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Home » CHFWeb Forum » HomeSchool » What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years)
What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years) [message #818145] Tue, 30 August 2016 18:40 Go to next message
Jamie
Messages: 4138
Registered: April 2005
Senior Member
I keep hearing of this "fantasy-land" like method of education that falls under, but then again isn't quite homeschooling. (Or something like that.)

When I grab snippets online, it's all very vague. Like very vague. There's so many assurances to not do anything, that I can't quite picture what unschooling, legitimately, is. I am unclear on what the parental role is within homeschooling, what they provide/do.

While Jonah is 4.5yo, I know he's learned a lot by my providing certain opportunities, sharing snippets of things, finding books/programs that enhance or deepen his personal interests. In those areas, I'd say he's learned quite a bit. I'm also very aware that I have not really set him down to teach him anything completely out of the blue for him, and have him catch fire in the same sense. Sometimes, there's been a complete stubborn shut down if I've tried to excite him in another subject/skill. Everything has been on his terms and timing.

I was thinking that this might be akin to unschooling? However, At 4.5yo, I'm also seeing where some of this allowance for willful growth and knowledge may become a hurdle. I don't know, the unfettered aspect has me confused, and not finding anything concrete has me curious.


Peace
Re: What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years) [message #818160 is a reply to message #818145 ] Wed, 31 August 2016 10:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ReneeL.inMN
Messages: 4774
Registered: April 2005
Senior Member
We were very relaxed for preschool, kindergarten, early elem. with our children. That doesn't mean I didn't set forth some very specific items of learning.

We had daily quiet time (look at a book on your bed), we had game time (great math and reading), I read aloud to them for hours while they played legos or in the sandbox. I read aloud to them while they colored paper plates with how they saw the book I was reading to them. We had the giant coffee table books for quiet time which generally would lead to them asking questions which would lead to more reading aloud.

We played dice games and card games (I know some are opposed to dice and cards in general so your mileage may vary).

I had the Five in A Row books and used them loosely as guidelines of ideas but never sat my children down and announced we were doing school. I would lay on the floor with them and we'd look at books which led them to wanting to read the words.

One thing that always helped me was to keep a spiral notebook for a daily journal. I would end my day with writing down the different things the guys (and dd) had done throughout the day and see how that was educational.

Unschooling looks different for everyone and as one wise mama once told me, "Unschooling is not un-educational and un-disciplined". I gave my children lots of free time but we had a routine to our days where we would 'do school' with them thinking we were playing games or it was the general read aloud time.

Hth.

eta: 4.5 is still very young even though more and more society is pushing for our children to be in school at younger ages.
If reading is worrisome to you, my oldest didn't read well until he as 10, my middle read well at age 4 and my daughter started reading around 7. At 4.5 to 8 (ish) I'd really let your little guy 'lead' the interests with some deliberate play in there. So if he's over the top excited about marshmallows, I'd find a book on marshmallows and read to him while he's coloring or eating. I'd google to see if there were a video online about how marshmallows are made. Does that help?

[Updated on: Wed, 31 August 2016 11:00]


ReneeL.inMN
25yos, 23yos, 13 yod I guess I am old enough for adult children.

My stomach hurts, but I still choose joy! :-)

Re: What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years) [message #818185 is a reply to message #818160 ] Sat, 03 September 2016 00:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jamie
Messages: 4138
Registered: April 2005
Senior Member
Thank you, Renee. Could you perhaps expound on what would be the difference between "relaxed homeschooling" and "unschooling" for me? Are they the same thing?


Peace
Re: What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years) [message #818193 is a reply to message #818145 ] Tue, 06 September 2016 14:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ReneeL.inMN
Messages: 4774
Registered: April 2005
Senior Member
Hi Jamie,

In my mind, unschooling is very child led or perhaps it is totally child led. Possibly where you don't introduce topics/games/etc. unless your child asks?

Others think of unschooling as shunning text books until/unless your child asks for them.

Relaxed for us was being deliberate in introducing them to age/grade appropriate topics, but not doing it in a; "let's sit down and do school" approach. We didn't have a specific school time but we did have a day to day routine. My mother-in-law (retired school teacher) instilled the routine idea in me early for educating the guys/dd.

Our day when they were the 4-7 year range was something like this:

: get up / tidy room / get prepared for the day (my now 24 yos especially shunned clothing)
: breakfast and help with the kitchen
: outside or other play time while I started laundry
: reading time - the guys would continue to play trains, legoes, sandbox, etc. with the rule being they were not allowed to talk to each other or make train noises. Other days they would color paper plates while I read (especially fun for them with the Little House series). Those paper plates were our crown moulding in the dining room for years!
: free play time
: lunch and help cleaning up
: rest time - mandatory and don't argue with mama. They were allowed to listen to books on tape.
: game time - one of my choosing and one of theirs. There are some fabulous game ideas online for counting, adding, etc.


As I said, my oldest didn't read well until he was 10. That doesn't mean we didn't introduce reading to him. We read, we talked about reading, we helped him learn to read, just not a mandatory time or workbook.

Also, a lot of people think unschooling/relaxed means undisciplined. It doesn't.

My sons learned numbers, counting, positive and negative numbers by jumping down the hallway on a homemade number line made from card stock. It was just a different type of learning.

We would draw the line in the sand that a certain time was reading time (that falls under discipline) but very seldom did I pull out a workbook and make my children sit down when they were younger because it was school time. Reading time when they were younger was the time to lay on the floor and read together. The guys/dd would look at the pictures and as they learned words, we would take turns reading pages. If it was a book w/out words, they would color. That is relaxed, in my mind.

My oldest (adhd) would have argued until a week from Sunday about the sky being blue and not wanting to have any reading time which was a discipline/respect issue. So, we let him play with legos, color, etc. because he did hear the story and he grew to love that time. I actually read aloud to my guys until they were mid to late teens. I still read aloud to my daughter.

