PAM: Hi, everyone. I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Amy Childs. Hi, Amy!
PAM: It’s great to have you on the show. Amy is in an unschooling mom to three lovable, now adult children. She’s also the producer of the Unschooling Life podcast and a happiness consultant. I have ten questions for you, Amy. So, let’s dive in!
The first is question is, can you share with us a bit about your family and how you guys came to unschooling?
AMY: Yeah. Actually, I thought I invented unschooling! For the first year, I didn’t know there was a name for it. I wasn’t sure if it was legal. I didn’t know if it was going to be a terrible failure. I was afraid maybe my kids would never learn algebra or they would never get jobs. But I was determined to try a version of unschooling that was about teaching us how to be happy.
I was working as a happiness consultant with adult clients who were not happy. My clients tend to be very high-functioning, very successful people. These were people who went to school, got college degrees, got the house, got the marriage, got the white picket fence, followed all the rules, and yet there was just something about life that wasn’t really panning out.
I had a lot of ideas of why that happens and I have lots of workshops and things for adults, but I thought, what am I doing raising my kids to just fall into a lot of the same traps that all these adults fall into? And then they’re going to have to hire a happiness consultant as a grownup. Let’s just work this program with them as young people.
I really didn’t know if it was a good idea and I wasn’t sure if my state superintendent was going to think it was a good idea or any of my extended family. But my kids thought it was a great idea and it intuitively felt really in integrity with what my whole life was dedicated to and is dedicated to. We did that for about eight months before I met this guy on a bus who said, “That sounds like unschooling!”
I was like, wow! That word sounds like what I’m doing. I’m going to go look up that word on the Internet. It was like a flood of affirmation and encouragement and, wow! There are all these people who have done this and they ended up very successful adults. They know how to read and write and balance their check books and they’re happy!
So, that was kind of a backwards way for me to come into unschooling. It’s been a really great way, because it felt like I didn’t have to be convinced from the outside so much. A lot of people need to do a lot of reading and it’s great that there are so many resources that can help people get it. But for us, it was something that I already kind of got and it was just the external information was much more just an affirmation of what I had already intuited. In that way, it was easier for us, I think, in some ways, to get started. Sadly, none of that happened until my kids had already been in school for quite a while, so I feel sad about that. But that’s how we started!
PAM: Excellent! Yeah, mine were in school for a while, too. It’s part of the process, right?
AMY: For a lot of us.
PAM: Yep. One thing you mentioned, your children are older now, and I really enjoy hearing about what unschooled young adults are up to. It’s really amazing the range of things that they’re into and the paths that they’re following. Even when, from the outside, a path might look like regular adult stuff, you know that they’re coming at it from a completely different mindset, a happiness mindset.
Can you share what your children have been up to lately?
AMY: Sure. Let’s see. My youngest is in her last year of college. She just left me a message this morning, actually. I could hardly hear her because it was so windy, but she was like, “I just wanted to call and thank you for the fact that I have such a great life!” I’ve just ruined it, because she said, “Don’t tell anybody. I’m embarrassed of how perfect my life is.” Now that I realize, I won’t say who it is. Her name is secret.
One of the reasons she feels like her life is so great, there are lots of reasons, but one of them is she decided to take an extra term in her senior year, which meant she only had to do three classes per term, which is just making her love her classes so much. One of them has this long chemistry lab. She’s a biology major. She’s able to, she’s getting a little bit extra debt, but she’s just so excited how much time she gets to spend on each class and that she doesn’t feel rushed and she doesn’t feel like she has to sacrifice one topic for another topic.
So, that’s an example of a skill and an attitude that you can learn from having some years of unschooling is that you can do things in your own way. You don’t have to do them the way everybody else does them. And sometimes, that’s the secret to happiness is doing things your own way.
