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Anyone ever truly considered unschooling?


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I am guessing most posters here feel pretty strongly against unschooling (anathema?) but I'm wondering if anyone has truly considered it? This is probably the wrong place to ask but thought I'd try as you ladies always have a lot of wisdom and insight.

 

I see a lot of posts about how to motivate our kids who are just not.doing.their.work. I don't want to be in the position of fighting with my kids to do work all the time or being their main motivation and having to stand over them and harp on them about it. I want them to WANT to learn. My main goal for them is to be independent learners.

 

I have naturally fallen into more "unschooly" tendencies during periods of survival (new baby, early on in pregnancy, moving, etc) and I am seeing many potential benefits, mainly regarding the independent learning issue, which is our main goal for them, anyway! I am wondering if this is so bad after all. I have never been a radical unschooler (nor will I ever be), but during these times I require the 3 R's and...that's about it. Everything else they learn is from books, documentaries, talking about it, etc.

 

None of them have lost their love of learning. They are all SUPER curious. My younger children beg me to let them work on workbooks and "do school." My oldest will fight me about her math but that's probably because it's the only subject I require that she hates.

 

Just wondering what the general consensus is on this. Again, I do realize where I am asking this question. :)

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Yeah, for my youngest, but that's mainly because I don't see any other choice. Thankfully he's only 4 so there's a chance he'll grow out of it, because I don't think I'm cut out to be an unschooler!

 

Maybe read some of the threads on the high school and middle grades boards by Tibbie, Swimmermom, Coralleno and that mob. What they do scares me, but it is good to know what "out of the box" can mean. And someone posted about "tidal schooling" at one stage, which makes a whole lot of sense. I think most of us naturally fall into rhythms where we hit the books harder at certain times of the year.

 

Anyway, I hope you get more replies from people with some actual experience, not just bludgers who merely read about it. ;)

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There are unschoolers who post here. I was very unschool leaning when we first started. In the end, I didn't go that way though for a lot of reasons. But I started my education career reading AS Neill, Paolo Friere, and John Holt, so I have a little bit of educational radical inside me still.

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ME!!!! For one of my dc it was the only way we survived to the point we are at right now. Not radical unschooling, (this child didn't have the self motivation in the 3 Rs and that made me really nervous...I wasn't willing to bank on the idea that she would eventually, sometime in highschool, decide to learn how to write a paper and do Algebra) but definitely not traditional or classical. I would say it was a hybrid of unschooling and project\interest based learning. Like you we did the 3Rs, although in a very unschooly way, and then she had free reign with everything else. She did a lot of science, art, and history in her own way.

 

I definitely attribute her ability to learn mostly in her own way, on her own terms, and about what she wanted to the fact that she now CAN learn in a more traditional manner and has gained the maturity and insight into how to adjust the input of material in order to learn effectively and efficiently. She takes her education seriously now...she understands the importance of learning for the pure delight of learning, but also understands the value in and reason behind learning for the sake of needing to cross a t and dot an i.

 

I would allow her to unschool now if she chose to, but ironically she leans more toward the classical method now (with a large dose of quirky thrown in since she is still VSL). I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I had pushed her into classical education 4 years ago our relationship would be irreparably damaged and she would be a broken individual.

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Oh, yay! I was worried everyone would respond like this: :confused1: :huh: :ack2:

 

I definitely attribute her ability to learn mostly in her own way, on her own terms, and about what she wanted to the fact that she now CAN learn in a more traditional manner and has gained the maturity and insight into how to adjust the input of material in order to learn effectively and efficiently. She takes her education seriously now...she understands the importance of learning for the pure delight of learning, but also understands the value in and reason behind learning for the sake of needing to cross a t and dot an i.

 

This is exactly what I am hoping for. I don't want to get into battles with my kids in these early grades to the point where it's all over and I have to coddle them along when we get to the older stages. By the time they are in middle/high school and can learn much more quickly and effectively, I hope they will take 90% of the responsibility for their own education. I plan to give them a basic skeleton, but I want them to be motivated enough to take it and run with it.

 

ETA: I just realized (again) that my dd will be starting middle school in the fall. We're already there!

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Sorry, this is a bit disjointed as I am ready to sleep....

 

I wanted to pass along an unschooling blog from someone who used to post on another board (before she became an unschooler). Her current post has a nice list of other unschooling blogs.

 

http://cordovaacademy.blogspot.com

 

Rebecca Rupp's Home Learning Sourcebook has a lot about unschooling.

 

We do some unschooly things here, not by design -- it sort of evolved.. For example, I ask dd what she would like for homework. But, if I mention that she should try to fit in xyz, she will. We go with some of her suggestions - like watercolors of some of her reading comprehension passages. On her own, she makes beautiful, large-scale freehand maps. It works because my dd is very motivated and intellectually curious.

 

When we do lessons that are difficult for dd -- like math word problems -- I am right there, either guiding or ready to help, and always encouraging. So I guess we do a mix of traditional and child led. FWIW, one curriculum that led us more in an unschooling direction was Miquon.

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I worked as a tutor for a while, and ended up having a bunch of homeschooled students. Many of them were unschooled, and their parents hired me to get them on track to go to a public school. I came out of that experience super anti unschooling. It was really not a pretty sight. For at least two families I'm thinking of, "horrified" is really the only way to describe my reaction at how far behind their (totally neurotypical, for the record) tweens were. Barely literate, no math that couldn't be done on fingers, that sort of thing. One kid was really into history, and he basically spent all day every day looking at the pictures in DK books about topics he was interested in... he couldn't really read them, but he'd get his parents to read parts to him. He was in 7th grade.

 

But, since then I've really mellowed. I've met quite a few unschooled kids since then for whom it really worked. I think that I was hired by a very specific type of family, who knew that they had failed to turn out educated, well-rounded kids... after all, why would you hire a tutor if everything's going swimmingly?

 

I think a lot of it depends on the personality of the child. And I think a lot also depends on the personality of the parents, and how intellectually-oriented they're willing to make their lives. I don't think it will work well if the parents don't read and discuss ideas and books and facts with eachother and with the kids. I think it's also important to take the kids to as many places that might spark their interests as possible: story hours, book readings, concerts, lectures, museums. I don't think it's fair to expect kids to self-direct to learning about things they don't even know exist, so you actually have to make sure that they're exposed to a range of things. In the families I know where unschooling was particularly successful, there was a lot of leg work on the part of the parents. Even more than I think most parents doing classical methods put in, honestly!

