This bio was lifted from the speakers' section of the 2017 Free To Be Unschooling Conference where Karen will be speaking (or is speaking, or spoke, depending when you read this).
Caren Knox is a Charlotte, NC native, and an unschooling mom of two sons, who are 24 and 18.
We began unschooling after seeing how school was sapping the enthusiasm and joy of learning from my oldest when he was just in the 2nd grade. "Unschooling" was one of the first things I ever entered into an internet search engine, after a friend said, "There are many different ways to homeschool" in response to my saying I didn't want to ruin my relationship with my kids by becoming their teacher.
Every step and moment of growth in unschooling has brought numerous unforeseen gifts in our lives and all our relationships, and I'm so glad to be able to share some of what I've learned along the way. Lots of moms who went before me were willing to help illuminate our path and help me see my kids and our life with clarity and understanding, and I'm grateful to be able to pay that forward in some small way.
I'm a single, working mom, co-parenting with both boys' dads, who have been supportive of unschooling all the way.
I've collected quotes from Caren now and then over the years, and I'm glad to link them here. If anyone finds other Caren-writing out and about, let me know!
"In addition to this time being short, and precious - you are building the foundation of natural learning in your home. Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them. Some of the core values of natural learning are trust, support, joy, and freedom. You are putting up scaffolding for years and years of learning by the choices you make now."
How do they Learn?—Caren Knox answers #5 of the unschooling meme (2009)
The question was, "What kinds of ways do your family members learn about stuff these days?"
Karen's answer was beautiful. It still is beautiful.
As my kids get older - my oldest is 19 - I'm seeing more vividly the results of parenting choices, not just in them, but in their more conventionally parented peers, as well. Generosity begets generosity.
About meditation, breathing, and "householder yoga"—about halfway down this page, in a box:
The ONLY way I've learned how to be a more present, more caring, generous partner with my kids was by being with them, trying on choices closer and closer to radical unschooling, learning from those choices, then choosing again, better, each time (most times).
There's more of that here: SandraDodd.com/bonding
In a collection of special memories of childhood TV watching, Caren wrote:
I was just talking with my sister about this! Because The Wizard of Oz is playing on the big screen here today. I remember every year when it came on TV, getting our baths & putting on our pajamas early so we could watch it, both sitting right in front of the TV. We were allowed to stay up late! And we'd be there for each other when Miss Gulch took Toto, and when the flying monkeys were released. It was magic!
Caren Knox on Just Add Light and Stir
The same week as [this chat on being with children, April 2008], there was a topic on the Always Learning list called Balance. Caren/dharmamama1 wrote wonderful responses to the comments in boldface below, and I thought anyone interested in the topic above could use these thoughts too:
I realize she didn't really need help but just wanted my attention. Between my other obligations and my personal feelings at the moment I just wasn't able to give it to her. I did spend some time with her it just wasn't as long as she wanted.
The word "just" here popped out to me, as if you were dismissing the need for attention. Your attention is YOU. By your attention, you are giving yourself to your daughter, which is what she needs to thrive. I had some old thinking to get rid of in this area, as well—my Mom's generation was taught that it's harmful to pick up a crying child, and "too much attention" is a very bad thing to give your baby (or child). It didn't take me very long after my oldest's birth to realize those beliefs were b.s. - but it took me a longer to implement the new belief in my actions. "Oh! I have to give *of myself*?" Scary, in some ways—but OK!
I specifically designed my business so I could be with my children. I feel like they have benefited from me doing this even though it means I can't always give them the time and attention they want.
I've come to realize that my kids need ME, not just in the same room, not just nearby, but by my attention and interaction—my full self.
It's not want, it's NEED. And, you've stated clearly you're not *with* your children. You're occupying the same space, but YOU - your attention, your energy - are not with them. You spend time each morning and evening and at naptime - but if you are not available when your child needs you (as determined by your child, not you) - you're creating mistrust.
I believe you believe you're doing the best you can, but awareness that you're making these choices is very powerful.