So Many Unschooling Questions!

Unschooling Questions

Every week, parents ask questions about unschooling on a variety of social media platforms. Collecting them into a weekly blogpost will help everyone have access to many of these questions and share the solid unschooling advice to help you all on your journey.

Another benefit of seeing these questions is knowing that you're not alone! When someone asks a question in a forum, usually hundreds (maybe even way more than that!) share that same concern. And now we have an easy place to find the reassurance so many people are looking for, as well as resources to dive a little deeper.     ❤︎ Sue

Lacking Structure

Q: "My kids are 5 and 8 and our days are like nothing like regular school. What they look like is summer vacation, all day everyday. My kids play together make believe and dolls, they are on their tablets watching shows and playing games, they play video games, play outside, we go to the park or the beach, we take trips, we read books. Every once in a while I will curate some learning based around their interests or requests. And sometimes I will even print out worksheets, which they get excited about because it’s so rare.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m just unschooling because it’s the easiest way for me. Life is good and so much fun!
Do my kids need more learning structure or can they go their whole childhood on “summer vacation” mode??"
Thanks for your input and advice!"

 

A: I wonder why we feel guilty when "Life is good and so much fun!" Well, I have some ideas about it, but it's worth digging a little deeper to see what the little voices in your own head are telling you.

The quick answer: Yes! Stay on "Summer Mode" and you'll be shocked at how great your lives can be!

And the reason I say that, is because humans are hard-wired to learn. We're curious beings - even if we've had a lot of that squashed down from schoolish ways. It will grow back! Especially if the environment is such that they feel they can begin to move in the direction THEY want to go with parents as true support systems.

Your kids' words and actions will give you the data about whether they need more structure. But it doesn't have to look like school structure! It may be they like to know what's on the calendar for the week. Or maybe they're morning people or night owls. When we start to gather the data, we can see rhythm emerge. They may vary by individuals or some of it may vary based on your family. But, no, you don't have to orchestrate some "Learning Structure" - that would be like putting unnecessary speed bumps on their road! ????

RESOURCES

This blogpost, The Myth of Structure, will help you see "the need for structure" in a different way.

Motivation... or lack thereof

Q: "Was there ever a point that you thought maybe unschooling wasn't for your child? its hard to get my kids to be self motivated. Rewards and punishments don't work either."

A:  I think this question comes up for lots of parents wishing to SEE more that looks like familiar learning activities.

I believe that unschooling works for EVERY child. Who doesn't enjoy freedom? But it doesn't work for every parent, sadly. If parents aren't able to let go of some of the more schoolish notions or they have so much fear they can't do the internal work needed... they may abandon the idea of unschooling.

Something else to think about... "rewards and punishments don't work either" is a good sign. It's the most common mainstream parenting and schooly approach to get kids to comply, but it's not healthy. Research shows that it's about squashing their internal motivation to make them more reliant on external motivation. And then we wonder why they're not internally motivated??? Because we did a lot to undermine it.

If you want to read more about this, Alfie Kohn is a wonderful researcher and author you might want to investigate. I read his book, Punished By Rewards the first year we homeschooled. Game changer.

Your view of their lack of motivation, may be really more indicative of your needing to deschool. After years of conditioning to think all learning looks the way schools present it, it's not unusual that THAT would be what we look for. It's familiar. It takes diving into DESCHOOLING that shows us, "Ohhhh! That's why I kept pushing for xyz! And that's why I got so much resistance!"

It's not a mountain of information - it's something you can conquer. And you'll be so glad you did. It will change the family dynamics for the better - sooo much better!

RESOURCES:

Reading more about deschooling will help you see that learning belongs to the learner, and it's pretty much an inside job. When parents can deschool a little more, they can begin to trust that humans are hard-wired to learn - they just may not choose what we expect them to choose!

High School Documentation

Q: "Tips for providing documentation of the annual school report in high school"
and...
"I would like to learn more about unschooling, we have been homeschooling for almost 2 years and I think it might be a good fit for my 5 and 11 year olds. My question is, can a child earn a high school diploma as an unschooler and if so, how?"

A: I have quite a few tips actually! Remember that with unschooling, the teens aren't necessarily taking classes or operating within grade levels. So it may take a little creativity on the parents' part to see where the subjects weave through the everyday activities. And then, when you need a transcript to enter a tech school or a community college, you can create something that will be acceptable.
As for the diploma, websites exist to create one for yourselves - even with fillable PDF formats! We have to remember, at least in the United States, it's legal to homeschool in all 50 states. While a few state may have their own requirements for graduation, most consider the parents determination as to whether or not the child has graduated. Sometimes it's as simple as being outside the compulsory attendance requirements set by the state. My point is that parents can issue a diploma whenever they (and their child) feel they've completed enough and are ready to step into the next phase of their young adult lives.
Colleges and universities accept transcripts and diplomas from homeschoolers/unschoolers all the time!

RESOURCES:

Unschooling & Transcripts Mini-Course - This mini-course includes a pre-recorded video workshop, an extensive workbook to help you figure out your own child's transcripts, and the Everything Counts ebook as a bonus.
Creating Confidence Membership, Parents of Teens - We have extensive resources for parents of teens within my coaching membership group. Additionally, we have 2 coaching calls every month devoted to questions and topics about teen issues.
Homeschooled Teens: 75 Young People Speak About Their Lives Without School is a fabulous collection of answers to the most asked questions about how these young people managed.

Am I Doing Enough??

“How do you know you are providing a rich enough learning environment for your child?”
Will Roblox, building on the computer, making stop motion videos, and supporting them by googling questions they ask that I can’t answer, provide what they need ?”
The lists of things he wants to know about are vast. By 9 am this morning we had looked at blacksmiths, morph videos, skeletal systems, and the history of milkmen - before he even switched on his computer.
This was all from him asking me questions and me sharing stuff I had been reading myself.

RESOURCES

That's a lot for the first couple hours of the day! And, my guess is that those kinds of days aren't unusual. The problem most of us have is that we don't have a clearly laid out plan where we can check the boxes and know that we're "on course." Because there's no real course!

Unschooling is the MOST individualized learning plan anyone could be lucky enough to have! As you read more about how unschooling works, you can gain confidence in the fact that their personal unique body of knowledge is growing. Right there in front of you! Where it will go? Nobody knows! But that's ok! It's moving in the direction of their interests, following their curiosities, learning how to gain answers to the questions they have.

I get it, it's scary. Reading more about Deschooling will help. Gathering a support system that can help you not feel so alone is another option. Continue to ask questions, so you can dig a little deeper to conquer your fears. Remember that fears are what make us play small - they're just trying to keep us safe. But they're not as informed as we are. It's like letting a 4-year old drive the car...not a good plan!

Explaining Unschooling to Little Kids

Q: "How do you talk to preK age kid about not going to school?"

A: Are they asking? Maybe do lots of fun things with them so they simply enjoy their day with you.

If they are asking, you can always say,
"School is just a way some kids learn stuff. But we learn by ___." ... whatever it is they like to do. They don't need a big explanation. Usually it suffices that their parent has thought this through and has a better plan!
Sometimes it also helps to see other kids who are living and learning outside the school system. Especially kids their own age and a little bit older. This may help offset the wave of "everyone else" goes to school.

RESOURCES

If you're in the Unschooling Mom2Mom FB group, we have a thread where we collected a variety of responses:
HERE
Also, we have a collection of articles and ideas for this age group here:
Unschooling Pre-Schoolers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *