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A Question for Primal Parents About Schooling

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  • #46
    Our youngest is homeschooled and has been off and on since she was in the third grade (she is a rising junior and 16 now). We started that before we started paleo (just went primal recently), but yeah, I have been excited about how nicely our lives are clicking together now.
    This past year we started, basically, 'unschooling'. We study what we want, how we want, when we want. She wants to train horses for a living when the time comes, so last year she decided she wants to stay home and work horses with us. Unschooling isn't de facto dropping out. In fact, she has learned more in the past year than she had the others added together. She is just learning about what she wants to learn about. She has mild ADHD on top of dyslexia. We live in SC and there weren't any resources for her in the public school system. It has made so many things an uphill battle. So, last year, we quit. She is beautiful, smart and so gifted with a horse it will make the hairs stand up on your arms to watch her ride. Now she has the time to spend doing what she loves and she finally feels good about herself. She has even started teaching some of my beginner riding lessons and two of her students went to a show two weeks ago and did great jobs. She is required to study certain subjects using whatever resources she desires. That means she goes to the library, uses the internet, etc. Getting out of the public school system has been a huge blessing for us.

    The requirements are mine, BTW. I want her to understand the world around her, so I have said she has to study current events and geography. She can go about it any way she wants, but she has to be able to sit at the dinner table in the evening and hold a conversation on what she has chosen to study. I have also said that if she wants to be a horse trainer, she needs to study equine science. She is going to start to do ride-alongs with our vet at the end of the summer and the vet says she already probably knows as much or more than most of the vet techs she has employed. True unschooling puts no restrictions on the child's learning. I am altering that a little bit.
    Last edited by isbolick; 06-25-2012, 02:06 PM.


    • #47
      Never heard of unschooling before; it makes sense for young children, but adolescents/young adults would need more discipline and direction. Not that there's anything wrong with autodictatism, but it doesn't seem like the most reliable method for abstract learning.


      • #48
        Originally posted by Figlio di Moros View Post
        Never heard of unschooling before; it makes sense for young children, but adolescents/young adults would need more discipline and direction. Not that there's anything wrong with autodictatism, but it doesn't seem like the most reliable method for abstract learning.
        Do you mean 'autodidacticism'? I am interested as to why you feel that guided self-learning would be contraindicated for the learning of abstract principles. My personal experience has been that my daughter has learned more sophisticated concepts than she was previously exposed to in a public school setting. This style of learning has worked very well for her and she is 16. My son, a mathematics major at Clemson, went to traditional school and his learning style benefited from the public school structure. He earned a Palmetto Fellow scholarship, among others, and has a free ride which also pays for his living expenses.

        But we learned with these two bright, bright children that learning styles are as individual as diet. What suits one does not suit the other.


        • #49
          What I mean is, I'm not quick to jump on unschooling for older children. Not that I don't have a long way to go before that becomes an issue, but I don't see a lot of teens being trustworthy autodidacts, or that they'd necessarily be able to source or study effeciently without guidance, or that they'd choose to be well-rounded.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm already a fan of school-choice, but I don't see how this is necessarily constructive. Not to mention, the credentialization so necessary to prove to people you know something, whether you do or don't.


          • #50
            I have to admit that I don't just turn her loose. I would say that she is a 'guided unschooler'. We discuss the subjects and topics she is interested in and develop a plan of how to go about learning about them. We also figure out ways for her to demonstrate her knowledge. For current events, my husband and I are interested in the world and keep abreast of what is going on. We have discussions and she writes papers on topics that interest her. She doesn't test well and never has. Even when she understands the subject. Put her in a horse show and she performs perfectly. Put her at a desk with a pencil in her hand and a deadline and she draws a blank. I have had her teachers (when she was in school) all tell me how intelligent she is and that she has a superior knack for grasping even complex ideas. We had her back in 'regular' school from the 7th grade through the 9th. She went in a confident, happy girl and after three years had decided that she was stupid...and she just isn't. She has some mild LD's that have nothing to do with intelligence and is a person who is meant to be DOING all the time. School was crushing her. I don't know how to explain it. All I know is that now she is happy, motivated, learning and doing the thing she loves. It might not be for everybody, but it is for us.

            The horse stuff is easy. I have been doing this my whole life and have always been a big researcher. I have also worked for vets and large trainers and have a pretty good knowledge base from which to evaluate her learning.

            As for other subjects, I usually try to brush up on whatever she is doing so that I can tell whether she is pulling it out of thin air or not. Her brother helped with philosophy last year and helps with math. One of our boarders is a high school teacher and she just told me the other day that Tori's vocabulary was much more extensive than that of her public school attending peers. It isn't as regimented as you might think is valuable, but it isn't totally unstructured, either.

