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I just read a book called skip high school and go to college. Or something along those lines.

It's basically about unschooling for high school and still building an impressive enough portfolio to get into any college you want.

 

It really challenged me to think about some of the drudgery we are currently experiencing in our schooling.

 

But mainly, I just could not see how a child would ever be motivated enough on their own to do the sort of things required to move on in life successfully. I mean, they are so short sighted. If I just told my 14yo tomorrow that she only had to do what she felt like doing, it would be precious little academically, that's for sure! I think it would mainly involve knitting, sewing, reading, playing piano, and riding her bike. You can't go to college on that. She doesn't have any career goals. So I feel like it's my job to make her do the work that she doesn't see the point of now so she doesn't close doors that she might wish were available later on.

 

But I am tired of the battle.

 

So what do people do that actually unschool? Like math, mainly. What child just thinks, well, I'll learn algebra this year?

 

Anyway, I hope I'm making sense.

 

I'm wanting to make some changes, but I don't see how.

 

Jen

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I think that it can work well if your child has a very specific and highly motivated personality, as well as a great deal of emotional maturity.

 

I don't think that most kids have that personality, however. :tongue_smilie:

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Snip/

 

But mainly, I just could not see how a child would ever be motivated enough on their own to do the sort of things required to move on in life successfully. I mean, they are so short sighted. If I just told my 14yo tomorrow that she only had to do what she felt like doing, it would be precious little academically, that's for sure! I think it would mainly involve knitting, sewing, reading, playing piano, and riding her bike. You can't go to college on that. She doesn't have any career goals. So I feel like it's my job to make her do the work that she doesn't see the point of now so she doesn't close doors that she might wish were available later on.

 

Snip/

 

So what do people do that actually unschool? Like math, mainly. What child just thinks, well, I'll learn algebra this

 

I'm wanting to make some changes, but I don't see how.

 

Jen

 

I've often wondered about this myself and come to the conclusion that unschooling works best when the child is driven to learn or passionate about something.

 

Fwiw, I've recently begun unschooling the sciences, math and reading because DD is self motivated. I 'school' writing and second language because she lacks interest and needs a slight push to get those done.

 

In my humble opinion, it doesn't have to be an 'either/ or' situation. One suggestion is to unschool/ follow her lead when it comes to her strengths ( although it seems counter intuitive) and follow structured learning for the ones that she isn't particularly inclined towards but are important nevertheless.

 

ETA : Just wanted to mention that I don't have a high school aged child, so if my suggestions seem presumptuous, feel free to disregard them.

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I just read a book called skip high school and go to college. Or something along those lines.

It's basically about unschooling for high school and still building an impressive enough portfolio to get into any college you want.

 

It really challenged me to think about some of the drudgery we are currently experiencing in our schooling.

 

But mainly, I just could not see how a child would ever be motivated enough on their own to do the sort of things required to move on in life successfully. I mean, they are so short sighted. If I just told my 14yo tomorrow that she only had to do what she felt like doing, it would be precious little academically, that's for sure! I think it would mainly involve knitting, sewing, reading, playing piano, and riding her bike. You can't go to college on that. She doesn't have any career goals. So I feel like it's my job to make her do the work that she doesn't see the point of now so she doesn't close doors that she might wish were available later on.

 

But I am tired of the battle.

 

So what do people do that actually unschool? Like math, mainly. What child just thinks, well, I'll learn algebra this year?

 

Anyway, I hope I'm making sense.

 

I'm wanting to make some changes, but I don't see how.

 

Jen

 

I have learnt that the "do what you want" type of radical unschooling does not work - atleast not with my kid. However, if you mean unschooling in the sense of being interest-led and using non traditional methods and curriculum, then yes unschooling can be greatly helpful in reducing drudgery and lighting a spark and love of learning in the child.

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I just read a book called skip high school and go to college. Or something along those lines.

It's basically about unschooling for high school and still building an impressive enough portfolio to get into any college you want.

 

It really challenged me to think about some of the drudgery we are currently experiencing in our schooling.

 

But mainly, I just could not see how a child would ever be motivated enough on their own to do the sort of things required to move on in life successfully. I mean, they are so short sighted. If I just told my 14yo tomorrow that she only had to do what she felt like doing, it would be precious little academically, that's for sure! I think it would mainly involve knitting, sewing, reading, playing piano, and riding her bike. You can't go to college on that. She doesn't have any career goals. So I feel like it's my job to make her do the work that she doesn't see the point of now so she doesn't close doors that she might wish were available later on.

 

But I am tired of the battle.

 

So what do people do that actually unschool? Like math, mainly. What child just thinks, well, I'll learn algebra this year?

 

Anyway, I hope I'm making sense.

 

I'm wanting to make some changes, but I don't see how.

 

Jen

Unschoolers trust their children to make life choices. Somehow it seems to work.

