PAM: Hi, everyone. I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Robin Bentley. Hi, Robin!
ROBIN: Hi, Pam!
PAM: I have known Robin online for many years and am so excited to finally get to speak to her. I know we both…
PAM: Right? I know we both share a love for supporting our children and their passions, so I’m really looking forward to swapping stories and sharing our thoughts about it all. And to get us started Robin …
Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?
ROBIN: Okay, well, we’re Canadians. I was born in Victoria, Ross and Senna were both born in Vancouver. And we’ve been living in Washington State for the last 14 years, because of Ross’ work. He’s a former professional race car driver, and currently coaches drivers and runs an all-things-driving company.
I edit his stuff; sometimes badly, but mostly pretty good. And I’m his sort of bounce-things-off-of person. Hmmm, let’s see. Senna, she’s 23 now, and so we’re officially, officially done with the unschooling—homeschooling, unschooling—but she’s still with us and she loves all things art and gaming and dressing up and, yeah, so, you know, here she is, and we are still supporting her in many ways.
PAM: That’s awesome.
ROBIN: And I teach hula and play the ukulele and I sing an unschooling parents rock band. Those are the things I like to do.
PAM: Oh, that’s very fun! I did not know that bit!
ROBIN: That sort of came up sort of all by chance, the rock band thing.
PAM: Very interesting.
ROBIN: At a conference actually.
PAM: That’s often how we meet up and connect, right?
ROBIN: Yeah, no kidding.
I’m curious to hear about way back when you first discovered unschooling, and what your family’s move to unschooling looked like.
ROBIN: Well, I guess it all started when I was a very new mom, and I attended a La Leche League meeting, and I got to know some of my first leaders, and then the ones that I joined as a leader, because I was a leader there for a little while, And they all unschooled their kids, and so, through some of the mums that I met there, we met up with the local unschooling group, and they had meetings every month and singing days, which were the perfect place to get together and connect with people and do what we all love together, and the kids could play or sing or whatever, and they had gym days and just gatherings, basically. Sometimes classes and that sort of thing, so, like pottery.
And it was sort of, you know, floating along somewhat like attachment parenting stuff, and then, around the time that Senna turned six—and we were still in Canada at the time—I discovered Always Learning and the unschooling.com group, and I started reading Sandra Dodd and Pam Sorooshian and Joyce Fetteroll’s writings, and that is where I started to really make the shift. Because I found that attachment parenting was a good starting place, but it seemed a little full of control to me after a while, so having the experience of people who had been there, done that sort of thing, I guess, set me on that path.
PAM: That’s really interesting. So, did you hear the term unschooling at the La Leche League group and in that area? Because, I’m just curious. How did you find unschooling online?
ROBIN: They did talk about unschooling. Unschooling looked a little different I think, compared to what I’ve learned, for me anyways, what it means. I guess some of them would be relaxed homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, you know, sort of veering into unschooling. But I wouldn’t have called it radical unschooling, perhaps? Maybe that’s the difference. I was on a couple of yahoo groups in Canada, and they seemed to be more of a mix, and it wasn’t just unschoolers—it was kind of all over the map. But, you know, I still have friends from those groups, and we may not do things exactly the same, but we still put our kids sort of at the forefront, so…
PAM: Yeah, and you connect… You connect over the things that you connect with, right?
That’s one of the things that I think about with kids and their interests. You know, people who want to kind of put their kids together because they’re unschoolers? It’s better if they have something that connects them that they are both interested in. “Oh, let’s meet some unschoolers.” Well, some of those unschoolers, they may never see anything in common.
PAM: That’s a great point, because I find that finding other unschoolers is a better connection for the parents because, for the parents, unschooling is an interest, whereas for the children it’s just what they’re living.
ROBIN: It’s just what they’re doing.
PAM: Right, exactly, it’s just what they’re doing.
I’m curious to hear, we are going to dive right in now, what your daughter’s interests are and I’d love to hear how you are supporting them as she pursues them.
ROBIN: Her interests currently are digital art, which she does. And mostly, she’s done a lot of art for herself, but now she’s doing commissions for people.
