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Old 02-06-2013, 01:36 PM   #1
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Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Im not exactly sure what Im asking here.... We havent started anything formal with dd, so the shift would mainly be for ds. He went to prek at age 4 (just 4 hrs/day, 4 days/week), and used abeka. So we continued with abeka for K since he was doing great with it. He still is doing really well but he does NOT enjoy the workbooks. They seem to be just busy work that reinforces (to me) that he knows what we've been working on.

We've been super relaxed since our winter break and I'm just noticing my kids are so happy to play freely when I let them. They still work on things when they feel like it, and although we havent been working on lessons they are still learning.

I guess part of my worrying is that if we abandon our curriculum ds wont learn to read... which I guess is silly for me to worry about because he is very interested in it naturally. We're working on sounds and blends with abeka and Im worried if we stop working with their format he'll forget what he's already learned and fall "behind" in reading.

Sorry this became kind of jumbled up and random...

If anyone has any thoughts or experience in relation to my concerns.... OR if you unschool and can share how you spend most of your time.... how often you get out to allow for life learning.... things you make sure you get covered in one way or another to make sure the basics are being thought about....

And how on earth you just let so many worries GO and trust that your kids will learn naturally???
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:01 PM   #2
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

So, my kids are only 4 and 2. At this point I guess I feel silly labeling anything, but we aren't doing prek or anything formal with dd. Unschooling seems to be wherewe are heading. We do pick up the occasional workbook or such if its something she would be interested in. I am thinking about buying 100 easy lessons or phonics program to casually work through. Right now she is really interested in starfall.com, looking at books and pretending to read, and following along with hooks on cd.

I just didnt feek like trying to pan our days was working for any of us. My dd is more of a hands on learner and doesn't enjoy too much book work yet. And of course 2 yr old ds wants to join in everything.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:34 PM   #3
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

I'd love to share a little. We are unschoolers. My kids are 5, 4, 2, and one on the way. For us, it's a total lifestyle and a view that learning is happening all the time. It's a family affair. I see my children learning so freely all the time. The love to learn and never see it as a bitter thing. It brings me a lot of joy to watch it happening.

Since you asked about reading in particular I'll let you know how it's happening here. Of course, each kid may learn differently and in their own time. My 5yo ds is learning to read well. We never do a reading lesson, we just read. I read to him sometimes. He reads/looks at books on his own and tries to figure them out. Sometimes he asks for help and I am happy to answer. In the past he used to always ask what signs said and I would answer (he can usually read them on his own now). Really we're just going about our life and he is seeking to understand how to live and communicate in the world around him. It just happens. Math, science, reading, and much more just come with life at this age. We spend a lot of time just talking about things as we go. Life brings up questions and I try to answer them or find the answers. As he gets older he will be encouraged to try new things and spend time on whatever he is interested in.

I realize that unschooling really goes against all that we have been told about education as most of us grew up in a traditional school like setting. It's hard to see that there could be another good way. It really is hard. I recall one time where I was ruthlessly grilling my friend with questions about unschooling (which she practices with her family) trying so hard to point out why it just can't work. So I've been of that point of view at one time. Funny how things change! For me the things that helped me to understand it better were two things- 1) To hear the stories of unschooling families and to be able to see what it really looks like over time. The book "A Little Way of Homeschooling" really helped me so much. It's a collection of essays by unschooling mothers (and one wonderful philosophical essay on unschooling by a father). Each situation looks a little different and that's what was really reassuring about the book to me. Many or most of them have grown children already who are successful adults. 2) Read about the reasons behind unschooling. I do think it really takes time to trust and understand this way. I love this list of resources: http://christinapilkington.com/2013/...rning-in-2012/.

Give yourself time to see the learning unfold in your children. It's normal to worry now and then, especially as you are trying to see education differently than you may have for your entire life thus far. That's totally normal especially at first. Now, over the past year I have really begun to almost never worry anymore since I am seeing the fruits of this lifestyle. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat more about it. I'm happy to talk about it!
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #4
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Double Post.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:53 AM   #5
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

I often WISH that we were unschoolers. But DH is not on board with that at all (he still has a very real image of what school should be and I want him to be happy so here we are).

When DD was in kindergarten last year, she hated worksheets. She hated writing. She hated working from textbooks. So I got creative. I read several books on teaching your children to read. I really liked this particular one: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal...accno=ED437625

I took what I needed from each of the books and left what I hated behind. And we also played LOTS of reading games. She loved them. She loved going outside and writing words back and forth for each of us to read. She loved putting the beginning sound in one bag and the ending sound in another and choosing them randomly to see if she made a word. She loved jumping on different sound blends all over the floor and saying them out loud for me. In essence, she loved learning. She just hated the way we had started.

She also loved going to the library and choosing an animal to learn about for the week. We'd watch videos about that animal and read about it. Then we'd make a lapbook from this site: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ She would have so much fun with it!
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:56 AM   #6
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

We just do a little bit of 'school' with my 4 1/2 year old when he is inclined to do it. Like if he says "I want to do some school", I will get out my daily book and pick something. He is learning his letters slowly and I am not pushing anything. We are kinda loosely going by the Waldorf principles which don't force learning, especially at this age. He spends his day helping with the tasks, along with reading and learning things like measurement. We don't really 'have' to do anything since he was never in the school system yet, so we are just going to live by impulse of what he is interested in.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:36 AM   #7
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Hey there RainandRedemption!