 

An unschooling friend has three children in college--University of Texas, Texas A&M, and a seminary. I don't know how the timeline was, you know, when the dc decided what they wanted to do and worked toward that goal, but I know that my friend let them make those decisions, and then did whatever was needed on her part, if anything.

 

Yes, someone who knows he needs algebra to do...whatever he wants to do next...will learn algebra. He might do that on his own with a textbook, or he might decide to take community college classes, or...he'll figure it out.

 

Unschooling isn't for everyone. :-)

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I wish I could unschool! I am tired of writing page after page of things I don't care about. I love learning but I hate school (make sense?). I used to love learning about the world around me I would spend hours reading about things I loved now I just spend hours doing assignment after assignment. I used to love history and now I despise it. Why is is necessary for me to define 39 terms wih 2 paragraphs an then write 8 five paragraph essays every week? Oh that's right so that some top tier school can look at four years of hardworking and decide in 5 seconds wether I have met their "requests". Then have some teacher take two points of every grammar error on a 50 point paper! Yes I get that I can't spell well and yes I get I have bad grammar but you think it's going to help me if you call out all my errors on a public student discussion board?

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Unschoolers trust their children to make life choices. Somehow it seems to work.

 

This has been my experience also. I know plenty of unschooled high schoolers who successfully went on to college. One friend's daughter is graduating from veterinary school this year.

 

My unschooling friends are phenomenal facilitators. They spend lots of time trying to accommodate their children's interests and explorations, encouraging them to plan and organize things, and giving them the tools they need to be self-learners. They're all pretty amazing people.

 

I've never had the energy to unschool. :) I have a great deal of respect for people who do though.

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I would have done it. If I had access to all the information on the internet that is available now- I would have been thrilled. But then again, I might have just overdone that whole punk phase and run away to join a band. :D

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OK, so what you guys are saying is that it takes a special kind of person to be able to unschool. Really motivated hard working kids. Kids that decide to learn algebra because it will get them where they want to go.

 

So if you have kids who have no idea where they want to go?

 

I just don't like the idea that my kids don't "love learning". That we've gone wrong somehow.

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So if you have kids who have no idea where they want to go?

 

I just don't like the idea that my kids don't "love learning". That we've gone wrong somehow.

 

My ds does not love school. He never has. He is more engaged this year, but like Brandigirl he'll probably never enjoy writing long papers just for a grade.

 

I don't think you've gone wrong, I struggle with this too. I hated school, attended public high school, graduated early just to get out of there. I was a good student, just didn't like school.

 

I'm working on ways to make sure ds is engaged in learning. I give him say in what he's learning. Next year I'm giving him options on how to approach a few subjects. We've made school a compromise. I have my requirements, he gets his way in a few things. I remind him that he's not wise enough to understand the "why" of many requirements yet. Unschooling everything wouldn't work for us as he doesn't understand the long term consequences or outcomes of say dropping math at algebra.

 

He's finishing 8th this year. We did sort of unschool a few subjects this year. Art was completely done in his spare time, he did some on the computer some on paper. We unschooled part of science together. He wanted to study Relativity. Okay, we haven't covered that in physics, but okay. We read Simply Einstein, watched The Elegant Universe, and spent a lot of time discussing.

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I've met lots of unschoolers over my 15 years of homeschooling. I've seen that it works for that rare student who is highly motivated, focused, and whose mom or dad is incredibly resourceful with lots of energy to provide the learning experiences to continually challenge and enrich their education. Oh, having lots of money also helps. Sadly, I've seen many more unschoolers grow up without the self-discipline, motivation, or skills to do more than play ultimate frisbee and play video games while their parents support them financially and wait for them to "find their way".

 

In fact, I got to know the wife of a rather prominent spokesman for unschooling and she told me she didn't really believe in unschooling as she saw evidence that it didn't work (!). Her kids ended up in public school for high school. She and her husband were together when the decision was made and he continues to be a spokesman.

 

Yolanda

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I've read a lot of unschooling material, among a lot of other homeschool lit. Here's my take-away. It takes a LOT of motivation, resources on the part of the parent to really unschool in a way that is not just sheer neglectfulness. For great examples of this read The Colfaxes' Hard Times in Paradise, Llewellyn's Teenage Liberation Handbook, some of the very old GWS's (if you can find them) and The New Global Student.

 

I have seen unschoolers succeed brilliantly (the Forte's in CA- Caroline started a store in Monrovia and one of the very first co-ops, also in CA). Their youngest had severe LD's and she did amazing things (CAroline is a trained teacher).

 

I have also seen it fail - the kids grow up to be D & D junkies, hanging out at SCA (not that that's bad in itself- no offense to esteemed board members like Rosie and others- it's just the extreme role playing, rather than real living) and working minimum wage jobs while they act condescendinly towards others. Also, if you research the Summerhill Project, many of the original "graduates" went on to tend bar. It also read like Lord of the Flies, but maybe that was just me... We knew one family where the kid was begging his Mom to teach him higher math becasue he felt unprepared (he was crying) and the Mom told him if he was motivated enough he would figure it out. Uh...right.

