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Old 02-07-2013, 04:51 PM   #11
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

You may check out Ambleside Online or other Charlotte Mason programs. I really like a lot of the CM philosophies.

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Old 02-07-2013, 10:41 PM   #12
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Charlotte Mason is a great bridge between unschooling and traditional. I love a lot of her concepts, but I honestly have come to realize it doesn't matter if my kids read things that will be considered "twaddle". I do too, so why should I fault them for doing the same.

I noticed a lot of the unschooling moms responding to this have younger kids. While that's great, it can be intimidating to a mom when thinking about how kids will grow up when they're older. It's really challenging to estimate where this road will lead your children if you can't see where it's led someone else, you know?

So, here's my family. My daughter is 9 and I have 3 boys, ages 5, 3, and 7 months. Obviously my 7 month old is kind of "unschooling" since that's really how all babies learn. You can't really give them a curriculum to teach them how to walk! With my older kids it was a bit more of a transition and a challenge. I hated doing more traditional schooling because it was so much work. My daughter fought me, kicking and screaming (sometimes literally) all the way. Eventually I just had to give in and say, "Fine, if this isn't going to work, we're trying something else!" I threw in the towel and as my aunt put it, "stopped homeschooling". I have to admit, I kind of grew to love the idea of not teaching my kids at all, nothing, not a single thing. I was no longer "homeschooling". I guess this can be seen by many as our deschooling period, but in a lot of ways it never stopped. I just "gave up" entirely. I used to joke that I was "too lazy" to homeschool, so I figured my kids would just figure out what they needed in life "somehow". I just couldn't cope with the idea of actively being involved in their "education". To me, "education" had become a dirty word that involved imparting my wisdom on my children and hated the idea that they might think of me as some kind of authority. It put me back to all too many of the moments I hated from my own schooling. I figured eventually my kids would start "falling behind" and I'd end up putting them into schools, but I'd enjoy the ride of "doing nothing" as long as I could. Instead of "educating" my kids, we spent a lot of time having fun, playing games, getting out to the park, and doing other things I truly enjoyed, because if I wasn't going to homeschooling forever, I might as well enjoy the time they were home while it lasted.

To be perfectly fair, I was given a very twisted idea of unschooling from the start. I was told that I had to "sneak in" the subjects they needed to learn to succeed in life through things that they loved. If a kid is into dinosaurs you've got to find a way to make all of their math about dinosaurs, all of their reading exercises, all of their writing. It seemed like "unschooling" could be defined as "creatively making your kids do all the traditional school work without them realizing it." The truth is that's not really unschooling at all, at least not from my research.

Then suddenly it happened. I hit this incredible moment when I went, "Hmm...maybe I'm on to something here..." I was listening to a podcast I loved and my daughter was, I don't know, 6 I think? The podcast was called CraftLit. It was a combination of two things I'd loved, crafting and literature. All of the books used were classic novels that had gone into public domain. I used to listen to the podcast while my son was napping and my daughter was playing quietly so I had a bit of free time. When we'd made it to Frankenstein, a book I've always hated and could never get through, and almost couldn't get through it even with the podcast making it more interesting, my daughter piped up about halfway through at the end of an episode. She said, "Mom, I think the creature wouldn't have done so many things if his dad had called him more often." I reminded her that they didn't have phones back then, so she amended her statement, "Oh, then he should have written more letters. The creature only did the bad things because he just wanted to feel like he was loved and cared about. He probably would have been very nice if his Daddy had just spent more time with him." This was a jolt to my system for three reasons. One, not only was she listening in when I thought she was just quietly playing, but she was able to follow the story even better than I could in high school. Two, it was absolutely terrifying that my daughter could relate the feelings of the creature to her situation with her father. Three, she analyzed the book in a way I've never taught in schools, and when you look into the point at which Mary Shelley was in her life when she wrote the book, it seems entirely possible that she was writing about that very thing, the grief she was feeling over her own lost child and her criticism over her husband's reaction. It was almost as though she wrote this about how she thought he would have been as a father. I was floored. Clearly doing nothing meant I was doing something right!

