Unpacking the Parent-Child-Education Conundrum

In a recent conversation about homeschooling special needs (dysgraphia, dyslexia, etc.), a new homeschooler/education adventurer said the following to me. It’s a common reaction, especially if you have limited experience with homeschooling overall.

“I don’t think unschooling is for us. I like the ideas, but I panic. My kids are already middle-school age and I only have a limited amount of time left. And it makes me really uncomfortable. And, I’m a writer. That’s really important to me. I want them to read. Everyone in my family reads. I really think they need to as well.”

I chose not to respond at the time, because it felt like anything I might say would add pressure to a person already putting intense pressure on herself. Knowing that this woman was already maxing out her courage, it seemed like a time to just listen.

Someday, sometime, this is what I’d wish for her to think about. Continue Reading

Don’t Pressure Your Kids To Read

Why you shouldn't pressure your kids to read.

We shouldn’t pressure kids to read so young. That’s what I believe, at least. I’m afraid I failed at this with my first child (oh, the poor guinea pig). I had never heard about unschooling back then and when we began “homeschooling” kindergarten I was too forceful and frustrated with her reading lessons. The tears. Oh, the tears. Thank God (literally) she still turned out to be a voracious reader and wasn’t too scarred by the process.

When my second child became “of age” he was in public school for kindergarten. So he received a certain amount of foundational reading training there, though I’m not sure exactly to what extent. The next year for first grade we brought him back home and the process of reading and tears that I was all too familiar with started again. So I stopped teaching him to read. Continue Reading

Reading and Kids: I Don’t Forbid, We Discuss

We are a household of readers. I have been a book junkie for as long as I can remember, that Husband o’ mine is a huge newspaper addict and the resident teenagers read just about anything and everything that crosses their paths.

Speaking of teenagers, when it comes to my teens and their choices of reading material, my philosophy is don’t forbid, discuss. I do believe children need guidance amongst the book shelves, but I do not believe in “this book is for ages 5 and up” labels. Granted, some subject matter obviously bears consideration of the child reader’s psychological makeup, maturity and temperament.

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Perfect World Meets Real World

When I first envisioned unschooling in our home I imagined rich days full of a variety of obvious “learning.” I would look on with pride as my children miraculously volunteered to write essays, read the classics without protest, demonstrated flawless mathematical logic, and excitedly read about faraway places on the internet.

Reality check: it’s unschooling, not utopia! Luckily, I wasn’t heavily invested in that fantasy world because it hasn’t come to pass. Continue Reading

How Will They Learn the Basics?

Making the decision to begin unschooling can be scary for many parents who have been taught to believe that learning the “boring” subjects is something that children must be forced to do.

Though I had my own small fears about unschooling, my husband carried most of the skepticism. He worried mostly about how our children would learn the basics. By default, he believed that structure was needed for children to learn the skills essential for adult life.

He didn’t doubt that they would learn, but he did doubt that they would learn enough to function well as adults. I and most other parents can sympathize with his concerns. None of us want to see our children grow up and struggle with life because of the decisions that we made (or let them make). Continue Reading