Glad you decided to post about this topic.

Our family doesn't identify as unschoolers, I like to say we do our own thing. Unschooling is the closest philosophy to what it is we do. I have 4 daughters and unlike most of the PPs I have older children. My DDs range in ages from 4.5 to 12 yrs old. We don't use workbooks and I really don't really have many assignments for my girls.

We aren't terribly concerned about my younger ones not learning to read. This is very rare and you often hear of children picking up reading on their own. My just turned 8 yr old DD knows her alphabet but she isn't reading or writing many words. We sometimes work on words but it is in a way where I just ask her to spell a word or write it and it is for a few minutes. I don't worry because I know she will be picking it up on her own soon and I am really going for the love of learning things rather than the amount of knowledge one has acquired by a certain age.

I try to do different fun things where my girls can learn while having fun at the same time. Yesterday we were @ a chocolate factory. Great learning experience. My ODD came home and wrote a bit about our trip in her notebook. She has SO many empty notebooks and I suggested that her goal should be to start using them. We are going to the art museum this weekend for a mythology event. I see this as a great opportunity to learn about art and mythology. Really we just do whatever neat things come our way. It could be visiting the library, go to the science museum or having my girls visit the nature park. It could also be writing a letter to their penpal or looking @ a magazine.

A few weeks ago we started a literature circle. This has been a great experience for my girls. We love going! Currently my 2 ODDs are reading/listening to the audio book of Johnny Tremain. I am sure if it wasn't for the literature circle my almost 11 yr old wouldn't have wanted to read Johnny T. She started it and wasn't crazy about it but then she found out about him burning his hand and wanted to get hear that part. I also know she was enjoying the part where someone was being spoken to very, very harshly (might be Johnny T. but I don't know since I haven't read the story).

Do I have doubts? Of course but then again everyone has doubts whether your kid is in school , homeschooled or not.

Last night it is time for bed and my ODD is looking for her book. I tell her not to worry about it, it's not like she is going to be reading much it before going to bed and that she will find it in the AM. She is upset and wants to keep looking for it because she sleeps w/ the book by her pillow. This isn't something that I ever ask her to do and I had no reading requirements for her. She does enjoy reading and of course hates when she can't find her things. I found the book this morning and put it by her pillow. Point of this story is your kids will learn to read even if you don't have them on a curriculum.

Best wishes on your journey and feel free to ask more questions.
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:03 PM   #8
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

I'll share a story about some unschoolers in our community. Basically they only read classical literature to their children and didn't force any lessons whatsoever. When it was time for their oldest to go to college she had to take a placement test and she scored extremely well on English without a single lesson in the subject. I do believe they were very strict about the types of books allowed, probably nothing that would be considered twaddle. The girl did need to take the remedial math class at the college before she could take college algebra but many students take that anyways.

On the other hand we have some friends that are semi-unschoolers and they do formal math and reading/grammar lessons but nothing else. I know all of her kids well and they range in age from college to elementary. They are all very individual kids with different gifts. I think the parents did a great job of letting them run with what they were interested in.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle. I do feel very strongly about a my kids having a solid foundation in reading, writing and math. As for the other stuff I'll introduce it or read books aloud about science/history/etc. but I'm not all that concerned with them memorizing it. I'm not interested in "testing" my kids or having them complete lots of worksheets. Just as long as we are making progress I'm happy.
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:39 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for the links, experiences, advice!

It's a lot to think about, and I don't want to make any major mistakes and shortchange them, yk??

Any other experienced mommas, advice to share, or anything?

Right now I'm pretty convinced were going to ditch Abeka and pick magazines, games, computer games, literature and fun experiences.... I'm still a little uneasy about it.... Maybe I'm a control freak, and I need to let it go??????
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

I'm kind of where you are right now. I started out thinking I needed a curriculum to teach my kids and with my oldest I have always used a pretty strict traditional school at home curriculum. It has worked reasonably well for him (this year we are finding ourselves a bit bogged down suddenly). Then I started teaching my youngest and he is very different. He hates work books, work sheets, sitting still ect. He hates listening to me and learning anything he isn't interested in. It has been hard but I decided that if I wanted to keep homeschooling him I was going to have to let go a little. When we moved into 2nd grade (a year ahead so I keep telling myself we have some wiggle room if things go wrong ) I finally had to put up the white flag and give in. I don't know what you would call what we do now, kind of Waldorf inspired, kind of child led. I still direct science and history though they are primarily read aloud and then lots of hands on (experiments or crafts/activities/games). The boys are super interested in science not so much in history. Everything else is very based in reading. I read to Tharen and Tharen reads to me. He does have a spelling list every week but I think we may drop that in favor of copy work. We will come back to it later if the copy work doesn't work out. I just don't think the traditional spelling system was working for him. He plays spelling games on the computer and his tablet sometimes. We use manipulatives and a book I read from for math. He really needs to get his hands on things to learn.

Right now Kearnan is still using a more traditional curriculum and I don't know if that will change in the future or not. He is older and has many struggles with his special needs. At the very least we would keep a traditional math and grammar program if we dropped everything else I think. He is weak in grammar/writing and strong in math but needs something to direct him to keep learning. Other than that I might allow him to self direct.
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