            We did a lot of research on various learning styles. Traditional public school only rewards a fairly limited range of learning styles. It isn't really the fault of the system, it's just the nature of the beast. With 30 kids in a room, you can only do so much. My daughter falls outside of the norm and so is not benefited by a traditional approach. By trying to force her to fit in, her self-esteem was suffering. She hates being tied into a classroom. It just doesn't work for her. This does.
            Last edited by isbolick; 06-25-2012, 04:05 PM.


            • #51
              Isbolick your daughter is very fortunate to have such attentive parents, it sounds like she is flourishing. We unschool our 14 yr. old son; we tried various types of school; private and public charter and our son decided he'd rather homeschool and ultimately we all preferred unschooling. He too went to school confident of his intelligence and over time came doubt himself. He has some LD that interfered with learning in a classroom setting. When I saw that he was beginning to question himself I knew it wasn't a fit and we needed to do something else before any serious damage was done.

              My husband and I have always been interested in learning and education (he's a High School teacher) we've read lots of books on how people learn. It turns out you only really learn and retain things that you are interested in. It is certainly possible to learn things that you aren't interested in but you will not retain them or truly know them. You can test this for yourself by looking at the things you know well and ask yourself if you had to work hard at memorizing that info.

              I'll give you an example: when my son left school in 5th grade he wanted to study Ancient Egypt so we got the Great Courses series on Egypt. This is a series of about 33 college level lectures. We both listened to them; I retained very little but he absorbed it all. I never tested him on the material, I didn't make him memorize the pharaohs he just learned their names along with everything else about ancient Egypt because he wanted to. The thing is, he learned how to learn and he applies that approach to learning every day.

              My husband has noticed that so many kids in High School have already turned off to learning even when they are in the elective courses he teaches. IMO homeschooling or unschooling can be particularly valuable to teens.
              Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.


              • #52
                I was unschooled. I'd say that about as primal as it gets. Get up when you want, run around barefoot and poke things with a stick all day, go to bed when you are tired and it's dark out. (or stay up until 3am reading with a flashlight under your covers... but it's ok cause you don't have to be up at 6 for school!)


                • #53
                  primal mama to three kids. schools vary by quite a bit; my 8 year old get a fair amount of physical activity during the day. my only gripe wrt primal and schooling is the school lunch and attitude about treats (candy for being good, for example). every year they have an event involving kids and parents where everyone walks or runs a certain distance. pretty cool, except at the finish line they serve some godawful blue "juice." however, we eat primal at home, he has primal packed lunches, our friends eat primal (or close to it), so the little bit he gets at school in the form of "treats" is something that i can tolerate. other than that, the school is a small school which is able to tailor education to the needs of most students. as a former homeschooling mama, i'm pretty happy with his education (and look forward to how they will handle my 5 yo in kindergarten this year).
                  my primal journal:


                  • #54
                    we unschool DS when he is not in school, and we school him via steiner schools.

                    it's not particularly "primal" really, but it certainly is a good way to educate that most closely aligns with our values. I do it because I cannot handle DS's social needs in order to appropriately unschool. I need and want to work (this is my own personal path), and while many families unschool around that, I'm too much of an introvert to handle my work *and* DS's social needs, and DH is in the same boat.

                    So, we chose schooling, and we chose steiner schools.

                    While bread and grain is sort of 'integral' in some ways, they at least make gluten free bread, which is better than gluten-bread. They are really sensitive to children's health needs -- so whatever your family is doing is going to be honored at the school. My friend is baking a cake for the end-of term (which was today -- so she ostensibly did bake a cake), and it had to be vegan and gluten free to avoid any allergies that the kids may have.

                    Outside of school, we follow DS's interests. I pay close attention to what he's into at a given time, and I'm impressed with what he does. He's currently into lego, swords and shields (he can classify them by historical era and/or "fantasy" classification), archery, and drawing cats. We just support what he's into, and he learns lots of crazy stuff being into his stuff.


                    • #55
                      My kiddos go to a Montessori. My youngest is still in his Primary years, so he is in a private Montessori Children's house. My oldest is in a public Montessori. While it is a drag they still have to STAR test, the benefits FAR outweigh those silly 2 weeks. Plus, they put ZERO pressure on the kids about it. The thing I love about Montessori:
                      -focus on the timeline of life. The Montessori Time Line of Life: Big Work for Big Intellectual Appetites | Inside Inly Inside Inly This has been huge with my kids. Explaining to them why we eat the way we do makes perfect sense because they have spent a great deal of time discussing and learning about early humans. My older son's teacher last year spent a lot of time discussing the basic needs of humans and how it influences our behaviors, motivations, and interactions.
                      - the garden and spend time outdoors for the sake of being outside
                      - free choice and time management skills are learned very early on.

                      my older son's teacher retired and we are getting a new lower elementary teacher. She was responsible for implementing farm to cafeteria in her old school, is very outdoorsy, etc so I am excited to see what this year has in store for us!


