Unschooling Q & A

Unschooling Q & A #2
Unschooling Q & A #2

UNSCHOOLING Q & A

Have an Unschooling Question?
Send it to Q4Sue!

QUESTION #1:

Wendy Asked:

My question is more on how to explain unschooling to your child (12 years old). I originally was not going to explain it other than using the umbrella of homeschool but I really feel she should know that she is not just "getting her way of not going to school" but that I am making an educated choice.
There is some background info I can give you if it helps. She has been off and on unofficially unschooling for a few years. Since the pandemic it has been mostly unachooling. I have witnessed her thriving in many ways and now that I know it's not my imagination that it's been good for her, I want to officially withdraw her from school.
I just want her to understand that she has been doing this all along and she is learning but just differently. I also feel that if I label it unschooling, that will make school "bad" and I don't want to make it seem like that she failed school or that her friends who are in school are better or worse than her. Sorry this is long. I am just trying to express my question without leaving out anything.

Sue's Response:

Makes sense.
I would say it to her just like you said it here. She has been learning all along. Give examples of where you see her progress. Not just academically, but in other ways too - like topics she’s come to know a lot about.

I understand not wanting to label school as bad - so just call it "One Way."  And tell her there are multiple ways for people to learn.  Some people like to watch videos, others like to go places and explore, some like to talk to people and learn best like that. So you want to offer her more choices. More options than the one-approved way that happens at school.
The pandemic has showed you that she is sooo capable of finding out more about the things that interest her - and that’s what you see your role as - a tour guide, a resource-finder, a person to bounce ideas around with. Remind her that this is how adults learn all the time - she is just getting a head start on diving into learning this way. Instead of the classroom - she has the whole world available!

That might help.

so the other part in there that I just want to talk about, is you mentioned  not wanting to call it unschooling and sometimes
people see unschooling as like an anti-school in-your-face thing.
You don't HAVE TO use the word "unschooling. You could just say:

"We're doing an individualized learning program."

You don't even have to call it homeschooling. So there's a lot of different options.
I can get you some links  if you need to kind of unpack a little of that about unschooling

Watch this video: Oh, That Word Unschooling

Also, if I could back up to one little phrase in your question….
You mentioned that you feared she would think

“she is getting her way of not going to school.”

Part of unschooling is partnering with the kids. Hearing what it is they want. It’s not the power struggle that is so common with mainstream parenting.
Truth is, she IS getting her way.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Actually, mentioning that to her may help move you into more unschooling. Showing that we can all change courses when we see something isnt working for us - that’s healthy. It’s also healthy to have parents taht support your request to try something different. And that’s what you’re doing. Not in a “OK, but if this doesn’t work, it’s all on you!” But more of a - we have so many options. Let’s explore them and see what works for you and for our family.

This Unschooling Guide can get you started!

Question #2

Angela has a 6 year old, former public school 1st grade teacher but realized that was not serving children well.
They began homeschooling in October. He’s in kindergarten. She also has her own business / animal sanctuary and outdoor learning program.

I began this for my children and for all children to learn through nature and rescued animals (horses and such).
How does that work with unschooling?

It seems my little boy is not interested in sitting and learning. She tried oak meadow curriculum and like it but he is beginning to associate learning with work.
I am really liking the idea of unlearning but feel like we’re doing nothing. Lol!
He plays outside all day. Which I know is learning.
But I plan to make some spaces that he has access to arts and varied things to play and learn with.
I have that, to an extent. But before I go too far.
I wondered what is best for a kiddo like him.
I can’t seem to find what he’s passionate about.
He always says he loves construction work but doesn’t seem motivated to learn about it in what we might deem as academics. Just looking for some encouragement before I share with my husband this plan as it is not something he understands (unschooling). Thanks so much!

Sue:

When we move out of the “Play” arena for kids - when we start to take it over so we can see the learning happening, they resist. Angela said he associates learning with work. That’s what schools do. Kids from school or recently having left, can see a toy with the word “Educational” or “Learning” written on it - and they’re like, "Nope, no thank you!"
That’s because schools have linked learning with the adult version, that “academic version” that Angela is talking about.

They’ve squeezed all the fun out of it.

When you’re feeling like you’re doing nothing, that’s when you need to read or watch or listen to more about how unschooling works. The more you really understand it, the more you’ll see that the learning is in his hardwiring - whether you see it or not. You don’t have to translate his interests into something academic. Academics happen because they’re necessary to move forward or more deeply into a topic. Right now, his depth for interest in construction is at a 6 year old level. Just give him more opportunities to play with that. PLAY is the pathway to learning - especially for kids.

The good news is that now that you’re walking away from the school approach - which I KNOW is hard for teachers! But it opens up so many other ways to learn.

He’s interested in the LEARNING part - just not the teaching part.

Think of what you’re doing now as providing more opportunities to explore - at whatever level he’s curious about. Diving into living a full rich life is the focus.

Resources that might help:
Unschooling Kindergarten 
- it’s about shifting toward reframing learning and prioritizing partnership.
Podcast #36 Unschooling & PLaytime

And there’s an Unschooling Guides that might be helpful...
You mentioned helping to get your spouse on board when you’ve been the one doing all the investigating.

Getting Spouses On Board with Unschooling

This Unschooling Guide about Critics and Naysayers has a section devoted to helping reluctant spouses see the benefits of unschooling!

