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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.

 

Ditto for foreign language.

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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.

 

20 hours of class, spread over 20 weeks - the students did homework.

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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.

 

Thank you. We really enjoy that time.

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20 hours of class, spread over 20 weeks - the students did homework.

 

You are right! And it was 20 "contact" hours so with homework, it would have been longer in total. But I guess that's besides the point.

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Out of curiosity I just read the article and was left with the same :confused: I often have when trying to really understand unschooling. He describes having a class of 12 students ages 9-12 enthusiasitically ask him to teach them. Then he explains he went to the library and found an old text, set strick attendance rules, devoted 20 hours to direct instruction and assigned homework. He even said they were required to memorize their multiplication tables.

 

If that is "unschooling", perhaps I am more radical than I ever imagined myself to be. I choose a text, dedict time, insist on good respectful work habits, sometimes teach directly and sometimes assign homework. Wow, who would have guessed, eh?

 

I probably shouldn't mention that I occassionally don't exactly follow the text, sometimes use other media to convey information/processes and don't care whether math is done at 11:00 am or some other time (as long as it is done).

 

Seriously, I do struggle with how "unschooling" ultimately winds up being something so different from taking into account a students particular strengths and weakness. If it is about waiting until a child is ready to learn, then I will confess that sometimes happens as well. I guess I just don't understand.

 

Now if it boils down to never insisting a student learn a particular subject (or progression thereof) over 13 years, then I am not a unschooler in any sense of the word because I do believe there are core areas of knowledge and skill a student needs. I also recognize that the goals my Dd has require sometimes meeting someone elses standards. I may not agree that a formal credit in "Health" is needed for my child, but if a college she wants to attend expects it, so be it.

 

I suspect what will ultimately matter with those 12 students is whether they continue to employ those lessons as they progress. If they did the 20 weeks and then didn't look at math again for a couple of years, I suspect they may be doing a few more. But, that is just a hunch.

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Wow, so many interesting thoughts here. A lot for me to think about and process through.

Thanks again for everyone's input. I have some specific questions to ask of a few of you - maybe I'll get a chance tomorrow.

 

Jen

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I guess you could say that we have half unschooled. I have met unschoolers who are going to be fine adults. I have met some who probably will be in the end, but who might have been better served doing something else. The ones who are going to be fine had parents who were pushing them to work hard and who kept half an eye on their academic abilities and found appealing things for them to do that would develop those abilities. Take learning to read as an example. The dedicated parent read constantly to their small child, set an example of being busy reading themselves (sometimes too busy to play), said "when you learn to read" occasionally, and when the child said "teach me to read", sat down and started to teach the child immediately, that instant. Then in the following days, the parent said things like "I have finished the things I had to do and have time to help you work on reading, if you would like that". Reading time was pleasant snuggle time, nothing forced, but encouraged to continue consistently. Appropriate books were given as gifts and left about the house and a comfy reading area was created with a special shelf of the child's books. Trips to the library were treated as a treat. Grandma and Grampa oo-ed and ah-ed and congratulated the child on being grown up. This continued well into adulthood. The non-dedicated parent, equally loving but perhaps misguided, waited for the child to learn to read on its own. There are children who do. But many more who don't without some help and encouragement. The help often is just somebody to tell the child what the letters say and help them sound them out, then somebody to listen and discuss with. It doesn't have to be a complicated thing. But usually, somebody has to make the time to help a bit and listen or a situation is created where the parent waits for the child who is waiting for the parent. If you extend that dedication into all the academic skills, you can create a situation in which the child is ABLE to learn for himself and finds it relatively easy. Then, if you keep an eye on the irresistable temptations (like video games) and are available to provide materials, transportation, suggestions of goals and paths to those goals, and occasionally help bolstering the child's self-discipline, the child will in all likelyhood pick things to learn and learn them. Their knowledge base may be uneven and but they have the skills to teach themselves easily. People tend not to like to do things that are a terrible struggle. The 14yo who doesn't read and synthesize easily will probably choose a different way to learn something, exacerbating the problem. That is ok, perhaps, but limiting, especially if the 14yo has never learned to work hard at anything, make a plan and work through it, or make himself do something unpalatable in order to do something fun with it later. This is where TWTM comes in. It teaches academic skills - how to learn anything in an academic way (through books, research, and the scientific method). If in the process you have managed not to ruin your child's love of learning, you can then turn them loose at 14 to learn whatever they want on their own. If you've done a good job helping them set goals, they will understand that in order to do cool research with particle accellerators, they will have to study lots of math and some other, less obviously useful things to go to college. They also will probably discover that a class with a teacher is sometimes a very useful thing - an efficient way to gobble down the basics. They won't like putting up with all the other silly youngsters who are trying not to learn anything, but they will be determined to learn despite them. They may prefer to read the textbook rather than learn from the prof's lecture, but there is nothing wrong with that. That might not look much like unschooling, but if you look at the other things they decide to teach themselves, you will find something that looks much more like stereo-typical unschooling.

Just my two cents worth... and it may not even be worth two cents...

Nan

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

 

Forgive me for going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I just have to say how much this statement resonates with me. It's very timely, because I was just complaining to my husband this morning about the fact that I checked a 'homeschooling your teen' book out of the library yesterday in the hopes of finding some motivation and inspiration for those hard days of drudgery, and those times when I feel like throwing my hands up and putting her in school to let someone else figure this out. I was hoping for something that would help me get off my butt when I'm burned out and want to do anything but school.

 

But instead, what I got was: homeschooling is such a breeze! Homeschooling is going to make your life wonderful and effortless and blissfully happy! In just two to four hours of work every day, your student will fly through high school academics painlessly and smoothly and complete all four years of high school in just 18 to 24 months! All this will happen in the midst of perfect family harmony, of course, while ending poverty and establishing world peace in all of that spare time you're going to have on your hands. :ack2: I suppose that books that tell people exactly what they want to hear sell better than those that tell it like it is.

 

I guess what I'd like to hear more of is "this is hard, and some days will just outright stink, but you can do this anyway because it's important and valuable and few things in life that are worth having come easily. You really can do it, and here's how..." That's what I need! Does anyone know of a homeschooling book like that? Or am I just dreaming here?

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Forgive me for going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I just have to say how much this statement resonates with me. It's very timely, because I was just complaining to my husband this morning about the fact that I checked a 'homeschooling your teen' book out of the library yesterday in the hopes of finding some motivation and inspiration for those hard days of drudgery, and those times when I feel like throwing my hands up and putting her in school to let someone else figure this out. I was hoping for something that would help me get off my butt when I'm burned out and want to do anything but school.

 

But instead, what I got was: homeschooling is such a breeze! Homeschooling is going to make your life wonderful and effortless and blissfully happy! In just two to four hours of work every day, your student will fly through high school academics painlessly and smoothly and complete all four years of high school in just 18 to 24 months! All this will happen in the midst of perfect family harmony, of course, while ending poverty and establishing world peace in all of that spare time you're going to have on your hands. :ack2: I suppose that books that tell people exactly what they want to hear sell better than those that tell it like it is.

 

I guess what I'd like to hear more of is "this is hard, and some days will just outright stink, but you can do this anyway because it's important and valuable and few things in life that are worth having come easily. You really can do it, and here's how..." That's what I need! Does anyone know of a homeschooling book like that? Or am I just dreaming here?

