Anna Brown joins me to answer listener questions! Thanks to everyone who has shared their questions, I’m sure many listeners have gotten so much out of it.
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Quote of the Week
“Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” ~ Paulo Freire
1. We’re radical unschooling with a three-year-old. I found your discussion of family visits to be really helpful (I think episode 4): briefing and debriefing, taking seemingly critical comments and questions playfully, etc. My daughter is prone to meltdowns. Sometimes just because we couldn’t understand what she said or something’s frustrating her she can’t get words out and get really upset and needs to be by herself. It makes it harder with family because these tend to be preceded by a mild loss of control–like screaming at someone that she wants something. And their response is to ask her to say please, but often by that time she’s already frustrated and has a meltdown, and some of my family members will persist in trying to make her say please even when she can’t get words out. I’ve already made a really conscious decision that it’s worth it to visit family, she really loves being with them generally, but how do I reduce this stress? It’s so hard on her. In the moment I can go with her in a quiet room to recover, but I’d like to try to coach family members to prevent these happening in the first place.
2. This is a second question about my 3-year-old. We are radical unschooling in the sense that she makes decisions about food and bedtime and clothes and baths and we give her information about those choices, and try to think of options that work for everyone. One of the last things I’ve been forcing is nail trimming. She’s really scared of it, and when her nails are too long I usually have a kind of stand off where I talk to her about it and won’t do anything else until she lets me trim them. But I’m currently trying out letting this be in her control. The result is that her nails are really long and breaking in a couple places. I don’t think she wants her nails to be long, and I try to talk to her about that, but she tells me she scared to cut them. I’ve tried asking her how to make it less scary but don’t get a response. I’m not really sure what direction to go next!
3. I really enjoyed listening to the podcast episode with Brie Jontry talking about unschooling a child with chronic illness (episode 11). We have been unschooling for three years and I am definitely still deschooling! We don’t have chronic illness in our house, but my 8 year old son as well as myself have chronic tooth decay tendencies which can be kept under control by following a very similar diet to one you would ideally follow with Type 1 Diabetes, minus the insulin. For several years I did tightly control his diet in this way (as I do my own) because we do not have dental insurance and do not have the money to pay for expensive dental work. I’ve recently had conversations with him apologizing for my control, telling him that I respect him, explaining how our food choices really do affect our teeth, and that Mommy and Daddy don’t have the money to pay for more big dental work. I told him that he has the freedom to make his own choices with food now, and asked him to honor what he knows about his body and our finances in his choices. I made sure to add that he’s worth all the money at the dentist, just that I don’t have it! Ha! He is not wanting to honor these things, which makes me believe there is some healing that needs to take place in his heart from the years of being so controlled. He also seems to be angry for the very fact that his body is this way and doesn’t want to accept it. What wisdom would you offer to me about facilitating healing, and shutting down the fear in my own heart as I see him reaching for foods that to me look like dollar signs and credit card debt at the dentist?
4. Can you talk a little about how unschooling with an only child is different from unschooling of siblings?
5. I have a question about evaluations. In our state, we are required to have a yearly evaluation. My concern is that we have been deschooling. I have an 11 yr old and a 13 yr old. The first couple months were challenging to us to let go of the “old model.” After a few weeks we were able to finally let it go, and my girls have been really enjoying their free time to stay up late, sleep in, watch a lot of tv, and draw. It has been 7 months since we decided to unschool, probably more like 5 if you consider our “sticky” start. We need to have an evaluation in a couple months and I do not know how to prepare for this or what to expect. My kids have been resistant to anything that appears like school work or projects. They watch a lot of TV, and definitely learn a lot from the shows they watch, but I’m just not sure how this transfers into the evaluations. Do you have any suggestions for us?
Links to things mentioned in the show
Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com