Unschooling, Response to ‘Momslikeme’ Post

ABC, Good Morning America did a segment they called Extreme Homeschooling.

It was about Unschooling. I wrote a post on April 21, 2010 about this. This post is a continuation of this subject.

I was on the  Moms like Me. site and the discussions there  inspired me to write this.

jeffersonAngel ask if unschooling isn’t illegal and was wondering if parents shouldn’t go to jail for this.

There are many details left out of this whole story and therefore this subject should not be judged so quickly. Like most things, people have a tendency to judge very quickly without obtaining the facts, they think a news channel will do this research for them when in reality the news is often bias.

Unschooling is a very loose term. It is describing a type of learning that does not follow the conventional school method. This is America and we are suppose to be free. Free to make our own decisions. We also need checks and balances to make sure that freedom does not cross the line and be harmful to others. Children are particularly vulnerable. Regulating this can in itself be tricky. Who gets to decide what is crossing the line?

Most states allow unschooling. The way they regulate it is by doing evaluations by a certified teacher on a yearly basis to see that the child is not staying stagnate. If a parent lets their child watch TV all day every day then that parent/child would not pass the evaluation. That parent would have to change what they do on a daily basis or risk breaking the law. You must show that you are putting in the proper hours toward learning and that the child is advancing in what he is learning. You have to keep a daily log to show this. The parent keeps a log and so does the child. Unschooling children have to do this as do home schooled children. This piece of information was missing from the ABC report.

rjilly, wrote:

“She HAS to know biology, chemistry and lots of math. If I didn’t expose her to those subjects in high school, she would be failing miserably in college. She would have preferred not to study them at all. If I had been unschooling, she would never have picked up a math book.”

I have proof that this just is not true of all children. One of my sons that was unschooled loved math. He would buy math programs and do them on his own. He is in the PhD program at the University of Florida in Electrical Engineering.

Here’s where I feel the divide is. The way some home school is to bring many parts of the school systems style of learning into their home. They buy the curriculum or at least the text books and set aside a regular time each day to do their “school”. Just like public school the parents were the ones telling the child when, what and how to learn. They did not trust the child to take up the initiative themselves.

With unschooling it is a bit tricky, if your child has done a good bit of public school and then you pull them out to unschool, you might see them watch TV all day. They need to re-learn how to think for themselves with the loving guidance of someone that understands this process-not a hard process to learn. So when you say your child would not of picked up a math book on their own it is because they truly do not have a desire to learn this. Once they decide they need it to go to college they will have a desire and pick up the book. It is human nature to want to follow your dreams. And this is what the mother was saying on the ABC report. If her child need to meet a goal by learning math then she will go learn math.

rjilly also wrote:

“You cannot graduate high school without the proper credits/units. If you decide to unschool in the traditional method, you will have to recognize that your children can only get a GED. This makes is harder to get into college (although not impossible) and you will not qualify for the HOPE scholarship right away which makes college so much more affordable.”

This simply is not true. You can receive a high school degree. You group your day into subjects. You may not pull out a text book but you are learning math when you grocery shop or cook or mix fertilizer for plants.. You count those hours as math and home-ec.

History can be on TV history program, a Documentary, a walk down main street. You get hours for history toward a high school diploma. You get the just of what I am saying.

And the Hope scholarship is based on your ACT/SAT scores and a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. As I stated above you do still get credit/grades in different subjects therefore this provides a grade point average.

Unschooling simply means you do not follow a regimented program. It does not have to imitate the public school system. Many parents feel the public and private school system has failed due to the fact it does not leave time in a child’s schedule for that child to explore what he/she is passionate about. They feel too much time is spent on handing out papers and keeping all the children’s needs met. While much is learned in school, the pressure is so great to cover a large amount of mandated subject material that true digested learning is often not taking place. A child learns the material to pass a test then tosses it aside to move quickly onto the next chapter.

One major thing most of the critics of Unschooling forget-or more on point-is that we as a society have lost touch with-is trusting human natures natural desire to learn. Watch a child grow up before formal school and you will see them imitate those around them constantly learning from what they observe. You can only see this if you do not send your child to a day care that is pushing ABC’s and more at the child constantly from the age of…lets say two.

Who does not know a small child that keeps asking “why, why, why” everyday. I can not tell you all the questions that were ask of me on a daily basis on car rides and walks. Sometimes I would have the answers and when I didn’t I would look it up with them or call someone that I knew could help.

Who really believes a child would want to watch TV all day long. Did you not notice these children that were interviewed had hobbies. Did you not see the plants they grew? When ask if they do A+B the mother was trying to say when the child needs algebra in their life, like before SAT’s if trying to get into a college, then the child will sign up for an Algebra class. There are hundreds of sites with resources for this.

They also state in the segment that this family is radical even for unschoolers because they parent without rules. I unschooled and our family had many rules. But who is to say this family has not found success with this. Maybe they have family meetings where they all decide what works so they find they don’t attach the word rule to what they do. Obviously someone is watering the plants, someone is feeding themselves, etc.

Children that go to school all day might come home and watch lots of TV. They are trying to free their mind from the constant barrage of people telling them what to think, when to think and how to think. The reporter on ABC said “I know my kids, if they have the choice between watching TV and reading, they will watch TV.” This may be because her kids spend many hours in school being told what to read. When they have the time away from school they have had enough of that and want to do something different.

Not all UnS  have cable so all day TV watching is not even an option. People get hung up on this all day TV watching topic. Kids are naturally curious and watching TV all day is not the desire of children who are taught that tactile experiences are more fun. How are they taught this? By going on field trips, by playing with soil when they are planting gardens, by smelling foods as they stir up a batch of cookies or muffins.

Most parents that keep their children home all day do so because they want their children to learn in a more healthy way than what a school classroom can offer. Those parents are going to be very involved in their child’s lives.

Unschooling allows a child to breath. They become naturally curious and seek out the answers with the help of a watchful eye (parents). They decide how to think, when to think and what to think, but trust me, thinking is what they do best.

Would love to hear from you. Please leave a reply.