Category Archives: unschooling

Night Owl Homeschooling

One of the many reasons I love homeschooling is that it lets my family work on our own night owl schedule. I am most productive during the late evening hours.

I worked today (my husband was home with the kids) and my kids spent most of their waking, daylight hours outside playing. But here we are, at eleven o’clock at night, everyone happily engrossed in their various projects, self included. I’ve been working on planning for the last couple of hours and as I look up and around, there’s a child drawing math problems on the dry erase board, there’s an art project going on at the dining room table, a documentary playing on TV and an impromptu mythology lesson in the kitchen. The house is calm, peaceful and full of activity.

Everyone will wind down and head to their various bedrooms soon enough. The 11 year old has already read a bedtime to story to the 7 year old, just because she wanted to share the story about the legend of the bluebonnet. Even the two year old is happily creating worlds with littlest pet shops and la la loopsys in the family room.

Having watched them earlier count by tens, correctly identify cardinal ordinal relationships, work math problems for fun, and read aloud to each other, I am once again reassured that they are, in fact, learning. That this is working and most importantly, my kids are happy and enjoy learning.

 

My Moment of Clarity: An Unschooling Mom’s Epiphany

This happened several years ago when my oldest child was attending public school. I was already homeschooling my younger kids, reading a lot and learning a lot about unschooling. My then 17 year old was still attending public school, by his own choice. But we had issues. He was absent/tardy a lot and so we had to go to court. Let me clarify, I’m talking a few minutes late a few times, adding up to less than an hour of missed school. Then there were a few times he missed completely. I was livid at the $300 fine. Missing six days within six months really doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Especially when I consider that we easily have more than one day a month (we as in me and the little ones) that we don’t do much because we don’t feel like it. They don’t or I don’t. Lazy days, down days that everyone has, sick days, just too overwhelmed with other stuff days. Plus I feel like I’m a competent parent and I know when my kid is sick enough (or tired or grieving etc) to be home but not sick enough to need a doctor. Heck, most companies give you personal days because they recognize that even when you are healthy, you sometimes need a mental health day. (when his great grandmother died they actually told me I had to send a copy of the obituary).

Back to the point: I was livid. They didn’t bother with why or individual circumstances everyone there got lectured and fined. I had just been reading about how the public school system creates all these jobs, like the text book industry and teachers colleges and administration, etc and thought wow yeah, since all but one of the cases before the court that day were truancy you can add that judge, bailiff and the whole office staff to the list. Fining kids for being late or absent is a money making proposition.

Plus there was a teen mom with a newborn there who was also lectured and told to go back to school. Really? Because I think the baby needs her more right now and she can learn whatever she wants later on. She can go back to school later, earn her diploma online, be home schooled. You don’t even need a high school diploma to get into community college. I was outraged at what I felt were very skewed priorities. I know education is important but as far as development goes, those first few years are crucial. What was the rush to get that mom to put her baby in childcare?

I went on a rant about how outrageous it is that the state has more rights over my child than I do! I tried to pick him up early one day and a teacher refused to release him. Who else has the right to take and keep my child against my wishes? It seems crazy when you stop and consider it. My mom agreed at first then talked to my step dad about it then called me back with this take on it: hey, this is part of life, they are preparing him for the real world. everyone has to get up and go to work whether they like it or not. We hate our jobs but we get up and go to them every day and have for thirty years. Its called life. He has to get use to it.

I thought about it for a minute. That sounded so….familiar and like what everyone says and I’ve always heard and believed and… …and…and WRONG!

Wrong as in, it just washed over me, its OK for them to exert pointless control to turn him into a conforming robot because they have to in order to prepare him for a life of misery? Because that’s our idea of adult responsibility?

Then it hit me, so many people believe this and believe it strongly, but is it ok ? Is it right? Is it what i want for my kids? To sit down and shut up and be subordinate to some jerk of a boss who is a jerk just because they can be? NO….I want them to quit any job like that and find a better one, to follow their dreams, if that means being an entrepreneur instead of a wage slave or a starving artist or whatever it means, but no, I am certainly NOT preparing him for a life of drudgery spent in the service of a job he hates. NO NO NO, I don’t want that AT ALL……………

I’ve been an unschooler from that moment on, because it’s not just an educational philosophy, it has changed my outlook on EVERYTHING!

The Ultimate Meaning of it All

THIS is exactly what I cannot make people understand. That HAPPINESS and not money is how I measure success. Money is great and fine and well and who wouldn’t like more of it? But it is not the end all and be all. I’ve often heard “Do what you love and the money will follow”. The question is, how do you find what you love? I believe that unschooling is the answer. Well, yeah, other than 42 of course! (Excellent reference by the way)

An Unschooled Future

Earlier today I was talking to a friend about why we have chosen to unschool Connor.

She knows that Connor’s mum and I between us could wallpaper a room with our degrees, so we are obviously not totally anti-education.  She also knows that we want Connor to have a highly successful life and that we are prepared to support him in going to any university that is best suited to him and expect this to be an Ivy League university or Cambridge or Oxford.  Connor knows that we expect him to attend university.

So why have we taken this route?

Because we believe that this is the way in which Connor can be provided with the best education possible.  We have no particular arguments with what is taught in school – but I have a large one with how it is taught.  I am a huge believer in self-directed learning…

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Why Homeschool?

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Homeschooling is a controversial issue. It evokes in some images of unsocialized, awkward and downright “weird” kids. Of religious extremists and isolationism, of parents bent of shielding their children from the “real world”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course, for others, homeschooling is just a fact of life. By now, many homeschoolers are second generation homeschoolers. It’s a trend that has caught on and it’s still growing.

