I’m a grown unschooler, so I’ve never experienced this through the lens of a parent, but as someone who has been writing and speaking about unschooling for over eight years, I’ve become very familiar with the types of concerns and worries new-to-unschooling parents have. With those in mind, I wanted to put together a post on how not to worry (too much) in these early days.
So if you’re new to unschooling, take a deep breath and read on!
You’re doing this for a reason
This is YOUR choice. Set boundaries when dealing with friends, family members, and assorted concerned citizens
See also: How to Talk About Homeschooling (So That People Will Listen)
You probably won’t find your groove right away
- What's happening, in part at least, is deschooling. Pam Laricchia, one of my favourite unschooling authors and bloggers, explores just what this is and how to deal with it on her website, which I highly recommend. The (very) short version? If your children were previously in school, they need time to recover, to relax, and to know that they really, truly can decide to do what they want to do with their time now, whether that’s TV or otherwise.
- Your children are not you, and they’re not necessarily going to make the choices that you would make, or do the things that you think they should be doing. One of the most defining aspects of unschooling is trust, and now is the time to start practicing that by trusting that they’re making the choices they need to, for themselves, at this time. Suggest and offer, by all means, but respect that you’re now creating a partnership, not acting as a teacher, and your children get to learn how they want to learn.
- Learning happens all the time and everywhere. Just because it doesn’t look the way you expect learning to look doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!
The goal is creating a great unschooling experience for your family, not re-creating a different family’s experience
Find mentors and supporters
Experiment, and prepare to be flexible
See also: Authentic, Personalized, Flexible Learning: Why Curriculum Will Never Be Good Enough
Focus on the here and now, not the future
Enjoy each other
It won’t always go perfectly. But with commitment--and yes, excitement, joy, focus, all those good things--it will probably be pretty darn great.
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