 

Maybe you will be the one to write it. ;) This board is as close as it gets to telling it like it is - the good and the bad. It's the alternatives to homeschooling that have helped to keep me on track during the hard times. :)

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Forgive me for going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I just have to say how much this statement resonates with me. It's very timely, because I was just complaining to my husband this morning about the fact that I checked a 'homeschooling your teen' book out of the library yesterday in the hopes of finding some motivation and inspiration for those hard days of drudgery, and those times when I feel like throwing my hands up and putting her in school to let someone else figure this out. I was hoping for something that would help me get off my butt when I'm burned out and want to do anything but school.

 

But instead, what I got was: homeschooling is such a breeze! Homeschooling is going to make your life wonderful and effortless and blissfully happy! In just two to four hours of work every day, your student will fly through high school academics painlessly and smoothly and complete all four years of high school in just 18 to 24 months! All this will happen in the midst of perfect family harmony, of course, while ending poverty and establishing world peace in all of that spare time you're going to have on your hands. :ack2: I suppose that books that tell people exactly what they want to hear sell better than those that tell it like it is.

 

I guess what I'd like to hear more of is "this is hard, and some days will just outright stink, but you can do this anyway because it's important and valuable and few things in life that are worth having come easily. You really can do it, and here's how..." That's what I need! Does anyone know of a homeschooling book like that? Or am I just dreaming here?

 

I think that there could definitely be a book like that written by some of the moms on this board. Sort of a chapter per family or experience.

 

I think that the books that exist now are designed to convince the wavering that it is possible; that you are trying to do well enough, not perfectly; that while a teen may well have a passion or two, they probably aren't passionate in EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT and therefore, good enough in some is fine. I also think they may well be written for an audience that is on the fence about attending college at all, let alone attending a selective, highly competitive school (especially if it doesn't closely match the religious/philosophical leanings of the family).

 

But man, would I love to read that other book.

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But instead, what I got was: homeschooling is such a breeze! Homeschooling is going to make your life wonderful and effortless and blissfully happy! In just two to four hours of work every day, your student will fly through high school academics painlessly and smoothly and complete all four years of high school in just 18 to 24 months! All this will happen in the midst of perfect family harmony, of course, while ending poverty and establishing world peace in all of that spare time you're going to have on your hands. :ack2: I suppose that books that tell people exactly what they want to hear sell better than those that tell it like it is.

 

I guess what I'd like to hear more of is "this is hard, and some days will just outright stink, but you can do this anyway because it's important and valuable and few things in life that are worth having come easily. You really can do it, and here's how..." That's what I need! Does anyone know of a homeschooling book like that? Or am I just dreaming here?

 

I bought a homeschooling book like that at a book sale. Thankfully the sale charged per box of books, because it's not very helpful. :lol:

 

We've homeschooled since first grade, and thinking about high school has me in a tizzy. I love choosing books and writing my own lesson plans, but thinking about finding something to grade at a high school level has me wanting to order packaged subject matter. That would crash and burn, however, so I'm plugging along in my planning this week. We're on spring break, ds is sleeping until noon everyday, and I'm up to my eyeballs thinking about fall. I could do it later, but I.WANT.A.SUMMER.BREAK.TOO. (stamps feet and stomps away).

 

My mind flashes forward to that day I may get a call from ds thanking me for his education. Then I realize it's just as likely that I'll get "I blame you for messing up my education". I'm the mother, *****, I'm the teacher too, ****. I know what's best for you! Like it or not, you're going to be smart! Many years ago dh charged me with the task of making sure ds is smarter than us (not a slam, just a reality). I've accepted that task and don't think he's there yet. However, HE's the one sleeping until noon, and I'm the one with a desk full of papers and binders. Maybe my task IS done. :tongue_smilie:

 

When they said it's better to burn out than to fade away, I don't think they meant homeschooling parents. Although it's applicable this week. :svengo:

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I wonder if it is the school part or the teenager part that makes it so much of a challenge....

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I bought a homeschooling book like that at a book sale. Thankfully the sale charged per box of books, because it's not very helpful. :lol:

 

We've homeschooled since first grade, and thinking about high school has me in a tizzy. I love choosing books and writing my own lesson plans, but thinking about finding something to grade at a high school level has me wanting to order packaged subject matter. That would crash and burn, however, so I'm plugging along in my planning this week. We're on spring break, ds is sleeping until noon everyday, and I'm up to my eyeballs thinking about fall. I could do it later, but I.WANT.A.SUMMER.BREAK.TOO. (stamps feet and stomps away).

 

My mind flashes forward to that day I may get a call from ds thanking me for his education. Then I realize it's just as likely that I'll get "I blame you for messing up my education". I'm the mother, *****, I'm the teacher too, ****. I know what's best for you! Like it or not, you're going to be smart! Many years ago dh charged me with the task of making sure ds is smarter than us (not a slam, just a reality). I've accepted that task and don't think he's there yet. However, HE's the one sleeping until noon, and I'm the one with a desk full of papers and binders. Maybe my task IS done. :tongue_smilie:

 

When they said it's better to burn out than to fade away, I don't think they meant homeschooling parents. Although it's applicable this week. :svengo:

 

 

That's hysterical!!!! :lol:

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...it's better to burn out than to fade away, ...

 

Def Leppard - my high school best friend and I used to rock out to "Rock of Ages". :D

 

And I agree - many mothers on this forum could each write a chapter for that other book.

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Def Leppard - my high school best friend and I used to rock out to "Rock of Ages". :D

 

 

 

And completely off-topic, I am going to see the musical play "Rock of Ages" next week, and I can't wait! Good times for this 80s girl.... :lol:

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

 

 

:iagree:Doesn't mean it can't be done, I just didn't know how hard it would be. I would have been better prepared if I had known. I kept thinking it was me, or my kids, or both.

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OK -

Here are few questions if any of you are still reading this:D

Quark, could you elaborate on this:

 

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.

 

Maybe just an example or two? I feel like I am so stuck in my rut of how we do things.

 

Creekland, (or anyone)would you be willing to help me see how to get away from this:

 

 

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.

 

 

My kids seem to feel that the majority of the work they do is a chore. They are just trying to get it out of the way to get on to playing or whatever. I really don't know how to change this.

 

And thank you for your input, those of you who are educating yourselves!

 

I was so motivated by grades and teachers when I was in high school, it's hard to figure out what works outside of that paradigm.

 

 

Thanks again, this place is so valuable to me!

Jen

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Quark, could you elaborate on this: Maybe just an example or two? I feel like I am so stuck in my rut of how we do things.

 

Sure, but please take into account that mine is a younger, "uneven" learner, highly gifted in math and science and working at the average 9th grade level in these subjects but not producing written output at that level in the humanities. He is able to produce the required output in math and science.

 

One example: literary analysis. We do it verbally. I tried using curriculum but it fell flat and began to promote distaste, something I wanted to avoid at all cost. But given the chance, he will read almost anything that catches his eye. So what to do? He is very interested in psychology. I bought him a copy of Don Quixote thinking that it might interest him. I have not read it myself but I do know the basic plot. It stayed on the shelf for about 2 weeks waiting for me to get to it. He asked if he could read it although I haven't (I usually pre-read the classics or we read them together).

 

I asked him to go ahead, thinking to myself that he would most likely quit reading after a few pages and that I could try again a year later. I did hope he would give me his opinion but I did not request it out loud. So he reads it. He hasn't finished but he reads a few pages every night faithfully without being asked to and in the past few days, we have been having very interesting discussions on the psychology of delusion. He would have completely struggled with this if I had approached it as literary analysis and had him write a paper. But approaching it from the angle of psychology which he loves, really excites him. And without asking, he makes frequent, verbal references to what he's read in Oliver Sacks' and other mass market psychology books. It warms my heart to hear this cross-referencing and self-motivated learning coming out voluntarily from my usually humanities-averse guy. And I think it works well because there are no expectations. It's all for pure enjoyment.