My middle daughter is just finishing up her graduate program. She went down to Washington, DC. She’s becoming a speech and language pathologist. I just got off the phone with her. She’s been deciding where to apply for a job. One of the reasons she decided to become a speech therapist is pretty much, you’re so employable no matter where you go in the country. So, she’s about to graduate and she’s like, “Wow. I could live anywhere in the country!”
She’s been really excited about trying a state maybe that she’s never been to. She wants to live where there are big tall mountains. Here in Philadelphia, we don’t have big, tall mountains. She’s reading about where is the most walkable city and where is the most bikeable city. She just feels like she has the world wide open to her. She’s also, at the same time, thinking, “Oh, maybe I just want to come back to Philadelphia. I miss my family and I love all the connections I have there.” So, it’s just really neat to watch her figure out her life, with this “she can do anything” attitude.
And my oldest, he got a degree in engineering. He was a mechanical engineer for a while, but he didn’t like that all the jobs are making weapons or making machines that use gas. So, he decided to return to the land and become an organic farmer. He lives in upstate New York. He’s learning how to run a farm, how to plant and weed and harvest and sell. He’s really passionate about living of the grid. That’s what he’s doing.
Actually, right now, he’s in the middle of his winter break. They don’t start growing and planting again until next month. He says he’s doing his PhD unschooling program over the winter in music and yoga. He’s been talking a lot about those two subjects and that’s what he’s real excited about.
PAM: That’s awesome! I loved hearing about it!
AMY: Yeah. I love hearing about it, too! It’s so interesting. It’s better than TV, watching these people grow up. And that’s really saying something, because I really like TV!
PAM: Me too! It’s just fun to see how their minds work and how they know they can make choices. They look around, see what’s up, and see what works for them. It’s really cool.
AMY: And they include me in their thought process.
PAM: Yeah! Exactly!
I noticed on your website you’ve been running a number of unschooling intro sessions in Philadelphia for local parents this year. I think that’s very cool. How have they been going?
AMY: They’ve been going really well and really differently. I started off thinking I was just going to be around Philadelphia for a month, so I decided I was going to do a blitz on Philly and just start talking about unschooling. But it turns out, I’m going to be here longer, so I’ve made a lot of them into series in different locations.
Sometimes, unschooling families want to come meet other unschooling families. Other times, people who have never heard the word just see a sign and see the word “unschooling”, and so they want to come.
I’ve had a lot of teachers and people from the Philadelphia public school system who are frustrated or inspired or really curious about other ways of doing things or they want to share something they’re doing. I’ve actually gotten involved in a local group. The Philadelphia teachers have these social justice discussion groups that are also for parents and community members. And just because I’m so interested in all children and just making the world a better place for humans and for children, I’ve been involved in brainstorming with teachers and finding out what they’re doing in schools.
Some of the workshops I’ve done have been in bookstores or coffee shops where people don’t have any idea this is happening but they start overhearing the conversation and want to chime in when they hear a story or have a question. And one of the reasons that I wanted to do it is it just gives me an excuse to keep putting the word “unschooling” on tack boards all around town.
For myself, back in the day when I first heard that word, it was just hearing the word that opened up a whole world to me. So, I think there are a lot of repercussions from just being able to say the word around town, whether people come to the actual discussion or whether they go listen to a podcast or read a book or just think about it for five years if they don’t even have kids yet.
A lot of people that have come actually aren’t parents. They’re just people who are interested in life and, “Wait a minute. Schooling is only an option? It’s not required?” It just starts to get your mind reevaluating a lot of things you thought you knew. And I really like that opportunity to have a conversion piece. It’s partly about the events, but it’s also partly just about the buzz.
PAM: That’s really interesting. That’s cool! My mind is ticking away.
AMY: That’s what happens! I’m on the board of a local learning center that serves homeschoolers and unschoolers with having classes and workshops and parent’s groups. I’m on their board. One of the big things is, when parents are actually unschooling, when their kids are little, I know how it was for me, when we were in the throes of unschooling, I didn’t have time to go around talking about unschooling. I was trying to figure out my own family and just making life fun for us. I was not an evangelist and I also didn’t want to put my family in the spotlight. We wanted our own private world.