 

Just like classical ed, or textbook ed or whatever ed, if the parents are not invovled, and don't show up to mentor their kids and administrate their philosophy, the kids will probably give in to to their own personal bents.

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I'm tired of the battle too. I offered my son the opportunity to design his own curriculum and/ or unschool, he just rolled his eyes and said he was fine doing what he was currently doing. The thing is-- he gives little to no effort on anything I assign him. He has NO career goals or plans. He's so behind in math I'm embarrassed to say what book he's doing right now. Honestly, it seems it would be better to throw in the towel and let him find something that motivates him. But he has no motivation or interests beyond video games (playing them, not designing them). I guess the radical unschoolers would say-- let him play video games all day-- and I might let him if he were paying his fair share of the utility bills and internet connection. But he's not doing that on my dime.

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I've seen that it works for that rare student who is highly motivated, focused, and whose mom or dad is incredibly resourceful with lots of energy to provide the learning experiences to continually challenge and enrich their education........

 

Sadly, I've seen many more unschoolers grow up without the self-discipline, motivation, or skills to do more than play ultimate frisbee and play video games while their parents support them financially and wait for them to "find their way".

 

:iagree:, both of these. It can appear to "work", with just the right kid with a lot of their own motivation, and the perfect storm of advantages. But it can also crash and burn, very badly.

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I have also seen it fail - the kids grow up to be D & D junkies, hanging out at SCA (not that that's bad in itself- no offense to esteemed board members like Rosie and others- it's just the extreme role playing, rather than real living) and working minimum wage jobs while they act condescendinly towards others. Also, if you research the Summerhill Project, many of the original "graduates" went on to tend bar. It also read like Lord of the Flies, but maybe that was just me... We knew one family where the kid was begging his Mom to teach him higher math becasue he felt unprepared (he was crying) and the Mom told him if he was motivated enough he would figure it out. Uh...right.

 

I know people who went to a Summerhill type school here in the US, and this is what my experience with that school is like. There's even a book out about how successful and happy their graduates are, but that does not mesh with my experience of the school.

 

I do think it can work well for the right child when implemented in the right way. But I think it can also create an educational disaster.

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We knew one family where the kid was begging his Mom to teach him higher math becasue he felt unprepared (he was crying) and the Mom told him if he was motivated enough he would figure it out. Uh...right.

 

:iagree:Saw the same thing in a family but the kids were very angry. A friend of mine with lots of child psychology background said the kids were angry because they felt incompetent due to their lack of academic skills. Very sad.

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I'm not an unschooling fan and can't say I've seen it work IRL. I know it CAN work (Booker T Washington comes to mind), but most kids just don't know what they need to know or how to get to a goal and many parents don't seem to be filling in where they'd need to.

 

I am a fan of independent learning and have raised my homeschoolers that way. Middle son recently told me that he overheard youngest mentioning he's glad he learned to learn (and love learning) while he was homeschooling from 5th - 8th or he'd likely be like his ps peers without much ambition or drive. It was nice to hear that he, too, realized there were some positives to our insistence on independence - guided - not unschooling.

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I'm not an unschooling fan and can't say I've seen it work IRL. I know it CAN work (Booker T Washington comes to mind), but most kids just don't know what they need to know or how to get to a goal and many parents don't seem to be filling in where they'd need to.

 

I am a fan of independent learning and have raised my homeschoolers that way. Middle son recently told me that he overheard youngest mentioning he's glad he learned to learn (and love learning) while he was homeschooling from 5th - 8th or he'd likely be like his ps peers without much ambition or drive. It was nice to hear that he, too, realized there were some positives to our insistence on independence - guided - not unschooling.

 

"guided independence"....I love that !

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OK, so what you guys are saying is that it takes a special kind of person to be able to unschool. Really motivated hard working kids. Kids that decide to learn algebra because it will get them where they want to go.

 

So if you have kids who have no idea where they want to go?

 

I just don't like the idea that my kids don't "love learning". That we've gone wrong somehow.

 

I think a LOT of kids "don't love learning." It's the ideal homeschool myth that all homeschooled kids love learning. Oh, they may love learning (in the general sense), but they may not love learning what we are making them learn.

 

Over the past few years, I've boiled things down in my mind. Some things are not optional, but many things are. To me, the following are not optional (for our upcoming high school years): math, grammar, writing skills, Latin (up to a soon-to-be-determined point), reading through history/science/literature, and practicing logic/rhetoric/discussion skills. What *is* optional is HOW we carry these out. For example: Will I use a packaged 36-week history program? No way - too constricting for us. Will I have my kids read/write/discuss/timeline through chronological history (including the histories of politics, art, music, science, literature, technology, civilizations, etc.) in some weekly fashion? Yes. And then, other options include anything else they might want to study (further art skills? Music skills? deeper astronomy study? creative writing? programming? sewing? animal care? gardening? theatre work? etc.). My hope is to schedule out and teach my requirements in a way that will make plenty of room for the optionals - that way my kids get academically prepared, while also learning things they choose to learn. My hope is also to expose them to the fact that there is always *something* interesting to read in history/literature/science (even if you think you "hate history"), and that sometimes you just have to find it.