 

Basically, back when I was 25 and knew everything I was really against it. Now that I'm *mumble* number of years older, and actually have kids, I am far more understanding how it can work, and think that it can work really well in the right situations. I actually think that my older daughter would be a splendid candidate: she is extremely curious about a huge range of things, very self-directed, loves learning, is relatively good at putting in effort to achieve a goal (to a point... she is only 5, LOL!). But it's still not something I'm particularly interested in.

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ETA: I just realized (again) that my dd will be starting middle school in the fall. We're already there!

 

It isn't too late with her. Dd14 is the one I was referencing above, and she started unschool-interest-project based....whatever it was about 4 years ago after I just about sucked all the creativity and uniqueness out of her by trying to squash her into a classically square hole. She was overtly hexagonal in shape. We ended up doing things that way out of pure ignorance on my part in how to teach her...out of the box, VSL, artistic, kinesthetic, quirky, emotional, dyscalculia, probable Inattentive...the more I researched the more I saw that it wasn't that she didn't WANT to learn - although her behavior presented that way, she just COULDN'T learn the way I was trying to teach her. In exploring, learning, experimenting, struggling, correcting, perfecting and discovering in HER way she came to know herself better; know her strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences better.

 

There were times that we butted heads - times she would prefer to do nothing, and I would have to have talks with her about how she was going to attain goals she had for the future, the importance of pushing herself and stretching herself, the art of compromise (if you want the privilege of directing your own education you need to have a good attitude and be productive). I had to spend a lot of time offering new ideas and topics, making lots of things available, sometimes only to have them rejected. I spent a lot of time gathering resources, materials, and supplies then backing away slowly and avoiding eye contact least I spoil the whole thing (some people will have no idea what I'm talking about, but some will - quirky kids\cloud kids) We grew a lot together... I learned how to facilitate HER education and let go of my pre-conceived ideas of what her goals should be based on MY idea of the perfect education. I also learned to teach her where she was, not where she should be based on her age or grade.

 

You mentioned that your oldest hates math...this dc does too. Dyscalculia does that to a kid. :( We obviously couldn't unschool math...well , I supposed we could have but I didn't feel comfortable with my own ability to do that...but I did let go of the idea that she had to be in Algebra by a certain grade level. I know that it's unlikely that she would ever do higher level math so I took that pressure off of her. As long as she completed the requirements for graduation, which for us was Alg I, Geo, and Alg II, by 12th grade then I would be perfectly happy. Wow, what a difference in her attitude once we made that decision. Before, reaching Alg by 8th or even 9th felt like an impossible task, not to mention the idea that she would even have to crack open a pre-cal book sent her into a panic attack. However, completing Alg II by 12th, in her mind, is a completely reasonable and do-able task. She still hates math, but she has a determination not to let it beat her now.

 

So, that last part really had nothing to do with unschooling, but I just thought I'd throw it out there since you mentioned that you have a math hater too. :)

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Well, I do a sort of precarious mix of unschooling and project based learning with my youngest son after any attempt by anybody to school him in any sort of structured way has failed. He is a highly gifted visual-spatial learner with a good measure of kinesthetic thrown in to make it interesting. How he learns is currently beyond my understanding. That said, something must be working because he actually has a wide range of skills and knowledge he can apply when he wants to.

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Pretty much did this during middle school with my oldest. And ummm, now I'm looking to do WTM method.

 

I still believe that unschooling is *Awesome* and can be a great method with the right family/parent. Reality just showed me, it's not the method for me. I'm way too type-a to make it work out and not freak out over it too. :) So, classical method, here we come. :)

 

ETA: I'm also jut a huge advocate for 'what works for you and your family' and that pretty much applies to everything in life. I don't have time or energy for having any opinions beyond what works for us. :)

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We have unschooled, off and on for about 3-4 years. I love the idea, and live in a very unschooly area - that is, most of the homeschoolers around here are unschoolers. BUT, for us it has/had been less than stellar. My ds11 is fairly motivated - he's teaching himself computer programming and animation for example; my dd10 is much less motivated... if allowed, she would honestly just sit on the couch watching TV 90% of the time.

 

I think it depends a lot on the kids as to whether or not it works, as well as on the parents. If you maintain a learning-rich environment and have a kid that is interested/curious/motivated, then I could see it working, and I have seen, again locally, cases where it worked beautifully. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the cases where it absolutely does not work, like one family I know whose 13 year old daughter doesn't read yet, but "that's okay because she will when she wants to." In our case, it put gaps in math and language arts that I wish we had avoided.

 

What I have learned from it is to allow time, and allocate resources, to have the kids pursue their own interests, as well as having time that is for academics. This is where I pull a lot from Charlotte Mason, s the shorter lesson times allow plenty of free time for exploration.

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I am in the truly considering it stage. My oldest is only k though, so take this for what it's worth. I have been reading a lot about it and am seeing that to unschool well is a lot of work. Likely pleasant work, but those who I have been reading who do it are not lazy. They are working to deeply understand their kids, then finding resources, and pouncing on life's educational opportunities. True unschooling involves creating a "learning opportunity rich" environment, developing insight into you kids, and a lot of modeling of self-learning.

 

If done thoughtfully I think it can work very well. And a lot of elements and principles of classical education work with it. SoTW is great for unschoolers. Narration, dictation, and note booking are tools that a lot of unschoolers use. Using primary sources is also popular among unschoolers etc...

 

There are a lot of excellent unschooling blogs out there. I decided to unschool the rest of k. Of course that hardly makes me a voice of great experience. But, it is rather amazing how much she learns if I stay aware and we seize the natural opportunities.

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I know a number of people who are hardcore unschoolers. They use the term 'radical unschoolers'. They see it as an approach to all aspects of life, not just their children's education. I think they would burst out laughing if I suggested they read/post on a home education website. Not to say that there are none here, just the people that I know. They truly would not see the point in participating here.

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I've never really considered it.

Now, during certain seasons of our lives, we generally fall into "lite" mode - 3 Rs only, I mean. This is true for new babes, extended illnesses, and/or travel periods.

 

My eldest is not the type to be self motivated. She simply isn't. Her IQ is quite (quite) high, she is intelligent... and she is lazy about school. If left to her own devices (and she has proven this many a time) she will spend the day cutting up paper and dancing. If I told her she would never have to pick up a book again, she would think she'd won the lotto.

