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Murphy101

Talk me down.. I'm a wannabe unschooler sorta maybe.

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I did try to follow a minimalist homeschooling approach when my kids were young - up through 6th grade and break into a more scheduled day during 7th/8th.  I focus on math and language arts.  Those are our two main areas of study.  Science, history are covered through reading, watching documentaries, field trips, etc.  I used to try and follow a chronological order, but it drove me crazy with all the planning it took.  Basically we just read whatever we're interested in at the time and go from there.  Even if we're using a history textbook, we read it out of order or slowly plod our way through.  I used to include a bunch of historical fiction, but I've let go of that because I felt we were missing out on too many classic books I wanted my girls to read.  I make sure we're reading from history and science every week.  And we talk a lot.  Still, we spend most of the morning on math and language arts and the afternoons are given to reading, watching documentaries, or whatever.

 

Basically I want them ready for algebra and able to put together a decent paper by 7th and 8th grade.  I am finding myself planning on doing some catch up in history with my twins over the next year (7th) because we seemed to have missed some periods. So 7th/8th I try to make sure we're ready for high school and get used to having a more rigorous schedule.  We've covered a lot of topics in science over the last few years, but I'm still not ready to jump into a science text.  I did this with my middle child, and she didn't seem to have any problem completing biology in 9th and chemistry in 10th.

 

This is not what I did with my older dd.  I let her totally decide what she was going to do and when.  With my younger ones, I still feel in control, and I know they're not missing math and English.  It's not unschooling, rather a mixture of planned lessons and more interest led within certain subject.

 

I just don't know how to make this work for high school.  Probably largely due to my own doubts.  I don't have the confidence to just go with the flow at that age.  My older dd that did unschool missed some important things because she wasn't interested.  Especially math.  She always knew she'd major in English, so it hasn't been a huge issue, but there were still several college math classes she needed and they weren't easy.  She made me promise I would make her sisters do math even if they hated it.  I'd already promised myself that I would.  Her high school education was quite lopsided.  She still has done very well in college, but that's due to her self-motivation and drive.  It could have been easier.

 

So by the time they hit 7th grade, I want to get them ready for a heavy high school schedule.  I envy people that can confidently let their highschoolers still follow their own interests.  I'm too intimidated by SATs and getting into college.

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I'm not going to talk you down-- I'm right up there with you! :lol: Except for the fact that my kid isn't really interested in much besides playing video games and watching cartoons, I'd be unschooling myself.

 

Same here!  I hope one day DS10 is interested in more than Transformers and Star Wars.  He can be led to things and enjoys them (basketball, boy scouts, camping, playing bass guitar) but  not once has he ever said "yes" to a question that starts with "Would you like to try..."  I'm afraid unschooling would be a disaster.

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I made a flow chart of the week/days. I so love me a purdy excel spread sheet. This and coffee were the highlights of my day. :)

I'm glad it's not just me! Mine's all colored and pretty!

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I'm not going to talk you down-- I'm right up there with you! :lol: Except for the fact that my kid isn't really interested in much besides playing video games and watching cartoons, I'd be unschooling myself.

 

Yeah, mine would be making LPS plays all day, or Rebecca would be practicing gymnastics.

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Some thoughts, after reading this thread, not directed toward Martha (who obviously has significantly more experience than I do! :D).

 

I think balance is good. I think consistency is good. I think change should emanate from a place of growth (both practical and philosophical) and reflect reality, not wishful thinking. I think attempting a sea change on a whim is never a good idea. Vacillating between philosophically different plans can make for an inconsistent homeschool which is not likely to serve anyone well, least of all the children of that homeschooler who has made a habit of never sticking with a plan. Almost invariably, that mom will end up on the opposite side of the teeter-totter again, questioning her plan from the other direction. I am aiming for the fulcrum. Everyone's fulcrum will be in a different place depending on what is being balanced, but balance won't ever come by rushing from one end to the other. Consistent balance can be hard to maintain, but I think it is easier to achieve with short slides rather than big jumps.

 

I think unschooling can be wonderfully done, but that the needs of all concerned should be taken into account. I have (at least) one that thrives on structure. That matters. Everyone's needs matter. What does mom need? What do each of the children need? Not what might be fun or what sounds romantic. What do we all need to thrive and make forward progress day after day, year after year? What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What has failed in the past and why? What has been successful in the past and why? We need to be real with ourselves. Brutally honest. It doesn't have to be romantic. It doesn't have to be all or nothing either. It just has to be a success.

 

Also, I agree that being a successful facilitator can be just as much work, many times more work, than being a plain ol' teacher. And it gets harder the more kids you have. I facilitate my rear off over here in the name of interest-led learning. In a recent thread, I posted about my own wish for school planning to be easier for me. I (very briefly) considered switching curriculum, even while saying that my kids are currently happy as clams. Thankfully that has passed and I have regained my senses. :lol: Yes, I am planning to make things easier for me, but not by abandoning the fulcrum. My teeter-totter was starting to tilt ever so slightly because I was failing (again!) at meeting my own needs, so I am adjusting. Short, smooth adjustments. No jumping. :D

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Jackie, the whole time I was reading your writing thread I was thinking, "Yes. This makes sense.  But it requires a leap of faith." so when I got to the end where you said - it requires a "certain leap of faith" I was right there with you!

 

Discussion is a profound and amazing part of our homeschool, but I often find myself feeling like it's not enough.  The written output issue - how much, of what type, when - is probably the biggest thing I actually grapple with with most uncertainty.  Your description of the discussion you had with your son, and the fact he *asked* you to learn to write persuasive essays! was very inspiring.

 

I hear you.  I really do.  And I appreciate your words of wisdom deeply.  I think I will have to think some more about faith, it's not something that comes easily to me, but if there is one thing I've learned (am learning?) from parenting is that we have much less control than we think we do, and sometimes riding the wave takes you to much more exciting places than grasping at the water when it flows through your hand.  

 

 

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My general philosophy/advice has been:

 

Do what works.

Be consistent.

Use what I have.

Consider goals/interests.

Strive for progress, even slow progress is progress.

 

What I'm doing right now is working for the most part. Not with particular enthusiasm some days. But the job is getting done.

The 4 Rs have always been consistently done and that wouldn't change.

I would be using what I have, just not everything I have. I'd try to get books from the library or via my kindle app.

One of MY goals from the start of homeschool was to have my children learn foreign languages. I think it's very important.

Not having science and history as separate subjects for my littles has always freed their time for other interests and I'd like to do the same for my middles. They love art, guns and poetry, and medicine, but it seems we never have time to focus on those in depth.

I don't think my idea would impede progress unless I flub it up and don't follow through. I don't normally do that, at least not in my opinion.

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The other half of the phrase "self-directed academics" is the academic part, and I think it helps to loosen up in terms of what one considers "academic." The way schools divide up the process of learning into discrete academic "subjects" is quite artificial. Learning is so much bigger than that: exploring, creating, playing, imagining are all really important aspects of learning, not just "extras" that it's nice to squeeze in if there's time after the "real" learning is done. Those things are real learning — and for younger children they are far more important IMHO than labeling science diagrams or filling out history worksheets. They are part of how children learn how to learn, how to gather and process and incorporate new information, and they are a big part of "lighting the fire."

 

Jackie

 

 

I see this.  The things we read/use/discuss that we get the most from are the ones that are hardest to categorize by "subject."  They are the things that help us make connections, to see how it all fits together, that give us things to hang on our pegs (or create pegs).  

 

For my dd7, her content subjects next year are going to be one big, glorious mish-mash of geography, stories, science, history, cooking, and whatever else we get interested in.  With her, I feel pretty secure in the (very) short list of "academic" things we need to do most days, and I feel very free to do everything else in a very creative and interest-led manner.  I feel less comfortable with doing this with my rising 6th grader.  I'm going to have to think more about why this is. Partly it's High School Paranoia.  Partly it's worries about those pesky holes - we've studied all parts of history except modern, so of course we have to do that . . . and all kinds of science except physical science, so we'd better do that . . . and "everyone" says logic & critical thinking are really important to start at this age, and we all "know" that the younger you start a foreign language the better, and don't even get me started on how many language arts things *I* think are cool and interesting and don't want to give up.  And I feel like I *should* be teaching writing in a more structured way . . . 