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I think a LOT of kids "don't love learning."

 

I think a bit of it depends upon how it's presented. If learning is presented as a chore or something one needs to do (for a grade or whatever) then kids (and often, adults) won't love it. Kids will soon learn to do as little as they can to get by or get that grade or whatever. Kids who love to read often (but not always) slack off reading as soon as they are "rewarded" for it instead of having it just be something they love doing.

 

If learning is presented as something exciting that we do - just because - then it usually becomes more interesting. Couple this with favored learning styles (book, hands on, or otherwise) and basic conversation/discussion vs tests and one generally (but not always) retains that curiosity about the world.

 

One might not want to learn everything about every subject, but overall, it's a better attitude to start with.

 

Then, if one can see where learning helps them achieve a goal (job, hobby, college entrance, "respected" status with peers, etc) it can motivate even more.

 

It's a tricky thing and really needs to be adjusted to the individual. IME, our public schools fall flat somewhere around the middle school years and the emphasis on testing doesn't help (has led to more bookwork and more of that "chore" feeling). Most teachers love kids that love learning, but have to adjust their classes to school standards. Most kids start off loving school (and learning in general), but that love dies as learning becomes work.

 

I dunno, maybe I'm rambling, but those have been my thoughts over the years seeing oodles of students in education.

 

There will always be those who break the stereotype and always love learning (or hate it) no matter what, but in general...

 

My goal is for my kids (biological or in school) to always love learning.

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I'm really appreciating this discussion and the insights from those of you who have personal knowledge or experience of these issues.

Thanks!

It helps so much sometimes to just throw out your ideas/struggles and hear that you are not alone and that there are other people exploring alternatives as well.

 

I get so insecure when things are not going just how I imagined they would. My 14yo is my oldest and I have 4 more after her, so I'm caught between experimenting on her and wanting to "get it right" for the rest of them.

 

Creekland, would you mind giving me just a few ideas of how you get your children into that guided independence? Mine seem like they have no idea what to do if I am not right there for everything. This really worries me, but I don't know how to change it.

 

Homeschooling is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.

 

Jen

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I think a bit of it depends upon how it's presented. If learning is presented as a chore or something one needs to do (for a grade or whatever) then kids (and often, adults) won't love it. Kids will soon learn to do as little as they can to get by or get that grade or whatever. Kids who love to read often (but not always) slack off reading as soon as they are "rewarded" for it instead of having it just be something they love doing.

 

If learning is presented as something exciting that we do - just because - then it usually becomes more interesting. Couple this with favored learning styles (book, hands on, or otherwise) and basic conversation/discussion vs tests and one generally (but not always) retains that curiosity about the world.

 

One might not want to learn everything about every subject, but overall, it's a better attitude to start with.

 

Then, if one can see where learning helps them achieve a goal (job, hobby, college entrance, "respected" status with peers, etc) it can motivate even more.

 

It's a tricky thing and really needs to be adjusted to the individual. IME, our public schools fall flat somewhere around the middle school years and the emphasis on testing doesn't help (has led to more bookwork and more of that "chore" feeling). Most teachers love kids that love learning, but have to adjust their classes to school standards. Most kids start off loving school (and learning in general), but that love dies as learning becomes work.

 

I dunno, maybe I'm rambling, but those have been my thoughts over the years seeing oodles of students in education.

 

There will always be those who break the stereotype and always love learning (or hate it) no matter what, but in general...

 

My goal is for my kids (biological or in school) to always love learning.

 

I agree with everything you wrote. Presentation is the key, and this is where too many schools fail. I've often thought to myself that if my son had gone to public school, he probably would be valedictorian, but then most schools don't teach the things he loves, or teach the way that he does best with, etc., so who knows ...

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Creekland, would you mind giving me just a few ideas of how you get your children into that guided independence? Mine seem like they have no idea what to do if I am not right there for everything. This really worries me, but I don't know how to change it.

 

Jen

 

You do need to work toward independence and I'm of the belief that most youngsters under the age of puberty aren't really able to do it. I think the ability develops as the brain develops (with puberty) for most.

 

To get there, start with a subject or two that your youngster really likes and can handle. Then tell them something to the effect of, "You're old enough now to start making some of your own decisions on this." Say it nicely and as a positive - not as a "chore." Let them see the Teacher's Guide (if there is one) along with you. Let them make choices. Gradually back off more and more until they are running it themselves. ALWAYS praise them for steps and ALWAYS get into discussions with them about what they've learned. Don't do verbal quizzes - those are the same as their written counterparts. Rather, discuss the subject "as adults" with them. Learn things from them. That really helps their ownership and joy in learning.

