Jennifer McGrail is a long-time unschooling mom to four lovely children, blogger at The Path Less Taken, and host of the Free to Be unschooling conference. This week I had a wonderful conversation with her, touching on the topics of burnout and self-care, the disconnect between how adults treat other adults and how they treat children, the concept of natural consequences, hosting the Free to Be unschooling conference, and more!
Quote of the Week
“Start with love and respect and all the good things follow—it is not magic, and it is a lot of hard work, especially at the beginning.” ~ Marina DeLuca-Howard
Ten Questions for Jennifer
1. Can you share with us a bit about you and your family, and how you came to unschooling?
2. I’d love to hear more about your unschooling kids. What are they interested in right now? How are they pursuing it? How did that interest come about?
3. What has been one of the more challenging aspects of your unschooling journey so far?
4. You’re well-known for taking on parenting stories that are making the rounds on social media and sharing a wonderfully fresh view of the situation through the lens of unschooling and gentle parenting.
You recently wrote a blog post titled, “I’m Not the Meanest Mom,” in reaction to a Facebook post making the rounds from a self-proclaimed “meanest mom” in which the mom shared that when her children didn’t say thank you to the server for their ice cream cones, she threw them away. Your list of what children are actually learning in these kinds of situations was great! Can you share that with us?
5. On your blog, you mentioned that one of the questions you get a lot is “If I don’t spank, what do I do?” How do you answer that?
6. Another idea that comes up pretty often around parenting without punishment is natural consequences. I think it can be confusing though, because I pretty regularly see examples of parents setting up their kids for “natural” consequences, almost wanting things to go wrong. But if parents have to set them up to fail, that seems rather artificial to me. What’s your perspective?
7. With unschooling, we choose to actively help our children pursue their goals. We’re a team, working together. So when they ask to do things, together we can often find a way to say yes, or some workable version, but sometimes, things just don’t work out. And sometimes things just aren’t under our control. I’d love to talk with you about things we can say to our children when things don’t work out and they are having a hard time.
8. You host the Free to Be unschooling conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Can you share what inspired you to start it?
9. Can you talk about some of the things an unschooling family might get out of attending an unschooling conference? What kind of feedback do you get from attendees?
10. Looking back now, what, for you, has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling?
Links to things mentioned in the show
Jennifer’s website: www.jennifermcgrail.com
Her Facebook page: The Path Less Taken
Her conference: Free to Be