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Mar 18 2013

Between homeschooling and unschooling

1814_10200896551801661_2040448400_nI’m participating in today’s Unschooling blog hop. I barely feel qualified; I still see myself as a green, brand-new homeschooler. Never mind that it’s been 15 months, I still have no clue what I’m doing. I’ve been told that that is normal, and I’m holding on to that thought with both hands and a half Nelson.

The last 15 months have flown by. We did some deschooling (though not nearly enough), some summer relaxation (really not nearly enough), and last fall slid right into homeschooling. But. Not really.

Something I’ve discovered since we began, and something I struggle with daily, is that A refuses to be “taught.” Now, this is really no surprise to me as a parent, given that I have spent the better part of my life for the last almost 12 years dealing with that. But it sure was a wakeup call to me as a teacher. I can’t teach him…and this is coming from someone who is in a death match with the word can’t. I have tried, Lord knows I have tried. Inside, outside, upside down I have tried. The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ marches to the beat of his own cracked-out drummer, and I can’t compete with that.

See, he resists being taught something he thinks he already knows, but if he doesn’t already know what is being taught he thinks it’s too hard and shuts down. If I try to teach him, he is not in charge, and thus also shuts down. <This is why mommy drinks wine.> So I am forced to take a step back…well, half a step. I won’t go full unschool, and I have a good reason why. Because I am a control freak. Yes, yes, it’s true. I know you’re all shocked. But I can’t (sorry, won’t) just leave his education entirely to him.

So I find us somewhere between school-at-home homeschooling and full unschooling. I call it StealthSchooling; I wish to hell I could Trademark that. I quietly sneak in information in the form of documentaries, books, games, and iPad apps. Just enough pre-learning that he thinks he knows the topic. Then when he actually gets to the topic, he knows just enough to take off running. He gets daily math (ThinkWell, I big puffy heart love you), and is teaching himself three different programming languages. I plan to start re-learning Spanish (I really should have never lost my fluency) and sneaking it to him too. Co-op classes are fun, so how could that be learning? (Oh, dear son, learning is supposed to be fun!) Boy Scout merit badges are soon going to figure prominently in our curriculum. Every merit badge is its own little unit study, and the best part? Tom is taking that on. Ahhh, sneaky learning, the very best form of hacking an education when the kid has no idea how to hack an education.

At some point I know this won’t be the best setup for him. I could be wrong. But for now, StealthSchooling is working for us. In fact, it’s the (KnockWoodMyLipsToGod’sEar) the longest working educational setup we’ve ever had. I’ll take it. And hopefully, a year from now, I’ll have an even better idea of just what the hell to do.

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Please visit the other participants in today’s blog hop! (Will updated throughout the day)

Chasing Hollyfield

Red, White, and Grew

Building Wingspan

Thea Sullivan

Buffalo Mama

Cedar Life Academy

Wenda Sheard

Life with Intensity

 Sui Generis

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  1. BeckyG

    StealthSchooling, I love that! I have a feeling we’re headed that way with my son. By then you’ll have the trail fully blazed and a book out about it (I can hope right?). 🙂

    1. Jen

      It amazes me what he learns when I get out of his way.
      And that would have to be the 3rd book…in several years. I can’t write two at once. LOL

  2. Tedra

    I think we started homeschooling at the exact same time….

  3. Carmen

    That’s what I call our style too – stealth schooling! We’ve been doing it for around 3 years, due to my son’s anxiety issues. Just in the last few months I’ve see my boy start to blossom beautifully, and I can see now that at some point he will actually be able to tackle something more head on. Someday soon. If I’d been pushing him, stressing him out, it wouldn’t have happened. Good for you for knowing what’s right for your son!

  4. Brynn

    My son did – and sometimes still does – this too. We battled, and screamed, and fought, and had a few meltdowns (even mommy). Finally, we formalized our “StealthSchooling.” On Sunday night, I create a list for the entire week of what should be done. It is a rough outline of pages/chapters if we are using any curriculum and a place for him to list what he decides to do (like on Khan Academy, or NetFlix documentaries). Then on Friday there is a “test.” This is a very loose term, but it keeps everyone honest. I will go back on Thursday night and check the list, peruse things which have been done, and come up with one question from each basic subject. Sometimes the questions are things like -3(x+ 14)= 5(3x-4) what is x?, but many times they are things like “Can you tell me about how the brontosaurus eats” or “What are some cool things about Madagascar?” or “In your book, what kind of transportation would main character’s use and what might a bumper sticker be on it?” Dad administers the test on Friday. If Dad thinks he has paid attention and learned anything, cool. If Dad doesn’t think there has been enough focus this week, they discuss some strategies or what might have gone wrong. Somehow, my incredibly gifted kid has not figured out that I provide Dad the list. Dad is apparently omnipotent still and just knows these things.

    It has allowed me to step out of “schooling” almost completely. It has also allowed me to be able to help when my kiddo is a bit frazzled. Since I’m not teaching, he is much more likely to ask me for help now. We are back to a mom-kid relationship and not a teacher-student style dynamic.

  5. Thea Sullivan

    I think WE started homeschooling at almost the same time, too! January 4, 2012, to be exact.

    Can I just say THANK YOU, both for making me laugh (as usual) and for describing my experience back to me in a way I have never put into words? The I can’t/won’t do this because it’s-too-easy/it’s-too-hard rock-and-a-hard-place that we seem to be in most all of the time.

    OH, and I think I may have a runner-up for Most Complex Child on the Planet (TM). Just sayin.’ (:

  6. Jen

    Great post, and gives me hope that I wouldn’t completely screw up my kids’ education should we ever jump on the homeschooling wagon. We do a lot of StealthSchooling here, too. It’s so wonderful to explore topics that regular school won’t cover for years.

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