According to 2007 research, 1.5 million students were being taught at home. The advent of easy and affordable internet access has increased the numbers. The explosion in homeschooling groups makes the idea of the unsocialized homeschooler an obsolete one. There are even homeschooling conferences for families to attend and a plethora of curriculum and materials to be had, often available used at half price books or through a local home school co-op.

Families choose to home school for many reasons. Some to avoid bullying and other problems that are rampant in our public school system. Some simply to give their children a good education because, let’s face it, our public schools just aren’t cutting it anymore. Certainly some families home school for religious reasons and so that they can teach their children the values they want them to have, rather than the ones they learn in public schools which, again let’s face it, aren’t always the ones the teachers are trying to instill. Many families who aren’t very religious choose to home school for many reasons and even families that are often have other reasons for choosing to home school.

There is no doubt that a much more individualized education can be found at home, and a much more hands on, fun one at that. Forget the text books and head to your local museum for some real world learning. Talk about shielding your child from the “real world”, that’s what schools do. The real world is all around us, it’s in watching the squirrels chase each other up the trees and watching the ants build their home. It’s in learning about careers by taking trips to the actual places, a bakery, a fire station etc. It’s in the act of learning by becoming interesting in something then looking it up and learning about it for yourself. That’s an important life skill that often gets missed when we try to spoon feed learning to children.

In the end, the reasons a family chooses to homeschool are many, varied and individual to that particular family. It’s a trend that is likely to continue to grow as our education system continues to fail.

For an excellent book on homeschoolers and socialization, try Rachel Gathercole’s book, “The Well Adjusted Child, the social benefits of homeschooling”.

Homeschooling

ImageHomeschooling is a controversial issue. It evokes in some images of unsocialized, awkward and downright “weird” kids. Of religious extremists and isolationism, of parents bent of shielding their children from the “real world”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course, for others, homeschooling is just a fact of life. By now, many homeschoolers are second generation homeschoolers. It’s a trend that has caught on and it’s still growing.

According to the most recent statistics, 1.5 million students are being taught at home. The advent of easy and affordable internet access has increased the numbers. The explosion in homeschooling groups makes the idea of the unsocialized homeschooler an obsolete one. There are even homeschooling conferences for families to attend and a plethora of curriculum and materials to be had, often available used at half price books or through a local homeschool co-op.

Families choose to home school for many reasons. Some to avoid bullying and other problems that are rampant in our public school system. Some simply to give their children a good education because, let’s face it; our public schools just aren’t cutting it anymore. Certainly some families home school for religious reasons and so that they can teach their children the values they want them to have, rather than the ones they learn in public schools which, again let’s face it, aren’t always the ones the teachers are trying to instill. Many families who aren’t very religious choose to home school for many reasons and even families that are often have other reasons for choosing to home school.

There is no doubt that a much more individualized education can be found at home, and a much more hands on, fun one at that. Forget the text books and head to your local museum for some real world learning. Talk about shielding your child from the “real world”, that’s what schools do. The real world is all around us; it’s in watching the squirrels chase each other up the trees and watching the ants build their home. It’s in learning about careers by taking trips to the actual places, a bakery, a fire station etc. It’s in the act of learning by becoming interested in something then looking it up and learning about it for yourself. That’s an important life skill that often gets missed when we try to spoon feed learning to children.

For an excellent book on homeschoolers and socialization, try Rachel Gathercole’s book, “The Well Adjusted Child, the social benefits of homeschooling”.

Does Your Child Need Preschool?

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Does your child need preschool?

Many parents want to know, does my child need preschool? In a word, no.

There is a trend in this country toward more and more structured education. More doesn’t equal better and more of the same doesn’t fix problems. In generations past, a sixth to eight grade education was the norm. Then came high school. Once having an associate’s degree advanced you quite well just as once a high school diploma ensured success. By the 1970’s it was a four year degree you needed post high school, and now we are hearing that if you truly want to succeed, you need six years post high school, a masters degree.

School keeps getting moved earlier too. First grade use to be just that, first. Somewhere along the way kindergarten was needed to ensure success in first grade. Then preschool came along to help you succeed in kindergarten. Now many public schools have three year old programs.  Where will it end?

The irony of all this is that the advent of earlier and earlier structured education flies In the face of all the research. Research dating back to the fifties as well as the most current research, which all states that children do not learn through structured education at such an early age. Children learn best through unstructured play.

Think back to your own childhood. Do it now, lean back, close your eyes and think for a few minutes through your childhood memories. What are your favorite memories, the ones that make you happy? When groups of adults are asked this question, the answer are consistently memoires that have to do with outside play, friends, imaginative play, family trips etc. None of them have to do with workbooks, watching tv or even with adult led play.

Certainly a young child can be made to memorize and repeat the memorized material back, but that is not true learning. Children who start structured education earlier show gains initially over peers, but after the first few years, generally score BEHIND children who did not. Many of the countries that beat us on test scores for school children, do not even start structured education until age seven.

From Maria Montessori and Friedrich Froebel to Dr. Spock, the experts agree that what your child needs to learn and thrive is play.

In the fifties employee’s were given IQ tests and promotions were based on those. The results were not good. Turns out IQ in no way predicts leadership skills or success. What does? EQ has been found to be the best predictor of success. EQ stand for emotional quotient and emotional intelligence, as it’s called, is what is required to succeed. So throw the workbooks and flash cards out and teach your toddlers how to label their emotions and let them learn to explore and play. Give them a secure, safe, supportive environment full of love and watch them flourish!