But I thought, well, when my kids are older, I want to go around and make sure people know this is an option. That’s been what part of the opportunity is for me. Now that my kids aren’t little, I have the time and the energy and people aren’t going to turn and say, “Well, what do you mean your kids are sleeping in and only watching tv?” My family is not under the spotlight in the same way. It’s just a chance to give back.
PAM: Yep. Oh, that’s lovely. That was it for me, too. Because my kids were in school, I didn’t know it was even an option for the longest time. It was literally weeks from when I first heard about it to when they left school, because I was so close to that mindset already. It was like boom, boom, boom. Here we go.
You spoke a little bit earlier about how you guys came to unschooling, how you came to it backwards. You were actually doing it before you discovered it. I was curious about what you might have found some of the more challenging aspects for you on your journey to unschooling?
AMY: My quick answer when people would hear that I was unschooling and they didn’t know what that meant and they were thinking that it meant something like school-at-home, they would think, “Oh, that sounds so hard, because I can’t control my kids. They won’t do anything I say.” Or, “I don’t even know algebra. I can’t teach them algebra.” And as people start to realize, “Well, I don’t do that. I don’t do that. I don’t do that,” then they start to think, “Oh, well, it must be really easy if you don’t have to do that.” I say, “Well, it’s not actually easy, either. It’s just a whole different kind of hard that you might not be thinking about.”
And the hardest thing for me was having a dirty house for 15 years! That’s sort of a funny answer, but it’s also really emblematic of something that I think a lot of people struggle with. They think that they can have a schooling kind of life and an unschooling life at the same time. You do have to give up this idea of control and how a house is supposed to look and how a family is supposed to look and how a day is supposed to look. You just have to keep giving up control over that and learning that life is a lot more slap-dash in a way. It’s over here. It’s over there.
That’s the second thing I always say. The second hardest part about homeschooling or unschooling was driving three kids in three different directions all the time. Again, that just shows how much time and effort and attention it takes. It’s a shorthand way of saying, “Well, as a parent, you need to turn your whole life inside out. You need to focus on what your kids need instead of what you want or what you pictured life was going to be like.”
That’s what I do with clients. I have a lot of clients who are not unschoolers, but often I will have an unschooler call me, because, “Oh, I’m unschooling and I thought it was going to be so much fun, but how am I going to get my kids to ever clean up?” And it’s like, “Well, actually, the way it’s going to be fun is if you let go of that idea of what fun is or what a house is supposed to look like. That’s going to be a way faster way to have fun than it is to try and figure out how to get your kids to make your house look the way you thought it should look.”
That’s the kind of stuff that was hard for me was just reorienting my expectations toward something that is much more focused on my kid’s happiness and less on what other people think or what I think in my more judgmental, less open moments.
PAM: That’s a great way to look at it. That is one of the biggest transitions, especially since you think, we’re going to be home all the time, so I’ll have time to to keep the house neat and that kind of stuff. You’re right, at first, you think, all that school stuff that I’m giving up, now we’re going to have all this time. Really, all that energy isn’t freed up, you’re now putting it towards something else. A whole different environment that you’re supporting by supporting your children. That’s very cool.
Question number five, you produced 50 episodes of The Unschooling Life podcast. Congratulations! It’s awesome, by the way. This is episode number nine for me, so 50 still seems like a long, long way away. But I would like to ask you a couple of questions about that experience.
First off, which was your favorite episode?
AMY: Well, first of all, I should say that just to be sure that I get full credit, I actually did 52 episodes. I meant to do 50. I kept saying, “I’m going to do 50,” but then at the end, I still had so much audio I hadn’t used and I thought, “Well, this is too much of a shame not to put this somewhere.” So, there’s two bonus episodes at the end or the director’s cut, actually. One for every week of the year, or I should name them according to a deck of cards or something.
