Homeschooling Moms

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paris2lmp
Unschooling? (I'm confused)
January 24, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Based on what I have read in various places, and heard from various people....."unschooling" is basically homeschooling without structure.  No workbooks, assignments, tests etc.  It also is a child-driven method (from my understanding).  Meaning that the student picks and choses what they want to learn and when, and how, with little to no parental guidance. 

Is this a correct understanding of unschooling? 

Replies

  • rsrangel
    January 27, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I've never considered what you said regarding college education, but it's true!  I'm currently a college student preparing to graduate in a few months, and thinking back to when I started (what seems like) many years ago, I remember asking for study advice from other students.  I'm a laboratory science major so it's a ton of information!  People were telling me they make flash cards and study from those....memorization!  I tried and that didn't last after the 1st exam.  I learned to do my own research and textbook readings in my own way, in order to grasp the concept and therefore better understand the subjects.  Since getting rid of the flash cards I retain so much more! 

    This is so intriguing to me....I love it!  I think if I went total child-led, my family would flip lol.  They just don't understand anything outside the way public schools do it.  A couple of questions:  What if they didn't want to do anything that day, do you say ok and just let them play outside, watch TV, play video games (or whatever they choose)?  I feel like if I did that, my kids would never want to do anything.  Complete child-led education scares me when it comes to the core subjects, but currently we do it completely for science, history, etc.  Also, what if you have a child who HATES reading?  My 8 year old son HATES it!  I've taken him to the library and let him lead the way in picking books that he is interested in, and even those sit unread on the shelf until the return date.  Every night I have him sit with me and read a page from one of the magic treehouse books, and then I will read a page.  He enjoys it once we start reading, but if I don't say for him to DO it, he won't.  And when I do tell him to get the book so we can read, he lets out a few whining groans lol.  In child-led education, if a child HATES reading and writing, do you let it be and never make them read/write? 


    Quoting KickButtMama:

    The point of our child led technique is helping the kids learn 3 things: 1) where their interests lay (by far the smallest, as with this technique I believe nurtures an insatiable curiosity about All learning) 2) where to find information. We don't rely on a text book, so my children are used to ferreting out information from a vast variety of source materials 3) (most important to me) HOW to acquire and retain information, essentially how their minds work. This is different for everyone. By not limiting our curriculum to a specific type of learning, my kids will absorb information in whatever way suits them. This is closer to learning in college. It's been my experience that while a class might be heavy on text or lecture 99% of the learning is on the shoulders of the student. I've never, personally, understood why PS education is so vastly different from college education. It seems like they are not preparing kids to be seekers of knowledge but instead rely on memorization. So, I believe child-led does this better.

    weve been child led for nearly a decade. My eldest will be 12 this year. He is doing college & Highschool level work - purely on his own initiative. So I see no reason to change things.

    Quoting rsrangel:



    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I dislike the term Unschooling because it most often conjures the idea of Non-schooling. We instead do Cild-Led Learning. 

    You can read exactly what that means at my blog post - http://kickbuttcrazylapbooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/defining-our-homeschool.html?m=1

    I agree that I think that is what many people think when they hear unschooling, especially if anyone saw that episode of wife swap a few years ago....that was the first time I heard of the term "unschooling" and naively thought that's what it was.  As far as child-led, I LOVE following my kid's lead when they show interest in something.  I had no plans of teaching my preschooler to tell time yet, but he kept asking about it so I taught him.  We are also starting to learn about the solar system because my boys have all taken interest in it.  But last night on this post I asked if people who follow strictly child-led learning think it  will ever be a problem if they decide to go to college.  Will they have all the math skills needed for college level courses, etc?  Do those who consider themselves "unschoolers" plan on using this approach through the high school years?  I don't ask these questions out of judgement, I'm just curious about how the whole process works. 





  • rsrangel
    January 27, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    I also asked another mom these questions, but will ask you too since I love hearing different opinions.  Child-led is really intriguing to me and I'd love to know more!!   I do it for science, history, etc, but am afraid to do it for core subjects.  What if you have a child who HATES reading and writing?  My 8 year old never writes or reads unless hes made too, and he never has.  Every night we read a book together and he dreads it (but once we start he gets into it and enjoys it)...but if I didn't tell him to DO it, he never would.  I've taken him to the library and let him pick what he wanted, and they always sit unread on the shelf until the return date. He enjoys coloring and art projects, but I don't think I ever remember him voluntarily writing even a single letter lol.  My other kids will write things on their own and ask me how to spell things, but my 8 year old doesn't.  Would you just allow him to never write and read?  How did you teach your children to read?  Did you do it when they started showing interest in it?  Was it through a phonics program or did they just pick it up from you reading books?  Lastly, what if your kids woke up and said they didn't want to do anything that day except watch TV, play video games or go outside to ride bikes....would you allow that?  I think if I let my kids do that, they would choose to do that every day. 


