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What gives?!?! I need some unschoolers to help me out here


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Warning: A rant:

 

I recently joined a couple homeschooling groups in the area so I can try to get my dc more active with children of all ages. I went into two of these groups without knowing anyone.

 

I've been going on numerous playdates since last October and recently I keep being snubbed by unschoolers. Granted two of the women are the most vocal but it annoys me that the other unschoolers just nod in agreement instead of telling them to back off.

 

They make snide comments about people over burdening children and stealing childhood. They always preempt their talk with "No offense to people following other approaches..but- (input complaint here)" Basically saying anyone not un-schooling is totally screwing their kids and being horrible parents. They compared any structured approach with tiger moms.

 

While at a park date my dd5 asked if she could get her book out of the car to read. She was tired of running and wanted to sit. I grabbed her the book and she happily ran off to read what trouble Ramona Quimby will get in next.

 

When I got back to the moms they were noticeably different and standoffish to me. Then one finally stated, in a rather passive aggressive comment, about how sad it is to see a child reading so young. How much her imagination will be missing out on.

I just stated the truth- that I think my dd's imagination has taken off since reading as it has opened new doors to her. I am amazed at how she takes what she reads and incorporates it into how she plays. She just seemed to pick up reading easily. I know she is a young reader (I was myself at a young age) and I don't feel like she is some tortured child.

 

The unschoolers on the group's facebook page just started a post about how they wish there was a place to go where there was only other unschoolers. Not homeschoolers. Seriously- she put that part in bold. :confused: Why would you purposely try to exclude people?

 

Up until this point unschooling has piqued my interest. I really dig certain aspects to child led education but noticed that with my oldest daughter, a structured approach suits us better. I never would have thought to try to exclude any class of homeschooler/unschooler or public school families. What's with the segregation? Does this occur in other homeschooling philosphies and I just haven't been exposed to it... This whole experience is putting a sour taste in my mouth.

 

Please- can unschoolers out here help me out. I don't want to drop these groups but I don't want to leave each playdate feeling like this. I want to go to playdates moms who help empower me and not try to knock me down. Did I just happen to meet the few worst poster-family cases for unschooling?

 

Is this just another saga in mommy wars? Can't we all just get along???!? I would think us "non-mainstream-education" folk would stick together.

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Honestly, this kind of arrogant idealism is most prevalent in mothers of youngers, and it does dissipate over the years. That doesn't solve your problem now.

 

You can't change their orientation, mindset, or behavior. You can set boundaries, however.

 

"I respect you've made a different choice with regard to educational style. I will refrain from commenting, and I will in return not participate in discussions that lack respect for the choices I've made."

 

Find a safe, boundaried, person to two and hang with them. Don't engage with or debate the ideal mommies; they aren't in a life space to be kind, reasonable, or gracious.

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Then one finally stated, in a rather passive aggressive comment, about how sad it is to see a child reading so young. How much her imagination will be missing out on.

 

That lady is off her rocker.

For all she knows, your DD might have taught herself to read in a completely unschooled way. There are many kids who do.

 

Learn to pass the bean dip. Do not mention curriculum or structure. See how much you can tolerate.

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You don't want to drop the group? I would be wondering when the moms' attitudes toward you and your children are going to rub off on their kid's attitudes toward you and your children. At least that's what happened to me. I dropped the group and my kids thanked me once they had some time to adjust and realize that it had not been healthy.

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I used to be an unschooler.

 

In a way, the traditional-homeschooling mindset has little in common with an unschooler mindset.

 

Getting together in traditional homeschool groups can be frustrating because almost anything people tend to talk about -- curriculum choices, "getting" kids to do chores, schoolwork, whatever, the school day in general -- at best unschoolers can't relate to it; at worst they have very strong feelings against it. (I knew an unschooler friend who said she thought it was "abusive" for a mother to tell her children at a homeschooler picnic that the children should eat some carrots before she unpacked the strawberries.)

 

If you want to stay in the group, I would treat it like an Undercover Investigative Reporter learning about unschooling kind of thing. Ask them questions. Observe. Be amused. Post here about it. ;)

 

In my experience, what you experienced is fairly typical for unschoolers (although many of them would be a little less rude about it).

 

It sounds like this may not be a good group for you.