She’s been a gamer for a long time. She started mostly with Pokemon and a DS. And that went into World of Warcraft and Guild Wars and a bunch of other things online. Of course, she loves cosplay and we like to conventions together.
So, no, she didn’t start with all those things. She had all sorts of passions when she was really young. She loved horses and she loved riding, and for many years that’s what she did. And then, all of the sudden, she was done. The horses started to scare her a little more and it was more uncomfortable for her to be around them. So, she was happy to let that go. I wasn’t so sure I was happy to let it go, because she was really good at it, but she lost her teacher, she lost her horse, and I think that made a big difference to her. So, you know, having a connection with the right instructor and the right animal really made a difference to her, and so if that wasn’t there she was kinda done. So that was one thing.
She did a lot of crafting in clay. Pokemon, World of Warcraft characters, that sort of thing, but mostly Pokemon. And she hasn’t done that in a long time, but she draws them now so that’s how that shifted. She liked to collect things. She wasn’t a Pokemon card player, but man, does she have a lot of Pokemon cards! Because she liked them for the art. That’s one of the things that we have boxes and boxes of, and she’ll take them with her whenever she goes.
She really liked the CSI movies, or the TV show, at one time. So, we started a collection of that, and we had family members buy her a season or whatever, so she’s got that to take with her at some time.
PAM: That’s one of the things that I love, because it’s when you look back that you can see the threads and the connections that run through it. How her art shifted from clay to sculpture to digital drawing, probably had a paper-drawing stage, and then into digital…
ROBIN: Yeah, she did.
PAM: And then you know, horses, animals, into Pokemon. Like, you can see how all of it sort of feeds each other thing, right?
At one time she was into Warrior Cats, the books, and she’d draw those, and all the animal stuff, that’s actually one of the ways she learned to read—to her satisfaction. That’s what she made the point of saying; that was through playing Zoo Tycoon. She said, “When I could read ‘reticulated giraffe’, I knew I was reading.” I knew she was reading before that, but it was up to her to make that decision about whether or not she was reading to her satisfaction.
So yeah, all the animal stuff has, now it’s Pokemon, it’s all the animals she has in her games—when she plays World of Warcraft, she has pets. And it’s all of a piece.
ROBIN: And now she owns little ratties! I have rat grandbabies. They’re so cute!
PAM: That’s something that I find so fascinating, now we’ve got older kids now. My kids are all in their twenties now as well. And looking back and seeing all of the things that they did.
Like, I remember when Lissy was 12, 13, she was really interested in going to shows—going to concerts, but she preferred to call them shows—which is fine. And that was something that took me a little bit to get comfortable with, because it wasn’t an environment in which I was naturally comfortable.
But, my goodness, looking back now, that was such a valuable piece of her experience! My contribution was really driving her to shows, and at first, I was staying at the shows, you know, so that she knew I was there in case she was uncomfortable. But eventually, I started enjoying going in with her. So, we would be going to one, two, three shows a month. It’s not that these were expensive things—she wanted to go to these alternative shows in clubs, so tickets were like ten bucks or something. But I had so much fun supporting her, and seeing her joy.
But now I look back … at one of the shows we were at, the girl that opened at one mentioned that she was from New York, and this was right before Lissy was moving to New York, and I said “Great! Why don’t you email her and say you’re going to be there?” And they ended up meeting for coffee and they became really good friends.
ROBIN: That’s so cool!
PAM: Lissy is actually in New York, and now Lissy stays with her when she goes out to LA, and she shot her album cover. And Lissy has discovered with her photography that she enjoys working with musicians, and now, look at all these connections from, you know, ten years ago in her life. She knows so much about those shows and can connect with musicians on that level while she works with them in her photography.
ROBIN: That’s so cool.
PAM: You just have no idea!
ROBIN: You have no idea.
Just support them in what they are drawn to and you’re just creating this foundation of life for them. That they can draw from and connect. I think that’s the hardest part at first, that you never know. If you’re expecting some sort of reward or some sort of positive, immediate outcome from this, to see something out of it, that’s missing the point, because it can be a decade later, right?