 

I'm pretty happy with our plans for math.  :lol:

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No tomatoes thrown I hope...I seem to remember a thread about a year ago maybe? It was about relaxed homeschooling and how much the idea appealed to the posters. I think (if I remember correctly, I could be wrong) I see some of the very same posters in this thread...

 

I'm just curious about why it seemed so appealing some time ago for some of you and then what happened in the interim that made you change your mind. If you are revisiting the idea of unschooling or relaxed homeschooling again, what is it you are trying to change this time...and so on...could that be a helpful starting point for those of you who are so drawn to this idea but unable to make the switch?

 

Not that you need to make a switch of course...just throwing it out there.

 

ETA: could it also just be that time of the year? We are overwhelmed with planning or the desire to begin anew is shiny and inviting? I know that happens to me too. Compared to when we started homeschooling though, I see us gravitating more and more towards unschooling or "alternative" methods of doing things.

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Discussion is a profound and amazing part of our homeschool, but I often find myself feeling like it's not enough. The written output issue - how much, of what type, when - is probably the biggest thing I actually grapple with with most uncertainty.

 

...if there is one thing I've learned (am learning?) from parenting is that we have much less control than we think we do, and sometimes riding the wave takes you to much more exciting places than grasping at the water when it flows through your hand.

But there is a middle way. It doesn't have to be all discussion as output or copious amounts of writing with little meaningful discussion. For a child resistant to writing and other kinds of formal output, going discussion only is a great way to transform feelings about learning and make forward progress without making the mistake of waiting for practical skill to catch up with intellectual capability. But for a non-resistant child, it can be lots of discussion interspersed with a reasonable number of solid writing assignments. That reasonable number will be different for each child/homeschooler, but if you feel you're requiring too much, maybe dial the writing back while adding discussion. Play with it until you find a middle ground that you are happy with. Between riding the waves and grasping at the water is setting the sails (I imagine...don't really know much about sailing...that might just be dumb, LOL. Oh, wait! Is it the rudder? Well, you get what I'm trying to say. :lol:).

 

For my dd7...I feel very free to do everything else in a very creative and interest-led manner. I feel less comfortable with doing this with my rising 6th grader.

I think this is perfectly normal. I require more from my 10 year old than from my 7 year old. I get that this is not a discussion of more or less learning. Structure and learning are not the same thing, of course. Learning can happen with structure or without, obviously. But is your 6th grader happy? I've always pictured her as happy. Different kids have different needs, and there is no one type of perfect school for everyone. Honestly, I would probably fall dead center on a continuum of unschooling to hardcore classical. Different subjects would land all over that continuum, strewn everywhere. :lol: And even for subjects where we follow a path, we take time to see the sights along that path. We also use some pretty traditional stuff in non-traditional ways, and I have gone my own way in science for years. I feel like so many times these discussions turn into either/or, and some kids may absolutely need only the either while some primarily need the or. But I think many (most?) are probably just fine with either/or.

 

Anyway, I do honor my kids' interests. But they are not resistant so, yeah, I require this, that, and the other of them which they would not necessarily do if I did not. More and more each year. If they were resistant, I would have to rethink this. But with basically happy children? I'm not sweating it. So maybe look at whether your oldest DD seems happy? Talk with her about what she would like more or less of? We get all philosophical and constantly worry that we are wrecking them, but (as my DH would correctly say), many times we are just flat out overthinking it.

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We get all philosophical and constantly worry that we are wrecking them, but (as my DH would correctly say), many times we are just flat out overthinking it.

 

This is bumper-sticky worthy stuff! :)

 

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This is bumper-sticky worthy stuff! :)

:lol: Thanks! DH and I have a joke about the big difference between men and women. If you ask a man what he's thinking and he says nothing, he's most likely telling the truth. If you ask a woman what she's thinking and she says nothing, you've just been told a lie. Wish it weren't true, but it always has been here.

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I just don't know how to make this work for high school.  Probably largely due to my own doubts.  I don't have the confidence to just go with the flow at that age.  My older dd that did unschool missed some important things because she wasn't interested.  Especially math.  She always knew she'd major in English, so it hasn't been a huge issue, but there were still several college math classes she needed and they weren't easy.  She made me promise I would make her sisters do math even if they hated it.  I'd already promised myself that I would.  Her high school education was quite lopsided.  She still has done very well in college, but that's due to her self-motivation and drive.  It could have been easier.

 

So by the time they hit 7th grade, I want to get them ready for a heavy high school schedule.  I envy people that can confidently let their highschoolers still follow their own interests.  I'm too intimidated by SATs and getting into college.

 

There are lots of different ways to make "interest-led" homeschooling work for HS, up to and including unschooling — there are certainly radical unschoolers who have done well on SATs and gotten into top colleges, but most people would take a more "blended" approach. Obviously, by definition "interest-led learning" will look different for every kid, but I can tell you how I envision it working for my own kids.

 

This is the "framework," which includes a few requirements that are specific to me, plus the basic college admissions requirements:

 

4 yrs of math (curriculum of their choosing)

4 yrs of Latin (although this would be negotiable if either of them truly despised Latin, I just think it's a very efficient way to cover grammar, vocabulary, logical/analytical thinking, memory work, foreign language, and SAT prep!)

4 yrs of science (of their choosing, as long as it meets the requirements for college admission)

4 yrs of English (with a lot of leeway in terms of choosing themes/topics/works)

1 year each of American History and European Philosophy, plus at least 2 other "social studies" classes

+ enough electives to equal about 28 credits.

 

Within that there is a LOT of flexibility in terms of tailoring their studies to their interests. For DS, 9th grade will look like this:

 

Greek 3, Latin 2, and Turkish 1 â€” all totally his choice. Greek & Latin are with Lukeion, Turkish is self-taught with a college text + additional resources for grammar & vocab. 

 

English â€” I will probably call this English Language & Composition on his transcript, but it's really English Linguistics. It includes readings in the history and evolution of English (including dabbling in Anglo-Saxon and Middle English), plus grammar/syntax/semantics from a Linguistics of English text, readings on different dialects and speech patterns, etc. He's currently reading a book on the International Phonetic Alphabet, so he can better understand the various sound shifts, both historical and regional. I'm adding in assorted speeches and primary sources (tying into American history) to analyze from a linguistic perspective, as well as some contemporary American literature that I think he would enjoy reading and discussing.

 

American History & Culture. This is one of 2 courses (the other being math) that are requirements rather than choices. The theme I'm building this around is "The Idea of America." Resources include a stack of Teaching Co courses and some really interesting (I hope!) readings, ranging from the complete correspondence of Jefferson & Adams (their letters to each other discuss classical ideals as well as history and politics) to Jean Beaudrillard's America, Robert Frank's The Americans, Mark Dunn's American Decameron, books on the concept of "the American Dream" and how it's changed over time, a 2-volume set called Taking Sides that presents opposing viewpoints on various issues in American history and culture, lots of documentaries from PBS's American Experience and American Masters series, the complete Time/Life series Our American Century (each volume covers the culture and main events of a specific decade), plus many many other resources that can be used to follow rabbit trails or pursue specific topics in greater depth. Lots of great discussion material! Writing will be split between history and English.

 

Astronomy. This was totally his pick. He is loving Filippenko's TC course — he even wants the newest edition of Filippenko's text (due in September) badly enough to offer to split the cost with me, lol. If he hits some physics in the lectures that is over his head, he researches that area and then re-watches the lecture. Labs will consist of exercises in a college lab book using Starry Night software, plus observations through various telescopes (via the local astronomy club), visits to the planetarium, and field trips to several observatories. We are also planning to buy a telescope (just as soon as DH and I can agree on a budget, lol).  

