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    KADmom Offline OP
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    Can anyone explain to me what unschooling is? I've heard the term and understand vaguely what it means. Has anyone here had success with it?

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    Originally Posted by Portia
    Unschooling is a child led interest. You do not use a formal curriculum. As things come up, you address them. As your child's play evolves, you supply a supportive environment.

    I never thought I would like unschooling as it does not fit my personality. But

    Next year, we are incorporating a lot of the different styles we tried last year to make our own. For example, we liked the travel/vacation time more frequently than a typical school year dictates. We also liked having classes - not so much for the structure, but for the social/team building aspects to it. We also liked working at our own pace for some things and then having time to explore. Right now, DS has fit a LOT into his schedule, so I expect we will change it up again around Nov. But to me, he is learning that he is able to voice his needs and interests which are then pursued. He is learning HE has a lot of say in his education. But he is also learning that some things he has to learn whether he really wants to do the work or not.

    As an aside, although we did a lot of interesting things this year, we did not produce a lot of output. Someone asked me for a work sample the other day and I had to think hard because so much was experiences this year. It's not exactly like he could bring in his sand castle from when he was learning about slurries. But to me, that is important stuff.

    Don't discount the power of the digital photograph and a paragraph written about the photo as a work sample. Put some of your favorite photos onto a slideshow on a cd and you have a special keepsake documenting your year.


    ...reading is pleasure, not just something teachers make you do in school.~B. Cleary
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    I'm not sure what unschooling is.

    I do know that I don't want my children to be uneducated.

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    As others indicate, "unschooling" can mean pretty much anything from overt neglect through various forms of benign neglect or child-led topic selection, all the way through eclectic homeschooling.

    Most of my hard-core unschooling friends lean a little too far toward the former for our personal tastes and pedagogical philosophy, but it clearly works for some parents and some children.

    They tend to believe (as a philosophy) that anything that a child has a need to learn, that child will be most receptive and learn that thing/skill fastest when s/he sees a need to do so. That is, motivation is inherently intrinsic, and anything which lacks that intrinsic motivation is not really learning in the first place.

    (I don't say that I completely agree with this as a governing philosophy for educating children, by the way, but it is what my friends who unschool truly believe.)

    That said, I tend to think rather strongly that there are some foundation skills that don't seem all that useful in and of themselves, and which few children are intrinsically motivated to master... but which make higher learning later pretty easy by comparison with those who DID NOT master them.



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    To get a deeper understanding of the child led unschooling, I'd suggest reading The Unschooling Handbook.

    At some age you can work with your kids on functional decomposition of goals, such that they can see that trite skill X is an important underpinning of brass ring objective Y.

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    KADmom Offline OP
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    Thank you, everyone. These are such helpful answers. I was briefly toying with the idea, since ds12 is grade-skipped, using the year after 8th grade as a year to decompress and work on his developing his skills and interests such as coding, working on a novel and digging more into history and chemistry. He hasn't expressed this is what he'd want, though. Part of my desire to offer this comes from the worry that grade-skipped kids are at a disadvantage when it comes to SAT or ACT. Most of it comes from my resentment of the fact that after a ton of busy-work type homework, he's left with virtually no time or energy to pursue his interests other than a tech club after school and a soccer league twice a year.
    I do suspect the lack of structure might be trouble for us.

    Last edited by KADmom; 05/23/14 12:29 PM.
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    Originally Posted by solaris
    I introduced certain life skills and work attitude and independence early so he has healthy life and learning habits in that regard.

    This is so much what I want for my kid.

    Quote
    A more strong-willed kid might need a different approach.

    Aaaaaaand, that would be us.

    I want to homeschool her at some point, probably middle school. I'm expecting a lo-o-ong process of building up her self-control and decision-making. I hope I will have the patience to start small and help her along.

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    Unschooling at the base level is giving your child the ability to learn the things they are driven to learn. For gifted kids it looks a WHOLE lot different than what it would look like to others.

    Many of our unschooling friends look askance at me when I describe what we do as unschooling. My kids choose maths, chemistry, Shakespeare, genetics etc as their fields of interest. I find ways to help them reach their objectives by finding resources that will assist them.

    I introduce things that I like, as does the husband. Some they will like and some they won't and that's fine.

    I do insist that if they ask to do a specific class/sign up activity that they accept responsibility for fulfilling any commitments that will derive from that. eg, if you choose violin and your teacher asks for daily practice, you need to understand you are committing to that.

    What does our day look like? My boys like lists, so we make up lists of "things I'd like to do today". These include music practice, maths, German, Dreambox, attend Soccer practice, ride my bicycle, play LEGO, e-mail granny, bake a cake... whatever THEY wish to achieve this day, shaped around any activities we have on that day. (to me this is teaching a host of life skills)

    Sometimes they tick them off, sometimes not. Sometimes we do all those thing, more than not we don't. And that's okay too. They are becoming answerable to themselves for their own goal reaching. And that, to me, translates to being independent learners.

    We travel as often as possible, go on outings etc. We use online resources a lot, and we access other people for answers and discussions.

    I see the freedom and potential it brings, and I see how much MORE self control and self discipline is evolving in Aiden the longer we do this.

    I don't want to nag and beg and shout and threaten. He has his goals and he is becoming more and more aware of what he needs to do to achieve these. I believe that unschooling really is the best deal for a headstrong perfectionist who likes to learn in secret and jump around and around between topics, depth of learning and technical advancement of learning too.

    At the end of each day I see my boys happy AND learning AND feeling more self confident in their abilities to chose for themselves.

    So from me it gets a BIG YES!


    Mom to 3 gorgeous boys: Aiden (8), Nathan (7) and Dylan (4)
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    KADmom Offline OP
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    Madoosa,

    Your unschooling sounds amazing. I particularly sat up when you wrote about how it works for your headstrong perfectionist (I have one of those!).

    What are the consequences for not reaching goals? Are they internal only?

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    The headstrong perfectionist line caught my attention, too!

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