unnecessary if you are actually using it and specialization outside your goals is a complete waste of your time. An unschooled child doesn't have to waste that time like a conventionally schooled child does. Many of them have started their own business, apprenticed to someone else's business, finished a community college course, or done at least the gen ed of a four year degree when a conventionally schooled child hasn't graduated yet. As more and more colleges realize that while conventionally schooled children are there marking time because they've been told college will get them a good job, unschooled children are there because they want some information or credentials that can only be gotten there the Ivy League has begun to openly court us because our kids waste fewer of their resources and tend to graduate faster with better grades.

That doesn't mean they're all prodigies of course. While my 8 year old adores college level history and science texts, she's still at a 1st grade writing level and about the same level as her conventionally schooled peers in all other subjects. The difference is that she's not being made to feel stupid for her lower aptitude subjects and is being allowed to pursue her higher ones. A conventionally schooled child would not get that.

Minnie - posted on 06/20/2011

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I dunno, in my experience, unschooling parents tend to be more free-range kids, non-helicopter parents :). Let the self-expression and individualism flow!

Charlie - posted on 06/20/2011

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I found this on unschooling to help explain it little.

FAQ's about Unschooling:

1. What's so wrong with schools?

School has become a government funded babysitter graduating students who not only are not proficient in what they've been "taught" but have lost their natural ability to think. This is not the fault of the students, nor the teachers or administratiion. It is a fault of the institution itself. Although school has become a pillar of our society, it actually does more harm than good. It stifles a child's natural ability to learn and force-feeds information often before a child is developmentally ready for it. When the information is not relevant to a child's life, the retention of the information is minimal. School also attempts to "generalize" students, making everyone good at everything. In the "real world" we call this "over-achieving", "perfectionism' and "people-pleasing". When you have a heart problem, do you go to a General Practitioner or a Cardiac Specialist? But in schools when a child is more than proficient in writing but failing in math, we pull them away from their strength and force them to focus on their weakness, making them mediocre in both.

2. How is unschooling different than homeschooling?

Unschooling does not use any guidelines or agenda in regards to "what a child should learn". It does not recreate at home what does not work at school. It puts the child in the driver's seat of their own life, and with love and encouragement allows them to see what they need and don't need and accepts that each person's life requires different skills.

3. What does unschooling look like?

Unschooling looks like life! It often looks like what kids do on vacation or when they graduate. But it rarely looks like school. Each unschooling journey is individual to the person experiencing it therefore looks different and may ebb and flow with the individual's interests or stages of life. One child may learn all the math they ever need through their day-to-day life. Another may take the experience farther by learning through a curriculum or study course. One may take a love for Pokemon and turn it into a an art/anime passion Another may just play the game for the fun it is. But as long as fun is happening, unschooling and learning is taking place.

4. But how will a child ever learn [blank] if they are not made to [blank]?

Everything we learn in school is to prepare us for life. Unschoolers simply skip the middle man and allow their kids to learn while living. School is what stifles their brilliant minds! When given freedom and encouragement a child's natural curiosity for life is never stifled. Everything they do is a valuable experience and they devour the inspiration life gives. If they find they need to learn to tell time to get to the movie, they will. If they see that math skills will help them when running a lemonade stand, they will learn them. Math, reading, science, history, etc are all a part of life, not subjects in a school classroom. Why segregate them into textbooks when they can all be a part of our everyday existence?

5. What role does the parent play in the unschooling child's life?

Facilitator. Friend. Play-mate. Role Model. Partner in crime. The unschooling parent's primary role is to create a fun, safe, supportive and stimulating environment. A parent may introduce new things to their child but never force their child to enjoy them. A parent may make a home life filled with curious things to discover but never under the expectation that their child will take interest in them. The parent should encourage and help their child to pursue their passions. The parent should also not discount the benefit of pursuing their own passions, as a child should see a joy for learning in those they love.

