Deschooling
pages 14-17 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
online chat, September 14, 2011

JamieAndMonica: hi everyone, we are joining via phone from a sushi place today and will be reading back and forth while we chat.TUC conference was awesome this weekend!

Robin Bentley: Glad you guys went! Good weekend for conferences - Sandra was at Good Vibrations in San Diego.

JamieAndMonica: Alex had so much fun with the kids of various ages all being themselves, we enjoyed talks, discussions and meals, made great connections and feel really solid confirmation on our path

Jill Parmer: I have a story about another piece of school thought falling off of me.

Jill Parmer: When Steve and I were getting out outer brick wall redone, we did all the hard demo work. And at one point I was digging dirt away from the foundation, and a strong thought crossed my mind. That I can do this work even though I didn't go to school for construction. And it felt so good to be competent, and just keep working bit by bit.

This was skipped right by, but I took it to the Always Learning list for examination.
Sandra Dodd: So how was the conference for you, J&M? Can you tell us something about that and tie it in with unschooling?

Serah: Yes, i would love to hear something from TUC, we were planning to go, but the plans didn't work out :-(

JamieAndMonica: we saw some contrast more clearly. there were a variety of levels of experience with unschooling and deschooling from grown unschoolers and parents of late teens, to parents of 10-11 yr olds who have been doing it a while or from the beginning and are well connected to other unschoolers from conferences

Sandra Dodd: I hope some people gave you good ideas for your own deschooling--some of the talks, or some of the things you saw/heard/thought.

JamieAndMonica: to ourselves and others who have been reading, applying and living principles for a year or more, to some who are very new to the ideas and we saw active struggle with ideas while we were there

JamieAndMonica: some of what we saw them struggle with i remember mentally working through 3 or 6 months ago, and others giving me some future ahas

Sandra Dodd: I wanted to go through a few of the specific images and suggestions from that chapter of the book for us to play with. One is thinking of unschooling as a life full of the best Saturdays you can remember from your childhood.

Sandra Dodd: That won't work for my kids. Their Saturdays were no better than their weekdays. But that's the idea.

Robin Bentley: JamieAndMonica, this chat is full of conference veterans!

Capn Franko: Good Vibrations - the Great Blackout of 2011!

Schuyler: Simon and Linnaea didn't go to school, but I sure needed deschoolin'

Sandra Dodd: So does that "life of Saturdays" thing help? It did for me.

Schuyler: Sometimes, still, yet, I have to rethink a moment.

Sandra Dodd: Saturdays were the unstructured "do whatever" days.

Schuyler: a thought.

Schuyler: Saturdays was paper route at dawn and then cartoons and cartoons and cartoons and then I don't remember anymore...

Colleen: I like to think of it as a permanent vacation. I guess that's kind of the same as every day being a Saturday.

Sandra Dodd: That works too. Or an ideal summer day (summer-vacation-for-schoolkid day, I mean)

Joanna: I like the ideal summer day idea. Saturdays was cranky dad, who was really wanting to still be at work, barking orders. Shudder...

Schuyler: The finest Saturday's may be a better way for me of looking at it.

Schuyler: I think it helps. I think it moves toward it. But it doesn't have that Sunday coming too quick feeling. Or that late August and would they please not advertise back to school stuff

Sandra Dodd: But I think typical day being each day as special or as plain as it turns out, without pressure, without "ditching" to have fun... that creates an image for me, but it wouldn't work for everyone

Colleen: But you can't feel super pressured to make every day great either. Sometimes lounging around the house is a great way to spend a day, too. Oh right. You just wrote that, Sandra. Sorry.

Sandra Dodd: Another suggestion, in the book, is to think of it as being a tourist in your own town.

Schuyler: Many of my finest Saturdays were lying around with nothing much to do

Sandra Dodd: I think there should be 180 great days a year--parents should feel enough pressure that they have as many shiny show-off days as there would be school days. And that leaves 185-186 days per year for "doing nothing."

Joanna: I like that way of looking at it!

Colleen: Ha! Yes, but they have to be great in your kid's eyes. I know that Jerry and I don't always share the same definition of a "great" day.

Sandra Dodd: I don't think anyone should count, but if they feel like they're in a frenzy of doing too much, then that's too much. And if the mom is feeling like maybe she should do more, then she should do more.

Sandra Dodd: Enough "great" that the mom feels like she provided greatness. And enough happy that the kid felt like it was good, too.

Jill Parmer: I don't feel that pressure (and I kinda feel bad about that), We have a mix of activity and hanging around, but it always seems full of conversation, some excitement and some chillin.

Colleen: Yes. Or offered it anyway.

Jill Parmer: sometimes all within the same day.

Joanna: Yes! I never discount when a mom is saying that she doesn't feel like she's doing enough, but others will rush in to reassure her that whatever she's doing is fine.

Sandra Dodd: I always just say "then do more."

Sandra Dodd: Yeah, it pisses me off (you can quote me, all o'ya'll can) when people do the soothing, stroking "oooh you're a great mom" response to ANYthing. It is not helpful.

Sandra Dodd: So... Tourist in your own town.

Colleen: I think I spent most of our deschooling time looking for fun things that Jerry would enjoy doing and he vetoed about 90% of it. That was just the way it worked for us, but as long as I could offer without being upset if he said no I felt like we were ok.

Sandra Dodd: That can sometimes give people ten to a hundred quick ideas.

