LIVING JOYFULLY NEWSLETTER
Issue #27 | December 31, 2013
DECEMBER’S THEME: Looking Back at Unschooling
Welcome to the last issue of my newsletter for 2013. I hope things have been well!
Last month’s theme, Unschooling Beings, had me looking at the value of unschooling from my children’s perspective: the wide range of learning about the world, about living, and about relationships that goes into being a person, a human being.
So this month I thought I’d look back at unschooling from the parents’ perspective. Most of us have been to school. Choosing unschooling for our children likely meant a significant paradigm shift away from the school model of learning we were brought up with. I know it did for me. What have I gained through pursuing unschooling with my children? How have I changed? Let’s dig into that.
ON THE BLOG … this month
This post is my explanation of how and why my definition of success grew beyond the conventional one, from a focus on attaining wealth and social position, to a focus on accomplishing whatever goals are meaningful to the individual. And it’s one of the most valuable insights I feel I have gained from moving to unschooling.
I have come to treasure the creativity that unschooling nurtures. The mindset of being open to the possibilities, of thinking for themselves, has allowed life to play out in marvelous ways time and again.
Shifting my frame of reference for learning from “childhood” to “lifetime” has helped me not only to see the true scale and impact of my children’s learning, but to also value my own learning more than ever.
LET’S TALK ABOUT … what Living Joyfully readers have found most helpful
I’ve been writing (mostly!) weekly on my blog for well over a year now. With that many posts, I know it can be challenging to find just the right one to speak to where you happen to be on your unschooling journey—and of course that changes over time. With that in mind, I thought my last newsletter of the year would be an opportune moment to share some of the posts that struck a chord with readers. Maybe one might be just what you’re looking for right now. 🙂
I’ve always felt vaguely uncomfortable with the typical counsel to moms of younger kids along the lines of “remember to take time for yourself.” I finally caught a glimpse as to why as I pondered the question for this week’s blog post.
Everyone wins with strong, connected, respectful relationships. Conventionally, relationships with teens are painted as either/or: either you focus on maintaining authority (tough love) or you avoid challenges altogether (let them run wild). Yet unschooling families have found the beauty of living inside the spectrum of those extremes. In this post I look at some of the ways unschooling parents view relationships differently and what that can look like in the teen years.
When conventional parents choose to create a relationship with their children that is adversarial in nature that’s probably what they’ll get in return as their children become teens and begin to exercise their growing autonomy. It shouldn’t be surprising that if it’s tools of control they see from their parents, those are they tools they’ll reach for in conflict. You can only harvest what is planted. Unschoolers choose to plant different seeds. This week I talk about some of the strikingly different ways unschooling families view and experience the teen years.
This is about some of the unexpected and marvelous ways that choosing unschooling has helped me grow as a person.
This post discusses five ways that these learning environments are fundamentally different: no curriculum; a supportive atmosphere; focus on aspirations; interact with people of all ages; and no vacation from learning.
Why is it important to explore what makes us tick and what does that have to do with unschooling? I talk about some reasons why families choose to extend unschooling beyond academic learning. And that discussion leads me to ponder a question often asked by people upon first hearing about unschooling, “How will they learn to get up for a job and become independent, successful adults??”
Would me doing the bulk of the upkeep in our home be “spoiling” them? Letting them “get away” with something? Shouldn’t they be “taking responsibility” for our home? As I mulled that over, I eventually came to disagree. In fact, it dawned on me that choosing to do the work myself to meet my own standard of living is a good example for them of taking responsibility.
If you’ve been unschooling your children for any length of time, you’ve likely been asked that question. And it’s a good one! In our lifetime a college degree has been practically synonymous with getting a good job and being conventionally successful, so it’s no wonder that family and friends worry that our unconventional path may force our children to forfeit the golden egg. Certainly we can debate the value of the conventional definition of “success”, but today let’s focus on the learning side of the college coin.
No matter the topic—video games, TV, hockey, dinosaurs—when you build strong and connected relationships with your children, you are showing through your actions that you care about and support them. They will feel more comfortable coming to you for help when they are feeling frustrated or angry. You will notice when things get challenging, and be comfortable approaching them to share your observations, your experience, and your love and support. I think much of society’s challenges with youth behaviour stems from a deep disconnect between parents and their children. Unschooling parents are choosing to do things differently.
Living mindfully is not only very supportive of an unschooling environment, for me, it has grown to become a wonderful perspective from which to approach my life in general. Here I talk about eight lovely reasons why.
LIVING JOYFULLY … with unschooling
The holidays have definitely been an adventure for us this year! The ice storm in Ontario, Canada hit us pretty hard and we had no power for five days, including Christmas. Lissy was home, and we only had power for the first two days of her seven day visit. Yet the adaptable mindset we’ve grown to love through unschooling had us not only making the best of things, but enjoying them as well! Lots of games by candlelight and walks in the forest, a five-day long fire in the wood stove, and some luck with our generator had our Christmas tree lit up for Christmas Day. All in all we had a lovely holiday, one we’ll remember for many years to come.
Wishing you and your family a very happy new year!! See you on the other side. 🙂