tarazspot

We are going into our third year of "homeschooling." Our first
year consisted of complete deschooling. The next year I fell victim
to mother panic mode and went towards some curriculum type learning
for both my 8yr.old and 11yr. old sons. I pretty much continued to
not do any formal lessons with my 6 year old daughter. Well, at the
end of last school year I was burned out and and miserable and so
were my children. My 8yr. old was still not reading, and my 11yr.
old was going through the motions of his schoolwork and not enjoying
any of it! After spending the summer reading every book I could get
my hands on in regards to learning, from unschooling books to books
geared toward better late then early themes, I am now ready to
unschool. As usual, I can never stop with the questions...which is
why I writing to you all now!

Example, today we stopped at a gas station to buy a bottle of water
and driving away I asked the kids since the bottle was $1.39 how much
change did I get back. I had paid with two dollar bills. Well, I got
my answer and I had my 8 yr. old count out the change to see if he
and his brother were right. Nagging me though was the feeling that
this was not unschooling but a "teacher-like" conceived coersion
tactic to get them to LEARN. Maybe it would be better in the future
to let them handle the money and pay for things themselves or not do
anything with the whole money thing at all?
I know this may seem like a very trivial situation,and by all rights
it is,but I am still in many daily situations trying to come to terms
with the concept of "unschooling." Is stopping to "teach" in daily
life against the grain of unschooling?? Or instead is that our duty
as unschooling parents?? I think that perhaps as an parent of a
unschooled child your role may be more of a facilitator of learning
as opposed to a teacher. As a facilitator you would be there to help
the child locate resources or information as they come to you with
their interests....such as leading them to music classes should they
desire to learn music or helping them to navigate the internet to
locate information,etc..

I would appreciate any thoughts you can offer in regards to these
issues. Thanks!
Tara

Jon and Rue Kream

>> Nagging me though was the feeling that
this was not unschooling but a "teacher-like" conceived coersion
tactic to get them to LEARN.

**I would not have asked them that question. There are times when Dagny and
Rowan pay themselves, times when I pay and they notice how much the total
is/what I get back, and times when I pay and they don't pay any attention.
It isn't necessary to create situations (or ask questions you don't need the
answer to) in order for your kids to learn.

>>I think that perhaps as an parent of a
unschooled child your role may be more of a facilitator of learning
as opposed to a teacher.

**I definitely do not think of myself as my kids' teacher. I do help them
find the information and resources and fun things that they want.

It sounds like your nagging feelings are right on :0). ~Rue


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Julie Solich

>>Nagging me though was the feeling that this was not unschooling but a
"teacher-like" conceived coersion tactic to get them to LEARN. Maybe it
would be better in the future to let them handle the money and pay for
things themselves or not do anything with the whole money thing at all? >>

When I decided to unschool (we had been homeschooling for 3 years), I spent
a couple of months deschooling. I really stepped back and just answered
questions and let them be.

Eight months on, if I manage to answer all their questions in a day, I'm
lucky. My middle son in particular asks me' how much is...?' countless times
a day. Learning to answer their questions the way I would answer an adult,
with respect and without turning it into a lecture, has been one of my best
lessons. It really does build trust.

My kids know they can ask me stuff now and I am not going to turn it into a
lesson which has really put them off asking in the past.

Julie


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Pamela Sorooshiantafti

>>>> Nagging me though was the feeling that
this was not unschooling but a "teacher-like" conceived coersion
tactic to get them to LEARN. <<


Try this: Just do what you would normally do, whether or not the kids were with you, but do it a bit more slowly and out loud. In other words, give them a fighting chance of being able to follow your modeling. THEN - let them take over what they want to take over. Support that urge when they say, "I can do it."

You don't have to teach - but you can behave in ways that are helpful to kids who WANT to learn to do what adults do.

-pam

Fetteroll

on 9/3/03 7:33 PM, tarazspot at [email protected] wrote:

> Example, today we stopped at a gas station to buy a bottle of water
> and driving away I asked the kids since the bottle was $1.39 how much
> change did I get back. I had paid with two dollar bills. Well, I got
> my answer and I had my 8 yr. old count out the change to see if he
> and his brother were right. Nagging me though was the feeling that
> this was not unschooling but a "teacher-like" conceived coersion
> tactic to get them to LEARN. Maybe it would be better in the future
> to let them handle the money and pay for things themselves or not do
> anything with the whole money thing at all?

