PAM: Hi everyone! I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Alex Polikowsky. Hi, Alex!
ALEX: Hi Pam.
PAM: I’ve known Alex online for years and was lucky enough to meet her in person when I spoke at an Always Learning Live unschooling conference that she hosted in Minneapolis. I had a great time hanging out with her, meeting her husband and her kids, and getting a brief glimpse of life on a dairy farm. I’m really looking forward to chatting with you Alex, so let’s get started!
Our first question is, can you share with us a bit about you and your family and how you came to unschooling?
ALEX: Hi Pam. It was great having you here too in, what was it, two years ago already?! Brian and I are older parents—I had my first son at 36 and our daughter was born when I was almost 40, two days before. So we really wanted to have a family and I knew that if I had kids I would be very dedicated and involved and be with them, and Brian was the same way, he just wanted to be with our kids. I’m from Brazil and Brian is a Minnesota boy we’re dairy farmers full time, so we live on a farm, and there is no Sunday, Saturday-Sunday weekend or time off, really, we just work every day, pretty much.
So we had our first baby, my son Daniel, he was very high needs, and I was very protective, and he stayed in my lap all the time and I loved it, and I couldn’t put him down and he wouldn’t let me put him down. I started by going to the mall and I was looking for a baby book, and there was this big baby book, and I picked that one up because my baby was starting to get fussy. It was the Dr. Sears book, and he talked about attachment parenting, which was pretty much what I was doing. I didn’t know about using a sling which really helped when I learned to do it, since I couldn’t put my baby down.
From there, a few months later I searched the internet for natural parenting and I came upon Jan Hunt’s website, The Natural Child, and that’s how I first heard about unschooling. I started reading and I had no idea what it meant but I loved a lot of the things she wrote and other authors wrote and when my son was about 2 years old, I came to the yahoo groups: Always Learning, Unschooling Basics, Always Unschooled, and I joined those groups, and that’s when I really started learning more about unschooling. So I was lucky to start early on and to start reading about it and practicing unschooling when my son was a baby and then two years old.
PAM: Yeah that’s really nice, I would appreciate that. So now to hit the topic of this week’s episode, let’s jump ahead.
Tell us a bit about your daughter Gigi and her choice to go to school last year. I was wondering if you could share a little bit about how that choice came about for her and what the motivation behind it was.
ALEX: Gigi had mentioned that she always would, one day, want to try school and see how it was. The year before she was thinking about it and then “no no, I’ll try another time.” And last year, it came August and she said “I really want to try school.” She was nine years old and she was fourth grade. I thought it was a good time for her to try, since she’s not in middle school, she’d still be in elementary. And we really have good schools here. My school district has a really, really nice school that is supposed to be one of the best in the state and supposed to be very peaceful and safe.
And I said “Ok, so that’s what you want to do” and she said “I want to go and I want learn.” She had this idea of school as a place where you go and you learn learn learn. Because she’s a very smart girl, she knows a lot. She was reading fluently and she was great in math. The reason I know she is great in math is that and she has a horseback riding instructor that is also a math teacher and she’s had this instructor since she was five years old. While talking and having her horseback lessons, this teacher is always “Oh my God Gigi is so smart! She knows math! She knows the concepts. My sixth grade students don’t get it, and she knows it.” So that’s the reason, not because I was testing her or quizzing her or trying to figure it out.
So I know she was learning a lot, she’s amazing on the farm—she knows all the cows, all the names, all the breeding, that many dairy farmers don’t know. She had this impression that school would give her all this learning, like, when somebody would say the name of a country, and she didn’t know, she was under impression that if she joined school she would know it all. She would have the full knowledge of everything in the world. Because her thirst for knowledge is big! She’s very curious.
And I think another thing that did attract her was social interactions. She has a lot of friends online. She had some good local friends, and she does go to girl scouts and 4-H and she has friends there, but she and her best friend of many years kind of had a falling out and they haven’t been friends since. I think she was missing that, maybe trying to find a friend like that, a best friend.