 

By the time mine hit 10th grade they were doing almost everything on their own. We did incorporate written tests to use for grades for their transcripts in high school, but I told them the tests were just to prove their knowledge. (I graded tests.) It also helped them learn to take tests... We never stopped discussions, though didn't always get into them about every aspect of what they learned. Usually the older guys started the discussions on things they really wanted to share. They also loved to enter into discussions with others in their respective fields (high school teachers, friends, college profs on visits, any adult in the "quizzing" mode ;) ). Youngest still prefers discussions and loves to engage his ps teachers in them (almost to a fault since ps teachers have to accomplish a bit in a time frame). We never limited our time frame for any subject, nor did we have to do every subject every day. The flexibility is great.

 

At school, as a sub, I can also be more flexible and often use the guided discussion method to get points across. It seems to work so much better than lecturing or projects. Kids at school love it too... As a "real" teacher I can only do so much (at school), but as a sub I can get away with a bit more. For instance, if I'm supposed to give notes on the properties of water (adhesion, cohesion, etc), I give those notes, but only AFTER discussion (with the class participating) about what each property acutally means. With my own guys they would learn about those properties and discuss them with me.

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I've seen widely varying results. And, of course, various families interpret "unschooling" differently. ... I have seen examples that I would absolutely *not* want my kids following (no defined interests, no real plans for further education or career well into the unschooled kiddo's 20s, zero perseverance, etc), and examples of kids who do really interesting and unusual things. I just read this article this morning about a project a kid we know took on: http://decatur.patch.com/articles/avondale-teen-makes-wooden-bicycle He may not be strictly unschooled, but the family certainly leans more that direction than not.

 

I think for some families and some kids it can work well. It's not a method I choose for my family or think is by any means universally successful.

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Thank you creekland! I have been uncomfortable using "unschooling" for some of the things we do and guided independent learning seems to describe it so much more accurately. I started it with my son when he was 8 and he is now able to learn independently in his distance ed classes with very minimal help from me. I am so happy to know that what we have been trying has worked for others with older children. Thank you!

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We just had this discussion in our homeschool group which is heavily dominated by unschoolers. Most have younger children, but one (very passionate) unschooling advocate has teens and it suddenly hit her that her son has to apply for college this fall - and is extremely behind in math.

He had never shown the interest, whenever she tried to encourage it he blocked ("you don't make me do other stuff either".) Now its: "Why didn't you force me to learn this?"

In her case, the "they will learn it when they need it" is not happening by itself.

The lady is now encouraging her unschool friends to do more structured work at least in high school and to watch that they learn some math - a complete 180 degree paradigm shift.

 

 

I do not believe the frequently uttered claims that s student who suddenly wants to can catch up with four years of math within several weeks - not a chance.

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I think that it can work well if your child has a very specific and highly motivated personality, as well as a great deal of emotional maturity.

 

I don't think that most kids have that personality, however. :tongue_smilie:

Right. A rare kid can do this.

 

Few kids will do this. But it is possible.

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Creekland - thank you! I love to see such practical advice. And your maturity suggestions are helpful as well. My "problem child" is only 12 so it helps to think I might have a bit more time to get him to this point.

I also need to work on the conversation aspect. I am way to focused on just getting things done and checked off. And so we never really talk. I think this would help a lot

 

Regentrude - thanks for the input. that was one of the claims in the book I read, that this group of kids had learned several years of math in a couple of months. I was very skeptical, but I only have my own experience to go on, and sometimes I feel so stuck in a rut, I wonder if there are better ways to do things. - and I'm sure the idea of dropping a math requirement until "they feel like doing it" is a very tempting one for many overworked homeschooling parents. It's the subject that gets the most resistance in our house.

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In all honesty, I have met some awesome unschoolers who successfully own their own buisnesses and are thriving in this failing economy. This year, we decided to "unschool" by trying some of the techniques that unschoolers apply. And it worked! My joy of learning has come back and I love reading about history, english and science, I retain more by reading and then writing the information down rather than writing reports and the like that do not make much sense. Now I am not planning on going off to a top tier university or anything like that, I am going to CC after I graduate and hopefully will be working towards a degree in Medical Assisting or something of that sort. I do about 4 to 5 hours of school a day and I am up to my local high school's graduation requirements. If I didn't have to take algebra, I wouldn't, but I must to graduate and next year I will hopefully be moving onto Consumer Math as I would like to start a small buisness of my own that will help provide some income along with whatever I do after I graduate from CC.

 

So unschooling, for the student who is highly self motivated, a strong work ethic, and has goals that they would like to achieve can successfully take on the task of unschooling. I live a busy life, I never actually sit still during the day, the only time I really relax is when I am asleep or when I am drinking tea, that's pretty much it. I am constantly in motion and unschooling allows me to do all that I do while still living a busy yet productive life. My goals in life have changed, they've done a complete 360, and I love my new lifestyle, I mean I am thriving. Of course there are times I struggle and fail, no one is perfect, but I do enjoy my new life and incorporating some techniques and skills of unschooling has really helped.