Pam Sorooshian mentioned (in her conference talk I think) that her daughter
wanted to buy a slushie and Pam handed her daughter a $20 bill and suggested
that she estimate how much change she'd get. Her daughter did that on the
way over and the woman in fact did give her incorrect change. Her daughter
was able to recognize that and speak up about it.

That's a real situation.

It depends on your kids. On the surface what you did does sound teacherly.
You already knew the answer and you were testing to see if they could figure
it out.

If your kids are puzzle/quiz oriented, though, they might view the situation
like a trivia game and enjoy it. "Hey, let's see if you guys can figure out
how much change I got," might sound like a fun game. Or it may sound great
to one and paralyze the other with fear. Encouraging a joint answer is *way*
better than each answering indvidually. A joint answer would involve
discussion and verbalizing number manipulation.

> Is stopping to "teach" in daily
> life against the grain of unschooling?? Or instead is that our duty
> as unschooling parents?? I think that perhaps as an parent of a
> unschooled child your role may be more of a facilitator of learning
> as opposed to a teacher.

It *is* a tricky area to try to explain since everyone's concept of
"helping" is different. Some people may feel it's helping to stop and have
mini lectures on something that pops up and some people may feel it's
helping to let kids figure things out without interference no matter how
badly they're floundering. It's a balance. What you actually end up doing
will depend on your children's needs and their personalities.

Sandra often expresses it as sharing something cool with the kids the same
way you'd do with a friend. You probably wouldn't quiz a friend to see if
she could guess how much change you got? ;-) (But, as I said above, it
depends on your kids.) If you can get into a mode of sharing what you find
enjoyable rather than feeling it's important for them to possess whatever
knowledge you're seeing, then unschooling will flow more smoothly for you.

Joyce

[email protected]

In a message dated 9/4/03 4:36:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
[email protected] writes:

> You don't have to teach - but you can behave in ways that are helpful to
> kids who WANT to learn to do what adults do.
>
> -pam
>
>

I ask my kids questions to help them think through things. NOT like a quiz,
just some prompting. Like with the "change left over" thing. A very natural
situation would be that JP ( 8) may want to go in the store to pick up some
items for me. (this makes my kids feel very grown up and responsible, to go
in a get a loaf of bread, a drink.. something like that). So, I will count
up, out loud, about how much it is going to cost.. "OK.. we need bread, that's
about $2, milk. thats @ $3, and some chips, they are @ $2... so, it should be
@$7 plus tax.. here is a 10" Then I would ask, "about how much change will
you be getting back?" And he would figure it up and give me an answer.. " hmm
$3... can I get a candy bar?" "Will you have enough left for one?" "Yeah,
they are .50.." Ok, well get me and Anna one too, will you have enough for
that?" At any point he might not know the answer. He would in this
situation., cause he is very familar with quarters and .50.. If the conversation was
not easy and natural, if he balked at figuring it up, I would just continue to
do the math out loud. But the point is, this is all just every day stuff,
it's not contrived.

Teresa




[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[email protected]

In a message dated 9/3/03 5:37:50 PM, [email protected] writes:

<< We are going into our third year of "homeschooling." Our first

year consisted of complete deschooling. The next year I fell victim

to mother panic mode >>

If I said "I went through a year of demagnetization, and the next year all
kinds of metal stuck to me," you might think I hadn't really demagnetized!

Deschooling only works when it works. Doing nothing schoolish isn't the
same as actively recovering from school. Kids will get over school gradually,
but there needs to be an active unschooling life taking its place as they
recover. Parents get over schooling MUCH more gradually, as they were in school
more and they have parental fears and responsibilities and pressures from
others. So it takes more work and more time for parents to see the value of and to
recognize the form and substance of natural learning.

Here's a little article with good links to others similar and better:

http://sandradodd.com/deschooling

<< I pretty much continued to

not do any formal lessons with my 6 year old daughter. >>

Any formal lessons at all can keep unschooling from growing and blossoming.

That might sound lame to people new to unschooling, but if the parent
reserves something (math, usually) as the thing they won't risk, the child learns
that math is hard and important, but the other stuff isn't as important. That's
not a useful lesson. History is WAY more important than math in almost every
practical way, and math IS a part of history, bigtime, but by separating them
and treating history the way Lego is treated (as not-math), there is an object
and field problem, and there is a valuation problem, and it becomes a
stoppage.

