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    Need a good response for unschoolers

    Hi,

    I belong to a homeschool group that is comprised of mostly unschoolers. Normally it is not an issue but recently a new homeschooler asked everyone for kindergarten curriculum recommendations. I said Memoria Press.

    Now I'm being bombarded with articles and unsolicited advice about how "The best kindergarten curriculum is NO curriculum and to just let them play. That is how they learn best. To teach them anything academic at this age is more harmful then helpful"

    What is your stance on this philosophy? I need to be able to respond to them but they have me so intimidated..I get tongue-tied.

    Thanks so much

    Cindy

    #2
    Great Question!

    This is a great question, Cindy. Thanks for asking. I have received similar advice and responses from Classical(!) homeschoolers to scale way back on first grade and also second. Some believe that formal learning should wait until age eight to ten and before then their time should be spent in free play.

    I am eager to hear responses and read recommended articles posted here especially since we love Memoria Press. Thanks again!

    Comment


      #3
      I haven't done the kindergarten curriculum, but my son is working on 1st. Memoria Press has such a gentle approach to classical curriculum at that age, I think it is totally appropriate for that age level.

      My response would be that our family believes all children benefit from reading great literature. And that your family made the choice to start your children on the curriculum you believed would work best for your needs. Hopefully un-schoolers would be able to respect that.

      It's really tough when parents try to assert their own parenting styles on others. I have a hard time with that myself, but being really certain on your choice helps!

      Comment


        #4
        They don't have a problem reading great literature to them. It is the "making them sit down to do math, writing and learning to read" that ruffles their feathers.

        I tell them that I think young children are capable of more than we give them credit for and that it won't kill them to sit and focus for 15-30 minutes at a time.

        They just keep sending me articles on the detrimental effects of doing this with them. I don't place much stock in any of it but am looking for opposing studies to show them.

        Comment


          #5
          Cindy,

          Your situation is a difficult one to manage, to say the least. I have to give you a lot of credit for engaging in the discussion, with the desire to back up your position with research. I find it kind of funny though that unschoolers offer research, statistics, and articles to prove the theories of unschooling, while classical educators simply have....2000 years or so of success to back them up. So my best suggestion as far as what to provide to them would be anything related to the history of education; especially identifying the change from traditional, classically oriented methods, to psychologically-oriented methods, and the subsequent decline of standards that correlates with that trend. MP has a ton of great articles on the website that address a variety of those subjects, especially several by Martin Cothran that reveal the cyclical nature of progressive educational mindsets.

          Another topic that could really get them going is to let them know the benefits of early language, especially early Latin....but that is another whole ball of wax!

          Personally, we start early for several reasons, primary of them being that our children are natural imitators. They see what we do and naturally want to do it too. Our little ones start "pretending to read" within their second year of life, long before many verbal skills are there. My fifteen month old is going through this stage right now. She is getting into everything other than her toys...pencils, pens, highlighters, legos....anything she sees the kids doing, she wants to do...even if it means climbing up onto the table to do it! I am not saying we are going to pull out the books and get going now, but as her insatiable desire to follow suit continues, there will come a time when we will strike while the iron is hot and give her the skills she craves.

          Surprisingly, unschoolers embrace this same mindset easily when it comes to providing children with child size tools so they can imitate us in everything other than actual reading and writing. ??? So my very simple response would try to bridge that gap by hitting on the similarities you can find. And then, simply let it roll off your back, keeping yourself well supported on the merits of classical education, and keep busy on school!

          AMDG,
          Sarah
          2020-2021
          16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
          DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
          DS, 17
          DD, 15
          DD, 13
          DD, 11
          DD, 9
          DD, 7
          +DS+
          DS, 2

          Comment


            #6
            I have a similar mix of educational philosophies where we live. Our group is very respectful of others' choices but I'm definitely in a minority model with our traditional classical approach. I've noticed many of us have identical goals but have very different methods we employ to seek those ends. You know your family best.

            I encourage you just to say "thank you" when people share with you. There isn't really a response to "thank you." It's polite. They are trying to help, which is usually coming from a kind place. You are thanking them for their concern while not assenting to any of the views. I do recommend MP widely here and usually just toss out a "it's not for everyone but our family thrives on it," or, "we are little old fashioned" if I'm not sure how it will be received. It lightens the mood and takes pressure off anyone who wants something very different for their family.

            I echo Sarah's encouragement to keep yourself well-nourished on the reasons you are walking this path. You don't even have to share them with anyone. They are to fill your tank and give you vision for your family. You never know what will happen down the line and who else might be drawn to this method after doubting it initially. You can be a light, a kind one, and I know others will be encouraged by you as your family learns and grows. Wisdom and virtue are attractive. It might seem a little 'unconventional' to others (Sarah pointed out how that's not the case, though), but telling someone your fifth grader is in his fourth year of Latin does have some wow-factor. The only way that can happen is to start in second grade. It will show itself over time. I've seen it first-hand.

