PAM: Hi everyone! Welcome to another Q&A episode. I’m Pam Laricchia from livingJoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Anna Brown and Anne Ohman. Hi to you both.
ANNA & ANNE: Hello. Hello.
PAM: Before we get started today, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has gotten in touch to say how much they are enjoying the podcast. I really appreciate knowing that it is a helpful part of your unschooling learning and journey. I want to express my own appreciation to my weekly guests for joining me and sharing their experiences. Especially to Anne and Anna who have been so wonderful to join me each month. And welcome back to Anne, because we missed you last month!
ANNE: Awe, shucks. (laughs)
ANNA: It’s not the same. (laughs)
PAM: Why don’t you start us off, Anne?
ANNE: Alrighty. I’m going to read question one from Sam, she says:
My daughter is 12 and in year 7 of high school. She is coming along nicely with her work, but is finding it hard to understand the social side of things as she is autistic. On top of this she is being bullied. We have been in school with this, but if it doesn’t stop I’m considering a school change or even home schooling. I am a little apprehensive about this for many reasons, but the main one is what will be best for her. I have a million questions and do not know who to talk to about it. Has anybody been in a similar situation? Is there any help for me in making sure my daughter receives the education she needs? I do not want to let her down and she be behind.
ANNE: Hi Sam, I hear what you are saying. I am so grateful that you are reaching out and looking for a better life for your child. I love that you have a million questions. As you know, if you have been listening to the podcasts and even from being at Pam’s wonderful unschooling website, to ask your question, we are unschoolers and are very vocal advocates of unschooling. Yes, what you are describing it sounds like your daughter would be able to feel good about herself and shine for being who she is if she were removed from this school setting. I have an article on Pam’s website that is called I Am What I Am. I would love for you to read that, in fact, it is very important for you to read it. (laughs) After you have read it hang around Pam’s website and read as much as you can because your million of questions could be answered by learning about unschooling.
What I want to say is the most important thing we can give to our children, is a nurturing, encouraging, loving and celebratory environment. So that they know for sure who they are is exactly who they should be. Your daughter needs to know this. That she is absolutely perfect as she is, in this moment. It is crucial that we remove our children from any environment that is sending a message contrary to that one and that we create a world for them where that message is reinforced every moment of every day. So do not wait to see if harmful bullying will stop. Create that world for her right now, where you are. Allow it to continue in all her tomorrows. This is crucial for her.
ANNA: I’ll jump in! Really, all I have to add and it is just really a reiteration. Just focus on your child, on your relationship with her, who she is. As she is celebrated, you will see her grow and learn and be living her best life. That is a guarantee. You know, read, read, read, read, attend a summit, find mentors. It is really all about just connecting with your child. Start there in that relationship and the rest will just flow. Those fears and the overwhelm from all the questions and things will really just fade away because you will be seeing who your child is. The two of you will be creating and environment that works for you both.
PAM: Absolutely Sam, it is wonderful that you are considering her leaving school. That you are focusing on your daughter and what is going to work well for her. To assure you, yes, many unschooling parents have come from similar situations of taking their older children out of school. My eldest, turned ten just a couple of weeks after he left school. It is definitely possible and it can definitely be wonderful. As Anne and Anna both mentioned, your next step, to answer all these questions is just to learn more about unschooling. When you are on my website, check out my free introductory book. And my first book Free to Learn also digs into those big initial paradigm shifts that you are going to encounter as you move from that conventional school perspective to an unschooling one. There are quite a few blog posts about getting started. I will link to all that kind of stuff in the show notes for you. I think you are in for a really great ride. I really look forward to the fun you and your daughter will be having.
ANNA: I have question two, it is from Alicia.
Hi, I realize you guys have covered the topic of screen time numerous times in the Q&A so I understand that this question maybe too repetitive to address but here I go… My children are six, three, and one and my eldest is still in school. I’d love to pull him out right now but he wants to finish year one and my husband is feeling as though we need to be more ready. So I’m trying to be patient and just trying to live life with the same principals but with my son attending school.