6. Can unschoolers graduate or go to college?

Unschoolers are privileged to the same benefits of all other citizens. An acceptable degree can be self-made to present to employers or school administrators. Homeschoolers and unschoolers are actively sought after by colleges for their ability to problem-solve, learn and think for themselves. An unschooler may use SAT/ACT scores to attend universities or may enroll in community college before transferring credits to another college. Their are also many ways to succeed without the use of institutional higher learning - apprenticeship programs, online accelerated courses, or on-the-job training. Unschoolers are used to thinking outside the box (or have not become accustomed to thinking inside one) and have therefore achieved their goals numerous ways with or without the use of degrees.

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Brittany - posted on 11/17/2011

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Sarah the experience you had was insane!

All unschooling is...is letting children learn through life experience, social interaction, work experience and RESPONSIBILITY!

Sadly, all that woman is teaching her son is how to be a lazy loaf who plays video games, lives in his moms basement and eat cheetos.

Where I live there is a homeschool group that mingles with mothers who unschool. I have not met an unschooled child who is uneducated, rude and non-social. The children are grounded, well put together. The mothers just do not follow a curriculum.

Merry - posted on 11/17/2011

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Sarah, that's not unschooling.
That's unparenting!
Unschooling is where the schooling isn't so structured, no tests quizzes worksheets homework etc. it's free learning with lots of the kids choices focused on.

Unparenting is where you don't DO anything top aren't. You're essentially a servant to your child and a doormat to their every whim.

No the same! So take heart, most unschooling parents DO teach their kids manners and DO have rules and DO discipline.

Sarah - posted on 11/17/2011

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At the park this morning I met my first unschooling mom and her son. I am not categorizing all unschool parents by this quick meeting, but it does raise some questions in my mind about the whole unschool philosophy. Here follows a brief summary of the first meeting and my subsequent introduction to the world of unschooling...



My son had his toys stolen was pushed down and had his bubble soap dumped on his head. The toy was no big deal and even the pushing sometimes happens when kids play- no biggie really, but after the same child that pushed my son down and stole my childs toys then dumped bubble soap on his head I went looking for mom.



When I told her what had happened she didn't reprimand her child didn't put him in time out or make him leave the playground. She actually said "I don't MAKE him appologize I let him if he wants but if it isn't sincere he shouldn't have to do it!" I was aghast!! Who lets their child hit push steal from and abuse other children with no repercussions?



I removed my son from that area of the playground and moved to another further from this woman and her child. Another mom asked me why my son was covered in bubble soap crying and bruised. I told her and in an almost conspiratorial whisper she said "we don't let our kids play with him becuase he is like that with all the kids- he is just out of control." After further converstation with that mom and others I come to find out that the mom doesn't discipline (time outs, removing him from situation and never spanks or physically stops him from doing what he wants), doesn't EVER say "no" to her child and she does what HE says and wants!!



I found out from these moms (some former friends that due to the child's actions no longer allow their children to socialize with him and now avoid her socially due to her idiology) that the child has no schedules no structure and no rules and at almost six years old has had no formal education (he prefers video games-some adult themed like the grand theft auto and world of war- and watching t.v. to academic pursuits).



She caters to his whims including giving him candy for breakfast allows him to go days without bathing, brushing his teeth or hair and allowing him to stay up until midnight or later to play gruesome video games with Dad becuase that is what the child wants to do. She apparently doesn't see a problem with what her son is doing, saying that he is a child and should therefore be allowed to express himself in any way he sees fit.



If this is how unschooling works that one allows their child to do what they want with the HOPE that he will do the right thing I will say thank you, but no thank you. Children need structure and sometimes it is imperitive to the rest of one's life one learn or do something one might not enjoy. What would our world be if everyone adhered to the hedonistic ideal that life should consist soley on the things they find enjoyable? It would be anarchy!

Where this child will fit in socially and socioeconomically in the future with no education and no respect for the rules that govern our society? I think in this case this mother is doing her son a great disservice.

