Unschooling To Go

This might never be really formatted, but I didn't want it to be lost. The original discussion was 1995, on America Online.

Thanks to AM Architx, here's the first part (edited to fit in one e-mail).
Part Two was called UNSCHOOLING II 11/22/95

SandraDodd: Could you please go ahead and post some of the
things you've learned without formal
education?  Thanks.
TAZTUG: Has anybody seen anything about the Dinotopia cd rom program?
PMcconn369: No, have you?
AM Architx: No.  But I'm curious about it
TAZTUG: just got an ad looks neat
AM Architx: Is it like the book?
Robs Cutie: Never heard of it.
PMcconn369: From who TAZ?
TAZTUG: formal education Turner interactive
PMcconn369: Robs..There is a book (series) on Dinotopia...My kids like it!
TAZTUG: sorry mixed message
Robs Cutie: about dinosaurs?
PMcconn369: Yea, sort of...
TAZTUG: does she want us to answer our first question?
AM Architx: The artwork is wonderful in the books, the CD must be even better
Robs Cutie: evolution or creation?
PMcconn369: Dinosaurs and people live together.
AM Architx: Really...neither
Robs Cutie: cool!
AM Architx: Sort of fantasy-land...what if...
PMcconn369: Sandra's questions really made me look back on my life.
PMcconn369: How about everyone else?
Robs Cutie: I really couldn't think of anything back that far
TAZTUG: I liked my formal education,dh hated his
AM Architx: Me too, it took me a while to come up with something
PMcconn369: LOL Robs
Robs Cutie: What's really sad....Penny.....is that I'm only 31!
TAZTUG: formal classes for cooking from the electric co in GS
PMcconn369: I'm only 32
PMcconn369: I"m sure I learned more without formal ed..but just can't
SandraDodd: How about riding a bike? painting? cooking? sewing?  guitar?  how to saddle a horse? changing the oil on a truck?  You guys must know 1,000 things you didn't learn in school.
HomeinIA: I learned to sew at home by just doing it.

Robs Cutie: I remember learning to ride a bike..........and falling on my behind.
TAZTUG: how to play football?
AM Architx: Do card games count?
SandraDodd: Sure!  Card games count bigtime. 
TAZTUG: what do you consider "formal" instructor directed?
PMcconn369: Then I quess Chess.
CEngel2721: diving into books about childbirth when you found out you were
HomeinIA: I learned cake decorating, painting, needlework, etc. by myself.
Does that count?
SandraDodd: At school they taught dodgeball and volleyball, probably.
PMcconn369: Same question here.
HomeinIA: I wasn't good at dodgeball
SandraDodd: Why are you guys asking me if these things count?  I'm serious;
serious question.
PMcconn369: If you were instructed is that formal ed.
Robs Cutie: I did the childbirth books.........great stuff!
PMcconn369: I mean like piano, horseback riding, etc.
SandraDodd: If you took riding lessons or piano lessons?  Formal.
SandraDodd: (Especially if your parents MADE you .)
SandraDodd: I learned how to pick apples at home.  We had an orchard.
TAZTUG: photography darkroom techniques informal, hands on
PMcconn369: No they didn't make me, I wanted to take lessons.
.PMcconn369: So is that formal?
xTAZTUG: landscape design and gardening
SandraDodd: I can sew with or without patterns.  My grandmother walked me
through a couple of things (painfully).
TAZTUG: taught myself sewing
HomeinIA: Me too (sewing)
PMcconn369: TAZ..me Too!
SandraDodd: I learned how to weld and use all my dad's power tools
AM Architx: So if he taught you how to use his tools, while doing, is that
SandraDodd: No.  Not formal because he answered my questions and gave me
pointers and didn't say "It's Tuesday afternoon; time for a power tools lesson no matter what you're doing right now."
Robs Cutie: I've learned more teaching my son than I can remember ever
learning in school
AM Architx: I tried to teach myself sewing :(
AM Architx: Me too, Robs
SandraDodd: My piano lessons were formal AND I was pretty much so ruined by
school I felt guilty, sneaky, when I found other music, unassigned music, and practiced on that instead of the assigned piece.  As though the piano teacher owned and controlled my use of the piano.
HomeinIA: I used to like to start at the beginning of a music book and play
all the way through.
SandraDodd: I meant to say this:  Nobody has to post anything here tonight.
Lurking is fine.  I'm the same person as HmSchDodd (I guess you figured out ).
I've been homeschooling since my oldest was five, and he's 9 1/2.
I got an English degree at the age of 20, with a psych minor, anthro minor in near completion [finished getting an anthro/folklore certificate (forgot the term for an add-on specialty) later] and then (I always say last) the required education courses to teach.  I say it that way, cringing, because the college of education was such a JOKE!!!!!
Anybody else here a formal "real" teacher?  I need to leave for two minutes; say things about teachers 
PMcconn369: Not me!!
AM Architx: I'm not a "real" teacher, I'm just surreal.  LOL
PMcconn369: Okay teachers gone....Lets throw spit balls!!  
PMcconn369: Run around the room!!!
Robs Cutie: I have an A.S. degree in Early Childhood Development - that's as
close as I came to being a 'real' teacher.
TAZTUG: not me, didn't want to be , because I was a camp couselor for years
everyone thought i should be was afraid of formalizing the fun of learning
HomeinIA: I wanted to be a "real" teacher.  Now that I'm homeschooling my mom
says I am
TAZTUG: i did have some great teachers tho and then there were the duds too
SandraDodd:   Well I'll tell you what.The things most of you have learned in and around and relating to homeschooling are probably equal to what teachers learn in the college of education at many universities.
BarbaraspP: So would you say the overall view of unschooling is self teaching
and teachable moments ?