My concerns are around my daughter (she is 3), she goes straight to the computer when she wakes up and starts surfing YouTube, I can see she enjoys the different types of storytelling she finds but I often wonder if she will be constantly interested in YouTube as there are SO many interesting things that get suggested to her. She doesn’t seem to initiate getting off the computer unless she has no choice, i.e I need it for work, which is rare. When she is not on the computer she loves all types of play and spending time outside but she doesn’t initiate any of these activities once she has started on the computer. I offer myself and games I know she enjoys but she rarely takes me up on it. I also sit with her and watch when I can get a chance. So how do I work out if this is a genuine interest, or if she is going there by default or getting stuck there, or is this a reaction to my previous views of controlling screen time? I guess I want to know how I can tell if my environment is engaging enough/offering her enough choices and how other people go about setting up their home environment.
ANNA: One of the first things that comes to mind, is I have a dear friend and she calls it “YouTube University,” it is pretty amazing what can be found there. Really what I want to say is that it may be offering her a lot more than you think.
I always make sure that I’m offering myself. I think in the situation that you described, there is a baby also. I think sometimes older kids feel that they need to be out of the way. They take care of that in the best way that they can. Also, I think, if there have been previous restrictions, I imagine you WILL see a surge in interest as she now has the freedom to really follow those rabbit holes, and rabbit holes are great fun and such a bit part of our unschooling life. But eventually, you satiate that curiosity about whatever that is, you come up for air and you move to a new interest. So my first reaction to it is give it time, watch those natural ebbs and flows develop. The priority for me would be to remain connected and available. You will see how that flows from there.
PAM: I will say that I do love that we are getting so many questions about this particular issue because it shows that it is a really pervasive question for people so I’m happy that we keep answering them over and over because each one is from a little different perspective.
Just to note when you talk about setting up home environment. A couple of weeks ago on the podcast, episode 19, I spoke with Jody Lilley. We talked some about how her home is set up with kids in mind. So it might be interesting to listen to that episode if you haven’t yet Alicia.
Reiterating some of what Anna said, you mentioned that you previously had been controlling your children’s’ computer and TV time. So it definitely could be her wish to just engage a lot in it right now because she just doesn’t yet quite trust that it will always be there for her to use. One thing that I thought I’d mention, and you alluded to it Anna, was to think strongly about dropping the word screen time from your vocabulary. That is a really generic term that doesn’t really mean much when you are talking about your child’s interests. You said, all the different rabbit holes that you can find, just inside YouTube and just inside all the different kinds of channels on TV, just inside just about any kind of tool that they use rather than just calling it the screen itself. I think that can really help you dig into more of the motivations behind the choice.
I also think that time is really the answer to try and figure out what her motivations are behind her choice. When you watch with her and see what she is watching, enjoy it with her. Not with the air of disapproval, but to really see what SHE is loving about it. When you offer up other things, doing it without a tone that implies you wish she would make another choice. That helps HER see that you are supporting HER choices. She notices that staying to watch IS a choice that she is actually making over other possibilities. You can celebrate HER and her love of what she is seeing.
You can make things comfy for her, chat about it. Play in those worlds. That is going to give you all sorts of more information to see what it is that is drawing her to YouTube and the computer. Over time that kind of information is going to let you know whether she is watching with a genuine interest and what that particular interest is. Or maybe you will discover that it was more of a need to fill up on what she feels she has missed up to that point. When she truly feels that trust that she can watch anytime, that marginal utility falls (as Pam Sorooshian was talking about back in Episode Two) and she feels freer to choose other things more often. So just do what you have been talking about doing. Giving it time and you will get a lot more information to understand what she is up to and really help focus on the joy that she is getting out of it.