So I signed her up and the day came for her to go for her first test, they have a meeting before, and she tested super high. For classes, she went to a teacher that was more into math, because she was doing so well in math. She was so excited, we bought everything for her, all the school materials she was thrilled. She went to school the first day, she was so excited, she didn’t even look back.
So I think that it was two things: The impression that kids get that learning happens in school, that she was going to learn everything about everything in the world, that there wasn’t going to be anything she didn’t know, and the school life of having friends and chatting, you know, that she was missing even though she had a good social life.
PAM: Those sound like great reasons for her, right? This is what she was looking for and seemed like a place that she might be able to get it.
I was just wondering if there any issues registering her? And was there anything she wanted to do to prepare beforehand or did you just kinda show up the first day?
ALEX: No, there were no issues registering, we are not in a big town. We are close to a bigger town, but it’s not a big area, and we’ve never had any issues with the school district, didn’t have any issues registering. It was a piece of cake. In Minnesota we do register with our school district as homeschoolers, so they had knowledge of her. I just filled out the paperwork, sent it in. They were absolutely delightful to work, all the way to the end, even when we quit, when she quit going to the school, they were delightful. The teacher was really nice, so I didn’t do anything to prepare her, I just told her a few things, like, she’s very huggy and jumping on people and hugging and very affectionate and I said, “Gigi, you know, in school, you just can’t really just go and hug people as much,” which I saw her do there and they were all thrilled about so maybe I was wrong. So that’s pretty much the only thing I’ve said, a few tips, you know, like when it is time to eat you should eat because you won’t be able to eat later, you know, there are times to eat in school, things like that. They were very welcoming. She didn’t have any problems, and I really didn’t prepare her for anything. She was so thrilled to go, you know, they can do it when they want to do it.
PAM: So you mentioned she was thrilled on her first day when she went.
I was wondering about her classroom experience that first week, the things that she really did enjoy, and was there anything she wasn’t enjoying in that first week?
ALEX: No, right away she enjoyed EVERYTHING. She was thrilled. She loved it. She loved the teachers. And she loved the classes. She told me everything she was doing and the people she was meeting.
Little by little, things came up, and the first thing that came up was that she wasn’t learning as much as she thought she would be learning. So one of the first complaints was that there was a lot of wasted time. She complained about kids chatting, not paying attention and distracting in the class, not that she wanted the kids to stop—she distracts people herself—but she wanted to learn. She was there on a mission and she sat there I think, thinking that she was going to just soak in all this knowledge all the hours she was there, and it’s not quite like that.
PAM: Well that’s fascinating, yeah, there’s a lot of down time, transition time, that kind of stuff.
Another question I wanted to ask was how you guys chose to handle any of the school’s expectations around homework and tests and grades and stuff like that.
ALEX: I had no expectation in grades at all. I never said anything about grades. She wanted to do well. She wanted the homework. The parents are supposed to help the children in homework so I helped her. I really didn’t have to push her—she would to sit and do the homework. I would remind her, you know, because I knew she wanted to do it, so I was like “ok let’s finish it up,” so I would help her out, and I was like “I would help her out. Come on Gigi, let’s get it done!” There was never a time that I had to put down the law or anything. She wanted to do it, she wanted to get good grades, she wanted to do well. She wanted to have the homework done. It was her choice to be in school. It was her choice to do all that. And she knew, because we had talked about it, you’re going to have homework and you have to do it. If you don’t do it, I would say, you know, you don’t have to, but you know, you’re being graded on the homework. So if you want to, like you said, to get good grades. But it was never an issue.
Actually one time there was a parent teacher conference, the first one, and we went and actually the kid presents the conference. It was really nice and said what the things she needs to work on. It wasn’t anything. Right after the conference her math teacher and the other teacher that does half the classes and was more of the language teacher, they came over to me and they went on and on and on to be about how wonderful Gigi was how, how motivated, how her way of thinking was so much different than the other kids in the class, how she would come up with answers and think of ways that the other kids did not, and did I know what her nickname in class was? And I’m like “nooo.” Her nickname was GeniusGigi because I guess there was something that the math teacher was going on about and putting up a problem, and she made a mistake and Gigi caught it and said “no no, this is how you…” So she was nicknamed GeniusGigi because she did so well in math and so well in everything and they were just how motivated she was, and how she was excited about everything, and how nice she was. I know the principal gave her a star for opening the door for kids.