ROBIN: I was thinking of that because it’s real easy, when you think of supporting your child’s interest, ‘Well, if I support them doing this, then maybe they’ll be that.’ ‘I’ll give them access to animals and we can have animals and we can go volunteer at the vet and then maybe they’ll be a vet.’ You overlay this thing on them that they might be interested in, but it puts a lot of pressure on a person to say, “Ok, this is the path that you’re going to take.” And we just really have no idea!
When parents have set their children on a path, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to stay on it anyway. I was listening to a thing on CBC the other day, how this family wanted their daughter to become a lawyer, and she went through university, she got a really good job with an oil and gas company, then she quit and became a comedian—a standup comedian! Her parents weren’t very happy with that. I think they’re ok with it now.
I think in Lissy’s case, you support them where they are now, because you don’t know how that’s going to turn out in the end, and what you’ve got is right now, right?
PAM: That’s right! And I think it’s a big shift that I found as part of my deschooling really, if you want to talk about it that way, is losing that expectation that this is going to turn into “something.” Because that “something” is our conventional expectation. We are still looking for that productivity piece, still looking for things to be “good,” you know what I mean? That everything we do needs to be an investment in our future.
No. But to realize the value in that moment of supporting your child as they are pursuing their interests and passions. And just letting their effort reflect that, that love for them, that support for them.
And you know, for me, what it turned into? Right back to the roots of unschooling: just being curious. ‘How, someday, might this weave in?’ Because you can see just how much of it has woven together, can’t you?
ROBIN: Yep. Are we fangirls about this or what?
PAM: [laughing] Okay, I want to hear one of your stories about…I shared a Lissy story. I’ve got other stories too, but what’s something that you’ve enjoyed supporting your daughter? And I guess we can tie that into the next question too.
How have you found the things that you’re doing supporting your daughter ended up being positive experiences for you?
ROBIN: I guess the thing that I think about most is Senna’s gaming. Now, I’m not a gamer. I did try to play World of Warcraft. I find, cause I’m old, that I get kinda queasy in the game, so I wanted to learn about it without having to play it. So, I would talk to her, let her tell me her stories about what was going on. I’d read. They have some lore books, some, you know, paperback books about the stories about World of Warcraft. I’d get the manual, like the, ummm, game manual?
PAM: The strategy guide?
ROBIN: Yeah that strategy guide! I couldn’t think of the word. And looked through that and try to understand from that point of view. I just listened a lot and did a little research on my own.
And the same when she branched off into more DS gaming with like Japanese games, Fire Emblem in particular, which we’ve talked about. And then, starting with World of Warcraft and Pokemon, I could take it to a place where I was able to support her and even be a little bit a part of it even though I wasn’t a gamer, and that was with the cosplay.
Making costumes or having costumes made, going to conventions, reading about the games or asking her to tell me about them, or sitting there and watching her play, all connected us in a way that I didn’t expect to have happen. So, I found my way to support her that I’ve also enjoyed, and I’ve learned a lot through that. It’s been a really good journey.
And we’re still cosplaying together which is kinda fun.
PAM: When I mentioned going to a lot of shows before. And at first I was going to support her, but then, yes, you who through this purpose where you realize what value it holds for you as well. And you know what? It would have been perfectly fine if eventually we were both comfortable and I’d dropped her off—that would have been fine.
Yet, I found through the experience that we had so many deeper connections. I enjoyed watching. I enjoyed learning the music and the bands, and we would listen to the bands as we were driving around town to whatever. So, I enjoyed the music. I enjoyed seeing these alternative, young adult bands. They were doing something they were passionate about, and to just watch them, you know, they are now freed from high school, and they were touring, you know, in the back of a van.
ROBIN: Oh my gosh.
PAM: And they are just so passionate about what they are doing. They are just so excited to be up there. And it was just so much fun to see them. And she’d be, you know, in the mosh pit…
ROBIN: That’s awesome.
PAM: And I’d be further back, and we’d see different things and we’d have long conversations in the car on the drive home.