We just kind of ran with it from that point on. I was 100% determined never to attempt to teach my daughter anything again. It's totally worked for us. Instead of "teaching", I share with her the things I love. She knows more about the American Revolution than most adults I love because it's an interest we share. We spend a lot of time reading about it together and in honest discussion. She asks me a lot of questions and I answer them when I can. If not, we try to find the answer together. This has kind of been the way it's been with everything. All my kids typically choose things like documentaries, MythBusters, Dirty Jobs, and other things that expand their interests or help follow up interests they already have. We read books together. We hold a lot of discussions on every topic we can think of. It's natural. My kids are learning to follow their interests in the same way I started learning about the things I loved outside of school in high school. It's worked out great!

As for core subjects, well, reading is an essential life skill. Eventually everyone has to learn how to read or they have a very hard time functioning in the world. The same can be said for writing. Math is the same way. Sure, you can get by without science, but science is so much fun it's hard to avoid, and every kid I know is interested in the way things work, which always leads back to science (well, except in the case of grammar). History, as much as it's useful, isn't really a life-skill. As for social studies, government, and all of that, simply holding discussions about news and politics opens a lot of great doors for that. Talk to people who travel. You'd be amazed what simply talking to other people can do for expanding your children's horizons.

As for my kids, my daughter didn't really read until this past year. Now she's a stronger reader than many kids her age and writes just as well as the average 4th grader. We've only worked on her writing here and there before this. She just made a big deal about learning how to write well because she had to write her name clearly in order to get a library card. Her reading started with comic books and strips as well as video games. Yes, she actually learned to read by playing video games, Assassin's Creed to be exact. She loved it because it was video game and history all rolled up in one, but she hated having to call me every time there was something to read, so while it started out with me reading everything, it ended up with "Mom, does that say (insert what she read)?" Now she doesn't even ask for my help to read anything unless she encounters a word she can't figure out. Most of it's through sounding out, so she clearly picked up that skill somewhere, probably from listening to me try to sound out crazy dinosaur names for her brother. She's learning fractions, addition, multiplication, and subtraction from cooking, not because I'm making her learn that way, but because it's practical. She's also learning a lot about money because she wants to help me run the budget, though we only let her handle things that won't stress her out, like buying groceries. She doesn't need to know how close we cut it on everything else. The oldest of the boys is learning how to read through grocery shopping, observing names on shops, signs, and commercial vehicles as we walk by. He's also picking things up from books as I read to him. He's starting to sight-read certain words and use the sounds in those words to decode other words, so I guess you could say he's reverse engineering phonics. So far the older two are at or above grade level on almost everything. I have confidence that all my kids will pick up and do well in the areas they're struggling with in the end if they see a reason for it. It's amazing what a kid can learn when they want to.

As for getting out into the world, most of our unschooling takes place at home and has for the past year and a half. We lost our car and it's made it very limiting. However, I've found that even with a lack of interesting field trips to encourage and engage our kids, the educational aspect isn't suffering at all. With a little help from Netflix, the local library, and a good variety of engaging and interesting adults that are all to eager to tell someone all about the hobbies, work, and subjects they love, my kids are thriving just as much, possibly more now than they were when we did go out on field trips all the time. Once we get our car back we're going to jump into physically going places, learning, and exploring beyond the areas we can walk to, but in the mean time I like to think of it as living proof that you don't need to be out and about all the time to be able to unschool well. You don't need to be actively working at it all the time. You really just need to be addicted to having fun with your kids, surrounding yourself (and through that, your kids) with interesting people and subject matter, and actively leading by example through loving to learn and setting that example for your kids.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:50 PM   #13
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Holy cow that was long...hope something there helped... And because I thought of it after I hit send...a couple more things...