Nicky - posted on 06/20/2011

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oh wifeswap is insane!!!! but i do like how some are thrown into a complete different scenario and either lose it completely or adapt, many think that the way they live is the be all and end all eh

anyway off topic, back on now :)

i'd love to un-school, and my girl is only 1 so we do this anyway, she eats breakfast when she is hungry, she has been interested in putting pen to paper lately so we bought crayons and paper, and after a few mins of scribbling was more interested in putting the crayons back in the box and then giving them to me to take out, and start over... I guess this will continue over the years, rather than saying 'right, its colouring time' its like right, we'll start with this and see where it leads.
am i right?
We have a steiner school right around the corner but its a bit out of my price range considering mainstream school is free in comparison. you can't put a price on your childs education, but that is easier said than done in this economy.
I love how they have the same teacher from day one to when they leave school, but im not sure what they do for sports, which i think is a big part of growing up.
big decisions to make over the coming years that is for sure!
I admire those who homeschool and un-school. I dont think I will do this, but I am nervous about my children going through what I went through at school... perhaps there is a helicopter mum inside me LOL

Charlie - posted on 06/20/2011

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unschoolers with an agenda ...I just can't get with that , any teacher with an agenda other than to teach the child is doing it wrong and it happens in all aspects of schooling.
Lets be glad people dont base all mothers off wife swap otherwise we would all be batshit crazy haha ...oh I do love that show.

Sal - posted on 06/20/2011

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i think that it takes a very dedicated and open minded parent to home school or unschool well and i take my hat off to mums (and dads) who do it and do it well, i guess i have seen a few bad examples (both on silly tv shows and in my communities) and they have shown me the shallow, religious based side of home schooling that i don;t agree with, you mums who do it and do it well get on wife swap and show the world how it should be done, and take the spot light off the bad examples.....

Minnie - posted on 06/20/2011

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I think, Nikki, that's where regulations come in to play. Regardless of how one carries out homeschooling, be it formal curriculum or unschooling, in our state we have to maintain a portfolio of work throughout that year and turn it in to be evaluated by a public school teacher. If the child isn't showing progress and meeting state standards then he or she is given a probationary year, and then the child must go to public school after that if nothing improves.

Minnie - posted on 06/20/2011

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I've always wanted to do something like that- but could never find a group that routinely did it. I sew up regency-era garments for reenactors- doing Civil War undergarments and gowns would be an astronomical undertaking- but so interesting!

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Lol Nikki and Lisa...My dad managed a Civil War museum which held annual re-enactments. I had the hoop skirt and everything. I took a Vintage Dancing class (eighteenth and nineteenth century dance) and I was one of two public schoolers...everyone else was homeschooled.

Nikki - posted on 06/20/2011

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I see it as no structure child led learning that emphasizes a child's strength and doesn't addres weaknesses. I think those place where a child is lagging behind deserve as much time as where they excel. That is why I think a structured homeschool curriculum is probably better in the long run. Even if it is a curriculum that you make yourself, it is still structured learning, there is no reason a child cannot learn from their world in a structured environment, encouraged by their parents.

Minnie - posted on 06/20/2011

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Nikki- I love reenactment! I should bring it up on our network. What an awesome way to learn about history- a way that would really stick!

I think probably most people have a different definition of what unschooling is.

Nikki - posted on 06/20/2011

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Home school Co-ops where I am from also have period dances like a Civil War ball to learn about the era and they invite the community members for a small entrance fee which they donate for community service.

I think homeschool is good in general it allows a child to work at their own pace but I think un-schooling is just a little too un-structured.

Minnie - posted on 06/20/2011

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Hehehe, you're sister, April, needs to broaden her perception of some things ;).



And that's the great thing about the co-ops- people who are strong in a particular subject hold a class for other students to attend.



Yeah, our homeschool organization holds a formal dance.

April - posted on 06/20/2011

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That's what I thought Laura, but my SIL said there's no such thing as being "partially home schooled" as she called it. I'd love to home school, but send him to school for sports and maybe a math class since I am not as strong as I'd like to be in that subject!

Merry - posted on 06/20/2011

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I don't fel I missed out from being homeschooled, in fact I think I got even more fun stuff. We would take days off to go apple picking, strawberry picking, go to a farm for field trip, we went to the beach, or for hikes. And as for friends we had friends too, just not as many. But I find that the few we had were quality instead of the shallow friends some have in high school.
If you join a home school group you can find alot of the activities you like, the picnics, the talent shows, musicals, plays, sports, art work, crafts, wood work, etc.
Just depends on what group is near you and what they offer!
Also, you can usually send your homeschooled kids into the public school for a few things like a band class, or an art class, or some sports, or choir...

