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Unschooling and other alternatives

 
 
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 10:53 am
I've been following the NCLB thread with a lot of interest because education has been on my mind in a big way over the last week. I've been re-researching alternatives to public education and, in doing so, I have stumbled across the idea of "unschooling".

Unschooling is most often described as child-directed home schooling.

I'm curious -- what do educators think about unschooling?

What do parents think about unschooling?

Is anyone here unschooling or home schooling their kids?

Fill me in, please!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 4,648 • Replies: 92
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 10:59 am
I've talked about it before I think.

As a concept, I'm not completely against it. I think there are people who can do it well.

The problem is that I think those people are few and far between, and that there are too many people who are doing it, NOT well.

There are a lot of ways to do it not-well, but one of my many concerns are socializing opportunities. School is about a lot more than the three R's, and unschoolers are often purposely getting away from the social aspect, which can have really deleterious results.

By "socializing" I mean not just "playing with other kids," but dealing with conflict, dealing with people one might not like that much, figuring out the varieties of kid social codes, all kinds of stuff like that.

You know that I think there doesn't have to be an either/or approach to these things -- that you can take interesting educational philosophies and apply them at home. So in that sense I'm probably "unschooling" sozlet at home, with a lot of the aspects that I like. (Primarily, actively watching for interests and actively supporting them when they arise.)
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 11:13 am
Oh I agree - the unschooling stuff should happen at home. I was probably unschooled to some extent. My best girlfriend pulled one of her kids out of public school about 15 years ago -- and she was so happy with his progress that she ended up pulling her other kids out of school too.

I'm getting frustrated with our public school even though I really like Mo's teachers.

Mo's social skills seem to be going backwards the longer he's in school.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 01:14 pm
Boomer wrote:

Quote:
Mo's social skills seem to be going backwards the longer he's in school.




Perhaps school is presenting Mo with a series of social challenges that he has to face without the direct resport of parents (love that word!) or neighborhood friends?
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 01:57 pm
Have you checked out charter schools, boomer?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_school

A Waldorf school is another alternative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education
Waldorf schools can do wonders for children that don't fit within the regular school programs.

I would not recommend home schooling, for the exact reason, sozobe
has mentioned already, especially since Mo is a single child without
other siblings around.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 02:50 pm
I don't really want this to be about Mo specifically but I'll use him as an example (sort of)...

What if the "social" prevented your child from learning?

What if your child sat at his group table with his hands over his ears to block out the noise of the other kids or constantly asked to me moved to a table by himself so that he could attempt to complete the lesson?

What if he couldn't do assignments at school that he found very easy at home?

What if your child was labled "slow" or "ADD" because they had trouble completing the assignments?

Would you still think school (public or private) was a good idea or would you instead consider home-schooling?
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 03:04 pm
Boomer--

I'd certainly think about doing something.

Has Mo been tested for ADD?
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 03:21 pm
Listening as a non-parent.

Like soz, I've always believed the parents who could do justice to this were not all that common.

soz, you also pointed out something I wasn't able to express. When I would worry that home schooled kids don't get the socialization, it would be pointed out to me that home schoolers get together as a group....but you hit the nail on the head with the word "codes"

yeah, you can have other home schoolers as friends, but, well, it's just not the same thing as spending 5 or 6 hours a day with people, some that you like, some that you don't like, and learning to live with them. I can remember the importance of wearing the "right shoes" for instance, not in a snobby way, but for instance, in 4th grade any girl who was not wearing "charlie browns" was looked at as not quite with it and cool. I don't think these unwritten codes are necessarily a bad thing. It teaches us how to adapt to different circumstances. It's an ice breaker to know the inside codes, and the lingo.

Also, what Noddy said about the challenges a kid might face that is not received in the same loving way a parent would treat it. Not saying an individual child might not need a different type of attention to get over a hump....but there's nothing wrong with a kid realizing sometimes he just has to "deal with it" meaning, things can be tough for everyone sometimes.

If I was a parent, even if I had a support network of other parents, I would worry I wasn't doing the right thing.

listening some more....
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 03:26 pm
No he hasn't and as yet, the school has not suggested it. But I can see it moving in that direction and I think it is only because I talk to his teacher so much and because I have tried to educate her and the school counselor about the hyper-vigilance aspect of RAD that he hasn't.

He hasn't been labled "slow" either.

Those are what I meant by the (sort of) in the last post.

All of the other things are true of him though.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 03:35 pm
Noddy24 wrote:
Boomer--

I'd certainly think about doing something.

Has Mo been tested for ADD?



There isn't a "test" for ADD, it is a matter for clinical judgment. Psychological that suggests attention problems is supportive.

