We're thinking of "unschooling" next year

Discuss unschooling, eclectic, the unit study approach, or any other "unusual" homeschooling method.

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partyoffive
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We're thinking of "unschooling" next year

Postby partyoffive » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:10 pm

I have a son in first grade, and a 4yo ds who is so ready to learn it scares me. Lol. He turns 5 in August so we will begin schooling him in September.

I have began looking into "unschooling" my boys and eventually my other ds and dd when they get older.

I have been searching these boards for unschooling tips and just exactly what unschooling is. I understand everyone unschools differently but I also want them to be able to transition to high school/college level work.

What would you suggest since my children are still so young? How do you still teach them what is neccassary while being laid back and "unschooling"?

Thanks :)
Momma to:
DS (12/02)
DS (8/05)
DS&DD (3/10)

partyoffive
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Postby partyoffive » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:31 pm

This is what I wanted to do with my DS's:

We have a school room, it has a white board, art center, puzzles, games, etc.
So, maybe unschooling isn't exactly for us, but I do want to be more laid back and not so schedule-y.

This year with my DS1 we basically worked on handwriting and addition/subtraction. He is a really artsy boy so we also focused on arts and crafts. He LOVES to play math games. They kind of make the lesson stick. For History, he wanted to study knights, so we did a unit study on knights. We learned about viruses because his little brother had a cold, lol.

If he enjoys this kind of learning, should I try to unschool him or should we just stick with it?

My problem is my 4yo is the complete opposite. He is bright and curious and everything, but he would rather be outside rolling around in mud. He live in the woods so we like to go "exploring".

Would unschooling one son and not unschooling the other be too hard? Should I give my soon to be 5yo another year of exploration and then buckle down when he is 6, or slowly start now?

We live in OK, so grade levels don't really matter. We don't report to them, they don't care.

Any advice for two young boys on two completely different sides of the learning spectrum?
Momma to:

DS (12/02)

DS (8/05)

DS&DD (3/10)

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Postby hscoach » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:12 pm

I do not consider myself an official unschooler but I think we do a lot of unschooling in our home. You could definitely do a combination of both structured learning and unschooling. You know your children better than anyone, so you will figure out what is best for them. Your son that rolls in the mud? His life work may end up being something where he works outdoors. So you could let him go with his interests and add structure where you think it is necessary. I would definitely let him have lots of time to be outside if that is what he loves.

I would recommend that you do lots of reading on unschooling over the summer. You could do this online but also see if your local library has any books on the subject. If you want to buy a book or two, you could go to amazon.com and look at what they have and read the reviews before choosing one. Here is an interesting unschooling blog -

http://anunschoolinglife.com/

You might want to look into the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling too. That might appeal to both of your sons. (I like the Charlotte Mason method, especially "living" books.) Here is a link-

http://simplycharlottemason.com/basics/ ... on-method/

Jill
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Postby Jill » Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:38 pm

Are you talking about unschooling or being a "relaxed - eclectic" homeschooler?

The difference is: who is the driving force behind the learning? Is it the parent or the child? If it's the child, it's unschooling. If it's the parent, it's probably "relaxed" or "eclectic".

Personally, after reading alot about unschooling I think it is a very misunderstood philosophy. That, or I'm too legalistic. I think it would be very difficult (for me) given the above definition to unschool younger children. How would they ever know what they wanted to learn unless something caught their eye by chance? As my children get older, I can see more possiblities.

I think relaxed - eclectic homeschooling is great for children when they are younger. That's the approach I took with my kids. I write more about the differences I've discovered at http://www.homeschool-by-design.com/unschooling.html if you are interested.

Best wishes.
Jill

sartasd
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Postby sartasd » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:05 pm

I unschool my 2 kids. They love learning and love reading. As unschoolers we do alot hands on and enjoy doing things together. They enjoy using the computer software, internet, library, field trips to parks and historical places near our home, they also ask alot of questions that sends us off to find the answers, and so much more.

As unschoolers we encourage and provide resources for their use and help them when they ask or need it. The best part of learning together is that we all are learning and having fun learning about ourselves and our world around us.

Our Motto is Life is for learning and Learning is for life. A day never goes by without discovering something new.