 

Math. Primarily Thinkwell, supplemented with TC lectures, LOF, and various textbooks if he gets stuck. NOT his favorite subject!

 

Linguistics. This is totally interest-led and student-directed. We have stacks of books on every possible aspect of linguistics, which he reads for fun. "Output" consists of discussion (we have had some AMAZING discussions about language, culture, cognition, the nature & function of metaphor, etc.), as well as him following me around monologuing about obscure tenses and cases in languages I've never heard of, while I mumble "wow, that's really interesting..."  :tongue_smilie:

 

Programming. To be honest, I no longer have any idea what he's doing in this area — this is DH's thing. I will probably give him a half-credit for this, and have DH give me a few sentences for the course description.

 

For 10th, he says he would like to do a combination of world history/cultures/religions, but organized geographically and coordinating it with something like a "Survey of World Languages" course and "Epics in World Literature" for English. So, for example, he might spend a month studying Indian history/geography/culture, learning about Hinduism, doing a crash course in Hindi/Urdu grammar and phonetics along with a survey of other languages like Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, and reading various Indian epics and poetry. Then he might move on to Chinese history/geography/culture, Buddhism, Mandarin and other Sino-Tibetan languages, read Monkey and Chinese poetry, etc.  For science, he's interested in either Environmental Science or Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, either of which would tie in nicely with the world geography & cultures theme. Other courses he wants to fit in somewhere in the next 2-3 years are Cognitive Science, Computational Linguistics, lots of additional languages, and of course plenty of Greek history, literature, and philosophy. 

 

DD's HS plan will look entirely different, because her primary interests are music (violin & orchestra) and biological sciences (esp. Anatomy & Physiology and Equine Science). She is Asian, so I could definitely see her doing a year of Asian history, and maybe adding Mandarin or Japanese to Latin for her foreign languages.

 

Anyway, I think that what DS and I have worked out so far for HS will prepare him very well for college, while still allowing him a lot of freedom to pursue his interests. In fact, I think that allowing his interests and passions to clearly shine on his transcript will help him stand out when it comes to college admissions — that has certainly been the case with the students I know of who have followed this sort of path.

 

Jackie

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English — I will probably call this English Language & Composition on his transcript, but it's really English Linguistics. It includes readings in the history and evolution of English (including dabbling in Anglo-Saxon and Middle English), plus grammar/syntax/semantics from a Linguistics of English text, readings on different dialects and speech patterns, etc. He's currently reading a book on the International Phonetic Alphabet, so he can better understand the various sound shifts, both historical and regional. I'm adding in assorted speeches and primary sources (tying into American history) to analyze from a linguistic perspective, as well as some contemporary American literature that I think he would enjoy reading and discussing.

 

This is what I wish 9th grade English had consisted of rather than watching Indiana Jones and Clueless.

 

(Just lurking on this thread but couldn't refrain from expressing my envy)

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Corraleno- Thank you for your wonderful contribution, as always it is so interesting to read about your hs.

 

I believe you really lay it how to make interest-led schooling work. Often when these discussions come up it seems that the whole method hinges on your child having some deep burning interest and taking off with it and suddenly becoming engrossed in some massive inter-disciplinary project. You very aptly demonstrate the work and strategy of helping our children find interests and providing them opportunities to explore those interests. Sometimes we need to work to help our children be receptive to learning, perhaps through the limitation of electronic media as you highlighted. Once we have them receptive I think it then starts w/ demonstrating that love of learning and curiosity of the world ourselves. It is then our job to show them the world out there,often times I think it is assumed that our children have no interests but really they are not in the receptive stage, haven't seen examples of following passions, and just don't what is out there to explore. It all seems so obvious but hearing the stages you went through more clearly shows the path to interest led learning, which for most of us from the ps system, is quite a foreign concept.

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as well as him following me around monologuing about obscure tenses and cases in languages I've never heard of, while I mumble "wow, that's really interesting..."  :tongue_smilie:

 

 

 

...  :lol: I've been dragging ds around with me to to my Coursera Archaeology exercises. We were visiting a cemetery this week, the entire I'm discussing the weathering of headstones, he's discussing the history of the space program. At a few points all I could say was "Wow that's really interesting" too. 

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No tomatoes thrown I hope...I seem to remember a thread about a year ago maybe? It was about relaxed homeschooling and how much the idea appealed to the posters. I think (if I remember correctly, I could be wrong) I see some of the very same posters in this thread...

 

I'm just curious about why it seemed so appealing some time ago for some of you and then what happened in the interim that made you change your mind. If you are revisiting the idea of unschooling or relaxed homeschooling again, what is it you are trying to change this time...and so on...could that be a helpful starting point for those of you who are so drawn to this idea but unable to make the switch?

 

Not that you need to make a switch of course...just throwing it out there.

 

ETA: could it also just be that time of the year? We are overwhelmed with planning or the desire to begin anew is shiny and inviting? I know that happens to me too. Compared to when we started homeschooling though, I see us gravitating more and more towards unschooling or "alternative" methods of doing things.

 

You are totally right about the relaxed thing! And for me at least, nothing has actually changed - it's just something I keep front and center along with my academic goals at planning time, because "me" and "relaxed" don't tend to happen in the same sentence, much!  :lol:

 

I started last year with more planned than was doable, and relaxed into something that worked beautifully - but still had that niggling worry in the back of my mind that it wasn't enough.  But it was, my kid learned a lot and is really happy, and loves homeschooling!

 

Now with planning for 6th grade, there's a little more anxiety because it's closer to high school . . . and because dd7 will be homeschooling too.  So I'm just trying to stay focused on the "relaxed" part as I build our plans for the year.

 

Part of my problem?  My dd10 is happy with whatever I plan.  Seriously, she is just a happy person! She likes life, she likes learning, she doesn't resist writing, or math, or anything! Which is not a problem, I realize  :leaving:

 

It's just that . . .I *want* her to have an interest/passion, so we can tailor her studies the way Jackie has described, but she just smiles sunnily and says, "Sounds good, mama" to whatever I suggest! So I find myself overwhelmed by all the things we *could* be doing, and have trouble narrowing it down.  

 

Ok, that sounds ridiculous and some of you are going to throw tomatoes at me for sure.  I don't mean she's *always* happy with everything - she told me last year that she was bored with SOTW 4, so I created an alternative modern history plan that has her reading a lot of interesting (I hope) nonfiction, fiction, and primary docs.  

 

The reason I like these relaxed/interest led threads is that it helps me stay in the center (or maybe find the center, if I've strayed), because I know my natural bent is to more academics, and I know that my dd is most happy when she has plenty of free time, so I'm constantly dancing, trying to stay in that good place in the middle where she is enjoying her childhood, but is being equipped with the tools she'll need to do . . . whatever it is she ends up wanting to do in life!

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But there is a middle way. It doesn't have to be all discussion as output or copious amounts of writing with little meaningful discussion. For a child resistant to writing and other kinds of formal output, going discussion only is a great way to transform feelings about learning and make forward progress without making the mistake of waiting for practical skill to catch up with intellectual capability. But for a non-resistant child, it can be lots of discussion interspersed with a reasonable number of solid writing assignments. That reasonable number will be different for each child/homeschooler, but if you feel you're requiring too much, maybe dial the writing back while adding discussion. Play with it until you find a middle ground that you are happy with. Between riding the waves and grasping at the water is setting the sails (I imagine...don't really know much about sailing...that might just be dumb, LOL. Oh, wait! Is it the rudder? Well, you get what I'm trying to say. :lol:).

 

 

I think this is perfectly normal. I require more from my 10 year old than from my 7 year old. I get that this is not a discussion of more or less learning. Structure and learning are not the same thing, of course. Learning can happen with structure or without, obviously. But is your 6th grader happy? I've always pictured her as happy. Different kids have different needs, and there is no one type of perfect school for everyone. Honestly, I would probably fall dead center on a continuum of unschooling to hardcore classical. Different subjects would land all over that continuum, strewn everywhere. :lol: And even for subjects where we follow a path, we take time to see the sights along that path. We also use some pretty traditional stuff in non-traditional ways, and I have gone my own way in science for years. I feel like so many times these discussions turn into either/or, and some kids may absolutely need only the either while some primarily need the or. But I think many (most?) are probably just fine with either/or.

