the network for radical unschooling families
Hi I am Louisa and I am living in the French Alps (with three of four trips to the UK each year) I have been homeschooling my two children, both girls of 9 and 6 for three years now. The eldest having gone to school for three years here in France, prior to being homeschooled, the youngest never having been to school. I found the French School System extremely antiquated, restrictive, uncreative, authoritarian, based too heavily on examination and not allowing any room for mistakes along the way and coming from a design background (with parents and a husband who were themselves teachers) decided that I would prefer to 'teach ' my children myself.
I researched homeschooling for a year on the net before I purchased a homeschool Steiner curriculum which I did with the eldest for one year, finding out over that time that she is very much a 'self-learner' and prefers to be curriculum-free and so started unschooling them both, which I have done for the last two years,
We live in the mountains and ski during the winter, walk, swim and bike during the summer. Our days are very laid back! We have just bought our first house and plan to travel through Eastern Europe in 2012.
I am in and around Southampton when I return to the UK and have just joined the SEEDS group there.
I would love to meet up with anyone who is in the Geneva area during the winters (or any other time of year) as we are not at the present moment in contact with any other homeschooled/unschooled families.
I love being with my children here in the mountains, I love our unschooling days together and I joined this group hoping to chat with other parents as I sometimes feel isolated in our village where my children are the only kids seen around the place during school hours and my extended family is in the UK.
We are in Holland right now, after 7 years in the US. We will be moving to the Lausanne area in February and then planning to share our time between the US and Lausanne. Our son is 4. We love being in nature, woods and snow, baking (a lot!!) and we love our freedom. I was feeling very attracted towards Steiner's philosophy, but our son definitely is showing us that RU is THE way to enjoy him/ourselves/life.
I am so excited to find your message!
my frienda Paula -whom you may have heard about- is from UK and living in Switzerland. Her four kids are schooled this year but he might know of other homeschooling families in the area. I can send you her email adress in a private message if you want to contact her.
http://pjrothermel.com/ (Paula's website)
Hi Louisa. A combined reply here to both your posts! Re your worries about your youngest daughter and friends in social settings, is this regardless of language spoken / which country you're in? Could it be that the speaking-French / integrating-in-French is the issue, or do you think it's 'something else'?
I mention this as (a long time ago!) I spent a year of my degree course at a French-speaking University in Belgium. Whilst my French was otherwise 'good enough', I was there with two close friends from the UK, both of whom were completely bilingual French/English. We spent most of our time together, along with our Belgian friends, and somehow I found that I let my 'usual personality' get squashed, partly by my perfectionist streak when it came to speaking French as well as everyone else was in my company. I also found it immensely difficult to put across who I was personality-speaking, in my 2nd language. This was exacerbated probably by being with two friends who had no issue with this whatsoever, being bilingual!
At the time I'm sure I would have been described by English friends as being social, extroverted, confident and humorous, but I'm quite sure my French-speaking friends wouldn't have seen me in the same light. Possibly the opposite! In hindsight, I think I would have still struggled in some ways, but it would probably have been a better move for me to have gone to a French speaking University without my bilingual friends. I think I would have asserted myself much more, and felt less pressure to be 'as good as they were'. (In fact, I know this was my mistake: I lived in Belgium for several years outside of Uni years - without my bilingual friends - and had no issue conversing in French without the performance anxiety!)
Whilst I'm sure some children jump straight-in with languages that aren't their mother-tongue picking up the new language osmotically, maybe others that have a more serious / perfectionist streak hold back? Especially if they're around a much more confident and fluent sibling / friend?
I guess one acid test is this: is your youngest much the same around English speaking friends when you're back in the UK? (Especially after a few 'sessions' of being able to get to know others gently, in her own time?) If so, are there any ways in which she can improve her French - in a way that works for her, and of her choosing - without pressure to 'perform' socially? (I expect you've thought of these ideas already, but in case not, how about some short French 'lessons' / games - if she actively wants this and can cope with it - on a 1:1 basis? Asking a single French speaking girl of her age-group round just to spend time with her speaking French one week, perhaps if they can swap and try speaking English another week?... Maybe it would help your daughter to see a French 'friend' learning English in this way? Watching childrens' movies in French? etc.)
In our family, we have a very socially confident and extroverted 6 year old son (when it comes to children, at least). And a much more introverted 3 year old daughter. Both get plenty of opportunity each week to mix with other home educated kids, and several unschoolers too. My daughter has had people around her in this way since birth, but she seems to prefer her own company to mixing with other children. (Granted, she's still very young, but my son was far more interested in other children at her age. I can see a difference in their social preferences.) For now at least, she's aware her brother loves playing games and being involved with his friends, but she doesn't seem to be unhappy or frustrated with not being the same way. (Of course this may change...). I mention this, as I expect it would help your youngest and you if you're able to shed more light on what exactly is frustrating your daughter. The language issue, and / or something else...?
On a different note, we're in Romsey, just down the road from Southampton. If, when you're in the UK, you fancy joining up with our Romsey home-ed group, please message me. There are several girls in our group that are aged 4 - 9 (and clearly boys too, of the same age range). Your youngest might be able to find a few friends that she feels comfortable with. I think we have about 25 children in our group, which makes it more intimate than SEEDs, and there are at least 3 unschooling families involved. It's not an unschooling group per se; an activity is always on offer, but many of the children just play in the playground and make up games between them instead. Free-choice! I think the intimate and very relaxed feel of the group works well for unschooled children.
You might have also heard of Carole Lovesey's South of England Unschoolers group? Probably worth signing-up! There are a few of us from Southampton area, and many more from along the South into the South East.
Hey, so nice to meet up with you all already - Lausanne is not too far away from us Isa, I would totally love to meet up in Geneva if that is possible with you when you come, let's keep in touch!
Hi Lau, thanks for the contact, could you pm me Paula's email address ? I will have a look at her website now, that would be great.
Hi Tracy, I would love to meet up with your Romsey group, I will be in Soton for the whole month of February, so I will contact you again nearer the time. Sounds like fun, I am so looking forward to our time in the UK to meet some more people and possibly find some girls for my youngest to connect with, a group situation like this would be perfect! thanks.
thanks everyone for making me feel welcome, I am looking forward to getting involved.
Louisa, I need you to accept my friend request in order to send you a pm. Thanks!
Louisa, I need you to accept my friend request in order to send you a pm. Thanks!
We made it to Lausanne and i was wondering whether you'd be at the June unschooloing meeting in Haute-Savoie.
We'll be there and would love to say hello if you are too.