<< Example, today we stopped at a gas station to buy a bottle of water

and driving away I asked the kids since the bottle was $1.39 how much

change did I get back. I had paid with two dollar bills. Well, I got

my answer and I had my 8 yr. old count out the change to see if he

and his brother were right. >>

I think the best tool for getting over that is to ask yourself honestly
whether you would have asked the same question of your husband, or of an adult
friend who happened to go to the store with you.

<< Maybe it would be better in the future

to let them handle the money and pay for things themselves or not do

anything with the whole money thing at all? >>

Artificial dichotomy!!!
Why all of one or all of the other?

There will be money opportunities LOTS of times.

What has worked pretty well here is me giving them a larger bill instead of
trying to estimate exactly how much something would cost, and letting them
bring the receipt and change back. They get a printout, they have the money,
sometimes they look and care and sometimes they don't. Instead of sending one to
the store for bread and saying "It will be about $150, here's $1.65 which
should cover the tax too and I should get a few pennies back," I often just give
them $5 and say "You can get something for you, too, if you want, for doing th
e errand." Usually they haven't gotten anything else.

Lately, now that they're older, there are often short-notice opportunities.
"Can we go to the dollar movies with Crystal? Holly can go. And they're
going to Denny's."

"Do you have any money?"

"$10."

"Well take this in case you need more, and bring it back if you don't," and
I'll give Marty $10 or $20 to make sure Holly gets to eat, and that Marty gets
to eat, and remind him to tip, and he brings back change.

I think the same way it has worked with my kids not to limit TV or food,
which made them not needy, trusting them with money and being open to financing
things like others taking them to movies and such has kept them from a desperate
need to get out and spend money. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I don't think
so. I think because we haven't made money scary or nearly impossible to come
by, they're not grasping. Because we're open to saying "This month is really
tight, so we can't get hamburgers, we have to eat at home," and we don't say it
ALL the time, the flow of information and energy regarding money hasn't been
weird here, as it so often was when I was little.

My mom smoked cigarettes and drank a lot of beer. I knew what that cost. I
never got a stereo. We had some old ratty portable record player found at a
dump or given to my dad. When I wanted a book there was no money but when my
mom wanted beer there was.

That's a better math lesson (and other lessons thrown in too!) than counting
change.

Maybe some of the chitchat above seems to miss the point, if a person is JUST
looking for a subtraction problem. Subtraction problems are too schoolish,
though, for the purposes of unschooling. That WILL come in the course of real
life. Real life has a hard time unfolding when we stop for subtractions
lessons.

Sandra

[email protected]

On Thu, 4 Sep 2003 10:27:59 EDT [email protected] writes:

> Then I would ask, "about how much
> change will
> you be getting back?" And he would figure it up and give me an
> answer.. " hmm
> $3... can I get a candy bar?" "Will you have enough left for one?"
> "Yeah,
> they are .50.." Ok, well get me and Anna one too, will you have
> enough for
> that?"

FWIW, Rain would be upset if I tried to have this conversation with her.
She knows I already know the answers to these questions, and she doesn't
respond well when I ask her things I already know within the context of
everyday life.

I do talk things through out loud sometimes, like if I'm trying to figure
out how much money she'll need for a Waterworld and then dinner, or
something. Then I just give her some bill that seems like enough, and I
usually tell her about how much change I expect to get back, if it's a $5
+ aount.

Dar

[email protected]

In a message dated 9/4/03 12:43:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
[email protected] writes:

> FWIW, Rain would be upset if I tried to have this conversation with her.
> She knows I already know the answers to these questions, and she doesn't
> respond well when I ask her things I already know within the context of
> everyday life.
>



JP knows that I know the answers to these questions too. But he gets a sense
of mastery and accomplishment if he can figure it out himself. I would never
try to frustrate him. Actually, this scenario is very similar to some that
Pam S talked about in her Math lecture at the conference. She asked her
daughter how much change she expected to get back from a purchase, and it turned
out to be a good thing, as she was overcharged. You have to read and believe
that the tone in these conversations is natural and easy going. And,
although I may ask him questions that I know the answers, I never ask him questions
that he obviously knows ( or has thought out) the answers to. Maybe you just
have to hear it in person to understand it

Teresa


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[email protected]

On Thu, 4 Sep 2003 13:11:14 EDT [email protected] writes:
> JP knows that I know the answers to these questions too. But he gets
a sense
> of mastery and accomplishment if he can figure it out himself. I
> would never try to frustrate him. Actually, this scenario is very
similar to
> some that Pam S talked about in her Math lecture at the conference.
She
> asked her daughter how much change she expected to get back from a
purchase,
> and it turned out to be a good thing, as she was overcharged. You
have to read
> and believe that the tone in these conversations is natural and easy
going.

