Friday, December 30, 2011

New books and thoughts on unschooling

a few new books i ordered
A friend posted a link to this blog post from the woman who wrote the book Radical Homemakers. In the post she discusses her change of mind in regards to unschooling her two daughters. It really gave me something to mull over. With in the unschooling community it is almost against the rules to even question whether or not it is an effective way to help your children learn. For awhile now I have been wondering what on earth I am doing with this whole homeschooling business. I am not sure what to do, which path is the "right one". It seems there is no right way for everyone, but just like with eating, every single person thinks their way is the very best way for everyone.
I have used curriculum, unschooled, did some sort of combo (which I guess isn't really unschooling, but I like to think it is in some way), we have had tears, we have had laughs, we have struggled, we have sailed through... but we just haven't figured it out. Maybe there isn't a "figuring it all out", maybe you just muddle through it all and pick and choose. Maybe the best thing you can do is work with each child and help them the best way you can.
I don't think there is one right way to help children learn. I have my own life experience to go from here at our house. Two of my children have started school this year, both for similar reasons... they wanted to be around more peers and they wanted to be pushed in a way that I was not pushing them. I do think that although there are some households that do great with the "no pressure" educational model, that most kids (or maybe just my household) need a push. It doesn't have to be hard core meanness, but something. And you know, I am not even sure what that something is for every child. But the parents do. And I think that maybe I have been neglectful in that area, trying to stick to the dogma of something instead of really really focusing on my kids and their needs. And since there are six of them, it can be more of a challenge... but that is ok. What isn't ok is sticking with something that isn't working just to be part of a group.
So I guess I am not an unschooler. I'm ok with that. I'm ok with putting limits on TV and computer time and having the kids play outside, do a math worksheet, practice handwriting, and reading everyday. I think I also encourage them to follow their passions, give them loads of time to wallow in their own learning, and give them all the resources I can for them to grow and flower. I think that maybe, that is the best I can do for them.


sarah in the woods said...

I really appreciate this post. I've spent so much time lately reading about unschooling and experimenting with it, but I realized today that the kids are happier and learn more when I spend time making a great plan but also allow for tangents. You're right - we each have to do what's best for our own family. Thanks.

momto5 said...

thank you. i get a bit afraid to post stuff like that because you know people get a bit defensive when you question certain dogmas. i know a few families that full on unschooling has just worked, it is amazing. but what i see in my own house, well it isn't so rosy. and i guess that is what i need to focus on, not so much what others will think of me, but what is best for my children.

Aikido Mama said...

Thanks for this post. I know this might sound crazy but reading the Tiger Mom book was a big eye-opener for me. One of the things that made me stop and think was her belief that her children could do anything and be the best at anything if only given a push and a disciplined life. Granted her pushing was mean and demeaning sometimes, but it got me thinking about pushing kids to do more than they think is possible. If your child just wants to lay around and watch tv or play video games, are you doing them a favor by letting that happen? If those passive activities are taken away, what else could they do? Sometimes I think that parents can recognize talents and abilities in their children (that the kids don't see)and then help to make those shine. Sometimes it might take some "pushing." It goes against the unschooling philosophy so I don't talk about it much when I'm in unschooling circles.

momto5 said...

i know you would get it! :)