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I have experienced this too. My younger son was at a friend's bday party last summer. It was really hot out and he came in and asked if he could sit inside and read a bit to cool off. He pulled out his book and sat down next to me. One woman said "I can't IMAGINE any child wanting to read rather than run around." :glare: I have also been criticized pretty harshly by a unschooler who I actually consider to be a friend. She thought my structured approach was "unnatural" and I was somehow forcing my idea of "success" on my kids. Whatever. I told her I respect her choices, because they're hers, and they're her kids, and she knows her family best. I told her I assume she chooses her method (unschooling) because she feels it suits her child's learning style best, and not because of any personal ideology of her own (I said that a bit tongue in cheek :tongue_smilie:). I said I could see my younger was going to need a more free-wheeling approach than my older, and that I was taking that into account when planning how to approach his academic future. I, too, respect unschooling when it's done as its founder, John Holt envisioned. But the radical, holier-than-thou unschoolers who wouldn't deign to crack a textbook? Not so much. You do what your kids' needs dictate: if that means you lean towards unschooling, so be it. If that means that you realize your unschooled kids really need more structure, and that you're no longer comfortable that your 9 year old cannot subtract, so be it. In fact, this same friend last week told me that she's been trying fruitlessly to get her kids to do math workbooks because she's getting worried about their lack of structure :001_huh: I told her that the dull workbooks she was using probably weren't helping, but I could point her in the direction of more lively, enjoyable CURRICULA (yes, I said the evil word) that her kids might appreciate more (Life of Fred, anyone? Right Start Math Games? Living Math books? :001_smile:)

 

It's about the child's needs, not about ideology.

 

ETA: I run a local homeschool group, and everyone is welcome, whatever their religion, schooling approach or what have you. But everyone needs to be able to respect everyone else. If they can't, just move along.

Edited by Halcyon
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Wow! I had no idea knowing how to read was such a horror! :tongue_smilie: I'd want to stay away from that group if it were me. They sound pretty closed-minded (and holier-than-thou, which is even worse), and I want my family to be around open-minded people. Like others have said, it's about doing what's best for *your* family.

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What a shame that you had this experience. I'm in a group with quite a few unschoolers and have never had them say anything judgmental to me or anyone else (at least not to my face). I think we all feel so blessed that we have the freedom to educate our children in the way we see fit, so why would we ever want criticize each other? It sounds like these moms might feel a little insecure, and maybe they build themselves up by putting others down. I really hope you can find a more supportive group. :grouphug:

ps one wonders if your child had pulled out a Nintendo DS instead of a book, would they have had the same reaction? :confused:

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Honestly, it's the unschoolers that turned me off to unschooling.

 

Some of them present it as if it were some kind of cult.

 

:iagree:

 

I avoid those who claim the unschooling label with gusto and wave it around as their personal banner. I have no problem hanging out with those who just do things that way....but if they start preaching about it, or criticizing other choices, I'm outta there.

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Honestly, it's the unschoolers that turned me off to unschooling.

 

Some of them present it as if it were some kind of cult.

 

Yep. To the OP, grind your teeth and pass the bean dip or pass on the group.

 

Are your kids really really interested in those kids as friends? If yes, I personally would be inclined to bring my own book, chair and bean dip. If no, I would be inclined to give up on the group.

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What a bummer. I'm so sorry those folks have been so rude.

 

The park group here is largely unschoolers but I've never had a problem. I wonder if it's one of those things where a couple of people can spoil a whole group by starting a cycle of reinforcing behavior that keeps dissenting opinions out. Sadly those kinds of groups don't do too well in the long run, I don't think.

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I think I would want to post a reply on the FB page and say something like, "Actually, one of the things I really appreciate about this group is the diversity of opinions. It would make me sad to lose that and be in a group where people couldn't respect each other's philosophies."

 

And then if you get flamed for that, you know it's time to go. Sigh. Why must people be this way? I feel like unschoolers get picked on in the hs community sometimes for this behavior, but it really could be any group. Lots of people get just as dogmatic sometimes.

Edited by farrarwilliams
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I have been lucky enough to meet some radical unschoolers who are perfectly OK with the approaches taken by others, however I think the attitude you've described is, sadly, all too common. I can only put it down to minority defensiveness: since non schoolers are a minority, and unschoolers are a minority within that minority, they tend to encounter a lot of ignorance, criticism and sometimes even persecution, hence some of them become extremely defensive and intolerant. In your place I'd consider ditching the group.

