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How Far To Carry Autonomy? Long, sorry

(16 Posts)
poetmum Tue 30-Dec-08 22:10:10

In autumn, DH used a portion of his bonus to buy a massive, wall mounted, flat screen tv. I call it the Gaping Black Void (GBV.) To be fair, he earned it. He's on the road M-F and is only home on weekends. He is making huge sacrifices so that we can afford for me to be at home educating DS.

But, since the GBV, it takes enormous energy to cajole DS into doing all the lovely normal things he used to do. (Like go outside, muck about in the dirt, jump in puddles, play with all of his lovely educational toys.) We turn the tv off and two hours later he's asking for it again. I don't mind the educational programmes. It's all the other junk that annoys me.

We're lucky to have a number of home ed programmes in the area. A full day of enrichment classes, cheap classes for home edders at the museum, science centre and zoo. He also has a Spanish tutor, a Hindu tutor, takes violin, figure skating and capoeira. We also use Studydog and BrainpopJr. So, it's not like he is understimulated or under served. I just feel he could be doing so much more!

I believe in autonomy - but - if I didn't nag he'd sit and watch or play video games all day. (Not working for me.) He's averaging 4 -5 hours on the tv a day. Come the NY, should I put my foot down? I want to reign him in to 3 hours - at most! And I want to introduce a daily work folder - don't finish the work, don't watch tv.

What to you think?

believer07 Tue 30-Dec-08 22:17:21

Thats exactly why I don't do autonomous. Hardcore autonomous would say let him watch tv for as long as he wants and he will eventually switch it off.

Sorry no real advice as I make my child 'hit the books' for three hours four days a week.

themulledmanneredjanitor Tue 30-Dec-08 22:18:43

send him to school then he doesn't have the optiongrin

bollockbrain Tue 30-Dec-08 22:32:50

we are more structured for mornings only. Then we more or less please ourselves for the afternoons.

Perhaps you could do something similar? It does sound like he has plenty to keep him occupied, with the tutor, music, sport etc, so is it everyday he does watch the tv for long periods or every so often he has a chill out time?

Perhaps even say no tv until x oclock?

Saturn74 Tue 30-Dec-08 23:29:52

We don't put the television on before 4pm.

terramum Wed 31-Dec-08 00:00:26

When we first got sky tv I made a point of not getting the kids channels because I didn't want DS to watch tv 24/7. He was happy with the few programmes he liked on Cebeebies & CiTV...then we got all the channels for free for a month and, of course, DS got into loads of other cartoons etc and DH decided he would keep getting the kids channels [sigh]. At first, DS wanted the tv on all the time and I was seriously thinking of putting my foot down and stopping the kids subscription....but then he started getting bored with loads of it, especially as it's all repeated soooo much....and he just started switching the tv off and going back to his toys or asking to do other things.

Now, we have a good balance again...and all down to leaving him to his own devices. We watch a few of our favourite shows together, but spend the majority of our time doing other things, either separately or together.

IMO as long as you are 'offering' other activities then they usually get bored of passive stuff like the tv. You can always steer the tv/video games into more 'educational' things if it is really bothering you wink

poetmum Wed 31-Dec-08 00:04:34

Believer07, I'm with you. I prefer to call our method directed autonomy. Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin, capoeira and violin are not negotiable - in any way. But, I tend to let him take the lead in other areas. For example, he can always be diverted by a science project. (I'm just blasting through the 3 books of experiments I only bought 6 months ago. And haven't found any replacements. Another topic altogether...)

As to opinions - our daily schedule is basically:
8:30? wake up - tv whilst Mum caffinates - 1 hour

9:30 off to lessons or tutor arrives

10:30 /11:00 tutor leaves or travel home

11 - 1:00 free play/ lunch / tv during lunch argh!

1:00 home lessons, study dog, brainpop, projects, or net exploration

3:00 very cool edu programming (on tv -but we're learning so much!)

4:00 free play / maybe playdate / navigate tv begging

5:00 dinner prep (doesn't like to help anymore) sometimes a friend stops by / asks for tv if not

6:00 dinner

6:45 evening wind down (tv)

7:30 bath

8:00 books

8:30 bed

This a rough time table. For example, Wed. we are out of the house the entire day at home ed classes. And Fri. our home ed group has a special afternoon social for 3 hours.

Looking at it, like that, I'm thinking we might be getting enough in.

Thanks for the feedback!

trufflebum Wed 31-Dec-08 13:08:17

Friends of ours full time autonomy (if thats the right expression) and never make their kids work at anthing yet for some strange reason they'll pick up a book before the remote, and draw rather than play a computer game. If I remember rightly though it wasn't like that for the first year or two out of school. Then they just did as they pleased. If I ever commented all I was told was that they needed to unlearn schooling and learn to love self education instead of it being imposed. I guess it works then.
Mine are schooled but I am far from anti home ed. If the kids wanted it then I'd try for them.

onwardandmerrilyupward Wed 31-Dec-08 14:33:12

Being autonomous or not autonomous HEers is of course up to you - no value judgement here, and I'm completely aware that different approaches work for different families, and also that often HEers are more divided by the labels they put on themselves than by what their days actually look like - people who label themselves "structured" might well have days which look completely the same from the outside as those who label themselves "autonomous", and all the relevant children and adults are totally happy so [shrug and smile] really, yeah?

