Anne Ohman and Anna Brown, both veteran unschooling parents, join me to answer listener questions.
Click here to submit your own question for the Q&A Round Table episodes!
Quote of the Week
“How could youth better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Summary of Listener Questions
1. My daughter is 12 and in year 7 of high school. She is coming along nicely with her work, but is finding it hard to understand the social side of things as she is autistic. On top of this she is being bullied. We have been in school with this, but if it doesn’t stop I’m considering a school change or even home schooling. I am a little apprehensive about this for many reasons, but the main one is what will be best for her. I have a million questions and don’t know who to talk to about it. Has anybody been in a similar situation? Is there any help for me in making sure my daughter receives the education she needs? I don’t want to let her down and she be behind.
2. My concerns are around my daughter (she is 3), she goes straight to the computer when she wakes up and starts surfing ‘youtube’, I can see she enjoys the different types of storytelling she finds but I often wonder if she will be constantly interested in youtube as there is SO many interesting things that get suggested to her. She doesn’t seem to initiate getting off the computer unless she has no choice, i.e I need it for work, which is rare. When she is not on the computer she loves all types of play and spending time outside but she doesn’t initiate any of these activities once she has started on the computer. I offer myself and games I know she enjoys but she rarely takes me up on it. I also sit with her and watch when I can get a chance. So how do I work out if this is a genuine interest, or is she going there by default and getting stuck there, or is this a reaction to my previous views and controlling of screentime? I guess I want to know how I can tell if my environment is engaging enough/offering her enough choices and how other people go about setting up their home environment.
3. Could you address unschooling and depression. In my case, specifically maternal depression, which I try to embrace as it’s likely my kids will have to slog through challenges of being a human living in modern society while also on spinning planet earth, and I believe it is helpful for us to be real with each other, and to acknowledge the work it takes to truly pursue happiness.
However, there are times that my depression is sufficiently debilitating and my unschooling begins to border on neglect, though I fiercely work to prevent this and assure their surTHRIVEal. I am hopeful there are other parents who, with their sage perspective and years of experience, could reflect on this topic, and ideally reassure me that, as usual, everything WILL be alright!
4. My family has been unschooling for 2 years, and we’ve been saying “yes” more and more, whenever we can. Yes to getting messy, yes to staying up, yes to ice cream! So far, it has just been little things (like food or stuffed animals or going to the park) that the girls (5 and 7) have asked for. I love how close I am with my kids when they know that I am on their side and will help them with their goals.
Today my partner asked me: what is a good way to answer the children if they ever ask us to buy them expensive things? As the girls’ world grows I’m sure one day they will. My partner comes from a well-off family, so something a bit more expensive would be within our means. Our family has always lived a pretty simple lifestyle (my spouse and I like it this way), but it doesn’t seem right to keep any part of reality, including our financial situation, a secret from children who are learning about the world.
Knowing my children, they wouldn’t feel good about an explanation like “I’m trying to teach you the meaning of money” or “I don’t want you to grow up to be spoiled” if they ask me for expensive toys. We love the relationship with our girls unschooling has given us, and we want them to know we are there for them! But we want them to grow up grounded about money. What can we say?
5. I am an unschooling mom of three kids. I was inspired by Pam Sorooshian’s discussion of tv and screen time. It is a topic I’m very interested in and have wrestled with a lot. After absorbing the ideas in that episode, I made some changes that have had a very positive effect! Specifically, I’ve joined my kids in what they were watching and started to get into it and excited about it with them, appreciating how it made them laugh or was interesting to them. My children are young: 7, 5, and 3. My question is—how does the “no limits on screen time” idea work with very young children. Did any of you veteran unschoolers do this from birth on, or is there an age when it seemed more appropriate to allow free rein on this particular issue?
6. I am the mother of a daughter, 8 years old. I’m now pregnant with my second, and there’s a chance the baby will be born with Down Syndrome. I am worried sick, and some information may help me. Is it possible to unschool a child with a developmental disability? The information I have been reading recommends lots of therapy, and dietary control since children with Down Syndrome are prone to obesity. After seeing my daughter flourish with unschooling, I’d love to give the same to this future child.
Links to things mentioned in the show
Anne’s essay: I Am What I Am
Pam’s free book: Exploring Unschooling