Etiquette for Unschoolers

There isn't different etiquette for unschoolers, but there might be different ways and reasons for learning etiquette.

To advocate doing things that limit a child's range of experience or the way in which he will be perceived by others isn't enlarging his life. It's not enriching his life. (a quote from below)

From a January 2013 discussion in which someone asked
"Is there more information available somewhere on introducing etiquette/manners?"

Meredith Novak:

Step back from the idea of "introducing" and think about the ways and times you use different forms of courtesy. How does day-to-day courtesy differ from grocery-store courtesy? Party courtesy? Guest courtesy? Host(ess) courtesy? Your kids are learning about those things as they happen, and learning about them the way kids learn - playfully and immersively. They won't catch all the details right away, and that's okay - you can clue them in from time to time. If they've experienced plenty of courtesy, then giving them information they need will be part of their experience of courtesy - the friend who won't let you out of the ladies room with your skirt ruched up, that kind of courtesy.

Look for chances for your kids to experience different kinds of etiquette - not as lessons, but as a way for their worlds to be bigger and richer. Movies, games, books and comics can be rich sources - even if they're pure fantasy. I vividly recall watching Star Trek as a child and being fascinated by the fact that one needed a different kind of manners among Romulans or Klingons.

Sandra Dodd:

Don't look for rules. Look for principles. You want your children to fit in politely in situations they're about to find themselves in. There's no reason to coach them about how to act at a wedding unless they're about to go to one. Then there are LOTS of things they might need to know, depending on their age.

Two of my kids went to their first funeral without me. The other went with me to several funerals. Different coaching. The boys needed suggestions in advance of what to do, not to do, who to approach when and how and what they might say. Holly just follwed me and watched, and I whispered to her a couple of times what was going on when something came up that I figured she wondered about.

Weddings have different "rules" and customs and expectations. Birthday parties, different. Birthday parties for 80 year olds, different from 8 year olds.

There are some ideas here: SandraDodd.com/coaching

An older discussion here: (on facebook, Radical Unschooling Info)

From 2010:

I can't do a book, but I can do a chat. This request came in last week, and such a topic was already on the brain-stormed list of possible topics. 2014 update: I didn't save the name of the prerson who wrote the request below.

Would you now please take the time to write a book about why unschoolers do not need to have their kids jumping on coffee tables in other peoples' houses?! :) I actually think a whole book could be written on why good manners and unschooling actually *do* go together and what in the world are people thinking?!

I think kids with bad manners have done some potential damage to the unschooling community. I always see that you don't stand for "whatever the kids want to do is lovely regardless of all manners or common sense," but when people post that their kids were doing this or that bad mannered thing on various lists and are then shocked that anyone said anything, as if the kids are entitled to run around doing anything they want whether appropriate to the situation or not, then I can sort of understand how some people not used to any freedom on any level would imagine that unschoolers *would* "mistreat animals, burn down the house playing with matches..." :) In your book Holly says she can't imagine it, but I think it's because you actually gave her useful information throughout her life. She can't imagine it, because she wouldn't behave that way. I can't imagine anything crazy happening with my kids either, but honestly, I can imagine some crazy stuff in a couple cases I have seen of people calling themselves unschoolers. That's sad, I think, and it bugs me.

I do think sometimes that people don't realize that having social graces and respect for other people and their things goes just fine with having freedom and is not necessarily a bad thing. Don't people say to their kids, "look, when we go places we want to act so that people are happy to have us back again"?!! I would truthfully be mortified if my kids went to someone's house and jumped all over their stuff uninvited. Thinking it would have to be me saying "get off the coffee table" rather than the homeowner, otherwise I'd be doubly, triply mortified :)

So there was a chat on May 17, 2010, on etiquette. If a transcript was kept, I don't know where it is. So I'm going to do another one January 15, 2014.
Did it! Transcript: Etiquette, Manners and Courtesy
My thoughts for topics within that topic are:

Someone once wrote:
-=- I don't think adults or doctors deserve "extra" respect in words just because they are older or went to school longer. We're all human no one deserves more respect simply because of a title or age IMHO.-=-
My response:
I disagree. If the ranking person wants to say "no problem, call me Mary" that's one thing. If the younger, less-qualified-in-the-situation person says "I'm not calling you 'doctor'" then maybe they can just set their OWN broken arm.

I don't like it when people come to unschooling discussions and think a half-formed idea about unschooling is as good as twenty years of experience. I'm quite unimpressed when someone new to unschooling brags (threatens) in an online discussing that her kid is free and can do what he wants, wherever he wants. I don't want them at my house.

To advocate doing things that limit a child's range of experience or the way in which he will be perceived by others isn't enlarging his life. It's not enriching his life. (original)

Factors and etiquette

Thoughtful decision making involves considering as many factors as you can. No rule can be applied in every place and at all times. There will be special cases, and times to put courtesy and etiquette before any other considerations.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Coaching and how to help kids learn etiquette and courtesies

Respect, growing and flowing

Etiquette Chat Transcript