 

Another example: history. We do not approach history as outlined in WTM. I tried but it just refused to pan out. But once we began choosing historical documentaries out of interest or studied history using other means e.g. by exploring the roots of English or learning about birthright citizenship, the 14th amendment and slavery, the excitement to learn, discuss and compare and contrast topics like citizenship laws in other countries, or how languages evolve to become what they are, was magic.

 

We do hit some snags learning this way (for one, our history studies have not been chronological) but the end results are usually more meaningful than forcing a study through preplanned curriculum.

 

Ironically, we have become more structured in math and science!

 

I hope that helps!

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Ladies, thank you so much for listening to my little rant, and for understanding how I feel. That in and of itself, having someone understand how you feel, somehow helps tremendously.

 

An example from my husband's life comes to mind. My husband works very hard, and he's very good at what he does. But he's not as good as the office politics, so he doesn't always get the recognition that he deserves. And he struggles with maintaining a positive attitude about it, it is a tremendous source of stress for him. Well, every year he goes on this hut to hut skiing trip with a bunch of people from work. He says that the conversation the entire time can basically be boiled down to "I have such a wonderful job, and I'm doing it so well!" That can get pretty annoying when you're stressed out, burned out, have sacrificed tremendously for very little return, etc.

 

I guess that's me and homeschooling books. I don't need to hear about some family's picture-perfect homeschool life when I'm feeling like I've screwed up my daughter's sixth grade year so badly that she'd probably be better off if I put her in a "real" school for seventh. I don't need to hear about how smooth my schedule is going to be and how much free time I'm going to have, when my house and yard are a complete mess because I don't have a minute (not to mention any energy) left after we do school and I throw together a few meals every day. Don't tell me how grand and perfect and ideal it's all going to be, tell me how to do it all even, no especially, on those days when I'd rather stay in bed reading Jane Austen and pretending that I've never heard the word "homeschooling".

 

Oops, I'm ranting again! Okay, off to do some actual schooling rather than talking about schooling. I guess that might help. ;) :D

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I guess that's me and homeschooling books. I don't need to hear about some family's picture-perfect homeschool life when I'm feeling like I've screwed up my daughter's sixth grade year so badly that she'd probably be better off if I put her in a "real" school for seventh. I don't need to hear about how smooth my schedule is going to be and how much free time I'm going to have, when my house and yard are a complete mess because I don't have a minute (not to mention any energy) left after we do school and I throw together a few meals every day. Don't tell me how grand and perfect and ideal it's all going to be, tell me how to do it all even, no especially, on those days when I'd rather stay in bed reading Jane Austen and pretending that I've never heard the word "homeschooling".

 

For the most part I no longer read books or blogs on homeschooling. They don't match the reality at our house and if I think too much about that, I end up feeling like "carp". I think that overall, homeschoolers are not that honest in what is published about homeschooling, because we want to defend it. Homeschooling is attacked so often and so thoroughly...we don't want to provide any ammunition. We also don't want to print things that might discourage someone from trying it. It has unique disadvantages and we don't like to talk about them when those who are opposed to it on general principles might be listening. I think that unfortunately this ends up with a situation of some homeschoolers feeling disillusioned or mislead or just like we must be doing it all wrong but can't figure out what makes it so easy and smooth for others. IMO it's kind of like babies sleeping through the night. We don't really know what goes on at someone else's house unless we regularly sleep there ourselves !

 

I need to focus on what makes my own homeschool work and not read about other homeschools that are described in books and blogs, but that are not a complete picture. For me, in our real homeschool that I have the full experience of, at the end of the day, the week, the term, the year, the math of it still works out. Even with the parts that are harder than I ever imagined, frustrating, lonely, maddening, etc, I still believe it is the best possible realistic option for our kids, I still feel incredibly fortunate to have the legal choice and financial means to do it. But I have to stay away from anything that will lead to me feeling bad if I start comparing it to our reality.

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For the most part I no longer read books or blogs on homeschooling. They don't match the reality at our house and if I think too much about that, I end up feeling like "carp". I think that overall, homeschoolers are not that honest in what is published about homeschooling, because we want to defend it. Homeschooling is attacked so often and so thoroughly...we don't want to provide any ammunition. We also don't want to print things that might discourage someone from trying it. It has unique disadvantages and we don't like to talk about them when those who are opposed to it on general principles might be listening. I think that unfortunately this ends up with a situation of some homeschoolers feeling disillusioned or mislead or just like we must be doing it all wrong but can't figure out what makes it so easy and smooth for others. IMO it's kind of like babies sleeping through the night. We don't really know what goes on at someone else's house unless we regularly sleep there ourselves !

 

I need to focus on what makes my own homeschool work and not read about other homeschools that are described in books and blogs, but that are not a complete picture. For me, in our real homeschool that I have the full experience of, at the end of the day, the week, the term, the year, the math of it still works out. Even with the parts that are harder than I ever imagined, frustrating, lonely, maddening, etc, I still believe it is the best possible realistic option for our kids, I still feel incredibly fortunate to have the legal choice and financial means to do it. But I have to stay away from anything that will lead to me feeling bad if I start comparing it to our reality.

 

I think you have some very good insights here. Thank you for sharing this.

 

When I first started homeschooling I joined a group that had a regular park day. It was great in many ways. But the constant mantra to the newbies was: "this is easy and fun" and "you can't possibly do worse than the public schools". Well that makes you feel pretty lousy when you have a year like I have and you KNOW you've done worse than the public schools (in one area anyway, not across the board), and nothing about it has been easy or fun. But you're absolutely right, I know that people are just trying to be encouraging. And when it's something like a book or a blog, something very public, I can see how the author would be extremely hesitant to say anything that could be used as further ammunition by the anti-homeschooling crowd. I guess I just need to concentrate, like you said, on what makes OUR homeschool work and not look outside so much for encouragement and support.

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OK -

 

My kids seem to feel that the majority of the work they do is a chore. They are just trying to get it out of the way to get on to playing or whatever. I really don't know how to change this.

 

Jen

 

Can you ask them if they have ideas on what would make it better for them? There will always be SOME drudgery (life is that way, not just school or work), but see if they have ideas of how to make it more interesting - friendly competitions? More discussion? More seeing the value of what they are learning? Acting out some things instead of writing a paragraph or paper on them (history or English)? A visit to a science or local historical place for a change of pace?

 

Discussions were my guys main love, but that isn't necessarily the only way. We also incorporated a fair bit of travel and spent a bit of time in museums and national/state parks. Travel doesn't have to cost a lot. There are often local historical places all over.

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Not Quark or Creekland, but perhaps I can make a suggestion? I have been very up-front about drills and other boring chores being a necessary evil. We try to keep them short and break that up with other, more interesting things. If the subject is one that isn't of interest, I try to get it covered as efficiently as possible to make time for better things rather than try to make it interesting. Until later in high school, we had school hours so everybody would know when school would be done and they could move on to their own projects. When mine were interested in something, I gave them a choice of doing the something "for school" or "for fun". If it is for school, it has to have an academic componant. This kept me from ruining their interests by adding school-like things to them. It also gave them the option of having more time for the something by doing it as part of school. I know learning is supposed to be fun, but I think we do our children a disservice by teaching them to think that every part of every accomplishment is going to be fun. I think it is better to teach them that most worth-while goals involve a certain number of unfun, repetative, boring excersizes and that they need to develop the self-discipline to persevere with those in order to be able to do something fun in the end.