Trauma effects look a lot like ADD.



Just one comment, Boomer.


Is there some problem with him working alone, especially if he wants to?

They get a desk up the front or such. They can go back to a shared place for group stuff.

It is done here to help kids who find it hard to focus with distractions....if the kid is SELF identifying that is what he wants, what would prevent it?


I don't get it...
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 03:36 pm
That's a big "only." You're doing a lot for him, and the school is responding. I think those are both important things.

This is all new to him. Most of the other kids probably had one or two years of preschool, if not daycare or siblings. It's a lot for him to get used to. It might take a while, but the skill of getting used to it is a pretty major one that can have a lot of benefits to him down the line. And it's great that he has his mom and his teacher working together to help him get there.

As always, that's my unofficial, layperson take -- there are so many details I don't know, and even if I knew them, I'm not a pro at this stuff.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 04:04 pm
As far as social cues and codes go -- I've never understood them and don't expect that I'll suddenly understand them at this point in my life!

And the only "right" things I worry about are what is right for Mo.

Everything in his class is done as a group or at tables in smaller groups. The teacher does now allow him to remove himself to the class prep/table/area/whateveryoucallit so he can work on his own and he is allowed to move himself there when he wants to.

The bad part of this is -- that is the table where kids get moved when they are misbehaving so he catches flak from the kids for wanting to sit there. ("Mo is at the "bad" table!")

I've already seen school suck all the fun out of coloring and reading for him. Do I just let it continue?
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cello
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 04:52 pm
There are a lot of home schoolers in Canada. There are associations of those, and even Catholic (or Christian?) associations. Home schoolers are well seen by universities, I heard, in the US too. The % of acceptance, I heard, is pretty good. (This is only hearsay, I don't have evidence to back that up.)

Usually, the parents follow the curriculum of the government, and adapt to their child's specific needs. Thus, a child who has some difficulty in reading, for example, may be more advanced in another skill (e.g. music). More time can be spent, in the home environment, to improve reading, but also to encourage music playing, things that cannot be provided to every child in public schooling.

I have seen curriculums on sale on the Internet, as well as Christian curriculums. There are showcases of promoters of home schooling, where you can see the curriculums they offer, the books, etc. They travel around North America. You may be interested to make a search on the Internet.

It takes a lot of work to home school, especially if you have children of various ages. The parent basically has to learn, or relearn, the subjects in order to teach them. Parents may share their knowledge between home schooled kids, e.g. science, math, if you are not too good with those. This also allows an opportunity for kids to socialize.

There are many other ways the parents have devised for socializing, like field trips, volunteering, sports, neighbours, etc. The home schooled children come out quite well adjusted socially, I heard. And academically, better than the average. They have to ask the local school to allow them to write exams, for example, so that they can have a report card (I think), or some record of their performance, for university purposes.

You can always home school when your child is younger, and send him to school later. It is not a permanent thing.

Based on what I have heard and read, home schooling has its advantages and disadvantages. After all, I think it is the parents who know best what their children need.

An issue that arose was whether it is legal to keep a child at home, so you may want to check out the law in your state. The home schooling associations may have legal advice on how to deal with that issue also.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 05:09 pm
boomerang wrote:
As far as social cues and codes go -- I've never understood them and don't expect that I'll suddenly understand them at this point in my life!

And the only "right" things I worry about are what is right for Mo.

Everything in his class is done as a group or at tables in smaller groups. The teacher does now allow him to remove himself to the class prep/table/area/whateveryoucallit so he can work on his own and he is allowed to move himself there when he wants to.

The bad part of this is -- that is the table where kids get moved when they are misbehaving so he catches flak from the kids for wanting to sit there. ("Mo is at the "bad" table!")

I've already seen school suck all the fun out of coloring and reading for him. Do I just let it continue?


I don't know either, Boomer....but just a couple of comments...one of which I hope is not going to be taken as harsh or rude by you.


If you do not "get" social codes etc, well and good...but Mo may well do so, and, if you do not, given his experiences before your loving care, it is probably especially important that he is given maximum opportunity to learn and practice them.


I STILL don't see a damn problem with the working alone......either the teacher puts in a Mo NOT naughty desk, and explains to the class that we all learn differently and Mo is NOT naughty, or the teacher doesn't put in a Mo desk, and STILL explains to the class......and lets any other kid who needs some time to work quietly do the same.


As for the rest, I'll shut up.

Firstly because I do not know how home schooling works in your country and what resources there are, and secondly because I have a visceral cringe thing that happens re home schooling, partly because of all the christian etc nuts that do it to indoctrinate their kids and keep them from any flexibility of thought and experience, and I recognize that this is NOT what you are considering it for.


