September 27, 2007

Good Advice

I'm going to start a collection of good advice for beginning unschoolers. Since I'm a beginner myself most of it will come from other people via comments on this site, conversations I've had, or books I've read. I do have one piece of advice to offer, though, so I'll start with that. It's the one and only thing I know for sure.

From me:
Don't assume that what works for one family will work for your own.

This is an excerpt from a comment on my blog by OrganicSister:
Let me tell you two things that I wish I knew from the get-go:
1st, the whole 1-month-per-yr-of-school thing is a crock! [She's referring to the deschooling process here.] Throw it out the window. My son went to school for two and a half years but it took me AND him about 8 months to deschool. Yours might be less or it might be more but it will rest mostly on your shoulders, so be prepared. ;-)
2nd, there is unschooling and there is radical unschooling. Unschooling gives freedom in education over to the child while radical unschooling applies the principle to their whole life. You can unschool without RUing but it tends to lead to RUing eventually. Just take it one day at a time and reevaluate every so often if you're both happy or need changes.

From the woman who runs the ISP we've just joined:
Unschooling doesn't mean unparenting. You're still the parent!

An excerpt from a comment on my blog by Tracy:
First, he's learning something from all of it. [She's referring to his daily activities.] In time you'll learn to embrace just "living it" and won't feel the need to pick apart all that is educational from every moment. Second, a good just diving right into your own projects and interests. Next time check out stuff from the library for yourself. If he's interested, that's great! But don't think in terms of trying to sneak in educational stuff for his benefit.

More from Tracy:
One thing you might find helpful... my son is a computer nut, too. I find that whenever I start worrying about how much time he is spending (and yes, it occasionally happens even when you've been doing this for years) I just go to him and ask him to show me what he's doing. He loves to show me the games he is playing. He loves to make me play (I'm horrible!) and tell me, step by step, how to get things done...It's an interesting process. And honestly, my time is pretty limited because I tend to have a short fuse for some of these games...It's enough to keep my mind boggled by all the stuff he has picked up and to be awed by his direction-giving skills (he's 6). And it quells my anxiety when it rises. But mostly, it's a way to spend time with him doing something that gives him pleasure.

An excerpt from a comment by Tammy:
Keeping true to your family and to yourselves is more important than any label. You recognize relationships come first, and part of that is to be a parent. That's what kids expect of us. Yet you don't take your role for granted and you let your kids be their own people. Finding that balance - that's the key. And like you said, it's going to look different for every family.

From "The Relaxed Home School" page 52, by Mary Hood, Ph.D.
As long as you provide a variety of materials and experiences, and children are free to make their own choices, they will automatically select those items that will work best for them. When parents have accepted the value of allowing children to learn on their own in this manner, they sometimes go overboard and purposefully avoid instigating learning experiences themselves. There's never any harm in offering to help a youngster read a story, or asking them if they'd like to play a particular phonics game! The harm comes from forcing these activities when the children aren't interested. Often when this happens it's because the children are not yet ready for a particular experience. If you try something and it doesn't seem to be working, you can always back down and try something a little different later. That's one of the benefits of home schooling.

(By the way, Mary Hood will be speaking in the Los Angeles area on Novemver 2nd and 3rd. Click here for more information.)

I'll keep adding to this post as the advice rolls in or as I read and learn more. Let's hope it fills up fast!

1 comment:

SwissArmyWife said...

Unschooling isn't just for the kids. It's a family affair. I've found that I am unschooling as well!

I like your blog!