This week’s episode is a special one for me. For a few months now, I’ve been percolating lots of thoughts and possibilities around building an engaging and supportive online unschooling community. Finally, it’s HERE! And Anna Brown is an integral part of it all, taking on the role of Community Advocate. We are well into our “soft opening,” things have been going swimmingly, and we are so excited to open it up to anyone who is interested! Anna joins me this week to talk about how the Living Joyfully Network community works, and then we dive into a couple of listener questions.
Living Joyfully Network Overview
We bring together unschooling parents to support and learn from each other as we question and explore many of the conventional beliefs around learning and parenting so that we can more gracefully navigate our personal unschooling journeys, develop strong and connected relationships with our children, and cultivate a thriving unschooling lifestyle in our families.
How are we going to do this?
- To help unschooling parents navigate their journey, we have an unschooling-related theme each month.
- For April, the theme is our parenting toolbox—we thought this would be especially helpful right now as many of us around the world have been asked to stay home as much as possible.
- Each week we’ll explore the monthly theme through a different lens, or focus.
- On Mondays, Anna and I share and expand upon the weekly focus through a short video conversation, including a couple of ideas or questions to contemplate over the week.
- You are welcome to post your questions, your thoughts, your insights etc. in the Network as they come up.
Weekly live Q&A call
- At the end of the week, we meet up online to answer more questions and chat about what we’ve observed and learned.
- Soon we’ll start to vary the times for the call because we have members from around the world, giving most the opportunity to join us live, but the calls are recorded so members can listen whenever it’s convenient for them and their family’s flow.
- Conversation isn’t limited to the weekly focus!
- We have a number of topics to start with, like A-ha Moments, Challenges We’re Facing, Questions We’re Pondering, as well as a Hanging Out space for more random fun and connection.
- Everyone is encouraged to start conversations and participate however works for them.
- And Anna and I are working on even more ways to help members to learn about each other and connect.
QUESTION 1: I am mom to 4 bright, inquisitive, and energetic boys. My oldest, 8, is brilliant at science and would do experiments all day long. He knows more about space than most adults, and he loves to be around people. My second is 6 and is a very creative builder, loves spending his time designing monster jam stadiums for his monster trucks, blows my mind with his creative problem-solving skills, and is definitely a leader. He also likes to make people laugh. My third, 3, is a tank. Super physical, adrenaline junkie, and fearless. He is also really sensitive, caring, and sweet and is the most easygoing of the four. My fourth is 1 and his personality is still coming out, but he is adventurous, happy, and a snuggle bug!
My point in telling you that I guess is that I want to recognize that they really do shine – my problem is that I often can’t seem to see it. We have been unschooling for about a year, and I actually found letting go of the academic stuff to be quite easy. But I feel defeated. The atmosphere in my home is still awful. My kids are fighting with each other constantly and it often gets physical. My oldest son and my husband argue constantly. My oldest son is very much struggling right now to compromise on anything at all. He yells at me, his dad, or his brothers frequently for not doing things to his liking. My 6-year-old is also extremely demanding in his tone. They have no respect for me or my personal things and are often destructive. I try to say no only when it’s truly necessary and always try to validate and discuss solutions, alternatives, or even just different times that we can do things, but this is ALWAYS met with instant whining rather than a willingness to discuss. I feel like I can never find the right words to have conversations like you so often discuss in the podcast, which gets me feeling down on myself. I often end up yelling or resorting to punishments like timeout, which I know don’t work but they’re also the only way I feel that they’re not being allowed to treat myself or each other that way. Then I feel so guilty and like I’m doing everything wrong. My husband claims to be on board with what I’m trying to do, but he always has rules and demands that I think are ridiculous (like getting mad at our oldest because he thinks he’s carrying too many toys). He won’t do enough of his own research to really understand it. I’m sure he and I being at odds in our parenting isn’t helping. I want the relationships so badly. I just feel like I’m failing with communicating and controlling my own temper when they are so rude and disrespectful to me, and failing at parenting in general because my kids act this way. What do I do? I’m ready to throw in the towel and send my two oldest to school just so there can be some peace in my house.
I’m just really hoping for some insight, even if it’s just showing me HOW I can develop the ability to have effective conversations or how to handle such behaviors in a respectful manner, or…honestly I don’t even know what I’m looking for. I just feel discouraged and need help.
QUESTION 2: I live with my husband, our 2 year old daughter, and nearly 5 year old son. We have decided to unschool… it’s been quite the journey to reach that decision!
I have a question. My children are so young, I’m happy to let them play and just be. When they are older I know they will be able to ask for what they want and it will be easier for me to support their learning. For now, I just want to make sure I have the right things around for them. Do you have any ‘must have’ items or activities to do with kids in this age group? Reading, craft, outdoor play, blocks…. I suppose I’m just chasing reassurance that they have everything they need.
Things mentioned in the episode
Check out The Living Joyfully Network!