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I would like to open a discussion about the different homeschooling methods...

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  • Juliana
    Hello Everyone, Over the next week I will be discussing the different methods of homeschooling. I hope everyone joins in and learns fact from fiction. Today s
    Message 1 of 3 , May 17, 2010
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      Hello Everyone,

      Over the next week I will be discussing the different methods of homeschooling. I hope everyone joins in and learns fact from fiction.

      Today's method is Unschooling:

      Unschooling refers to a rage of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing the child to learn through their natural environment or life experiences, which include child directed play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction verses a traditional school curriculum method. Unschooling encourages exploration through activities, etc. and is all child directed.

      Do you agree with this statement? Why or Why Not?

      Juliana
    • Carolyn
      ... homeschooling. I hope everyone joins in and learns fact from fiction. ... centered on allowing the child to learn through their natural environment or life
      Message 2 of 3 , May 17, 2010
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        --- In ECHO-NV@yahoogroups.com, "Juliana" <ahrensjuliana@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello Everyone,
        >
        > Over the next week I will be discussing the different methods of homeschooling. I hope everyone joins in and learns fact from fiction.
        >
        > Today's method is Unschooling:
        >
        > Unschooling refers to a rage of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing the child to learn through their natural environment or life experiences, which include child directed play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction verses a traditional school curriculum method. Unschooling encourages exploration through activities, etc. and is all child directed.
        >
        > Do you agree with this statement? Why or Why Not?


        Good idea Juliana! We are currently striving toward unschooling and have found a lot of good information on the subject at the Rethinking Everything website http://www.rethinkingeverything.net/  We are not unschooling in it's purest form, and still maintain considerable control over our children's time and what they do, but we are learning to trust and let go little by little. Last year we attended the RE conference in Texas and were profoundly influenced by the ideas and people there. Freedom and responsibility were the key phrases being used there and you could tell that the kids there were empowered by both those things. I sometime wonder who decided that it was ok to institutionalise children? Sure there are a few who come through it relatively unscathed, but the majority lose so much that it is not offset by any gains in "education".

        An exerpt from the Rethinking Everything web site describes unschooling like this:


        Unschooling, aka self design, open source learning, or free range education, is not something that we do to our children but largely a process of unlearning, or rethinking, for us parents.  Most adults are products of the traditional school system which convinced us that learning only happens when people with power over us - teachers, parents - force, coerce or otherwise "motivate" us to absorb information that people with power over teachers - education and developmental experts - decided that we should know.   

        We were all born with a drive to learn that is more compelling than almost any other instinct. If we step back from the power struggles
        we can be allies with our children in learning, solving problems and creating what John Holt called "a life worth living and work worth doing." Unschooling is deprogramming, healing, regenerating. It is remembering to relax and trust our own and our children's innate ability to choose ideas and activities that promote lifelong learning and growth.

        At the heart of the unschooling process is a depth of shared meaning, trust and respect between child and parent.  In infancy this shared meaning is called bonding.  The deeper the bond the greater the trust and respect.  The majority of conflicts many families experience simply don't occur when mutual trust and respect expressed through compassionate listening and action is carried forward and expanded throughout the child's and the adult's continuing development.

        Unschooling is the process of expanding mutual trust and respect as the child and parent continue to learn and grow together in new ways. With basic trust supported by compassionate communication as a base, every moment is exploding with new possibilities for both.  When the parent trusts themself – even when they don't know something, very early in life the unschooled child discovers they can trust themselves too. Because the primary adult-child relationship is completely safe – the natural curiosity, interests and drive for lifelong learning expands. Life is relationship and the more relationships we and our children experience the more we learn and grow. Unschooling invites and gives precedent to expansive learning relationships. Expansive learning relationships replace the test and drill routine most experience as schooling and education.

        How Does Unschooling Work?