I think it’s totally different when you want to be there, and this kid wants to be there. I’m listening to them go on and raving about her and I’m thinking yeah, because she wants to be here! For me, she would be at home, but I’m like “Oh great, yes, she’s really nice, yeah.” So it was really cute.
PAM: Yeah, it’s just an entirely different experience when you’re choosing to be there, isn’t it?
ALEX: Yes. She started complaining about little things. I think one of the biggest hurdles for her was eating. Because she absolutely hated the cafeteria food, said it looked disgusting, Even french fries or anything like that—“oh, they look disgusting.” I don’t think she liked to eat around the other kids, because some kids ate funny. Then I would send food with her but she would eat a tiny bit of it. And I’ve even taken food, like, at lunchtime, like Subway, and that helped, but everyday. It’s a little bit too much. I sent hot food, it was just because she was used to being at home, and eating, and she eats all the time, that kids eats, she’s always been like that, she eats like a little bird, every hour or two she’s like, “I’m hungry” and you have to feed her and you have to feed her.
So being in school, and having lunch, and they do have a little snack like at 10’o’clock in the morning, it was just too hard for her. The other thing is they didn’t have Diet Coke there, so I have to send Diet Coke for lunch, but they don’t have it there, and she’s used to drinking it, and she gets a headache if she doesn’t, because since she’s little, her dad drinks it, she would sip out of her dad’s can, so having caffeine withdrawals was not so good for her, so I always had to send a can for her to give her caffeine for breakfast, and I said “this is not going to look too good having diet coke in elementary school.” But I think that was the hardest part was that.
She did awesome in athletics too, she did join, which she stayed with even after she quit school, the basketball travelling team and they were third in the state. She kept her friends and her basketball friends. So she went to school in September when school started, first day of class. In December she got pretty sick—that was one of the things too—She did get sick more often being in school. going to all kinds of social events, it’s just I guess the way school is in close quarters, or maybe it was just a bad year for her. And after she got really sick, when she felt good again, she said “I’m done. I don’t want to go back.” But it was so sudden, that she said to me, and I told to Brian “Um, honey, she said she’s done, she doesn’t want to go back.” And she was so excited, she was telling everyone she was going to go to high school, she was going to stay in school. And she loved school.
And she never looked back. I thought she was going to regret and miss her friends. But she never did. She was done, she had the experience she wanted, she aced it. She knows she can do well in school, she knows what school is all about. I don’t think there will ever be a point in her unschooling career or childhood where she’ll say, “Maybe if I had gone to school,” like maybe some kids would have, “Maybe school was the right way? Why was I raised differently?” Because she did have the option to go to school, she aced it, she did well and then, “Ok I’m done with this experience, I’m ready to be back.”
PAM: Yeah, and she also knows she could always choose to do it again. But like you said, she now has that experience. She had been thinking about it, even before she chose to do it, it was something she was curious about, so this was satisfying her curiosity, yeah?
ALEX: It totally satisfied her curiosity, and she knows, like you said, she can choose to go back if she wants to. Right now she’s completely happy being at home and doing her own things. When I asked her why she was quitting school, she said “I don’t have time to go, you know, work with my cows and play online with her friends. I just don’t have time.”
You know because, face it, you go to the school in the morning, she would be back at home a little after three, and that was all the time she had, she had to go to bed earlier. She didn’t really go to bed early, but earlier because she was tired. And she had girl scouts and 4-H and horseback riding and piano, she did all those things while she was in school, so and she didn’t have down time like she’s used to. She didn’t have time to read her books! Even though she read for school, she took them and read them for school, that was one of the things she complained about. She was very upset with spelling, it was one of the things my husband said she had complained to him about, because it was too easy. And they had to read books that she wasn’t interested, she had to partner with a kid who couldn’t read well. So she wanted more, but at the same time, I said, “when you go to middle school, they could put you in a more advanced class.” She said, “no.” She was done!