 

Anyway, I do honor my kids' interests. But they are not resistant so, yeah, I require this, that, and the other of them which they would not necessarily do if I did not. More and more each year. If they were resistant, I would have to rethink this. But with basically happy children? I'm not sweating it. So maybe look at whether your oldest DD seems happy? Talk with her about what she would like more or less of? We get all philosophical and constantly worry that we are wrecking them, but (as my DH would correctly say), many times we are just flat out overthinking it.

 

 

Oh, Kristina, you are so wise!   :lol:

 

and I do know this, really - I have made copious plans for 6th grade, and we will start, and I will tweak and tweak till we get the balance right, just like we did last year!  It is a great thing to have a happy child, and I go to a lot of effort to keep things balanced so we stay that way!

 

Maybe what I need is a "how to not sweat it" thread?????

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and I do know this, really - I have made copious plans for 6th grade, and we will start, and I will tweak and tweak till we get the balance right, just like we did last year! It is a great thing to have a happy child, and I go to a lot of effort to keep things balanced so we stay that way!

 

Maybe what I need is a "how to not sweat it" thread?????

What you sAid in several posts in this thread could have been straight out of my own head.

 

And I go through this every year, so I think rather than learning to not sweat it, as you say, I am learning to accept that this is just part of my process, and maybe partly related to personality.

 

A little bit of anxiety is actually not a bad thing, if it gets me thinking and moving and planning. Eventually I (and the kids) settl into a routine that works, so it's all good.

 

The trouble with the threads on relaxed homeschooling and Unschooling is that it is hard to convey in a paragraph or two, the whole of what is actually happening in any given home. And sometimes our definitions and perceptions of these terms are very different than others, as I am seeing from other threads. We do a LOT of interest-led learning, but I still wouldn't call us "relaxed." Yet when I look at some posts, it might seem that those that say they are more relaxed are not so different from me.

 

Then there is that truth I am reminded of every time an Unschooling-ish thread pops up, that for every parent who says they did not require much writing and it all worked out great, there will be one or more homeschoolers, who could say that they didn't require much output, or didn't worry about something else academic, and now they wish they had! (And i have heard SWB say that it isnt just public and private schoolers who get to college with weak writing skills). Besides which, we all have different goals, different strengths as teacher-parent, and very different kids. I love reading and hearing from different perspectives; they give me much to ponder and digest. But then I have to remember my own philosophy, goals, and look at the kids I have, and trust myself.

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There are lots of different ways to make "interest-led" homeschooling work for HS, up to and including unschooling — there are certainly radical unschoolers who have done well on SATs and gotten into top colleges, but most people would take a more "blended" approach. Obviously, by definition "interest-led learning" will look different for every kid, but I can tell you how I envision it working for my own kids.

 

This is the "framework," which includes a few requirements that are specific to me, plus the basic college admissions requirements:

 

4 yrs of math (curriculum of their choosing)

4 yrs of Latin (although this would be negotiable if either of them truly despised Latin, I just think it's a very efficient way to cover grammar, vocabulary, logical/analytical thinking, memory work, foreign language, and SAT prep!)

4 yrs of science (of their choosing, as long as it meets the requirements for college admission)

4 yrs of English (with a lot of leeway in terms of choosing themes/topics/works)

1 year each of American History and European Philosophy, plus at least 2 other "social studies" classes

+ enough electives to equal about 28 credits.

 

 

 

 

Reading that makes me jealous.  I would have loved that for high school.

 

The one thing that makes me very nervous is that I doubt my ability to choose the right resources.  At the elementary level I enjoy researching and choosing materials; for high school, it scares me.  Let's face it: general business does not give someone the background to create that type of curriculum.  At least, that's my cop out.  Your list of resources intimidates me.  Probably choosing one subject area, finding material for that and putting it into a 'sort of' plan would help build confidence.  My middle dd is interested in history/anthropology.  I found a part-time classical school that fits her needs perfectly.  School provides history, literature and Latin better than I could  and in much more depth than a textbook ever could.  Plus she has the most awesome history teacher ever - according to her.  Math, science and electives are covered at home.  I can handle that - textbooks.  :tongue_smilie: The school provides ideas, thoughts, and I'm her sounding board.  We have the most awesome discussions; my favorite thing to do.  Anyway, this has been perfect for her.

 

This thread happened just as I'm trying to create a more scheduled school year for my twins (7th) which I'm not enjoying.  It's making me re-think a few things.  Instead of doing an overview of history to make sure any gaps are filled in, I'm thinking about building something around my twins' fascination with all things Merlin.  They're watching the TV series right now and are enthralled.  I've got Excavating English on the shelf - never used.  Maybe I can pull that in somehow with English history.

 

As long as we're covering math and language arts well, I don't usually worry too much about the other subjects.  They seem to happen.  I do get pretty anxious when I read the high school board though, and that's probably why I've been worrying about gaps needing to be filled prior to high school.  I wish I could keep the same attitude through high school.  I do believe most students thrive with an education based around their interests while ensuring the important skills are in place.  Letting my one dd unschool has made me nervous although, like I said, she has done well in college due to her personal motivation.  I don't see the same motivation in my younger two, though.  It's just like me to throw the baby out with the bath water instead of following a more middle of the road approach.  It's amazing my kids have survived my flip flopping homeschooling ideas.

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No tomatoes thrown I hope...I seem to remember a thread about a year ago maybe? It was about relaxed homeschooling and how much the idea appealed to the posters. I think (if I remember correctly, I could be wrong) I see some of the very same posters in this thread...

 

I'm just curious about why it seemed so appealing some time ago for some of you and then what happened in the interim that made you change your mind. If you are revisiting the idea of unschooling or relaxed homeschooling again, what is it you are trying to change this time...and so on...could that be a helpful starting point for those of you who are so drawn to this idea but unable to make the switch?

 

Not that you need to make a switch of course...just throwing it out there.

 

ETA: could it also just be that time of the year? We are overwhelmed with planning or the desire to begin anew is shiny and inviting? I know that happens to me too. Compared to when we started homeschooling though, I see us gravitating more and more towards unschooling or "alternative" methods of doing things.

 

I thought a lot about this last night, but wanted to wait until I had time to respond. I know for me, and I would think for others, it is a lack of confidence that something like this could work, a leap of faith. In my case, like Rose (Crysalis Academy), I live in a very heavily unschool area. I have seen it work brilliantly (one of my friends has sons in both UC San Diego and Reed College in Oregon), but on the other hand, I have seen it fail (the 14 year old girl who finally rebelled and got herself a reading tutor so she could be taught to read, because waiting for it to happen wasn't happening).

 

I also have a tendency to think it would be a lot of fun, and would work well for us, to have a relaxed approach - focus on the 3 "R's" and let everything else unfold, but then I get worried about high school, and smetimes when I see how much others are doing, I get worried that we don't do enough, you know? My kids aren't doing three different math and LA programs, and learning two languages. But then, I took a step back, and looked at what they're doing with their summer "vacation" and realized maybe we're not doing so badly. My dyslexic dd10, who could literally barely read until this last year, is writing short stories nearly every day. She's been watching all the Walking With... series, and is making a dinosaur printout book to keep track of the dinosaurs in the shows, plus we're reading, together, books on dinosaurs and Mary Anning. She has been learning how to use a sewing machine at my mom's, and designed three dresses for her Groovy Girls. She asked me to teach her this weekend to make a chicken and veggie curry. Ds12 has been reading, a lot of Steampunk inspired stuff, and researching the Victorian era as a sideshoot of that. He's making an intensive study of the history of automobiles. He's learning computer programming on his own with Code Academy, and working on polishing up his photography and videography skills. Both have arts and crafts going on constantly.