SandraDodd: Teachable moments is good.  What's important to me is the
extraction and banishment of all school terminology and behavior.
Robs Cutie: All the universities teach you is big, long words for what we
already know!
SandraDodd: The more of the baggage you can throw out of the wagon as you
cross the mountains into Happy Homeschool Valley, the better off you'll be.
AM Architx: What...no workbooks?  What if my son likes them?  (He does.)
TAZTUG: what about "portfolio" stuff?
SandraDodd: I like workbooks myself, but that doesn't mean I should make my
kids work them.  
SandraDodd: There is a difference between using a workbook like a puzzle book
or coloring book, to be picked up and put down and in having someone twice your size plunk one in front of you and say "DO IT and DO IT RIGHT."
PMcconn369: We don't do workbooks....at least I don't make them!
TAZTUG: what if your son wants "grades" because all his public school buddies
get them
AM Architx: So, it's up to them which they work on, and how?
SandraDodd: I would tell mine I think grades are harmful and I didn't want to
participate in something harmful.   Or talk to him about what grades mean-- percentage of assigned work is one way, or "on the curve"  (in which case he'll have an A for being best).
TAZTUG: but later in life you do get job reviews and graded?
PMcconn369: Sandra....What about portfolio's and following the law?
SandraDodd: TAZTUG, to you think we need to get them used to it early?
SandraDodd: Tell me names, please, those who plan to post or comment so I
don't have to use screennames.
PMcconn369: Penny
AM Architx: Georgie
Robs Cutie: Linda
HomeinIA: Denise
BarbaraspP: Barbara
CEngel2721: Cheri
SandraDodd: Thanks.
TAZTUG: karen, no just throwing out what I am being bombarded with, sister is
a teacher
SandraDodd: Another way to grade is "contract grading" and if your kids
really want grades you might do that.  The two of you agree on what they need to do by when to get an A, or a B, or whatever.
Robs Cutie: I feel tremendous pressure from my sister - a 2nd grd. teacher -
and my Mother. 
SandraDodd: Linda, have you tried giving them books about homeschooling to
TAZTUG: my sister is teaching 2 gr too, and that is what son is doing
SandraDodd: It sure helped with me and breastfeeding, and choosing not to
circumcise.  If anybody got on me I would offer them a book to read and say,
"I read a lot of books before I decided.  Would you like to read this?"  Most people wimped out because they didn't want to study.
Robs Cutie: They agree with hsling, but don't think it's good for their
family members......?......
CEngel2721: I pass on homeschooling magazines to family members, it helps.
SandraDodd: Then you just need to tell them if it doesn't work you'll give
them a brass plaque engraved with << YOU TOLD ME SO.  I was wrong.>>
TAZTUG: so far son is thriving that is helping
Robs Cutie: lol
HomeinIA: What do you do with a child damaged by the school system who is not
thriving yet?
SandraDodd: Denise, how long has he/she been home?
HomeinIA: This is our 2nd year
SandraDodd: How long was the child in school?
HomeinIA: K - 4th
SandraDodd: Are you "doing school"?
HomeinIA: I was last year but have backed off this year
SandraDodd: So after six years of school (including the one you ran) it's
been just a few months, right?
HomeinIA: Yes
HomeinIA: We do a lot of field trips, museums, games, etc.  But I don't know
if that's enough
SandraDodd: I think the longer a child/person is brainwashed that "education"
and "teaching" are necessary, the harder it is for him to learn on his own.
HomeinIA: That is the problem I am having.  He thinks I need to stand there
and teach him everything

SandraDodd:  I'm going to throw out some things I bet you guys are afraid of
in a minute, but first, are there any fullblown unschoolers here already?
TAZTUG: what age do they "learn " on their own?
CEngel2721: I am!
SandraDodd: One?  Okay.
SandraDodd: Anybody totally curriculum-based?  Schedules and schoolroom and
the whole nine yards?
Robs Cutie: I still don't understand what unschooling is.
PMcconn369: I'm willing to learn!
BarbaraspP: I get nervous when we don't "do School"
PMcconn369: No!!!
Robs Cutie: That's me Sandra......trying to break away!
AM Architx: I'm with Linda, I don't quite understand
HomeinIA: I get nervous too, when we don't "do School"
AM Architx: No
HomeinIA: But I'm trying
SandraDodd: Okay.  I just wanted to know what I didn't need to say.  We have
a full range, on the schoolish end it seems.
PMcconn369: Sandra...The only problem I see is keeping within the law here in my state!
SandraDodd: Okay then.  Here's what I believe is a reasonable guess at what
you're afraid of.
  You're afraid your child won't learn everything he would have
learned in school.
You're afraid someone will report you to the county if you don't
have worksheets to show.
 You're afraid your child will never get into college.
HomeinIA: yes, yes, yes
SandraDodd: You're afraid he'll go out on a date, not know his timestables
and nobody will ever marry him.
TAZTUG: yes, or at "proper time" what if we really can't h/s for the rest of
their lives?
Robs Cutie: no, yes, no
SandraDodd: You're afraid you'll die and he'll be thrust into a public school
and have not a clue on earth.
AM Architx: yes, no, no
PMcconn369: Not really, PA has a very strict hs law!
TAZTUG: yes,or have to go to work etc.
SandraDodd: You're afraid you'll wake up when he's fifteen and realize you
Never Taught him any SCIENCE. 
PMcconn369: LOL
SandraDodd: (one of those nightmares like going to school in your underwear.)
AM Architx: I'm worried he'll lose out, I did enjoy school
BarbaraspP: No I just want her to achieve her own  confidence
SandraDodd: I enjoyed school too, but I went from 1959 to 1970, and it's not
like that any more at all.