 

I think unschooling works best for a certain type of family - those who are "eh, so long as they're happy in life, I don't care what they do with their adulthood" types... and that's fine! Great even, really. It just isn't us. With our motivated learners, we are in rigor mode to help them reach their potential; with our less motivated child it is because I'll be da*ned if she doesn't reach some fraction of her potential just because she'd rather play dolls and dance all day.

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I've never considered it until I read through the replies you've received so far. My youngest is exactly like many of the kids some of the replies talk about. I know nothing about VSL, but the way it has been described in this thread is exactly my youngest. Oh man. He refuses to learn anything when I sit with him, but he teaches himself. He has taught himself how to read and how to add this year (he's 6 and in K). If I try to help he gets frustrated. At first I fought back, but eventually, I backed off and he's come so much further without my intervening.

 

So, I guess I have a lot to look into right now. I need to figure out what VSL is and see if my youngest definitely is that, and I need to research unschooling. So far he's doing a great job on his own. He makes me feel useless at times. LOL

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Like many, we fall into periods or unschooling during certain seasons of life or even times of the year. Right now, I feel like besides the 3Rs and our co-op classes, we are sort of unschooling. For my ds11, my challenge (as many of you know from my plethora of "HELP ME" posts ;) ), is the one who is mostly unschooled. I force him to do math each day (and yes I do mean force), handwriting, grammar a couple times each week and now, b/c I am terrified I have damaged him beyond repair, I will be starting him on a writing program. He is unschooled b/c it is the only way I can survive and the only way that we can co-exist in the same house w/out killing each other (not really, but you get my drift). His video game/tv/electronics time is limited unless it is truly an educational game or program. But this really isn't what you were asking. ;) I do know an unschooler irl. She is amazing. It is unschooling, interest led, family learning at its finest. And it is a TON of work on her part. She loathes "curriculum". She actually cringes at the sound of the word. LOL. She doesn't count "credits" for high school. Her boys will get their GED when they are ready. One will likely be ready at age 14. o.O She doesn't follow traditional sequence in ANY subject, couldn't care less about state or national "norms" and let me tell you...her boys are all smart as whips and all around wonderful kids. I'm insanely jealous. :/ Anyway, it really works for some families and some kids...it wouldn't work for most of mine except my ds4 and dd7 who are very self-motivated and curious about everything.

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we've kinda/sorta unschooled the past year or two.....Slowly trying to get back into more structured learning for math....You have to see what works for your kid-mine learns something everyday-whether it's from a book or from the computer.We do "learning things" everyday-whether it's talking about how plants grow as we planted our garden last week or watched birds in our backyard....I don't think my son will EVER be the sit down with a book for hours type of learner like I was -he's more of a hands on learner.....I agree that there are many different "levels" of unschoolers in the unschooling genre.....

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It isn't too late with her. Dd14 is the one I was referencing above, and she started unschool-interest-project based....whatever it was about 4 years ago after I just about sucked all the creativity and uniqueness out of her by trying to squash her into a classically square hole. She was overtly hexagonal in shape. We ended up doing things that way out of pure ignorance on my part in how to teach her...out of the box, VSL, artistic, kinesthetic, quirky, emotional, dyscalculia, probable Inattentive...the more I researched the more I saw that it wasn't that she didn't WANT to learn - although her behavior presented that way, she just COULDN'T learn the way I was trying to teach her. In exploring, learning, experimenting, struggling, correcting, perfecting and discovering in HER way she came to know herself better; know her strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences better.

 

There were times that we butted heads - times she would prefer to do nothing, and I would have to have talks with her about how she was going to attain goals she had for the future, the importance of pushing herself and stretching herself, the art of compromise (if you want the privilege of directing your own education you need to have a good attitude and be productive). I had to spend a lot of time offering new ideas and topics, making lots of things available, sometimes only to have them rejected. I spent a lot of time gathering resources, materials, and supplies then backing away slowly and avoiding eye contact least I spoil the whole thing (some people will have no idea what I'm talking about, but some will - quirky kids\cloud kids) We grew a lot together... I learned how to facilitate HER education and let go of my pre-conceived ideas of what her goals should be based on MY idea of the perfect education. I also learned to teach her where she was, not where she should be based on her age or grade.

 

You mentioned that your oldest hates math...this dc does too. Dyscalculia does that to a kid. :( We obviously couldn't unschool math...well , I supposed we could have but I didn't feel comfortable with my own ability to do that...but I did let go of the idea that she had to be in Algebra by a certain grade level. I know that it's unlikely that she would ever do higher level math so I took that pressure off of her. As long as she completed the requirements for graduation, which for us was Alg I, Geo, and Alg II, by 12th grade then I would be perfectly happy. Wow, what a difference in her attitude once we made that decision. Before, reaching Alg by 8th or even 9th felt like an impossible task, not to mention the idea that she would even have to crack open a pre-cal book sent her into a panic attack. However, completing Alg II by 12th, in her mind, is a completely reasonable and do-able task. She still hates math, but she has a determination not to let it beat her now.

 

So, that last part really had nothing to do with unschooling, but I just thought I'd throw it out there since you mentioned that you have a math hater too. :)

 

 

This sounds exactly like my oldest. And like you, I can already see similar benefits for her with unschooling.

 

My second is much more self-motivated overall than she is. He likes to check in boxes, be diligent, etc. He is a BREEZE to school. So I think he could do well with unschooling too, as long as he has a basic skeleton he is good to go. No fighting, no cajoling, he easily takes the responsibility for his stuff. It's awesome.

 

There is no option around here to not know how to read, or not be caught up on math. Those are biggies to me. So there won't be any teenager around here counting on their fingers to do math or who doesn't know how to read. No sir. There is no compromising on the 3 R's (although handwriting is stressed, not so much writing mechanics until much later...I'm not planning on really getting into that until middle school).

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I do know an unschooler irl. She is amazing. It is unschooling, interest led, family learning at its finest. And it is a TON of work on her part. She loathes "curriculum". She actually cringes at the sound of the word. LOL. She doesn't count "credits" for high school. Her boys will get their GED when they are ready. One will likely be ready at age 14. o.O She doesn't follow traditional sequence in ANY subject, couldn't care less about state or national "norms" and let me tell you...her boys are all smart as whips and all around wonderful kids. I'm insanely jealous. :/ Anyway, it really works for some families and some kids...it wouldn't work for most of mine except my ds4 and dd7 who are very self-motivated and curious about everything.

 

 

What does she do with them?