 

But then again, that's just me, no two people are alike and everyone will have different experiences, so take my post with a grain of salt.;)

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So unschooling, for the student who is highly self motivated, a strong work ethic, and has goals that they would like to achieve can successfully take on the task of unschooling. I live a busy life, I never actually sit still during the day, the only time I really relax is when I am asleep or when I am drinking tea, that's pretty much it. I am constantly in motion and unschooling allows me to do all that I do while still living a busy yet productive life. My goals in life have changed, they've done a complete 360, and I love my new lifestyle, I mean I am thriving. Of course there are times I struggle and fail, no one is perfect, but I do enjoy my new life and incorporating some techniques and skills of unschooling has really helped.

 

I liked this, especially the bolded! Being driven and knowing when to stop goofing off, and to have a sense of responsibility are not necessarily maturity values that only come after puberty. They can be guided and introduced from a very young age.

 

Also, I have seen over and over again that for an autodidact to thrive, the learning has to be meaningful. He/ she needs a purpose to learn what he/ she is learning. In our situation, many struggles vanished when I no longer required structured learning for subjects that were not of interest. But these subjects were not ignored, just presented differently.

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I liked this, especially the bolded! Being driven and knowing when to stop goofing off, and to have a sense of responsibility are not necessarily maturity values that only come after puberty. They can be guided and introduced from a very young age.

 

Also, I have seen over and over again that for an autodidact to thrive, the learning has to be meaningful. He/ she needs a purpose to learn what he/ she is learning. In our situation, many struggles vanished when I no longer required structured learning for subjects that were not of interest. But these subjects were not ignored, just presented differently.

 

:iagree::iagree:

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"guided independence"....I love that !

 

Glad to help provide some terminology! ;)

 

Thank you creekland! I have been uncomfortable using "unschooling" for some of the things we do and guided independent learning seems to describe it so much more accurately. I started it with my son when he was 8 and he is now able to learn independently in his distance ed classes with very minimal help from me. I am so happy to know that what we have been trying has worked for others with older children. Thank you!

 

It does work, and for us it has worked well. What really hit it off big with middle son when he went to the University of Rochester for a visit is when the Dean was speaking and said something to the effect of, "The perfect fit for our school is the student who loves to learn just for learning's sake - not for grades or anything else, though grades will come as a byproduct of the learning. We want kids who are curious about the world and different aspects of it - sometimes wildly different." (abbreviated quote) When spending the night with some upperclassmen students they talked about all sorts of things they knew from literature to science to TV. Middle son knew he had found "his people." UR is currently ranked #35 (not that ranking is a be all, end all), so an independent style can get kids to higher places. This same Dean told me that they find homeschoolers are often as prepared or better prepared academically than their ps counterparts. ;)

 

I also need to work on the conversation aspect. I am way to focused on just getting things done and checked off. And so we never really talk. I think this would help a lot

 

 

The talking is a bit part of it all. We incorporate learning into our "normal" lifestyle. We don't have set times for classes or discussions or whatever. They can happen in the car, while cooking meals, or out hiking. We watch a lot of educational TV (well, we don't watch a lot of TV, but when we do watch it, a fair bit of it is educational). When the kids were younger (but not super young) we worked nice documentaries in (like of Booker T Washington) and discussed those too. Museums are nice too - and take time to see them. The tourbook says allow 2 hours? It'll take us 4 or more. We stop, read, contemplate, and share varied thoughts.

 

Our learning really is a lifestyle, not a set time of classes, then boom, we're done and on to other things. Sometimes we use texts. ;) Many times my kids ask for text types of books (non-fiction anyway) as their preferred reading. Youngest actually doesn't like reading fiction.

 

We do guide. They must do certain subjects and learn an adequate amount in them over the course of a year (or whatever time frame). How it's done in that time frame varies. Discussions can be immediate or years later and they're still expected to know what they've learned (for the most part). It's not a "test and be done with it" type of learning. Little gets left behind. I'm artistically challenged, but had them do an Art History course and teach me some things. We watch musicals (I love those). They read classics as well as fun books. Whether I'd read the book or not, we discuss them - they just teach me about it if it's new to me. Math is the most "class-like," but when it's just one it's certainly no big deal. Then they use that math in science or in life... or talk about where it's used. It's all a lifestyle.

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Being driven and knowing when to stop goofing off, and to have a sense of responsibility are not necessarily maturity values that only come after puberty. They can be guided and introduced from a very young age.

 

 

 

I agree with this. I'm just not so sure that one can give a younger kid everything they need to do what you want for 5th grade English and expect them to set their schedule for it all and accomplish it. I can do that with mine by 10th grade. In 5th grade my youngest needed more guidance to be independent.

 

The learning lifestyle we've lived with our boys since they were still babes. It's the way hubby and I live. Bringing our kids up that way came naturally to us.

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I just read a book called skip high school and go to college. Or something along those lines.