Funny enough, about a week after she quit, the principal called me to ask, “We loved having Gigi, can I ask why?” And I said “Well, she told me that she’s really quitting because she really doesn’t have time to do the things she likes, to do her things with the cows and help her dad.”
The principal suggested, “What if she comes part time and she comes in the morning, because most of the electives were after lunch. She could just do that.” And I did offer that. “We really would like to keep her! What can we do to keep her?” That’s exactly what he said. I said “I don’t know, maybe she will change her mind to go back, but right now, she’s happy.”
“But it’s good socially for the kids to be in school.”
I replied, “She has a very full social life. She has friends, she does 4-H, she does girl scouts, she does basketball, piano, horseback riding, So, she has a pretty full schedule.”
And the principal said, “Yeah yeah.”
I said, “There’s a big group of homeschoolers who do a lot of things.”
So he said, “Ok, ok. But if she ever wants to come back, we’ll work with you. We’ll do something.”
PAM: Well, that was very nice of him.
ALEX: He was a very nice guy. I liked him. So I had a great experience as a school mom, with nice people at school to work with, so that was good.
PAM: That was really nice to have that kind of team experience where everyone’s supporting your daughter, right?
ALEX: Yeah they were. They were pretty great.
PAM: I think there were a couple of really cool points. Her noticing that she was missing out on the down time. She was keeping up with as many activities as she could along with school but, you know, conventionally, we don’t really value that down time. But it’s so important, isn’t it? It’s processing time. I guess relaxing, yes, but, it’s so important mentally and emotionally, and that’s really how you put it all together, isn’t it?
ALEX: I think so, I think so. Because her down time is not really a down time, it’s just time for her to do things that are valuable for her. You know, work with her dad, be with her dad, play with her friends, and when they’re playing, they are learning so much, they are doing so many interesting things. Reading her books, “Warriors.” She loves it, she reads it over again. And now she’s on Instagram, she doesn’t post but she likes to read.
With school, there’s no time. You know you’re in a hurry. I remember the weeks were like: get up, take Gigi, then go take Gigi here, then take Gigi here, And I know you’re going to ask how it went with my son being home. He’s very easy going and he does his own thing. It wasn’t too bad I wasn’t too pulled in different directions, by that. He’s 14 and very independent, very easy going, so it wasn’t too bad. I guess if I had younger kids that I had to give more attention, and if I wanted to take them to do things during the day I would be restricted by the school hours. But it wasn’t the case with us so it worked out well.
PAM: That did work out well. Oh, before I forget, The other thing I was going to mention was I remember when Lissy, in Girl Guides, it was probably in maybe grade eight-ish, because I know they were talking about how fun high school would be, and they would always comment to her how she must be so bored because she wasn’t going to school. They could not imagine that there was anything to do outside of school, which was interesting…
ALEX: It’s funny that you mention that because I think right after she left school she really needed a down time, but at the same time, she did mention for the first time, she would say, “I’m bored.” And it was because and she had to kind of deschool for a little bit I think from having to do things that were not her choice, so there was a little bit, even though she was there by choice and for only six months or less there was a little bit of a transition time from being in school to, you know, doing her own things.
PAM: Yeah, you kind of get used to people telling you, since you have those hours and things you have to do in those hours, I guess you can get used to it pretty quickly.
ALEX: Yeah yeah yeah, it wasn’t long, but I noticed she wasn’t as motivated to do things she loved, and I think she just needed to do nothing, just to not go anywhere she didn’t want to, just kind of chill and decompress from all that.
PAM: Yeah, decompress is a great word…
Looking back, how do you see your unschooling principles were continuing to support Gigi while she was in school?