 

Just in case this helps...

Nan

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I try to bring some of our personalities into the teaching, which means silly sarcastic humor. As I was digging through my shelves yesterday I found a book from a Greek museum that I bought at a thrift store. It's full of great photos of Ancient Greek art in various stages of repair. I found a second copy cheap, and I'm going to cut up the photos and add silly captions. I'll hang them around the classroom, add them to our notebooks, do fun things with them. So he'll see Greek art all year even though our actual study of art will only be a few weeks.

 

I used to do silly things like that when he was younger, but for some reason I stopped. School doesn't have to be ALL serious.

 

We jokingly call our house Sparta for several reasons. I printed an ancient Greek map and wrote This is Sparta and put it on the fridge. Ds thinks it's hilarious.

 

My favorite teacher in high school was the cool history teacher. He had a battle ax that he used to chop on his desk, he had movie posters all over the classroom, and we did a lot of questionable academic things through the many classes I took. I think we watched every movie about WWII produced at the time. I don't remember everything, but I remember history being one of my favorite subjects.

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These are some great suggestions! Thank you again for your time and thoughtfulness. I really value everyone's input and ideas.

 

Honestly, it is very difficult for me to imagine any of my kids voluntarily studying anything on their own. Being interested in a topic and following up on it. They are so into PLAYING. Legos, crafts, swords, climbing, gardening. The older two play piano for hours when I let them.

 

They do read a lot, but I have to sort of "make them". Like set aside time and say, you have to sit here for an hour and read. Then they enjoy it, but they don't choose it on their own.

 

We don't watch tv at all and I limit computer to 30 min/day. So it's not like they are total zombies. I don't know, I guess I thought I'd have these really intellectually curious children, and they just aren't, so I am assuming it's something I've done wrong.

 

Jen

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Honestly, it is very difficult for me to imagine any of my kids voluntarily studying anything on their own. Being interested in a topic and following up on it. They are so into PLAYING. Legos, crafts, swords, climbing, gardening. The older two play piano for hours when I let them.

 

They do read a lot, but I have to sort of "make them". Like set aside time and say, you have to sit here for an hour and read. Then they enjoy it, but they don't choose it on their own.

 

We don't watch tv at all and I limit computer to 30 min/day. So it's not like they are total zombies. I don't know, I guess I thought I'd have these really intellectually curious children, and they just aren't, so I am assuming it's something I've done wrong.

 

Jen

 

They sound pretty normal to me. ;) It also sounds like what they do is educational more than many other choices (but not an excuse to do nothing else).

 

If you never watch TV, it could be worth it to get one just to watch educational TV (documentaries) once in a while (or as a larger monitor to watch from the computer). Shows like that and Modern Marvels (usually) are quite informative and fun. Matching them to what is being studied can be useful.

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We are not quite highschoolers yet but this year we moved into a more unschooling approach in that I don't "make" my kids do anything (but they do have chores if they want allowance/I do suggest and strew and discuss and follow my own interests/and I do remind them of their goals if they seem off track) After a few years of trying everything, I discovered that my daughter wasn't going to learn anything that she didn't want to learn PERIOD. I could assign books but she wouldn't remember them or would just look up the summaries on line to bluff her way through. Everything was a blank stare. My son on the otherhand, seemed to do fine no matter what we did. He loves to read and loves to learn PERIOD.

 

So here's how things get done:

 

MATH: They both decided they want to keep college open. They know they need a certain level of math to do that. DD (7th) is doing Kinetic Pre-Algebra a few times a week. If she does poorly on a test, she will go to Khan Academy and do that a while until she gets it. She does a lot of math via cooking (a passion), shopping (nothing teaches percents like sales at Justice, Kohl's and Target lol), running a business, and making doll furniture. DS (6th) is doing AOPS Algebra. He loves Khan Academy and will do it hours a day and has completed the Geometry & Trig portions of it. He loves math literature like the Number Devil, Life of Fred, etc. He plays Lure of the Labyrinth a lot and occasionally goes back to Timez Attack just for the memories. He does balance benders for fun. He can't get enough math.

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE: This is another thing that they both know they need to get into college. We discussed that they could do it traditionally for two years or do a little bit a day until they had done two years worth by the graduation time. They chose the latter. DD has big desires to travel the world. She hated Latin (because I know it) and chose Greek (she loves all things Greek). She just started this fall & is on her 3rd Hey Andrew Book and taken an online course. She does it 4-5 times a week without much reminding (she did go a week without doing it and I just asked if she lost interest and no, she had just gotten out of the habit because we were out of town and immediately got back into the habit). She just started taking a class in Chinese (it won't go very far as it is just a "fun" class but it is sparking a lot of interests. She also works on her sign language often (I have a deaf sister that she adores).DS liked Latin and decided to keep doing it. He just went two months without doing (I reminded him but he chose not to do it because he wants to do math all the time). Recently, he decided to do it and realized that he had forgotten too much and that he was better off doing it a little each day. So he started over and spent a week reviewing and is typing out a Latin-English dictionary of all the words he forgot LOL.

 

LITERATURE: I got some great basic questions from SWB last year that could be applied to any book. My DD never liked to read and now she reads an hour a day and has been known to read all day occasionally. She mostly reads popular series -Percy Jackson and other Rick Riordan books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Dork Diaries, Twilight, Hunger Games, Kingdom Keepers, etc. She also will read the occasional classic that a friend is reading (Pride and Prejudice, Diary of Anne Frank, all the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables) but other than Little House, they didn't do much for her. She loves Mythology and reads that quite often and is into Monster High so has read a few of the classic monster stories. She just picked up Where the Red Fern Grows because her brother liked it and we watched the movie and she liked the movie.DS loves to read will read just about any book I suggest LOL. I just go by the Books Every Boy Should Read site I found and strew them. The only one that I suggested that he didn't like was Lord of the Flies. Right now, he is reading Touching Spirit Bear so he can do a Book Club with his friend and this month (which isn't half way over), he has read Inheritance, Hunger Games, and Animal Farm.

 

COMPOSITION-DD is trying to earn money to go to Disney. This has motivated her to enter a couple writing contests each month. One recent one was a play writing contest. I got in contact with a friend who is a published playwright and a professor of dramatic writing and they have been working together on various elements of writing. This connection led her to read Joseph Campbell and watch a few of his lecture. This child has always loved to write (as long as it was not assigned). She keeps a journal and is always writing stories about Monster High, etc. We work on grammar and spelling (Definite weaknesses of hers and she relies heavily on spell check) when she asks me to look over her works before submitting.

DS has always hated writing. However, he loves role playing games and so we play Druidawn. DD doesn't care for Druidawn that much but she plays willingly to help him out. In turn, he did a few of the essay contests to see if he can earn some money for her Disney fund.

Both do writing in their Scout badges too.

DS goes through phases of wanting to do MCT grammar. He loves it. Then DD will do it because she doesn't want to be outdone by him LOL.

We all try to come up with new vocabulary words to share with each other every day.

 

SCIENCE: As a family, We go to the zoo, aquarium, science fairs, science shows, and museums all the time. My kids will go just about any place that another friend is going to but they prefer the science field trip/opportunities over the history ones lol. We also do a lot of nature walks because I hike for fitness and they take turns going with me to get one on one time. Everyone has nature journals. I do the most journaling but they do it occasionally. Both do science via Scout Badges -DD just completed Woman Inventors today in AHG and DS did Chemistry in Boy Scouts at the last merit badge university.