It's basically about unschooling for high school and still building an impressive enough portfolio to get into any college you want.

 

Just to add that I have this book. If this is what OP is referring to. It is written to the student and I suppose it therefore, assumes the self-motivation? For a teen to pick up this book, there must be a level of drive and ambition correct? There is no way I could have been this motivated at 14 or 15, possibly not till I was 21.

 

One more factor to make this work could be giving independence and the ability to make decisions for themselves from a young age but with healthy role modeling from the parent.

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I think a LOT of kids "don't love learning." ...they may love learning (in the general sense), but they may not love learning what we are making them learn.

 

I think a bit of it depends upon how it's presented. If learning is presented as a chore or something one needs to do (for a grade or whatever) then kids (and often, adults) won't love it.

 

Overall, I agree with the gist of your post. I just wrote the above, and then explained my thinking process (I do make mine learn math/grammar/writing/discussion/etc.), to encourage the OP in case the balking at learning was due to any excess of study requirements. I do try to present all that I require in a positive light to each of my kids - I try to find ways to capture their interest. But sometimes doing math or grammar is just plain tiresome. It's just that I have found that making those parts as efficient as possible leaves room for my kids to enjoy the other studies they choose.

 

Maybe I should have written, "I think a LOT of (homeschooled and otherly-schooled) kids, at various times, don't like being told what to do." There have been times when I have extolled the virtues or shown the connections of math concepts to my daughter or of grammar concepts to my son, and they just. don't. care. But they must. learn. them. ;)

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I agree with this. I'm just not so sure that one can give a younger kid everything they need to do what you want for 5th grade English and expect them to set their schedule for it all and accomplish it. I can do that with mine by 10th grade. In 5th grade my youngest needed more guidance to be independent.

 

Yes, the time management is definitely still a challenge for my guy. Absolutely in agreement with you there.

ETA: I only have one child so it is easier for me somewhat. I'm not sure I could handle it if I had more than one.

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It really challenged me to think about some of the drudgery we are currently experiencing in our schooling.

 

I'm wanting to make some changes, but I don't see how.

 

Jen,

 

I unschooled my ds for 2 years in elementary school, and I found 2 things. 1) It is exhausting for me because *I* didn't have a plan. I had to be ready, able, and willing to be spontaneous all the time. And I have come to believe that homeschooling has to be a compromise between what the student and the parent wants. 2) I found in the end that my ds needs structure. He is more emotionally mature when there is a plan. He is motivated and driven, but he too needs a plan.

 

But as others have posted, there is a middle ground that many have found and implemented. It is not an all or nothing type of thing. For us, we do a 2-month science investigation every year that is interest driven and uses no curriculum. (I have written extensively about it here http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=361740 ). It has clear boundaries and goals which help both of us, but is not at all like text book learning or standard text-book experiments, and it is not a unit study. It is true self-driven learning and discovery facilitated by me.

 

Good luck with finding what works for both you and your children,

 

Ruth

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Creekland - thank you! I love to see such practical advice. And your maturity suggestions are helpful as well. My "problem child" is only 12 so it helps to think I might have a bit more time to get him to this point.

I also need to work on the conversation aspect. I am way to focused on just getting things done and checked off. And so we never really talk. I think this would help a lot

 

.

 

Ds is a talker, I'm not, yet most of our schooling has been oral. I do think this keeps him in tune, knowing someone else is learning/knows about what he's studying. Simply talking has been a wonderful experience for our schooling. The irony is ds was in private school for prek and K and got in trouble all the time for talking. :lol:

 

We started using Philosophy for Kids as a conversation starters. The actual lesson takes about 15 minutes, but we've ended up in hour long discussions afterward. It's a great way to interact and to peer inside their brains for a bit.

 

Because we do do have some time management issues (agreeing with below!) we started implementing a greeting time each morning. We spend around 15 minutes discussing whatever. Sometimes it's threads from this board, sometimes a current event, sometimes reviewing the day. It's a great transition time for two non-morning people.

 

Yes, the time management is definitely still a challenge for my guy. Absolutely in agreement with you there.

ETA: I only have one child so it is easier for me somewhat. I'm not sure I could handle it if I had more than one.

 

I'm there with you. I try to allow some distractions and steer the focus back to work as necessary. I try to comment that he won't be able to talk during math tests in college, or that he won't be able to eat or move around during college. I'm also trying to build the work load and gradually hand over some independence. We've had a good balance this year, but next year we're ramping up output expectations, so I'm nervous.

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Well when I intally posted I was in a very bad mood after having typed 12,000 words for one history class. Now after having stepped back I want to edit my post. First off unschooling is not for every one. It takes a certain kind of student to handle the work and push themselves. Honestly more students are like this than you think take me for example no one makes me study for my AP exams yet I do because I know I need to. I have many friends who are blowing this off and will most likely fail their exams. Yet at the same time I procrastinate with other things so I would most likely have trouble with these things.