I guess I don’t really have a favorite episode, because they work so well together. One of the things about unschooling is it’s so holistic. It just encompasses so much that it’s really hard to say in one way or in one other way what unschooling is and what it feels like and what it looks like and how it works. So, I guess I don’t really have a favorite episode.
I would say my favorite thing about doing it was getting the opportunity to talk to unschoolers around the world. That was such a treat. Just so many people that I wouldn’t have met, that I wouldn’t have gotten to just be nosey and ask questions. So, I think my favorite part was getting to interview people from different countries, from different places, with different ages of children, in different scenarios, single parents, people who were struggling financially, people who had lots of privilege and opportunity. Just a wide spectrum of people. That was really fun.
There’s no especially, but especially Sandra Dodd. It was really fun just getting to pick her brain. She’s so good at being eloquent and succinct and interesting. That was great, too.
Another favorite thing, although I didn’t get to do it as much as I hope that I will in the future, is interviewing kids. I didn’t really think of doing that until later in the series and there were so many fun conversations with young people that I thought, I should do whole podcast just interviewing young people, which is one of my future plans. I’ve been busy with a million projects, but that’s definitely on my list of a future project is to do the unschooling kids podcast, just so that I can indulge myself in more of those conversations with kids around the world.
So, if anybody’s listening with an articulate child, there’s definitely a lot of unschoolers out there who love talking about what they’re doing. Send me an email. I’m making a little list of kids who want to talk about unschooling for when I get around to that project.
PAM: Yay! That sounds awesome.
AMY: It does, doesn’t it?
PAM: It really, really does. I’m known to, in gatherings, just go talk to the kids more often than the adults half the time.
Along those lines, I think you touched on it a bit, but what were some of the episodes that you felt you learned more either about unschooling or even just about yourself by putting them together? Because you did a really neat thing with your episodes. You took pieces from different people on the topic itself.
AMY: Yeah. I sort of talked a little bit about the hardest parts of unschooling, but one of the hardest things about making the podcast and also what I learned was also hard, was really coming to terms with and facing my own sorrow and regret that I didn’t find unschooling sooner. I couldn’t help feel a little bit jealous of people who have always unschooled, kids who have always unschooled.
I have a lot of regret, shame, disappointment, sorrow about the years that I was fighting with my kids about homework or that I was fighting with them about bedtime, or that I was thinking that it was so important that they had clean clothes and clean faces and made the world think that I was a good parent from some outside judgment. It just makes me kind of sick to my stomach to think of all the mistakes I made, all the times that I didn’t do what I now realize would have been so much more fun and happier and better to do.
So, every episode, there were some that were harder than others, but every conversation I had with parents who were doing such an inspiring and beautiful job of unschooling, there was a tweak every now and then, like, I wish I didn’t make this mistake or that mistake. And sometimes I had conversations with parents, too, who had those same feelings, people who had discovered unschooling later in life. It’s hard to talk about. I think it’s important to talk about, because a lot of people feel alone. A lot of people feel too ashamed of the mistakes they’ve made to even be able to speak up about that and start doing it better.
I really appreciate the parents who were willing to say, this is what it was like before when my kids went to school and this is what it was like after. Because those kinds of before and after stories make a really big difference for new unschoolers to hear.
There were times when I would turn off the recorder and cry, just thinking, the years that I missed by pushing my kids around according to things that did not matter. The kind of schooly thinking that is just false. It’s not true that it’s going to make your kids better people, that it will make them smarter, any of that stuff. And yet, there I was enforcing those beliefs and, rather than being on my kids’ side, being on school’s side or being on rule’s side or being on adults’ side in a way that I just regret. That was, I think, a good process for me. I always feel like looking at mistakes and healing and growing is a good process, but it hurts sometimes. It’s hard to do. So, that was a part of the process for me.
PAM: That’s interesting and that’s a good point that that might be something that we don’t talk about that often, because I was at the same place too. The hugest shift was just seeing that there didn’t need to be sides. You could all just be together and helping each other out. It makes such a huge difference. Life is like night and day between before and after coming to those realizations. That’s a great point.