Sandra Dodd: But Colleen....maybe deschooling should've been leaving him more alone.

Jill Parmer: I think it's tricky with the "I don't feel like I'm doing enough" and then the "do more", Some people think "doing enough" is prodding kids to do more or do more academic stuff. So that mom needs to chill more.

Colleen: I agree, Sandra--hindsight being 20/20. I think I wasted a lot of time in those searches!

Sandra Dodd: Because when kids are first away from school (if he was a kid who had been in school) the mom's suggestions can seem like "field trip" or educational entrapment, so they WILL be resistant.

Joanna: That's our life right now too--both kids are SO busy with their individual activities, mostly online, that I actually don't like to answer the "What does YOUR typical day look like" question.

Colleen: Yep, that makes sense. He was in school for 5 years.

Sandra Dodd: But if you wait until they've had enough of doing what they want to, what they couldn't do before, and hanging out at the house, then the time comes when they want to do more things.

Sandra Dodd: Well excellent point, Jill.

Sandra Dodd: During deschooling, moms shouldn't "do more."

Sandra Dodd: I forgot the topic! DOH! Sorry

Sandra Dodd: During deschooling, moms should figure out how to stop looking for and expecting schoolish "product" and results

and start imagining and then seeing what learning looks like when it's not schoolish.

Sandra Dodd: It takes a while.

Sandra Dodd: So I might edit from the record that stuff up above to restore it to deschooling and not everyday longterm unschooling. Decided to leave it, with this note that it wasn't good advice for deschooling, but for unschooling it is.

Colleen: and parents should also learn to embrace their kid's passions--all of them.

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, embracing most of them is enough. You can't embrace all. You can still appreciate and support without "embracing."

Sandra Dodd: I don't love Barbies, but I have supported Barbies without embracing Barbie world. (And provided and maintained "Barbieland" under the stairs without embracing Holly's passion entirely.)

Capn Franko: I enjoyed Barbies more when the girls wanted to play "French Revolution"

Alex P: and the heads rolled!

Schuyler: I've loved a lot of things simply because Simon and Linnaea loved them. I don't seek them out now that they've moved on, but I loved them then. Simon and Linnaea are the special additive that made them look good.

Sandra Dodd: That's sweet, Schuyler.

Sandra Dodd: So during deschooling it can help to do less and less. Kid doing whatever; mom doing learn-about-unschooling. (And dads doing either or both, or going to work.)

Schuyler: I think, Frank, you and Hayden may play with Barbies in a similar way.

Alex P: that is how I feel Schuyler, from Thomas to Minecraft, I came to love them because of my child's love of those things.

Capn Franko: It was the girls, I swear. I simply enjoyed beheading the Barbies.

Sandra Dodd: Marty and Hayden Jenner filled a Barbie head with firecrackers and lit it, out in the cul-de-sac, several years ago. She had embedded earrings, and they popped out. Still there, but sticking out. Holly supported that project by providing a Barbie head. It already had had a haircut and didn't have a good body anymore.

Colleen: Sorry. had to go away for a sec. I don't mean you necessarily have to share their passions, but I think you need to take them seriously and not treat them as trivial. That was an important aspect of deschooling for us.

Joanna: Maybe it's that the moms with active kids, who have become passive to school, need to do more with their kids, and the moms who have been active, with more reticent kids who would rather be left alone, need to do less.

Sandra Dodd: That's a way to look at it, Joanna.

Robyn C: http://artdollsonly.blogspot.com/2010/07/june-mmc-marie-antoinette.html

Sandra Dodd: So this touristing tool you're all ignoring...

Schuyler: For me that was a lot of deschooling, finding that things had value simply because they were valued by Simon or Linnaea

Sandra Dodd: Robyn, no guillotines!

Schuyler: Be a tourist in your own town? We've moved so much I'm always a tourist

Robyn C: http://www.patriciaanders.com/?tag=barbie-redux Just throwing in some art doll and barbie redux stuff.

Sandra Dodd: Okay, for people who've lived in the same town...

Sandra Dodd: Going out to lunch as though you didn't live there. Going shopping to touristy shops that locals don't usually go to.

ColleenP: our town is itsy bitsy but we do like to try to be tourists in our own state (also small, but not as small as our town)

Sandra Dodd: Going to see the nearest historical sites that you think maybe someday you'll go to.

Robyn C: Colleen - yes!

Andrea: I like to be a tourist in your town, ColleenP

Sandra Dodd: That can be a way for the kids to get out a bit and the adults to realize that they are already surrounded by things they weren't paying attention to.

ColleenP: LOL Hi Andrea

Sandra Dodd: Itsy Bitsy towns, or west-texas ranches... not the best for touristing.

Colleen: Talking to the local store owners/workers and the people playing music on the streets. We had some good times just talking to people about town.

Capn Franko: Our home base has been the Seattle area for all the girls' lives. I'd kinda say that we think in a touristy way with some regularity.

Sandra Dodd: Having house guests, if you have room for them, can help.

Colleen: OMG another Colleen with a last name P!

Sandra Dodd: If you can't afford to get out, bring "out" to you!

Schuyler: They took us to the Troll under the bridge and it was totally touristy and fabulous and the Thai iced tea was wonderful. Just saying.

Capn Franko: We had fun that visit, Schuyler!