 

This year I mainly unschooled with math and so far my results have been great! Yes I use a curriculum but I choose it and I do it when I want to. Sometimes I work extra sometimes I do the bare minumum. I am now going to try and get AoPS for Pre Calc and TT geometry for the summer. Math was a subject I hated but now I really enjoy. Do I love it? No Will I be a mathmatician? No but I find myself pulling out my math to work on problems because I feel like it.

 

I am going to do an unschool expirnment this summer and will tracking it on my blog I will not be getting official credits for anything so its all for fun. After that I will tell you what I think of unschooling. I am going to use a bunch of resources so cover many subjects and hope it works. I think "relaxed" schooling is fine. Meaning you do your own thing but cover all the pre reqs with at least a bare min.

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Paula, I really enjoy reading your blog. Your Gi Suilon post has inspired me to do the same! Only, we do it in the afternoons now because we wake up too late in the mornings.

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I do not believe the frequently uttered claims that s student who suddenly wants to can catch up with four years of math within several weeks - not a chance.

 

:iagree: I have heard this from more homeschooling friends than I care to think about.

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I do not believe the frequently uttered claims that s student who suddenly wants to can catch up with four years of math within several weeks - not a chance.

 

I don't either. I think they could learn a good amount of arithmetic and basic algebra, but certainly not advanced algebra, geometry (real geometry, not shape identification), and trig.

 

I think it's a case of, "I hate math and never use it, so it's okay if my kids are equally ignorant, I do just fine." Which tends to be a way to pat oneself on the back and reinforce our value to society even though we may be pathetically ignorant.

 

I know way too many unmotivated teenagers and young adults who never get tired of sitting on the couch, smoking pot/drinking alcohol/eating ice cream, listening to music and/or playing video games all day long. They don't want to get a job either.

 

I find it funny that it's okay for rich white kids to lounge around all day long, but the "culture of failure" or whatever is at work when poor black people are involved. You can find plenty of threads on here, wondering why "they" are so lazy and uneducated, and how they need to be taught x, y, and z.

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This is unschooling the way I understand it. The article is from a Sudbury school website.

 

The kids sound like the real-life unschooling kids I know (and from personal experience, my son's approach towards math). They are passionate about *one* or *two* subjects and immerse themselves in those subjects with some guidance/ facilitation from a supervisor/ parent. They do sometimes lose interest but they also may be interested enough to eventually come back to it. They may not finish *one* specific book but may instead jump from book to book (as we have done with math and science) but still learn enough to understand and be able to discuss and analyze high level concepts.

 

In my limited experience, I haven't come across kids who can do this successfully in all subjects and interests. And doing it in all subjects would dilute mastery somehow I suppose. How much time does one person have to excel in every single thing?

 

I am still searching for that article about math being learned in x number of weeks. If I remember correctly, it wasn't high school math but arithmetic/ pre-algebra.

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This is unschooling the way I understand it. The article is from a Sudbury school website.

 

The kids sound like the real-life unschooling kids I know (and from personal experience, my son's approach towards math). They are passionate about *one* or *two* subjects and immerse themselves in those subjects with some guidance/ facilitation from a supervisor/ parent. They do sometimes lose interest but they also may be interested enough to eventually come back to it. They may not finish *one* specific book but may instead jump from book to book (as we have done with math and science) but still learn enough to understand and be able to discuss and analyze high level concepts.

 

In my limited experience, I haven't come across kids who can do this successfully in all subjects and interests. And doing it in all subjects would dilute mastery somehow I suppose. How much time does one person have to excel in every single thing?

 

I am still searching for that article about math being learned in x number of weeks. If I remember correctly, it wasn't high school math but arithmetic/ pre-algebra.

 

 

Is this it? http://www.scribd.com/doc/14389275/And-Rithmetic-by-Daniel-Greenberg

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OK, so these 9-12 year olds kids learn basic arithmetic with integers and fractions in twenty weeks. I find this completely believable. Labeling this "six years worth of math" is misleading because it is well known that such skills are learned much faster by slightly older kids - stuff that takes a kindergartener a year to learn takes a week for a 10 year old. Well, duh. No surprise.

 

Now the interesting thing would be if he could pull this off with the "six years" worth of material from algebra through calculus... I would bet he won't.

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OK, so these 9-12 year olds kids learn basic arithmetic with integers and fractions in twenty weeks. I find this completely believable. Labeling this "six years worth of math" is misleading because it is well known that such skills are learned much faster by slightly older kids - stuff that takes a kindergartener a year to learn takes a week for a 10 year old. Well, duh. No surprise.

 

Now the interesting thing would be if he could pull this off with the "six years" worth of material from algebra through calculus... I would bet he won't.

 

He does mention earlier in the article that arithmetic is taught over six years in regular classrooms. And I think he mentioned 20 hours, not 20 weeks! It does sound amazing to me (although I don't doubt it can be true) but I think the version(s) circulated in various circles are making it sound more amazing than it is.

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