How Are You Doing?
We’re in September now, and many families are starting to get a little nervous. Are you off to a shaky start with homeschooling?
Maybe you started with Your Plan about mid-August… coinciding with the start of the neighborhood kids’ school year? Lots of people begin then.
But it’s been a few weeks. Here’s what I’m hearing from people.
“We had this great plan! We were going to do all this fun stuff. But the kids aren’t interested. They just want to play!” … whatever it is they’re into.”
“I was so relaxed about it all. Why are they resisting all my suggestions?”
Or, if they were more unschooly from the start,
“Is this what it’s going to be like? This is not what I envisioned at all!”
I get it. I’ve been there.
I’m Sue Patterson from Unschooling Mom2mom.
We started our unschooling journey with my own three kids in the 90s. We moved around the country so we saw lots of other families homeschooling and unschooling. I saw what worked and what didn’t. And now that my grown unschoolers are off on their own young adult adventures, I’ve decided to continue to help people find their way with unschooling.
Everyone’s path is going to be different. That’s kind of the worst and the best thing about it. No formula to follow - which can be so reassuring. But can cramp your style. One-size does not Fit All! Instead, you can create the most individualized approach to learning and living within your family. I helped families figure out how unschooling could work in their homes - and now I continue to do it with membership programs, courses, Unschooling Guides and coaching.
So here we are, a few weeks into all this.
… no matter what style of homeschooling you started out with, I’m here to tell you that odds are, it’s going to change. You can see that in those questions I shared, right?
Mom or Dad have a story in their head of what it’s going to look like.
And, the kids are not following the script!
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this on a podcast before, but I talk to clients about unschooling in theatre terms. One of my kids was (and still is) very involved with acting… so I became very involved. That’s kind of how it seems to happen.
But parents often think of themselves as the fun Director who makes awesome things happen for the show.
We see the kids as the actors, who now have their scripts and should be THRILLED with the show we’ve pulled together!
But that’s not how it works! We aren’t the Director at all. We don’t even have a part in this Play - unless someone needs us to fill in or something. We’re more like the Stage Director… making sure the props are available and accessible. The KIDS are the Director AND the Stars of their show. Because it really is THEIR show. Their Learning. Their Childhood. We have a supporting role - but more as a stage manager, helping them make their cues and get off the stage at the right time or place. If you’ve ever done any acting, you know that a show with a good stage director can run so smoothly. But when people are jockeying for power, it all falls apart.
So… remember my theatre analogy when you’re trying to run the show. As an unschooling parent, one who values letting the kids have agency and autonomy - fancy words for self-direction and a say in their own destiny, you’re going to want to look at the situation with a little clarity.
But why bring all of this up now?
Because this is when people start to see cracks in their plans.
And when they see cracks, parents begin to panic.It’s almost like the story if you Give a Mouse a Cookie (or when my kids were little, we lived in Alaska, and it was If you Give a Moose a Muffin)One thing really leads to another. And when the starting place is fear, our kneejerk response is to tighten it all up. CONTROL MORE!
Its a weird human nature thing, really. When something stops working or isn’t going as planned, we think if we just FORCE it, we can get our way. Instead of looking at it and seeing why it’s going wrong. (Kind of like a good stage manager!) What’s the issue?
Do you need to let go of some of the story you had in your head about what this was going to look like?
Would it be better to replace it with a little more observation to see where it’s going off the tracks?
Sometimes this hard to do because we’ve spent money on those tracks! Or whatever those plans were.
WE’ve certainly dedicated some time to figuring it all out.
But it’s really likely we made decisions based upon our own school experiences or childhood. Or maybe based on what we heard other people doing or recommending. And we didn’t really take into consideration our own kids and their preferences and interests.
Would more communication improve the situation? Not, as in, more communication to make them see how wonderful your idea is! But more communication to discover how can EVERYONE’s needs get met? Sometimes our kids have had adults directing their lives so much, they’re not able to tell us clearly what they want. Or maybe they are telling us loud and clear, but we’re not liking their choices.
What do they want to do?
Can you say yes to some part of it?
When we fill their cup and listen to what they want, they’re a lot more likely to do the same and listen to us.
Power struggles can stop, if you stop struggling, right? It’s not throwing up your hands with an exasperated, “Fine! Do it Your Way!” It’s not a surrender either. It’s a recalibrating what needs to happen. It’s swapping what’s happening with more communication. And connection.
So if September is already looking shaky in your homeschooling world, I invite you to take off the Director hat. You might need a little more support as you start down this journey toward unschooling. Or maybe you’ve been unschooling and something seems to have shifted. That happens too. What’s that they say, The only Constant in Life is Change. And since we have other humans involved in this experience with us, there’s going to be a lot of changing. What works this week, may not work next week. But vice versa can happen too. You can have a rotten day, kids squabbling, dinner is burned, but you wake up the next day, and things seem to be falling into place. Sometimes we just need a good night’s sleep!
You don’t have to do this alone.
My membership group Creating Confidence is open for anyone who needs a little more support. We have coaching calls throughout the week, a WONDERFULLY supportive community full of parents who are also on this unschooling path, and soo many resources I’ve created over the years for clients. All available to help you gain the confidence you’re looking for.
Unschooling really does work.
Reach out if you need help.