If you're going to unschool, do it now and do it well.
"Kinder and gentler would've slowed down my learning to the point I don't think we'd have ever gotten here."
Priss wrote that.
When people say "You're patient with your own children but pushy with unschooling parents," it's because of the possibility that they will run out of time.
My kids have their whole lives to memorize 7x8 if they want to.
The mother of a twelve year old has VERY little time if she wants to help him recover from school and spend a few unschooling years with him before he's grown and gone. She doesn't have time to ease into it gradually. If she does, he'll be fifteen or sixteen and it just won't happen.
If the mother of a five year old is trying to decide how much reading instruction and math drill to continue with before she switches to unschooling, I want to press her to decide it's "NONE," because "some" is damaging to the child's potential to learn it joyfully and discover it on his own. And "lots" will just hurt that much more. But "none" can still be turned to "some" if the parent can't get unschooling. But if she doesn't even try unschooling, she misses forever the opportunity to see that child learn to read gradually and naturally. It will be gone forever. Forever.
So I don't say "Gosh, I'm sure whatever you're doing is fine, and if you want to unschool you can come to it gradually at your own rate."
People say jokingly (though it's true) "I'm sure he'll be reading by the time he goes on a date" but that can't be said of unschooling, if the parent is attached to thinking she needs to teach things.
Until a person stops doing the things that keep unschooling from working, unschooling can't begin to work.
It seems simple to me. If you're trying to listen for a sound, you have to stop talking and be still.
Some people want to see unschooling while they're still teaching and putzing and assigning and requiring.
They have to stop that FIRST. And then they have to be still. And then they have to look at their child with new eyes.
If they don't, it won't happen.
Diana Jenner wrote:
I came to Sandra's circle a long time ago, I was confronted, I was challenged *&* I was out-of-this-world determined to seek out that which impassioned me so and decide what the deuce to do with it. Because of this urgency (call it a kick in the pants or head-from-ass removal) to shift focus to NOW to BE with my kids where they ARE, I had a teeeny tiiiiny list of regrets when my daughter, Hannah, died when she was 9.5. (i.e. Puff the Magic Dragon didn't really play "with a girl named Hannah Lea"). I'll never regret having spent those hours, days, maybe even weeks in angry-turned-healed tribulation and introspection. They led to far more days, weeks, months and YEARS living joyfully in our now... even through my grief (we just had the 2 year anniversary of Hannah's transition and a good friend died the next day!) I realize that the true message here is: You (all of YOU human beings on the planet!) don't have time to f*ck around!! NOW is all you got and it's as sacred as you make it. How do you want to spend your last moments on this planet? How do you want your kids to spend theirs? That is, for me especially, the heart of this lifestyle and my commitment to it.
I've been feeling extra grateful for unschooling lately. So many issues parents are having with their kids, that I just don't have. And I try to offer advice, but I can't help them back up 5 or 10 years to get a good relationship with their kids from the start. It makes me really glad I got that start with my kids.
If you knew you only had a year more with that child, what would you expose him to? Where would you go? What would you eat? What would you watch? What would you do?
If you had only ONE year—and then it was all over, what would you do? Four seasons. Twelve months. 365 days.
Do that THIS year. And the next.
That's how unschooling works. By living life as if it were an adventure. As if you only had a limited amount of time with that child. Because that's the way it IS.
The rest of it is near the bottom of "Getting It."
Just Do it —show your kids by your actions that their needs and feelings are important to you.
Make a deal with yourself to be closer to your son, spend more time where he is—be more present. Don't leave the onus of deciding he's grumpy, tired, lonely, frustrated, uncertain, bored, or whatever on him. That's why he has a mom, to notice those things when he can't so he can learn to notice them
Happy stories of people Getting It
Wistful stories of people who wish they'd gotten it sooner: If only...
Help for getting it
There is another page on my site called "Gradual Change" about stepping carefully and deliberately toward unschooling. Now that you're all ready to DO IT, gradually move toward doing it right now. 🙂 Halfway between "very gradual" and "do it right now" is the place to be, while you're learning about unschooling.
Help for getting it
Title art by Robert and Robbie Prieto, September 2012