Check out I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write (blog). Also, the School Sucks Podcast and The Unschool Experiment (also a podcast). The second one is a grown unschooler interviewing other grown unschoolers about their experiences growing up, and what they're doing with their life now. Whenever I'm feeling like maybe the other people bombarding me with how this can't work gets me down, I love to listen to an episode to remind me that, yes, unschoolers do grow up to be incredibly awesome, successful people. They may just have a different definition of "success". There's also the Clan of Parents blog, which hasn't been updated in a while and her kids are still on the younger side (well, about my oldest's age, I think) but she shares her experiences. If you Google "unschool blog" a ton of things come up too.

Also, if you're ever in doubt about whether or not your kids are learning, keep a journal about what your kids are up to each day. Six months down the road, look back on it and you'll probably be amazed at how far your kids have come. Or start a blog. That gives you some great feedback on the progress your kids are making. That's what I did. I was amazed at how much the feedback kept me going. It really helps when other people are pointing out how much your kids are growing and becoming unique individuals and how incredibly much they've learned! And if you're interested in talking more, feel free to PM me!
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:21 AM   #14
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

I have five kids, my oldest is almost 13. We don't do any formal school until after age 7 and then it is still very relaxed. When they are little I will print off fun pages for them to do at the table and we read a lot and they play a lot. All of my kids learned to read with little to no formal teaching. My son learned to read by watching tv with the captions turned on and he was only 5, now at nine he is reading at grade level. My second youngest is 6 and she has just started asking what things say and sounding out words on her own. She loves to write and has been for over a year, lists, stories, captions for pictures, she writes without knowing how to read!

Once they are 7-8 I start Sonlight which is literature based so still lots of reading and not a lot of textbooks. I have found my kids do better with more structure when they are older, otherwise they complain about being bored. And I believe learning and *loving* learning is very important for all of us and luckily my kids have that.
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:15 AM   #15
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Thank you guys so much for these posts. Im deep in thought over it all, and watching youtube videos by unschoolers... Just thinking at this point and not a lot to say or ask... although I do have a list of questions in my head, Im thinking of writting them all out and posting them on here, and posting on our local homeschool facebook page asking unschoolers if theyd like to answer as well.

I guess with homeschooling, where I am the teacher, I can DO things and feel confident in there being a result and being able to predict that result. With unschooling there is so much trust invovled that things will just happen. I think I can trust the kids and their part, but maybe its the facilitator role, or the "modeling what a rich and happy life looks like" that makes me nervous. Im doubting my own abilities mainly I think.
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:37 PM   #16
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

We don't unschool, so this may not be what you're interested in, but I'll say it anyway. School work does not always have to be work sheets or what have you. We follow a more classical approach and my kids hardly ever do worksheets. They do a lot of reading books and me reading to them and exploring things on the computer and memory work (which they LOVE). There are even math curricula where the amount of worksheets is nominal (check out RightStart Math).

If Abeka isn't working for you, you mind find another curric would.

My oldest is in first grade and plays nearly all day. Her schoolwork takes about 90 minutes and the rest of the day she plays.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:57 PM   #17
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Quote:
Originally Posted by blondeviolin View Post
We don't unschool, so this may not be what you're interested in, but I'll say it anyway. School work does not always have to be work sheets or what have you. We follow a more classical approach and my kids hardly ever do worksheets. They do a lot of reading books and me reading to them and exploring things on the computer and memory work (which they LOVE). There are even math curricula where the amount of worksheets is nominal (check out RightStart Math).

If Abeka isn't working for you, you mind find another curric would.

