Lazy Parents

Sometimes other homeschoolers will say unschooling is the easy way out, the lazy thing to do. One day Pam Sorooshian responded:

Unschooling is really impossible to confuse with being lazy. It takes a lot of time and energy and thought on the part of the parent. Now, for some people, it is SO fun that it seems easy—just like anything else, when you're loving what you're doing, it doesn't seem like work.

But it really does take a lot of time and devotion and focus. The parent needs to really think about the child. A LOT. The parent needs to bring interesting things and ideas and experiences to the child and this means being always on the lookout for what the child might enjoy. It means becoming super aware of your child—not only getting a good sense of what might interest him or her, but how does h/she express that interest and what is the best way for you to offer new and potentially interesting ideas, experiences, and things. The parent needs to consider when and how to support the child in further pursuing a current interest and when the child might be more interested in moving on to something else. The parent needs to be aware of when the child needs someone to talk to and be with and interact with and when the child needs more solitary time to think and pursue an interest on his/her own. The parent needs to get a sense of when the kid needs a more active social life and when he needs to meet some new people or when he needs help in staying connected with old friends.

The parent needs to be so aware of the child that the parent automatically thinks of him/her and partially sees the world through h/her eyes.

This is all a tall order. Overly self-centered people can't do it because it requires a lot of empathy. People with too many personal problems that they haven't addressed in their own lives probably can't do it because they are too distracted by those. People who are too negative or cynical can't do it because they tend to crush interest and joy, not build it up. People who lack curiosity and a certain amount of gusto for life can't really do it.

On the other hand, we grow into it. Turns out that we parents learn, too. So—when we are making moves, taking steps, in the direction of unschooling, turns out the trail starts to open up in front of us and we get more and more sure-footed as we travel the unschooling path.

My suggestion is that you ask yourself really honestly, is there something more I could be doing for my child that would enhance my child's life? If the answer is yes, then make the choice to do it. Then ask this question of yourself again and again and, each time, make the life-enriching choice. Apply this to small things and to big momentous decisions. Small things—could I make something for dinner that would be special and interesting? Did I see a cool rock on the ground outside—could I bring it in and wash it and set it on the table for others to notice. Big things—would my child enjoy traveling? Can we take a family vacation that involves exploring things my child would find interesting?

In unschooling, "lazy" means not thinking about enriching and enhancing your child's life. You change this by doing it—one choice at a time.

-pam

Originally on Pam's blog here.

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