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
“Shift out of the fear by going to your child and connecting with her over what makes her light up right now in this moment.” ~ Anne Ohman
1. Hello! I’ve been listening to the podcast for a while as well as immersing myself in unschooling resources. I’ve been slowly applying unschooling principles such as focusing on connection and partnership to my relationship with my children.
However, one thing is really tough for me. I find myself at a loss of ideas sometimes when it comes to finding interesting ideas when my children (10 and 12) tell me that they are bored. So many of the blogs I read are so colorful and creative, I’m not quite sure I can keep up! My kids don’t seem to be very interested in my ideas and I’m a bit discouraged.
I would like to find creative solutions to problems too, but I find my mind keeps on going back to old tried and true ways of thinking. I’m afraid I might not be creative enough to be an unschooling mother!
Do you have any tips for being inspired when you just can’t think of anything? I feel like rather a boring mum!
2. We brought our two kids home from traditional school three years ago, and have been homeschooling since then. Our kids are now 12 and 10 and we are a couple of months into exploring unschooling! We are currently expats living in the Middle East but plan on returning to Canada in the next year or two. Our hope is to buy an RV and become a full time RV family, partly stationed in our home city, and partially traveling. Living simply, owning less, and staying out of debt are also things we feel really passionate about, and we are trying to figure it out alongside unschooling.
What are your thoughts about creating a really rich learning environment in a small space? For example, what if one of our children is really into music and we don’t have space for a piano? Or they love painting and we don’t have space for an art studio? (Or even a big easel!) While I think their exposure to the world has been amazing living overseas and travelling, and will continue to be as we travel in the future, I sometimes wonder if we are limiting them by limiting our physical space. Any insight for us?
3. We have been unschooling for one year but have only recently (as in the past few weeks) begun loosening control over food.
My 7-year-old daughter is very drawn to sweet foods. Ever since I’ve been allowing more free rein over food choices, she seems to constantly be in the kitchen, going through cupboards, looking for a cookie or some other sweet thing, or saying she is going to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich (even though we just ate a meal). It really seems like she just has this insatiable craving for sugar.
Could this be a deschooling period for us? What I mean is, perhaps we are “deschooling” not from school, but from conventional parenting on the food issue? Do I need to absolutely allow her complete and total freedom to have literally as much candy and sweets as she wants and then trust that her obsession will mellow out over time? It seems so scary for me because I have strived to be a parent who offers them a healthy diet for so many years now; I worry that it is irresponsible and it just seems very unhealthy for a person to consume so much sugar.
On the other hand, part of me is wondering if, in addition to her innate love of sweet things, she is also testing/exploring this new change in our household. Unschooling has proven to be a very successful and rewarding experience for my entire family. So there is a part of me that is curious to see if it can work out just as well with the food issue, if only I can find the confidence to go for it. Any insight or advice?
4. I recently brought my son home to homeschool. He is being treated for depression, has some personal stuff going on, and is addicted to watching YouTube. Its only been 4 weeks but I wonder how long to let him deschool and what I should insist he do. He has some executive function issues as well.
5. I wonder if you could talk a bit about “cocooning,” which I know is common in pre-teens/early teens, and your experience of the emergence into butterflies? One hears a lot about active, confident unschooling teens out there in the “real world” but so far this hasn’t been our experience, other than online. My daughter is 12 and we’ve been unschooling for a year and a half and it’s been fantastic, she’s doing all sorts of great stuff at home and socializes a lot online, but apart from special events or holidays and seeing family & close friends occasionally, she’s been “cocooning” for much of that time. I completely understand why and have very much been supporting her with it, trusting that this will not hold her back ultimately, but I do worry sometimes about how or whether the process of stepping out of her comfort zone to make the most of the many resources and opportunities in our area will evolve. If you could share your experiences or those of others you know, of this cocooning phase and the emergence into butterflies, it would be much appreciated.
6. I’m wondering if the panel can comment on the experience of encouraging a spouse to embrace this lifestyle. In my family I am the one who lead the way down our unschooling path. My husband has been amazingly open-minded and supportive thus far! Both of us were very confident about unschooling the academic stuff. However, as I have been recently attempting to relax restrictions on food, he is expressing concern. It is such a departure from the way we’ve always been with the kids (striving to offer nutritious foods and limiting sweets/desserts to quite a large extent). It concerns him deeply to see our daughter now helping herself to chocolate and other sweet things frequently. I do understand where he’s coming from, as this is very uncommon in our society. But I can easily see the wisdom in letting children gain experience in making these kinds of choices for themselves. Any thoughts?
Links to things mentioned in the show
The book Anne recommended: Kids, Carrots, and Candy
Podcast episode 2 with Pam Sorooshian, speaking about marginal utility
Podcast episode 25 with Jennie Gomes, speaking about deschooling with her spouse