ANNE: The information that you are getting from observing her is what you put in your bank to build up the trust you have in her. Pam mentioned that your child is building up trust in you. This is your time to build up your trust in her, no matter what you see on the outside. I have a suggestion also, to use this time (if you are kind of hovering) to do something that you would love to explore. Maybe close by to her and she can see that you have your interests that you love to be engaged in also. That is a beautiful healthy thing to be doing, where you both are doing what you want to be doing and you trust each other in your own spaces.
I am the director of a little rural library. I love it so much when kids come in and they light up when they start talking to me about all the stuff they learned on YouTube. It happens all the time. I light up when I’m talking to them and we have fantastic conversations. In the background of our conversations are their parents usually rolling their eyes and making comments about how yeah, their child is ALWAYS watching YouTube videos. I can’t believe that the parents can’t see what the child is excited about, what the child has gotten of such value from the YouTube videos that connects with who they are and what they love.
Of course, the parents’ perspective is they should be doing their homework, they should be cleaning the house, they should be doing all these other things, instead of watching YouTube videos. We as unschoolers, we do not have to view it that way. We can see them light up with what they are getting from it. So when we see our children on the computer, my whole thing is, who are we to assume that we know better what they should be doing other than being on the computer. There is SO much going on inside of them ALL the time. So much they do not share with us. Whether they are on the computer because it is an interest or whether it is a refuge from some difficult things that they want distraction from, that doesn’t matter. We can either push them away by inserting our agenda and fears and expectation, or we can connect with them through it all on the basis of trust. That is where everything is going to come from. Honoring where they are at this point in their lives and who they are in this moment, is really crucial in seeing beyond what you are seeing right now. As Pam said calling it screen time, it is there for a reason.
PAM: I love the point of also doing something you enjoy alongside because that is just showing that this is how we pursue the things we love. That is the focus not just the interest itself.
PAM: Question from Maggie:
Could you address unschooling and depression. In my case, specifically maternal depression, which I try to embrace as it’s likely my kids will have to slog through challenges of being a human living in modern society while also on spinning planet earth, and I believe it is helpful for us to be real with each other, and to acknowledge the work it takes to truly pursue happiness.
However, there are times that my depression is sufficiently debilitating and my unschooling begins to border on neglect. Though I fiercely work to prevent this and assure their surTHRIVEal. I am hopeful there are other parents who, with their sage perspective and years of experience could reflect on this topic and ideally reassure me, that as usual, everything will be alright. Then there is the whole topic of kids with mental health challenges.
PAM: Maybe you want to add that as another question in the future, Maggie. I do want to thank you very much for your question and I am sorry that you are dealing with these challenges. I think it is great that you are not trying to hide your depression. Instead, you are bringing it out into the open where you guys can work together through those more challenging times.
As for other perspectives, when I’m looking at the bigger picture, I think there is one thing to consider. Your children may not, need not, see the world through the same filters that you do; namely, as having to slog through challenges of being a human living in modern society. So, handing them the vision that life is something to slog through seems to be at odds with your wish for them to thrive. Because it assumes from the get go a negative perspective and that can really get in the way, for them, of seeing the world as a place full of possibilities. So, that might be something you might like to consider. That perspective also comes through in your very interesting new word ‘surTHRIVEal’, I thought that was really cool. I do love the idea of thriving. I remember when I brought my kids out of school I used that concept to describe that move saying that I wanted my kids to thrive, not just survive. Yet I completely replaced the word survive. Rather than assuming that surviving is always part of the picture, I dropped the idea of survive and completely went with thrive as the focus.
The other thing that occurred to me is the idea of building a support system for you and your children, for the times when your feeling your depression is more debilitating, as you mentioned. I think that can be a great example for your kids that we can ask others for help when we need it. It can help you feel better knowing there are some people around who will help with supporting your children’s needs so that they do not feel neglected when you are needing to take some time to do your own work.
