Anne Ohman and Anna Brown, both veteran unschooling parents, join me to answer listener questions. Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!
Quote of the Week
“All I am saying … can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~ John Holt
1. I am thoroughly enjoying your podcast and get excited when one appears in my feed. Thank you. Listening to parents share insights and wisdom has helped me on my own journey with my 8-year-old son.
I am at a point in our journey where I doubt whether I am supporting him and exploring with him in ways that he needs me too.
He is our only child and we are older parents. I’m 52 and husband is 56. We both work from home with a flexible schedule. We belong to a local homeschool group and attend weekly field trips and park days. We enjoy our time with them.
I feel he looks to me to figure out our plans for the day. Like, “mom what are we doing today?” or “mom what are we doing tomorrow?” Some days we don’t have plans so we hang at home. He primarily spends his time watching videos of Minecraft which he’s started to play a few months ago and also videos of kids playing nerf wars, etc. I offer up different kinds of videos which he usually isn’t interested in. But I still offer now and then just to see. We play nerf wars in the yard and swing. He started to play Minecraft with a friend over Skype.
I guess I’m confused because I think he’s seeking more, hence the question of what are we doing, and yet falls back to watching videos. So am I to continue to support his video watching or keep trying to find things that pull him away from that? Or both?
He’s not interested in me reading books to him, nor playing with his toys. His interest in Legos has dropped off considerably these last few months to almost no interest. No interest in learning to read or write. Taking classes he can do without.
I feel like I’m lacking in being a playmate, because he needs someone to play with when at home, as well as lacking in my role as unschooling mom.
Just wondering if you can shed some insight on what this scenario looks like to you.
2. My eight-year-old only son has been home from school since February, when we chose unschooling. He has found gaming to be his thing this entire time. He currently loves Halo. It is his choice above all other activities. He will take a break on occasion to do research or enjoy videos on YouTube, to go with family on various outing or trips, and to hang out with friends when invited. Friends who come to our house are very happy to be left alone for hours to enjoy gaming with my son. I have just been letting him pursue this as he desires.
My question is: am I too relaxed in my involvement? Pam mentioned in a post (and I’ll paraphrase. Correct me if I didn’t get this right, Pam) to figure out what the child loves about the game and find things along those lines to strew. Well, I have asked him and what I’ve been able to get from our conversations is that he likes the cool armor. He likes the “good overcoming evil” aspect, and I know he likes getting better at the game and seeing himself rank up. It also allows him to play with others that are much better than his parents, through a multiplayer aspect.
Do I NEED to strew? A few weeks ago I bought a Halo novel that I thought we’d read together. He was happy to see it and held it and looked it over but hasn’t asked me to read it with him (probably too complex for him to read on his own right now). He used to draw nearly every day (often Halo related images) but doesn’t any longer (which I miss, but just hope he’ll pick up again later). Or, should I just continue to chill and let him immerse himself in this thing he’s finding to be so satisfying, strewing when he seems to lose interest and seem at a loss?
I would like to add,
– Anne’s description of her oldest son fits Gabriel to a T. Paraphrasing here, ‘his wonderfully obstinate refusal to let anyone hijack his mind and spirit brought about our decision to unschool.’
– Gabriel is still deschooling and he is still resistant to doing most things that he didn’t think of on his own. I feel remorseful everyday for sending him to school. I feel like I ruined his wonder of the world and his excitement for exploring it, his openness to discovering with me at his side. He spends most of his time playing video games and watching YouTube, researching questions about the games there as well.
I don’t know if his resistance will ever lighten up, although I think it will as it seems like a knee-jerk reaction to any invitation to look at something or go some place with his parents. It comes so fast that he couldn’t possibly have given it any thought. Two things he doesn’t react this way to are going swimming and watching most videos.
I have coaxed him into some things, a hike for instance, where he said he liked the destination so much that he was sorry he complained the whole way, and some excursions into town for various reasons. The latest was after a rainstorm when he marveled that the clouds were so low that they looked like paint on blue canvas. But it took a lot of talking of why it was important to me/us as parents of why he come along and then it was a grudging “Fine, I’ll go.”