ColleenP: 2 Colleens in one place is rare enough - but 2 ColleenPs? Love it

Sandra Dodd: Starting to see that your kids can learn just from sharing their own lives with new and different people can help the parents to deschool.

Jill Parmer: A huge shift for my deschooling was that I wanted my kids to be like certain kids I was reading about on the message boards. And when I had that thought, it shocked me. I realized I was not seeing my kids as who they were, that I was still wanting them to be....something else. That shock was enough to make me banish that thought and look directly at my kids and play with them and have fun with them.

Colleen: No kidding!!

Robyn C: Here we are back at tv and the internet, Sandra - bringing "out" to you.

Lylawolf: jill, i had similar experiences/realizations

Schuyler: Watching ants is like shrink sized touristing and small Texas towns have lots of cool ants to watch.

Robyn C: Jill - yes. I continue to learn new things about Jayn all the time. She will never be exactly like any other unschooled kid.

Capn Franko: Y'all have fun. I gotta go get an oil change after our 3K mile trip to and from Good Vibrations. See ya later.

Sandra Dodd: I watched ants a lot as a kid, and put them in jars covered in paper or cloth so I could peek at their tunnels later.

Joanna: And, of course, the irony being that "those kids" that you were reading about were sparkly and interesting because they were being seen and supported for being them.

Schuyler: Oh, if you lived where there was no town to tourist you could get action figures and cardboard and build towns to tourist in...

Sandra Dodd: But now, maybe, there are ant farms online and people don't need to risk bringing red ants in the house.

Sandra Dodd: Bye, Frank. Glad you made it home okay

Robyn C: We had the Nasa blue gel ant farm - fascinating. Apparently in zero gravity, they go like gangbusters even faster.

Lylawolf: exactly joanna! plus deschooling was a real factor for us (my kids having been in school), so not just for me

Schuyler: Bye Frank!

ColleenP: and you can borrow other towns, that have downtowns and museums and shopping districts and such

Colleen: I like the building a town idea, Schuyler.

Andrea: On a Facebook page recently, someone (maybe Sandra) posted about "school colored glasses" and seeing the world without them. That's been very useful for me lately.

Lylawolf: i think i was able to see the world that way before my kids were

Sandra Dodd: There are online towns to explore, too, in Morrowind and such games. Sims games.

Schuyler: I want the Nasa blue gel ant farm and I don't even know what it is.

Schuyler: Found it: http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/pets/6fd6/

Joanna: We had actually talked about doing that at the HSC (in California) homescooling conference--have all sorts of materials for kids to build their own house, buildings of any sort, etc. and make a town for the weekend.

Robin Bentley: World of Warcraft towns and cities, Pokemon dungeons

Robyn C: That one has a multi colored light capability.

Robin Bentley: I love ThinkGeek.

Colleen: Did anyone see Marwencol? This guy created a town and story and photographed it as part of his own personal therapy after an accident. http://www.marwencol.com/ Very cool!

Robyn C: I featured that on my doll blog.

Robyn C: About building towns - I think it would be great BUT intentions matter. Sometimes folks try to push or support that kind of activity in order to crowd out the other kinds of activities they don't feel comfortable supporting - like electronic gaming. It's easy to support the stuff we like. It's harder when it's something that pushes our buttons. Trying to think what that might be at our house....

LATER NOTE: The point Robyn made is important and was also run over by the chat going so quickly.

Schuyler: You could build a town on Minecraft to tour?

Andrea: The kids thought the town model in Beetlejuice (the movie) was cool. When I suggested building something like that (only smaller), they weren't really interested.

Sandra Dodd: On the movie MOON with Sam Rockwell, the guy is building a model of his hometown on Earth. That's interesting.

Colleen: I found that if I wanted to do something like that it was best to do it on my own and let Jerry join if he felt like it. No pressure. Just fun for whoever was interested.

Robin Bentley: Andrea, you could build it if you were interested.

Lylawolf: i need to go wake up my son (and hope he's ok with that, since he was up super late), to go to the video game exhibit at our local science museum. talk about combining home with the big wide world...

Andrea: But they love World of Keflings (xbox) and Wizard101.

Andrea: Not enough hours, Robin

ColleenP: we have something of a Lego town that my husband and son have built, in the basement - my son found it more fun to build than to play with, but he still adds to it once in a while

Andrea: But I am thinking of making a quilt with blocks that are houses...my own spin on a town, I guess.

Sandra Dodd: There is at least one traditional quilt block that's a house. A school? A church? My granny made one.

Schoolhouse, and I don't have a picture of my granny's, but there are some other people's.

Andrea: Yes, traditional house quilt blocks, but I've seen other buildings.

ColleenP: thanks - wish we had space to move it upstairs as I think it'd get played with more that way

Sandra Dodd: So... I don't think exploring an online town or an imaginary town is the point I was trying to make by exploring one's own town with the eyes of a tourist. That was about seeing "same-old" things with new eyes. That helps with deschooling.

Jill Parmer: I think the town idea came from being a tourist in your own town, during your deschooling time. But you could do all kinds of things. Swing in the back yard, sit beside each other and chat a bit, cook together, or make monkey platters for your kids, knit while your kid watches tv, watch what lights up your kids' eyes, take the dog for a walk, pull out games and trinkets from closets.

ColleenP: Jill I agree - when my son was young, going to the grocery store was at least as exciting as a museum - sometimes the simple things seen thru new eyes are fabulous!