ANNA: I think for all of us, a lot of our unschooling work as parents is to make sure that we are healthy and engaged. For me personally, that means eating good food, getting outside. Sunshine is so critical for me and we are on day four of no sunshine this week, so I’m feeling it. Be it meditation or yoga or something that helps quite my mind. For us along this journey because we have dealt with it, a few of us, that there are some helpful herbal supplements and things we found along the way, I love to drink mushroom coffee because it helps the body utilize oxygen more efficiently. I’m not really sure if that is where this question is going, but I do have a list that I send to people who ask me about depression and anxiety, from a natural perspective. We can post in the comments if anyone wants to see it.
For me, I found it is really as simple and as completely complex as choosing to see the world from a place of joy, choosing to see the magic and wonder. During dark times I just keep it simple, looking for sparks of joy and magic to carry me through each step. It helps to remember that each persons’ journey is their own. I think you touched on that Pam. So, we just need to make sure we are not handing them our baggage or lens or definitions.
That is kind of a part of it too, realizing that they have their own lens and their own journey that they are looking and seeing the world. We do not have to hand them ours. I see part of our work as parents is creating this childhood with unconditional love, acceptance, and joy. That can be such a wonderful gift and foundation for our children. I see in this question, that Maggie wants that. It is just a part of realizing that you are doing that and you can create that. Your children will have that foundation with which to go forward. They will just build on that.
ANNE: Both of you took the words right out of my mouth. The part that hit me the most is what I speak about (at the Childhood Redefined Summit) that what we are handing to our children and that shift alone, to change that perspective will open up so many possibilities. You guys touched the subject so well already, thank you.
ANNE: Question four from Marie:
My family has been unschooling for two years, and we’ve been saying “yes” more and more, whenever we can. Yes to getting messy, yes to staying up, yes to ice cream! So far, it has just been little things (like food or stuffed animals or going to the park) that the girls (5 and 7) have asked for. I love how close I am with my kids when they know that I am on their side and will help them with their goals.
Today my partner asked me: what is a good way to answer the children if they ever ask us to buy them expensive things? As the girls’ world grows I’m sure one day they will. My partner comes from a well-off family, so something a bit more expensive would be within our means. Our family has always lived a pretty simple lifestyle (my spouse and I like it this way), but it doesn’t seem right to keep any part of reality, including our financial situation, a secret from children who are learning about the world.
Knowing my children, they wouldn’t feel good about an explanation like “I’m trying to teach you the meaning of money” if they ask me for expensive toys. We love the relationship with our girls unschooling has given us, and we want them to know we are there for them! But we want them to grow up grounded about money. What can we say?
ANNE: Hi Marie! I love how your question felt like you were thinking out loud during so much of it and it was really wonderful. Those parts are so good and so spot on. You are right that it is not right to keep things a secret from your kids when you are living real life with each other. Or to say things like I am trying to teach you the meaning of language when it has no meaning to their real life and what is happening right in front of them. They will learn all that they will learn from living your very real lives with your very real financial situation. All of our children, no matter our family’s financial situation, have an abundance of THE most important thing, possibilities. Everything our children desire is full of infinite possibilities for their lives because that desire came from within themselves from a part of who they are. To me, this is what we say “yes” to. We are not so much saying yes to the material items. We are not even really saying “yes” to getting messy, staying up late and eating ice cream. We are saying “yes” to who THEY are and what they are drawn to and to the infinite possibilities that come from those things, from the very core of their being-ness.
I think if we shift our thinking and understand that, so much opens up in our lives. Within that energy, if any of our children ask for something that was a big ticket item, I believe we should proceeded with it as if it were any other item, not giving it more or less weight to it because of its cost. The thing about the request that you are saying, most likely won’t come out of thin air. One day your child is not going to wake up and ask for a Mustang convertible. You know your children and you are a student of your children. You are living your rich full lives with them in every way.