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I have considered it. I like TWTM because the way we use it, it is halfway between school and unschooling - teach/encourage learning the academic skills and be much much looser about the content. If I weren't ever planning on putting my children back into the school system, I would have done more of it, but wanting them to go to college means that eventually they need to meet up with those outside requirements. Youngest, the one who homeschooled k-12, would have been the best candidate but he wanted to go to engineering school, so I had to be particularly careful about college requirements. I also know that unschooling is more work than doing at least some school, much more work. I'm not sure I could create the environment to make it work well and I'd rather just tell mine that they need to do copywork in order to learn to punctuate, which they will need to do in order to become an engineer (or whatever their ultimate goal is). I don't always want to take the time to demonstrate why they will need something later and I lacksidaisical as I am, I definately would worry about the frustration level if my children were left tolearn only when they were feeling like it. It sort of depends how you define unschooling. If you define it as the parents leaving the children to figure out what they want to learn and how to learn it and then learning it independently, then no, we didn't unschool. If you define it as the parents asking the children what their goals are and then helping them to reach them, working with them when they needed help either being consistent or when they got stuck or when they needed monitoring to make sure errors didn't creep into their thinking about something (like math), and letting them work on their own for some things, then I guess you could say that we unschooled. It looked a lot like school with willing pupils, though lol. To make homeschooling work, we all wanted to know when we would be through the tougher, more boring bits, so we had a schedule that we more or less stuck to. We did use some textbooks. They did a number of academic projects and a number of non-academic but very educational projects (like travel). They had lots of say about what they learned and how they learned it. I didn't grade. The people I know of who unschooled very successfully were the ones whose children had BETTER academic skills than their schooled age-mates and were able to use those academic skills to teach themselves and do research, projects, and experiments. Their skills were good enough that they were able to take formal classes when they got older. Mine tended to say things like, "I am never going to need this so I don't want to learn it." Sometimes that was fine. Sometimes that was short-sighted. Some things had a large enough learning curve that they really needed me to get them started a bit earlier than they would have if left to their own devices (math for the middle one, for example).

 

Ellie - I'd be really interested in how you unschooled if you have the time to talk about it.

 

Nan

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Unschoolers here ("radical" if you want). I'm too tired to read the thread, so this can be my little bookmark so I can find this thread again. My kids are all now teens, one applied to and registered to the local charter school by choice, the others are still home. By the way, they are all fully knowledgeable in the 3 R's (and then some). ;)

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I have considered it, but truthfully, it was only because regular schooling was going so badly that I knew we needed a break.

 

I am an eclectic mix of a "child interest led life lessons" kinda gal and a strict person who values book learning very highly. I constantly have to ride that dichotomy.

 

I know that Melissa learns very well from life lessons in the moment, but she also thrives on learning something new in a book, so for us, unschooling full time is not an option.

 

I do think it can be done and is done very well by many. I'm just not the person to do it.

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I've always taught the skills subjects, but often left my youngest to "unschool" content and arts subjects for hours a day, especially as a middle schooler, when he was in the correct mental place to benefit from the approach.

 

The Robinson Curriculum method is basically the 3Rs plus unschooling. Many people use the method but not the curriculum itself.

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I don't think I will ever be a total unschooler. My kids want and need a certain amount of structure in their day. I do incorporate their interests into the lessons that I plan, and I do follow rabbit trails as much as I can whenever questions pop up (I don't know how I'd homeschool without Google and Wikipedia).

 

But there are aspects of unschooling that are important to me. I want my children to understand that they can drive their own learning; that whatever interests them, they can pursue. I also want them to have the skills they will need to do this. To that end, I nurture those tendencies whenever I see them emerge.

 

For example, right now my younger daughter wants to get gerbils as pets and my older daughter wants to get a bird. They've both been begging for their own little pets for at least a year, maybe two. But over the last month, they stopped just begging for the pets. Instead, they asked me to take them to the library. They spoke with the librarian, and she showed them where the pet books were. They decided that the books in the kids' section were too simplistic, and they wanted the more detailed information from the books in the adult section. They learned how to use the catalog to request more books from other libraries. They've read bunches of books and websites, and they took notes as they were reading. They can tell you in detail about the care that their pets will need. They've begun to notice how the books often repeat the same information, and they've talked about writing their own books. They also moved into reading books that are memoirs about life with birds, or cats, or gerbils.

 

As a result, we've decided to let them get the pets they want. They've saved up for the gerbils (which we'll get this weekend) and are working toward the bird. They've set up blogs where they want to post photos and videos of their new pets.

 

How I've attempted to nurture this process is: provide the free time in their schedule that allows them to work on this, drive them to the library, ask them lots of questions about what they're learning, and ignore any urges to make suggestions for what they should do or in any way turn it into a school project. I've had absolutely no input into what they've done, or in what order, or how. At most, if I've seen a book or website I thought they might like, I point it out to them.

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I like TWTM because the way we use it, it is halfway between school and unschooling - teach/encourage learning the academic skills and be much much looser about the content.

 

:blink: It would never occur to me to think that WTM is anywhere close to unschooling.

 

I also know that unschooling is more work than doing at least some school, much more work. I'm not sure I could create the environment to make it work well and I'd rather just tell mine that they need to do copywork in order to learn to punctuate, which they will need to do in order to become an engineer (or whatever their ultimate goal is).

 

I've heard people say that, and it always puzzles me. Unschooling is living life and involving your children. It isn't creating an environment. But I *totally* understand about just telling the dc what they need to do. :-)

 

 

It sort of depends how you define unschooling. If you define it as the parents leaving the children to figure out what they want to learn and how to learn it and then learning it independently, then no, we didn't unschool. If you define it as the parents asking the children what their goals are and then helping them to reach them, working with them when they needed help either being consistent or when they got stuck or when they needed monitoring to make sure errors didn't creep into their thinking about something (like math), and letting them work on their own for some things, then I guess you could say that we unschooled. It looked a lot like school with willing pupils, though lol. To make homeschooling work, we all wanted to know when we would be through the tougher, more boring bits, so we had a schedule that we more or less stuck to. We did use some textbooks. They did a number of academic projects and a number of non-academic but very educational projects (like travel). They had lots of say about what they learned and how they learned it. I didn't grade. The people I know of who unschooled very successfully were the ones whose children had BETTER academic skills than their schooled age-mates and were able to use those academic skills to teach themselves and do research, projects, and experiments. Their skills were good enough that they were able to take formal classes when they got older. Mine tended to say things like, "I am never going to need this so I don't want to learn it." Sometimes that was fine. Sometimes that was short-sighted. Some things had a large enough learning curve that they really needed me to get them started a bit earlier than they would have if left to their own devices (math for the middle one, for example).