If you want to limit screen time, then that's up to you - it might be the best thing for you and your child.

I can only really speak from my own experience, and we would label ourselves as autonomous HEers and we have never rationed screen time. There is certainly a period when a new screen experience becomes available that many children seem to be really intently focused on it. That might be when DVDs are first introduced, or when child learns independent mouse control and parent starts a "favourites" bar for the child on the internet browser with all the things the child might enjoy exploring. Or it might be when the family buys a Wii for the first time (we haven't yet, although have played with relatives), or when a family introduces TV.

In that early period, it really can be screen time all day every day. And then one gradually finds that the child is focusing in and out of whatever the screen option is. And inventing all sorts of imaginative games from the starting point of the screen characters. And acting out scenarios with those characters, both from the games/shows and from their own minds. And learning ALL sorts of cool stuff which the parent doesn't necesarily realise at the time, only afterwards.

I would say that to be truly autonomous (which is not necessarily the right thing for you and yours, of course), parent would need to swallow hard and say "ok, I guess Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin, capoeira and violin actually are negotiable" (because an autonomously HEed child wouldn't be doing any of those things unless they wanted to), and then, if that's what child was after, go through that very screeny period, which might last a week or a month or two months or a year, I don't know.

But I would also say that to be truly autonomous and to be truly supporting the interests of one's child, one probably ought to be making CBeebies and CiTV and the other things Terramum mentions available... but I am really, personally, torn torn torn on that one because I massively object on principle to the BBC license fee and we therefore don't have live TV (and the play-it-again things on the internet are a pain because the episodes disappear after a week). So yes, screen time is unlimited in our home, but access to live TV is non-existent... so there are whole acres of potentially fascinating screened material which are simply not known about. So this holier-than-thou homily comes with a little free hypocracy on the side grin

sarah293 Wed 31-Dec-08 14:46:17

Message withdrawn

sarah293 Wed 31-Dec-08 14:47:10

Message withdrawn

poetmum Wed 31-Dec-08 16:05:28

You're right Onward, we are not completely autonomous. I've been calling it directed autonomy. But, he does enjoy the non-negotiable lessons. We'll see if he tires of them, but he's been at most of them for 2 years now, hard to see that happening. (BTW - his choice for Hindi, not mine. He got tired of having us translate Bollywood dance videos and decided if he just learned the language he wouldn't need us.)

And Riven, thanks for that perspective. We do a fair bit of dashing about. This may be his way of having some downtime. This is currently his preferred method of getting it.

Fillyjonk Wed 31-Dec-08 19:31:04

how long have you had the gbv (lol at name, that is brillant)?

Could it still be a novelty?

My oldest is 5 1/2 . We don't restrict tv and we are basically autonomous (though ds takes violin lessons, entirely through his own choice, and I do require him to practice IF I am going to shell out for lessons, his teacher also requires him to practice and so I kind of see practice as a built in external condition of lessons).

My kids don't watch my tv. They can watch as much as they want. They use the computer quite occasionally. I think they have around an hour or two of screen time a week, I'd be unbothered by quite a lot more than that, plus that hour is normally something educational-david attenbourogh or educationcity-though they know perfectly well how to call up CBEEBIES. Ds will occasionally send emails to friends. Dd1 (3) doesn't seem to want screen time at all.

My best guess is that because WE don't watch tv, it doens't occur to the kdis to watch it. Am wondering if this might be part of the problem. How do you and your partner unwind? What is the example being set to him?

FWIW (and this is contradictory to whatI have already said) I tend to think tv is rather addictive and would not allow my kids unlimited tv. At the same time, I do wonder if some kids do learn very well through tv.

FWIW I think even 3 hours a day is an awful lot of time sitting still staring at a screen for a child.

What happens if you just remove the fuse?

Fillyjonk Wed 31-Dec-08 19:31:49

(MUCH tv, not MY tv. It is not MY tv. Technically, it is dp's grandma's)

believer07 Thu 01-Jan-09 10:37:53

Having said that we are not 'wired' into TV channels, but we have one for videos. Over christmas we have put it in for a week so that DS could watch some nature programmes, funnily enough he has turned it off.

poetmum Thu 01-Jan-09 22:39:49

Yes, Fillyjonk, it is probably still a novelty. He understands very much my views on t.v. I knit, read, clean or work on my computer when he is watching tv. To his knowledge, I don't watch tv - which for the most part I don't. He and his father are conspirators. (Makes it a bit easier when DH is away during the week.) That said, I think I'll hold off on the worksheets and see if this runs out. Over the holidays - with no formal lessons and DH home for two weeks - he's been a bit more interested in helping me bake, cook, play games.

Thanks fr all the advice!

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