My oldest is in first grade and plays nearly all day. Her schoolwork takes about 90 minutes and the rest of the day she plays.
I agree, especially with Abeka being the curriculum you are using now. It is one of the most busywork intensive of curriculums you can get. And I say this coming from homeschooling a kindergartener using Abeka (but using Abeka first grade curric. We did K last year)

There are tons of different kinds of curriculums out there, so if you are not quite sure if you want to take the unschooling approach, check out bunch of different ones out. You will either find one that looks like you may like and fit your family, or you will find the unschooling is the way to go!
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:18 PM   #18
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Hi, we aren't unschoolers but I've been in the homeschool business for three years now and can share what I think. I love Charlotte Mason methods in teaching and also feel guided un schooling would be best. Guided meaning child led and mommy led. If the child loves the bugs they are finding outside then let's get to the library and get books on them or look them up in an encyclopedia and make a bug journal, etc. As a mom I'd buy a butterfly or ladybug kit and watch them. Letting things flow naturally but also influencing a bit. Like when they receive money on their birthday, let's see how we can make it go the farthest and discuss sales and percentages off, search the paper for sales on their favorite toys and how many they can buy, etc. It is a lifestyle and you teach daily. Un schooling isn't do nothing and they will learn it all by osmosis. The parents still have a big job. I include my kids in cooking and that's not an easy job! But they learn measurements and chemistry. I would put an emphasis on spelling lists when they start reading and writing well. I give my dd word searches which she absolutely loves and it helps her in spelling. We also do a short list a week. I feel that is an important life skill but we do it in a very fun way. We have a quiz at the end of the week with prizes. I've met some unschooling graduates who were very bright and interesting but said they hated not being good spellers. It made them a little embarrassed and hindered some job opportunities. I think cursive is so beautiful and helpful so I'm going to buy a workbook for that and wait for when dd wants that or is ready. Unschooling is awesome but there are some skills that may need structure in learning but it can still be done in a fun relaxed way. I don't think all the boring busywork and forced sitting for a specified time is needed at all. In fact that hinders learning from what I've seen.
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Designsbybequi
Hi, we aren't unschoolers but I've been in the homeschool business for three years now and can share what I think. I love Charlotte Mason methods in teaching and also feel guided un schooling would be best. Guided meaning child led and mommy led. If the child loves the bugs they are finding outside then let's get to the library and get books on them or look them up in an encyclopedia and make a bug journal, etc. As a mom I'd buy a butterfly or ladybug kit and watch them. Letting things flow naturally but also influencing a bit. Like when they receive money on their birthday, let's see how we can make it go the farthest and discuss sales and percentages off, search the paper for sales on their favorite toys and how many they can buy, etc. It is a lifestyle and you teach daily. Un schooling isn't do nothing and they will learn it all by osmosis. The parents still have a big job. I include my kids in cooking and that's not an easy job! But they learn measurements and chemistry. I would put an emphasis on spelling lists when they start reading and writing well. I give my dd word searches which she absolutely loves and it helps her in spelling. We also do a short list a week. I feel that is an important life skill but we do it in a very fun way. We have a quiz at the end of the week with prizes. I've met some unschooling graduates who were very bright and interesting but said they hated not being good spellers. It made them a little embarrassed and hindered some job opportunities. I think cursive is so beautiful and helpful so I'm going to buy a workbook for that and wait for when dd wants that or is ready. Unschooling is awesome but there are some skills that may need structure in learning but it can still be done in a fun relaxed way. I don't think all the boring busywork and forced sitting for a specified time is needed at all. In fact that hinders learning from what I've seen.
Yes, this is definitely how unschooling would look in our house! And what I had in mind when we started, but we went with Abeka just because it's what he was already doing, and now the busywork puts a damper on everything and were ( ok to be fair it's me) totally unmotivated to do anything extra.......

Im torn because I want to be very child led, and like what you said, guided unschooling, but I'm not very fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to that kind of stuff. Like I need to have some framework and guideline that I'm following....

Maybe I do just need to look into different styles more... Charlotte mason sounds good from what I know.., and they definitely need a hands on math with not a lot of written work....

For reading, what is a good "hands on" method for learning to read? From what I understand there's phonics approach, sight words, and then simply reading a lot together. We are wanting to move away from phonics and focus more on the other 2 now.
And then a lot of trust that they'll get it right?

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Old 02-12-2013, 03:09 PM   #20
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Re: Unschoolers~~~ Can you give me some insight? Considering loosing the curriculum

Have you heard of Edmark for reading? I believe it is a whole language approach.
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