 

Ellie - I'd be really interested in how you unschooled if you have the time to talk about it.

 

Nan

 

 

See my comment above about living life. That's what unschooling is: learning that doesn't look anything like school, as opposed to uneducating (or even unparenting, which, alas, some people do). I kept us on a daily routine as far as home life was concerned, and I introduced the children to things like Camp Fire and 4-H and Highland dance and marching band, and looked for places for us to visit (a field trip every Thursday). If they had not been interested in Camp Fire and whatnot, I would not have helped them pursue it. I did not ask them what they wanted to learn; I found things for them to be involved in, or read about, or visit, and let things progress from there, or not. My home looked as if people lived in it; it did not look like a learning environment. I don't remember any kind of "academic projects," although I counted *everything* as educational (including the "field trip" we took on the Greyhound bus from San Diego to Norfolk, Virginia, and the family camping trip to visit all 21 California missions...in a week...)

 

My older dd knew how to read when we started hsing (I took her out of a Christian school that used all ABeka, during Easter break of her first grade year). My younger dd, however, wasn't reading at her age level until she was 9 and a half. I strayed from my unschooling for about six weeks when she was 6, and 7, and 8, and did Spalding. Six weeks was all we could handle, lol. But she, like her older sister, was ready for community college classes when she was 14ish. She took amazing notes in class, and rewrote them when she got home (color-coded and everything). If a paper were due on Friday, she had finished it by Monday. Any grade less than an A was unacceptable (I think she got two or three B's the whole time. She was sick about it.). She was asked to be the valedictorian of her class but declined because of the politics involved.

 

I can't say what I'd do if I were homeschooling again. Today, Charlotte Mason looks very appealing to me, but if I had started from the beginning, as opposed to rescuing a poor burned-out 6yo from ABeka and a rigid classroom environment, I might have done TWTM. IDK. But I'm still an unschooler today. Even my pets are unschooled, lol.

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We tried. My son doesn't really want to unschool because he is afraid he will miss something cool because he doesn't know about it. My daughter doesn't like anything period. If it's not her idea, she wants nothing to do with it. She's hated every curriculum I have bought even if she picked it out. She did not want to turn her interests into school. She just didn't want to do school period. Her mind was made up that school is supposed to be boring and something you sludge through and she wasn't going to have it any other way. We tried homeschooling her but she never really got passed the deschooling phase. She did some amazing things in that period that would make many unschool parents proud but nothing much in the way of preparing for college. She wants to attend college to study her passion (dance) but she didn't want to do the work. Fortunately for us, a new charter school for dance is opening and she wants to go and she wants to go at Honors level . So now we are cramming a lot of math and writing in to get her prepared. She's working finally but still grumbling and complaining that she won't need this and it's stupid (Stupid means I have to think more than 2 secs).

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Unschoolers here. Radical in the past although we don't fit the label any more as my bright but Aspie-light eldest cannot self-regulate certain things. She is also the reason I read here. She actually *likes* curriculum (some of it) and she requests time & time again that I insist she has a structured learning time each day. Thus, I stumbled upon this board while researching materials for her. Some might say she is a perfect fit for unschooling & in many ways she is. She is also stubborn as a mule, even approaching ODD behaviors when her anxiety kicks her over the edge. It's lucky that I don't want to force her into a TWTM or any other box, because I'm quite certain it couldn't be done without lasting negative consequences.

All that is to say in a round about fashion that I agree with PPs that the success or otherwise of unschooling depends upon firstly the personality of the particular child and secondly the amount of effort the parent/s put in "strewing" and facilitating.

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:blink: It would never occur to me to think that WTM is anywhere close to unschooling.

 

 

Exactly. WTM is very rigorous on skills and content and is very mapped out. I understand why some people are drawn to both... But in an I'm drawn to two opposite things kind of way.

 

I do get why people see unschooling as hard though. You have to really be able to let go and trust, which is difficult. And I think there is a lot of rolling with the punches, so to speak. To really do it well, I think you have to be willing to drop things sometimes to seize the moment when a kid is into something and wants your help. And you have to balance that flexibility with not letting the kids completely run the house. That's hard, I think.

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Unschoolers can use "curriculum, which is a word that most of us misuse; a BJUP textbook is not "curriculum." It is a textbook. A R&S textbook is not "curriculum;" it is a textbook. "Curriculum" is the course of study offered by an institution of education. I homeschooled for a couple of years before I even heard that word, and then I found a bunch of hsers who had started after I but who had not read John Holt, and who all had stacks of textbooks and stuff that they referred to as their "curriculum." I agonized over that for awhile, and finally God spoke to me. Really. Not in an audible voice but in a very smart thought (if it's smarter than I, I always figure it's God): I wonder what "curriculum" really means? And it turned out that I had a "curriculum." I knew what we were learning, and I had a sense of where I hoped we could go (a very, very flexible sense of where I hoped we could go, lol). I just didn't have a stack of books.

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What does she do with them?

 

 

I wish I knew more details! LOL. They are a family in our co-op, Her husband is a chemical engineer (they've got science down!). She has described her day before and it makes my eyes glaze over b/c I just know I'd never be able to sustain such stamina! Lots of exploratory learning, library books, reading, experimentation, following rabbit trails, real life learning situations. It helps that they live on a farm, raise goats and other animals (lots of real life happening there!). I'm actually going to meet with her sometime in the near future to pick her brain. I seriously need to revamp our homeschool and give it a fresh infusion of energy and excitement. I feel like it's dead. No interest in anything. No passion. No fun. No desire to learn anything. Very disheartening. This is when unschooling seems like a good option...when everything else has tanked and your kids have lost that "spark" for learning. Can the video games, TV, electronics (except for writing) and only allow them books, science equipment, board games, puzzles, writing equipment, paper, art supplies, etc. (you get my idea) and have them create, explore, discover, get lost in a book...or 8, cook, bake, build, etc. Ah...sounds heavenly doesn't it? :) My utopian homeschool. Where all my children (and I) wake up chomping at the bit to LEARN and discover and experiment and create. Sigh. Tis only a dream. But one day... ;)

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We tried. My son doesn't really want to unschool because he is afraid he will miss something cool because he doesn't know about it. My daughter doesn't like anything period. If it's not her idea, she wants nothing to do with it. She's hated every curriculum I have bought even if she picked it out. She did not want to turn her interests into school. She just didn't want to do school period. Her mind was made up that school is supposed to be boring and something you sludge through and she wasn't going to have it any other way. We tried homeschooling her but she never really got passed the deschooling phase. She did some amazing things in that period that would make many unschool parents proud but nothing much in the way of preparing for college. She wants to attend college to study her passion (dance) but she didn't want to do the work. Fortunately for us, a new charter school for dance is opening and she wants to go and she wants to go at Honors level . So now we are cramming a lot of math and writing in to get her prepared. She's working finally but still grumbling and complaining that she won't need this and it's stupid (Stupid means I have to think more than 2 secs).