Minnie - posted on 06/20/2011

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Ah, but all of those things can be done through homeschool, too, April! I'm part of a homeschooling network of over 500 families now. We have co-ops, regular field-trips, field day, 'class' trips- Evelyn has made close friends through her homeschool ballet class- they even do a yearbook each year and have a graduation ceremony. Homeschooled children can also participate in extracurricular activities through the public school system.

But you do what you're most comfortable with, of course. Perhaps public school suits you more :). It's all about freedom of education.

April - posted on 06/20/2011

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If I had been pulled out of school to begin homeschooling or unschooling when I was younger, there would have been some things I'd have missed. I really liked being on school sports teams and I really liked pep rallies and spirit week (high school). I liked sitting outside and having lunch on a warm sunny day with my friends (also high school). I loved field day (elementary and middle) and looked forward to that all year. I loved our end of the year picnics in elementary school and I loved our talent shows! There IS a part of me that wonders if I should at least consider public school so that my son can have the opportunity to discover some of the things that I loved.

Nikki - posted on 06/20/2011

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Un-schooling is technically child led learning. Great for toddlers who are exploring their world, but school aged kids need structure. So I guess no I don't agree with it. i think school aged kids should have a curiculum and set goals. That is how they learn time mamagement.

Jakki - posted on 06/20/2011

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Tara! Loved the description of your day with the kids!

Can I drop mine off with you tomorrow?!

I have to admit that I tried to homeschool my kids last year while we went on a 3-month trip. I found that the general chatting and talking to people and visiting museums etc was just great, but when I tried to get the kids to sit down and do some maths or writing exercises, things got reallllly ugly. There was a lot of shouting and crying. A little frothing at the mouth even. I tried to camouflage maths sometimes by playing games as we drove along, but they immediately spotted it and refused to answer.

So if my kids were unschooled, they'd be fun people, good with world geography, science and art... but they would write really badly and barely be able to count. They'd certainly struggle with mainstream employment markets.

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I'm not sure I really understand it. I do think the general education system is demonized far too much. On the whole it works. No large system is going to be effective for every child. Even if we unschooled every child, you're going to have some that really suck in that environment. I know some people really dislike the competetive atmosphere of schools but I don't get that. Healthy competition is good for a person in my opinion. We're a competetive species. That we no longer need to compete for food and shelter as we did 10K years ago doesn't mean that the need isn't there still. Unfettered competition and pure mean-spiritedness isn't good of course but let's look at sports. I suck at them, always have. I always was picked last for the teams. That's a kind of competition that isn't good because it fosters mean spiritedness. Having the teacher divide the class and making each team compete against the other - not so bad.

Same with grades. I found the statement from The Incredibles very apt. When everyone's special - no one is.

Nicky - posted on 06/20/2011

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I love the idea, but i dont think i'd have the confidence to give that option to my children.
I would think so long as you are able to socialise your children, and they develop good social skills, then the rest is going to fall in place.
Its all about teaching children to LIKE learning, and many mainstream schools dont have time to do this. So my opinion is I will mainstream my children for school as I like the structure that schools have, but I will also be devoted to teaching them to enjoy learning. take them to see many things, travel, show them different ways of looking at things, options that schools dont have time to teach.
I am actually going to study teaching next year and looking forward to understanding the challenges that teachers face and seeing if there is anything I can do differently and bring something extra to the mix. 10 years down the track I may be scoffing at that statement :) perhaps while homeschooling my kids LOL

Charlie - posted on 06/20/2011

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I think and correct me if I am wrong Tara that unschooling generally views grading as one of formal educations downfalls , it is rather up to the parent to asses whether their child is engaging and learning .

Like I said earlier it is about the process of learning and not the end result ....grades.



As for learning science and maths lets say the child is interested in the ocean it would be up to the parent to provoke thought on the subject that relates to math or science for example you may provoke thought by asking "I wonder what makes waves move ? " this could instigate a child lead (as it is their interest ) study into the science behind wave motion .....The parent can offer opportunity to go to the library and look up how the waves break , discover height of waves V depth of ocean and the maths behind it ....they may experiment with their own "wave machine " as a scientific experiment.



