Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Experimental Unschooling Day 2

Hmmm, that was really not my favourite day!  We did have a nice trip out this morning - well, I could have done without the SatNav running out of battery five minutes down the road when I didn't have a clue where we were going, but hey ho - eventually we reached our destination and joined in a craft club with some other HE families.  DS1 & 2 did some T-shirt painting and glass painting, while DS3 played with playdough and drew pictures.  DS1 was starting to chill a bit in a smaller group, although DS2 was still quite uncomfortable around others.  Anyway, that was the good bit of the day.  Once we got home I dutifully stuck to my plan of letting them do whatever they liked - just to see what would happen.  No surprises that they made a beeline for the Wii.  I have to admit though - after 3 1/2 hours I lost my bottle.  The play had degenerated to petty squabbles, and I got to the point where I couldn't bear any more whining and fighting.  Of course, once I turned the Wii off (having given them time to finish what they were doing), the arguing instantly increased as they had nothing immediate to distract themselves with, so it was then a quick hunt for something to occupy them.  DS1 filled in his weather chart and then played with his Star Wars fighter pods, DS3 wanted Reading Eggs, and DS2 mooched for a while before Mummy found his chocolate factory - winning suggestion of the day!  Obviously DS3's Reading Eggs is yet another computer game, but at least they weren't fighting over it - and I was trying to let them do what they liked :/
So, lesson learned from today: no more unlimited games console time!  In fact, I think tomorrow will be a nintendo-free zone altogether, and we'll see what that brings.  The home PC will be available - although as always they will have to take it in turns on that, so no-one will be able to spend 3 1/2 hours on it in one sitting!  Even if we did ever end up 'unschooling', there will be boundaries in place - which will at least concern games-console time.  So far though, the experiment seems to be steering me towards the philosophy neatly described by a friend as "kind of unschooling/autonomous - but with gentle encouragement with maths and english!"


  1. I find its healthier to allowed freedom with some limits, which of course change with age. Forexample, DS1 age 14 is allowed sometimes to play computer in the evening, where as when he was 10 he wasn't allowed on after dinner. Which is a decision based on health and sleep patterns and hasn't stopped them learning and expressing themselves.

    As I am reading your blog about the unschooling subject, I feel to say, the fruit of unschooling takes time to show, it can take months for a child to start to rediscover their interests especially if they have been in school for any length of time where they have been told what to learn every day.

    My two boys have really now started to blossom with the fruits of time spend freely, they are focused and motivated towards their individual age appropriate goals. For example, DS1 has all off his own back, with no promoting from me, found out exactly what he needs to do to achieve his goal to be a pilot. He has read up on qualifications, physical attributes, the route he needs to take, the types of jobs and he has back up plans if his primary target job is not available...how many 14 years olds are that focused, where he tells me off if I let him lay in because he wants to be up and working in the mornings!!! This is a child that has been allowed a huge ammount of free time to spend it how he likes. Where as I know from my own experience of school, not many 14 year olds are that focused as their days are filled with busyness and what they have been told to do by others.

    DS2 is the same in that his current goals require him to be able to read and write well using grammer, also be fit and strong, so he is very focused on these things, he even tells me off if my grammer is bad and reminds me I am going running in the morning and to wake him because he is coming too!

  2. hmm just thought...letting them follow their interests doesn't mean you don't as a parent take every opportunity to teach them, like you did at the shops getting them to look at the prices. Things like that could spark an interesting in a subject, for example the econonmy, or they may notice the picture on the coins and want to know more..tip..Tower of London has an awesome room where money used to be made.

    Also I like to point out interesting facts about things they are doing, like today, DS2 was playing his guitar, and I asked him who in the bible was an awesome muscian and a warrior (the two not often linked in modern minds), he knew it was David and we spend sometime googling what ancient harps looked like, interestingly they look very similar to guitars bend a different way.

  3. Thanks Sally, you and your boys are such an inspiration :) I agree the benefits of unschooling can't really be measured in a week's worth of experimenting - it was just something I felt I wanted to do, and it's certainly given me food for thought so far... I'm definitely leaning towards unschooling for us - especially when you guys are blazing such a fab trail :)

  4. Well ours is a mix, as we do Maths and English everyday, also I have bought Rosetta Stone french which DS2 is loving, and we do 1 lesson of that every day. Then we have other subject we enjoy though the week, like history documentaries, science etc.

    BUT saying that I think your brood needs time to detox from school, mine don't have that issue so getting them doing a few regular habits is a good thing. So a while for your boys to relax and start finding their passions is a good thing.