So all along this path of living your lives you are having enthusiastic and passionate conversations about their interests, their questions, their desires, their intentions all that is happening along the way. So when they have the spark of an idea, the specific spark of an idea or desire that they want, those are more conversations. In my family often includes the question that is a spring board to allowing their desires to manifest. How can we make this happen? What follows that question are more possibilities. If it is possible to make that happen right away because you have the money, well then how wonderful is that, really? My point is that every child should be able to wake up and feel that their desires and needs and interests are within their reach. We the parents are saying yes to their very being-ness. Because we want to reflect the generous universe that also says “yes” to following that which comes from within us. That is the focus of our lives in my family. My parental energy says yes to all that my child is. “Yes” to how awesome it is that he knows himself and knows that he has this desire. In our home, saying “yes” is rarely an answer to can “I do” or “can I have”, because of how we participate in their ideas together all along the way. The conversations we have, I am there every step of the way to help them pave the path of their infinite possibilities no matter what it is.
ANNA: I’ll jump in. We talk very openly with our kids about money and why we make the decisions we do. How we are living our life financially and otherwise. We do talk about being good stewards of the money we have. I also believe of living a life of abundance and generosity. These are things we talk about openly from the time the kids were very, very young. I think what may be behind this question too is, as we have this view in society that this spoiling of children really comes from throwing money at children. Throwing things at them, it is to distract them, to get them out of our way, to do what every. That is so different from our unschooling lives. What I have seen with my kinds who are now 16 and 18, when they come with an idea, like a spark—like Anne said—of something they want, be it something not expensive or expensive, that is coming from this true place inside of them. Whether we had the money or didn’t have the money, that is what I’m excited about. Can we do it right away? Maybe. Or do we need to figure out a way to make that happen? I think that is the difference.
You can not really look at society’s view of children and put it into our unschooling ways because it is so different. What I found with both my kids is they are super frugal, super aware of money, even though we have had the ability to pursue travel and different opportunities and things that have been more expensive. It is because we are following that spark. My husband and I do the same thing. We follow that spark inside of us to find ways to have the things that bring us joy. When you are pursuing things that bring you joy it is such a different feel, more than just this idea that we are showering kids with things. That is not what it is about. It is about that spark and that joy.
PAM: The idea of spoiling children. As you mentioned, there is a huge difference in the motivations behind our actions, a difference between unschooling actions and conventional actions. I have a long blog post that digs into it. Conventionally, when parents give their children gifts and things they are asking for, mostly it is for birthdays and holidays. If it is done beyond that it is usually done as a reward. You get something for a good report card, or for good behavior at the dentist, for having done their chores for a whole month. There is some sort of negotiation around it. Even after the item is purchased, it is still used to control behavior. They will take it away for punishment for doing or not doing something. Take it away for a week or a day or however long they think is just.
When children see that the material things they get most consistently are as a reward, they learn to expect to get things whenever they perform something they think their parents want them to do. That is how it gets framed in their mind: “I did this so you should get me that.” The conversations that revolve around that, revolve around the child’s behavior and whether or not the item is worthy of reward for whatever they did.
In contrast, as we were talking about, when unschooling parents buy their children something, it is linked to an interest. They are helping their child pursue something that they are interested in. We are looking to support joy in their learning. What children learn in that situation is completely different. They are learning that their interests are valued and that their parents will help them pursue their interests. All the conversations (that you both talked about) that you have around that, are not at all to do with the child’s behavior, but they are about the item in question and its value in their lives and ways to make it happen. Those are the great conversations that are about value. Kids are going to learn so much more useful stuff about valuing money. Conversations that you are wanting to have with them, those are actually going to happen so much more openly and easily when there is the possibility of anything out there. Just like with any topic with unschooling our children, they are going to learn that really great stuff when we are out exploring the possibilities rather than trying to control them with restrictions. My kids are older now but that is the way I have always seen in play out, it is really special.