        Lives of the unschooled vary with each person and each family. Unschooling can cost nothing or cost a million bucks. Unschooling at its most fundamental is child-led learning, based upon the child's interests, developmental readiness, motivation and abilities, and nurtured by parents and the community, their environment, geography, curiosity, and each nurturing participant's skills, talents and enthusiasm for life. Each hour or each day may be different for the unschooled child/teen or even routine and structured if the child thrives on elements of routine.

        There is no formula for unschooling how-to; the process of listening, communicating, sharing ideas, exposure to people, places and events begins to set the course for the directions an unschooled child will desire his life to go.

        Unschooling is a diverse and organic process of discovering the world and one's place in it, all on the child's terms.

        Everything from sleeping/awake patterns, meal times, food preferences, the extent to which she desires socialization, her interest in reading, writing, playing, daydreaming, cleaning, traveling, inventing, creating, etc. etc. now falls into the empowered realm of the unschooled child, all occurring or not as a function of the big wide world of internal and external stimulation which enters her world constantly.

        Whether the unschooled child spends hours behind a book, a calculator, a computer, video games, playing fantasy games with friends or alone, all is determined by the unschooled child and nurtured by those who care for and about her.

        In the unschooling family, parents are often challenged to unschool themselves in the process, meaning that they too begin striving for more freedom-to-be and following the dreams and desires they have for themselves.

        A successful unschooling family will be one where each person is not only able to ask for and fulfill their ongoing preferences but each is nurturing and supportive of the others. 

        Communication, experimentation, equality and unconditional love are elements of an unschooling family at its best.

        The logistics of how, why and who does what in such a family is both revolutionary and magical. The dynamics of every family are critically different and the nuts and bolts of achieving harmony vary accordingly. Such are the topics of the Rethinking Everything conference!


        How to Begin Unschooling

        Watch your child and look for clues that tell you he is interested or ready for something.  This is happening all the time.

        Fill your home with resources that excite your child and the list will be different for each child. Inexpensive materials can be had through store sales, thrift stores, hand-me downs, gifts, garage sales. Many materials can be hand-made and books on how to make them available through your library or interlibrary loan.

        Teach yourself to be resourceful in ways that foster your child's curiosities.  For example, if your child is bored with the local parks, find new parks in new communities. If your child wants more pets but you are at your pet limit, find others who can give him the exposure to animals he is looking for: farms, pet stores, zoos, rehabilitation organizations, pet sitting, etc.

        Don't follow any compulsion you feel for purchasing text books unless your child asks for them. When she asks for them or for the type of learning that only a textbook can offer, buy or borrow them! Just because a child wants school books or college or structure - or school for that matter - does not mean that unschooling is not taking place. Remember that unschooling is simply child-led learning.
        When she loses interest in the books, put them aside.

        Expose your child to everything under the sun, and especially more of those things that are of interest to him - there are no limits to what they should or should not know; your child will make it clear to you how much information he needs at any given time.

        Subscribe to magazines and buy/borrow books that follow your child's interests, rent/buy DVDs, venture out and find people who can foster your child's interests and curiosities. It's OK and totally normal to not have all the answers and in fact, a valuable learning experience for both of you. Tell your child honestly when you don't know a thing or have never thought about what he is talking about or asking for. Brainstorm together on how you find out what your child wants or needs to know.

        Stop telling your child what to do. If a thing must be done, such as brushing one's teeth or leaving the house to shop, etc. and your child does not want to do it, treat him the way you would like to have someone treat you in similar circumstances: sometimes being straightforward and rational and honest is most effective, sometimes turning it into play works. Respectful communication and your child's critical need to trust what you tell him will allow each of you to want to help meet each other's needs and enjoy doing it.

        Don't worry when it seems like your child is just playing all day - developmental experts agree that huge amounts of play are critical to their development of intelligence. Some experts believe that play should be all we do, whether we are "working" or not. (Shouldn't work be play?)

