#NaBloPoMo Day 27: New to Unschooling?

First, I want to preface this post with the disclaimer that while we are radical/whole life unschoolers, we have been unschoolers since the birth of our son. We have not had to really do the same kind of deschooling that many families coming to unschooling must do when they decide to take their child(ren) out of school in order to embark on their journey of unschooling. With that said, I do know a lot of families who have come to unschooling from very different beginnings and from different institutional/home education paths. And I want to share some of their wisdom with you.

It is not forever and it is not for everyone.
No decision you and your children make about their education is forever. You can unschool for a year or ten and then your children may decide that they want or need to be in a physical school of one kind or another. Also, if your children do not want to be home, then do not make them stay at home. Try to find them another educational arrangement that makes everyone happy. Or make your home a place where your children do want to be and yourself a person your children want to be around. This might be one of the hardest parts of the deschooling/unschooling journey for some families, as it is often hard for families who have been separated by school to be around one another so much in the beginning. And please, please, if you do not think you can be around your children all day, most days or you know that you do not want to be, then I suggest you reconsider unschooling or homeschooling of any kind. Chance are, your children will not be done any favours being home with you.

Say yes more, but not to everything and all at once.
One of the most misunderstood concepts, tenants, principles, or what-have-yous of unschooling is: Say yes! Frequently people thinking about unschooling or just starting to unschool are reading blogs of and discussions by more seasoned unschooling families where things are often very free and loose; mentions of no rules, living by principles, no bedtimes, and so on flood online support groups and it sounds all so amazing and awesome. The misconception is that things can work like this as amazingly for the new folks as it does for the seasoned families and that all that amazing can happen overnight. Newbie Family will pull their children out of school, sit them down and explain that they are unschooling now and that there are no rules, and then the children go apeshit and the parents proclaim unschooling failed and is only for wack-o-unparents. Sigh. If you have limits, rules, and punishments at your home, you can not just remove them all and all at once and expect your children to not freak the fuck out. They will push your buttons/limits and test whether or not you are serious. So, just say yes MORE. When they ask to stay up, say yes. When they ask if they can wear their pyjamas to the store, say yes. When they ask for ice cream for breakfast, say yes. When they ask for more time to play Minecraft, say yes. When they have been playing Minecraft for their usual allotted time amount and you would usually tell them to get off the computer, instead walk over, grab and seat and watch them play for another hour — you will be amazed by what they are doing and learning and they will love you more for it. If you are transitioning from using workbooks and textbooks and one of your children says they do not want to “do maths” today, say okay and ask what they would rather do and then do it with them. Eventually, you will find that you are rarely saying no and the sky is not falling.

You can not predict the specifics of the future (and if you can, I have a business proposal for you).*
You do not know what the future will be like. You do not know what our children will need to know. You do not know how radically different the worlds of education and business will be in ten years or twenty years. The best that you can do is raise children who love to learn, know how to find the answers to their questions, and who are happy. Happy people who can find out what they need to know and who are willing to learn it are the most successful people in any era. Stressed out and unhappy people who find learning to be a chore and do not know or understand how to access knowledge are not very successful people (unless everything is just handed to them). It is also important to not project your shortcomings onto your children and their futures. I am not particularly well versed in certain subjects, but I am not worried that my son will also have a limited understanding of those same subjects or other ones; I know that he will excel in the areas that he needs to excel in order to be happy and thus, be successful. Also, just because I might not have taken the time to learn a particular subject or skill does not mean he will follow suit.

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