Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
We’ll start things off with two related questions from the comment section of last week’s Q&A post.
How do you feel about taking destination vacations? Like trips to Disneyworld?Disneyland? NYC? Is that something you would ever consider doing with your family?
Ooh, good question! And here’s a 2nd part for you – what about trips outside the USA or outside North America? I haven’t heard you talk much about those. Is it something you’re planning for one day? With a family of 6 it would certainly take a while to save up for.
Destination vacations aren’t something we’ve ruled out entirely…it’s just that we never felt the urge to do stuff like that while we had babies/toddlers/preschoolers. Going to the beach is hard enough with 4 small kids!
Also, since destination vacations are fairly expensive and we couldn’t afford to do them often, we’ve agreed that we want to take trips like that when the kids are old enough to remember them (for instance, for us it would have been silly to take our babies to Disney. We’d only be able to afford that once, and we want them to be old enough to really enjoy it.).
Zoe’s five now, which means that traveling has gotten to be much simpler than it was even just 3-4 years ago, so we’re pondering what trips we might like to take before Joshua’s off to college.
As far as the second question goes, I myself have actually never been outside of North America (I’ve been to Canada and I’ve traveled quite a lot of the United States). I think it would be neat to go see another country, but if we can’t ever manage to get the six of us on a plane, I won’t feel like I’ve failed (I think I’m pretty happy and well adjusted despite having never left North America).
I will say that both Mr. FG and I feel like the most valuable part of a vacation is not so much the destination but the company. Relaxation and relationship-building are what matter most to us, and we can provide those things for our family no matter where we can afford to vacation.
I have 2 reader questions for you:
1) How do you determine the curriculum used for your children’s education?
2) Have you heard of “unschooling”? I know that you don’t pursue unschooling with your children, but as someone experienced with homeschooling, what’s your take on the unschooling and the value that it’s principles can bring to a philosophy on educating children? (If you’ve heard of it/think about it at all, others may not think about unschooling as much as I do!)
Context – from reading your blog and others, I have become fascinated with non-mainstream formats of education. I personally have only experienced traditional education through public schools and love hearing about these things from someone with different experiences.
I’m not sure if you’re wondering how I decide what subjects to cover, or how I choose which particular books to use for those subjects. If it’s the former, that’s pretty standard, and our state laws require us to provide education in the subjects that would normally be taught in our public schools.
As far as particular curricula goes, I base my decisions off of my own experience as a homeschooled child, recommendations from family and friends, and research of my own.
I have indeed heard of unschooling. My hesitations about it stem from concern that I myself wouldn’t be disciplined enough to do a good job with it…unschooling actually does require a fair amount of work on the part of the parents. I also feel like keeping up with unschooling four children would be a little tricky for me and I worry they’d end up with educational gaps in some areas.
Also, (and of course, do keep in mind that I’ve not tried or experienced unschooling) I feel like there is some value in making my children do schoolwork that they’re not especially interested in. There are quite a few life situations that require you do to work you may not be inspired about, and you just have to do it anyway. So, though I do indeed encourage them to follow their interests and research things they like to learn about, I also am not at all uncomfortable drilling them on math facts (no one but Zoe really loves that!).
I’d say that we do some unschooling-style learning…we check out books and videos from the library on topics the kids are interested in, we looks things up on the internet when we wonder about them, and so on. For example, I’d say that almost all of Joshua’s knowledge of the animal kingdom has been obtained through unschooling methods (he’s read a bit about animals in his science books, but the information in those books is usually stuff he already knows).
And the same goes for Zoe’s fish knowledge…she reads fish books for fun, checks fish magazines out from the library, puts fish puzzles together, and watches educational DVDs about aquatic creatures just because she’s interested.
I think this sort of learning is great! Helping kids follow their passions and interests is wonderful, but I’m just not at the point where I’m willing to put their passions and interests in charge of their whole education. So, we read fish books AND do handwriting books, and we visit reptile shows AND use grammar workbooks.
Readers, what are your thoughts on destination vacations and on unschooling?
Today’s 365 post: four shirts