Andrea: "the simple things seen thru new eyes are fabulous" -- one of the wonderful parts of being a parent!

DanTron: ↑that, definitely

Alex P: I just love google earth!

Andrea: Google Earth helped us see our town from a different angle.

Colleen: I have to go. I'm supposed to be catching up on reading for school right now. You're down to one Colleen.

Lylawolf: i will be back here while he wakes up and eats

DanTron: I use Google Earth for work quite a lot.

Alex P: and now on my iphone we go to the compass and we hit the i button on it and it shows the satellite map of where we are and as you walk away or drive it moves you. Like a GPS. My kids love it.

laura zurro: Hi everyone I'm sort of her and not - trying to share computer. Will try to catch up

Robyn C: Jayn asked for the science center the other day, so we went - she's been often, but there are always new exhibits. She likes revisiting and new visiting.

Robyn C: But right now home is very dull indeed compared to the last week.

Robin Bentley: I like dull after a conference - although I think of it as recharging my spent batteries.

Andrea: "That was about seeing "same-old" things with new eyes." That can apply to smaller things, too...including toys that get used creatively for other purposes. My kids are great at improvising. And they help me see other options for things instead of the prescribed use that is in my schoolish head, if that makes sense.

DanTron: Seeing things with fresh eyes is great. There's a cool quote about that in one of the books of samurai philosophy I have somewhere... Let's just pretend I knew where the book was, and transcribed the quote here.

Sandra Dodd: Eastern philosophy talks about just looking, or seeing directly. It's that same idea, I think.

Robyn C: Andrea - yes. Jayn will revisit old toys with a different purpose. It always shocked me when people purge because a toy was "too young" for their child.

Jill Parmer: I'm not sure what it is, but same ol' things for me always turn exciting. Yesterday Addi and I were walking home, and a funny moment in a tunnel that we passed through, kept us laughing and talking about things for a looong time. So walks that we've been on before, still have a newness? specialness? something.

Robyn C: Jill - sweetness

Sandra Dodd: Me too, Robyn. I saved (still have, somewhere) a crib toy because of its potential for older kids to see a physics moment. You pull a string, and a lever hits a bell. It's a pulley, I guess, though not a wheel pulley. And the other side of it, pull a string (a big wooden ball on a string) and another lever hits a wooden bell / tube. So it's a "ding" "bonk" thing. Babies are "too young" for that toy.

Sandra Dodd: And we didn't have a crib, by the time we got that, so we used to suspend it between other things.

Robyn C: No crib here either. Someone gave us a mobile - we cut the stuffed toys and shapes off it for general use.

Andrea: Letting go of the have-tos...For example, I had bought yarn to make a scarf. The kids wanted to make spider webs with it instead. A few years ago, I would not have been able to give it to them (before unschooling)

Joanna: I just bought a "toddler" toy at a local art fair. It's a wooden duck whose wheels rotate an egg on it's back. It's really a wonderful kinetic sculpture. I think the guy who made it is from Seattle .

Lylawolf: i love those duck things

Sandra Dodd: That sounds great. I bought a blocks toy for Marty when I was in Edinburgh at a carboot sale (fleamarket) and a nine-year-old boy wanted it (in Scotland) so I gave it to him and ordered Marty a new set. Marty's 22, but still...

Lylawolf: we revisit videos and books here too.

Lylawolf: my son went through a phase where he got rid of (or wanted to) everything he thought of as "little kid stuff"

Sandra Dodd: http://www.wedgits.com/

Lylawolf: but he recognized that a year or so ago and also embraced his renewed interest in that stuff

Robyn C: Jayn has finally said I can take her old stuffed toys and some of the Barbie collection to storage (not the collectibles) but we have to keep them all for her museum playroom

Lylawolf: and decided he was never gonna get rid of stuff for that reason alone anymore

Sandra Dodd: So Marty and I were going to the part of a ten year old, and didn't have a gift. Marty re-packed those in their box and we gave it to him. It was a huge hit. Now we need another set for our house.

Andrea: We are in that stage Lyla with one of our girls. Did you put the stuff in storage?

Lylawolf: oh we have those wedgits - i need to pull those upstairs again!

Robyn C: If you keep it long enough, it becomes a valuable collectible.

Sandra Dodd: So, playing.

Sandra Dodd: Happiness

Sandra Dodd: Fear-avoidance

Lylawolf: i put some stuff in storage, other things we did get rid of, and recently either replaced, or got back from people we'd given it to, if they were done with it, etc.

Robyn C: Ephemera that is usually tossed ends up being most because of rarity.

Lylawolf: how old is your child andrea? i went through that around age 12 as well. Tried to throw out so much stuff. My mom saved a little bit of it

laura zurro: Caitlyn has recently begun playing with a toy from 6 months old

Andrea: She just turned 8 and is giving many of her toys to her younger siblings...and she has been for about a year now

Sandra Dodd: I think putting things away and bringing them out months or years later is one of the best "strewing" tools of all. Just bringing out newish or forgotten or exciting-again things. They will play with them differently because they're older.

Lylawolf: i have found exactly that sandra

Lylawolf: i just found a harmonica in a bin. put it on a table and my son's been playing it for days. he never did when we got it

Robyn C: http://speediebeadie.blogspot.com/ This lady takes old soft toys and turns them into beaded art sculptures.

Sandra Dodd: Robyn, those just scare me, because people might give them to babies who will bite the beads off.