DD has very little interest in science other than animals. She reads books about different animals and will do lapbooks for them once in a while and watch nature shows. However, she loves to cook. She has watched a lot of Alton Brown, done a lot of Kitchen Science books from the library, etc. As a Traditional Foodie Family, she can cook just about anything -even down to perfecting the emulsification process for mayo and knows way more about nutrition than most people. She is applying to work at a horse farm to work to get free riding and is supposed to get a lot of work in with the horse vet and has done some volunteer work at local shelter and vet and has just got a promised internship at a small zoo that rescues endangered animals once she turns 16 (her dad is helping out now so she is going to do some time there this summer with him). Just a few minutes ago, she was upset that her polymer clay earrings were breaking when she was making them so she looked up why this could be happening and came and told me the science behind it.

DS on the otherhand likes science. He has memorized all the bones of the body, elements on the periodic table, etc. He is currently in 3 Science Olympiad events and has the State tournament coming up in that. He does the Science Fair and reads a lot living science books and watches a lot of documentaries and shows like Mythbusters, etc. He plans to take some science classes at the community college when he's a junior (can't do it before then)

 

SOCIAL STUDIES-DD has never been into history beyond the ancients but she will read/watch anything she can get her hands on about that! She is into fashion and has read a series of Fashion History books and picked up quite a bit from those. DS has strong interest in all things military. He reads a lot of books on famous battles and the history of weapons, etc. He has been reading the Idiot's Guide to the Twentieth Century and a lot of the Uncle Eric books on government and economics.

I like to watch historical movies and I watch a few a week (that I carefully chose for strewing LOL). They usually join me and do their crafts while watching and we discuss (Both my kids LOVE musicals so that makes things easy to strew). My husband is addicted to Talk Radio so there is quite a bit of discussion there. My son is in a gun club and DH and I just went to a NRA fundraiser. The kids wanted to know about that and so we spent the morning looking up websites that were for gun control as well as the NRA and discussed my opinions, their dad's opinions, their opinions (and none are the same lol) the current Trayvon news, etc.

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OTHER INTERESTS: DD has a few passions: Monster High, Dance Moms and making movies. She makes a lot of videos of her Monster High Dolls (teaching her self stop motion and other techniques) and making tribute videos of the Dance Moms girls (who have gotten in contact with her to show their Thanks). She recently won a video contest. She also wrote the script, directed, filmed, and participated in a public service video for Girl Scouts. Tomorrow she is teaching one of the other scouts how to edit so they can edit it together. She draws Monster High dolls a lot and is getting good at drawing them and designing outfits. She is in the process of redoing an old Barbie doll house to make it a Monster High Doll house - painting, papering, making furniture, making polymer clay miniature food and accessories, etc. She has also started learning how to make her own custom Monster High Dolls. She has researched different "monsters" and mythical beings, created back grounds for them, drawn them, designed outfits, made outfits (took a sewing class), repainted the dolls, took out the hair and put in new hair of a different color, etc. Recently, she had a brand new doll break and contacted Mattel and they sent her a new one (and she talked them into a few extra stands for the dolls). She has learned how to use ebay as part of looking for Monster High Dolls (and to earn money for Disney) and now buys and trades on ebay, even overseas (learning to convert from pounds to dollars, etc). She has branched into antiques to help my parents antique business. She also has learn to put hair extensions in (to make money -she watched someone do it, went out and bought the supplies and did it) and she designs and makes jewelry to sell (took a class and gets help from my sister and husband who do it as a hobby).

 

She also loves to Dance. She take four dance classes. She has decided that she wants to move to a more competitive studio. She researched all the local studios, made a spreadsheet, determined which one was the best for what she wanted, came up with a presentation for her dad and I so that she could convince us to spend more money and drive further next year. She was in the Nutcracker this past year and loves to listen to classical music and broadway tunes. She also does recreational soccer, two Scout troops (GSA and AHG), has her own plants and pets she cares for, does about half the cooking in the house, her own laundry, assists me with shopping/couponing, in on the worship team for children's church, has a fantasy football team (to be a sport and help the family out and it impresses the boys lol). She is about to take a Babysitting class and does some babysitting/Mother's helper already. She is very good with kids. (I swear this child is a better mom than I am). She volunteers at soup kitchen with me and likes to volunteer to do stuff at Ronald McDonald house (makes cookies, blankets, collects tabs, etc).

 

DS is one of those D&D/Video game kids. He loves it but if friends are home, he'd rather play with them and of course, he also reads and does math all the time. I think he keeps a healthy balance but he has the occasional all day long of gaming (But he tends to do whatever he does math, read, science, etc all day long on any given day). He is into the middle ages somewhat (and the ancients). He and his dad made a chain mail outfit and we all do historical swordfighting. He and I duel several times a week and we made our own swords (foam lol). As a family, we all take part in a weekly class (even DD who isn't into it but will go if there is nothing else to do that day). He is also a NRA marksman and is almost a marksman first class. He is state champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and on the demonstration team that goes around to schools and events. He also helps the Little Ninjas class for preschool/Kindies. He played football (Touch for a few years and last year, contact) but didn't like it that much (plus he's too small) so he's probably not going to do it again. He also plays baseball. He's the catcher (one of best in league) and a good solid hitter. He's not a home run hitter but he gets on base 3/4 of the time and often gets doubles. This is from hard work rather than natural talent. He practices a ton. He will have earned second class in Boy Scouts after this weekends campout. He was just on tv for rock climbing (though DD is probably a better climber -he was in the right place at the right time). He also loves chess and wants to join chess club (just can't seem to fit it in). He loves strategy/logic in general. He's read Fallacy Detective twice, took a logic class in co-op, does logic problems for fun, and also read Sun Tzu this year and took a class on Sun Tzu applied to WWII. He can solve a Rubik's Cube in a minute or two and is teaching himself piano (but not as fast or consistent as I would like!)

 

DH and I are very active people. DH owns a computer business and I help him out by organizing the charity golf tournament, filling in when receptionist is out, doing some odd jobs here and there. DS helps him install lan lines, etc. Both us volunteer in Sunday School on Sundays (He does security for the youth department and I teach 6th grade girls -so I don't teach my kids lol). Both of us are Scout leaders and he's the range coach and I am a certified archery instructer and both of us are outdoor certified and merit badge instructors. I co-lead a Bible Study group and we both teach in Co-Op. He coaches football and baseball. We both play on church softball league. We are both in Marine Corps League and do volunteer work w/ them and I do a lot of visiting the older members who are in the hospital, plan the ball, etc. I am a couponer but a Traditional foodie (Paleo for myself) so lots of balance there lol. I do Crossfit 4 times a week. We have a lot of pets, have family in New York and Florida and travel several times a year. We usually perform in Renaissance Fairs and both of us have taught sword fighting (but usually only do it now if the younger adults are not there -they need the money). We both are avid readers, love documentaries and educational type shows, listen to talk radio, etc. We have a lot of customers that are in the health fields so I do a lot of 5k's and events (and kids do too). I am addicted to logic problems and sudoku and DH loves jig saw puzzles. We both like to play Boggle and have a 15 year running score. We are constantly doing some project on the house (DD just helped DH put in a new floor in my bedroom). The kids and I are in 3-4 different homeschool groups. In other words, we LIVE which means there isn't much time for doing nothing but watching tv and playing video games (those get done and some days they are an all day thing but those days are rare).

