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Recording learning when you 'unschool'

(36 Posts)
anaa1 Thu 19-Jun-14 14:46:51

Hi, we home ed our son. At present, we rely on my lovely, generous mum to look after him 3 days a week while I work. My mum is absolutely fantastic and is our son's best friend so he is such a lucky boy and he knows it, however the dynamics seem complex at the moment. My son is a born unschooler, he loves to follow his passions so we have over the last year de schooled ourselves and left the workbooks behind, etc. I know he is learning a huge amount and is having lots of visits out and experiential learning. The thing is that when with my mum, she wants him to record his learning even if just in simple poster form, as she thinks a) it is 'proof' of what education he is having and she worries about future govt policies needing more proof etc, and b) she thinks it re inforces and extends what he has learnt.
The problem being at present that my son appears to be losing interest in their projects which is disheartening for mum and he is upset when asked to record on paper or laptop. He is dyslexic and hypermobile, which I know is behind some of his reluctance.
I just wondered if an outside view might help me see solutions. Thanks in advance.

Hakluyt Thu 19-Jun-14 14:49:04

How old is he?

anaa1 Thu 19-Jun-14 14:51:26

He's 11 :-)

Hakluyt Thu 19-Jun-14 15:27:18

What are his/your plans for his future?

Does he write things down at all- could he start by dictating for your mum to write down for him?

CaulkheadUpNorth Thu 19-Jun-14 15:30:34

Could he write a blog?

anaa1 Thu 19-Jun-14 15:33:51

He has a passion for animation, makes films and at present wants to do that as a career but of course he is only 11 and that may change. Even dictating seems to turn him off and upset him. However maybe he and I could start a daily blog....that might work as it would be more a diary than anything more formal....thankyou Hakluyt and caulkhead I appreciate your thoughts xxx

Hakluyt Thu 19-Jun-14 15:36:56

Are you getting any help with the dyslexia?

anaa1 Thu 19-Jun-14 15:41:51

No formal help with the dyslexia now. His reading is so, so much better that we haven't felt it necessary but I guess his reluxtance to record must be related to it...

Hakluyt Thu 19-Jun-14 15:44:31

Thŵt's what I was wondering. The problem is that, depending on what he wants to do next, not wanting to write stuff down will really stand in his way. Maybe it's something that needs addressing?

madwomanbackintheattic Thu 19-Jun-14 15:49:50

Um, if he's unschooling, and he has no interest in recording your mother's projects (!) then, um, he can work out for himself what he wants to do, surely?

An unschooler who is managing to teach himself the recorder is great. I'm slightly baffled why an unschooler teaching himself the recorder needs to be turning it into a managed project with recording outcomes, unless he fancies setting up a camera and putting it on YouTube...

Does your lovely mother understand unschooling?

If she wants to record his learning, sure, she can go ahead and take some happy snaps and write herself a diary.

If HE wants to record in some way, even better.

You say you have successfully de-schooled yourself. I suggest you give your mother the appropriate tools to de-school HERSELF, so that she is there as a resource when needed, and isn't imposing her own value system on your son, if that is how you have chosen to proceed.

As a disclaimer - I might ask him if he wants to film himself playing. That's pretty much it.

And my kids are in school. But I respect other educational choices, too.

madwomanbackintheattic Thu 19-Jun-14 15:51:16

Lol, my rant makes no sense. Recorder. Bwahahahahaha. I went through and changed all the auto-corrects and it reads very confusingly.

Essentially. De school yo momma.
And ignore the recorder stuff. grin

Hakluyt Thu 19-Jun-14 15:55:17

....while making very sure that he is making the choice not to write anything down, and not not doing it because he can't, is baffled by it and scared to try.

Children need to have as many tools as possible at their disposal. Only thn can they make an informed choice not to use one.

anaa1 Thu 19-Jun-14 16:08:26

Yes very true Hakluyt one concern of mine was that his avoidance was due to feeling baffled and of course withhaving the luxury of home ed, he doesn't need to be. We are heading out now for a walk n talk...will try to get him talking amd thinking about this. Soery for amy typos - on tablet!

maggi Fri 20-Jun-14 13:19:32

My ds is also dyslexic and hypermobile. I set work each day in a big notebook. This first lists any workbooks etc he has to do then the next day I go back and write in all the other stuff he did such as swimming, trips, documentaries, social times etc etc. I do all the writing. We discuss what we did the prior day and go through it like that. So one way is to keep a learning diary which the adults write in.
A grandad at our HE group photographs everything (absolutely everything). He does the daytime HE and then the child uses all the photos to discuss with Mum when she gets back from work. So another way is to use photo/video records.
Another method is memory box. Collecting all sorts of memorablia and storing them.

Saracen Fri 20-Jun-14 23:20:52

It seems to me that the situation is somewhat similar to that in which two parents are both actively HEing, one of whom wants to do it autonomously and the other of whom is not quite comfortable with that.

Because your mum is with your son three whole days a week, it seems to me that it wouldn't be reasonable of you to demand that she do unschooling exactly as you would do it. But you could still try to talk her round and give her things to read, as could your son if he is articulate and understands autonomous education. You said, "my son appears to be losing interest in their projects which is disheartening for mum and he is upset when asked to record on paper or laptop." Perhaps this alone may be enough to persuade your mum that her efforts to extend his learning are backfiring by turning him off?

I recognise that you as the parent do ultimately have the final say here. But I don't think you can make someone educate in a way she is not inclined to do it. It won't work, especially not for three days a week. Your mum is a major partner in the whole home education arrangement as it stands. So while I agree with madwoman, I think you have to persuade your mum to approach things differently rather than telling her that she has to.

Saracen Fri 20-Jun-14 23:25:05

And I think your mum is certainly worrying excessively about future government policies changing and requiring more proof of education. Any such changes wouldn't be retroactive. Nobody would say, "You're unable to prove that your son was receiving a suitable education last year, therefore we will order him to school." They'd want proof of his CURRENT education being suitable. Wait until the policy changes (if it ever does), then start documenting.

Basilplant Sat 21-Jun-14 00:18:23

Maybe if your mother makes a really exciting diary,^for herself^ with lots of stuff stuck in and pictures and so on of all the things they do, your son might want to contribute? And even if he doesn"t, having a record will mak her feel better.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 21-Jun-14 18:54:42

Hello OP
She is right with everything she says, but I think you know this.
The problem is its not how you would choose to do it.
We follow a semi structured approach and a journal/diary is the only writing I insist on.
The diary is personal thoughts and the journal is more general and includes a small paragraph on what she has done each day.
Some days its lots and others not so much.

bobbysgirlfirst Mon 23-Jun-14 10:24:41

As Saracen says any forth coming changes (which may be proposed if we get a Labour Government next) will not be about what you have done in the past-they will be interested in what you are doing at the time.
She doesn't have to worry about any of that now, and if changes are planned, we'll get warning and spread the news quickly-we always do!

Morethan said:
"She is right with everything she says, but I think you know this"

I'm wondering if I have misunderstood somehow?
There is no reason to record progress, or make the child write anything if as an unschooled child if he doesn't wish to.
What is the Grandmother right about?

I do agree with Saracen and Madwoman, I think the issue is with helping your mother 'deschool', see the education she is so amply helping to provide and to persuade her to do things differently.

The fact that your lad is already being put off, demonstrates to my mind, a need that requires addressing between you-and him.

I home educated three dyslexics-all the way through their teens, until they chose to go to college and then university level, where they have each done very well indeed, FAR exceeding what was predicted for them by the schools they left.
We didn't do any formal work at all. None.
When the children were ready and needed to, they started writing-even the most severely dyslexic one...
Forcing them to do so, or to record their learning in any way, before they are ready would have just put them off more and more.

What would have been the point in that?

If you are interested there is a FaceBook group for 'Unschoolers/Autonomous Home Educators' in the UK
"UK Unschooling Network" FB group

please do read the information about the group when applying to join.

bobbysgirlfirst Mon 23-Jun-14 11:32:08

I have been thinking more on this-has your mother had a chance to read up on 'unschooling'? So she understands fully the path you want to go?

The work of Pam Larrichia may be helpful for her: If you sign up to her newsletter, she sends you a series of emails on exploring unschooling. They are great for when you're trying to get your head around what unschooling is. Pam also has a book: "Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life"

Closer to home Dr Alan Thomas MSc, PhD, FBPsS, researched what he calls 'informal learning' in the UK and Australia.
Alan did a short interview for us at HesFes one year

Alan has also written books based on his research: "How Children Learn at Home"

Hakluyt Mon 23-Jun-14 14:36:27

"When the children were ready and needed to, they started writing-even the most severely dyslexic one..."