ALEX: I think it helped a lot. It helped keep it peaceful and it helped me from becoming that nagging school mom that are always on top of the kid with do this do that, you know with homework or getting up in the morning. There were times that she would get up, “Oh, I don’t want to go.” “Are you sure?” I was able to say, “Ok, well you don’t want to go,” but I made sure she was not going to feel like she was missing something. “You can always go later, if you decide you change your mind!” So I think it helped me be a calmer school mom.
PAM: Yeah your focus was more supporting her in her wish to go, yeah.
ALEX: And school not being the end all of the relationship, or life. Because, for many school kids, school is everything, school is their life. That’s their job, their everything. School was a choice here, so we made an important choice, I honored her wish. I didn’t take it lightly, like “Oh, she’s just going, but she can quit”. I made it serious, because she wanted it to be a serious thing.
So I didn’t make light of it, which I’m afraid maybe some parents would, saying “Oh, she’s going, but I don’t care”. No, I was as serious as she was. I was supporting her, I volunteered, I went and did face painting for the class, I went to the book fair, so I did all of the school things with her. Very happy to do all of the school things with her without complaining. I tried very hard if she complained to listen to her, but not to respond by going “But if you were home, you wouldn’t have that!”
PAM: That is such, such a great point, Alex, because that is so important. Because if you aren’t supportive of them in that choice—even just by no reaction or not helping or, you know, making little comments here and there—you’re belittling their choice to go.
ALEX: Absolutely. I hope that any unschooling parent whose child decides to go to school would support their kids school choice as much as they would support their choice for gaming or for magic or any other choice.
PAM: Any activity!
ALEX: Her school choice, we were not unschooling, I didn’t call it unschooling, she wasn’t unschooling anymore, but by using the unschooling principles, it was her choice, so I supported her passion the same way I supported her passion of showing her cows, her brother’s Japanese and gaming. You know I didn’t make light of it, “Oh she’s just going there, she can quit whenever she wants.” I didn’t keep saying things like that. She’s going to school and that was it.
PAM: Because she knew she could quit. As long as you keep the communication free and open, you’ll hear clues from her and help her. It’s the same as when we support their interests, like when Lissy went to Girl Guides and when they asked for parent volunteers for this activity or that, I would ask her, “Would you like me to help out with this or is this something you would like to do on your own?” Sometimes it was something she wanted to be totally independent and go do that camping weekend all by herself with other parent volunteers. The same with Mike in karate, and the same as you talk about Gigi in school. I think that’s such a great point.
ALEX: When you complain about something, it’s like you keep putting fuel on the fire. Like the kid is complaining, “Today at lunchtime was boring” or something, and you say “You see, but if you were home, you wouldn’t have been.” That’s just belittling what they want, and it’s just not supportive, so I hope nobody does this. I would just say, “Oh, maybe you can do this.” I tried to help her what she wanted without it being a choice I despised, that she knew I didn’t like.
PAM: Exactly. Because you’re helping them brainstorm with their goals and what they are trying to get at and with their choice.
ALEX: Absolutely. And I have to say I loved school. I loved it. So I don’t come from that experience of not liking it. Her dad did not like school, but I loved school. I don’t come from that experience of not liking school. I think unschooling is better, that’s why we unschool. I don’t hate school. For some kids, school is much better than any other choice
PAM: Sometimes it’s a good fit.
ALEX: It is, well, and sometimes it’s better than being at home even. And sometimes for some kids, if that’s what they want to do, I’m completely fine with supporting them. So at the same time as it was hard, “Am I failing?” “Am I not fulfilling her needs?”
When she had mentioned the year before that she wanted to try, I did make an effort to find more social interactions for her, more for her. I wanted to make sure, “Is she thinking of going to school because I’m not fulfilling a need that she has?” So that’s very important, to find out why they want to go to school. I found more things for her to do, but in the end, she really wanted to try! She really wanted to see if it was all she thought it was. The idea that she had that is sold to kids in TV shows and friends talking about it…
PAM: Yeah, no, that’s a great point, when they first mention it in conversation, it’s a great time to dig into it. You’re trying to find that motivation and what they think or hope to get out of the experience. And, like you said, you may find that it was just a wish for more activities or a wish for more social connections. You thought about that, dug into it, and you came up with it was really the school experience that she was looking for, right?