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But don't think it's easy. My kids are just as lazy as the next kid. I have to remind them frequently of THEIR goals (Hey, are you still interested in going to college?" or "How's your Silver Project going?"or "When is the next tournament for____" or "I am going to store, do you need me to pick up a new craft supply, logic book, etc (something I know that will renew an interest). I subtly suggest "What should "I" read next? So and so from Sunday School suggested I read this. What do you think?" and I read out all the opportunities that come up each day and what do they want me to put on the calendar (which usually depends on who else is signed up).

 

They have their good days and they have their bad (and I do fret on the bad days and call up Captuhura and complain that I am ruining them).

 

**I could go on but my daughter is yelling down to me that I need to get to bed since she has to be at soccer at 7:30 AM, followed by an open casting call to be an extra, and a birthday party, followed by helping a friend edit the video and going to dinner with that friend's family. She is stressed that we will both oversleep and she won't get her hair straightened before the game! NOTE: She's already got her soccer bag packed, breakfast stuff ready to go, my coffee ready to go on time, my alarm set, birthday card made and package wrapped so all we have to do is go.

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My kids seem to feel that the majority of the work they do is a chore. They are just trying to get it out of the way to get on to playing or whatever. I really don't know how to change this.

 

I am similar to Nan in that I tell my kids certain things are non-negotiable; they are necessary for adult life, and so they must be done. I think I listed my non-negotiables in one of my previous posts. I try to make the studies of those as efficient as possible. Skills-work is done efficiently, and though I find a lot of it "fun" to learn, my kids don't always, so like Nan, I don't even try to make it fun anymore. I let my enthusiasm show, but I don't spend time making it fun - I just don't have the time, and my kids would get frustrated - they just want to get the grammar lesson overwith already (although, my son adores math; and my daughter loves to think up derivatives from Latin vocabulary). My requirement for reading across content areas is what is flexible - I choose the era of history/literature we study, or the area of science, but they get to choose from a wide range of reading choices - they pick the topics they are interested in. I've tried really hard to cultivate a love for reading over the years, so I give a lot of choice there.

 

Honestly, it is very difficult for me to imagine any of my kids voluntarily studying anything on their own. Being interested in a topic and following up on it. They are so into PLAYING. Legos, crafts, swords, climbing, gardening. The older two play piano for hours when I let them.

 

But, they ARE studying something voluntarily on their own. Playing is how kids learn. Playing is how we adults learn (I played around with some geometry projects from library math books a couple of years ago, and learned a lot!). When I am done teaching for the day, it is "play" for me to go cut out a dress pattern and sew it, or to learn some new crochet stitches (both involve geometry), or to learn a new cooking technique (chemistry, physics). These projects are made all the more fun because of the reading/learning I've done directly in chemistry, physics, or geometry.

 

Your kids are probably doing more conceptual learning when they "play." Math and physics when playing with Legos, math, physics, chemistry, history, literature when they craft, literature and history and physics when they play with swords, physics when they climb, biology and chemistry and math when they garden, music and math when they play piano. All the things you listed - you can view them as conceptual learning that preps them for their formal "pure" studies, or you can view them as the application of their formal "pure" studies.

 

I don't know; I think I know how you feel. I am in the middle of my homeschool journey, and a couple of years ago it lost its glamour. It is a lot of work and thinking on my part - all the planning, prepping, worrying, and working out of laundry/cooking/groceries/bookkeeping/etc. My kids got older, and started voicing their opinions about various things, and sometimes nothing I could do would make their work "fun" anymore. So, I got efficient. So now they know that when they get their "work" done, they can play. My kids' play is very similar to what you described, and I am content that they are still learning through these activities. They are not really at an age yet where they could sit down and "write a paper" about their "extra interests/topics," but in a few more years they will be, and I am content with relaxing about that until then, too. I am pretty sure that what they consider "fun" will translate back and forth from their "pure" studies. (I'm also thinking about times when my kids put on the "dress-up" items, go outside, and act out something they've read about in literature or history, for example)

 

Idea: could we help you make your kids' "work" studies more efficient?

 

Another idea: Here's an audio by SWB that was really helpful (and funny!) to me: http://www.welltrainedmind.com/store/homeschooling-the-real-child.html The description: Homeschooling the Real (Distractable, Impatient, Argumentative, Unenthusiastic, Non-Book-Loving, Inattentive, Poky, Vague) Child

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My kids got older, and started voicing their opinions about various things, and sometimes nothing I could do would make their work "fun" anymore. So, I got efficient.

 

IMO, I think this is important. A lot of the homeschooling stuff I read early on emphasized making school fun and interesting. But no matter how committed or creative a parent is, there are going to be times when we are not able to make it fun and interesting that day, at that time, for that kid. We can spend a lot of energy trying to work up some "fun" all the time, and we can beat ourselves up over not being good enough at making it fun. Or we can accept reality and keep moving forward.

 

This is when it is beneficial to have a kid who is trained to do his or her work whether or not it feels fun or interesting, and whether or not he feels like it at the moment. Sometimes it will feel interesting, and sometimes it will not. Either way, I expect mine to get through it. And there is a life lesson in there, because we often have to do things that we don't really love doing at the moment, but the most effective thing is to not fret about them and just get them done.

 

I have had unschoolers tell me, "they won't learn if they are not interested and it is not fun". I'm not set on a course to make it boring and dry day after day ! But I am training them to learn to apply themselves mentally whenever it is required, not just when they happen to feel like it.

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Colleen,

thank you for the encouragement! I haven't really thought of it in terms of efficiency, but that makes a lot of sense.

 

Also thanks to those who have suggested letting the children have more say. I think I have been scared of this because i am a control freak. :D

 

But it's time to make some changes and I think this will be one. I can see several areas where they would probably really appreciate having some choices.

 

I did just ditch one latin program for my 10yo because she was begging to do the same one the older kids do. I was really stubborn about it for a couple of months trying to make her stick it out. Now I'm kicking myself because she was whiny about the old one and loves the new and does the work quickly and easily. Well live and learn, right?

 

And Pol - that was an amazing post! What a lot of cool things your kids are involved with. Thanks for the encouragement to let them really dive into their interests. We are held back because we live in a tiny town out in nowhere and because I have 5 kids. going to a lot of activities and such just isn't happening, but I have to remind myself to work more with what we do have.

 

Also one side note, just in the middle of all this complaining of mine, my 12yo son decided he is enthralled with the American experience dvd's about the 1930's He's watching all about the great depression, ccc, etc and asking tons of questions and really getting it! Anyway, I guess you never know...

 

Thanks again everyone

Jen

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We are held back because we live in a tiny town out in nowhere and because I have 5 kids. going to a lot of activities and such just isn't happening, but I have to remind myself to work more with what we do have.

 

I only have two kids, and I'm slightly closer to civilization than "nowhere," but I am pretty much in the same boat as you are. With no vehicle to use in the afternoons/evenings, no public transportation, and nothing really to walk to except a grocery store, we're stuck, too! I have struggled with feeling badly about not getting my kids involved in regularly-scheduled weekly activities, but I just can't do it. So, I do what I can, and take advantage of the few opportunities that we are able to make happen (today we visited the the cemetery in Halifax where people from the Titanic sinking are buried, in honour of tomorrow being 100 years since it sank - quite moving, as many people were there, walking around and looking at the grave markers. My daughter has a small Titanic shrine set up in her room today - she has loved reading about the Titanic for the past couple of years now.). Thus my enthusiasm for making "schoolwork" efficient, so my kids can have time to play outside or invent other things to do with book ideas and supplies we have at home. I don't want them to feel their lives are filled with drudgery schoolwork and nothing else.