Have you discussed the depths of your concerns with Mo's teachers, and any other professional who is working to assist you guys?


This is a huge decision, as you well know.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 05:26 pm
I don't really know how home schooling works in my country either! What cello said is what I'm finding out -- that it is a pretty big movement with a lot of resources available.

And yes, the social thing. I know I'm not social and I know that Mo is and so is Mr. B. I don't want to pass my ineptness on to Mo. Right now he has a big social network that doesn't include the kids from school. He get along with other kids but at school they really seem to interfere with his learning.

The religious thing doesn't have anything to do with anything.

I haven't yet discussed anything with anyone other than Mr. B because things are just starting to gel in my head after my conference last week with Mo's teacher. I started looking again at private schools with the idea of smaller class size and it all just evolved from there.

I'm going to keep digging around.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 05:52 pm
For what it is worth, one of my friends had all his second round of kids in this


http://www.mtbarkerwaldorf.sa.edu.au/



school.



I was thinking that Mo is clearly eager to learn (I CANNOT get over the wonder of him identifying, and acting on, a need to limit external stimulation when he needs to get on with work).



These places seem to be very much into respect for the needs of individual kids, while having a strong ethos of social respect and emapthic social behaviour.

My friends' kids are stunningly poised and delightful people.

Damned if I know, though.


They are found internationally, those schools.


Personally, I have found Montessori Schools a pain in the bum if kids are not "different" in ways they find acceptable.


That may reflect only on the one I was forced to work with in my last job. We all used to go in there wondering if we would get out unscathed!



Boomer, I do find myself wondering if you had a bad experience of school, and if there MIGHT be a whisker of your love for Mo meaning you are reacting a bit from your own feelings about school, if so?
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 06:00 pm
I am also not a parent. I only know a little bit about Mo and his school situation.

But, I have a young cousin who is now 14, or so. He has been through maybe 6 or 7 different schools because he doesn't feel like he fits in. His dad, my uncle, is a tired old hippy with a short fuse and his mother is a woman who says what ever crosses her mind without thinking of the consequences - neither parent is especially socialized. He is very very smart, ahead of the curve academically, etc. But, he is a-social. He just doesn't get it. He and I stayed up chatting one night until 1 am. Just the two of us. I asked what he was doing for school. He said his community had a home-school center. Sort of a group of home school kids who are organized by a group of parents all together. Sounded interested. He said he was becoming unmotivated. His parents are divorcing, they are separated. He works long hours and she is working and going to school to become a nurse. No wonder he's lost motivation.

Anyway, I told him, at the end of our chat, that maybe he was just going to have to stick it out. That there was some benefit to maintaining oneself in circumstances not to one's liking.

Boomer, I think that those who say that Mo should have a chance to learn to socialize through school are right. Give it another year. Work with the teacher.
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 06:07 pm
We never went the public school route, so I don't know if they're any
good or not, but after researching all schools within my vicinity,
we opted for a very small private parochial school, and Jane did well
from Kindergarten until now, 5th grade.

However, the upcoming school year, we'll try a charter school. basically for the incredible enthusiastic teachers, small class sizes and their great hands-on curriculum approach, besides having several language options.

These type of schools require a lot of parent involvement, but also
give you the opportunity of implementing changes. Like having some
sports activities after each session, since they have gotten better results
with that, and so on...

The Montessori principle is also very good (believing that learning is
a natural, self-directed process) and will let the children learn at their
own pace and desire.

There are many options out there, boomer, and I am sure there is a
school that fulfills Mo's needs and desires. This is the time for interviews
and school presentations, and should you visit other schools, take Mo
with you, so he'll be part of the decision making.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 06:16 pm
Quote:
Boomer, I do find myself wondering if you had a bad experience of school, and if there MIGHT be a whisker of your love for Mo meaning you are reacting a bit from your own feelings about school, if so?


I LOVED school. My parents had a real "go or don't" attitude towards it but I mostly went. As long as I showed up on test days and kept a B average I was golden.

But I wasn't sitting in class covering my ears and moving to the not-naughty table so I could concentrate either!

I'll check out the Waldorf school. Portland really has some great schools, I just need to find the right one for Mo. I'm not all psyched on homeschooling but I'm afraid the public school environment isn't going to be so great for Mo -- or him so great for it, to be honest. Right now he has a teacher that will bend the rules for him but that probably won't always be the case. (Nor should it be.)
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Mar, 2007 06:23 pm
I agree that Mo might be a good candidate for Waldorf, but it's expensive.
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