I know that Rain would be upset by my saying things like that to her, no
matter how easygoing my tone. I hear you saying that your kid and Pam's
kid weren't, that they enjoy it, but my point is that not all kids will
respond that way. Rain doesn't generally like being quizzed, or
challenged to figure things out. It has worked better for me to just
verbalize my thought processes occasionally, and eventually she'll stop
me and finish figuring it out herself.

Sometimes she'll specifically ask about something, like our half hour
long exploration of different number bases at a fast food restaurant last
week, and then I might ask questions I already know, to walk her through
it... but those are pretty unique situations.

Dar, going nomail and on vacation for a few days...

psoroosh

Actually, this scenario is very similar to some that Pam S talked
about in her Math lecture at the conference. She asked her daughter
how much change she expected to get back from a purchase, and it
turned out to be a good thing, as she was overcharged. >>


Kind of like what I was talking about. But - maybe this will help
explain the difference between "quizzing" for teaching purposes and
what I was trying to convey about how unschooling parents facilitate
learning as they're going through real life with their kids:

I handed a $20 bill to my young child - she was 9 years old. She went
across the mall (where I could still see her but not hear or
participate in the transaction) to buy a cookie. As I handed her the
money I said something like: "It is good to think in advance about
approximately how much change you expect to get, to make sure you get
the right amount." She sort of quickly figured it out, assumed a
cookie would be a few dollars and said how much it was, but I wasn't
actually asking her to TELL me. It was definitely not a quiz. I was
offering useful information with a practical purpose - practical and
useful TO the child, not useful because it is something I thought she
might need to know someday and not practical because I thought she
needed to know arithmetic now in order to do algebra later to get
into college and get a good job, etc.

As it turned out, I couldn't have chosen a better time to just happen
to mention predicting your change -- the girl behind the cookie
counter returned change for a $10 bill, not a $20. My daughter
pointed it out and got the right change. So - the most important
thing about this whole incident that was the most cool aspect - my
daughter got a dose of instant reinforcement that my suggestions are
worth listening to. She thought I was psychic or something, of
course! <G> Very impressed.



<<You have to read and believe that the tone in these conversations
is natural and easy going. >>

And that they are conversations, not teacher moments. Not necessary
the same conversation I'd have with another adult, though. I wouldn't
suggest to my friend Jocelyn that its a good idea to know how much
change to expect before you hand over a big bill like that. So it
isn't a conversation I'd really ever have with an adult. STILL, the
principle is the same - would I offer useful information to an adult
friend? Sure - do it all the time. My friends offer useful
interesting information tome all the time too. Those are the friends
I most appreciate and enjoy!! Is this useful information for my child
and am I offering it in that same spirit that I'd offer it to an
adult? If yes - that's an unschooling kind of thing to do.

Is it information that I just want to somehow drop into her brain
because I think it is good for her? Is it for some future need that
she has no way of understanding? Is it me thinking "you need to know
this" just because I think she should? Is it something the child
isn't going to see any practical use for right now? If the answer to
these questions is "yes" then I'm not unschooling, I'm schooling.


>>And, although I may ask him questions that I know the answers, I
never ask him questions that he obviously knows ( or has thought out)
the answers to. Maybe you just have to hear it in person to
understand it<<

Or keep reading with an open mind - it was the accumulation of lots
and lots of stories like this that helped me grasp the basic
principles of unschooling. That, and just trying them out in our
lives and observing the real-life results.

-pam

[email protected]

In a message dated 9/4/03 1:49:36 PM Eastern Daylight Time, [email protected]
writes:

> I hear you saying that your kid and Pam's
> kid weren't, that they enjoy it, but my point is that not all kids will
> respond that way.

I understand that. I just shared some things that happen in our family. It
was not meant as an endorsement that that kind of exchange will be the best
for everyone.

Ethan hates being quizzed.. even in game/fun situations. Landon and JP love
to be quizzed ( although, as I said before, the conversation I referred to
was NOT quizzing, it was talking) They enjoy answering trivial pursuit
questions, Brainquest, watching Jeopardy, "Millionaire" etc. I am talking about FOR
FUN, on thier own accord, requesting these activities, seeking them out.
Yeah, I will be the first to agree, some kids may be resistant to a conversation
that includes questions... So, of course, you wouldnt engage in that type of
conversation with that child.

Teresa


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Pamela Sorooshiantafti

>>I know that Rain would be upset by my saying things like that to her, no
matter how easygoing my tone. I hear you saying that your kid and Pam's
kid weren't, that they enjoy it, but my point is that not all kids will
respond that way. >>


I kind of responded to this - but I need to be more clear that my kids don't take well to people quizzing them either. It doesn't happen to them very often- but once in a while they feel "quizzed" by someone and they're kind of bewildered by it, to be honest. They've asked me, later, "Why was so-and-so asking me those questions" and they've even said things directly to the person, like,"I'm sorry, don't understand why you're asking me questions like this that you know the answers to." <G>

It isn't my nature to quiz them like that - so it hasn't come up between us - but I do remember my youngest being suspicious once, of a question I was asking. She responded, "Mom, are you really asking or just trying to find out if I know?" I was really asking - this was before she'd realized how much she knows that I don't know, I guess. She's still startled by that realization sometimes <G>.

-pam

[email protected]

**That might sound lame to people new to unschooling, but if the parent
reserves something (math, usually) as the thing they won't risk, the child
learns
that math is hard and important, but the other stuff isn't as important.**

Or they learn that mom thinks they aren't smart enough to learn math without
special help.

Or they learn that math isn't part of a real everyday life.

Which is why "unschooling everything except math" is counterproductive. The
kids learn the exact opposite of what the parents intend.

Deborah in IL


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Priss Adams

--- In [email protected], [email protected] wrote:

> Or they learn that math isn't part of a real everyday life.
>
> Which is why "unschooling everything except math" is
counterproductive. The
> kids learn the exact opposite of what the parents intend.
>
> Deborah in IL
>
>

I found that to be very much the case in our household. For a few
years my husband insisted on math lessons for our son, though dh had
read some John Holt and liked what he read, though he agreed with
unschooling for the most part. He still thought math had to be taught
sequentially, with a lot of practice, on paper. I wasn't so sure
about it myself to completely disagree with him (at first) so I
worked with my son on math for a long time. The result became that
Glenn hated math and felt he was an idiot where math was concerned.
It didn't affect only math. He got to where he distrusted me if it
seemed I wanted to talk about anything that he thought
was "educational." It even seemed to affect reading though I can't be
sure the connection is there. He enjoyed reading when he was younger
but got to the point where he didn't even want to read. He would tell
me he "hated reading" like he "hated math." Since I'd never forced
reading on him even in our early more structured homeschool days, I
think he was just closing off reading as a possibility of something
fun because his dad and I seemed to think books were valuable and
since we also seemed to think math was valuable he just couldn't
trust us. That's my theory. I don't know if it's true, but it seems
likely to me.

After the conference last year I had a showdown with my husband and
told him the math thing wasn't working, that it was
counterproductive, and he agreed very reluctantly to have us unschool
Glenn for real. He's still not a real supporter and still asks from
time to time if we "did math" or he'll say "If I gave Glenn a test
right now could he pass?" Yesterday he did that. Wanted to know if
Glenn could still do long division problems, something he could do
pretty easily a couple of years ago. I told my husband I didn't know,
but that if Glenn couldn't still do the problems it seemed to me it
would uphold the unschooling point of view that drill and successful
test taking are not the same as learning. He seemed to listen and
didn't continue the badgering so maybe that helped.

Glenn's had almost a year of unschooling without that holdout of math
and I think he's healing some. He'll notice and mention how
something has math in it without running scared the other direction.
He's more open to talking with me about a lot of different things and
isn't worrying that I'm trying to "teach" him. He read a book last
night and has started another one this morning. Anyway, I sure
agree that unschooling everything except math is wayyyyy
counterproductive. It affects the whole unschooling experience in a
bad way.

Priss

Crystal

Priss said: "If I gave Glenn a test right now could he pass?" Yesterday he
did that. Wanted to know if Glenn could still do long division problems,
something he could do pretty easily a couple of years ago. I told my husband
I didn't know, but that if Glenn couldn't still do the problems it seemed to
me it would uphold the unschooling point of view that drill and successful
test taking are not the same as learning.

Priss, you can tell your husband that my son was public schooled through 6th
grade. He learned long division in 4th grade which meant he had 2 full
years of practicing long division problems on papers. Today he says he
doesn't know how to do long division. If you gave him a test today on long
division he would fail. You are absolutely right that drill and then tests
are not the same as learning.

Crystal