Something that I found really interesting when I was reading around on your website, you took a year off in 2011. I really loved how you described it on your blog at the time. So, I’m going to read a little paragraph from there.
“All three of my kids, ages 18, 20, and 23, are in transitional times of life and lately we’ve been playing with various ideas for how to accommodate their various phases when it hit me that, if my son replaced me as head of the household, everyone’s needs would be satisfied at once. It was just, voila! All I had to do was relinquish all acquired comforts and head solo into the wild unknown. My specialty!
So, tell us! Tell us! How did it go?
AMY: How did it go? I called that year my Bardo year. The Bardo, I think, is from the Tibetan Book of of the Dead. I learned the word from reading Pema Chodron, who’s a Buddhist nun who writes books that I love to read. The Bardo in Buddhist tradition is the ocean that you float through or go through after you die and before you’re born into your new life.
So, it felt sort of like that, which is a lot of different ways. I got married really young. I had my first child when I was 20. I’d never done the thing where you find yourself or go off and backpack and hitchhike and couch-surf and sit around a campfire for no reason. So, that’s partly what I was doing. I’d never traveled. I had never tried any of those things, so it was very educational for me and I grew a lot and saw a lot of new things. And it was fun and it was terrifying and it was disorienting and it was inspiring.
I think, for my kids, I think they would say they really, really liked it. They really loved the opportunity to all live together. They had never done that as adults or without a mom around. They had all gone off at different times. People had gone off to school. One of my daughters had gone and lived on a farm for a year. They were all sort of coming back, in a way.
And so, they were getting to experience each other more as adults, but also housemates and siblings. They developed things like family meetings, things that we hadn’t really ever had when I was the boss, when I was the head of the household. They decided how to do finances and chores and communications in ways that I hadn’t thought of or hadn’t known that they would want to. It was really neat to see.
They were all very interested, from different points of view, in communal living and shared resources and also extended family. They want to eventually have kids of their own, but they don’t really want to do the nuclear family thing, so they just had a lot of opportunities to talk about that and practice different things. They grew some food in the little courtyard that we have in the city downtown. I think that they would say that they really thought it was a success.
When it was over, the older two ended up both leaving. One went up to New York and one went down to Washington, DC. And my youngest was thrilled to have me come back home and have another mom. She’s like, “Oh, I’m so glad to have a mother again!” Just having somebody that made breakfast and walked with her to school or to the train. So, she wasn’t all the way done, necessarily, wanting a mom. We probably aren’t ever done. It was nice that she got to have a year off from having a mom around all the time. I did come home and visit quite a bit. And then have her mom come back and get to be a little kid again. She liked that, too. It was a really interesting time for all of us.
PAM: It sounds fascinating! I can see how, when you talked about how they were in a place in their lives at the time where it meshed really well with things that they were looking to play around with, that was really interesting.
AMY: It was lucky timing.
PAM: Yeah. It was a brilliant little thought that came into your head.
Question number eight. Tomorrow is March. In the middle of March, it will be 14 years from when my kids left school and we began unschooling. I remember back in those times when you are still very stuck in that conventional mindset and the pursuit of joy and happiness still felt like something indulgent, something you should use as a reward after you got your work for the day done.
I had no idea back then that just the concept, the motivation of pursuing joy would turn out to be the root of so much good in our lives. Cultivating our curiosity. Motivation for learning, creativity. Even just our mindset and how we approach the days. That’s how I ended up with my website name, Living Joyfully.
So, I love that you describe yourself as a happiness consultant. I was very curious how you came to use that description.
AMY: I don’t even know if I thought about it very long. It was the early 2000s and I lucked into being able to buy the AmyChilds.com website name. And I thought, I better learn how to make a website and I’ve got to call myself something. I need to make business cards. I don’t have a college degree. I needed to be earning money and I was doing a whole bunch of things, but in order to advertise it on the internet on a website, I felt like I needed one title.