 

I think you have my daughter's twin.

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I think about unschooling A LOT. Like others, I have unschooled out of need in the past. Moving 4 times in 4 months while pregnant with number 5 is a time that stands out as particularly stressful. During that time I realized how much my kids learn when I don't teach them. It was shocking to me. I'm sure this is very dependent on the kid, but I think my kids (at least my oldest two) would do just wonderful with unschooling.

 

I cannot let go of the 3R's, so I guess that means I cannot be a true unschooler. I strive for a middle ground. We have short days that cover the 3R's plus some light content. Beyond that, they are free to do their own thing. We have very limited screen time, and I am quite pleased with how they spend their time.

 

This is a constant struggle for me. I am starting to look toward next year and I don't know what to do. Seeing how well they do w/o structure makes me wonder if I should let go even more. Yet my oldest is going into 4th next year and I feel like it's time to Buckle Down and Get Serious. My poor dh just listened to me go off about this last night. You are getting much better answers than I did. :lol:

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I see a very broad continuum between 100% structured, non-student directed learning, and 100% student directed unschooling. I would not personally want to embrace either of those extremes, but where we end up on the continuum in between will likely vary from child to child and from point to point in a child's education.

There are some non-negotiables. I will do everything in my power to ensure that my children know how to read and write and are comfortable with math up through a typical high school sequence before they leave my home. I will also work hard to facilitate skill learning such as music and foreign language, because I believe these will significantly enrich their lives and will open doors for them in the future--and I have learned from sad experience that the responsibilities of adulthood make pursuing such skills difficult; better to learn as much as possible now. I expect them to gain familiarity with major scientific, historic, and literary topics before graduating, but I am willing to be more flexible about exactly how and what they study in those areas.

I know from my own experience and from watching my children that learning that is pursued for its own sake, because a child (or adult!) desires that learning, has a vitality and depth that cannot be matched by learning undertaking solely to meet an external requirement. I see two primary roles for myself as a parent and an educator: first, to take every opportunity to inspire a child's desire to learn, to help their thirst for knowledge and understanding of the world to grow, and second, to facilitate their efforts to feed that thirst when they have discovered it. To this end I spend time reading aloud from interesting books; I fill my home with books, encyclopedias, microscopes, telescopes, musical instruments, and curricula; I take my children to zoos and museums and historical sites; we watch videos and documentaries; we talk to people about what they do; and we discuss the world we live in and all its marvelous complexity. Some of my children's time I choose to direct myself, especially to ensure they do the hard work of skill acquisition that will later allow them to pursue passions of their; more of their time I leave free for them to self-direct. They do truly amazing things during their self-directed free time. My 7 year old ds spent hours studying and copying the world map on the dining room wall, until eventually he could draw the whole thing from memory on the white board. My 9 year old dd writes stories and poems and sends them to her grandparents to read. I often stumble across a child lying on the floor reading some article they have looked up in the encyclopedia. And they spend hours and hours in free creative play, an activity that specialists in child development are finding has huge benefit especially in the development of social and executive function skills. My kids don't see learning as something that is done only during school time or only when someone makes you--learning is a vital, delightful, and fulfilling part of life.

 

My great hope is to keep things that way.

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We are very relaxed before high school, but, as my unschooling friends have been pointing out repeatedly, even just insisting on math as a mandatory subject means one is not a true unschooler.

So, no. We school eclectic, relaxed, child led - but I do not give my children completely the choice what they want to learn. Some things are required.

 

I, too, am not convinced by the "if they need it, they can learn in it a very short time" philosophy. I have not seen a young person who, after being behind in math by several years because he had no desire to learn it, managed to catch up and become college ready in a matter of weeks or months, as often claimed. OTOH, I see plenty of college students who do need the math to succeed in their chosen subject being unable to remedy the holes in their math education.

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Like others, I have considered it and did a test run which was to last a week or so but ended lasting only 2 days when all my kids did was play video games, had little fights...I like routine and my sons need it, my daughter likes it but will not admit, unschooling for *us* was radical and just didn't work, we do relax schooling and just go on to the next page/assignment, no timeline, we sometimes make small goals like finishing a book or unit in so many weeks but I don't get bent out of shape if we don't get it done. Another factor of unschooling that didn't work for me was preparing my kids to get an diploma. I was homeschooled my senior year (no accreditation and it took years to get into college when I wanted to go back and work on my degree, I don't want that for my kids so we are going do accreditation so no matter where or when down the road they can have the option and will not have to jump through years of having to re-take highschool courses like I did to get into a local college.

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:blink: It would never occur to me to think that WTM is anywhere close to unschooling.

.

.

.

I've heard people say that, and it always puzzles me. Unschooling is living life and involving your children. It isn't creating an environment. But I *totally* understand about just telling the dc what they need to do. :-)

 

 

I used TWTM methods to teach mine how to teach themselves and then let them teach themselves. So, I used TWTM to teach them how to do a science experiment and then let them pick the experiments. They chose their own paper topics and projects for literature and often their own books, after they used some of TWTM resources to learn how to write. TWTM lays out a procedure for learning something in an academic way. It is not unique to TWTM by any means but that is where I learned how to teach someone to do it. Once my children knew how to do that, they picked what they wanted to learn, with me laying down some general guidelines about what they would need for college entrance. My husband and I made a list of educational goals (not quite a page long) and we stuck to that. I required that they learn a foreign language, for example. I found it a lot of work to keep my youngest's technical projects ticking along and to arrange overseas travel experiences. The times we stuffed them into the camper and drove across the country were a welcome relief from figuring out what went wrong with youngest's electronic project or how to get middle one back home from Hiroshima or correcting youngest's French history. Although, I have to say that left to his own devices, youngest would not have been writing history papers in French, so perhaps I shouldn't count that. That was just me trying to be efficient.

 

Did you do foreign languages? How did they learn to do the more fake sorts of academic writing?

 

Ellie, it is really cool to hear what you did. Thank you so much.