 

I've been considering this for three years now (looking at my blog :blushing: ), and maybe it's time I just let go and do it!I think if I require what I listed in another post above, we could have a strong basis to work from, and then we could just see what happens.

 

I think overall, it is a fear of the unknown that holds many people back, a fear that they might not give their kids all they need for later success, and too many comparisons go on. Am I doing enough compared to so-and-so? I (and dare I say others?) need to let go of the need to compare.

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...I get worried about high school, and sometimes when I see how much others are doing, I get worried that we don't do enough, you know? My kids aren't doing three different math and LA programs, and learning two languages. ...

 

I think overall, it is a fear of the unknown that holds many people back, a fear that they might not give their kids all they need for later success, and too many comparisons go on. Am I doing enough compared to so-and-so? I (and dare I say others?) need to let go of the need to compare.

 

Keep in mind, though, that the WTM high school board represents a really tiny % of homeschoolers — really really tiny — and is not at all representative of what most homeschoolers are doing. It's also not remotely representative of what most PS kids are doing. Your child will not be competing against an entire field of students who are all doing 2 languages and multiple math and LA programs and getting 750s on their SATs. Unless your child will be forever scarred by not getting into Harvard, you really don't need to worry about that. 

 

Also, the perception of what's "needed" to get into college is skewed by the fact that this is a classical education board; if you were on a forum for unschoolers heading into college, you would get a totally different impression of what's "necessary." I have seen many posts in other groups about kids getting into really good colleges, with major merit aid, with narrative ungraded transcripts and no APs. Those kids had other things that made them interesting to colleges — colleges (especially LACs) really do want diversity, not a bunch of kids with identical transcripts and test scores. A homeschooled kid who has done some really interesting things will stand out in a stack of thousands of applicants, mostly from PS, who have taken the same courses, have the same (usually pretty lame) ECs, etc.

 

The other thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to content subjects, they start from scratch in HS, and then again in college. It's perfectly possible to get through a HS bio text without ever having studied bio in middle school. It's even possible to get an A in Intro Bio in college without ever having taken it in HS. The same with history — you do not need to have covered 100% of world history in middle school in order to be "prepared" for HS, or have covered all of world history in HS in order to be successful in college. Intro level texts and courses are designed to be just that: introductory. Everyone has "gaps" — it's unavoidable, and (with the exception of math) it does. not. matter.

 

IMHO, the most important preparation for HS & college has nothing to do with "how much" students know; it has to do with motivation, engagement, enthusiasm, and even family relationships. Getting a child who has content "gaps" caught up is simple; trying to push a bored, unmotivated teen who hates school and is resistant to parental control uphill through 4 years of high school is a much more difficult task!  

 

Jackie

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IMHO, the most important preparation for HS & college has nothing to do with "how much" students know; it has to do with motivation, engagement, enthusiasm, and even family relationships. Getting a child who has content "gaps" caught up is simple; trying to push a bored, unmotivated teen who hates school and is resistant to parental control uphill through 4 years of high school is a much more difficult task!  

 

Adding a small supplement to Jackie's encouraging post above, regarding doing enough for high school. If you are seriously considering adding some alternative flavor to your homeschooling journey, I suggest reading articles and this book by Wes Beach. Wes is based in California but has worked with alternatively homeschooled high schoolers in other states as well. His thoughts provide a very inspiring glimpse into what self-driven education can look like. Topmost on my mind right now is that in order to achieve that drive and motivation, one needs time too, hence my serious thoughts this year about structuring only math and a little writing time and letting everything else flow organically.

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I wanna quit. I'm burnt out. There's nothing wrong. Things are going very well actually.

 

I have almost everything bought and almost everything planned out. It is good stuff.

 

And I want to ditch almost all of it.

 

I want to go to mass, have coffee, do math, read good books, study foreign language and that's it.

 

If they should decide to write poetry, fish in the creek, swim in the pool, conquer Lord of the Rings online, or finish building that milk jug igloo taking up half my garage - whatever. Fine by me.

 

I probably won't though.

 

Siiiiiigh.

 

 

Well, heck! What else IS there to do? Unless they are planning on going straight into a 4 year university, why NOT do that? Doing those things will get them into any CC, at least.

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Thank you both for not throwing hypothetical veges at me. :)

 

Part of my problem?  My dd10 is happy with whatever I plan.  Seriously, she is just a happy person! She likes life, she likes learning, she doesn't resist writing, or math, or anything! Which is not a problem, I realize  :leaving:

 

It's just that . . .I *want* her to have an interest/passion, so we can tailor her studies the way Jackie has described, but she just smiles sunnily and says, "Sounds good, mama" to whatever I suggest! So I find myself overwhelmed by all the things we *could* be doing, and have trouble narrowing it down.  

 

Ok, that sounds ridiculous and some of you are going to throw tomatoes at me for sure.  I don't mean she's *always* happy with everything - she told me last year that she was bored with SOTW 4, so I created an alternative modern history plan that has her reading a lot of interesting (I hope) nonfiction, fiction, and primary docs.  

 

The reason I like these relaxed/interest led threads is that it helps me stay in the center (or maybe find the center, if I've strayed), because I know my natural bent is to more academics, and I know that my dd is most happy when she has plenty of free time, so I'm constantly dancing, trying to stay in that good place in the middle where she is enjoying her childhood, but is being equipped with the tools she'll need to do . . . whatever it is she ends up wanting to do in life!

I think we are very similar. My natural bent is structure and academics too. Actually so is DS's in a way. And he's so happy to learn anything I suggest. I think it's for this very reason that I want to try something new! I know it probably doesn't make sense but that's what my gut is telling me to do. I also think this is because we have somewhat "unschooled" (in the broad sense that people understand unschooling to be) for brief periods in the past and I have seen first hand what happens when the motivation comes from him. It is very compelling, especially from a learning-loving child. Not trying to convince anyone here...just providing one more data point.

 

I also have a tendency to think it would be a lot of fun, and would work well for us, to have a relaxed approach - focus on the 3 "R's" and let everything else unfold, but then I get worried about high school, and smetimes when I see how much others are doing, I get worried that we don't do enough, you know? My kids aren't doing three different math and LA programs, and learning two languages. But then, I took a step back, and looked at what they're doing with their summer "vacation" and realized maybe we're not doing so badly. My dyslexic dd10, who could literally barely read until this last year, is writing short stories nearly every day. She's been watching all the Walking With... series, and is making a dinosaur printout book to keep track of the dinosaurs in the shows, plus we're reading, together, books on dinosaurs and Mary Anning. She has been learning how to use a sewing machine at my mom's, and designed three dresses for her Groovy Girls. She asked me to teach her this weekend to make a chicken and veggie curry. Ds12 has been reading, a lot of Steampunk inspired stuff, and researching the Victorian era as a sideshoot of that. He's making an intensive study of the history of automobiles. He's learning computer programming on his own with Code Academy, and working on polishing up his photography and videography skills. Both have arts and crafts going on constantly.

 

I've been considering this for three years now (looking at my blog :blushing: ), and maybe it's time I just let go and do it!I think if I require what I listed in another post above, we could have a strong basis to work from, and then we could just see what happens.

 

I think overall, it is a fear of the unknown that holds many people back, a fear that they might not give their kids all they need for later success, and too many comparisons go on. Am I doing enough compared to so-and-so? I (and dare I say others?) need to let go of the need to compare.

 I understand this feeling well. I've given myself burnout several times trying to balance both sides. I just wanted to say that I really do enjoy your blog posts. In fact, there have been times when I've visited your schedule pages (the one where you listed following the simple Great Books Academy schedule and also your recent block schedule/ Waldorf inspired post) to give me ideas to be more relaxed and not drive myself crazy tweaking our schedule lol!

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The one thing that makes me very nervous is that I doubt my ability to choose the right resources.  At the elementary level I enjoy researching and choosing materials; for high school, it scares me.  Let's face it: general business does not give someone the background to create that type of curriculum....

