Caroline Gallear

Hello wise people,

I'm currently having a lot of doubts as to my reasons for, and ability to
unschool my kids properly.

Ok, my fears... I won't provide them with rich enough surroundings, we'll
end up just going to the park, zoo, friends house as we do at the moment,
I'll miss out on something major that I should be offering them,
Having had some therapy, I'm aware that I have a strong feeling that I
should be working hard all the time, trying harder, putting more effort in.
Am I attracted to unschooling for my benefit, because it sounds like much
harder work than packing them off to school?
Also on my own issues, do I like unschooling because it's quirky, different
from the norm? (I like a bit of attention!) I'm aware that by not doing
something as universal as sending them to school, I am making my kids
different from everyone else. What if they just want to fit in with
everyone else?

And are these common worries?!

oh dear, please don't feel you have to answer all the questions! It's just
good to write it down and maybe get some feedback rather than just thinking
myself round in circles.

I've read a fair bit of Sandra Dodd, seen lots of Dayna Martin on YouTube
etc, I love what I hear from everyone on this list, but I just can't quite
decide how this works for me and my family.

Thanks for reading the ramblings!

dd 3.5 years
ds 21 months

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Amanda Mayan

I am sure you will get more comprehensive answers from others, but it seems
to me, with children that age, that you are doing exactly what you and they
need, at this moment in can't really expect children that young to
display some of the passions and in depth interests that an older child
might.maybe your almost 2 or 3 year old LOVES animals, so the zoo is
wonderful for them.think about all that they learn about how to play with
others when visiting friends.or what they can learn and see just by visiting
the grocery with an organic way . Also it's good that you're thinking
about these me a major part of being an unschooling parent is
being very thoughtful and deliberate with my children, and questioning
everything that I do..

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Pam Sorooshian just posted a beautiful response to this question at Always Learning, she posted it to her blog:

It sets the bar pretty high. But I think unschooling is really hard. It gets less hard, the more you do it, but that doesn't mean that it is an easy task.

"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

I think that is a wonderful approach to unschooling, a procession of choices, each one more life-enriching than the last. Instead of looking at the years ahead of you, look at this moment and the next and the next one and move toward making each of those better.


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Debra Rossing

There's no "Just" to going to the park, the zoo, the library, having
friends over to play. Those are rich experiences - even if it's the same
stuff you are doing now (why is it less "rich" if you're unschooling
than it is now?) There are unschoolers who don't have a zoo within a
day's drive. Others have to drive over an hour to find a decent library.
Some have no vehicle available most of the time so getting out and about
as you describe is rare. Yet they all unschool and their kids are
wonderful, growing, learning, exploring, thinking people.

Drop the idea of unschooling "properly" - no such animal exists. That's
like saying that a particular lifestyle is how to live "properly". Yet,
every family/household has a different lifestyle and that's great!
"Properly" implies that there is one right way to do everything - that
everyone "should be" living in a suburban house with 2 cars, 2 kids, a
dog, a cat, maybe some other small animal (hamster, fish, parakeet),
swing set in the yard, cookies baking in the oven. But, some families
live in 2 bedroom apartments in an urban area and walk, bike, use mass
transit to get around, no pets, and eat lots of take out from local
ethnic restaurants. And others live on working organic farms an hour
from town. And it's all good. Some folks are wonderful farmers who can
make anything grow abundantly, some of us can kill any houseplant ever
made (cacti, philodendrons, etc all those hardy "unkillable" ones).

If you're paying attention to the kids, listening to them, watching
them, being involved WITH them, you're not going to miss much that they
are needing - they'll tell you, in one way or another. Whether you have
access to it right then and there is a different question - time, space,
money, logistics all play a part. When you are in partnership with your
kids, they come to trust that you will do whatever you can to provide
them the resources they are wanting - even if it takes some creative
finagling to do so (bartering stable help for riding lessons, trading
child care for access to a swimming pool, whatever).

Deb R

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--- In [email protected], Caroline Gallear <carolinegallear@...> wrote:
> end up just going to the park, zoo, friends house as we do at the moment,

That doesn't sound like some kind of disaster! One of the advantages of unschooling is you don't have to be going a million places all the time. For younger kids, especially, lots of long slow days at home can be really wonderful. It gives them a chance to be in a comfortable environment, a space where its safe to explore and discover. As kids get older, they'll Want to expand that comfort zone.

> Am I attracted to unschooling for my benefit, because it sounds like much
> harder work than packing them off to school?

Does it sound like hard work to you? Learning anything new can be challenging, and learning about unschooling is no different. It takes time and practice, and at first it can seem difficult and unnatural - you're changing habits of thought and expectation along with behavior and that takes some work. But once you're done deschooling and actually unschooling, its not so much work.

This morning I helped Mo make a batch of pretend fish-sticks for her flock of stuffed penguins. We talked about fish, about the movie we watched last night, about the seeds sprouting on the living room table and the possibility of buying mixed Bionicle parts. At the same time, George took Ray to the grocery and bank before dropping him off at work. That's our unschooling life this morning - hardly a massive effort.

>> I'm aware that by not doing
> something as universal as sending them to school, I am making my kids
> different from everyone else. What if they just want to fit in with
> everyone else?

If they do, and you're unschooling, then you'll help them find ways to do that. Maybe they'll want to try school for a little or a long time. Maybe they'll be happy at home but want to join a club or sport that's "normal" and downplay the fact that they're homeschoolers. Maybe they'll want to go to college or join the military just like thousands of other young adults. The difference with unschooling is that they're in charge of those decisions rather than making them out of some kind of psychological inertia.

---Meredith (Mo 8, Ray 16)


Here's another quote from Pam's blog:
"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."

And again, its the sort of thing that's pretty challenging when you're still deschooling. Its a learned skillset, not something that comes naturally to most people, and not something parents are generally encouraged to do. But at some point, its... I want to say effortless but that's not the right word, there's effort involved, but its not a labor or a chore. It starts to happen naturally. Do you remember learning how to drive? (or type or knit or ice skate... something you do well now but didn't come naturally to you). Remember how at first you had to stop and think what to do? But at some point maybe someone asked you "how do you do that?" and you realized aha! I've learned a lot! Unschooling can be like that. All of a sudden, you realize you're really doing it.

---Meredith (Mo 8, Ray 16)