Robyn C: They are absolutely not for children, and would be sold as adult collectibles.

Joanna: These are addictively fun to play with too: http://www.brookstone.com/ball-of-whacks-magnetic-design-blocks-puzzle

Andrea: Even things she wanted last holiday season, she's passing along now.

laura zurro: I think it also gives the opportunity to talk about the memories

laura zurro: we remember because it was the first time she ever cracked up so she loves hearing that story and playing in a new way with the giraffe

Lylawolf: love ball of whacks too!

Andrea: the little tap-a-tune toddler piano is getting a lot of use lately

laura zurro: andrea we have one of those too - I first made the mistake of saying it was a baby toy and learned to zip it after that

Joanna: Pam Tellew introduced us to the ball of whacks.

Lylawolf: pam tellew introduced me to ball of whacks as well

Sandra Dodd: Other colors of that: http://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/creative_whack/roger_von_oechs_ball_of_whacks.cfm

Andrea: love fatbraintoys!

ColleenP: ok ball of whacks just went on my "to buy" list!

Sandra Dodd: Some kids start off more damaged or resistant than others. Unschooling might need a more hands-off approach, the more wounded a child is.

Robin Bentley: This is kind of a deschooling thing I had trouble with, though it had more to do with how I deal with things I am done with. I felt at one time that Senna should give her stuff away to kids less fortunate (some of them our friends) before she was even ready to think about such a thing. I saw her as ungenerous for not doing what I would do (as an adult). I've come to see that she has a really generous spirit when it's her idea, not mine.

Lylawolf: for sure. if we had started unschooling just a year earlier I think it would have looked very different

Sandra Dodd: The point that some kids might need more stimulation and others less is true, but there's a danger in parents assuming all kids want more stimulation, and the parents' ideas might go into the child's long list of things to avoid in the future.

Robin Bentley: That was a confusing first sentence "how I deal with things I own that I'm done with".

Joanna: Exactly--I've seen a lot of parents rushing their children here and there to all the local exhibits...

Sandra Dodd: We gave away our Duplo Zoo, and Holly regretted it almost immediately. I asked that mom if they would please give them back when her kids had played with them for a few years, but she never did.

Lylawolf: robin, that sounds familiar! My son has always been super attached to his things, but also extremely generous when it's his idea

Lylawolf: oh sad sandra :/

Sandra Dodd: But Lyla... if there's a local exhibit on video gaming, that's worth going to.

ColleenP: my son met many of the kids and families that are served at the non-profit where I work (families dealing with poverty, incarceration, etc.) - when he does have something he wants to give away, he likes for me to take it into work - I think he likes knowing just who it's going to. I think it's more concrete for him than giving it to Goodwill or placing it in a "bin" somewhere

Lylawolf: yeah - i was just gonna say - my son actually hates omsi - the science museum here! but he wanted to go to the travelling video game exhibit - partly because of the subject and partly because it's with friends

Joanna: It's just so hard to make any concrete suggestions, because people will misapply it.

Sandra Dodd: Except for the "watch your child" and "read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch."

Joanna: right

Lylawolf: he loved the museum of natural history in NY, but even that, we needed to leave when he felt done. if we'd had the expectation of cramming it all in just because we were there, it would have ruined it. And he didn't like the natural history museum in SF. he's very VERY selective about what he finds worthwhile, in the museum setting.

Robin Bentley: "If your child is more important than your vision of your child, life becomes easier." Yes, indeed.

Robyn C: What I have learned recently about Jayn is that although she will automatically resist any suggestion of mine especially if it is for change, she will usually put it into practice later.

Lylawolf: oscar too robyn!

Robin Bentley: Yes, Robyn. I've found that with Senna also.

Lylawolf: although it depends how i suggest it

Robin Bentley: Just going to say that Lyla!

Lylawolf: if it smells like pressure or expectation, not so much.

Robin Bentley: The leaning on a truck kind of conversation works better.

"Doing Two Things at Once
or, Leaning on a Truck and other parallel play
by Sandra Dodd
http://sandradodd.com/truck

Robyn C: For me it's say it, then stay silent, and don't react to the resistance.

Lylawolf: yup

Robin Bentley: Yes, good point, Robyn. Say it and drop it.

Robin Bentley: That gives a child a choice.

Lylawolf: that's a mistake i made a lot before figuring it out. repeating myself til i got the response i hoped for. Doesn't work.

Lylawolf: trusting that he's heard me goes much further

Sandra Dodd: I still do that, Lyla. Did it to Marty this morning.

Lylawolf: lol sandra, that's good to hear. i certainly still do that at times too.

Sandra Dodd: I suppose I always will, but I do try not to.

Joanna: Maybe a good deschooling guildeline is for every day the parent plans something to do, then plan a day "off"?

Lylawolf: i think it really depends on the kid, Joanna. My son needed several days off after a one HOUR "doing something" day for a while...

Jill Parmer: Sometimes I want my kids to go more places. I'm the most adventurous in my family in terms of going out and doing/seeing/visiting places.

Joanna: I know--that's the problem!

Lylawolf: my daughter would go crazy with boredom with that much time "off"

Robyn C: I'll give an example for clarity. Jayn has a friend with a little brother who loves playing with her when she visits, and sometimes it's hard for the two older girls to stay kind. I reminded Jayn that M. likes her and would probably want some of her attention, and to be kind. She did a big "but we want to play together and he's so awful" thing - luckily at home in private. Then later in the day, she made time to play with the little boy, actively in a special game just the two of them - more than just kind. But the main point is that I didn't try to persuade or argue her out of her emotional reaction.