I was doing daycare. I was doing preschool out of my house. I was doing homeschooling classes out of my house. But my favorite thing, actually, and what I’ve been doing ever since I was about eight, my sister was my first client, was a professional organizer. My sister paid me a dollar to organize her room when we were little kids. I just have always been a little neatnik. I just loved to get the colors in the right order and the shoes facing all the right way and I’m just that kind of a person.
Then, as an organizer, I was doing that for clients for pay, back in the day before I called myself a happiness consultant. I was doing a few workshops about organizing. And bit by bit, what I was doing would have less to do with organizing papers or organizing events or organizing files and financial systems. I do love that stuff and I was still doing that stuff. But a lot of times, questions would come up that really were more about life. I started to advise or do workshops and talk to clients about how to organize the way that we think about what we have to do, what our life has to look like, what we think are the ways that it works, and what actually is the way it works.
I was doing this before I homeschooled, before I unschooled. But I was trying to figure out what actually makes life actually work. So, I guess all those things were like, I’m trying to help people figure out how to be happy. So, I’m a happiness consultant, I guess! That’s kind of how it started. I have to say that several years later, after I’d had the website for at least four or five years, there was an HBO show called Hung that was about a male prostitute. And he called himself a happiness consultant. I just want your listeners to know, I came up with that term first!
PAM: You weren’t riffing off that in any way.
AMY: No! How rich would I be if I had patented that?
PAM: I noticed on your website, as well, that you have recently posted a couple new episodes on your podcast Whatever, Whatever, Amen. I had fun listening a little bit! Can you tell us a bit about that project?
AMY: Yeah. After I learned how to make a website and was working on my business as a happiness consultant, I decided to try out the world of podcasting. There’s a lot of things that I say to clients over and over again and I thought, well, I’ll record these things and put them on my website and then they can just listen to it and I don’t have to keep repeating myself. They can get free advice right here on my website.
So, I started figuring out how to make a podcast. I needed to have a name. Again, I was just trying to summarize this hard-to-describe business that I have. Sometimes people have felt like what I’m doing is building community, giving people a way to think about life. Sort of like a minister or a church, except for that I don’t believe in anything and I’m not religious and I didn’t want a church. But it’s sort of like it is kind of like that.
Somebody was joking around and said, “Oh. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Whatever amen.” I was like, okay. Something about that turn of phrase gave me a chuckle. The subtitle is, The Inside-Out View of Being Human, which is a little more serious. Really what I’m trying to do, is look inside of what it is to be human. That’s been my life passion, long before I knew about unschooling. And I think unschooling dovetails perfectly with that, which is why I found it.
My search is always, what does it mean to be human? What are we born into this world and how do we make sense out of what we’re doing and how do we have a good life? So, that’s what that podcast is about. I’ve done it lots of different ways. I’m always playing around with it. Every time I dramatically change the format, I call it a new season. Right now, I’m in the middle of season nine and the format for season nine is that all three of my kids, who don’t usually want to be interviewed for the podcast, over the last summer they all got inspired and excited and said, “Yeah! You should interview us for the podcast!”
So, season nine is interviewing my three kids on various topics like self-care or meditation or what it means to live a life of happiness? They’re just topics that I think are really interesting and I thought, well I’ll entertain myself at the very least by getting to record my kids. It’s kind of like a scrapbook of what my kids think in their twenties. It’s really been just fun to make. I just always think my kids are really interesting and entertaining, so I figured I would do a season of podcast featuring them and that’s what I’m in the middle of doing now.
PAM: That sounds great!
AMY: It’s really fun. And it’s fun for them to listen to what the other ones said about a topic and so it becomes a whole family discussion. We’ll be on Skype and everyone’s in different places and we’re all talking about yoga or relationships or weather or what marriage means. It’s really interesting conversations.
PAM: And it is fun to have conversations. We can have real conversation with them, right? They’re like people!
AMY: They’re real, interesting people. They’re the most interesting people I know, actually.