    Quoting usmom3:

    I have unschooled my oldest through high school, he has no interest in collage so we are looking in to apprentice ships for him. As far as my younger 2 go if they want to go to collage they will pursue the knowledge needed for that when the time comes. I don't worry about that because we are a ways away from that for them.

    Quoting rsrangel:

    I have an interest in unschooling as you have explained it, and do incorporate it in some ways, but I also have fears about it. Do you think they may have a problem if they decide to go to college? Will you unschool in high school too?




    Quoting usmom3:

     We don't teach in the way you are thinking. When I would play with them when they where young we would count the blocks & sort them in to colors as part of our play. When ever we see a train we count the train cars (this is how they learned to count to 100). Cooking has been how they have learned fractions. My 9y/o DD has taught herself how to skip count. We explained to her how skip counting is like multiplications, she now knows how to do that too.



    For writing my daughter wants to leave notes for me so she had to learn to write so she could. I would write down what she wanted to put & she would copy it, that's how she learned.



    For us everything is learned as part of life & needs being met. As they grow they find things they want/need to know to accomplish a goal they have for themselves, we are here to help them learn those things when the time comes. It is all about what they want to learn not what I think they should learn.



    The most important thing they are learning is to know how to learn on their own! When they have all the skills needed to pursue knowledge they will never need an instructor/teacher to help them!



    Quoting KrissyKC:



    So, if your child actually doesn't want to learn math for a long period of time... do you just not teach math??



    Or are there SOME basic subjects that you kinda teach them anyway... like math, basic reading and writing...?






     




  • rsrangel
    January 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I found this article...except it says it's not child-led lol.  Either way, are the concepts talked about in it the way you unschool? 

  • KickButtMama
    January 27, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    We have 'quiet time' 7 days/week from 10-2.  The only tv or computer allowed during this time is educational. So they are allowed documentaries, educational shows (like the discovery or history channels), educational websites (brainpop, time4learning, etc) otherwise they can read or play quietly. In our house our kids earn Behavior bucks for everything from 2 hours education to doing their chores. They can use these fictional bucks to rent fun tv, video games, etc for 24 hours. So, sure they can totally decide to not do any education, but they then won't be earning the buks to have the things they want. Plus, since they are in the drivers seat choosing what and how to learn, they really rarely drag their feet about it. Since they can choose what to do they are actually Wanting to do it, if you get me.

  • KickButtMama
    January 27, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    My eldest is a visual learner, so putting a pencil in his hand and telling him to write is akin to torture. In fact he would prefer torture. It took a while, but I finally found the key. 1) story boarding - he would first make a story through a series of pictures then write the words that corresponded to each pic, like cartooning. 2) blogging. He has a private journal blog. He can write anything w/o stressing about grammar & spelling, at the end of each day we edit what he wrote. Since its on the computer, he loves it. 3) reporting. I write a monthly newsletter and my DS contributes an article or story, he loves seeing his thoughts in print. But I never pushed or forced. He eventually found the desire. I just made sure to always have interesting opportunities for him to try. We started with lapbooks. 

  • KickButtMama
    January 27, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    I think the thing about Unschooling that trips people is the 'no parental guidance' and its not true. W/ child led we are really a guidance, we listen to their interest and make a mad scramble to find as many opportunities as possible for them to explore. So it's not like we say 'go, learn' but we are not giving lectures or presenting material in a preconceived fashion either. Instead it's like ... Ok, let's say volcanos interest the child. We find a ton of books, movies, documentaries, apps & science experiments. We get a map and suggest the child mark any volcanos they learn of - if they don't, that's cool, but it's a suggestion. They can make a cartoon or story, they can design a volcano survival kit w/ a list of what we should do if a volcano erupts. From this they learn geography, history, science, writing, decision making, etc. so they are getting all the traditional aspects of education, but it's based on something they WANT to know....with nary a test or worksheet in sight.

  • usmom3
    by usmom3
    BJ
    January 27, 2013 at 9:08 PM

     

    Quoting rsrangel:

    I found this article...except it says it's not child-led lol.  Either way, are the concepts talked about in it the way you unschool? 

     I would love to read the article to help answer this question. If you could share a link that would be great!

  • rsrangel
    January 27, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    OMG lol SORRY!  I forgot to attach it.   Unschooling


    Quoting usmom3:

     

    Quoting rsrangel:

    I found this article...except it says it's not child-led lol.  Either way, are the concepts talked about in it the way you unschool? 

     I would love to read the article to help answer this question. If you could share a link that would be great!