Alex P: I do not plan days off , some days we hang out at home but even those days can turn into big days for us at the farm

Robin Bentley: So what do you do in that case, Jill? My husband struggles with that with both Senna and I .

Robin Bentley: Nice, Robyn. She trusts you.

katherand: we're going to see the hawk watch friday and Karl is actually psyched. He loved the hike, surprisingly. He has not been a big nature boy. And it was HARD (uphill steeply). Your children may surprise you someday.

Lylawolf: yes robyn, that sounds familiar too. we don't have the younger sibling thing, but that's how i can "coach" my son about things that sometimes become issues between him and his friend. give him my perspective, share a bit of info that might help and then drop it

Robyn C: It doesn't FEEL like trust in the moment of resistance though.

Robin Bentley: Yes, I see.

Robin Bentley: I have to take the long view with Senna. That it will be important to her at some point.

Sandra Dodd: -=- Maybe a good deschooling guildeline is for every day the parent plans something to do, then plan a day "off"?-=-

ColleenP: LOL I just asked my 8 year old if he'd like an ant farm and he said "isn't our backyard sort of like an ant farm - I mean why would I want them inside when they're all over outside??" like it was the silliest thought I'd ever had... still giggling.

Jill Parmer: For a while when Addi was feeling bored, but not wanting to do anything about it. I said she needed to say yes to more things than no. I was fine if she didn't want to, but the outcome was not doing something if you said no to it.

Robin Bentley: How did that work, Jill?

Lylawolf: yeah my son went through a period where he would try new things a lot because he recognized he was bored and understimulated. he is still in that phase a bit. it's fun, because even if he doesn't like things, he's tried them, and that's an experience in itself

Sandra Dodd: I did say earlier on that 180 days exciting and 185 days boring seemed good. But I don't think it needs to be every other day. Sometimes a kid wants three exciting days and a week off.

Lylawolf: yes - or exciting every day for a month, or most days, and then not so exciting for a month or more.

ColleenP: my son likes a couple days/week with "plans" and the rest to see what he feels like doing when he wakes up - some weeks he wants to go, go, go - some weeks he wants to hang out at home - so we follow his lead

Lylawolf: depends on your definition of exciting too. for a while, if we went outside and played basketball and we watched a new tv show together, that was pretty exciting. Now that's the minimum, and usually he's up for much more

Jill Parmer: Well, I'm not sure if that worked, or growing more worked. She's much more willing to do things now, and wants to do things. I think it's her personality that she usually starts with a hesitation.

Robyn C: Jill - Jayn also.

Robin Bentley: Did she ever feel resentful that she said yes when she didn't want to?

Jill Parmer: No, Robin, Addi didn't. I actually think she regretted saying no to things.

Robyn C: I got home from GV to a packed work schedule. It is making it boring for Jayn far more than I want. I don't think we can keep it up, and much as I love the job itself and what I have learnt from it, I don't see how I can keep making everyone else have to live around it.

Sandra Dodd: What I have seen that's the worst thing for discouraging kids' desire to do things is negativity in the parents.

Lylawolf: what kind of negativity are you talking about?

Sandra Dodd: Negativity about anything. Parents pessimistic or cynical.

Robyn C: I think she just got older. Plus the idea that someone she knows and likes will be there helps her willingness.

Lylawolf: ah yeah.

Robin Bentley: I can be a hesitant person and I have to sit with an idea before I can make a decision. I appreciate the time to mull it over. I'm not a jump in the deep end person.

Alex P: Gigi is always doing something bigger. She works with dad over 8 hours a day. MD is more likely to be inside playing games or on the computer but right now he is setting up golpher traps to make money and yesterday the two of us went bike riding and he always talk a lot. We went to the library this morning and they got lots of books. Gigi about cows and MD about coyotes, foxes and wolves ( he already read all the fox books)>

Lylawolf: i agree. and the flip side, for my son at least, is that i have to be careful not to be too optimistic/hype things up too much, because if he does get super excited about something based on my hype, he ends up disappointed and that's way worse for him than not experiencing it to begin with. Although lately he's been exploring pushing through disappointment and finding silver lining

Sandra Dodd: Either the parents aren't much fun to be with, or the parents have poisoned the well of the world by saying things are stupid and boring and dull and "too young" or "too touristy" or whatever.

Alex P: Sandra that negativity thing is big and something I have done a couple times and Brian does it without realizing.

Robin Bentley: That doesn't mean I don't have a lot of fun. I'm an optimistic person, just cautious sometimes.

Andrea: too crowded is my downfall...

Sandra Dodd: Hyping things up isn't the opposite of negativity, I don't think.

katherand: Lyla that happens more often here too. A parent will get hyper and too up and then the reality doesn't meet the advertisement.

Lylawolf: ah yeah! i totally agree about that! -i think my issue is more being too "silver lining" type

Sandra Dodd: TOO much hype is bad in any case. But saying "I think it will be fun," or "I'd really like to go" is better than "Let's go and see if we can have fun even though it's so commercial and crowded and lame."

Robin Bentley: Yup.