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Letting my daughter (14) direct her education this year really turned her schooling around. Now she has goals that she sets and completes herself. This year she has probably achieved 2 years of work so far (and she has actually retained it too). She has developed new interests which then direct her to new undertakings. She has gone from tween pony books to Classics (12 so far this year). She really wants to do Literary Lessons from the LOTR because she read the books (all 3 books in 3 days). Really, she has never been the smart, motivated type (at all). She has never really shone but now I can see a little something sparkly in there. Up till now she has more been the moody, "I'll do it but I won't like it" type. As a parent I am not the "make it happen" type either.

 

Who knows how? I just know that even though she is not the type and am not the type something worked for her and that works for me.

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Thus my enthusiasm for making "schoolwork" efficient, so my kids can have time to play outside or invent other things to do with book ideas and supplies we have at home. I don't want them to feel their lives are filled with drudgery schoolwork and nothing else.

 

:iagree: I keep the core/ elective daily subjects to three at the maximum for this purpose.

 

Also one side note, just in the middle of all this complaining of mine, my 12yo son decided he is enthralled with the American experience dvd's about the 1930's He's watching all about the great depression, ccc, etc and asking tons of questions and really getting it! Anyway, I guess you never know...

There you go! Ample proof that they will be studying something on their own. Good for you!

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Honestly, it is very difficult for me to imagine any of my kids voluntarily studying anything on their own. Being interested in a topic and following up on it. They are so into PLAYING. Legos, crafts, swords, climbing, gardening. The older two play piano for hours when I let them.

 

They do read a lot, but I have to sort of "make them". Like set aside time and say, you have to sit here for an hour and read. Then they enjoy it, but they don't choose it on their own.

 

We don't watch tv at all and I limit computer to 30 min/day. So it's not like they are total zombies. I don't know, I guess I thought I'd have these really intellectually curious children, and they just aren't, so I am assuming it's something I've done wrong.

 

Jen

 

Your problem is that your children are young and perhaps their current interests (piano, gardening, legos) don't look intellectual to you. Legos is likely to turn into STEM interests later, when they are older, especially with some encouragement like more sophisticated legos. Piano already is intellectual GRIN. And gardening is a very good beginning to being curious about the life sciences. They are young. If they like to read when you make them do it instead of other, more active/buiding/doing things, then you are miles ahead of many other families! Some of my children were like this. The one in particular that I am thinking of just spent his senior year of college studying, mostly on his own, alternative energy. This involved some practical projects and lots of research. I just took a walk in the woods with him yesterday and he was full of information. I was astounded. All he wanted to do as a teenager was hang out with his friends. I did build in the foundation for intellectual curiosity (just as you are) but it didn't bloom until he was a good bit older (he is 25). Just because you don't see evidence of it now doesn't mean it won't be there later. Besides, the legos, reading, piano, gardening, and swords (beware those swords LOL but that is another rabbit trail) ARE what intellectual curiosity looks like at that age. At least in my admittedly not terribly academic family.

 

Nan

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IMO, I think this is important. A lot of the homeschooling stuff I read early on emphasized making school fun and interesting. But no matter how committed or creative a parent is, there are going to be times when we are not able to make it fun and interesting that day, at that time, for that kid. We can spend a lot of energy trying to work up some "fun" all the time, and we can beat ourselves up over not being good enough at making it fun. Or we can accept reality and keep moving forward.

 

This is when it is beneficial to have a kid who is trained to do his or her work whether or not it feels fun or interesting, and whether or not he feels like it at the moment. Sometimes it will feel interesting, and sometimes it will not. Either way, I expect mine to get through it. And there is a life lesson in there, because we often have to do things that we don't really love doing at the moment, but the most effective thing is to not fret about them and just get them done.

 

I have had unschoolers tell me, "they won't learn if they are not interested and it is not fun". I'm not set on a course to make it boring and dry day after day ! But I am training them to learn to apply themselves mentally whenever it is required, not just when they happen to feel like it.

 

The bolded is where I fret with regard to the one friend I have who is a hard core unschooler. She and her son had some incredible experiences when we were in Japan. Out kids were middle schoolers together. They were often out exploring cultural and historic sites that we never got around to.

 

However, there also seemed to be many areas where they seemed to stick to the path of least resistance. If math became hard, then math would not be anything beyond Kumon a couple days a week. If he wasn't enjoying history, then it would be little beyond whatever the interesting offering of the week on the history channel or discovery channel was. His main reading material was Archie comics.

 

A traumatic move and separation later and she was faced with the possibility of needing to put him into school so she could get a job. She was panicked that he would end up behind grade level. This is a smart and pretty interesting kid. But he had not developed the habits of persistence and hard work that could carry him through a challenging work of literature or a history or science text or a hard set of math problems.

 

Years ago, someone on this board used the phrase "classical unschooling," which she described as giving her kids lots of mental space, resources and time to pursue their passions after she had given them opportunities to encounter topics to be passionate about. In other words, she couldn't expect her kids to go whole hog into learning about knights or chivalry if she'd never made sure they studied the middle ages.

 

It also tend to go to a physical metaphor. My son swims. His first workouts with summer swim team, he could hardly make it the length of the pool. Now he routinely swims a couple miles in a long practice. It would have been an utter failure to ask him to swim a mile at his first practice. But it would also have been a poor use of his time not to push him beyond his comfort zone. (One of my favorite lines in the running app I use is in the last run set: "I know it's hard, but this is where you really build endurance, so stick with it.

 

A passion can be the spur to doing hard things. But sometimes you have to just decide to stick to the hard thing until you grind it into dust and dance victoriously on its grave.

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Sebastian -

I have been thinking about something along those lines. Thanks for the ideas.

 

Hope- would you mind giving me an example of how your daughter directs her own learning? Like do you give her guidelines or anything?

 

Nan - yes my kids are fairly young still. It's hard never having done this and not knowing what expectations are normal...

 

 

On another side note. I had a 40 minute very detailed conversation with my 6 and 7 yo boys in the car yesterday about Hitler and ww2 and Jews and parachutes and airplanes and blimps. It was amazing. They had such good questions. It really encouraged me!

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I agree... to a point. It is also possible to stick to the hard thing, work the best you can, and still just not get it or end up being disenchanted and never wanting to have anything to do with that subject again. The former dean of admissions at Stanford has written an anecdote about her daughter finishing her AP French exam and saying, "Thank goodness! Now I never, ever have to look at French again for the rest of my life!" That's not what I want my dd saying about any of her education.

 

It is also is possible for some kids to work really hard but not get anywhere because the materials are a mis-match; my dd struggled through algebra valiantly, even getting an A, but she loathed it and still didn't understand slope after a year despite all we had done together. We could go back to problems on slope she'd worked the day before, and she couldn't figure them out that very next day. This year, she picked her own materials -- a different textbook series -- and she has greatly enjoyed ("loved" is a bit too overstated) algebra II. She gets it, and that so excites her that she literally dances around the house and wants to teach me, just because she CAN now.

 

It is much different than needing to conquer one particular difficult and unappealing subject or skill when I hear homeschoolers saying that ALL subjects, the entire school day and everything in it, have become drudgery unrelieved and unbrightened by their children's interest or motivation. All the hard work in the world can go on in that situation, but it's still possible that a tuned-out kid can dutifully produce the papers and not store a single thing in long-term memory.