 

Nan

 

ETA - Reading for the youngest was definately unschooled. He brought a Frog and Toad book to me and demanded to be shown how to read it. He didn't even know all his letters, so it took awhile, but we worked on it whenever he brought the book to me and after a few weeks, by the time we'd sounded out the whole book, he could read. Definately the dream situation lol. Early math was a similar situation. We gave them an odd number of quarters as an allowence to encourage math and offered 5% interest a week on any savings. He figured out how to collect his own interest out of the coin jar by laying out his savings in one dollar piles of change and taking a five cents out of the jar and adding it to each pile. He rounded down to start with but it wasn't long before he figured out how to lay the remainder out in piles of twenty cents and take a penny for each one. I can certainly see how letting life happen is perfect for the younger years. I just have trouble seeing how one gets from there to being able to handle the writing involved with community college classes?

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Younger dd took French at the community college. Older dd was in Mary Harrington's first Latin classes, then took two or three semesters of Latin at the c.c. Their only real writing instruction was also at the community college.

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Ellie, did you require them to do any math, grammar, things like that? Did you ever worry that they weren't on track for that?

 

Thank you all for sharing! I guess we will never be considered "true" unschoolers since math, reading, and handwriting are non-negotiables. But I am realizing that everything other than that is pretty negotiable, and that's okay for my family. :)

 

I don't see why I should spend hours a day drilling history or grammar facts during elementary school when they could read books during that time, and learn what they truly need to learn in those areas in a very short period of time during middle or high school. It just has never seemed like a good use of my time.

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I am guessing most posters here feel pretty strongly against unschooling (anathema?) but I'm wondering if anyone has truly considered it? This is probably the wrong place to ask but thought I'd try as you ladies always have a lot of wisdom and insight.

 

I see a lot of posts about how to motivate our kids who are just not.doing.their.work. I don't want to be in the position of fighting with my kids to do work all the time or being their main motivation and having to stand over them and harp on them about it. I want them to WANT to learn. My main goal for them is to be independent learners.

 

I have naturally fallen into more "unschooly" tendencies during periods of survival (new baby, early on in pregnancy, moving, etc) and I am seeing many potential benefits, mainly regarding the independent learning issue, which is our main goal for them, anyway! I am wondering if this is so bad after all. I have never been a radical unschooler (nor will I ever be), but during these times I require the 3 R's and...that's about it. Everything else they learn is from books, documentaries, talking about it, etc.

 

None of them have lost their love of learning. They are all SUPER curious. My younger children beg me to let them work on workbooks and "do school." My oldest will fight me about her math but that's probably because it's the only subject I require that she hates.

 

Just wondering what the general consensus is on this. Again, I do realize where I am asking this question. :)

 

 

 

i really believe unschooling can work for some children. i have a friend whose kids will read a book about say...greeks, then, ON THEIR OWN, research ancient greece, learn to read greek, write and perform a play, etc.

my kids, otoh, would barely listen to me reading, let alone do the other things.

so, i say, if you kids are curious and willingly do things on their own, go for it.

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Yes. I seriously investigated all homeschooling approaches for several years when my oldest kids were newborn-preschoolers. Then I met some (including a homeschool mom whose father was best friends with John Holt.) There is a very large unschooling group around here that we've been part of because my oldest daughter is friends with several of the kids in it.

 

What I noticed was that some children who are what I now call "Thomas Edison types" are a good fit for child centered interest driven unschooling. They want to know everything about everything and usually have at least one on going pet project like a robotics lab, an organic gardens, a novel in the works, etc. They also tend to read very widely and voraciously.

 

The ones who did parent directed unschooling (no artificial learning-only hands on application) also did very well. Mom would decide the kids needed to know about _________________________. Then the kids would brainstorm and research a variety of ways to learn about that in a real world context-not reading and writing about it. These are some of the most interesting and well rounded kids because they have such a wide range of real world experiences for their ages.

 

Then there are the latest evolution of them-extreme free range children. I equate this group of unschoolers with the term "unparenting." Whatever the kids want to do (and nothing more than that) the kids do. I have met a few parents who literally allow their kids to play violent video games all day and into the night with no other demands made of them at all. Not the most brilliant or delightful bunch of kids. This subset also seems to not make social demands of their children.

 

My children haven't been the self-starters that I think high quality unschooling requires. They aren't particularly curious. I've given them chunks of time to explore their own interests ( the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and they apparently don't have any that motivate them enough to fill that kind of time.

 

There were also so many things that I did want them to be exposed to in a systematic way, that unschooling wasn't a good fit for me. I do agree in principle that it can be done well and I've met a handful of kids that thrived in that environment, but it wasn't for us and our goals.

 

For people who would like a more uschooling/ inspired learning approach in the early years, but want their children reading the greatest works written by the greatest minds, read A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver De Mille and then the Thomas Jefferson Education Companion book. It's where Classical Education and Unschooling meet on the Venn diagram. Read them both-the first covers why and the second covers how.

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I think a lot of it depends on the personality of the child. And I think a lot also depends on the personality of the parents, and how intellectually-oriented they're willing to make their lives. I don't think it will work well if the parents don't read and discuss ideas and books and facts with eachother and with the kids. I think it's also important to take the kids to as many places that might spark their interests as possible: story hours, book readings, concerts, lectures, museums. I don't think it's fair to expect kids to self-direct to learning about things they don't even know exist, so you actually have to make sure that they're exposed to a range of things. In the families I know where unschooling was particularly successful, there was a lot of leg work on the part of the parents. Even more than I think most parents doing classical methods put in, honestly!

 

:iagree:

 

We unschooled for several years. It was truly wonderful - and pretty easy when you live in NYC. After a few years they asked for a more structured schedule and we tried different things, but in my mind we were still unschooling since it was their idea. When dd said she wanted to audition for some schools in the area, I knew we had to fill in any gaps, so we spend a couple of years with more structured math, writing, and reading. We were at some class or field trip probably 3x a week as unschoolers. I made a point to encourage and foster any and every interest. It was hard, but really fun and it was great to see how much they were learning without any coercion or demands. They had what I called a "curriculum in retrospect". I would write down what they did after the fact and kept a log that way. I even broke it into subjects and quarters to satisfy the district if it came up. Here's a blog post I wrote about 7 years ago about it (Dd was 9). And another one here, and here. We started unschooling right when dd came out of school - Feb 2005, so you can read about what our days were like.