Lylawolf: well it can be the opposite in the sense of if kids are deciding whether to try something and they question the parts they might not like, and I am too optimistic/dismissive of that, focusing on the fun parts or assuming it will go well...

ColleenP: too crowded - oh my goodness if I'm not careful I'll say that and I can watch Robbie go from excited about something to deflated in 2 seconds flat - really trying to keep "too crowded" out of my thoughts (or at least not saying it out loud!)

Alex P: I so agree that saying things are stupid or boring can really make kids feel bad about something they maybe interested in and even like it.

Jill Parmer: To alleviate the hesitation about things, I often said, we can turn back anytime.

laura zurro: what about when you have a child who might say they don't want to go but once they get there they have an amazing time.

Robin Bentley: Good point, Jill. I know some Ross has said that to me on hikes and having that possibility has made a difference for me.

Lylawolf: laura, i do what jill just said in that case. along with "i'd really like to try it"

heather: I usually say, "Let's go check it out and if you aren't having fun we can leave."

ColleenP: Laura for that we do what Jill mentioned - we always say "whenever you want to leave, we can" - and after a couple times of testing us out on that and asking to stop or go home, my son really trusts that to be true and it's opened him up to trying new things much more often

Lylawolf: yes heather! and we ended up leaving lots of places very quickly with that approach, but at least my son trusted me to leave if he wanted, and therefore would try more things

Robin Bentley: However, there sometimes is a subtle pressure to "have fun" and the leaving isn't as okay as originally stated by the parent.

heather: And I honor it. If he says he wants to leave I don't try to coerce him into staying.

Lylawolf: yes robin, that's how i used to be for sure. Didn't work for family peace at ALL>

Robyn C: Well Robin, don't put pressure.

Lylawolf: it's challenging when there's another sibling with different desires though

Robin Bentley: I don't. Sometimes Ross does.

Lylawolf: i have even driven one kid home and then gone back (my kids are old enough for that)

Robyn C: Jayn is usually right when she believes she won't enjoy something. That's been our experience.

Lylawolf: robyn oscar too!

Sandra Dodd: If they're old enough to go home, they might be old enough to sit in the lobby with a gameboy or a magazine.

Lylawolf: true to that too sandra. unless it's a big crowded outdoor thing, and there is no lobby

Sandra Dodd: Still. The car, under a shade (thinking state fair)

Robyn C: Simpler with one...

Alex P: My son's Ipod touch (really an Iphone with no phone connection only Wi-Fi) and my Iphone have made it so much easier for both my kids that way .

Robyn C: Simpler now that Jayn is old enough to stay home when there is something James and I really want to get to.

Sandra Dodd: In our family, kids rarely wanted to go home early because we honestly WERE able (still are able) to make things fun, and to have fun in all kinds of situations. It's a way to be, with each other, but some families seem to lose that ability, or something goes wrong. I saw some stunning nonsense this weekend, honestly.

Sandra Dodd: And unfortunately, I think it came from families trying to compensate for the way they interacted before they found unschooling, and doing the opposite thing. Going to an opposite extreme is a danger, and that's why, Lyla, I objected to your characterization of something being "the opposite" of being negative.

Robin Bentley: Senna said to us the other day about our upcoming trip: "I like going with you wherever you're going, but sometimes I just want to listen to my music and/or play my game and I don't want you to try to make me feel bad about that.".

She wanted to tell her dad that because he tends to push her to go with us and do what we're doing. And then get mad when she gets upset. He listened really carefully and thoughtfully

Sandra Dodd: Seeing situations as dichotomies, as dualistic pairs, cripples thought.

Andrea: =it's challenging when there's another sibling with different desires though= --- this is my biggest challenge right now

Alex P: I have one thing that works for me Andrea is that I can leave one of my kids ( 9 and 5) at home with dad now. So I can go do things with one or the other, Gigi will go out and be with dad doing chores and MD can stay in the house by himself.

Sandra Dodd: People can't get to principles if they're replacing one extreme with another.

Alex P: My husband can be more fun than me sometimes and other times I am the one more fun. So it depends who and where. Lately I have been on and off so I need to focus more.

Lylawolf: I see sandra. yes that makes sense.

Lylawolf: stunning nonsense at the conference?

laura zurro: Sandra that makes a lot of sense and is something my husband I have been discussing a lot

Sandra Dodd: I saw situations where the parents had given the child an option in such a way that it was an all or nothing. They gave a young child a veto on the whole show.

Lylawolf: yeah i didn't really mean replacing one extreme with the other, just that sometimes i erred in that direction.

Robin Bentley: Oh dear Sandra.

Sandra Dodd: I'm trying to think of a way to explain it. (Yes, Lyla, but you seemed to be generalizing all positive encouragement with over-selling, and the creation of disappointment.)

Lylawolf: ah certanly didn't mean to generalize that way - not what I was trying to convey. I have found really helpful ways to offer positive encouragement to my kids

Sandra Dodd: For example, in my family there isn't "a rule" against kids being in the front seat, but there is a kind of hierarchy. Adults get it first. Visitors get it before locals. Kids who get carsick have some higher priority. if a kid really wanted to sit in the front, we would consider it, but it would also depend who else was there.

Sandra Dodd: But some families seem to see it as "a kid should sit wherever he wants to" rather than "a child shouldn't be told arbitrarily where he 'has to' sit."