 

Every child is different, and a lot of parents clearly have very different approaches that work really well in their families. In mine, engagement is necessary in order to maximize learning -- and this is what makes our homeschooling "efficient" and effective, not just getting through it in the minimal time possible. If that engagement is present, it's easy to work on writing skills, logical argument, even grammar or higher math that would be indeed drudgery for my dd without a larger self-motivating context. There's a reason for the hard work besides someone else saying, "You need this for college," or "This is what I require of you." For other kids, those very reasons might be sufficiently compelling (and oh, their lucky parents!).

 

Everything you wrote can also be the case. And I think that it can be an argument for both trying to relax and for being the adult who points out when something challenging is part of the non-glamorous side of learning.

 

FWIW, one of my Navy jobs involved inspecting both huge fuel cargo tanks and the ship's sewage tanks. (Thankfully, after they had been cleaned. Well as much as you CAN clean such a thing. I also stayed up to date on my shots.) I mostly liked being a Naval officer. But it definitely had its tiresome points.

 

Now, I'm off to hit the treadmill so I can emerge victorious from this month's 5k.

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On another side note. I had a 40 minute very detailed conversation with my 6 and 7 yo boys in the car yesterday about Hitler and ww2 and Jews and parachutes and airplanes and blimps. It was amazing. They had such good questions. It really encouraged me!

 

This is what my guys love and have since a young age. It's what we base a bit of our homeschooling on - and they know they need to find the info in order to be intelligent in these conversations. Sometimes they get that info from texts, sometimes from other books, sometimes from documentary type films, sometimes from the internet (knowing what sources are reliable), etc.

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Well, just another update - sorry to keep going on this...:D

 

I had the most encouraging conversation with my oldest dd last night (in the car,:001_smile:). I told her some the stuff I had been thinking about in terms of giving her some more freedom in her school work, etc. She just lit up with excitement and had so many ideas, I couldn't believe it. Just one example:

 

She has a whole plan to take my little boys out on nature walks every week and look for plants they don't know about. She suggested identifying them, and then researching where they came from originally, their history, uses etc. Writing an essay and doing some drawings. I would never have come up with this idea for her to do. And involving the younger kids. I just can't say how happy I am to be making room for this.

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That is wonderful! That is the sort of thing we have done. You have to leave space for them to be curious and you have to leave them needs in order to let them fill them. Mother of invention and all that. That space probably will need to be protected from their own pursuits (like your reading time) and they probably will need to be invited before they will volunteer ideas for filling those spaces. I usually say something like, "Next year we have to do this and this. Would you rather do that this way or that way? And while I am planning, what would you like to learn next year?" Some years they have things and some years à make suggestions and they choose.

 

I think of things in three levels. There is the just-have-to-plug-through-it level. There is the I-am-interested-and-curious-but-not-enough-to-do-it-during-my-precious-free-time level. And there is there is the this-is-my-own-project-that-I-am-doing-my-way-during-my-time level. It didn't worry me that most of my children's schoolwork did not/does not land at level 3. I try to keep too much schoolwork from landing at level 1 but skills generally land there and when my children are older, I am usually not willing to go to the effort involved with teaching or setting it up so that my children can learn those skills in a more fun way. It is generally more efficient to just plug through. I try harder to keep content at level 2, either by finding a source that my children find palatable (often TWTM recommendation) or by letting my children choose which aspect to focus upon and/ór how to go about it Mine have always had lots of say in their education. Mine have always had some things that they did at level 3. When they were young, i couldn't count those things for school because to count for school, I thought whateveritwas should have an academic component and my younger children were unwilling to spoil their project by writing about it. They organized Olympic games one year when they were about your children's age. I did not make them write about it, or give them things to read beforehand. They did read a bit, but they chose the books and I had nothing to do with it except to offer to take them to the library. They read less than they ran and jumped, but they still went through the process of having an idea, doing some research, and then carrying out the idea, which after all, is the end goal, at least for me. And as they grew up, they had more ideas and did significantly more academic things in order to accomplish their goal. I considered it normal for us all (me included) to want to rush through the required work in order to get to our own projects or reading.

 

Sounds like you are on the right track! And you must have been close all the way along or your daughter would not have had any ideas.

 

Nan

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Well, just another update - sorry to keep going on this...:D

 

Don't be sorry; it's what the forum is for - support!! That is great news!!! It's as if all the reading our kids do spark their imaginations for studies they could do, if they only had a bit of free time, right? Says Colleen, whose daughter is all done her schoolwork for the day, and has just hauled a wooden table out of the fort up in the woods and has just set it up on the deck to create a "cafe". When she's messing around in the dirt to create her "chocolate cookies" or "beef stew" to serve to customers (me), she's also exploring the bugs and plants along the way.

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Well, just another update - sorry to keep going on this...:D

 

I had the most encouraging conversation with my oldest dd last night (in the car,:001_smile:). I told her some the stuff I had been thinking about in terms of giving her some more freedom in her school work, etc. She just lit up with excitement and had so many ideas, I couldn't believe it. Just one example:

 

She has a whole plan to take my little boys out on nature walks every week and look for plants they don't know about. She suggested identifying them, and then researching where they came from originally, their history, uses etc. Writing an essay and doing some drawings. I would never have come up with this idea for her to do. And involving the younger kids. I just can't say how happy I am to be making room for this.

 

AWESOME!!! And yes, this is what we are all talking about for putting the spark back into learning. It's not work (usually, sometimes it still is), it's fun.

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Well, just another update - sorry to keep going on this...:D

 

I had the most encouraging conversation with my oldest dd last night (in the car,:001_smile:). I told her some the stuff I had been thinking about in terms of giving her some more freedom in her school work, etc. She just lit up with excitement and had so many ideas, I couldn't believe it. Just one example:

 

She has a whole plan to take my little boys out on nature walks every week and look for plants they don't know about. She suggested identifying them, and then researching where they came from originally, their history, uses etc. Writing an essay and doing some drawings. I would never have come up with this idea for her to do. And involving the younger kids. I just can't say how happy I am to be making room for this.

 

 

I love this! My kids constantly surprise me at what they want to do.

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Just in case any continental Europeans are reading this thread, I think it important to point out that the requirements for the French Bac, Swiss Matu, and the German Abitur, etc. which are used to get into university in the respective countries, make it much harder to just do unschooling for high school. (If you are doing it in the typical type frame for high school)

 

In addition, there is the foreign language issue which is quite unlike the US...it is not just a two year study venture...students have been studying at least one foreign language usually since 3rd grade and would have reached a B2 level as well as a second foreign language from 5th grade and would have reached a B1 level....

 

There might be ways around the second foreign language - I'm not familiar enough with all country requirements - but this language issue is something almost nonexistant (to this high level I mean) in the US. This frees up an enormous amount of time for unschoolers in the US (compared to continental Europe) and I think has given people on the continent false expectations when it comes to unschooling when they are using a US model...

 

If your students don't want to go to university, languages are still much more important in Europe than in the US, esp.

 

I will add that from another perspective, I've seen European students take years to finish university, going from one program to another (as it's much harder to transfer credits, you are already specializing to some degree). So if you end up unschooling and just take longer to get all those requirements done, but are sure of your interests and career choice - at the end of the day, you'll probably be finished about the same time as many here.

 

One other difference is that for these European end of high school exams, you typically have to do them in 1-2 years...It's not like AP's that you can do over 4 years as you get ready for them...

 

Joan

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