                      • #56
                        I have four kids. Three have always been homeschooled, one attends a school specifically for kids who qualify as "multiple disability". Our homeschool program has always been eclectic. We have everything in the schoolroom from Gatto to The Well-Trained Mind to Steiner to Rod and Staff and back again. I use the label eclectic because we simply do some of everything, depending on the specific daughter and her desires / learning style, and sometimes because I, as the mom and teacher / guide, strongly feel it is necessary.

                        Being home helps with the Primal thing. My kids are not officially Primal, but I have a dairy-allergic celiac, another who is on the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet - amazingly close to the Primal), one who is sensitive to artificial chemicals in the diet, and a picky eater. We own 25 wooded acres, so Forest Kindergarten is just our everyday way of being, with a lot of care taken around the poison ivy, which two of this family are crazy sensitive to. (Sometimes we use RoundUp, because there simply is an overwhelming amount of it and my husband has come thiiiiiis close to hospitalization due to it.)

                        The special-needs kid is very, very, well taken care of at her school. School has never had a problem with me providing all her food and snacks in a humongous lunch cooler daily (she is the SCD-fed kid). The school is in the middle of cow country - just open space, the building, and some cows across the road. She has learned skills there that I would never have believed she would learn. I do my best never to sell her short, but with multiple-disability kids you kind of live a "hope and work for the best but still plan for the worst" kind of philosophy. If I brought her home for school, the other three would need to go - full-time job and then some with her, much as I love her. This kid wakes up each and every morning and signs "school, yes?!". That (and the academic progress) is all I need to know. (Well, I actually do need to know a lot more, but I think you understand.)

                        With each and every method of schooling I become aware of, I find new positive ways of learning, teaching, guiding, letting go, thinking, doing. It is still stunning to me how four sisters, all born of the same two parents (hubby and I), drinking the same water and eating the same food, still manage to be so wildly different from each other in so many ways. So I treat them as individuals. One can do math from library books and manipulatives; one wants a homey, kitchen-math based curriculum; another recently went for a workbook system, for example.

                        I have a fondness for Waldorf, myself, but the nearest Waldorf K-8 is nearly two hours away and the tuition is basically another monthly mortgage payment per kid, which we cannot afford and still send the disabled daughter to all the therapy she needs to maximize her potential.

                        If you want a book about the importance of movement and learning, try Sally Goddard Blythe - "The Well-Balanced Child". Or, basically, anything the woman chooses to publish.
                        I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


                        • #57
                          I hear you on the costs of steiner. we moved to NZ because the place in the US was $3.5k for kindy, $10 for primary, and then, I think it was $14 for high school. No freakin' way we could have afforded it.

                          Here, it's $1k for kindy; $2.5k for primary; and $3k for high school. *that* I can afford.


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by zoebird View Post
                            I hear you on the costs of steiner. we moved to NZ because the place in the US was $3.5k for kindy, $10 for primary, and then, I think it was $14 for high school. No freakin' way we could have afforded it.

                            Here, it's $1k for kindy; $2.5k for primary; and $3k for high school. *that* I can afford.
                            So how did you do the move? Is the hubby Kiwi? I just up and moved to Germany when I was 18, but then again, my mother IS German. So I had blood kin who formally (government paperwork to get a residency permit) said they would "sponsor" me so I wouldn't end up on their welfare rolls (if I had ever run out of my own money).

                            Jeez, not too far from where we were in NJ there was a Waldorf so complete (Green Meadow Waldorf, Chestnut Ridge NY) they even had a Eurythmy college. I took the kids for one of their fall festivals (back when my oldest was about 5). But the PRICE! For 2013, the 9-12th grade tuition was $20,000.

                            There are online resources for homeschool Waldorf, and curriculum suppliers, too. A couple of books are next on the list. I think my youngest would like form drawing. I have heard criticism from others that some Waldorf do get hyper-uptight about the reading / 3rd grade thing. I think it is good that you have DS in a place that doesn't make him wait against his inclinations.

                            NZ has been on my short-list of places to visit ever since Lord of the Rings was filmed. I just keep on returning to Europe, though... one day, I will make it over to that side of the globe.
                            I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC