the network for radical unschooling families
So our daughter is 1.5 years old, and my wife and I love what we've read and seen so far with Unschooling. On a practical side, we're curious if there are solutions for unschooling for families where both parents have to work.
So far, one suggestion has been to think of unschooling as a philosophy that can still be adhered to, even if we have to send our daughter to a public school anyway. That it's more of a way of thinking about school, whether or not one abstains from or goes to school.
An idea I had was to start talking to our daycare center, which focuses on an "emergent curriculum", which from what I can glean, seems very similar to the philosophy of unschooling: child-led learning through, centered on his or her own interests and desires.
Anyway, just curious if other people are in the same boat in terms of work, and what sorts of solutions people have come up with.
I have been thinking a lot about this as well. My husband and I are currently trying to figure out how we can unschool our two sons, ages five and seven, while both of us work. One solution I plan to pursue is to ask for flex hours at work. I plan on proposing the option of working from home sometimes, or doing my full time hours within fewer days. We'll see how it goes. My husband works off and on (freelance) so that makes it more difficult in terms of scheduling. Another thing we thought of is to utilize afterschool programs (2 to 5pm) as a way of having the kids engaged while we are at work but not go to actual school. There are some very interesting afterschool programs in our area that our kids would love. So that's another possibility. I'll keep you posted on how we do or do not make it work within the next few weeks. We need to decide soon as the new school year is approaching.
I was thinking about this after I read your post and personally wonder, if it is at all possible to unschool with the child actually attending a school.
I think that it is not possible.
I think that school has too big an impact on ones life and I don't think that there is any space for unschooling within a school system.
I cannot, myself, imagine how we would work it!
I am curious to read other people's thoughts!
Dear Ester and Brian,
I do not think it is possible either. My son's unhappiness at school last year permeated our home life. School is so many hours a day, and when you add homework its even more. By the time I get home from work and they get home from school, and get homework done, the whole day has already passed and it all had to do with school. I'm curious to hear what others think though.
I personally hated school growing up. I don't think my parents knew about homeschooling but they let me stay home a lot. I missed tons of school, had lots of fake doctor's notes and notes detailing other elaborate excuses as to why I was not in school. When I think about it now, in this way my parents sort of did "unschool" while sending me to school! But I think what that did (bless my parents' hearts!) is teach me that I can get my way and do what is best for me but I had to do it underhandedly. I think I carried this with me into my adult life. I would prefer to teach my own kids that they can get what's best for them by asking for it and making it happen honestly.
One more thing...my son was really happy at his Waldorf preschool. The Waldorf philosophy for teaching seemed very conducsive to his style of learning. My other son loved his Montessori preschool. I think both my kids would thrive in either type of school but unfortunately we cannot afford the tuition for the grade school at either the Montesssori or Waldorf private schools here in town. But if you think the preschool you found follows your own philosophy of learning, you shoudl go ahead and try it!
I'd love to hear more about working-out-of-home families unschooling! This is what we've decided to do. Both DH and I work 30+ hrs a week, but someone is always home with DS. We are fortunate enough to have a budding commune and have two other gentle, and interested persons to help us make this work!
Still, DS is only 4 yo and loves to learn new things....I wonder how this will evolve through the years. I have a lot of nay-sayers trying to convince me I'm making poor decisions...Would love to hear some success stories!
the after-school program idea sounds promising too, another idea to put down on my list of things to look into.
A little background: I also do freelance, and telecommuting, so my hours are almost self-inflicted, unless I have clients I need to work with during normal work hours. I also teach college level courses part-time, so that's not from home. So I already work into the night.
Regarding the unschooling while enrolled in school, that was advice I got from a writer of an unschooling blog (I forgot which one). I basically asked the same thing, whether unschooling was realistically unavailable to families where both parents have to work, and the writer wrote back with that suggestion. I guess that means to try to not be stressed by the normal stressors in school. I don't know, it does seem like it wouldn't work out practically.
I'll look into the Waldorf and Montessori schools, from what little I do know, the montessori school where I am is a tutition-based school, and I would imagine that if I could afford the tuition, we could instead afford to have just one of us work instead. But, it's something to look into just in case, thanks.
There are a number of unschooling families where both parents do paying work to some extent - the biggest key to success in that regard seems to be flexibility, finding ways to work non traditional hours or from home. Right now I work four long days a week while my partner works from home, and soon I'll be working three even longer days for a time as my job is in transition, but I'm looking for other options, too for the future.
One of the things I found helped me think outside the box in terms of work options was deciding school was Not an option at all (unless the kids wanted it). I was helped in that regard when my stepson came back from living with his bio mom after a few years - he was in the process of being expelled from school when we pulled him out, so going back was pretty clearly a bad choice. Knowing that worked to free up my thinking - with the idea that "well, there's always school" gone, it was somehow easier to be creative.
Some families successfully make use of child-care while the kids are little and need someone around. Some families arrange for older kids to be home alone for part of the day (most often single-parent families with only children). Some families have used school for a year or two with kids old enough to understand that its a temporary fall-back plan and they don't need to "perform" more than the bare necessity to avoid disciplinary measures. But families who put young children in pre-school or school tend to leave them there if there are no huge upheavals. That's not necessarily a terrible thing, but it's not unschooling and this forum won't be much help to you in that regard - we just won't relate to your life at that point.
I really appreciate what you said: "One of the things I found helped me think outside the box in terms of work options was deciding school was Not an option at all (unless the kids wanted it)." This is great advice. I'm going to quote you to my husband later today. Thank you.
Personally I don't believe you can unschool and send your child to school. The two philosophies are fundamentally at odds. One completely trusts a child to seek knowledge and learn by osmosis, the other assigns value to particular subjects and forces them upon children regardless of their abilities and interests.
I started a business from home so that I can unschool the kids and work, and my partner works. We recently traded in a huge mortgage in a big city to own a house outright in a country. Now my partner only has to work part time in order to cover the bills and as we move towards greater self sufficiency we plan to do away with even ore of his hours.
We prioritised family life over material wealth. The fact that we own our house is a significant advantage though, and I understand that this isn't possible for everyone, however there are always ways to reduce your need for money and the material lifestyle.
I hope you work it out!