Within this one provokation from the parent the child has now had a lesson in :

Literacy.

Physics.

Maths which may include calculus to find the rate of travel.

and if your child wants to experience surfing as another way to test wave motion you can throw sport in there too.



Almost every subject has a scientific and mathematical angle ...a good teacher knows how to provoke investigation in these areas while keeping on the childs interests .....unschooling wont work if the parent doesnt have the skills to help the child navigate through "subjects" while maintaining their interests.



They may not be interested in maths and science as a subject but as part of their interests they may not even notice thats what they are doing or even better they will enjoy it because it is relatable to their interests.

Sal - posted on 06/19/2011

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tara, i was just reading your example day, it sounds lovely,, we do this too and did before my son started school, my girls are 3 and 4, and will go to the local public school, and it sounds like my sons holidays, while every family is differnt, my kids love going to school, they love the indipendence away from me, they love being with their freinds, my daughter is in transition and just loves putting on the uniform,

i will add though if i had to send my children to a large city school my opinion might change dramatically....

Sal - posted on 06/19/2011

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that was something i was wondering about too becky, is there any testing, or suggested subjects, i know with steiner they match with the state schools at certain years, is this the same with un schooling, , and if it is child lead, how do you introduce a subject they don;t know about already and maybe have little interest in like some of the more involved maths and science subjects, the child may love them but don;t even know they exisit because it isn;t suggested to them,

Becky - posted on 06/19/2011

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I think that if we homeschooled, I would probably naturally tend more towards unschooling, because I am not naturally very structured, and I'm definitely more creative than analytical. I think Cole leans towards the creative as well -or at least, very imaginative. But, my worry would be that I'm not overly disciplined, so I would worry about whether I was really preparing them for adulthood, and equipping them to be able to pursue any career they wanted to pursue.
So Tara, if you're unschooling, do you do any formal testing or grading? If you don't, how do they meet university entrance requirements? For example, here (at least when I applied to university) you have to have a certain GPA and had to have English 30 or an equivilant to get into university. How do you ensure that is met if you're not using any curriculum? Is there an entrance exam they can take in lieu of meeting those criteria?

Sal - posted on 06/19/2011

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i looked into a a steiner school, and loved the idea, but eventually decided to go with a catholic school. one of the main reasons was because of the weird parents that i encountered who had kids there, seeminly nice and harmless but just not anyone i had associated with before socially and the only one who i did know freaked me out a little, the school had beautiful grounds and happy kids, but so did the school i eventually sent him to, luckily for me i went this path as i did move to an area with no equilvilent school and the adjustment would of been quiet difficult for my son, (the other was that i wasn't sure about how long i was going to be close to the school and i was worried about changing to a traditional later) i also feel that there is room for both, i send my son to a regualr school, he leant to read, write, do maths and socalise with his peers, work in a group and learnt to follow the direction of a teacher, out of school time, i did all the stuff that he was "interested in" we fished, cooked, read books on what ever he fancied, went to museums, weeks on end we done everything dinosaur, library visits, music classes and i think that this is the way i will do it with my younger 2 as well. i see it as having the best of both worlds, i do worry with home school and unschooling if it is more for the parent and less about the child. but as loreen said yesterday if it is done correctly then it can be a good thing

Charlie - posted on 06/19/2011

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I would love to be able to send my child to Steiner unfourtunately our nearest one is 40minutes drive.

Minnie - posted on 06/19/2011

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Yeah, I really like Montessori. Good news is next year a public Montessori will be opening up in our area. I think it's totally great.

April - posted on 06/19/2011

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SOME public schools do operate that way. These are your Montessori schools and some of your charter schools. Actually most Montessori schools I know of are private, so that might be a different category all together.

Minnie - posted on 06/19/2011

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I personally see formal homeschooling as following a set curriculum- from start to finish. Like Abeka, or A Well Trained Mind. They sort of have their own expectations on how a child should learn and what they should learn, and how.