We also found a local unschooling group and joined for support and to share ideas and fellowship.
Sharon

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Theodore
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Postby Theodore » Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:51 pm

Homeschooling, by its nature, allows you to advance as fast and as far as you want in the areas you're best at. The question is, what about everything else? Does unschooling provide enough structure to prevent large holes? Especially when you get up to high school, where the material gets increasingly difficult and builds upon material you're already expected to know.

Personally, my view is that unschooling provides perhaps too much potential for the idiot savant - someone who's master at one thing and knows nothing in other areas. A more formal structure is required at some point, probably early high school.

Thoughts? How do you close gaps while still allowing your children to choose what they study? Not everything is fun to study.

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Postby sartasd » Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:02 pm

Unschooling is misunderstood as being Unlearning, Uneducation, unparenting and etc. Radical Unschoolers do unschooling in extreme ways. allowing the child to pick what they want to do and not doing anything else but what they want. Not all unschoolers are Radical in their approach in their methods. Learning can be fun even the subjects kids would think are boring. We make it fun by doing various projects, using software, internet and whatever comes our way to keep learning enjoyable and a delight. When learning become dull and boring, then learning is not a delight. My kids never moan, or groan, or complain, they tell me that I make is fun and they love it.

As a unschooler who is not radical, we have structure that is based on life. I have no control over many things things that come our way. I do parent my kids and also show them and allow them to learn from mistakes. They do have limits to what they can or not do. We do discuss many things and spend time learning together.

We use unit studies, workbooks, math books, science books, resources from many sources and do not limit what we do to grade level subjects or topics.

As a unschooler, I expose my children with all kinds of topics. We study everything other kids study just not in the same order and we don't do grades according to ages. If my 8 year old doesn't want to study grade math, social studies, or whatever 3rd graders study but would like to study 4th grade science subjects, 5th grade History, and be only able to do 2nd grade math, then what she does is right for her based on her needs.

Unschoolers do use math curriculum or may not. We find math in everyday life, cooking, checkbooks, saving accounts, saving money for something special--finding out long it would take to save for that item.

Unschoolers also allow their kids learn at their pace and to focus on their gifts. I know unschoolers who are now adults and they are very successful in their career of choice. Do they know all science topics if their career choice is in the arts or business, infomation specialist, or even an armed force member. NO, Science is good to know but not everyone will be excell in the science fields. As unschoolers they are exposed to science but if they don't show interest, we don't force them to memorize science facts that is meaningless. They know enough that they can find it if they need it later in life.

When my kids ask questions, I don't say that for next year's study, no, We get on the internet, go to the library and research to find the answer.
They also ask more questions during this research and when we are finished, they have art, poems, essays, notebooks,and journals to look at later to recall the journey of learning they took.

What makes unschoolers different, we don't spoon feed our kids information, we give them the tools to discover, study, research, touch, experienece, and learn all kinds of things that brings them delight in learning. We turn on the desire to learn, it is amazing how much they learn in little time because they enjoy learning something. They retain more this way then being forced to learn something that they have no interest in. Some unschoolers know things that many adult teachers don't know. What makes unschooler unique is they excell in areas that they are gifted in rather than be good at many things. This is not to say that other homeschoolers don't excell in their gifts, it is just the unschoolers method that they use to excell above all else. and have some exposure to many areas but not really have a desire to know it all.

My 8 year old is reading books above her age level and she enjoys being able to read. It only took we a few months to learn to read because she wanted to read so bad. Books she reads are not just fiction, she reads books on all subjects.

My 14 year old didn't really start to read till age 11. He wanted to read before that age, but struggled so much that he didn't enjoy reading. When he began to read on his own at age 11, his reading took off so fast that he is reading for pleasure now. I have met many schooled boys who are 12 to 14 and they hate reading! Why? because they have been forced to read books.

This is a bit long, but as a unschooler, we do have structure, we just don't do "school" or keep learning only from 8 to 3. We never stop learning, we learn 365 days a year and every minute is used, the only time we are not learning is when we taking a break from a learning moment. We don't waste time with busy work or workbooks everyday, we use workbooks to enhance and to expose our kids with sources of learning. Once they know have to add, we move on and don't keep giving them pages of addition. Skills learned and mastered results on moving on to something new.
Sharon

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Theodore
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Postby Theodore » Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:27 pm

Hmm. Most homeschoolers are not the same grade level in every subject - in fact are usually far ahead in the areas they're best at - and most also supplement with other methods of learning besides textbooks. However, that doesn't make them all unschoolers, just effective. I guess the key question is, are you worried enough about keeping up to par in core subjects to make sure the material gets covered, whether or not your kids are particularly interested? If you're following some sort of checklist for core subject areas, regardless of how you study and regardless of what you do for other subjects, I don't think it can be classified as unschooling. Of course, I could just be pedantic and unschooling is more in the eye of the beholder.