Science - unschooling might look like letting your children flit from topic to topic while they are younger and let them choose. For my children, they would flit from topic to topic, but surprisingly enough I usually found library books to spark their interest further during reading time. Then they would color what I was reading about.

Reading time can be one book of your choosing and then one book of Jonah's choosing ?

Does any of this help at all or am I just muddying the waters? What is the mandatory school age for FL? What is the co-op like that you are attending? Is it pretty "schooly" or is it more for playing and friend building? I know it was SO HARD when friends were discussing how much little Moe was learning in school when my guys were not sitting at the table every day doing page after page of school work. That's where the daily journal helped me see my children were learning.

Gee, I was feeling yappy. I do miss the preschool/early years. Smile

[Updated on: Wed, 07 September 2016 20:53]


ReneeL.inMN
25yos, 23yos, 13 yod I guess I am old enough for adult children.

My stomach hurts, but I still choose joy! :-)

Re: What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years) [message #818202 is a reply to message #818145 ] Wed, 07 September 2016 00:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
elliemaejune  is currently offline elliemaejune
Messages: 1219
Registered: April 2005
Location: Texas
Senior Member
Jamie wrote on Tue, 30 August 2016 17:40

I keep hearing of this "fantasy-land" like method of education that falls under, but then again isn't quite homeschooling. (Or something like that.)

When I grab snippets online, it's all very vague. Like very vague. There's so many assurances to not do anything, that I can't quite picture what unschooling, legitimately, is. I am unclear on what the parental role is within homeschooling, what they provide/do.

While Jonah is 4.5yo, I know he's learned a lot by my providing certain opportunities, sharing snippets of things, finding books/programs that enhance or deepen his personal interests. In those areas, I'd say he's learned quite a bit. I'm also very aware that I have not really set him down to teach him anything completely out of the blue for him, and have him catch fire in the same sense. Sometimes, there's been a complete stubborn shut down if I've tried to excite him in another subject/skill. Everything has been on his terms and timing.

I was thinking that this might be akin to unschooling? However, At 4.5yo, I'm also seeing where some of this allowance for willful growth and knowledge may become a hurdle. I don't know, the unfettered aspect has me confused, and not finding anything concrete has me curious.


Unschooling is not child-led. It is the adults in the family living their lives and inviting the children to come along. The children have time to pursue their own interests if they want to, but the parents don't throw themselves wholeheartedly into whatever it is the children are interested in, unless the children ask them to. It is education that does not look anything like school. It is understanding that learning happens all the time, without worrying about a timeline for when things should be done (or if they should be done at all).

Unschoolers might use textbooks, if they want to learn something and a textbook is the simplest/best/only-available way of doing it. Older unschoolers who decide they want to go to college might use textbooks to prepare themselves...or not, because sometimes there are other ways to prepare than textbooks.

I would not use "unschooling" to describe what is going on with such a young child. At that age, it's mainly parenting. Smile However, as you are seeing, you might be pushing too much, too early, with academics. Your ds would probably learn all sorts of things on his own, if given the freedom to do so. Reading aloud to him (if he'll let you) is always a good thing. Field trips to the zoo or other fun places are also good things.

The best way to understand unschooling is to read all of John Holt's books. All of them. Only one is even about homeschooling; the rest are all about learning. You can probably find them in your local library.

I have talked with Mary Hood, who coined the term "relaxed homeschooling," and I cannot tell much of a difference between unschooling and relaxed homeschooling. Probably saying that you are relaxed is more acceptable to other homeschoolers, lol.


Born again since 1974
Married to Mr. Ellie for over 30 years
Mom to 2 amazing grown-up dds and 2 dsil
Grandmother to 1 beautiful baby boy

A kitten dies every time you use an apostrophe to pluralize.
Re: What does 'unschooling' actually look like? (Early childhood through Pre-middleschool years) [message #818603 is a reply to message #818145 ] Tue, 18 October 2016 23:02 Go to previous message
janetR  is currently offline janetR
Messages: 1937
Registered: March 2010
Location: TX
Senior Member
Quote:

I would not use "unschooling" to describe what is going on with such a young child.
I agree with this.

As a child gets older, an essential part of "unschooling" is parents who DO things, have hobbies, like to explore. Astronomy - build telescopes and rockets, visit planetariums and stay up late to see astronomical events. Carpentry / machinery - measure things, build them, test them, trouble-shoot. Music - go to concerts of all genres, compose, talk about theory and style and eras. Parents modeling learning is important for any successful education, but if this is lacking while trying to "unschool," then my guess is that no school will happen. For me, unschooling would not have worked since my interests were academic in nature to begin with - Bible and philosophy, maps, writing, math, reading reading and more reading. I was always reading and studying rather than going and doing. And to a great extent my kids "caught" that - they love to learn and research and debate and they see how different disciplines are connected.

While I think unschooling done right has the most potential as a "WOW" homeschooling method, I also think that in order to do it right it has to be the most natural thing in the world for that family. Especially in today's world of electronics that are nearly equally distracting for adults as children. If my natural inclination is to spend time on social media and chat with friends (phone or IM) and then do some dishes and laundry and finally say it's time to get some schoolwork done, I can't see that working. I think Mom has to be driven to do something - up before the sun comes up and hiking to get a photo with the best early-morning light and then back to edit and publish and compete, etc. Then as the kids do that with her, they find their own interests in birds or electricity or graphic design, and they "catch" Mom's drive to pursue that interest and learn all the different aspects of it.


JanetR
daughter of the King since 1980
wife to dh since 1981
mom to five of the most incredible adults on the planet, one wonderful 18yo, and grandma to two bouncy grandsons
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