 

That's where I think the HS board here is extremely useful and helpful: suggesting resources! No one is an expert in every subject, but you can find people here who are experts in pretty much anything, or at least people who have already BTDT with their own students, and can suggest resources. Also, never underestimate the power of the Amazon search function! I have found so many resources just by searching topics, reading reviews (often by experts in the field), and following links like "people who bought this book also bought..."  I have dozens & dozens of Amazon wishlists organized by subject (or even subtopic), so, for example, when we get to Cognitive Science I have a ready-made list of resources, with comments.

 

 

This thread happened just as I'm trying to create a more scheduled school year for my twins (7th) which I'm not enjoying.  It's making me re-think a few things.  Instead of doing an overview of history to make sure any gaps are filled in, I'm thinking about building something around my twins' fascination with all things Merlin.  They're watching the TV series right now and are enthralled.  I've got Excavating English on the shelf - never used.  Maybe I can pull that in somehow with English history.

 

That sounds awesome!!! There is a very weird and interesting online chemistry course somewhere that is presented as "alchemy" lessons from Merlin to his student; I can try to find the link if you're interested. Also, I highly recommend the Teaching Company course on the Middle Ages by Dorsey Armstrong — it's history, but she's a lit professor (and a specialist in Arthurian legends) so that lends an interesting twist. It's very much focused on everyday life in the Middles Ages — a lecture on what it was like to be a child, a peasant, a lord or lady, lectures on food & feasting, clothing, etc. Also an excellent and very detailed lecture on the various theories on who the "real" Arthur was, where he might have lived, etc.

 

I also have a copy of the Duke TIP curriculum on Arthur, which covers The Once & Future King. It ties the book to history, and has lots of interesting project ideas. I will PM you about it.

 

Jackie

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I also have a copy of the Duke TIP curriculum on Arthur, which covers The Once & Future King. It ties the book to history, and has lots of interesting project ideas. I will PM you about it.

 

Jackie

I have it too and am looking to sell it. If anyone is interested. :)

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The other thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to content subjects, they start from scratch in HS, and then again in college. It's perfectly possible to get through a HS bio text without ever having studied bio in middle school. It's even possible to get an A in Intro Bio in college without ever having taken it in HS. The same with history — you do not need to have covered 100% of world history in middle school in order to be "prepared" for HS, or have covered all of world history in HS in order to be successful in college. Intro level texts and courses are designed to be just that: introductory. Everyone has "gaps" — it's unavoidable, and (with the exception of math) it does. not. matter.

 

 

My own experience supports the above.  I made it through undergrad and graduate degrees without ever having taken chemistry or calculus in high school.  I made it through Trig/pre-calc and biology in high school.   My degrees are very much liberal arts degrees so I wasn't attempting an engineering major, but I was required to take a year of chemistry and math up to pre-calculus to graduate with my degree. 

 

What got me through was my very strong writing ability, a drive to graduate and the ability to hook my wagon to classmates who excelled in the areas I was weak in, which was math and the mathy sciences.  I made A's in a year of undergrad chemistry because I found a great lab partner who understood and was able to explain things to me.  The same for pre-calculus and statistics at the college level.  I know how to make friends.  :)

 

My two top goals for my high school students (when they get there :D) will be to be strong in math and to excel at writing. 

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That sounds awesome!!! There is a very weird and interesting online chemistry course somewhere that is presented as "alchemy" lessons from Merlin to his student; I can try to find the link if you're interested. Also, I highly recommend the Teaching Company course on the Middle Ages by Dorsey Armstrong — it's history, but she's a lit professor (and a specialist in Arthurian legends) so that lends an interesting twist. It's very much focused on everyday life in the Middles Ages — a lecture on what it was like to be a child, a peasant, a lord or lady, lectures on food & feasting, clothing, etc. Also an excellent and very detailed lecture on the various theories on who the "real" Arthur was, where he might have lived, etc.

 

I also have a copy of the Duke TIP curriculum on Arthur, which covers The Once & Future King. It ties the book to history, and has lots of interesting project ideas. I will PM you about it.

 

Jackie

Thanks.  I'll add the TC course to my list I'm watching for.  If you have link to the other course, without too much trouble, I would appreciate it.  We've been reading Hakim's Story of Science but nothing is set in stone.

 

eta:  Is this the King Arthur study?

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Thanks. I'll add the TC course to my list I'm watching for. If you have link to the other course, without too much trouble, I would appreciate it. We've been reading Hakim's Story of Science but nothing is set in stone.

 

eta: Is this the King Arthur study?

Yes, that's the one. It was a great program for 8th grade for my boys because in 9th grade they do LLfromLotR. It sorta warmed them up to 9th grade. :)

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Yes, that's the one. It was a great program for 8th grade for my boys because in 9th grade they do LLfromLotR. It sorta warmed them up to 9th grade. :)

 

This thread is getting really sidetracked.  :001_rolleyes: My dd just reminded me that there is a unit on Arthur in LLfLoTR.  I need to check that out - as soon as I find it.

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Keep in mind, though, that the WTM high school board represents a really tiny % of homeschoolers — really really tiny — and is not at all representative of what most homeschoolers are doing. It's also not remotely representative of what most PS kids are doing. Your child will not be competing against an entire field of students who are all doing 2 languages and multiple math and LA programs and getting 750s on their SATs. Unless your child will be forever scarred by not getting into Harvard, you really don't need to worry about that. 

 

Also, the perception of what's "needed" to get into college is skewed by the fact that this is a classical education board; if you were on a forum for unschoolers heading into college, you would get a totally different impression of what's "necessary." I have seen many posts in other groups about kids getting into really good colleges, with major merit aid, with narrative ungraded transcripts and no APs. Those kids had other things that made them interesting to colleges — colleges (especially LACs) really do want diversity, not a bunch of kids with identical transcripts and test scores. A homeschooled kid who has done some really interesting things will stand out in a stack of thousands of applicants, mostly from PS, who have taken the same courses, have the same (usually pretty lame) ECs, etc.

 

The other thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to content subjects, they start from scratch in HS, and then again in college. It's perfectly possible to get through a HS bio text without ever having studied bio in middle school. It's even possible to get an A in Intro Bio in college without ever having taken it in HS. The same with history — you do not need to have covered 100% of world history in middle school in order to be "prepared" for HS, or have covered all of world history in HS in order to be successful in college. Intro level texts and courses are designed to be just that: introductory. Everyone has "gaps" — it's unavoidable, and (with the exception of math) it does. not. matter.

 

IMHO, the most important preparation for HS & college has nothing to do with "how much" students know; it has to do with motivation, engagement, enthusiasm, and even family relationships. Getting a child who has content "gaps" caught up is simple; trying to push a bored, unmotivated teen who hates school and is resistant to parental control uphill through 4 years of high school is a much more difficult task!  

 

Jackie

 

Thank you so much! What you're saying makes a lot of sense, and is very helpful in allowing me to feel a little more relaxed about things. I also need to keep in mind that I have six more years with ds before he graduates, and 8 with dd. Even if we get off track a little now, there is room to go back and fill in some of those "gaps".

 

Adding a small supplement to Jackie's encouraging post above, regarding doing enough for high school. If you are seriously considering adding some alternative flavor to your homeschooling journey, I suggest reading articles and this book by Wes Beach. Wes is based in California but has worked with alternatively homeschooled high schoolers in other states as well. His thoughts provide a very inspiring glimpse into what self-driven education can look like. Topmost on my mind right now is that in order to achieve that drive and motivation, one needs time too, hence my serious thoughts this year about structuring only math and a little writing time and letting everything else flow organically.

 

I have friends who have really recommended that book, and who have gone to workshops with Wes. I understand he's amazing to work with! I think developing the drive and motivation is a big part of what attracts me to more interest-led/relaxed studies -- I want my kids to develop the ability to follow an interest through.

 

Thank you both for not throwing hypothetical veges at me. :)

 

I think we are very similar. My natural bent is structure and academics too. Actually so is DS's in a way. And he's so happy to learn anything I suggest. I think it's for this very reason that I want to try something new! I know it probably doesn't make sense but that's what my gut is telling me to do. I also think this is because we have somewhat "unschooled" (in the broad sense that people understand unschooling to be) for brief periods in the past and I have seen first hand what happens when the motivation comes from him. It is very compelling, especially from a learning-loving child. Not trying to convince anyone here...just providing one more data point.

