photo by Julie D
The purpose of that is to help ease them from the controlling patterns to a more moment-based and support-based decisionmaking mindset. If they want to do something and you say yes in an unusual way (unusual to them), communication will help. That way they'll know you really meant to say yes, that it wasn't a fluke, or you just being too distracted to notice what they were doing.
P.S.: That probably only works only if you begin very early.
|For good or ill, your experiences create you, change you, become part of you.
If a child will be molded or affected by his experiences, then unschooling parents need to provide great experiences.
That's one kind of learning.
Sometimes people start unschooling and they're doing more chattering than looking, and more asserting than questioning (not chattery questioning, but soul questioning). It's not as good a beginning, and at some point they do start really observing their children, and really thinking about the why and what of learning.
It's like "just say no."
Just say no to school years and school schedules and school expectations, school habits and fears and terminology. Just say no to separating the world into important and unimportant things, into separating knowledge into math, science, history and language arts, with music, art and "PE" set in their less important little places.
Most of unschooling has to happen inside the parents. They need to spend some time sorting out what is real from what is construct, and what occurs in nature from what only occurs in school (and then in the minds of those who were told school was real life, school was a kid's fulltime job, school was more important than anything, school would keep them from being ignorant, school would make them happy and rich and right).
It's what happens after all that school stuff is banished from your life.
|"Look for ways to connect with them. There are biological ways. Smelling their heads is amazingly connective.... Look at them. Watch them talk or move or bounce or roll or whatever it is they are doing and marvel at the fact that they are."|
|"Unschoolers live the paradigm of lifelong learning. Instead of envisioning childhood for learning and adulthood for living, they see living and learning as inextricably and beautifully linked."|
Aiden wrote that in a discussion on facebook (linked below), about the importance of caring for marriages. Because many unschoolers have seen their marriages strengthened by the principles that make unschooling work well, I saw easily that it could be about parenting:
"I'm working so hard on my parenting!!" doesn't mean a whole lot if you're putting your work in the wrong areas. And honestly, I find that all the "effort" I put into my parenting is fun, and makes me happy. It is so good to know that our home is a place my child wants to be, and that I can do things to help him be happy.
photo by Sandra Dodd
"Learning that's pulled in will look like play. It will look like kids engaged with what interests them. That might be a video game or helping rake the yard or TV shows or getting a job to earn money or taking classes in college.
"The unnerving thing is that it looks like very little is going in! But the important-to-learning part happens inside: kids pull in information to use it for reasons that matter to them. They use it to solve problems. They use it to create and test theories of how the world works. What you use, sticks with you."
Life is lumpy; let it be.
When I was a kid, I was curious about buildings, houses, garages and sheds in my home town. I had a goal of going into every house. I tried to go into every business. Visiting friends, selling cookies, trick-or-treating and Christmas carolling got me peeks into private homes.
Some folks are curious about how machines work, or similarities in the skeletons of different birds. Some learn how guitars are built, or what makes a soufflé rise. Notice what your children wonder about. Help them explore the world. Nurture your own curiosity. You can't know what will happen, or what you will find, and some of it will be wonderful.
A mom named Amy left a comment on a Just Add Light and Stir post:
I had always wanted to learn to live in the moment, but it seemed a great mystery. Having my daughter and becoming an unschooler, I finally get it! . . . We are living together, happily, every day. What a nice way to be.
|My favorite "new rule" has always been that learning comes first. Given choices between doing one thing or another, I try to go toward the thing that's newest for my kids, and most intriguing. "New and different" outranks "We do it all the time, same place same way." But there are comfort-activities, and to be rid of all of them would be as limiting as to only do routine, same, safe things. So we find a balance. Or we tweak the same and the safe, changing it enough to make it especially memorable from time to time.|
The reason I used the method of speaking to each child separately, and ME going back and forth, rather than summoning them to where I was is that I was trying to comfort them and help them be safe and to be better people—people they would be glad to be. They don't like it when they're all frustrated. If I can tweak sibling behavior and comfort the aggrieved child, and then go to the other one with comfort and ideas, each was better prepared, in private, without a witness knowing what he was "supposed to do" the next time. That was important to me, to give them some privacy and some dignity, and some time to think without other people looking at them or praising my suggestion, or criticizing them further.
Learning is defined not just as sucking in information about something the child is interested in. Learning is also figuring out the big picture and how things connect. Figuring out how stuff works, figuring out how people work, making connections, seeing patterns. This is a mechanical, biological process. It's how humans—all learning animals really—naturally learn, how kids are born learning.
Natural learning is like a doorway. We can't change the doorway but we can change the outside world so kids can more easily reach what intrigues them.
|On helping other unschoolers:|
If we answer questions with "yes" and "no," and give people what they claim to want, or what they think they want, we are chucking fish out instead of providing information on how to fish, how to make one's own custom fishing equipment and when and where the fishing is great. Unschooling can't work as a series of yes/no questions.
|For unschooling to work, parents need to stop looking into the future and live more in the moment with their real child. BEING with a child is being where the child is, emotionally and spiritually and physically and musically and artistically. Seeing where the child *is* rather than seeing a thousand or even a dozen places she is not.|
. . . .
When I was younger and I would change, I thought something was wrong with me. I was under the mistaken impression that personality and mood should be constants. Life is better when I think of those fluctuations as tides, or as the weather of the soul.
|Form and function can be portals to countless connections. |
Form and function are the who, what, where, when, why and how of the design world. Those will lead to all other topics, and all the information is connected.
"As I became more aware of my kids' needs and responded to that it just naturally carried over to my husband. Our relationship is so much stronger now and part of it is just because I'm nicer now! :-)
"There are very few times when our lives don't seem in harmony these days...it's the best bonus I could have every imagined."
|I don't make resolutions, and I think they're a bad idea. Deciding today what I want to hold important a year from now sets me up for failure. |
Deciding that I want to make many good moments tomorrow, though, I can do with confidence and the expectation of success. I can't live a year at a time. I can't live a week, nor even a whole day at a time. I can only make a choice in this moment (or fail to remember to do so).