You know, as you were mentioning with the cosplay, you find so often, things that you enjoy as well, things that you enjoy together. You can make the shift from ‘I’m doing it for them,’ to ‘This is something that we are doing together.’
ROBIN: Yeah, exactly.
And I was thinking how, if I didn’t be involved, or find a way for her to be involved, then there would be things that I had learned nothing about, like constructing costumes, which I am still learning and will probably continue to learn! Because it’s so hard!
I didn’t realize how difficult it was to make a costume from someone’s art. Because you can do anything with your art! And then when you try to construct it, you go, ‘That doesn’t even make sense!’ So, it’s a puzzle, it’s almost like an engineering puzzle, which kind of appeals to me.
And so, you watching those bands and going, ‘You know, I never would have gone or listened to them if I wasn’t with my daughter.’ We go to the Seattle Sakura-Con, each year, it’s the Japanese Anime Convention—lots of art and lots of cosplay, lots of panels, that kind of thing. Even in that case I had, sort of, expectations of what she wanted to do, and I’d go “Do you want to go to the panel on Pokemon?” and she’d go, “Nah. I wanna go talk to the artists!” “Oh, ok.” Or, “I just want to walk around in my cosplay. I want to be part of the photoshoot.”
So, she meets people and that kind of thing, but not doing the things that other people do. She has her own way of doing it. I said, “Cool.” I volunteered officially this year for Sakura-Con, which was a little bit different for me to see it at the other side, cause I’m always a volunteer wherever I go. I got to be with them—she and her friends—while also do my own thing! Which was pretty cool.
PAM: I mean, that’s what it comes down to, right? Connecting with them through their interests in life, for lack of a better word, embiggens our life.
ROBIN: Embiggens, yes. I love that word.
PAM: And all My life is so much bigger for having and, continuing to, live with them. And all our lives are bigger because we are living together. It’s that shift from ‘us and them’ to ‘together.’ Does that make sense?
ROBIN: It makes me teary to think of our lives are bigger from being with our kids and helping them with what they love! Awwww.
PAM: I know!
ROBIN: I’m fanning myself. You can’t see it, but here I am doing it!
PAM: I have goosebumps. That’s my typical reaction. That leads again nicely to our next question.
I was hoping to share some tips and ideas for parents looking to support their child’s interests.
ROBIN: Well, let’s see. I kind of want to sing this little ditty that I’ve got in my presentation that I did at a conference. It’s a little video. Can I sing it?
PAM: Yeah, sure!
It’s okay to not like things,
It’s okay, but don’t be a dick about it.
It’s okay to not like things.
Don’t be a dick about the things you don’t like.
That’s by Michael Aranda. I will credit him because he did the original music and words and video, I think.
You gotta find a way to support your kids even if you don’t like something, even if you can’t initially find something to like about what they’re doing. My friend Jenny, her daughter Luna was very much into horror stuff, and Jenny was not. It took her a long time. She gave Luna a lot of tools, like makeup, and taking her places where she could explore that, like Halloween fun houses and that kind of thing. And she watched TV shows and movies with her. And she said, “I needed kinda to get over some of that to be able to connect with my kid.”
So, sometimes you have to get over your own bad self to really support your kids. Because you have to see what they see in it, not what you see, because you come with your own baggage about stuff, and they don’t!
PAM: It’s that being curious piece, to me. I’m curious to know what they find interesting.
Like, way back when we first started unschooling, and Joseph really enjoyed video games. The choice was, ‘Ok, do I try to control this, or be curious about what he loves?’ And I spent a few months and oh my gosh, it opened my eyes, and there we were. I found ways to support it—only because I was curious to stretch my own comfort zones and learn more.
Same with Mike with karate and Lissy with the bands. All that kind of stuff.
ROBIN: It’s pretty freeing to be able to do it.
And there’s another piece that I think gets missed: healing your own childhood. Because a lot of us, the baggage we come with is being told that what we loved wasn’t important. What our parents wanted us to do was more important. They couldn’t find a way to support or like what we were doing, and so we come into parenthood with those overlays like, “You’re not good enough,” “that isn’t good enough,” blah blah blah. So, one way to become supportive of your kid is thinking of how you would feel in that situation and what you would have liked your parents to do. You become the parent that you wish you had by supporting your kids.