ANNA: We are on question five and it is a question from Julie:
I am an unschooling mom of three kids. I was inspired by Pam Sorooshian’s discussion of TV and screen time. It is a topic I’m very interested in and have wrestled with a lot. After absorbing the ideas in that episode, I made some changes that have had a very positive impact! Specifically, I’ve joined my kids in what they were watching and started to get into it and excited about it with them, appreciating how it made them laugh or was interesting to them. My children are young: 7, 5, and 3. My question is—how does the “no limits on screen time” idea work with very young children. Did any of you veteran unschoolers do this from birth on, or is there an age when it seemed more appropriate to allow free rein on this particular issue?
ANNA: So there is that “screen time” word again. (I like the idea, let’s just abolish that word, and just talk about what they are doing and whatever.) We really have never had any limits from birth. We have never had any limits when it comes to how we are pursuing our interests. I found when my kids were very little, TV and those kind of things, (computers) weren’t really a big interest. They wanted to be with me. They wanted to play in the dirt. They liked making things, cooking, exploring the world. We did enjoy down time together, watching shows together.
I introduced the DS because I knew we would love doing it. We all three got DSs so we could play Animal Crossing. I introduced Zoombinis and some computer games years and years ago that we all really enjoyed. For me, it is one tool in the sea of many tools and options. I think it only becomes charged through our personal baggage or worry about what other people think. When you look at it, it is just a tool, like a book or a play set or anything that enriches our lives. That is how we have always approached it. Over the past 18 years, my girls have had times where computers and TVs have played a big role in their day to day life, and times where it has played almost no role at all. It isn’t the boogie man people make it out to be. If we look at what we are doing, what we are enjoying about it, what is it bringing to our lives and stop charging it. It is no different from books and things and maybe that can change that energy and you see that more natural ebb and flow.
PAM: That was awesome Julie, hearing about your experience and how choosing to join your children and how having fun with them and learning more about what they are finding interesting is really awesome. As we talked about in the earlier question, when we view it so generally it can stop us from digging deeper into discovering what it is that the child’s actually interested in.
Speaking of language, there are a couple other phrases in there too, “no limits” and “free rein” that also spark for me because they imply leaving our children to their own devices rather than being actively engaged with them. So whether it is TV or games, or bedtime, or whatever it is, we don’t leave our children in the crazy emptiness of no limits and free rein. Rather, it is a perspective of actively helping them explore their world, which will naturally follow whatever it is that is drawing their attention in the moment.
By staying engaged with them we are going to be seeing those clues in their actions and their behaviors that helps us clarify and anticipate their needs. Maybe if they are getting bored or getting tired (especially when they are younger) we can help them move through those moments when they are not quite yet able to identify for themselves what is going on. These kinds of tools, as Anna was saying, they wax and wane. I don’t really thing it is an age thing, there is not a “too young” or “too old” for anything, it is completely personal to the individual and the things that they are fascinated by.
Rather than thinking of it as free rein, I like to think of it as exploration. That may seem like semantics, but in my experience it changes the perspective with which we come at the moment. As a result, it changes our actions from stepping back to letting them explore, from giving them free rein to do whatever, to being with them and engaging with them and helping them better understand what is going on. Helping them move through any challenges they see before they blow up in their face. Then when things get really bad, we notice. It is really part of being with them and engaging with them, rather than just leaving them off on their own to go watch TV or go whatever.
ANNE: I have one more point about the no limits on screen time. Just the energy of that has never been present in our home. Reading about it, the problem I see is that kids are so smart. We are demonizing something that defines it in their eyes as something that mom doesn’t want us to do, which gives the thing more power. If we don’t have a policy of no limits on vegetables and no limits on books and yet we have an energy of no limits on screen time and no limits on sugar, no limit on all this other stuff, obviously it is giving power to those things that we are judging and demonizing.
It is so taken out of context of our lives, as Anna had been saying, and to just get rid of that builds complete trust with everything. It allows them to have the freedom to follow their inner compass instead of doing that which they think mom approves of or disapproves of. It is really important for them to be in touch with defining it for themselves and how they need it and how they enjoy it and how they feel while they are using it, instead of how we feel about it.
