Are your kids wanting to play all the time? And you're worried about when they're going to start learning?
This podcast helps you see how unschooling and playtime is connected.
So we’ve talked a bit about not using a curriculum and how that can actually interfere in the natural learning process all humans have. But I know the next question…
“If we don’t have curriculum, are we supposed to play all day?”
And the answer is really, Yes.
What would be wrong with that?
Think about your answers when I ask that, what would be wrong with playing all day?
That will help you uncover where you have some more work to do!
So let’s think about some of the reasons people might have…
Nice to Meet You!
I’m Sue Patterson from Unschooling Mom2Mom. I’m here to help you get more confident with unschooling. My own unschooled kids are grown now, off on their own adventures. But I want to share my 25 years of experience - what I’ve seen work and not work - and help you figure out how your family could have a happier time together. And learn. And connect. Unschooling works. I can show you how. I've created so many ways to help you do this!
Reasons People Give
Lots of people cling to the idea that Play is not that important. Here's some of the reasons I've heard:
"They won’t learn anything."
Not true! They learn all the time when they’re playing! Whether it’s pretend play, Legos, or videogames, their brains are ACTIVELY figuring things out, testing the waters, seeing what works. They’re the scientific method personified! They make an estimation, a guess, a HYPOTHESIS. Then they gather data to test if their idea will work. Then they make modifications until they get there. And voila - that’s the Scientific Method in action!
"How will they be prepared for Life?"
If they’re actively engaged in their interests, in their life, they are moving in the right direction. When we slap a curriculum on, we all know how a lot of it is never retained - for all kinds of reasons. Mainly because it’s an arbitrary irrelevant pile of facts we are trying to get them to remember. But when we allow kids to be engaged with their interests, they will inevitably need to know something to progress. And then THAT will be the catalyst for them to WANT to learn something. It’s all tied together.
"How will they learn to master hard things, if they’re just playing all the time?"
First, I want to remind you that the word “just” is so minimizing and devaluing. I have had a horrible habit of using it, so notice if you do.
But to the question… humans are hard-wired to learn. You've probably heard me say that before! And the other piece of that is that no one likes to be bored. We like a challenge. Not an overwhelming challenge - and we like different degrees of challenge depending on our mood or what’s been going on. Some days more, some days less. So it’s a very person- or moment-specific thing. But look at your child playing. They’re enjoying it. They’re persisting when it gets hard because they want the end result.
They don’t have to be exposed to random hard things - just to prepare them for life. Life brings RELEVANT hard things all the time. We really don’t have to add to that.
What's Going on With You?
So sometimes we have to look at our own motivations for wanting to do that.
- Are you a little resentful that our kids “have it so easy?”
- Are you hanging onto someone else’s story about what a good mom or dad does?
- Are you clinging to the concept of becoming an adult and “putting away childish things?”
My best advice is to pull back the curtain and look at these ideas. Dive deeper into them, so you can be intentional about how you parent.
And play with them! We may find that we have a lot of resistance to that. We’ve had years of being told to “stop playing around!” And we got so much approval when we did! Adding to that, we may have wanted to appear older than we were (as kids) so we downplayed our desire to play. Often we were teased or told that “only babies do that.” So to avoid humiliation, we ditched that - even if it was something we really wanted to do at the time. Then that became the new norm. The new way to be. The People Pleasing pattern. No more playtime.
2 Guides To Help You!
Maybe you need to loosen the grip of the schoolish ways you've grown up with! The Deschooling Guide will help you do this!
Or maybe you're wondering what you're all going to DO if you're not doing curriculum. Time to Brainstorm! This Guide has helped so many families no matter how long they've been homeschooling/unschooling!
Both Unschooling Guides are full-color mini-magazines to help you dive deeper into the topics. Click the links to see the Table of Contents for each, learn more, and get inspired!
Time for Action!
So, what’s a good Action Plan? Maybe I should leave you with these each week. We do create action plans with accountability within the coaching group, if you’re interesting in doing this with other parents (and me!) I’ll be your Accountability Buddy in there!
OK, So here are three things I pulled from the Unschooling Guide about Deschooling:
- Play with each child every day. It doesn’t have to be for hours on end... although sometimes it might be! But get to know what they like about each of the things that fascinate them. This will give you "data" to know what you might bring into their world next. That's really your role as an unschooling parent - you're a tour guide, the concierge, a resource finder, a community outreach contact.
- Enjoy your time with them. So often, kids want time with their parents where they're not being instructed or hurried. This may be a whole new way of approaching daily life with them! You might be surprised how much easier it is to enjoy the experience when you've dropped a lot of unnecessary expectations.
- Find out what they enjoy. Talk to them about the kinds of things they’d like to do – individually and together with the family. Empower them. Help them see that these are choices they get to make now – remind them that you’re going to do all you can to support them! You’re not going to try forcing them to learn anything. It's a waste of time anyway.
So let’s bring back some playfulness!
Think about how you might like to do this. I have resources to help!
Join us in the membership group and we can help you brainstorm what you could try!
And I’ll talk to you again next week!
Join the Membership Group!
Whether you're looking for brainstorming ideas, accountability buddies, coaching or resources, my Creating Confidence membership can get you what you need!
You can come for a month to check it out (no big membership commitment) or stay for years (as many parents do!
I want to see you be successful at unschooling!