SandraDodd: Even then my mom was assuming it was like when SHE went to
school, and the old days (pick them, any old days) are gone. I wanted my kids to take band.  Our school district doesn't HAVE band for 5th and 6th grade.
 Our school district doesn't have art teachers until high school.  [later note:  except for the magnet midschool specializing in arts]
SandraDodd: So...  Let's have a few moments for Pennsylvania law.  You need
an ongoing portfolio?
PMcconn369: Lots of stuff....Are you familiar?
TAZTUG: yes and log of "school days"
SandraDodd: Somewhat.  Just give us the worst parts, what you're mostly afraid of.
 We have two from PA?
PMcconn369: I can give a quick run down.
SandraDodd: (Everybody list states:)
SandraDodd: NM
BarbaraspP: CTBS test
HomeinIA: Iowa
Robs Cutie: CA
BarbaraspP: Fla,
PMcconn369: Objectives at the beginning...Portfolio. (on going)...Teacher
evaluation...  and Log books.  That's it!
CEngel2721: MI
AM Architx: VA
SandraDodd: That's IT!?  
PMcconn369: Yea!!  It's tough!
SandraDodd: You find an unschooling family with more experience than you have
and you borrow their records and base yours on theirs!
PMcconn369: This is every year~!
SandraDodd: Do you have a list of the state's expected competencies, or ...
(what do other places call them)  curriculum... objectives--  what teachers use to plan THEIR years.
PMcconn369: Finding them is the problem!  I feel like a pioneer.
 HomeinIA: We have to fill out a form at the beginning of the year that lists
our textbooks etc. How do you get around that?
SandraDodd: You can probably swipe/borrow some unschooler's list of books.
I'm serious.
PMcconn369: I have the state regulations from the state board of ED.
PMcconn369: They have to be taught in every area of ed.
PMcconn369: Karen knows!
SandraDodd: By "taught" it can mean "exposed to."
PMcconn369: Yes!
SandraDodd: You have to provide them with experiences in history, science,
math, language arts, music, whatever, right?
PMcconn369: We are required by law to expose them to..
SandraDodd: For math instead of using one textbook, make a list of your
PMcconn369: Yes!
TAZTUG: yeah and then they have to "pass" a basic test in 3,5 and7 grade
SandraDodd: Math for Smarty Pants, Treasure Mountain, Treasure Math Storm
(you guys help me make her a list really quick)
HomeinIA: Grocery Store Math
Robs Cutie: ?
PMcconn369: Who's the list for?  ME???
SandraDodd: pattern blocks, geoboard with workbook--it does NOT have to be
one single textbook.
BarbaraspP: check book balancing  and statement
SandraDodd: No, the list is for the district or state or whoever it is asking
you what books you're using!
HomeinIA: That's me.  So you just list all your resources
SandraDodd: The best teachers never use just one text.  Only lame
unimaginative teachers do.
SandraDodd: Linda?
PMcconn369: Okay..confused a little, kids are being naughty!  
PMcconn369: Okay, I'm lame, unimaginative! :(
Robs Cutie: huh?
CEngel2721: Make some up- they don't really *care* it's just for their
SandraDodd: I wouldn't fake it, I'd be honest. Penny, did I hurt your feelings really?
 Do you only really use one single math book all year?
Robs Cutie: That's all I use.
PMcconn369: Yes, but we do do fun things sometimes!
HomeinIA: Me too
AM Architx: I do, sorry...
SandraDodd: I mean in schools!  Teachers use other kinds of resources.
PMcconn369: That was yes to single math book .
TAZTUG: not me
CEngel2721: I'd be honest but creative
PMcconn369: Not feelings hurt!
SandraDodd: Don't apologize to me!  Just be aware that you can turn your kids
off to math just as well as a classroom teacher can!  They don't need school to make them hate "subject matter."
HomeinIA: I know that from experience last year
AM Architx: But how else do you teach higher math...not consumer stuff...but
geometry, algebra, etc.
PMcconn369: They do enjoy their math books though!  does that count?
BarbaraspP: The book is more of a tool than a sole source of learning it's a
core base for idea planning
PMcconn369: Well, my son helped his dad build a barn...Measuring etc.
SandraDodd: Oh, I'm just razzing you guys anyway.  Don't take all this too
seriously.  I just want to shake you up and give you a chance to think about some different ways to do what you're doing.  And yes, I REALLY believe in unschooling and that kids can learn without "being taught" and that they  DO learn but sometimes parents spend so much time hovering, measuring, threatening, worrying,  that the parents never get the joy of knowing that the child WILL grow and learn every single day whether you want them to or not, whether you help them or not.
Robs Cutie: So, then, how do you make sure they know what the law requires
them to?
SandraDodd: Sneak up on them.
HomeinIA: LOL
SandraDodd: What "the law requires" is probably greatly exaggerated in your
SandraDodd: The law might require that all high school students take English
every year, but it's pretty obvious the law doesn't require them to LEARN anything, just be there a certain number of days
HomeinIA: I have a 5th grader who doesn't know multiplication and 6th who
can hardly read.  I worry!
SandraDodd: So about this daily log requirement in Pennsylvania...
PMcconn369: Yes?????
SandraDodd: (and I'll get back to Denise...)
Kcats: I'll be in and out becouse I'm cooking for tomorrow, but I'm logging
so not to miss.  My 4th grader won't learn his multi. tables either, Home
SandraDodd: New Mexico says we're supposed to submit a calendar showing our
180 days of instruction.
TAZTUG: daily log doesn't bother me, i countSundays and trips with dh to
SandraDodd: The first two years I did. I faked up a school-calendar looking thing with 180 days dark and
the rest halftone,  with vacations
SandraDodd: marked and 
[STOP IT with the multiplication tables, wouldja!? SAME thing the morning group was all  hepped up about.  Just stop.]
 finally the third year I sent a calendar with a big note on top saying one thing I wanted to teach my children was honesty, and we were NOT using those days any
differently from other days, and I couldnot in honesty call 180 days.  They didn't care!!!! 