PAM: Yeah, that’s a great way to think about it.
So often that really helped me too, just putting myself in their shoes. I mean, that helps from one perspective, right? If I was me, if I was that child in that position, right, how would that feel for me?
And then there’s the other side. Because when I’m trying to help them explore different paths, trying to help them even brainstorm different paths, at that point, I don’t want to put “me” in their shoes, I want to try to see it through their eyes. Because they would have different goals.
Like, if I put myself in those shoes, I would have certain goals and certain things I would be wanting to do. Like you said, when she showed up, when you went to that conference, and she wanted to do this this and this, whereas you thought she would want to do x, y and z, because that’s us seeing through our filters, right?
ROBIN: Exactly. I wanted to go to the panels. Well, of course, sometimes I did!
It’s tricky, those expectations. If you look back to your own childhood, what the expectations your parents had for you, and how that turned out, you can take a different path.
There’s one thing that has been on my fridge for a long time since it was made into a magnet, but it’s always been in the back of my head, and it was something that Sandra said, “If your child is more important than your vision of your child, life becomes easier.” And so, instead of laying those expectations on them and what you think they should be or should have been or will be in the future, if you get rid of that and see them for who they are right now, then it is easier.
PAM: It really, really is. And for me, it’s that curiosity piece. To be curious about who they really are.
ROBIN: I’m glad you brought that curiosity piece up, because that’s exactly what it is, and I haven’t articulated the curiosity piece. If I ever do a presentation again, that’s going in there.
PAM: It just keeps popping up for me. Because that is the thing that always helps me move forward in any situation. Especially when I need to, or I’m looking to stretch my comfort zones, and I’m not quite ready yet. ‘Why aren’t they uncomfortable?’ And that’s where the curiosity is. ‘Why are you not uncomfortable?’
‘Why do you want to go in that mosh pit with all those people five years older than you that are going to be banging around?’ ‘And why do you want to crowd surf?’ And you know, all that. And then, on my gosh, it has been an amazing experience for her, it’s become a part of her.
When our children are curious about something, their interest, their passion, and maybe we don’t understand why, and maybe they can’t articulate why, but if it’s something they’re drawn to, there is just this little thread reaching out that just wants to make a connection, even if nobody knows quite what it is yet. And it’s just so fun to help them explore that, isn’t it?
ROBIN: It is.
PAM: It is. I’m trying to think of any other tips and ideas. Oh!
I was thinking about, you were talking about when a parent doesn’t share that interest yet—it’s not like we are sublimating ourselves and doing this because we “should” or because it’s expected. It’s bringing ourselves to it!
So, like you were talking about, not being able to actively game beside Senna, but finding out other ways that mesh with you and how you like to learn things. And reading strategy guides—that was something that I loved doing and supporting Joseph with. Like, when he was trying to beat the boss or find the last key or whatever, I would be on the internet reading through the walkthroughs and shouting out ideas. “Could you try this?” “How about this?” That was a way that I could be helpful. The connections and the trust and the relationships that are built out of that, it’s priceless, isn’t it?
ROBIN: Yeah, it really is!
PAM: That’s what life’s built on, right? Those everyday moments.
ROBIN: You know, in the cosplay thing. I’ve been a dress up girl since I was little. That completely appeals to me in all ways. It’s another thing about dancing hula. Costumes! Makeup! All that stuff.
PAM: Speaking of stories like that—Michael and his karate. At first, that was just nothing that had ever been on our radar back then when he first expressed an interest. I had no clue. I didn’t even know they were called dojos back then. But I realized, I wasn’t trying to find the best dojo. I didn’t need to understand karate from the get go. I just was needing to find a place that connected for Michael, a place that worked for him.
It wasn’t about finding the best place and then having Michael fit in. It was knowing Michael—which I did—and then finding a dojo that meshed well for him.
ROBIN: Yeah, that’s what we did when Senna did Aikido, same thing. We needed a dojo and a Sensei that fit with her.