        Play dates and times should always be set by the child, not the parent. If you cannot accommodate your child's wish to have a friend spend as much time at your house as you believe is possible, for example, help your child figure out how she can meet her needs in other ways.

        Encourage your child to spend their time in ways that bring them feelings of joy and contentment. Do not put yourself in the position of being an enforcer of all that your fear and experience tell you she should be doing with her time.     Bribery, coercion, punishment and rewards do not work and only make your life more stressful and difficult.    Never use time-out. Discipline is never useful or productive -  self-discipline is the only discipline that works and is achieved on each child's own timetable, on their own terms.

        Recognize how important role-modeling is:
        what your child sees you do every day,
        what he hears you say about yourself and
        others, how you treat yourself and others,
        are the most important things your child will
        pay attention to, learn from, and pattern.

        There are no short-cuts or tricks here. You must learn to be a true model of your ideal. Once you have achieved a good measure of living up to your own expectations, don't expect your child to follow suit. For example, if he sees you working hard every day doing the things you love to do, he very well may have no interest in the same things you do, but rather will learn that he wants to spend his time doing the things he loves to do.

        When tempted to share with your child how fearful you are that they will not learn all that you believe they should learn, write it down instead.  Keep notes on your feelings, observations, ideas and compare them from time to time. Find others to talk to about your fears.

        Unschool support groups are great resources, as are books, magazines, email lists, websites, etc. With your child, focus instead on what they ARE  interested in. When your unschooled child spends all his time in a math book, don't talk to him about how he should be reading instead. If he wants to play video games all day, get him more video games.

        When the interest is fostered unconditionally, any contrary or rebellious motive for behavior will fall to the wayside and allow true interests and skills to develop.

        Unschooling results in rich, creative and powerful lives on each person's terms. Living in community, whether it's with a family, an extended family, a town or the big world, with respect for each person's need to understand themselves and be true to their unique and ever-changing desires allows each person to honor those values in each other.

        Unschooling does not result in out-of-control chaos: it results in communities of people who listen to each other, respect each other's wishes and desires, supporting the community's commonly agreed upon goals.


        Sorry this is so long, but there it is. As I said, we are still only striving towards unschooling, but feel that even with our faults and imperfections (and clinging to many of our deeply held patterns of parenting!) we are able to ensure that our children will always look at the world with great interest, never become jaded towards learning, and feel confident that their interests are valid and worthy of their attention.

        If you are interested in unschooling, the RE website has lots of good references to reading material. Or join us in Texas over Labor Day. We're going back to the conference again this year; wouldn't miss it for anything!

        Carolyn

      • evenstarbella
        As I have read about many different alternative educational methods (Montessori, Waldolf, Reggio, etc) they all seemed to be based on the same idea: that
        Message 3 of 3 , May 20, 2010
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          As I have read about many different "alternative" educational methods (Montessori, Waldolf, Reggio, etc) they all seemed to be based on the same idea: that children have a natural drive to learn, and if you give them the resources then step back (other than to fascilitate their ideas) then they will learn what they need to, and much more quickly and effectively than if they were force fed the sae information.

          My favorite way to describe it is the baby analogy. A baby will walk (and gain whatever other skills he needs) when he is ready. He has the internal motivation to do this and his body knows how to build up to it. You cannot make him walk before he is ready, and if you try to push him too much, it may actually interfere. Most importantly: every baby learns to walk at a different age, following dfferent steps to get there.

          We often manage to drive this internal desire to learn from children when they hit school age (or even before) and train them into forced learning. Expecting them all to learn the same things at the same time especially does a lot of harm, I think.

          That's unschooling, as I understand it, in a nutshell. It can be hard for people to accept who were trained other ways and can take a paradigm shift or two to really understand it. (Did anyone catch that recent tv spot on it? What a joke.) From what I have heard, John Holt is one of the best authors on the subject. I also like Peter Gray, a blogger on Psychology Today:

          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn
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