PAM: It is always supporting them while they have the choices in front of them. It is not really a free choice for them to learn about themselves when their thoughts are also considering whatever our judgment is. They can feel, like you said Anne, the energy, you can feel when somebody is judging your actions even if they are not saying it out loud.
PAM: Our last question is from Amber, she writes:
I am the mother of a daughter (8 years old). I am now pregnant with my second, and there’s a chance the baby will be born with Down Syndrome. I am worried sick, and some information may help me. Is it possible to unschool a child with a developmental disability? The information I have been reading recommends lots of therapy, and dietary control since children with Down Syndrome are prone to obesity. After seeing my daughter flourish with unschooling, I’d love to give the same to this future child.
PAM: Hi Amber, I am sorry that you are feeling worried and anxious. You are right, more information may well help you process this and have an idea of what you might choose to do in the next few months. First off, it is definitely possible to unschool a child with developmental disabilities—with any disability.
The really great thing with unschooling is that the focus is on the child and their unique needs. When you are not pushing them through external hoops and schedules, you have the time to be with them, the time to go to appointments, time to help them with whatever it is that they are wanting to do at what ever pace they are able or want to do it. The time to really SEE them, support them in the ways that will be most helpful. You will also know your child so well that you will be able to make choices about therapy and lifestyle that are going to work specifically for your child and your family. Rather than feeling that they need to be tied to external and generic progress measurements it really is a whole different atmosphere. It does absolute wonders for children who are not within the mainstream, typical, developmental or physical range of abilities.
ANNE: Amber, I hear you and I love that you are asking this question to ease your mind, to unschool. Yes, yes, yes, the answer is YES! I’m just going to say what I always say, all children shine when they are celebrated for being who they are. Honestly, unschooling is the only path that truly allows that.
I do not know if you have an unschooling community around you or if you have been to an unschooling conference. I just want to convey that at my We Shine conferences, how they are such a mix of SO many different kinds of people. Nobody is seen as having disabilities or anything like that. We just come together with this deep joyful connection that we have from our true spirits. Not what is on the outside that society wants to fix. Just to have that energy of celebration for being who we are, for being gloriously unique.
My older son, I always say he has been gloriously unique. The first unschooling conference we went to, the minute he was around the energy of people who were unschoolers, he relaxed into who he was. He is somebody who always had his guard up when we were out in mainstream because he never felt he could be completely who he was. To be surrounded by people that celebrate everybody seriously for who they are and get to know people on the inside, that is what unschooling is. We cut through everything and we see into each others true selves. I really suggest you surround yourselves with that energy as you go forth with unschooling your new family. It is going to be incredible and an incredible experience for you.
ANNA: Because unschooling focuses on our relationships with our child, it is such a wonderful option for children with any type of special needs or concerns. You are able to easily provide an environment that supports your child’s development and temperament whatever that could be. That is something that is so helpful for all children. Traditional therapies as you have seen, really can plow through who a child is in favor of making them who society wants them to be, and what I love about the unschooling families that I know is that they truly focus on the love and the gift for all their children. Boy do you see these kids shine. Just like Anne said, there is no “this person, that person,” it is just look at them, everybody is just shining and doing what they love. It just really makes your heart sing. It is something that you are going to take day by day. If you keep that focus on the relationship between your child with that as your guiding priority, you are going to create this beautiful life together that you will both enjoy.
ANNE: Within any family, with our children, it requires different levels of our connection, of our joyful work as unschooling parents. That is the same with yours, if not differently levels, different types, each child is so unique and requires different things form us. As Anna was saying, we create our lives around offering to them, handing to them, a life where they are seen and celebrated, instead of trying to be fixed.
PAM: That’s beautiful. It is so different for each child. That is the lovely thing, that you are supporting them uniquely for who they are and helping them with their goals. Day to day you don’t even think about it as goals per se, I’m not thinking, “Ooh I wonder what Michael’s goal is today.” No, you are in conversation with all the time. Even when they are younger, just seeing what they are trying to do it is all about supporting the individual wherever they are.