            Last tidbit: my kindergartener does her "work" in less than an hour per day and listens to me read aloud to everyone for 1-2 hours. The rest of her time is free. That's a lot of free time!

            Best wishes,
            Festina lentē,
            Jessica P

            2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
            12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN
            10th • HLN, Latin online, MPOA
            7th • HLN & Home
            4th • HLN & Home
            Me: Third Form Summer Intensive MPOA

            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

            Comment


              #7
              One more thing! You can point them to the Highlands Latin School webpage with their ACT/SAT/National Merit Scholar info. It is working there, most assuredly! www.thelatinschool.com
              Festina lentē,
              Jessica P

              2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
              12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN
              10th • HLN, Latin online, MPOA
              7th • HLN & Home
              4th • HLN & Home
              Me: Third Form Summer Intensive MPOA

              Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

              Comment


                #8
                Not that it would matter to them but my aunt was a Catholic school elementary principal. She was really tired of getting the uneducated kids of unschoolers dropped into her school so that her teachers could spend hours and hours of their lives remediating these kids. Most of the unschooled children that ended up in her school usually couldn't read well, were 3 or more grades behind in math, couldn't write or spell and felt that all learning should "delight them". When I first started homeschooling 11 years ago, she thought homeschooling would be a positive thing but after remediating close to 100 unschoolers in the past decade, she hates homeschooling. And I am encountering more and more teachers who have had the same experience.

                The second comment that I would make is that a classical ballerina never becomes a ballerina by just listening to stories about ballet and playing at ballet. A real musician never becomes a musician just playing with an instrument, a professional sports player never becomes an athlete by having fun and being entertained. They all achieve their success by years of study, and rote practice of detailed exercises. So why should learning be any different.

                Holly
                Last edited by 6girls1boy; 01-19-2015, 03:30 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Holly,

                  Great points! I loved your second paragraph....you are so right!

                  AMDG,
                  Sarah
                  2020-2021
                  16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                  DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                  DS, 17
                  DD, 15
                  DD, 13
                  DD, 11
                  DD, 9
                  DD, 7
                  +DS+
                  DS, 2

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thank you Sarah.

                    I know too that sometimes unschoolers talk about those original homesteading unschoolers that had kids who grew up to write papers that were published, etc. (The 2 books or family names are escaping me at the moment). What most unschoolers miss is that those families had a Work Ethic that is missing from normal suburbia life. If you grow up working industriously -every day whether it is 0 degrees or 100 degrees and even on Christmas-on your family farm, business, restraunt; then sitting down at 13 to do school will be a treat. If you are sitting in suburbia playing with barbies and legos and exploring your backyard with your mommy, what motivation do you have to suddenly decide to work hard at learning?

                    Since I have homeschooled, I have seen unschooling families succeed and fail miserably. The ones that succeeded were poor and had a family farm that had to succeed or the kids might not get dinner. Going to college was a treat for these kids. The surburbia unschooling families all followed one of two paths: either the kids were dropped into middle school when mom realized that they should be able to do long division by then and fractions and decimals but oops they didn't really have the times table mastered nor could they write a coherent sentence, OR they went to the local community college and had remedial classes for every subject before taking course work. Then they go and brag about how wonderful unschooling is because there kids got A's in college, but they neglect to tell everyone that those A's were in remedial classes at a low end junior college filled with kids who routinely flunked out of classes in their local highschool. It is an ugly picture, but that is what I have witnessed.

                    You can not teach a child diligence, perseverance, industriousness, consistency, wisdom, or prudence when they are learning via self entertainment. Those virtues only come by making a child do something correctly when they do not wish to do it.

                    Holly
                    Last edited by 6girls1boy; 01-19-2015, 09:31 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      If it were me it might be a sign that this group is "not for us". Its one thing if you are asking for their opinions or advice about it, but doesn't sound like it. If they are bombarding you that doesn't sound fun or very kind.

                      I am doing MP 1st grade after agonizing over and over what I should do for my oldest. I do believe in a little bit of everything, even parts of unschooling, but I settled on MP because I felt it would work the best for us. Not that it couldn't ever change in the future, but for now this is our choice. That is the beauty of homeschooling. They should respect that.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Holly, thank you for your thoughts...Your words and point of view is quite convincing 😊...