PAM: Exactly. And then, as we came to know it—he started once a week, and as he got more comfortable he added another class, and another class. And after six months he was going three times a week, and then eventually he was going five times a week and tournaments and all this stuff. And I realized how connected it was to when I was growing up and taking ballet.
PAM: The whole same approach to the physicality of it. Even though they look very different, that was a connection that we had that was really deep. That was the root of the joy of doing something physical like that, and that was something that I did most nights for many years and performed and all that kind of stuff.
PAM: It was really cool to find out! Like we say, all the time, you don’t know that when you start out! Are we all gonna say it? Be curious! Just keep going!
ROBIN: Be curious! It’s true!
PAM: Ok so, I think people probably understand how excited we are about supporting our children follow their interests. And I think that’s one of the big things.
At first it was, “Ok, I’m supporting them, I’m supporting them.” But as we were talking about through most of this, after a few times, you see these valuable connections play out with your kids. And once you’ve internalized that, it’s no longer about supporting their interests, it’s just your relationship, and supporting your child. That whole piece of supporting their interests and passions falls away, because you are just engaging with your child and helping them do the things they aspire to do.
ROBIN: Yeah, exactly.
And it’s about the relationship you forge through them. And that’s what I think of unschooling as. It’s not about academics. It’s about relationship. I think of unschooling as allowing her to learn what she wants to learn and what she needs to learn in her own time. So, part of my role as an unschooling parent is to support her to do that. And forge that connection as we go, so we still have that connection, even at 23!
PAM: Yeah, yeah! I mean, when you’re helping them and supporting them, pursuing the things that they want to do, that whole teenage rebellion, strained young adult relationships, it just was not my experience at all. Was it yours?
ROBIN: No. I mean, we’ve had some difficulties, living together, as people do!
PAM: As people do!
ROBIN: And I know more people have more trouble with it than others, and part of that is deschooling oneself to shift your focus and your vision of what life “should” look like.
PAM: That’s why we always talk about that expectation piece, right? Because it’s hard. It’s a hard shift, to realize that this other person has their life to live and without our overlay of expectations, allowing them and actively helping them explore the things that interest and fascinated them, is how they are going to learn the most about themselves and how they mesh with the world.
ROBIN: Think of all the things that we’ve had to learn about ourselves, because we internalize some expectations and sometimes it takes until you get to be quite a bit older to realize, ‘Hey! Maybe things could have been different.’ And I sort of hope that, if nothing else, by doing things a little bit different, maybe she won’t have that long a time to figure out if that was the right thing for her. She’s already on the right path for her, and she’s not going to have to go “Oh my god, I’ve just wasted my life!”
PAM: Yeah. I mean, we all change paths, right? But with unschooling, our children have grown up doing that already. I know when I left my work as an engineer, that was a big decision and a huge part of it was the expectation piece. The, “Who am I without this?” Because that was what was expected, and I achieved it. Who will I be without it?
But our kids, we are helping them know and understand who they are, so that when they shift, they are more comfortable, because they know that shifts come. Like, when you talked about how Senna’s interests have changed over the years, and how they’ve grown and morphed, and as I look back I can find the threads of what I enjoyed about all those different things, but the shifts were so much bigger because there was this overlay of expectation over it. Those conventional expectations of career and achievement and then me having to question, s that who I really want to be in the long term?
ROBIN: Do you want to be a human being or a human doing?
PAM: Yeah, exactly!
ROBIN: You know, if your identity is tied up in the thing that you do, instead of the person you are, it can be really tricky.
PAM: We don’t want to leave the impression that these are easy things for unschooled kids, and it’s like, “Lalalalala.” No! Absolutely not! But they have an understanding of themselves and how they tick and ways to navigate their experiences that I did not have until, I dunno, my thirties, forties?
ROBIN: And another thing that they know is that they can come to us with their troubles. With their ideas, with anything they want to talk about. I mean, my kid doesn’t talk a lot, but when she’s ready to and when she has something that she’s ready to say, she knows she can come to me.