So their dyslexia just went away?

bobbysgirlfirst Mon 23-Jun-14 17:31:58

Well to begin with, we tried every dyslexia scheme available-after all that's what we had been told by all the experts, that dyslexic children have to practice and practice, even if they are the very things they hate so much, in order to get anywhere.
What we got was reluctant learners, whose interest petered out in much the way the OP is describing.
And for the youngest, who couldn't even spell her own six letter first name when she left school, so it all just left her sobbing eventually we listened to more experienced autonomous home educators/unschoolers and allowed a period of deschooling, which them became unschooling/autonomous education and concentrated on facilitating their interests and helping them do whatever they wanted...allowing living and learning to be fun, letting their education run ahead, whilst waiting for their reading/writing and spelling to catch up at the time that was right for them..developmentally and when their interest was enough to motivate them to overcome their difficulties.

By the time they got to college they were all considered to have average reading and spelling abilities, got very good results indeed and then repeated the same at uni level.

They still have difficulties associated with dyslexia, and on bad days things are harder, but they were all in the bottom sets at school, and predicted to have difficulties even achieving grade Ds at GCSE, so to see them flying is a real pleasure.

And my children are not abnormal, we see it so very much in the unschoolers we mix with....

morethanpotatoprints Mon 23-Jun-14 17:41:50


I don't think I made my comments clear, sorry.

I meant that of course the OP's mother wasn't wrong and most people believe it important to record what they have done, almost as though this is where the learning takes place.
So her mum is in fact correct by her way of thinking, its just that the OP doesn't particularly agree with doing it this way.

My dd doesn't do any written work apart from her diary and journal, unfortunately I insist on this because its the way that works for dd, and she wouldn't do any other writing by choice.
I know she would be fine if I left her to do none, but I lack the confidence to do this.

bobbysgirlfirst Mon 23-Jun-14 18:01:18

Ah-I get you now morethan
Most people have been schooled to believe that it is important to do so, haven't they?
But it's not important to me to track and record everything I learn, and I'm always learning something informally, and it's just the same for the children.
For me, spending time writing down what I have learned today and tracking what I have been doing and am going to do, just uses up time that I could be using learning the next interesting thing....and that's the same for my children...

Nor of course is required in law-section 3.13 of the Guidelines on Home Education for LAs is very clear in listing what Home Educators DON'T have to do:

Home educating parents are NOT required to:

*teach the National Curriculum
*provide a broad and balanced education
*have a timetable
*have premises equipped to any particular standard
*set hours during which education will take place
*have any specific qualifications
*make detailed plans in advance
*observe school hours, days or terms
*FORMALLY ASSESS PROGRESS or set development objectives
*reproduce school type peer group socialisation
*match school-based, age-specific standards.

Each should do what they think is right by their family of course, so yes I think it's something for the OP, her son and the grandmother to sort between them, when the grandmother is contributing so much time-hence why I suggested reading material for the grandmother, to get her head around what the OP and her son want.

bobbysgirlfirst Mon 23-Jun-14 18:05:26

I find Joyfully Rejoycing helpful

"My question to you all, is how do I get out of this rut of "you have to sit down and do work on paper to learn" and let them learn how to write, spell, and do math on their own?

Reading how others are actually doing it I think is a biggie.

Probably one of the big problems in relaxing is that all the models we have of learning are forced learning. And we've heard so many reasons why that's the right way to do it. And we know that if kids are temporarily released from "the right way", that all they'll do is avoid learning. So the natural conclusion is that kids won't learn unless they're made to.

To counteract that, you need lots of stories to reassure you that the conclusion just isn't true. Kids will learn by living life.

It won't, of course, look like kids doing school work without being made. It will look like play very often.

So you need a new model of what real learning looks like. Your first model might be to compare how your kids learned to speak with how kids "learn" Spanish in school. The first looks like play and nothing like being taught. They just use it and as a side effect get better at it. The result is fluency in a few years. The second looks very much like being taught and the result of 2 years of dull, boring forced work is a few words and phrases."

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