PMcconn369: We can't do that...We have to show what we did on those days.
SandraDodd: WHO do you have to show.   Does an inspector come?
SandraDodd: Do you have to go to the superintendant's office and sit for an
PMcconn369: Evaluator!! and yes to the superintendants office too!
SandraDodd: There ARE unschoolers in Pennsylvania.  They are dealing with
this somehow.  The school can't say that you can't spread the stuff out over 360
days instead of 180.
TAZTUG: just evaluator currently and I hire one don't use schools so I have
one that matches more of our learning style
Robs Cutie: Yikes, you guys are scaring me!
AM Architx: Boy, am I glad we live in VA
PMcconn369: There have to be some...Just not in my area!
BarbaraspP: Wow what money your school district must have to give HS'ers such
SandraDodd: But I can find one for you.  I'm serious. How about I do that?  I'll just set you guys up with some unschoolers in PA next week after Thanksgiving and I'll finnd you a solution. 
AM Architx: Yeaaaa for Sandra
PMcconn369: We can spread out our school year for as many days as we want as
long as we do at least 180.
 Forget it.
 It's not an icon, it's not a magic spell, it's not anything but a pattern of numbers. If you had never shown or told your children about "the times table" they would, at some point in their lives, play around with numbers and make those patterns.
PMcconn369: Flash cards worked for us!  and cookie baking! 
SandraDodd: "Times tables" is a very bad term for what's on flashcards.
HomeinIA: She likes to skip count.  She has a skip count kid tape she
SandraDodd: If they memorize multiplication facts separate from the table, as
a table/graph, it's SO much harder.   By making a blank chart and putting the numbers in, the kids can discover the patterns, how all the 9's add up to 9 (18, 27, 36, 45...) and how the twos and threes and fives are things they already  know from counting games, and how the ones and tens are no-brainers, and nothing is left, after  you fill in all the easy stuff, but 7x8 and 8x6!
PMcconn369: Great point!!
SandraDodd: They can memorize the little handful in the middle and figure the
others out each time.
SandraDodd: And you know what will happen if they do NOT memorize those?
SandraDodd: Nothing.
AM Architx: I still forget 7 x 8
HomeinIA: I forget those, also
PMcconn369: So do I, I now ask my son! 
SandraDodd: I forget 6x8, but I know 5x8 and I add 8, almost every time.  So
AM Architx: I figure it out in my head, sort of like Sandra does...and you
are right...so what
SandraDodd: I am mystified at how that chart of numbers scares the pants off
grown human beings.. scared to death the math police will show up, blindfold people and start shooting when they miss.   We were made SO afraid by school we don't even realize or remember where that fear comes from.
PMcconn369: Math was never a problem for me...English, now there is a
HomeinIA: I had a math teacher who acted like the math police was going to
shoot me.
Robs Cutie: So, you don't actually teach how to multipy.....you just make a
SandraDodd: Calculators cost $5 at Walmart.
SandraDodd: Making the chart IS teaching, but now comes the really scary part
of this discussion.
PMcconn369: They have some really nice ones for kids now too!!
 SandraDodd: Check your safety harness because I'm going to scare you.
SandraDodd: There is no such thing as teaching.
SandraDodd: "Teaching" is a verb which has no action.
PMcconn369: Okay, dh just came unglued!!
SandraDodd: I'm not making this up; educational theorists and psychologists
and philosophers are pretty clear on this.   The best thing a "teacher" can do is facilitate learning.  LEARNING happens.  There is a definite action with learning.
PMcconn369: He's listening.
SandraDodd: Example: Times Tables.
 You could recite them every day until you pass out, explain the theory every year on St. Crispin's day kind of like teachers do   but until that moment when the child's brain begins to "see" that pattern of numbers and inside his mind the pattern finds a place to live, and hooks up with some other knowledge and ideas,  nothing is happening
 (Well, except that you're wasting time and energy and the kid is learning to hate whatever the heck  "TIMES TABLES" are, and you're wondering whether you should put
him in school or sell the Nintendo,  and whether he should be kept from playing or having more toys because he will NOT LEARN THE TIMES TABLES)  Not that anyone *here* has ever had such thoughts of course (birds tweeting in the background)
PMcconn369: lol
AM Architx: Of course
SandraDodd: ALL the times table (and there's only one of them) is is a little
graph.  A painless tiny little graph


BarbaraspP: Sandra what about decoding skills for delayed readers
AM Architx: But we are responsible to "expose" our children to what they need
to function, no?

These questions were asked during the Times Tables discussion in The First Part and I pulled them to put them closer to their discussion (if any ever came of it; I forgot).

SandraDodd: We have "done times tables" twice in my house.  Once was on a piece of paper and my oldest and I took turns filling in any square at random.  Kind of like playing dots.  So he picked easy ones, and we raced for the easy ones, and the repeats,
 because everything except one and 81 is on there twice.  It was okay, not a huge thrill, but not painful either.  About a year later, late one night in summer, we made a BIG one on the patio in the backyard  with chalk and we let the six year old in on it.  We took turns doing rows.
PMcconn369: Where do you get all your ideas, also do you let your kids choose
what they want to learn or do you pick sometimes?
SandraDodd: They would fill in all the threes, either horizontal or vertical
and in no time, most of the chart was filled in.
SandraDodd: I pick but I don't declare it.
HomeinIA: What do you mean you don't declare it?
SandraDodd: I'm missing another question from back up top, too, about reading
decoding.  Are there others?
AM Architx: Advanced math?
