Anne Ohman and Anna Brown join me to answer listener questions. We dive into the seeming transition from following their interests to earning a living, how passionate kids engage with the world, partnering with our children around chores, and helping a child learn something that’s challenging for us.
Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!
Quote of the Week
“When I was talking about how we create our worlds, this is it! You’re talking about what they want, and how much we can give, and “Is this enough?” and “What do you think about this?” I just think it’s got this beautiful feeling, a beautiful swirl and flow and it’s amazing, the picture that we paint, we create with our lives with just the connection. The true deep connection with our children, I just love it.” ~ Anne Ohman
Ionia’s Question [TIME: 3:28]
I am mother to a 13-month-old boy and a real newbie to unschooling. My husband and I only came across the term when we started looking into alternative education for our son about 6 months ago, but from the moment we started to read about Unschooling we knew it was a good fit for our family. I want to thank you so much for this fantastic podcast and especially the Q&A sessions, which I find extremely interesting, challenging and inspiring.
The question I have isn’t so much about unschooling our son, but actually about unschooling for adults. This is something I have seen mentioned but I haven’t read or heard much about the idea. My husband and I are both artists and it seems to me that the way we create art is similar to how children learn naturally through play, exploration and the freedom to immerse themselves in whatever they are drawn to. There is a similarity too in the atmosphere that is most conducive to the creation of art and the atmosphere that is required to allow unschooling to happen, i.e. an atmosphere of equality, trust, respect, honesty and support. However, difficulties tend to arise in the life of an artist when our often slow creative process comes up against the need to earn a living. In fact, the only difference I can see between the life of an unschooled child and that of an adult artist is that one is provided for and the other has to provide for themselves.
So, my question is this: how do children who have been unschooled make the transition from following their interests freely to having to earn a living? I am sure that most children who have been unschooled find a walk of life that is enjoyable to them, and can support themselves eventually through doing what they love best, but inevitably, earning money from a pursuit changes the nature of the activity and puts a ‘worth’ on it. So, for example, an artist may find that they wake up one morning and have the impulse to take out their dusty watercolour set and go painting, but they have a commission they need to finish and so the impulse has to be ignored. The activity of creating the commission suddenly becomes less enjoyable as the natural creative flow has been blocked.
As an artist (unschooled adult!) and a deschooling mother I’m very curious to know if there are mental approaches that can make the relationship between work and money easier to handle. Can unschooling carry on into adulthood?
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences around this idea.
Anonymous Question [TIME: 28:35]
Hi! Firstly I’d like to thank you for these podcasts. I like to listen to them when I go for morning walks before my boys wake up and my husband has not yet left for work.
I have 2 boys. We came to unschooling because my eldest made it so! He is an incredible child full of energy and love, but he made it pretty clear from the beginning that learning was on his terms. We decided that he wouldn’t be a great fit for school and launched into deschooling. That was 3 years ago.
So, now my children are 7 and 3 1/2. I am seeking help on how to respond to my eldest. Whenever he gets hurt or upset, his reaction is quite ferocious! He is extremely loud and hollers/squawks for quite some time. It is noticeable to people within our vicinity to the point that they think he is extremely hurt. He plays football (soccer), which he loves, and his father is his coach. My husband is becoming a little embarrassed by his reactions. I’m wondering how we can help him. We’ve never told him that it’s not ok to cry of course, and my husband is extremely affectionate with our children. When my son feels better, it is sudden and like nothing happened – there is no gradual recovery. It’s like he’s switched on or off.
I have always seen him as a child that feels things and does things with such passion. He has gone through periods where the morning sunlight bothered him so much he’d scream in pain; he’s quite particular with feeling/textures like wearing clothes or eating food; he doesn’t like being touched by others but demands close contact with me and wrestling with my husband; he makes high pitched sounds whilst watching YouTube on his iPad and randomly yells, transitioning has also been something that can cause upset. Most of these things worsen for a period and then improve, but the noises and reactions have not.
He has a lot of energy and is quite the extrovert, however he does not connect with a lot of kids—it’s like they are afraid of his unpredictability or they just don’t like him because he is seemingly ‘loud and proud.’ However, he has more empathy than any other child I’ve met and is always the first to ask someone if they are ok or help them up on the pitch.
We’ve been ok with him quitting activities—he often has a problem with the teachy nature of such things. He does not want to quit football (soccer) and becomes quite distressed at the idea of doing so. I’d like some ideas on how to help him with this sensory distress in an unschooling home. I am concerned that asking these questions elsewhere will lead to suggestions of diagnoses, labels and therapy. I do not wish to view my son through such a lens and would like to help him cope or manage in the world in which he lives whilst embracing that these behaviours are just a part of who he is.
Chelsea’s Question [TIME: 47:17]
We have been unschooling now for over a year and a half and are loving our lifestyle. We are continually deschooling ourselves and moving towards respectful parenting. My husband and I were hoping to get a concrete response to some situations that we deal with on a consistent basis.
1. I’m getting dinner ready, the dishwasher is clean but there are dishes in the sink and I need help getting things in order to get food ready for everyone. Usually the kids sigh or complain about not wanting to help. What am I supposed to do in a situation like this when I need the help and no one is contributing.
2. At the end of the day we like the house picked up before everyone is in bed and most of the mess is from the kids throughout the day. They rarely want to help pick things up that they were playing with and most nights are not pleasant during this time.
We are understanding the concept of respectful parenting and partnership but there are specific situations that are just making us draw a blank. Thank you, ladies!
Liz’s Question [TIME: 1:04:20]
My son has been playing with coding and wants to learn how to code in Lua, which is the language that Roblox uses. After looking at lots of different options for him to learn coding, he is very clear that he wants me to learn to code and then teach him what I know and help him write scripts specifically for Roblox. He has fantastic ideas for in-game mods, but we have found it difficult so far to write scripts that work like he wants them to. I would love some encouragement and/or stories from your lives about how you’ve helped your children learn about something that is challenging for you. Thank you!
Links to things mentioned in the show
Thomas M. Sterner’s book, The Practicing Mind
Tara Gentile’s book, The Art of Earning
Joanna Penn’s book, The Successful Author Mindset
Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Child
Carol Kranowitz’s book, The Out-of-Sync Child
Anne’s essay, I Am What I Am
Anne’s conference talk excerpt, Validating Our Children
Ross Greene’s book, The Explosive Child
Shine with Unschooling list of sensory activities
Tami Stroud’s podcast episode
Anne’s website: shinewithunschooling.com
Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com