What I'm doing right now (and Matt is ok with me homeschooling Evelyn this fall, no time frames on a job- yay!) is while she's playing I use the magna doodle and write some words she can sound out whenever she chooses to look up. We also read together a few times a day and she does her best to sound it out. But if she's having an off day and doesn't want to do it, I don't force it- we do something else- we have an active day, or work on art, or do math in place of reading. Pretty much whatever suits her fancy and doesn't make her feel like she's being forced or that she can't have a say in her education.

And if you're doing something like a science project, you can really cover a whole slew of subjects, but the child is interested in it.

Merry - posted on 06/19/2011

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Child led homeschooling sounds perfect for me! Although I never felt forced when I was homeschooled, I had alot pf control, but not over what I learned, we had a set curriculum and it was not really up yo us what we learned, BUT we were allowed to do the subjects in any order, start at any time of day, and go as fast or slow as we wanted. We could take breaks, or push through as we wanted. But we had to complete our work every day.
We even would sometimes work ahead so we could have a day off.
So even if you have structured coursework, you can still give kids freedom to make choices and decide how their day goes.
Oh and we could do our work anywhere we wanted, my sister often did it in the basement because she liked it quiet, I often did it outside cuz I love nature, my brother usually ended up at the kitchen table cuz he liked my mom being close cuz he had tons of questions usually.
We would do our work on our beds, in our pajamas or wherever!
I think that also helped us learn how to structure ourselves and how to be diligent in motivating ourselves. We had to do a certain amount of work, but it was up to us to choose how, when, and where we did it.

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I like the idea of child-led homeschooling as well. I'd LOVE if the public school system operated that way. I guess that would be kind of like Montessori?

April - posted on 06/19/2011

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i like the idea of child-led homeschooling! i am a flexible person, yet i somewhat thrive on structure. i am finding it hard to give in to complete unschooling. it makes me feel a little bit out of control and kind of panicky because I would constantly second guess myself and wonder if i am doing the right thing!

Erin - posted on 06/19/2011

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Yeah I think there is a definite blurring of the lines. Sara, what you described is not unschooling as far as I understand. It's child-led homeschooling, which is the best of both worlds IMO. The child's interests are being considered and utilized while an array of topics are being covered.

April - posted on 06/19/2011

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In my opinion, Sara' s example is a mixture of both. The unschooling part is that Eliza chooses the topic. The home schooling part is Sara creating a series of lessons. It would be complete unschooling if Eliza came up with her own plan for learning about horses. Tara's example of her daughters choosing to learn about the history of their home is true unschooling in that A) they came up with the idea and B) they decided how they were going to display their learning (Tara did not suggest that they write a descriptive paragraph nor did she suggest that they put on a play)

[deleted account]

So would 'guiding' your kids to learn algebra...as long as you aren't forcing them to sit and memorize x+y=z...fall more into the formal homeschooling or un-schooling category?



I don't know how to guide anyone to want to learn algebra...but suppose my daughter loves horses (which she does) and I created a series of lessons based on her love of horses in which she wrote a descriptive paragraph, read a historical fiction book, learned anatomy, and mastered long division...would that be considered un-schooling or regular homeschooling?

Minnie - posted on 06/19/2011

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Workbooks can be incorporated into unschool. The key is following the child's cues and interests, rather than coercive, forced education. So if the child was interested in and got something out of workbooks, what's the harm? :)

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Laura, I know I couldn't. You could say I 'homeschooled' my girls when they were little... before they started preschool and supplemented at home for... well.... they still do stuff at home on their own. My girls are a fan of workbooks though and have been since before they turned 3. ;) They taught themselves cursive writing from a workbook when they were 5... lol

Constance - posted on 06/19/2011

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If children still are able to fully succeed in life and can still be accepted into colleges and universities then there is not a problem. IMO

Minnie - posted on 06/19/2011

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I wonder if what many of you are thinking of is 'radical unschooling' and not just unschooling. There definitely are parents who take it to the extreme, letting their children have donuts for breakfast every day because they want to, but most unschoolers don't do that.

They just give their children as much freedom to be individuals as possible (while it is safe and healthy). I'm all for unschooling. Basically, no curriculum, letting the children's interests feed their education.

