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education.com asks:
Q:

How does "unschooling" help a teen learn math and science needed for college? Will the "unschooled" children be prepared?

"In a way, this sounds like a great way for a child to learn. I get very fed up with the standard curricula and standardized testing in schools. However, I don't understand how an "unschooling" program helps a teenager to learn some of the math and science they will need for college. If a parent isn't a math expert, how does the parent teach calculus? Does the parent have access to chemistry lab equipment? Also, there is so much more to a traditional school experience than just the academics.  Sports, marching band, girlfriends/boyfriends, football games, socializing between classes, high school "drama", etc. These things are in many ways more important than the academics, as it teaches kids how to live with others.  "Unschooling" seems like a method for overly protective parents for keeping their children out of the scary world and in the safe confines of the home.  These children will have to walk out into the scary world someday as adults.  Will the "unschooled" children be prepared?"

Asked by Dan in commenting on the article, "Unschooling 101": http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Unsch...
In Topics: School and Academics, Homeschooling, Getting ready for college
> 60 days ago

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magicandmayhem
magicandmay... writes:
There are so many ways to learn math and science.  For instance, Khan Academy is an entirely free higher level math and science curricula you can view entirely online (look it up on you-tube).  There are MANY entirely free courses, webinars, lesson plans, etc. online.  Some entire college courses are available for free for anybody interested in taking part.

Many homeschooled and unschooled kids also take advantage of coops (a parent or tutor teaches a group who are interested in learning that subject) or take part in community college classes.

There are also purchased curricula available and many are scripted for parents with teacher editions.  Most homeschooled and unschooled teens are very good at taking charge of their own education, though, and can use books and resources themselves.

As for the other subjects you mention, there is so much out there these days even in the smallest communities.  In many states, homeschooled kids are legally able to take part in extracurricular activities like band and sports.  My daughters were on the school soccer team for several years, for instance.  Many homeschoolers form their own sports teams and they have large state tournaments and everything.  Around here, one of the local private schools actively recruits our homeschooled kids for their teams.

In terms of things like prom, they can always go with kids who attend a public school but most communities throw their own dances, formals, socials, etc.  There's even a fancy dance at some of the national unschooling conferences where families meet up once a year.

As far as the other social needs, those are met even more for kids who are out in the real world 24/7 instead of in the artificial environment of school all day.  My own homeschooled kids take part in community theater (my daughters have performed for tens of thousands of people for 5 summers in a row), T-ball, volunteer work at a local historic site, children's clubs, scouting, and so on, plus weekly and monthly get-togethers for homeschool kids for swimming, ice skating, etc.  They also have friends who are in public school who come over and play after school and friends who are also homeschooled who come over at any time, plus have friends on the internet, pen pals, etc.

It works for us.  Our family is close and our kids are confident, smart and happy.  And yes, they are socialized.  :)

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Unschooling simply means "child led". The child determines what he or she is ready for it does not mean you do not expose them to every math. For example, if in the schools they are progressing to Algebra and your child says "I don't want to learn that right now, I'm not ready", then you simply move on to another math. Another great book on this is listed below in the link.

"Unschooling" seems like a method for overly protective parents for keeping their children out of the scary world and in the safe confines of the home.  These children will have to walk out into the scary world someday as adults.  Will the "unschooled" children be prepared?"

I don't know, was Abraham Lincoln prepared? He is a classic example of an unschooled student ( self-taught and self directed)

Thanks and good luck!

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dewi
dewi writes:
Hello Dan,
You bring up a lot of salient issues that I think are at the core of what many people find disconcerting about the concept of unschooling.  I am by no means an expert on this philosophy, but do find myself intrigued by many of its tenets.  To address some of your questions more clearly, I contacted homeschooling expert Diane Flynn Keith (http://www.homefires.com/dk_bio.asp).  In regards to the potential problem of lack of access to materials or the expertise needed to complete an advanced mathematics curriculum, Ms. Keith points to the wealth of material available to anyone interested in these topics: "An unschooler fascinated with math and science will research to find materials and mentors they need to satiate their desire to learn. The public library has textbooks. There are FREE math and calculus as well as science courses available online from experts in the fields. MIT has free courseware online."  And these are only a handful of the resources available.  It is also important to remember that not every single person is adept or advanced in every single field.  I have both a B.A. and a Master's, and I never took a single calculus class, not in the public high school I attended nor at my undergraduate university.  As for the issue of extracurricular activities, it is important to keep in mind that public schools are cutting these programs at an alarming rate.  In many instances home/unschooled children may have MORE access to choral groups, music lessons, team sports, etc. than their conventionally schooled peers.  Ms. Keith states: "The beauty of un/homeschooling is that the children aren't limited to just what one institution (a school) has to offer in terms of resources, teachers, and peer groups. Un/homeschoolers get to use the world as their classroom and learn from many sources, mentors, and broad social pools."  As for the fear that unschooled children are unprepared for the "real world" -- which I believe to be the most common controversy associated with this philosophy, Ms. Keith has this to say, "Unschoolers are not confined to their homes all day. Unlike schooled children, they have the opportunity to interact in the big, wide world every single day.  They have more opportunities for a variety of educational and social interaction than their school-going peers.  That's why research studies by the U.S. Department of Education as well as other public and private institutions consistently show that un/homeschoolers are better socialized and prepared for the real world than kids who go to traditional schools."  I don't believe that unschooling is necessarily right or even feasible for all families.  But I am of the opinion that it can be a beautiful, fulfilling way to create happy, well-rounded, intelligent children who become committed aware members of society.

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chauffeurmom
chauffeurmom writes:
I thought you might be interested in some real life examples of your question.  I unschooled my son (now 21) and my daughter (19).  My son was precocious in math and sciences.  He was beyond my math level by the age of 12, so we enrolled him in a local college's night school first for precalculs, then for calculus and other advanced math classes. He befriended a scientist and studied with him in his lab once a week for four years. He also worked as a computer programmer at some local universities starting at the age of 16.  At the age of 19, he considered going to college but, after doing the math, he felt that it was an economically unsound decision.  After a month long job search he received three job offers and has currently been happily employed as a computer programmer for over a year.  He owns his own car and recently moved into his own condominium. He is very happy with his job, his home and his life.

Unlike my son, my daughter's least favorite area of study was math and she was constantly struggling with it.  At the age of 10 when she seemed frustrated and unhappy with her math studies, contrary to what most people would do, I told her she could always take a break from it - which she did - for seven years!  Two years ago, with college looming on the horizon (should she choose it), she decided she needed those math skills and she found a friend and mentor who was willing to tutor her.  After a year of one hour sessions once a week, she signed up for a college algebra class at the same local college my son once attended.  She earned a B plus!  She also had so much fun with her tutor, that she decided to continue her math education with her as well. She continues to see her once a week just for fun!  I don't know what her choices will be in life - whether she will go to college, get a job or decide to apprentice for a trade, but I have no doubt that she is more than adequately prepared for life, whatever her choices might be.
> 60 days ago

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