SandraDodd: From the beginning I decided I would hide certain concepts from
my children.  I didn't mind
SandraDodd: I'm missing another question from back up top, too, about reading
decoding.  Are there others?
AM Architx: Advanced math?
SandraDodd: From the beginning I decided I would hide certain concepts from
my children.  I didn't mind them
SandraDodd: knowing/asking about sex, death, God, poverty--all that was fine.
SandraDodd: I never taught them these terms or concepts though:
SandraDodd: history
SandraDodd: math
SandraDodd: science
SandraDodd: They eventually learned them from other kids and TV, but not from
SandraDodd: When we were reading about Egypt, I didn't say, "This is HIStory!
I'm so PROUD of you for knowing
SandraDodd: HISTORY!"
SandraDodd: It was just Egypt.
SandraDodd: If you categorize things to death and they decide for whatever
reason that they don't like science
SandraDodd: and they find out that chemistry is science and butterflies are
science and electronics is science
PMcconn369: I've been trying not to categorize....but my daughter wants to
know why she has to learn...
PMcconn369: about the Revolution.
SandraDodd: they'll just reject the whole mass of things because they don't
like it.
SandraDodd: Tell her she doesn't have to learn it.  It will be the truth.
SandraDodd: Find some historical novels about the Revolutionn.
SandraDodd: Read her "The Highwayman"
SandraDodd: Find some videos from that time period.
SandraDodd: Don't inundate her with it, just slip one in occasionally.
SandraDodd: Take her to a museum with old uniforms or something.
SandraDodd: Martha Washington paperdolls.
PMcconn369: There's an idea!!
SandraDodd: There is a whole lot to learn about "The Revolution" besides the
political "facts" and dates.
PMcconn369: She liked reading about Martha!
SandraDodd: How did people live?  Why were people even HERE? and what was
their relationship with England?
PMcconn369: I try very hard to not do Political facts, etc.
SandraDodd: What did they eat?  How did they get around?
SandraDodd: Right!  Do social history and the other will have something to be
tacked onto later.
HomeinIA: My daughter liked reading  If you lived in Colonial Times
PMcconn369: We did that one!!
SandraDodd: People's minds are all arranged differently, but it's a matrix
(like a times table!  Think of that!)
AM Architx: I think that I might be unschooling more than I thought...
SandraDodd: and the more you know, the more you CAN know, because there are
more hooks to hang it on.
SandraDodd: Here's an argument I have with unit studies:
HomeinIA: Which means we have to study more?
SandraDodd: If a kid asks about whales maybe he just wants to know whether
they're fish.
TAZTUG: lets hear it!!
SandraDodd: He might not WANT a solid week of whale-everything.
SandraDodd: When kids ask where babies come from, they don't want a two-week
SandraDodd: Same with other stuff.
Robs Cutie: What about Junior Highers - gifted Jr. Highers - how do you
unschool them?
SandraDodd: Watch the child and the moment the interest wanes, change the
SandraDodd: Gifted Jr. High is the very easiest age for unschooling because
they can read and they're not
TAZTUG: agree with that
HomeinIA: What if you have more than one child  (more interests)
SandraDodd: hormonally primed to leave home yet.
PMcconn369: Yes, but if I left it up to my kids we'd do a different topic
everyday, with activities!!!!!
SandraDodd: So what?
AM Architx: Do you do just one thing at a time?
SandraDodd: What if you do a different topic every three minutes?
Robs Cutie: My son would rather just play all day.....how do I unschool with
PMcconn369: Ouch!!!
SandraDodd: Would you always fill out a multiplication table in the very same
way?  left to right?
SandraDodd: My kids just play all day and they're doing great!
PMcconn369: To hard to keep logged and the library is far away!
HomeinIA: Do you plan anything?
SandraDodd: You're logging in too much detail, Penny.
PMcconn369: I do!
SandraDodd: Teachers' planbooks are not that detailed.
SandraDodd: You can average out, "Math, 45 minutes" even though the math was
not consecutively 45 minutes.
Robs Cutie: I confused........plan, but don't plan.......teach, but don't

[This is a repeat for a few of you; sorry.  It's more carefully edited.  This is about the last third or half of the 11/22 p.m. session.  Unless someone here logged the whole thing we don't have a record of what happened before this.  If anyone DID log it, please send it to me!!]

Robs Cutie : I confused........plan, but don't plan.......teach, 
             but don't teach.......aaaaaggggghhhh
HomeinIA   : I'm confused, too
PMcconn369 : Robs...I have too!
SandraDodd : And you can count two for one.  If the kid makes a plum pudding for a Revolutionary war study, call it science and history and home ec and art!  Are you not counting anything twice?
Cheri help me!  
CEngel2721 : I'll try
PMcconn369 : Yes Sandra...My logs are written in that sort of 
             form..Plum pudding,science history and home ec..art etc.
HomeinIA   : I understand how to make something you do sound educational but do you as mom ever plan things to do with the children
SandraDodd : Well sure I do, but I don't plan it to the extent that if it doesn't go as I envisioned I'm bummed and the kids are BAD.
SandraDodd : We go to museums, but I don't make them take notes or write reports or answer schoolish questions.
SandraDodd : We go to the zoo, but if they want to spend half the time at the sea lions and blow off everything else, it doesn't matter.  The zoo will be therelater.  We have a pass.
HomeinIA   : My kids want to play games all day.
CEngel2721 : Everyone should just *try* to do nothing for one week
SandraDodd : AMEN!  There it is.
SandraDodd : Come away from the shore.
SandraDodd : If you're holding on to the notion that there is 
 something magical happening at school, in textbooks, on flashcards and you have to recreate or capture that magic at home, you've been duped
Kcats      : mine just complain about being bored, even though we 
             have lots of "stuff" they could do
PMcconn369 : Okay...we did that once.Nothing for a week...I did get 5 days of school * unschool*
HomeinIA   : We tried not "schooling" for the last 3 weeks.  I  don't know if we learned anything.
CEngel2721 : When I first started to unschool, I gave my kids one 
             last assignment-
SandraDodd : If any of you would just STOP doing structure from now until January and just STOP shaming the kids and worrying about them I think they would begin to learn on their own
Robs Cutie : We ' do ' an 8wk on 4wk off type of year.
CEngel2721 : try not to learn anything today...
SandraDodd : Good one, Cheri.  Did it work?      
CEngel2721 : It was GREAT
SandraDodd : Any of the rest of you could do that.  I'll tell you,  though, if they know that in four weeks "IT" is coming back, and they can tell the difference  between "IT" and vacations, they will  not love "IT" or embrace it.  s
Robs Cutie : You're right Sandra, that's the trouble I'm having 
             with my son, right now.
SandraDodd : Linda, do your kids learn during those months off?
SandraDodd : It's not too late to "deschool."
Kcats      : My oldest -13- keeps telling me she wants to be told 
             what to do and not have to be motivated herself
Robs Cutie : Never really thought about it.......learning during 
CEngel2721 : It took me *weeks* to relax, but once I did our lives 
             changed dramatically
SandraDodd : but if you cease and desist all use of "school year" 
"grade level" "semester" "vacation" "educational" and all that vocabulary and all those trappings of SCHOOL, you will find that after
a period of "hooray" and lots of naps and lots of playing, the kids will need and want to know some things you would never have thought they would come  to you on their own about.
     There's faith involved in this.  I'm going to send  you all the transcript from this morning's workshop because it went well 
PMcconn369 : Okay...I guess you could say I take an Unschooling 
             approach to Unit studies!
HomeinIA   : How long does it take before they want to learn?
SandraDodd : Linda, depends on the kid and how long he's been  schooled and how his personality is and how the match between parent and child is, adn lots of stuff, but some have been reported to take a year,: and some a week.
Robs Cutie : I'm still confused......can you give a sample day of 
             unschooling - one w/plans, one w/none?
Kcats      : we are working on a year and counting...it's been really scary
SandraDodd : But you know what?  You HAVE a year
BarbaraspP : I quessWe're Ok at unschooling we just do what we 
 want and we learn that's doing school
SandraDodd : Kcats, Please tell us age of child and how long in school before coming home. Growing Without Schooling lists unschoolers all over, and I should be able to find you some people online here too.
Kcats      : 13y girl came home the middle of 7th, 10 year boy 
             came home the middle of 3rd
TAZTUG     : seriously we are "unschooling 90% of the time, trying 
             to let go of the last 10% and reaafirm
SandraDodd : Higher math--it's not universally required in all schools.  There are computer games, books, if a kid needs it to make something or do something he/she can learn it.  Even if it's just to know it to get a good ACT or SAT score.   Those things do NOT take a year to learn.  They take a year to learn in the really disorganized way schools work, with tons of kids at once.
Kcats      : they watch tv or play computer and fight with each 
             other most of the time
SandraDodd : Are they learning from TV and the computer?
Kcats      : computer, yes, tv i'm not so sure...
Robs Cutie : Can you give an example of an unschooling day - one w/plans, one without?
Robs Cutie : I'm still real confused.
SandraDodd : Sample day?  There's some of that in the morning transcript which I'll send you guys.
Robs Cutie : ok
HomeinIA   : great
TAZTUG     : thanks Sandra this was neat!!!
SandraDodd : If any of you need to bail, because it's 7:30, I  understand but I'm willing to stay, and you'll all hear from me again.
Kcats      : sounds good
BarbaraspP : Sandra thanks it's been great
SandraDodd : If there's anyone here who never reads the unschooling folder at keyword HOMESCHOOL, please go and log some of that off of there.
PMcconn369 : Thanks Sandra!!  :)
SandraDodd : There's a folder at HEM called "Radical Unschooling too.
Kcats      : I need to go finish the candy on the stove, actually, 
             Katie (13yr) has cooked some of it for me so I could be online!   Thanks so much for all the info, I really think this is the way to go, if only the kids would start to agree
PMcconn369 : It's 9:30 here but If your going to stay I do have a 
             few other questions. :)
SandraDodd : It's really funny how discussions go.  There's no 
             good way to make it flow where I want it to 
Robs Cutie : Because everyone's coming from a different 
AM Architx : It was all the turkey talk early on...sorry, we got 
             off track
SandraDodd : Kcats, you just need to learn some tricks for separating them tactfully and subtly. They're just kids, and they probably get a little stir crazy.
Kcats      : that is very true
SandraDodd : Adrenaline dissipates in no time with most kids.If you can even just ask one to go get you something, or feed the cat, or check the mail box by the time he/she gets back the situation might be all different.
PMcconn369 : That's true!!!
SandraDodd : Or taking turns "having their way" by the day or 
             something might work.

AM Architx : Do you find that unschooling takes actually more work 
             than formal schooling?
SandraDodd : Oh heck no.  It's no work at all! It takes patience and faith and reading (for me to be cheered on)
Robs Cutie : That's a joke, right?
CEngel2721 : You just keep being a mother
Kcats      : everyone take care and have a nice holiday.
SandraDodd : and there's a lot of STUFF to clean up (games, art 
             supplies, books, books, books.
SandraDodd : Linda, I'm not joking!  No day is any different from any other
Robs Cutie : This is too good to be true!
SandraDodd : except for things like park meeting days, museum days, people coming over, them going to other  houses... there are things that break up the week,              but the learning never ends.  They learn early in the morning and at mealtime and in the car and at night.
AM Architx : What would you recommend for Jr. High math?
Math is the only subject that trips me..Everything else I understand how to unschool
SandraDodd : Jr. High Math... computer games, even those that seem too easy for them, because they'll work out patterns. Building toys like Ramagon.  Don't TELL them it's  math, just get it for them. Even games like hangman are math related, because 
 there are certain letters which are more common and some letters have relationships to other letters which make them likely to come up once part of that pattern shows (like -tion, and qu-)   Dice games, dominoes, cards--all math, math, math.
HomeinIA   : Do you use textbooks as a reference for yourself?
Robs Cutie : I think I've found my problem.....I have no car to go 
             places.....and I HATE reading.... =)
PMcconn369 : Are games a large part of your learning?
SandraDodd : Building stars and shapes with a compass and 
             protractor--Christmas is a good time to teach geometry!  Christmas decorations!  Fancy boxes made to disguise gifts.  My husband made a big diamond 
Robs Cutie : I don't even remember how to use a protractor!
SandraDodd : shaped solid to hide a record album the first year he knew me.  It had a foursided pyramid on each side, and it felt hollow!  The record was in the middle.
AM Architx : But see, all those things are work...they take a lot 
             of time to plan AND build
SandraDodd : Use a protractor to draw circles and arcs on the 
             circle to make stars.  If you don't know how to give your kids one and let them figure it out and explain it to you.
SandraDodd : Are you afraid to say "I don't have any idea"?  Some people are. I'm not.
Robs Cutie : that's me
CEngel2721 : Not me
PMcconn369 : Not me...If I don't know *WE* learn!!
SandraDodd : Games are a big part of how  my kids are and they don't always need me to play them.
HomeinIA   : Mine want me to play all the time (games)
SandraDodd : We have some card games--authors, explorers, Greek Myths, but they aren't treated as "school stuff"-- nothing is around here  but just as games to be pulled out and played with occasionally.  
AM Architx : I'm more afraid to say I don't feel like doing that, 
             sort of a party pooper :(
SandraDodd :The kids won't always need you to help, as they get older.  Maybe your husband would, Or maybe you could hire/bribe an older neighbor, friend, relative to do those projects with or for them.  But construction toys--Ramagon, erector sets, even Lego--will teach math concepts.
PMcconn369 : The games and learning I and the kids have no problem 
             with and I do write it in the log book too!
AM Architx : What is Ramagon?
SandraDodd : Don't expect the kids to report to you what they are learning and thinking all the time.
PMcconn369 : If we play scrabble...That's spelling and English!  Correct.
PMcconn369 : Sometimes math if the kids keep score.
SandraDodd : Scrabble is math too.
PMcconn369 : I guess when they have to add up the word!
SandraDodd : The valuable letters are valuable because they're harder to play.  Some scrabble tricks can be used on hangman.  I downloaded a good Macintosh Hangman from AOL.
PMcconn369 : Boy, I can be dense sometimes!
SandraDodd : It's more than adding up the words, it's figuring the odds. It's patterns, and figuring out what the most valuable combination is.  There might be a longer word
 worth less than a shorter one.  That's algebra.  Yahtzee is VERY good for multiplication and for reasoning.
PMcconn369 : Neat...Is there one for PC too!
PMcconn369 : Can a 6 yr old play Yahtzee?
SandraDodd : If someone puts a five of a kind there instead of Yahtzee, does he lose more?
Robs Cutie : They have a Mickey Mouse Yahtzee.....good for younger ones.
SandraDodd : Yes, 6-yr-olds can play.  You don't really need the whole set, if you know how.  Just five dice and the score sheets, which they sell separately.
HomeinIA   : I hate to bail out.  This is so interesting.  Thanks so much Sandra.  I LEARNED a lot!!
SandraDodd : You're welcome.
SandraDodd : Any other unanswered questions of the people still here?
PMcconn369 : We have the score cards and dice!  Like I said I am dense sometimes...Gotta get my brain more creative.   I do!!!
AM Architx : What is Ramagon?
CEngel2721 : Thanks for everything, Sandra, I'll talk to you soon.
 SandraDodd : Ramagon is sold at upscale toy shops and catalogs and  it's billed as something NASA developed to model spacecraft.  It has connecting sticks and  balls.  It's like high-tech TinkerToys, and its' got wheels and connectors...  It has plastic plates which              are Lego-compatible, triangle and rectangles.  It seems expensive but I really think it's worth it, and it's easier to clean up than lego too.
SandraDodd : They make a great combination.
SandraDodd : But Ramagon deals in angles.  Three-dimensional shapes and it's hard to describe and if you lived nearby I'd lend you mine.
AM Architx : What catalogues sell it?
SandraDodd : Delta math???
AM Architx : Or I could come play at your house 
PMcconn369 : What do you do about writing skills, not just spelling and vocabulary?
SandraDodd : My kids are little and they're not writing yet, but I know lots of tricks from having taught 12-year-olds in school, and I've seen lots of my friends 
 unschooling kids that age.
PMcconn369 : Yea, lets go to Sandra's for a week and learn to Unschool!! 
AM Architx : Ok, PM, you bring the turkey
PMcconn369 : No turkey, but I'll bring pies!!
SandraDodd : Come on!  I-40 and Wyoming Blvd in Albuquerque.  The place is a mess.
PMcconn369 : Okay, give me some ideas!
SandraDodd : What not to do, first:  Don't fake up stuff.  Don't make them write what's not real.
PMcconn369 : Such as??
SandraDodd : I hate "fake" research assignments and "fake" book reports, and by that I mean why assign a child to look up something just arbitrarily?  Wait until there's a real interest and THEN teach research skills and tricks. Same with writing.  If they're not old enough to actually have a need to write, why should they write?
 Some people leave their kids notes and the kids answer in writing.   It should be low pressure.
