Introduction by Sandra:

I collect things. When I notice I've collected six or ten passages by one author, it makes me want to create a directory page for it, to give others a chance to enjoy what I've saved.

Clare's writing started bubbling up like a fast, clear spring, in 2015, and I caught quite a bit for the benefit of others who have not yet thought of the questions that Clare's writing can help answer. I hope her thoughts and discoveries will continue to flow for a long time, but even if she decides to do other things with her time and talents, please enjoy some of this:

Clare Kirkpatrick

Clare, with Poppy (8) merrily photobombing

a selfie of Sven with Rosie (12, on the right) and Alys (10, on the left) on a late night walk together

Maia (6) and Alys (10) about to make sushi

Clare is the mother of four daughters. They and Sven, the dad, live in Gloucestershire in the UK.

Clare wrote in June, 2015:

I've been unschooling properly for only about two years, but I I feel as though saying I've been unschooling for two years isn't quite right because I've known about it, been reading about it and 'trying it' unsuccessfully on and off for a decade longer than that. That all meant that it wasn't a new concept to me two years ago at all and, happily, it didn't take long to click when I came back to it in 2013. It's as if I just hadn't been in the right place myself to truly understand it or do it well/get it right before then. I had to work through a load of my stuff before I could be in the right place but when I got to the right place, that was it; it clicked and family life suddenly became about letting go of fear and about prioritising joy and connection. Since then, I've been engaging in unschooling discussion a lot in UK groups, which, of course, has just deepened my understanding of it and the real wonders it can bring.

In response to a question from a mother of four-year-old girls:

"What does unschooling look like at this age?"

It looks like it does at any age: fun and connection. Do what is fun for them. If you're also working on better connection with them, a closer relationship with them, you'll also start to learn what they may find fun that they don't yet know about. Also do what is fun for you. Learning to help yourself to do fun things will help you realise that your children's learning and richness of life will come from helping them to do things they find fun.

At the moment in my house, I am having fun thinking hard about unschooling. My husband and my 12 year old are having fun and connecting with each other by playing Call of Duty together. I have helped my 6 and 8 year olds by making some space for them to build a little home for their polly pocket dolls out of wooden blocks and they are now having fun working on that and playing together. My 10 year old is having fun watching Mako Mermaids on Netflix and occasionally turning round to watch her sister and dad playing and ask questions about the game. Actually, while I've been writing that, the six year old has now snuggled next to my 12 year old to join in the chat about the game. Connection and fun. And, therefore, learning.

that moment was on 17 June 2015

Clare's blog has accounts by her and other unschooling parents:
Unschooling Moments—Glimpses of Joy, Connection and Learning in Radical Unschooling Families
Consider saying 'yes' more often. Don't just say 'yes' without thought 'because some unschoolers told you to'. But *consider* saying 'yes' more often... the rest is here

On a child's recovery / deschooling:

If you do this healing time well, you will see him flourish; you will see your relationship strengthen and you will begin to really know your son and what makes him tick and you will get better and better at responding to who he really is.
(That's the end of something long and wonderful, at deschooling/kids.)

I added some links to a Clare-quote, at Always Learning :

Clare Kirkpatrick:

In my experience, our thoughts really do become our reality. Try not to see time out with your children as energy-sapping. Instead, try telling yourself that you become energised by being with your children and actively trying to be of service to them; actively trying to help them do the things they want to do. But don't do these things with your mind thinking 'I can't wait until I can have my me time' or with your thoughts on an economy of putting the 'work' in now meaning you'll get your time later. Don't do things with any energy at all of self-sacrifice. Do it actively with love, with generosity.
Sandra Dodd:
An attitude of abundance and gratitude can be as good as a nap. 🙂


More by Clare on fears:

I always find it helpful to really pick apart my fears and compare them to other fears I could have and I usually come to the conclusion that I really should just chill out about it all and look for joy, not fear. Fear just gets in the way of everything. And fear itself is bad for you anyway... (Fears)

On Service:

...the word 'service' has only positive associations for me and is linked with the words 'honour' and 'privilege' and 'joy'. And I think also 'gratitude'. There is nothing richer than making someone's life more joyful and I get to do that at home and at work for the people in our society who need it the most.

That's the end of several paragraphs at the Service page.

photo bigubbleKarenJames.jpg

"Where joy is, you will find learning. Where joy is, you will find flow."
—Clare Kirkpatrick

SandraDodd.com/joy (not the source, but a companion link)
photo by Karen James

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Embrace your present moment instead of yearning for what you don't have. I love the saying 'the grass is always greener where you water it.'
—Clare Kirkpatrick

photo by Sandra Dodd

On Always Learning, in response to someone who had written
"I've been trying so hard to do the *right* thing, but it seems like I keep getting it *wrong*."
Clare wrote:
This means that you're trying to find rules to live by and hoping that sticking to them will make you an unschooling parent and solve all your problems. But unschooling doesn't work that way. Stop reading for a bit and try being more present in each moment. Try looking at every moment and considering which response will be the better one to make. Not the best one, not the right one, but the better one.

I'm noticing I'm feeling tempted to give you ideas to manage a situation like you cited, but I feel as though you may take it word-for-word.

If you're feeling like you're put upon and stuck in what is feeling like an endless loop of housework, sometimes the better option would be to say 'not now, sorry' with love than to do the thing feeling pissed off and miserable. In the meantime, rather than reading everything you can get your hands on, read the most relevant things to what you're stuck on right now - what is getting in the way of you making better unschooling choices. For instance, in this situation, I'd suggest working through Sandra's page on 'service'...slowly. As you said, changes in thinking patterns takes time.


Incidentally, now that I do stuff for my kids with joy and a genuine desire to help them carry on with their busyness, and now that I'm lovingly clear and honest when I can't (like when clearing up baby poo is the current priority) or don't want to just yet (like if I just want to finish my complicated row of knitting first) (but when I keep those times to a minimum), my children actually help out a lot. If I can't help, I offer to tell them how they can do it themselves so they can get it sooner than they would if they waited, or I ask a nearby sibling if they can help (of course it's cool if they say no -on the whole they say yes, I find). So I don't really recognise this picture of a family where mum does absolutely everything alone.

But it takes time and trust-building and not doing things for your kids with resentment and an authentic desire to do things for your children to help them do more of what is joyful (ie. What they're learning from). And it takes letting go of the idea of a co-operative family where children help out a lot being your goal. Your goals should be your children having enough time to do the things they love and changing your own thinking so that helping them get that is a joyful thing for you as their mum. These are principles which you can use in each moment to help you make a better unschooling response.

"I'm so delighted by unschooling now I feel like I finally get it. My kids, my family, our lives are really fantastic now - I only regret not getting it sooner!"
—Clare, earlier in the year this page was created

Other Voices (collections of writings)

Daily Inspiration

Random unschooling page