Question #3

Several people asked about Dyslexia & ADHD - and how that might interfere with their plan of unschooling.

Sue:

My own kids had varying degrees of disabilities. I am not an expert on your child.

But I can tell you what I’ve seen over the years:

All kids benefit from unschooling - because it’s all about meeting them where they are.
We, the parents, may have to undo a lot of stories in our heads about expectations and comparisons - but when we can let that go and live with the kids as they are. We can enjoy their strengths and help them navigate when the run into problems.

I also know that some diagnoses are worse when a kid is in school. The pressure to keep up, the relentless evaluations - it can make a tough situation even tougher. So when you REMOVE the child from that situation, you see the pressure and subsequently the anxiety and even some of the symptoms lessen or diminish.

Resources:

➡️ FB Group: Unschooling Every Family: Embracing Neurodivergent and Disabled Learners
➡️ FB Group: Unschooling Disabled Learners

🎙Unschooling Mom2Mom Podcast #37 - Unschooling Disabled Kids

Unschooling Neurodivergent Children

The most important thing to think about when kids are wired differently is for parents to not allow this to overshadow the strengths that the child has. There are many!

Don’t be distracted by the comparision to others.

And really that’s another huge point to remember, don’t panic when you notice they can’t do something at the same time as other kids - they’re on their own path. And we all come to unschooling to offer an individualized approach to educating and even parenting our kids. It’s no different for kids with disabilities.

 

Question #4

Debbie says...

My oldest is kindergarten age, and I enrolled her in a local charter school halfway through the year because I was feeling nervous about schooling her myself. However, I could immediately tell this was a mistake—it was too much work (we’d be doing school work all day!), she wasn’t enjoying it, and I was having to push and nag to get her to sit down with me.

I am making changes; however, what she does love about this school is the in-person classes they offer. She goes twice a week, and she just loves doing the activities they do and having the interaction with kids her age and making friends. I am looking for a place where I can find those classes for her, but where we’re not beholden to someone else’s curriculum and mandates, also that won’t be expensive. I would really like to be part of a regular group as I’m already feeling guilty about pulling her away from friends she’s made here. We can’t seem to find a place to stay for long. We live in Sacramento, California.

 

Sue:

First, I want to say that when we’re new to something, it’s really common to fall back to the familiar when you get nervous. That’s why I always tell people to read and learn more about unschooling and deschooling here at the Unschooling Mom2Mom website.

And get support so you don’t have to feel like you’re doing that alone. There are others - even if you’re finding them locally, who you can share ideas and ask questions and FEEL supported. I’ll put the link for the private membership below too - it can save you so much time and energy!

Join us! You don't have to do this alone!

OK, Debbie is asking where a little kid (5 or 6) can find other places to make friends and do activities - without all the negative requirements that a school system is going to put into place.

🎙I did a podcast Finding or Building Community, it’s #27 

Community Building -You Are Not Alone

I have lot of specifics to share from 25 years of finding and building community!

But to give you some ideas here:

  • Tap into the local homeschooling groups - it’s ok if they’re more eclectic and not all unschooling. You may have to step away from their conversations about curriculum, but that’s a good time to check on your child. 😉
    Joining those groups will allow you to participate in things they‘ve set up - or toss an idea out there to see if others would be interested in joining you and your daughter somewhere.
  • The library often lets homeschooling families use a room or meet for some activity. Pick a topic your child enjoys, so you don’t get stuck hosting something for other people’s kids and not your own.
  • You can always pick a day of the week to do a Park Day or a Swimming day - depending on where you live.
  • Maybe even host a backyard playtime with craft supplies or whatever is your child’s specific interest.

If she was going twice a week, that’s pretty easy to duplicate in other ways.

  • Museum or art classes
  • Dance or gymnastics class.

If the goal is to do fun things with other kids, put some feelers out to see what’s out there. You’ll be surprised, there’s a lot usually. And then it just takes a little extra effort on your part if you need to set something up - at least then you get to control the calendar! That was always a big perk for me!

As a parent who’s little one is about to start Kindergarten, the blogpost I mentioned earlier may  help you see how you’re probably doing all the things already that your child would enjoy in Kindergarten - without all the things they would NOT enjoy - waiting in line, being told when to talk and when not to, limiting their play time - maybe not even much outdoor time at all!

Unschooling & Kindergarten  https://www.unschoolingmom2mom.com/unschooling-kindergarten/

Unschooling Kindergarten

 

Question #4

There were a few people who were looking for local groups.

I have webpage with some links - and we always need new links as they change frequently. And remember, you may need to hop onto a group and just say

“Hey! I’m in Leander with a 6 & 8 year old - anyone want to join us at a splashpad nearby?”

Some communities have a lot of unschooling families, other less so. And some have unschoolers who are connected with each other based on interests and activities - so you’re on a Treasure Hunt.

The Unschooling Mom2Mom Facebook group  has thread for different states and many countries. FB algorithms are hard, and members aren’t always seeing each other’s posts. But if you put the state in the search box, or use the posts pinned to the top of the group, you'll be able to find other unschoolers nearby.

🔎 Finding Local Groups (at the website) 

🔎 Finding Locals at Unschooling Mom2Mom FB group: 

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