PMcconn369 : Okay, I got the picture...I thought maybe you were referring to creative writing.
 SandraDodd : Best creative writing trick I know is to write down the kids' stories as they tell them.  Either record it and transcribe or get them to say them slowly. Write them down, read them back to them, let the kids read them back, let them edit them, and you
be the editor/secretary.
PMcconn369 : Play newspaper, etc.
SandraDodd : I'll be right back.   Two minutes.  If you guys want 
             to stay, stay.  Bread problem 
PMcconn369 : Robs...are you getting any ideas?
Robs Cutie : Lots.....just not sure I know how to implement them.
Robs Cutie : You?
PMcconn369 : I just worry about our hs law here!!
Robs Cutie : I worry about that too.
PMcconn369 : To justify a day of school work etc.
SandraDodd : You guys familiar with St Francis of Assisi?  It's my 
             thing of the week. I've been reading a lot about him.
Robs Cutie : No, not familiar.
SandraDodd : Or Zen Buddhism?  Pick one.  
Robs Cutie : Nope
PMcconn369 : No, me either.
SandraDodd : Do you know the "consider the lilies of the field" 
PMcconn369 : Buddhism...A little.
Robs Cutie : no
PMcconn369 : Yes
SandraDodd : Can you quote it Penny?  I'd have to look it up.
Robs Cutie : oh, yeah, now I know which passage.
SandraDodd : "Consider the lilies of the field.  They toil not,  either do they reap, yet Solomon in all his  glory was not arrayed like one of those."
SandraDodd : Then there's a part about birds.
SandraDodd : Birds are fed and clothed by God.
SandraDodd : These just all have to do with the concept of letting go, clearing the decks, and waiting.
PMcconn369 : You know there are times when I wish I could give my son a year off from school.
SandraDodd : As long as we are "farting and tapdancing" (to quote Kurt Vonnegut, pardon the vulgarity), we keep things from happening as they naturally would. Until we are still, and let go, our children can't grow naturally.
PMcconn369 : Yes we do!!  I believe that whole-heartedly!
SandraDodd : You guys do realize you didn't teach them to walk, don't you?  You didn't teach them to talk?
PMcconn369 : I do realize that!
SandraDodd : You didn't teach them to run, or climb or smile.
Robs Cutie : well...........................     =)
PMcconn369 : We didn't teach them to ride their bikes..
SandraDodd : You do't have to teach them times tables.
SandraDodd : You don't have to teach them to read.
SandraDodd : It takes a leap of faith--it takes letting go and  believing that they have inside them what it takes to discover the patterns, to organize their own minds, to Do and to LEARN  because they will.
PMcconn369 : Reading....My daughter practically taught herself!
Robs Cutie : Okay, I'm confused again......
SandraDodd : Linda, what?
Robs Cutie : How do they learn to read on their own?
SandraDodd : From being read to, from seeing words on signs, names of TV shows...
PMcconn369 : Sandra...May I?
SandraDodd : Sure!
PMcconn369 : Well, Sandra hit the beginning.... Then when they are ready...The keyword is when *They* are ready..   They will begin to form the sounds of the letters and 
 begin to read.. My daughter was reading Dr. Suess by age 4.   Only because we read it all the time.
Robs Cutie : How?  The english language never follows a certain sound....it's always changing.
PMcconn369 : But she figured out the sounds of the letters and how to blend those sounds from.reading it so much.
SandraDodd : Did she have it memorized?
PMcconn369 : Yes...Word for word
SandraDodd : Combo of sight reading and phonics.
Robs Cutie : interesting................
PMcconn369 : But those few words were the beginning...I just had to polish if off.
SandraDodd : Mine didn't read when he was eight and now he reads              better than most kids his age.  I'll admit I was nervous, but I had other families to watch and 
 follow, and it worked for them.
PMcconn369 : When it came to long and short vowels I explained that some break the rules, etc.   "e turns around and tells i to say its name..."  Things like that.
Robs Cutie : So, you had to teach the rules?
PMcconn369 : Not really!
PMcconn369 : She know a said ah!
SandraDodd : I don't teach rules, but when they ask a direct question (and they do) I answer it, usually with some history of English.
PMcconn369 : Stuff like that.
SandraDodd : Like "knight" used to be pronounced "kuNEEckt" and the "w" in sword wasn't always silent.
PMcconn369 : Sandra...I used the same approach
SandraDodd : Once again, history!
SandraDodd : 
PMcconn369 : I never pushed her to read she *wanted* to learn.
PMcconn369 : Why does this say this instead of this, etc.
Robs Cutie : This is all totally foreign to me!  I think the sample day from the am class will help me.
PMcconn369 : When they want to learn or are ready to learn they will.
PMcconn369 : Now at age 6 she reads approx. 50 books a month.
Robs Cutie : OK, thanks for all of your time......I really learned a lot.
SandraDodd : I learned to read early too, but my oldest son didn't.  Middle one (six) is starting to read.
Robs Cutie : I have to go, but I look forward to the logs and e 
SandraDodd : Each kid is different and unschooling allows for that.
Robs Cutie : Good night!
PMcconn369 : Bye Robs!!
SandraDodd : Okay!  I want to go watch the Beatles, too. 
PMcconn369 : Bye Sandra!
SandraDodd : I'll send something out later tonight, and than you 
             for being here!
SandraDodd : (thank you , I mean--hands getting tired!)
PMcconn369 : Thank you this has been insiteful!
PMcconn369 : guess i spelled that wrong.
SandraDodd : It doesn't matter in real life!  There are editors!!
SandraDodd : 
PMcconn369 : Good night and have a nice T-Day!
SandraDodd : Thanks.

The Unschooling Barrage

Beginning Unschooling

Help, for unschoolers