Charlie - posted on 06/19/2011

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I actually think there comes a point in time where you need to asses your child and discover what type of thinkers they are whether it is methodical ,analytical , creative , intuitive or a sensing thinker, each have a direction of education that are more suited to them for instance a naturally creative mind in a formal setting might find themselves stifled , for them learning is about the process not the end result .....Personally I think formal schooling is a little crushing of creativity. For a naturally sensing thinker they prefer to learn through organised and structured enviroments they thrive on meeting the task and the final acheivement , the formal school is perfect for a person like this .

I think this especially applies to older children ( and adults ) , it really should be about the type of thinker the child is and what is suited to them ...formal schooling does not afford to cover all these types of thinkers ( although homeschooling might) this is why in my opinion some just dont do well in that setting , why some drop out of school ....They dont have the type of education to match their ability to learn.

Erin - posted on 06/19/2011

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Loureen you may be right about the creative vs analytical brain. I don't have a creative bone in my body. I also had no problems excelling in a mainstream learning environment (I went to a Gifted & Talented school). I'm sure those two factors play a big role in why unschooling seems unrealistic to me.

Oh and when I talk about unschooling, I am more specifically referring to older children (say primary aged - 8ish+). I agree it's a good way to introduce new concepts to small kids. I don't believe in structured learning for little ones (under shool aged).

Charlie - posted on 06/19/2011

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Every single one of you who take an active part in providing opportunities for your toddler or infant to learn through play are unschooling ...That is another thing , it starts at birth.

The ones who would appeal more to this type of learning would be the creative types although an analytical mind would also do very well , it is much more than just child lead learning it is instigation , inspiration and responsibility upon the parent to provide a variety of learning opportunities to make sure all areas are covered through the interest of the child , nearly every lesson can be incorporated into life experience or play and almsot every subject can be used as an inspiration for that learning.

Erin - posted on 06/19/2011

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When I look at my opinions on all things parenting, I fall into the moderately crunchy category (not that it's necessary to categorise of course). But I can't wrap my head around unschooling. Homeschooling with child-led learning? Awesome. But I understand unschooling to take that a step further, where the child has total control over what they learn.



I just can't see how that is preparing them for the realities of either university or employment. It's one thing to focus on a child's interests, and use that to their advantage in teaching an array of subjects. It's quite another to ignore a subject completely because they don't like it or don't get it.



I actually had an argument once with Woman Uncensored (some of you may read her) after she posted the testimony of an adult who had been unschooled. This guy was the most self-entitled, irresponsible, immature asswipe I'd ever seen, and far from what I would want for the poster child of a cause/ideology I was pushing. I realise he was only one person, but it absolutely turned me off.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/18/2011

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I think if you don't sit down and study algebra, you are going to have a hard time being super choosey with your career selection. I am all for quite a bit more flexibility and exploration when it comes to the more social sciences and history and stuff because if you are missing one piece, you can still learn. But if you are missing one piece of math, you are going to have a really hard time filling in later. My husband is an engineer. No way in hell would he have got in to his university program without really sound knowledge of math. And forget actually doing the coursework. While one might argue that a kid who chooses that career in the end is going to show interest as a child too, that isn't always the case. I certainly didn't end up doing what I had planned. I changed my mind between 18 and 19 years old. Thank goodness I had knowledge of basic language, math and science so that I was able to have my choice of post-secondary study.



I might add, subtract, multiple, divide and work with fractions and percentages and such in my daily life. I don't do calculus. It's hard to work that stuff in to the everyday. That's my fear - that un-schooling in every subject would be limiting later on. I know this is kind of unrelated, but a couple years back I believe it was, Alberta decided that their students were going to be allowed to opt out of learning about evolution for religious reasons. And all I could think was "ummm...what if the kid wants a career in biology?". Catching up later on will be that much more difficult and confusing. Take it from the girl who didn't do physics in high school and needed it later. If I hadn't taken the other maths and sciences it might have been too much for me or I might have had to re-take it at the very least. I don't know. I don't like educational limits. Trusting a child to figure out what they need to know is pretty risky.

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