How do you reconcile unschooling with state legal requirements that involve regular testing?

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Postby sartasd » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:39 pm

There are unschoolers in states that test. Their kids do fine on the tests because their parents prepared them for the tests with practice tests, such as using the practice workbooks available.

Of the unschooler I know, If their kids like workbooks and ask for them, then they buy them. The kids don't have to be forced to do workbooks because they asked for them.

A friend of mine had a son who is not in high school, he didn't do math as a boy till about age 12. This boy learned math so fast that He was on grade level math in only a few months because he was so interested in math and was able to focus and retain what He learned at a fast pace.

Just because a 8 yo is not doing math or only doing easy addition doesn't mean that they won't be able to do harder math at a later age.

Unschoolers allow their kids have a say so in the curriculum (if they desire it) My kids have tried a few different curriculums over the years and they liked the ones that allows them to work alone without too much help from me. I love independent learning materials. However at time they ask for a break from it and we may do a group project that takes off as more of a "unit study" type of learning.


People misunderstand unschooling as parents not doing anything to help their kids to learn. the difference is we don't "teach" or "lecture" or do the schooly things. We don't try to make it "school at home" we create a learning environment that will help them learn everything they will need if they do "choose to go to school" next year. They read, write, do basic math that is practical and usable in everyday life. As a unschooling parent who is part of a unschool support group, I am encouraged by other unschooling parents to be involved with my kids and do things that will spark interest in something. We are very involved with summer reading programs at our local library, we go the local library 1 to 3 times a week, we go to local events or visit local historical places, museums, zoo, or go on day trips or overnight trips to visit all kinds of places.

It never fails that one of our kids will see something or hear something and then a trip to the library put them on a road of research to know more about that subject.

Recently Hallmark Movie Channel had a movie about Marco Polo, My son asked who's he, I told him who he was and that he really did live. He realized that is history and like the movie. We also found books at the library on Maro Polo.

Instead of him reading a text book with only bits of info. he reads living books/whole books instead.

As for our life being "relaxed" we are far from it. My kids do learn and they love learning because they are allowed to learn using their learning style.

If a unschooler has a child who learns by hearing things, they find resources, videos, computer software, or even sign them up for classes. they are still unschoolers because it is not the parent who is is making the decision to learn this way, it is the child's choice.

The argument is children won't know to learn something or ask for the right things, Not with my kids. I expose them too everything they need and learn because I am listen to them when they question things. We together set out to find answers to those questions.

Let me give you an example a friend did a few years ago with a 7 year old. Her 7 year old asked why they don't recycyle light bulbs (the old ones)
Her mother was about to say, we just don't, go and play but stopped and knew they could be a learning moment. So they did a internet search about light bulbs, electricity, and etc.
Thata 7 year old learned to draw the parts of a light bulb, know how electricity worked, who invented electricity and the dangers of lightning and etc. Mother also found information about what a new bulb's wires look like, the used bulb and a burned out one looked like.
Her dd, was later able to pick out of a box 3 bulbs one which was brand new, one which worked but was used, and another one that was burned out. She correctly indentified each one. She didn't have to shake them only look at the wires and new which was which.
That is a good picture of what true unschooler is. We are not against education, we are just against assembly line school education that expects every child in that grade to know and learn all the same at the same time. By the time unschoolers are finished with school they know everything High school seniors know plus more.
Sharon

sartasd
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Postby sartasd » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:20 pm

Here is what a unschooler had to say about unschooling her life:

A few months ago, a student at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism contacted me and asked if they could interview me about unschooling for research they were doing. Here are her questions, and my answers.

1) You address a lot of the day to day in your blog, but what are the biggest hurdles to starting?

For me, it was changing the way I view education, school and learning. Real learning…learning that truly means something to an individual. Learning has nothing to do with passing or failing, dividing the world up into subjects or taking a standardized test. That’s not learning.

Education is not telling students that it’s June 1 and today is the day you need to learn about dolphins. Also, when you’re done “learningâ€
Sharon


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