 

 I understand this feeling well. I've given myself burnout several times trying to balance both sides. I just wanted to say that I really do enjoy your blog posts. In fact, there have been times when I've visited your schedule pages (the one where you listed following the simple Great Books Academy schedule and also your recent block schedule/ Waldorf inspired post) to give me ideas to be more relaxed and not drive myself crazy tweaking our schedule lol!

 

Awww, thanks for the blog appreciation! I know I have a tendency to ramble, and yes, too much of a tendency to tweak what is working. Right now my kids are driven by their interests, so much so that I worry about interfering with that with pre-made "here's what we're going to study now" plans. I can see though, working in math and writing this fall without too much resistance! And yes, I can see in both my kids that happy-to-go-along bit too, and I want to challenge that a little, to make them think about where they are going and how to get there, with tons of support from me of course!

 

Martha, do keep us updated on what you decide to do!

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I think this is the Merlin chemistry course Jackie was referring to: http://www.synapses.co.uk/alchemy/

 

Yes, that's the one!

 

Another option with an "alchemy theme" is Caveman Chemistry. It's written by a chemistry professor and used in chem-for-nonmajors classes, but it's very weird and funny, and the chapters are "written" by each of the four elements, who sometimes argue and squabble with each other.  :lol:  Some of the labs require specialized equipment, but even just doing a handful of them (like soap making) would be really fun. And it's a hoot just to read it.

 

Jackie

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Jackie, I do so love it when you post about what you do with your kids. I have a reluctant learner and your initial struggles with your ds resemble my own frustrations with my ds so much. I take inspiration from the way you have done school with him. Your posts on homeschooling often contain a wealth of information and I keep coming back to them again and again and again.

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My own experience supports the above. I made it through undergrad and graduate degrees without ever having taken chemistry or calculus in high school. I made it through Trig/pre-calc and biology in high school. My degrees are very much liberal arts degrees so I wasn't attempting an engineering major, but I was required to take a year of chemistry and math up to pre-calculus to graduate with my degree.

 

What got me through was my very strong writing ability, a drive to graduate and the ability to hook my wagon to classmates who excelled in the areas I was weak in, which was math and the mathy sciences. I made A's in a year of undergrad chemistry because I found a great lab partner who understood and was able to explain things to me. The same for pre-calculus and statistics at the college level. I know how to make friends. :)

 

My two top goals for my high school students (when they get there :D) will be to be strong in math and to excel at writing.

Thank you both so much for posting this! Great reminder, and it's really helping me to keep this in mind as I'm exploring options for my dc for this upcoming year. I really want it to be an engaging year for them, with lots of exploratory materials and interest-led science and history.

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How cool to see this discussion continuing!  

 

 

I also have a tendency to think it would be a lot of fun, and would work well for us, to have a relaxed approach - focus on the 3 "R's" and let everything else unfold, but then I get worried about high school, and smetimes when I see how much others are doing, I get worried that we don't do enough, you know? My kids aren't doing three different math and LA programs, and learning two languages. But then, I took a step back, and looked at what they're doing with their summer "vacation" and realized maybe we're not doing so badly. My dyslexic dd10, who could literally barely read until this last year, is writing short stories nearly every day. She's been watching all the Walking With... series, and is making a dinosaur printout book to keep track of the dinosaurs in the shows, plus we're reading, together, books on dinosaurs and Mary Anning. She has been learning how to use a sewing machine at my mom's, and designed three dresses for her Groovy Girls. She asked me to teach her this weekend to make a chicken and veggie curry. Ds12 has been reading, a lot of Steampunk inspired stuff, and researching the Victorian era as a sideshoot of that. He's making an intensive study of the history of automobiles. He's learning computer programming on his own with Code Academy, and working on polishing up his photography and videography skills. Both have arts and crafts going on constantly.

 

 

What wonderfully creative and interesting kids you have!  I think, especially given the ages of your kids, that for the school year you could just add in some skills-based academics - math, grammar and/or a bit of formal writing, and otherwise let them have at it.  

 

What Jackie said about colleges, especially LACs, wanting a diverse student population is indeed true.  My youngest ds, who is having a wildly successful time at a small LAC, had a very non-traditional high school.  And this was after a very unschooly middle school.  His literature courses for 11th and 12th were totally unschooled.  At the other extreme, literature in 9th and 10th grade was very much WTM inspired as it was tied in with history.  I homeschooled biology.  He took math, chemistry, economics and Spanish at the community college -- I joke that he "fired" me from ever teaching him math again after geometry.  He turned 16 while in his chemistry course and earned the moniker of "little professor" as all the other students turned to him for help.  

 

Other than those formal courses, his transcript was filled with hands on learning experiences -- robotics, an internship with an electrical engineer, an internship with the zoo and at the local science museum. The science museum was so impressed with him that they hired him after his internship.  Some of these were treated as courses with titles like "career exploration" or "project based learning" while others were just listed as outside activities.   The only standardized test he took was the ACT.  He only applied to 3 colleges, 2 accepted him with nice merit scholarships.  The one school that didn't accept him was highly competitive and had  the most stringent admissions requirements -- 4 years of this and 4 years of that.  He is now a straight A rising sophomore who has been a research assistant since spring semester and has been invited to attend an academic conference in the fall.  He did field research in Iceland over the summer!

 

So yes, a non-traditional education does work, but I think it is important to remember something Nan has brought up again and again.  Skills and content are different things.  All this discovery led and interest led learning is the content, and it is truly valuable and important.  The content is the part of learning that is life-long.  BUT, academic skills are important too and should not be neglected as they are harder to remediate.  When I casually say the 3Rs, as in we spent our mornings on the 3Rs, I'm usually thinking of academic skills.  Math, obviously, is one of those skills.  Writing is too and grammar if that is a weak point in your student's writing.  Logic is a skill, too.   Some kids need work with basic skills like note taking, some don't.  I kept nagging my kids to keep calendars during high school thinking it was an important organizational habit to have, they refused, thought it one of those stupid mom things. Guess what?  They now keep calendars and I have to bite my tongue to say "told you so".

 

Back to the college admissions game.  It is terrifying when you've gone down a non-traditional route because you have made it a bit harder on yourself.  You have to write course descriptions and write answers to the questions on the homeschool supplement of the Common Application.  Then you have to face that some big state schools (the University of California system, for instance) will not look at a homeschooler.  (It is more nuanced with the UCs than that flat statement implies, but it is basically the truth. Many kids simply start at the community colleges while in high school then transfer to the UCs.) And yet there are hundreds of good colleges and universities to choose from.   If your child is ambitious and motivated, there are AP and SATII exams galore to help improve admissions chances to the competitive big-name schools.

 

My advice is to aim for the most basic high school course requirements but meet those courses with a combination of skills and interest-led content that fit your particular students and your own homeschool style.   Your kids will grow and mature so much between now and the age of 17 or 18, and your homeschool will adapt to fit them just as it has all along.  Don't be paralyzed by the thought that you have to start NOW in order to shape your 12 year old into a college applicant -- they will grow into being that college applicant.  Don't be paralyzed by some ideal of what high school must be.  Focus on that kid slouched at the kitchen table -- love him, teach him where he is at, enjoy the age he is at.  High school is just another stage in life, another period of epic growth in our kids.  

 

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  I assigned lots of copy work from the big Usborne science encyclopedia.  The copy work included copying out diagrams and labeling things.  

 

I love this idea!! Especially copying diagrams and labeling things! Can you tell me how this worked? What kinds of things did they label?

 

The other thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to content subjects, they start from scratch in HS, and then again in college. It's perfectly possible to get through a HS bio text without ever having studied bio in middle school. It's even possible to get an A in Intro Bio in college without ever having taken it in HS. The same with history — you do not need to have covered 100% of world history in middle school in order to be "prepared" for HS, or have covered all of world history in HS in order to be successful in college. Intro level texts and courses are designed to be just that: introductory. Everyone has "gaps" — it's unavoidable, and (with the exception of math) it does. not. matter.