ALEX: She was looking for what her friends talked to her about. You’re going to go to school to learn all those things. And it was fine. And I’m glad she tried and I’m glad I was able to support her and be there for her and not be the parent that was dismissive.
PAM: Yeah, that’s a super point.
Now, when we were chatting in preparation for our talk for today, you mentioned that Daniel is getting ready to applying to A level high school in Japan? So I was hoping you could talk about how that came about and what he’s doing to prepare.
ALEX: Yes, yes. It’s funny, all this time I asked if he wanted to go to school, I wanted them to know that they have a choice and he’s like, “nope nope nope.” He’s always liked things Japan, but somewhere in the last two, three years, maybe, his interest has grown. And I think that him falling in love with physics has something to do with it.
We were chatting and then he came to me and said he wanted to learn Japanese. I got him some online free classes through our library that are really good—I’m doing Korean too on that—and he was trying to do that. I went to the librarian and got 500 Japanese language books, and physics and math. He wants to do physics, he wants to be a scientist, I think, he dresses up as a scientist most of the time. And I actually found out for him that Tokyo is the fifth best for university for physics.
We were just talking Japan and learning about it, and he said he wanted to go study in Japan as a high school student and to live like a Japanese person. Like an exchange student. You can go for six months, a year and he said “Yeah I want to go, I want to go really bad!” He was 13 when we had this conversation. You gotta be 15 and he just turned 14, so next fall. We are applying and checking with other programs. All he thinks about is going to Japan, he wants the whole experience, and it might be- he has watched a bit of anime, and there are a lot of high school things, you know they are all in high school, they are all in uniforms, which he likes, and he has this idea that’s how it’s going to be. We did have a Japanese trainee that lived with us when he was a baby, so maybe there’s a little influence there. And when he was five years old he went by Naruto, everybody knew him as Naruto. I used to introduce him as Naruto because that was his name. So it’s been a passion about Japan since he was little. But it ended up that he wants to be Japanese, well not be Japanese, to have all the experience of…
PAM: Immerse himself…
ALEX: Immerse himself in the culture. He likes the middle ages, he likes swords, all that honor thing, he would not lie, he is a very black and white kid. He is very quiet, he is very Japanese in a lot of ways! A little more introspect. So he’s studying this language, but it’s hard because it’s a very different language, two different writing systems.
So three months ago I said, well, I’ll see if I can find a school that has Japanese, that would be the cheapest. Luckily, in Minnesota, he can enroll and take part time so he could go to school and do like one class and come back home, so I’ve looked up, but none of our schools here have Japanese classes. I looked at the community college—doesn’t have Japanese classes. There is nothing. So I looked for tutors! I found a tutor, an older gentleman, and said, we can try it. So he tried, and he loved it. He is loving every minute of it! If he could, he would go every day. Unfortunately, it is very expensive, you know, a private tutor, so he goes twice a week. He has picked up so much.
ALEX: They have conversations in Japanese in front of me. Simple conversations, but it’s very impressive. I know a few languages and I know how hard it is, especially a very different language like Japanese. The construct of the phrases is very different. They’re somewhat similar to Korean. The structure of how you speak is very different and you add things, so that’s what he’s doing to prepare, and he has to pass and get in the program.
I’ve had difficulty, unfortunately, with a few programs saying they will not take homeschoolers, but the Rotary said, “No problem, if you make a transcript for him, it’s not a problem at all.” So we’ll see! I guess because the Rotary program is a different program, you don’t get high school credits. You spend like three months, and you go to three different families. It is more of a cultural immersion program. It sounds really good and I think he will love it because it’s more of a cultural immersion. But it goes in his plan that if he masters Japanese, then he can apply to an Ivy league school for physics. You know how expensive they are here, I was doing some research and told him that the fifth best physics university course, is Tokyo University, and it’s under 6,000 dollars a year! But you need to pass this really hard Japanese language test. So, it is a goal. He really wants to speak Japanese, but now there is another reason why: so he can go study in Japan. So now there is another reason I’m excited for him.