PAM: I know, right? We love our kids very much.
Question number ten. What I love about this question is I ask this same question of everybody that does the ten-question interview, so it’s going to be fascinating to see over time how these answers fit together. Looking back now, what, for you, has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling?
AMY: Well, the most valuable to me has been my relationship with my kids. They’re all very smart. They all ended up wanting to go to college and they all got ridiculously good grades and honors and awards and scholarships and things like that at school. I sometimes don’t even want to say that, because I think a lot of unschoolers then think, “Oh, good. If I unschool my kids, then they’ll go to college and they’ll get really good grades.” I just don’t even want people to think that has anything to do with it, really.
My oldest, he got a 4.0 grade average. He was magna cum laude as a mechanical engineer, but then after that, he threw it all away and went to go live on a farm and make $8,000 a year. So, just because somebody gets a college degree or a fancy job does not even mean that they’re going to do that.
But now, I think what they would say about unschooling is that, it’s not that they got into college or what they do for money. It’s that they have confidence that they know how to make a good life for themselves. And part of why I know that this is what they think is because of this last season of working on the podcast interviewing them. It’s been really interesting to hear them talking about their self-confidence. Not that they’re always happy or that always confident.
They do tons of things that terrify them and they struggle with anxiety and depression and uncertainty and heartbreak and stuff like that. But they have such a deep respect for themselves, like a deep, inner resource that they know that they can get through anything, that they can figure out anything, not only just because they believe in themselves, but that they know they have their siblings and they have me and they have this wide world that will help them. They know how to ask for help. They know where to ask for help. That is just what’s so reassuring about who they are as young adults, for me.
They just don’t feel that there is anything that they can’t figure out what to do about it or how to have a good life. And that goes back to the very first question of how we discovered unschooling. That was my original hope. If I can raise kids that are resilient and self-aware and self-confident and know how to be happy, what do I care what else they are? What do I care if they know algebra or if they know all that? It turns out they all know algebra way better than I do!
So, I would say that the most valuable outcome for them is their self-reliance. Well, that makes them sound really isolated. Their self-reliance, but also their understanding of how they fit into the world and the confidence that they fit into the world and that they have a community or a family or just resources within and around them.
But for me? Selfishly? My most valuable outcome is my relationship with my kids, that I got to share their growing years with them and that I get to share their years now as adults. They share their questions with me. They think out loud with me. They consider me their ally and because of that, they entertain me. Like I said, they’re better than TV and I really like TV a lot. That’s been the best outcome for me, is my relationships with them.
And I think the best outcome for them is that they feel very well-prepared for life. And they feel sorry for most people around them, who they see as not that well-prepared for life. I think they sometimes see that as a result of unschooling. I think they sometimes don’t even quite know for sure why they’re so self-confident or self-aware. But I attribute that to the whole attitude and lifestyle of unschooling and putting my relationship with them and believing in them as the most important part of raising them.
PAM: I love that, Amy. That’s perfect. At first, when you start unschooling, you have this short-term view, because you’re thinking of childhood. But the point is the relationships that you’re building for life. They last a lifetime. You’re getting to know each other and connecting so much. It’s going to pull you through all your years together, not just those compulsory school years that you’re covering.
The self-awareness and ways to engage and navigate the world that work for them, it’s amazing. Well, that’s a great place, with my goosebumps to stop. Way to go. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. I really enjoyed hearing more about what you guys are up to.
AMY: Yeah, well great. Thanks for asking me.
PAM: Oh, no problem. It was wonderful. And, before you go, where’s the best place for people to connect with you online?
AMY: Well, if you’re interested in me and all of the things, then AmyChilds.com. If you’re specifically interested in unschooling, the podcast, or anything to do with unschooling, that would be UnschoolingSupport.com, but you can also get to those links if you just remember my name Amy Childs and take it from there.
PAM: Beautiful. Thanks very much.
AMY: Sure! Thanks, Pam!