 

I agree that the parent has to be totally on board with it. Unschooling is a philosophy as much as an academic method. You either trust that your kids will learn what they have to learn or you don't - and it won't work if you don't. I don't consider us unschoolers anymore, but we are still very child-led and retain many unschooly features.

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My children haven't been the self-starters that I think high quality unschooling requires. They aren't particularly curious. I've given them chunks of time to explore their own interests ( the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and they apparently don't have any that motivate them enough to fill that kind of time.

 

 

 

:huh:

 

I understand the words you wrote, but I don't understand them together in one sentence.

 

I don't know what "high quality unschooling" is.

 

I don't believe that children have to be "self-starters" to learn about life, which is what unschooling is.

 

Unschooling is a lifestyle. It isn't something where you give your children a few weeks to explore their own interests and then decide that they aren't motivated because they didn't want to learn the kinds of things you think they should have.

 

And it's ok that you think unschooling wouldn't work for you. We all do things differently, and there isn't one way of learning that is better than another. :-)

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I just don't understand how unschooling gets any child ready for college or a career.

 

 

The goal of unschooling isn't to get a child ready for college or a career. The goal is to get him or her ready for adulthood, to learn to live in society independently. Ideally this includes the skills to live happily, productively, resourcefully, compassionately, etc, etc, etc. College is but one resource, a necessary one for many interests, but not the only one. Unschooling offers the opportunity for a child to learn how to identify and solve problems as they arise naturally, in context of their own life, which naturally revolves around personal interests, offering the opportunity to become experts. By the time one is in their 20's, this generally works itself into a career. For those who aren't career oriented, unschooling offers them the opportunity to learn how to be entrepreneurs in their fields of interest (which is vastly bigger when you learn to stop compartmentalizing interests into academic-only segments).

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I have considered many different ways to teach many different things.

 

Right now I would say we unschool math. To us, and are family math is such an interesting subject that for fun we watch math videos. Read math books. Work on math related puzzles. Discuss it in many different ways. We don't need to schedule it in any way.

 

But French. I have tired teaching french many different ways. Some would work for awhile. But I think for French we will need to find a teacher and have lots of oversight checking up on our progress. Including my teaching progress.

 

I consider both subjects important to learn. According to my kids math is not a school subject. It is not something that gets taught in our house. But French, that is a school subject - or will be next time I find a way to tackle it.

 

For other families they reverse might be true. They might live in a french rich environment and french will just be something that occurs naturally. Other families might not even consider French worth teaching, or have even thought about it.

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What I noticed was that some children who are what I now call "Thomas Edison types" are a good fit for child centered interest driven unschooling. They want to know everything about everything and usually have at least one on going pet project like a robotics lab, an organic gardens, a novel in the works, etc. They also tend to read very widely and voraciously.

 

I find kids who are like this excel in conventional schooling as well. Some kids simply learn and can apply information at a faster rate than others. In my opinion, unschooling is just as beneficial to kids who do not fit into this kind of category.

 

The ones who did parent directed unschooling (no artificial learning-only hands on application) also did very well. Mom would decide the kids needed to know about _________________________. Then the kids would brainstorm and research a variety of ways to learn about that in a real world context-not reading and writing about it. These are some of the most interesting and well rounded kids because they have such a wide range of real world experiences for their ages.

 

This isn't unschooling. Unschooling isn't about the parent leading the child, but about the child learning naturally, within the context of his or her environment. What you're explaining doesn't reflect the child learning naturally, but the parent determining what "subjects" are necessary, and the child's input being included in how the parent provides that learning experience.

 

Then there are the latest evolution of them-extreme free range children. I equate this group of unschoolers with the term "unparenting." Whatever the kids want to do (and nothing more than that) the kids do. I have met a few parents who literally allow their kids to play violent video games all day and into the night with no other demands made of them at all. Not the most brilliant or delightful bunch of kids. This subset also seems to not make social demands of their children.

 

I hear this idea a lot, and without meaning to put you on the spot, I would only suggest that you might not be familiar with the concept of unschooling enough to recognize how education can work without imposed routines such as bed times or tv access. Some people use the modifier "radical" to differentiate their family dynamics. As this means changing the root of things, a "radical unschooler" is the kind of person who changes the root of the entire family dynamic, not just the educational ones. There aren't too many families who adopt this kind of lifestyle, but those of us who do no more lack parenting skills than any other group of parent. It's a completely unrelated correlation (not to mention, the subjective nature of what "unparenting" even means).

 

My kids have no bedtimes. They have no restrictions on tv. Some play violent video games, others don't. They don't do the same thing all day and all night. They did much more so when we first stopped conventional expectations, but like everything, new interests came up and they no longer felt like they had to "hoard" a particular experience. It was no longer the forbidden fruit, but one of many, many choices to be made. Currently, my kids are just as likely to watch a lesson about computer programming, or learn a foreign language on a Saturday night as they are on a Monday afternoon. There's no connection between "weekend" and "freedom" for them because there's no connection between "weekday" and "work." All learning is work, and all work is learning, one isn't "worse" than the other - they simply go together.

 

My children haven't been the self-starters that I think high quality unschooling requires. They aren't particularly curious. I've given them chunks of time to explore their own interests ( the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and they apparently don't have any that motivate them enough to fill that kind of time.

 

Limited chunks of time without imposed academic expectations does not offer an unschooling experience. Again, I don't mean to put you on the spot or correct you or make you uncomfortable in any way. I do apologize if my post comes across like this. I mean only to take your comments and add my own thoughts in a general way, not personal to you. It just so happens that your post has some common impressions of unschooling and I think the OP is interested in learning about it, so I'm taking your comments as an opportunity to add my own impressions. I hope this makes sense (need more coffee). Anyway, by offering limited time to fit one's personal interests, the child learns to quickly fit in the most important experiences first. The forbidden fruit is the one reached for right away because the child knows it will be forbidden again. Unschooling removes this concept so that one experience isn't forbidden, and others aren't "less" in the respect of being ignored until they have no choice but to attend to them.

 

For example, one child learned calculus because that would help him understand chemistry. He wanted to understand chemistry because that was the next detail in his personal interest - microbiology. Another child wanted very much to be surrounded by teen peers, so she picked up a math book, did one lesson after another over the course of a few months, until she was caught up with her peers and could go to the local high school. Her interests are more socially oriented and so learning math, for her, was just like learning math for her brother - a means to a more desirable end. For both of them, math was a tool, a way to get what they wanted. It was never considered a chore or an obligation, but an opportunity. THIS is what unschooling is - allowing a child to learn based on finding and taking advantages of opportunities.

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