I came to America when I was 16 as a trainee to learn to show dogs, so I know how fun it is to go at that age. He will be 15 when he goes so just a year younger than me. I’m excited—I loved it, I’m so happy my parents let me go. When I came I didn’t even go to school. I spent a year without. They let me quit school for a year to come to learn what I wanted, what was my passion back then. I went back to Brazil and graduated from high school and graduated from law school, so I know it’s something you do when you have a passion. I’m lucky that my parents, not unschoolers, were the kind of people that supported me in my passion, and I’m very happy for my son to have a passion to go for it.
PAM: That all sounds so interesting! Your parents too, being open to you to taking time to go to. I mean, to go to another country and pursue your passion at 16. That’s really awesome.
ALEX: Yeah, to live with people they didn’t know. You know I was like referred to people hat my parents really didn’t know, but I knew. And the dog show people that I met back then, they are still friends and in touch. This is thirty some years later, they are still my friends. I learned so much and spent the year travelling the United States, showing dogs and met people from all over the world doing that. I hope that my son’s experience is as wonderful as mine is, and I also feel safe that we have the trainee that lived with us when Daniel was a baby, who lives in Japan, and I have high school friends who live in Japan, so I have friends that I can trust if something happens. I have somebody there, like my parents said, “You know your cousin or your aunt, if something happens, you go to their house.”
PAM: That’s great to know. When Lissy moved to New York City that was part of my comfort too, I knew some people that were a couple hours away that I knew she could get to or that would come in and get her if ever need be. That is so great to hear about Daniel’s story too. That’s really interesting. And all that support that you are giving both of them, all that research that you’re doing, trying to help them find information to follow their aspirations, that’s really cool, I loved hearing more about that.
ALEX: Yeah, I do a lot of research, I know even though my son is very mature, it is over their head to do all those legal, and research into all the little details that go into somebody going on a program like that. You know a lot of parents would say “go look for it and I’ll give it to you” but it’s too much for them to do it, but being this person who loves to research, and I’ve always been a person that I hear about something, and we google it, we research, and it rubs off, my kids do that all the time. Since they are little! Sometimes my son will know something and I’m like “How did you know about that? and my kids say. “Oh I read about it.” I know because he’s googling, researching, because he’s seen me doing it. Go research. Go look it up. Sometimes he asks me something and he’s just like, “Google it, google it for me”, but he’s doing 10,000, well not 10,000 etc, ten times more on his own, he’s just sometimes asking me to do it.
PAM: Oh exactly, Mike and I will be in the car having a conversation and something will come up, He’ll pull out his phone and he’ll be googling it, because that’s what he’s seen! We look for information when we have a question, we don’t just go, “Oh well, I don’t know that.” But yeah, that point about, when they’re considering something, we have experience to share, like all those legal implications you were mentioning, information in areas that they might not have even known to search out, right? So we can add all that to the pot so they have even more information. That’s really, really cool.
ALEX: If I was going to wait for him to be able to do all that, he’d be missing out on other things that he’ll be learning. It will come. More will come, it’s already coming! It’s already coming. He’s already doing the research more knowledge, it just builds on itself.
PAM: When we bring information to them, and say, “Oh, there’s this consideration and this consideration, and this is what I found out,” you’re still expanding their world and their understanding of what’s involved.
Thank you so so much for taking the time to speak with me, Alex. It was tons of fun!
ALEX: No problem. It’s always fun. We miss you! You should come visit again.
PAM: I know, that was so fun.
ALEX: Bring Lissy to take some pictures. Maybe she’ll have some cows in the pictures.
PAM: I’ve got to say, she would love the animals!
Before we say goodbye, where is the best place for people to connect with you online?
ALEX: Probably facebook, I do have a blog, but I rarely update it now. I’m on Facebook, Alex Polikowsky, I’m in some of the unschooling groups, Yahoo’s Always Learning and the Radical Unschooling Info Facebook group. Those are the places I go the most.
PAM: Thank you so much! Have a great day!