 

Jackie

 

This is such an encouraging reminder, thank you so much.

 

I am at peace with having my kids focus strongly on math and English. They will all be going through R&S English 5-8 and from what I've heard, that will give them excellent skills. I am excited to do it with them as I still have a lot to learn about grammar and language mechanics. When I see how many adults still can't differentiate between "their/there" or "your/you're" I know that if they have a strong foundation in grammar, speaking, writing they will be way ahead of the game.

 

It's history and science I stress out the most about as those are the things we have not consistently done, other than reading. And I want to be confident that reading is enough, at least through middle school.

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What wonderfully creative and interesting kids you have!  I think, especially given the ages of your kids, that for the school year you could just add in some skills-based academics - math, grammar and/or a bit of formal writing, and otherwise let them have at it.  

 

So yes, a non-traditional education does work, but I think it is important to remember something Nan has brought up again and again.  Skills and content are different things.  All this discovery led and interest led learning is the content, and it is truly valuable and important.  The content is the part of learning that is life-long.  BUT, academic skills are important too and should not be neglected as they are harder to remediate.  When I casually say the 3Rs, as in we spent our mornings on the 3Rs, I'm usually thinking of academic skills.  Math, obviously, is one of those skills.  Writing is too and grammar if that is a weak point in your student's writing.  Logic is a skill, too.   Some kids need work with basic skills like note taking, some don't.  I kept nagging my kids to keep calendars during high school thinking it was an important organizational habit to have, they refused, thought it one of those stupid mom things. Guess what?  They now keep calendars and I have to bite my tongue to say "told you so".

 

My advice is to aim for the most basic high school course requirements but meet those courses with a combination of skills and interest-led content that fit your particular students and your own homeschool style.   Your kids will grow and mature so much between now and the age of 17 or 18, and your homeschool will adapt to fit them just as it has all along.  Don't be paralyzed by the thought that you have to start NOW in order to shape your 12 year old into a college applicant -- they will grow into being that college applicant.  Don't be paralyzed by some ideal of what high school must be.  Focus on that kid slouched at the kitchen table -- love him, teach him where he is at, enjoy the age he is at.  High school is just another stage in life, another period of epic growth in our kids.  

 

Thank you! I think my kids are creative and interesting too, but then they are mine, so I may be a little prejudiced! I am really impressed too with what you wrote about your son - I read it aloud to mine, and he's all "Mom, that's what I want!"

 

Both my kids do intend on attending the local CC about halfway through high school, maybe sooner, and on.

 

I do plan on putting a good emphasis over the next few years in writing and math. I made year-end goals with and for both kids, and now am working out how we'll reach those goals. Thankfully both enjoy math, and for the most part writing! I grade English papers (bot advanced and remedial) for cc teachers currently, and have been, in the last few years, more or less horrified at the lower levels of writing I am seeing, even in the more advanced classes... and I know I want my kids to be abe to do more in that area. So this year will be about building a strong grammar base, and ading in basic writing skills, which w can work on expanding in the next couple of years.

 

This thread has been a delight for me, and I thank each and every one of you for the awesome advice, feedback, and ideas!

 

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I am thoroughly enjoying this thread.  I would love to have some links to forums, sites, and books to teach me how to do this and connect with more families that do high school this way.

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I sorta wanna scream that high school isn't a worry. ;p

I've got four in high school, two graduating June 2014 and not foreseeing any unusual college problems. If they don't go, it won't be because the schools don't want them or they can't handle the work, it will be because they just don't have the money to manage it. But we are hopeful that they will manage without debt or little of it. Luckily for the first two, the schools that best suit their interest are close enough that they can commute from home. Of course, that could change and I doubt our luck will hold out in that aspect for all 10 kids.

 

Like previous posters have noticed, you don't need calculus to take the college math required for the vast majority of non science major degrees. And kids interested in science, tend to be interested enough in learning the math required.

 

Part of why *I* am wanting to change things is directly because of how I wish I had done things with my older crop. They seem to be budding into a great harvest nonetheless, but I'm always walking the line between improvement and holding onto what works, iykwim. Even after relatively successful crops, I fear crop failure every single season.

 

Foreign language has always been something I really wanted to focus on but never seem able to get the resources to make happen. I'd desperately like to change that. Part of it is perfectionism being the enemy of good enough. I want to do it well, but truth is I might have to settle for producing a butchered okie-Cajun-French dialect that would make any decent Parisian flinch in pain. And that's just gonna have to be okay.

 

I always relaxed on science and history with my kids and yet for the most part they do very well in those areas. Maybe because they didn't learn to hate it like so many kids do by the end of elementary school.

 

Despite using tried and true for generations writing formulas, which is often anathema in many home schooling circles, only 2 of my 9 formally being taught kids dislikes writing and they are the children who struggle with it. Even with that, they do okay comparatively in writing with their peers. None of them have low ITBS or ACT scores.

 

So I'm looking at things and thinking where do I want to stream line. How can I continue to tailor to all their interests and needs like have the older crop? How can I squeeze in Latin and French without feeling I'm short changing something else "important"?

 

For me, I think I've decided to ease into it. I'm going to finish what I already bought, but as we finish them, I'm not adding the next level of them back.

 

I made a one page weekly layout for my youngest 2 schooling, my next 2, the youngest 2 high schoolers, and my oldest high schoolers.

 

I finished the youngest layout for August today. I'm still nervous about Latin and French, but I'm going to dive in anyways.

 

The older ones is mostly grading/discussing their assignments, though each of them has one or two subjects that they will do with me. (notably writing with skill and religious studies for 3-4 plus one teen has requested to study poetry with me).

 

It looks exhausting, heavy (lots and lots and lots of books and discussions and driving), interesting, and different for each kids and family. My biggest problem is not what to do but finding the 8 30 hour days to do it. :)

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That's where I think the HS board here is extremely useful and helpful: suggesting resources! No one is an expert in every subject, but you can find people here who are experts in pretty much anything, or at least people who have already BTDT with their own students, and can suggest resources. Also, never underestimate the power of the Amazon search function! I have found so many resources just by searching topics, reading reviews (often by experts in the field), and following links like "people who bought this book also bought..."  I have dozens & dozens of Amazon wishlists organized by subject (or even subtopic), so, for example, when we get to Cognitive Science I have a ready-made list of resources, with comments.

 

Jackie

 

If you ever feel the urge to share these wishlists with the general public, I am all ears.

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Adding a small supplement to Jackie's encouraging post above, regarding doing enough for high school. If you are seriously considering adding some alternative flavor to your homeschooling journey, I suggest reading articles and this book by Wes Beach. Wes is based in California but has worked with alternatively homeschooled high schoolers in other states as well. His thoughts provide a very inspiring glimpse into what self-driven education can look like. Topmost on my mind right now is that in order to achieve that drive and motivation, one needs time too, hence my serious thoughts this year about structuring only math and a little writing time and letting everything else flow organically.

 

I got, and read cover to cover, the recommended Wes Beach book, and WOW! What a liberating book! Now I am comfortable sitting down with the dc and asking them about what they want to learn this year! We'll still be doing math, writing, etc., as basics, but there's a lot out there they can choose!

 

And yes, that was a lot of exclamation points.

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I made a flow chart of the week/days. I so love me a purdy excel spread sheet. This and coffee were the highlights of my day. :)

Sorry for the old bump, and OT, but flow chart?  Tell me more!  :D

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The nature of unschooling is children learning all sorts of things that don't look anything like school. Someone who wanted to unschool wouldn't expect "self-directed academics" to occur. :-)

IDK about that. I read a book by Pat Farenga where he used a college textbook to teach his daughter about a subject she wanted to learn. He's pre-algebra Dodd. He was in the John Holt camp. He actually knew him.

Edited by happybeachbum

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