3. Hi Pam, Anne and Anna,
We are around 2 months into our unschooling journey. My 10 year old daughter and 12 year old son are currently deschooling. We took them out of school as my 10 year old daughter was being bullied and my 12 year old son had had nothing but a tough time for the almost 8 years he had been at school. We had numerous meetings with teachers over the years, he had endless detentions, a diagnosis of ADHD (which I don’t feel is true as he is just a spirited young boy) and both have a diagnosis of Dyslexia (all of these tests were requested by the school, I didn’t feel the need to have my children labelled, however this is the way the cookie has crumbled – just a little back ground for you). My son in April lost one of his really good friends in a tragic accident, he did not cope too well and he’s a really loving empath. I feel he is holding onto much grief still as he will mention this friend every week or so. We had been looking for schools as none of us were happy and the morning tears all around and huge trauma to get to school each morning was taking it’s toll on myself and the kids, wearing us down. We could not find the right fit for both of my children, so during the July holidays I decided to take the plunge and pull the kids from school much to their delight to deschool and subsequently unschool.
Now here comes the bumpy part. My son decided that he would like an Xbox one around that same time and it was his birthday, he also wanted a game Grand Theft Auto in which he has been begging for since its release a few years back. My husband and I always felt that the content of the game was not appropriate, however along my journey and search I found many positive articles about how the game has more to offer than the violence. I explored and decided after chatting with my husband that if might be a good idea to let him have an explore the game as he had already watched so many youtube videos on the subject he was well versed in the content anyway. He has been playing day and night and even for up to 30 hours in one sitting on numerous occasions. The last time was just two days ago where he woke at 7am played until 4.30pm at which time the internet failed and he loudly expressed his frustrations and cried himself to sleep. Slept for 3 hours, woke at 8pm then played for another 30 hours non stop until midnight of the following night, where I could see that little things in the game were starting the frustrate and upset him and I could see that he needed sleep, so suggested that he come have a snuggle in bed and chat for a bit (he promptly fell asleep actually).
He’s been doing a heap on the game. Only yesterday I helped him to gather the funds by selling vehicles, so that he could purchase and office and warehouse in the game. I heard him later online telling his friends of how we had changed the structure and that he was now a CEO of his own company. He was very excited and he just loves the game immensely.
Here comes the downer. My husband works long hours and often is away from the home for 12 hours each day. All he sees is my son gaming when he leaves and also gaming when he returns, then into the night. It’s causing him a lot of angst. This has been building for a number of weeks now and he feels that our son is not learning sufficiently, learning how to rob people, will end possibly end up in prison due to all of this, has noticed my son has started calling us cuss words quite frequently, won’t know how the real world works due to such huge exposure to the game and would like him to either go back to school or for me to stop unschooling and move to school at home with set work and allocated times for gaming (he doesn’t want to remove the game completely, just reduce the time spent playing).
I have tried to negotiate a deal with my son as it’s really affecting the whole family and the tension in the house is insane (we can hear him gaming all night even though he has a headset and on quiet, so we are not sleeping more than a few hours each night). I have suggested perhaps he might go for a bike ride, come swimming, come meet up with friends to play Minecraft, go for a surf, play with the dogs and even asked him if he could go anywhere or do anything what it would be.
However, he is not open to negotiation on doing anything else, he just wants to play on his Xbox one, he may however change games from time to time if a friend on the forum suggests it (Call of Duty). He also likes to game out where he is part of the home and where the wifi is optimal, so we can all hear from no matter where we sleep due to an open plan home.
Pam, Anne and Anna, I’m so sorry for such a long post, however I wanted to shed the full light on what is happening here and hope that you can help me in any way shape or form to regain some sanity in our lives and to repair our relationships as our home is not the happiest right now and I can feel things tearing apart, whilst I’m between a rock and a hard place trying to glue it back together and make everyone happy.
4. I have twin boys 15 years of age who began unschooling in January 2016 when I pulled them out of the public school system. Now they are entering 11th grade studies and would like to attend an art institute after graduating 12th grade to become a multimedia artist.
My question is: how do I prepare a transcript/diploma of what they’ve learnt, studies they’ve taken in English, math, history, etc in order to enroll them in a college or an art institute? AR community College wants some type of transcript in order for them to be enrolled there and I’m assuming that an art institute would want something of that kind as well.
Thank you for any suggestions or advice that you may have.
5. Hi. What would you advise to a mother who wants to unschool while her husband does not want to? Thank you!
Links to things mentioned in the show
- Anne’s Shine with Unschooling Facebook page
- The books Anna mentioned around question 4: book, The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aaron, Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, and Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani.
- Anna mentioned the book College without High School by Blake Boles
- podcast episode 32, Choosing School with Alex Polikowsky