                        Though I am not an unschooler (don't agree with child led learning), I do struggle with how much focus and attention is necessary from my boys...Your post has given me a lot to think about...There is definitely a difference between living a life working on a farm verses living in the suburbs...
                        Tahara

                        Homeschooling two boys
                        DS -19 (9/00) Homeschool graduate, in college
                        DS -15 (9/04) (SN) MP Year 8 w/ FF Latin
                        DS -14 (7/06) MP Year 8 w/ FF Latin

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Outstanding question

                          It seems that the question still remains why it is better for a 5 year old child do be doing phonics and arithmetic than playing with Legos? Why is it better for a six year old child to be doing spelling than playing with dolls? Of course as Classical homeschoolers, our children are doing both during their days (academics and play) but...

                          ...how would you answer the more philosophical question of why to have a child do more rigorous or robust academics at 5, 6 or 7 years of age? For those who are familiar, what are the arguments against Raymond Moore's philosophy of "Better Late than Early"?

                          While I have read about the innumerable benefits of Classical education, it is difficult to find arguments for starting early rather than late. Or following a rigorous curriculum versus doing unstructured academics for an hour each day. I am convinced that starting early is better than late but could not tell you the philosophical arguments for why to back it up (as Cindy mentioned in her original question).

                          I sympathize with Cindy and her desire to back up her choice. It can be tough especially when a structured and rigorous curriculum at a young age is so strongly opposed by others.
                          Last edited by thenightbeforechristmas; 01-20-2015, 01:10 PM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thenightbeforechristmas, that is a very good question and one I can't answer...I start Kindergarten at 6, 1st grade at 7, and so on...I didn't do anything really academic when my boys were 5...I think that a disciplined approach to learning is better than a non consistent, entertainment approach, but I can't say that I believe that approach has to start at a very early age...So if the real issue is whether early learning is better, I don't know...If the issue is Classical vs. Unschooling, then I choose Classical, and there are articles here on MP's site that give good reasons for that choice...

                            I would love to know what others think...
                            Tahara

                            Homeschooling two boys
                            DS -19 (9/00) Homeschool graduate, in college
                            DS -15 (9/04) (SN) MP Year 8 w/ FF Latin
                            DS -14 (7/06) MP Year 8 w/ FF Latin

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I dug just a bit, and found the site for the Moore Foundation. Here is a link to their "formula:"

                              http://www.moorefoundation.com/article/68/about-moore-home-schooling/moore-formula

                              I personally was surprised by the content of said "formula." I think Holly's points are very applicable here. Reading this formula, I see a lot of undisclosed structure, more so than I usually associate with unschooling. Much of what is stressed is very similar to what we do with our youngsters, but which we do in book format rather than in game format, for the same length of time they suggest (15-20 minutes). For the young years, I don't see a lot of difference, except that with their approach I would have a heck of a lot more pressure on myself to provide the level of community activities and home-based work that they recommend. Again, we see the contrast between the character forming nature of "work on the farm" compared to modern suburbia. I would argue that in the absence of such opportunities, I have opted to provide them with such work through school. We certainly have the family-centered lifestyle downpat!

                              (I did find it interesting that there was much talk of proven results and success, yet no concrete examples or data. Perhaps I have to pay for the book for that)

                              A subtle difference, that I think is the true difference, of this mindset is the child-led approach to life versus parent-led. It is here where I think the similarities really come to a halt, and there is no getting around it. I do not know if you would find data to support the parent-led approach because it is too traditional. No one would want to know if it worked better. I will keep digging, but that is my hunch.

                              For me, I would go back to my center, my core, my guiding principle.....my faith. Just as I am not a person who would wait for my children to discover Christ on their own, I do not let them decide when they will discover their times tables. Neither children, nor adults, will naturally choose the things that are most beneficial for them - just ask Adam and Eve. We inherit this desire for "easy." Knowing this helps me lead my children to accept the hard and the difficult.

                              While I have not known many unschoolers, we are seeing a lot of homeschooled youngsters coming out of college and seeking employment who do fit this same self-centered mentality. Our experience, as small business owners, is a surprising lack of the ability to sacrifice personal taste for the sake of valuable employment experience. If they don't feel like it, they will just let an opportunity pass them by, or worse yet, leave an opportunity simply because they "didn't like it."

                              I am grateful for this conversation, as there have been a lot of great points made. I do have an article in the back of my mind that referenced the importance of stress on a young person...that there are hormonal changes that happen when a child experiences stress, which actually prompt brain development, and allow the child to be an adult who copes with stress better. But again, I will have to dig to find it...will keep you all posted!

                              AMDG,
                              Sarah
                              2020-2021
                              16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                              DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                              DS, 17
                              DD, 15
                              DD, 13
                              DD, 11
                              DD, 9
                              DD, 7
                              +DS+
                              DS, 2

                              Comment

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