Lylawolf: yes that's how we do it too, just kind of by default (not pre-ordained)

Sandra Dodd: So their opening move might be, to a young child, "Where do you want to sit?"

Sandra Dodd: and if he says "front seat," and that turns out not to be practical or legal, they end up telling the kid NO. Whereas if they had said "I'm sitting here, so'n'so's sitting there because she's a guest, is this place okay with you?...

Alex P: LOL Sandra. Growing up I was the kid that sat in the front seat. But I always gave my sit to guests and older people. But between siblings it was MINE!!!!!!

Lylawolf: although my kids will sometimes ask my mom, for instance, when she's visiting, if one of them can sit in front (or if she will sit in back with one, for company, too)

laura zurro: I'm guessing we're talking about a child that legally can sit somewhere else other than the back right?

Sandra Dodd: Laura, you're asking too particular a question.

Sandra Dodd: There are vans with eight seats.

Sandra Dodd: There are sedans with four.

Sandra Dodd: There are coupes with two.

Alex P: Oh and my parents did not even have to ask. I would just sit in the back if my mom or dad had a friend or any older family member. It was polite to do it. Nice and courteous.

Sandra Dodd: Like that, Alex. Holly and I were just talking about how we plan to arrange five people for a three hour drive this Friday.

Sandra Dodd: If Marty drives, his girlfriend can sit in the front with him.

Alex P: that is sensible.

Sandra Dodd: If Holly drives some of the time, she suggested I could sit in front with her, and her boyfriend in the seat behind us, and Marty and Ashlee in the back.

Robyn C: That's how it is here - although I remember that my mother would want to sit in the back with Jayn, when she was small. It seemed like my mother and her husband had worked it out between them.

Sandra Dodd: But I've seen young children screaming no, I want the front, while their moms and grandmothers crawled in behind.

Alex P: Being courteous and polite.

Sandra Dodd: There are places where carseats are made to go in front (saw some in Europe) and they used to be that way here.

Robyn C: There must be some reason behind the screaming in that case Sandra. It would be worth winkling out with the child - some dreadful fear or something going on.

Sandra Dodd: I saw a couple of times kids screaming no at their moms in ways that I couldn't imagine ever having happened at our house, and I was assuming that the parents had at some point over-compensated for former behavior.

Alex P: I was the queen of the front seat and I never did that and there were no rules in my house about that or pretty much about anything really. Never had curfews or limited TV or food.

Sandra Dodd: What seemed to be going on was the child and parent didn't have a good system for discussing things. The kid would scream and the parent would agree. I didn't see the in between phases where the parent would explain or propose or negotiate in advance.

Robyn C: That doesn't mean it wasn't happening in private Sandra.

Alex P: I don't know even Gigi can scream sometimes and lately if I askeher to do sometimes she says she only does what dad tells her to ( sometimes ) while doing chores.

Jill Parmer: Sandra, about your family's ability to make things fun. I pretty much have fun wherever I go, but Steve Addi and Luke, seem to enjoy being home more than being out (that's changing for Addi somewhat now). What are ways you make being out, fun?

Sandra Dodd: Conversation, music, smiling, catering to the least happy child in a warm way (not resentful, not obviously appeasing)

JamieAndMonica: thanks for this everyone, we have been popping in and out today and discussing between us . we are glad we didn't have to go through deschooling, alex, by starting pre school age with the principles. We get the time to deschool ourselves effectively while not navigating his simultaneous deschooling. And we learn so much from his unfettered joy

Sandra Dodd: It doesn't mean that, Robyn, but everyone's peace was disturbed and the parents didn't seem to have tools or plans to deal with it, which made me feel (perhaps wrongly) that they were not behaving as usual in the situation.

ColleenP: my father has a habit still, at age 60-something, of asking me to "please" do something - and if I say no he says "but I said please" as if this should make my answer an automatic yes. I have seen families of young children lately setting up this expectation - whatever the child asks for, it's a yes, as long as they ask nicely. Causes some awkward situations (similar to Grandma needing to go to the backseat).

Sandra Dodd: Even very young children can be encouraged to see that when three or four or five people are going to do something together, that no single one of them should be telling all the others exactly how to do and be.

Sandra Dodd: In our family, they grew up seeing people being considerate of everyone, very often, even the babies.

Sandra Dodd: And talking about it. Verbalizing the why and how of the decisions and plans.

Sandra Dodd: "Let's stay until Holly needs to come home," or "I'd like to stay until the play is over, but if enough people want to skip the reception, I'm willing to go home." Trade-outs like that. Portable gaming systems are a HUGE boon.

ColleenP: absolutely - we modeled courtesy and caring for our son, talked about how Grandma would have a hard time getting in and out of the back seat, etc. - helping him understand the "why" behind things has helped him develop empathy (IMO)

Sandra Dodd: Yes. "Why" much more than what.

Robyn C: Well the conference can be a time of a lot of heightened emotions. I heard one girl having a very hard time at one point. But I saw so little conflict.

Jill Parmer: Tak for Chat (Thank you in Norwegian).

Sandra Dodd: tak your own self!

Jill Parmer: Have a great week all. bye.

Sandra Dodd: Bye, Jill

Alex P: Tak Jill!!

Sandra Dodd: Conferences are exhausting, for sure.

Alex P: Tchau!

Other information: http://sandradodd.com/deschooling

The Big Book of Unschooling Directory of the Big Book Chats Chat Transcripts on other topics