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I've been to several get-togethers with a local homeschooling group that isn't meant to be just unschoolers, but it seems that most of them are. It is really strange, but I have never encountered such unfriendly people. They have no idea about how I homeschool (because they don't bother to even talk to me), but are not at all friendly and make me uncomfortable because they don't feel inclusive. And I've heard some under their breath comments about so-and-so who has her kids study...LATIN! I consider myself very friendly and outgoing and can't figure this out. I think it's mostly that they just don't have manners (not saying this is typical of unschoolers, have no idea), and aren't interested at all in welcoming new members. I'm used to our New Family Committee (I chaired it!) at my kids' school where we welcomed new families and tried to get them involved, etc. At one homeschooler's meetings I tried to smile and chat with people near me, but they were just not having it. I really don't think it was me, as someone else mentioned that she'd had the same experience, and I saw another very sweet new person that no one seemed to speak to. It was just awkward. When I see a new person at a group setting, I go out of my way to walk over and make her feel comfortable.

 

Anyway, unfortunately I don't have a very favorable impression of unschoolers as a social group since this has been my only experience with them. Maybe there are other groups that are friendlier. It was a huge bummer for me - I felt like I was in Junior High trying to fit in, and they wouldn't let me in!

 

To the OP - I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. You seem like a patient person!

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While at a park date my dd5 asked if she could get her book out of the car to read. She was tired of running and wanted to sit. I grabbed her the book and she happily ran off to read what trouble Ramona Quimby will get in next.

 

When I got back to the moms they were noticeably different and standoffish to me. Then one finally stated, in a rather passive aggressive comment, about how sad it is to see a child reading so young. How much her imagination will be missing out on.

I just stated the truth- that I think my dd's imagination has taken off since reading as it has opened new doors to her. I am amazed at how she takes what she reads and incorporates it into how she plays. She just seemed to pick up reading easily. I know she is a young reader (I was myself at a young age) and I don't feel like she is some tortured child.

 

 

I would not have anything to do with that group. What an absolute crock.

 

As someone who *discovered* that her not-yet-3-year-old could read, and who *chooses* to read for a good 2 hours every day, I would absolutely have lit into them with a soapbox speech.:rant: Reading about their treatment of you literally makes me mad. :glare: Arrogance, ignorance, and a complete lack of respect and graciousness do not make for a good environment.

 

I'd run for the hills. :lol:

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I am afraid of that happening. I used to think the unschooling or child led learning styles were what I wanted to do with my kids but as time goes on I feel something closer to classical will be better. Dd needs structure and did not do well in the child led learning preschools she was in. A lot of my aquantances are really into the super AP stuff or nutrition and are really vocal about it and how that how everyone should be. I would possibly write back something in response depending on if I felt up for confrontation. I don't like when people get like that about parenting issues and I definately feel that. I don't fit in anywhere because people get really inclusive about their parenting and don't like when people do things different. I don't get what is wrong with hearing how others do things different and exchanging ideas.

Edited by MistyMountain
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Anyway, unfortunately I don't have a very favorable impression of unschoolers as a social group since this has been my only experience with them. Maybe there are other groups that are friendlier.

 

There really are--most of my homeschooling friends are hippie unschoolers and I feel right at home. I consider some of them good friends and we have great movie nights every so often.

 

I fell sad for you folks that aren't being treated well by other homeschoolers. It's amazing how we moms can get so good at being judgmental and mean about other people's choices. Some folks will use any excuse to divide. This is also why I don't like groups that require SOFs...

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I think whenever a small group has opinions radically outside the mainstream on some important topic, they tend to get super defensive. And I find the unschoolers I know, in person, and online fit that to a tee, especially the self-titled "radical unschoolers".

 

I've had to break off contact with some radical unschooling folks, as they just can't leave it alone.

 

If you look at if from their standpoint, they and their kids must get so much pressure from the "wrong" outside world, that their guard is always up, and they must spend their entire lives defending their worldview. I suspect traditional homeschoolers might have been like this, say 30 years ago, when it was much more rare.

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It is no different than the rabidly Christian-only groups.

 

Yes, the two groups have that 'exclude those not like us' mindset in common. I know a few unschoolers who respect the choices other parents make, but people in the unschooling groups I've come in contact with are rabid. :grouphug: Are there any other groups in your area that might be a better fit?

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I haven't read the other replies, but this is why we don't belong to any homeschool groups or co-ops. People are just way too exclusive and they're really starting to be inflexible/narrow-minded. It's not just homeschoolers. It seems to be a new characteristic of our culture. :glare:

 

If I want my kids to take any classes, we have an enrichment center here. You pay money for the classes and they are taught by part-time teachers. There isn't any weirdness. I love that place.

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It's about the child's needs, not about ideology.

 

 

 

I must remember that quote so I can pull it out and use it in conversation! Thanks!!

 

Honestly, it's the unschoolers that turned me off to unschooling.

 

Some of them present it as if it were some kind of cult.

 

That's what I found surprising. I just assumed homeschoolers would stick together and was caught off guard at the blatant attacks.

 

Thank you everyone for your sympathetic words. I will try and cast this as a run in with a few bad apples and not broadly stroke over all unschoolers with my opinion of the few I met. I'll try to remain open minded and refrain from letting their prejudices infect me with any negativity.

 

We'll see how it goes.

 

On the flip side, I met one woman and her three kids and we all it hit off really well. She just made a post about being a classical homeschooler! YAY! So maybe before I leave the group completely I will try and see if there are anymore open-minded ones hidden among the group.

 

Thanks again everyone. I am feeling much better about everything. You guys have restored my hope in humanity :tongue_smilie:

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This isn't an unschooler problem, it's a Mean Girl problem.

 

:grouphug:

 

Cat

 

:iagree: I'm an unschooling parent. My eldest likes " school" which is why I'm here. It sounds like you encountered one nasty person and possibly a few followers (or just smile & nodders). I would avoid her in future, but I might give the group more of a chance. Folks don't always turn up to every event & you'll never know about that kindred spirit family you missed if you don't try again.

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It is no different than the rabidly Christian-only groups. Jerks come in all flavors. :grouphug:

 

Absolutely! I've also been to secular groups where the prime conversation among moms seems to be bashing the religious groups.

 

Some people have the us vs. them mentality, and they carry it with them to whatever activity they support. They feel like they can't support or believe in something unless they are bashing something else.

 

I've found that looking for groups that have "inclusive" in their title or description helps. There I find people who understand that what is best for their family is not required for everyone's family.

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What a shame that you had this experience. I'm in a group with quite a few unschoolers and have never had them say anything judgmental to me or anyone else

 

This isn't an unschooler problem, it's a Mean Girl problem.

 

It is no different than the rabidly Christian-only groups. Jerks come in all flavors.

 

That wasn't an unschooler. That was an anti schooler. Does she rip books away from her own kids?

 

:iagree:

 

Does this group have an organizer that you can talk to privately about the situation? If so, maybe she can remind people to "play nicely" and to treat everyone with respect and consideration, especially if this is supposed to be a "homeschool" group and not just an "unschool" group per se.

 

I'd hate to see you leave a group you might otherwise enjoy and get a lot out of because some of the members are acting snippy. I take it there are other people in the group aside from these couple, that they aren't ALL unschoolers, and so on.

 

Or if that doesn't work and it continues and you reach the bottom of your rope, maybe you can send her/them a politely worded private message explaining how you feel and that you would like to continue joining in on activities and so on but don't want to be made to feel judged every time you do and see if being straightforward with them (nice, but straightforward) makes a difference.

 

Of course, maybe after what one of them posted on facebook they will preempt you and end up branching off on their own and starting their own unschooler's group anyway!

 

Another alternative is for you to start your own meeup group and identify it as an inclusive group for homeschoolers of all educational philosophies and religious backgrounds and so on and make one of your guidelines that everyone should respect everyone else's choices and differences and just get together for playdates, field trips, socializing and so on. That's basically what my group is all about, and I love it. We've got Christians, Jews, atheists, unschoolers, classical schoolers, relaxed schoolers, cyber schoolers, and I've been a member and assistant organizer for two years and then took over running the group for the past year (so with the group for three years total) and it's been going great. We don't debate religion, politics, educational style...we just socialize, do field trips, tours, playdates, etc, everyone's friendly, not preachy, it's great.

 

It wouldn't work for a real "co op class" kind of situation of course but for field trips and kickball games and park days and picnics and touring the fire house and occasional informal fun classes and so on and so forth? Perfect.

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Honestly, this kind of arrogant idealism is most prevalent in mothers of youngers, and it does dissipate over the years.

:iagree: (Adding: it sounds like the unschoolers in your group have a Waldorfy bent as well, which might explain the hostility around "early" reading.)

 

I don't know if it'll make you feel better, but among local homeschoolers I felt very much out of place 3 years ago. All of the homeschoolers I was friendly with were unschoolers. The structured homeschoolers all seemed to be Christian, and I definitely didn't fit in with them. Fortunately all of the unschoolers were respectful of other approaches, but I did need to come here for support and discussion of the nuts and bolts of homeschooling.

 

Lo and behold, each and every one of them is now drifting closer and closer to structured homeschooling. We still only rarely talk about schooly stuff, which is just fine with me. I'd rather save that for here. :D

 

Of course that doesn't help you now. I'd cultivate relationships with the ones who are friendly and open-minded, and plan to spend less time with the Mean Girls.

 

:grouphug:

Edited by jplain
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oh wow! we have tried a few home school groups, and I thought I was the only one til the hive "set me free" :001_smile:

We started hs late in the game, one in mid high, 3 at the end of elementary.

Our 3rd week into going to these groups, one of the mom's inadvertently scheduled a meet up on a day school was out 1/2 day! This meant all the mid high kids roamed the park with us.

The hs-ers, began packing up their things and gathering their children as if the Zombies were upon us.

There were friends of my kids in this school, and they were excited to get a game of football going. The tried to get the other boy HSers to play. They weren't allowed.

Yeah, they weren't allowed to play with public school kids.

My oldest, says, "Dude, up until last month I was in this same public school?"

 

One mom rushed up to me, "where are your girls?? "(they were 9-10 at the time) "this is public school" "We are all leaving to try another park"

I pointed them out, they were on the swings with two of the kids from the school, laughing.

I said, these are their friends, and we are staying.

We stayed in this group, so every Friday I could come home and growl, and my kids could ask questions about why won't the kids play? or how come so and so won't play with us?

Yeah, it took me a while, and then I just faded away....it was a lovely fade.

We try different ones here and there. But, it is a family decision to go back. Life is too short to be vexed needlessly.

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So many people are just too quick to judge. I, too, would think alternative-schoolers would desire to stick together instead of excluding certain groups.

 

I learned to read young and would stay inside for hours reading until my mom kicked me out to play... and even then I'd be counting down the minutes 'til I could go back in, lol.

 

I would stay away from that particular woman and perhaps try to find a group of home-/un-schoolers that is more accepting of all different approaches. Or maybe seek out a couple of women in the groups you've already visited that don't seem quite so judgemental?

 

Hugs to you.

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So many people are just too quick to judge. I, too, would think alternative-schoolers would desire to stick together instead of excluding certain groups.

 

I learned to read young and would stay inside for hours reading until my mom kicked me out to play... and even then I'd be counting down the minutes 'til I could go back in, lol.

 

I would stay away from that particular woman and perhaps try to find a group of home-/un-schoolers that is more accepting of all different approaches. Or maybe seek out a couple of women in the groups you've already visited that don't seem quite so judgemental?

 

Hugs to you.

 

Yup

So sorry you got blasted. :grouphug:

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Unschooling seems the dominant form of home education around here but most families in our immediate area are friendly regardless of what they do.

 

I had one friend who I would say tends towards radical unschooling make a lovely comment about us all doing the best for our kids and that we should all be supportive of each other no matter what. That made me think positively about all unschoolers however we then went to a home education camp in another part of the country and that was a shock to the system. The core group running the camp were radical unschoolers and so negative, insular, preachy and downright unfriendly.

 

We left after 3 days for various reasons including the shambolic state of this camp that we had paid money to attend and found ourselves on the end of several snarky comments. The comments mostly seemed to be about our failure to let our kids do absolutely everything they wanted. I had a 14 month old and a 5 yr old at the time so I wasn't about to follow their every whim.

 

I came away from that camp feeling very negative about unschooling and feeling like I needed to be really guarded around other home educators. It is a shame because that feeling has stayed with me.

 

I ran the local home ed group for 2yrs ish.We started a few months before this camp. I do think our group was truly accepting of all ideologies so it can be done but I think sometimes groups of home educators breed the negative attitudes, particularly if the main organisers are domineering types with strong views towards unschooling. When newbie home educators join they seem to get sucked into the views and learn to be nasty to those with other viewpoints. Wierdly it reminds me of school cliques.

Edited by lailasmum
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