She says I’m sort of the squad mom, because I’m sort of mom to all her friends, most of whom are not unschooled, and they could come to me too! It’s worth it that she can do that and come to me if she needs to, even as she becomes a young adult. I don’t think I could do that! I mean, I love my mom, I loved her dearly, but there are things that I couldn’t have come to her about, just because of that separation, I think.
There is something I wanted to mention. Because you know, for us, we had the resources to support Senna. I mean, the things she did, they were not cheap, necessarily. Not everybody has the finances to give their kid everything, at least not right away. So, strategies for doing that. Make a list. Get families involved. You know, your extended families. Try to find cheaper ways of doing what it is your kid wants to do. And just take them seriously.
PAM: That’s a huge piece!
ROBIN: Sometimes it looks really easy for someone like us to facilitate, and when finances are tricky, then it seems a lot harder, but there are ways of doing it, emotionally at least, if not physically right away.
PAM: Absolutely! And that was something that I did a lot. I like the word facilitate. Even if it’s something like an exchange of services—like you were talking about, volunteering. So often, we often jump to the first thought: “Go to the class! Join the team!” But, number one, if finances are an issue, there are so many ways to come at it, and number two, that might not even be the “best way” for your child to engage in it. Certainly up front.
Maybe they truly do just want to go to the park and kick the ball around. Or watch YouTube videos of karate moves and play with that. There are so many ways to try things out and to get a taste and to get some experience, before you make the bigger, more expensive, choice. It’s not “Sign him up for soccer or he doesn’t get to do soccer at all!”
ROBIN: Right, there are more ways to approach it. And it takes a while for those of us who have been to school or taken classes to think outside of that class situation or that team situation, that there are other ways to get these things. We thought, “We need to take a class!”
PAM: And the conventional guilt of not being able to afford it. That fear, that disappointment. But that’s about us again, and that’s our work to work through.
ROBIN: Isn’t that usually the way, though? It’s our work to do throughout the whole thing.
PAM: Yeah, yeah. We talk about, deschooling never ends. We always find pockets of these conventional beliefs that shut us down for a while.
ROBIN: Deschooling never ends.
PAM: That’s awesome. OK, we better get to the last question!
What’s been your favorite thing about choosing unschooling?
ROBIN: My favorite thing? Hmmm.
I guess I now know that people can learn just fine without school, and in fact, blossom in different ways that school maybe doesn’t, or the schooling mindset, doesn’t allow. And I think the ultimate favorite thing is that we still have a really good relationship with her at 23. And I think it’s not about, I think I said this before, it’s not about the academics. It’s about the relationship that we have. I’m still learning what I can do better, but I guess it comes down to the relationship.
PAM: Yeah! That’s been my experience as well. Because the relationships are what last a lifetime. School is just this little piece.
ROBIN: It’s a blip! You know, when you get to thirty, no one asks you what high school… Well, they may ask you about what high school you went to, but they don’t ask you what your grades were!
PAM: And you learn so quickly that they can learn so easily without school, and it becomes about life and about relationships—that’s just life. And those relationships that you develop are for your lifetime.
ROBIN: Exactly. Supporting your children’s interests facilitates that. And you being curious about what they are doing!
PAM: She pulls it all together! Oh, that’s wonderful!
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Robin. I had so much fun!
ROBIN: We should talk more often!
PAM: I think we should! Before we go, where is the best place for us to connect online!
ROBIN: Um, I’m on Facebook as Robin ‘Ehulani Bentley. That’s my hula name. It means “heavenly redhead.”
ROBIN: I’m a moderator on Sandra Dodd’s Radical Unschooling Info, so you can find me there. I’m also in My unschooler is interested in… on Facebook.
PAM: Oh yeah, that’s a great resource for this too. Just for creative ideas, brainstorming different ways to pursue an interest, right? That’s awesome!
ROBIN: Now, I’m on Twitter and Instagram but I’m not there very often, but if you want my handles I can get those too.
PAM: OK Yeah, I’ll get them from you, and then put those in the show notes. Well thank you very much. Have a great day.
ROBIN: You too, Pam! Thank you.