You love the idea of unschooling, but your spouse isn't convinced it's the best option.
Maybe you've been joining groups and reading blogs and you're SOO onboard - it makes total sense. But he (though it's not always the "he") isn't interested in really reading much about it. After all, he's working extra hours so you can be a stay-at-home parent. Maybe.
But he comes home and wants to see what the kids have been working on - and no, he doesn't mean their Minecraft level advancement.
What SCHOOLISH thing have they done?
Lots of unschooling families start out this way - so don't worry that this isn't going to work before you've even begun! Experienced unschoolers are sharing what their journey looked like when their spouse wasn't that keen on unschooling - at first.
Playing Catch-Up on Information
You've probably been doing the heavy lifting when it comes to exploring the educational options or even the parenting choices. You've scoured the internet, read the articles, chatted with experienced homeschoolers and unschoolers, and then have come to some initial conclusions.
As you keep at it, you continue to read and learn, but you also see examples of your kids making progress in various areas, learning things that may surprise you, being awed by some of the discoveries. These confirm your decisions about how to continue on with this unconventional path.
Your spouse, on the other hand, has been busy at work all day. Typically the child-raising is left to the mom or the stay-at-home parent. Your spouse may want to be more involved, but may not really feel like reading about it. He may not relish the idea of sifting through blogposts or listening to podcasts. Initially, he may be skeptical, but your confidence and enthusiasm rubs off.
Until something happens.
The kids don't know something that is generally expected of kids their age. Or you're having a bad day with a lower than usual confidence level. Or the spouse is having a bad day and seems to notice all the flaws.
Then, suddenly, their lack of information, their lack of a good foundation (with regards to unschooling or even homeschooling) becomes really glaring.
So the answer seems to be to drop little seeds of information along the way. If they like podcasts - awesome! We have some great ones to share! If they'd read articles if you email them, find out what their fears are and send articles that tackle those in particular. Or do what I did and read the really good snippets of books or articles to them.
Little by little you can help strengthen their foundation.
Feeling Left Out
Sometimes the parent who works outside the home can feel a little left out. The stay-at-home parent and the kids begin to develop a bond that's really strong. And if dad comes home to say,
"why's everyone still in Pjs?" or "what EXACTLY did everyone learn today?"
... he notices that the kids and the mom (often the mom, but not always) exchange looks of
"OMG, here he goes again."
And he begins to feel the disconnect. In his own home. And that doesn't feel good at all.
So maybe the answer is to include him throughout the day.
- Text him something funny one of the kids said/did.
- Send him/her a short video (of you or the kids) waving and saying," Can't wait until you get home!"
- Share an example of something one of the kids accomplished, emphasizing that they had persistence and worked hard at it.
- Help figure out something to do with everyone once the working parent gets home. SO he/she can be included.
Helping to facilitate that kind of connection will go a long way. It will help the kids feel closer to the parent that's gone all day (and vice versa) and it will help the parent engage in interactions that SHOW how bright and curious the kids are.
It's all about fear... always. So look at what you can do to minimize it or throw a little light on it.
More from the UM2M Reluctant Spouse Series:
When Spouses Disagree - Guest Blogger: Julie Mink Schiffman
Getting Your Spouse Onboard with Unschooling - Guest Blogger: De Smith
An Unschooling Dad Looks Back - Guest Blogger: Ron Patterson
Unschooling Guide: Critics and Naysayers
Sometimes the unschooling critic we're facing is actually our own spouse!
The entire guide will help you learn how to talk with those who aren't seeing eye-to-eye with us about unschooling. But we have a dedicated section in this Unschooling Guide specific for dealing with spouses. You may need a little help digging around to see exactly what he's worried about. Or maybe he needs to hear from other dads who have done this and the kids are grown - or are in the middle of it now, but comfortable and unworried. Blogposts, videos, podcasts, and articles are included.
Over in the Unschooling Mom2Mom Facebook group,
we shared ideas and SOLUTIONS for how to get through this.
Feel free to go to the comments below and share your success story!
You never know who may be in the same boat and just needs to hear a little encouragement from someone like them - YOU!