Fear keeps us from making the choices we want to make.
Fear keeps us from being the parent we want to be.
Fear keeps us from rocking the boat and encourages us to play small.
Fear keeps us from living the life we want to live!
So let's unpack some of this and change the course of your life!
When we decide we want to unschool our kids, it's sometimes startling how many fears we have to wade through to get there. Some of our fears aren't even rational! But they come because they are counter-intuitive from many ideas we've been conditioned to believe are right. If you have a problem overcoming your own fears about unschooling - or if you seem to conquer them, only to have them pop up again at the slightest bump in the road, it's time to do a little deeper diving.
Lots of people write about how unschooling makes sense. But until we do our own legwork and think about why we are feeling some obstacles, we can't get to that sweet spot.
If your goal is to happily successfully unschool - where kids can thrive and parents can move through their world without second-guessing and mini panic attacks - you have to do more than read what others write about unschooling. You have to look inward and shine some light on those fears you have. It's not always the easiest approach - but you'll be glad you took the time to do it!
Lots of fears can be lurking inside you. You'll need to identify what YOUR Big Fears are and shine a little light on them.
After decades of talking with parents - and working on my own fears raising three kids - these are what I see most often:
You're worried they won’t learn what they need to be functioning adults.
When kids and parents are living lives together, kids see what's necessary to function as an adult. So often, parents wish they had time to show the kids various life skills - but when kids are in school, they're too busy for that. They have homework and extra curricular activities and sometimes they really just want to relax when they're all done with those things. I know when I went off to college - and when my son did too - we were surrounded by kids that didn't know how to run a washing machine, cook a meal, check the oil. So many life skills were left unlearned. When kids are home with you, you have the opportunity to show them these kinds of things while they're relevant to everyone's life - right there in the moment.
You're worried they’ll never learn to read well (or do math, or understand history...)
Humans are hard-wired to learn. We love it. We like challenges. If you're scratching your head thinking of an example of someone who doesn't - your child or maybe even yourself - I'd like you to consider a couple of things. Sometimes kids have been told by schools to shelve their interests and curiosities so often, THAT becomes the norm. It's not unusual for a person to move away from something that they're constantly told NOT to do. But that spark is still in there. It may take a little time to fuel it, but it can grow. When given the proper environment, it always does.
Also, it's a myth that children have to be taught all these things. They need an environment and a caring loving adult who helps them find the resources they're looking for. But they do not need a curriculum to learn - anything. A literate environment with adults who play with words and sounds, rhyming and letters, enjoying reading themselves, reading to their children, talking about movies that come from books - all of these things create the environment for a child to learn to read. Children may learn at 4, may learn at 14, and anywhere in between. No one comes to you as an adult and demands to know what your age was when you learned to read! It doesn't have nearly the significance for children outside of school. In school, reading is the way kids receive the information after about 3rd grade. But as unschoolers, children are able to receive information through conversations, the internet, mentors, movies, YouTube - life experiences! Reading is just ONE way to gain information - and isn't that the point of reading in the first place?
The same works for math. Math skills can be developed by playing games and having real opportunities to play with math concepts.
Discussing historic events help children see the significance in their lives. Learning things that have context and meaning are what stay with a person.
You're worried they won’t have any friends.
Desk proximity does not equal friendship. Children make friends based upon shared interests. Since unschooled kids are busy pursuing their interests, they bump into future friends all the time!
You're worried your choice is going to screw them up their career options.
Unschoolers around the world are proof that this isn't true. Because they got off the education conveyor belt and spent time learning their own interests and preferences, they are in a much better position to know themselves and what field calls to them. They're not unduly influenced by school or parental pressures, so they don't end up with a college degree in something they don't even enjoy! Sound familiar?
Additionally college admission offices as well as employers are happy to see someone break out of the cookie cutter existence where every applicant looks like the next. Unschooled kids' lives are vibrant and exciting - filled with unique experiences that they bring to the table. Because they've had adults in their world throughout their childhood, they haven't formulated an us-against-them mentality, so they often interview really well.
You're worried they’ll hate you when they’re grown for taking this route.
Most young adults have something they resent about their childhoods and/or their parents. But when I talked to 75 young people who lived a life without school, they were grateful that their parents gave them a happy childhood where they were free to roam and explore and grow at their own pace.
Need a Quick Phone Call?
Sometimes it really helps to talk to someone who has been there. Sue Patterson can help you get answers to those questions that are keeping you from being able to make a decision!
Whether it's a 30 minute call, a full hour, or regular phone calls as you walk along this journey, she can help you conquer your fears!