  • usmom3
    by usmom3
    BJ
    January 27, 2013 at 9:11 PM

     I love how you said this! 

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I think the thing about Unschooling that trips people is the 'no parental guidance' and its not true. W/ child led we are really a guidance, we listen to their interest and make a mad scramble to find as many opportunities as possible for them to explore. So it's not like we say 'go, learn' but we are not giving lectures or presenting material in a preconceived fashion either. Instead it's like ... Ok, let's say volcanos interest the child. We find a ton of books, movies, documentaries, apps & science experiments. We get a map and suggest the child mark any volcanos they learn of - if they don't, that's cool, but it's a suggestion. They can make a cartoon or story, they can design a volcano survival kit w/ a list of what we should do if a volcano erupts. From this they learn geography, history, science, writing, decision making, etc. so they are getting all the traditional aspects of education, but it's based on something they WANT to know....with nary a test or worksheet in sight.

     

  • usmom3
    by usmom3
    BJ
    January 27, 2013 at 9:30 PM

     This is long!

    I did have one that hated reading & writing (he still isn't crazy about writing & chooses to type everything on the computer when he can, other wise he writes when needed & nothing more). My oldest has not always unschooled he went to PS untill he was 12 1/2 (or half way through the 6th grade). When I removed him from the public school he hated to read.I didn't make him read anything he didn't want to read & so for about 6 months he read nothing but Garfield comic books. When we went to the library I discovered that they have classic books in graphic novels form so I started getting them for him. I would leave them around the house for him to see & if I saw him take notice of them I would tell him a little about the story. On his own he would read those books. One day when we where talking about things that would be interesting to learn he said he would like to learn about Greek Mythology. That led us to the Percy Jackson books & he read all of them on his own with no prompting from me. When I would learn about things he liked I would find books on them, like his favorite Christmas movie is A Muppet's Christmas Carol so I got a copy of the book A Christmas Carol by Charles DIckens & he read it to see if it was better then the movie!

    My younger 2 (9&7) still struggle with reading &  don't like doing it on their own so I read to them & talk to them about books that their favorite movies are based on. I know that one day they will both find their love for reading just like their brother did but it will happen when it is right for them & not a minute sooner. We tried "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons" (my DD hated it) then we tried Hocked on Phonics (she liked the books hated the lessons). I think that is why my DD still doesn't like to read so with her & my youngest now it is from us reading to them & interacting with all the things that have reading as part of it (Video games, computer, tablet, cooking, board games, ect.).

    Your last question you are assuming that learning is scheduled some how, it's not. Everyday is different in our house but learning is never scheduled in any way shape or form. I get up in the morning & search the Internet for cool new information, everything I find I leave open to share with them. Sometimes my findings inspire them to want to know more sometimes they wake up with their own questions they have been pondering all night & are in need of help to research them. Some times we will spend the better part of the day searching educational videos on YouTube. And yes we have days where they do nothing but play video games or play with their toys all day (or that is what it would look like to others). What I see when they are playing video games is reading, problem solving, hand eye coordination, team work, sharing & depending on the game played science, history, social studies, map reading, morals and so much more. When they are playing with their toys I  see cooperation & team work, sharing, collaborating, imaginative play. They like to make up games based off of things they have learned so sometimes they are playing that they are traveling around the world. They talk about all the countries they visit, the animals that live there, the food they would eat while there, how they would travel there, if it would be by plain, train, car or ship. What kind of clothing they would need to wear (sometimes going as far as to dress that way AKA winter clothes for the arctic even when we are in the dead of summer). My children are learning & using what they learn all the time & everything they learned was because they wanted to learn it!    

    Quoting rsrangel:

    I also asked another mom these questions, but will ask you too since I love hearing different opinions.  Child-led is really intriguing to me and I'd love to know more!!   I do it for science, history, etc, but am afraid to do it for core subjects.  What if you have a child who HATES reading and writing?  My 8 year old never writes or reads unless hes made too, and he never has.  Every night we read a book together and he dreads it (but once we start he gets into it and enjoys it)...but if I didn't tell him to DO it, he never would.  I've taken him to the library and let him pick what he wanted, and they always sit unread on the shelf until the return date. He enjoys coloring and art projects, but I don't think I ever remember him voluntarily writing even a single letter lol.  My other kids will write things on their own and ask me how to spell things, but my 8 year old doesn't.  Would you just allow him to never write and read?  How did you teach your children to read?  Did you do it when they started showing interest in it?  Was it through a phonics program or did they just pick it up from you reading books?  Lastly, what if your kids woke up and said they didn't want to do anything that day except watch TV, play video games or go outside to ride bikes....would you allow that?  I think if I let my kids do that, they would choose to do that every day. 

     

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