Unschoolery http://unschoolery.com An Undefinitive Guide to Unschooling en-us Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:26:34 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Could my unschooling curriculum idea work? http://unschoolery.com/community/223576 Hello,

For the past year I've been thinking about an idea of teaching 3rd-5th graders a progressively more sophisticated curriculum all based on the chocolate chip cookie. It would be books with activities, classic project-based learning with lots of side benefits. If you are unschooling your kids I'd love to hear what you think of this idea. The 3rd segment, for 5th grade, would be starting a mock (or real) cookie company where a group of kids collaborates just like in real life. Thanks for your thoughts!


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Wed, 21 May 2014 00:12:41 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/223576
Gamification Explained Shortly http://unschoolery.com/community/329563 With the ever increasing effect technology has on our day-to-day activities, a new lifestyle has conquered our planet, teaching us to better understand the meaning of life. Gamification, is a word we started see more and more in the past couple of months, yet only few of the enlightened ones, have managed to truly comprehend its meaning. As time goes by, it becomes even harder for us to fully explain its constantly expanding nature. In the basis of it stays our natural ability to play. Being the most well-developed mammals on Earth, we humans are amongst the few creatures in this planet, which actually know how to play. It is being observed with dolphins, who enjoy diving though the tiny bubble rings they create, dogs, who just love fetching or chimpanzees who even use tools, such as sticks and pebbles, in their games. Yet these are only a small part of the live population on Earth. The other ones have no ability to play, as explained by specialists. And how does playing makes us so special? And what exactly is gamification?

Graphic explaining gamification

Our course of life passes through several different stages, each of which has critically important meaning for our normal development. Along with the teen years and many others, come the time when we discover games. Playing has an essential role in our lives, being a trigger for community development and many more. The games we play are not just entertainment, they are a way for us to learn and experience events which wouldn't otherwise have the chance of living through. It is our own way of growing up and develop our minds. This is why it is not a secret, that millions of people age 25 and above still have the need to play - they basically need learning. Nature has found its own way of giving us the desire to stay informed without actually get stressed out - playing. Still, what has gamification to do with all of this?

Gamification Graphic

Gamification puts our curiosity and playfulness to a test, using games to teach us the basic understanding of life. It literally means using games to teach us live through real life events and get the required experience to develop our ability to survive. This is how for example, survival games teach us staying alive in a time of starvation and war. No wonder the past decades are marked as the time with the fastest technology and intellectual development on Earth being indicated in centuries. How exactly is gamification going to affect our lives in the long term, we are yet to learn. Could astronauts learn surviving in outer space through games? Or could we learn how to become the best housekeepers in our area, just by playing mobile games? It is only a matter of time until we learn the truth about gamification. We could only wait and hope the technology revolution won't turn against us.

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Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:04:35 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/329563
"The Triple Package: How 3 Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America" http://unschoolery.com/community/267746 Hi Unschoolery,

We're TEDxUMassAmherst - a non-profit, student-run annual TEDx conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This year, we had nine world-renowned speakers give a TEDx talk at our conference, two of which were Amy Chua, author of New York Times bestseller "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", and her husband Jed Rubenfeld - both Yale Law professors - who spoke about the Triple Package. We thought you might be interested in their talk. Here is the link:

The Triple Package: Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld at TEDxUMassAmherst 2014


The TEDxUMassAmherst Team

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Mon, 02 Jun 2014 23:55:25 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/267746
Ding Dong Merrily Upon High http://unschoolery.com/community/103717 It does often seem that building a young child into an adult is a challenge to complex for even the most gifted and sensitive of parents and that society as a whole must enter into the challenge of raising the child. Indeed such a hypothesis stretches back to those most ancient of days in which the human race had not yet reached even a primitive stage of civilization. For, lo, in those ancient days the whole community would be responsible for the child, as is still the case today, if one chooses to home school a child, what does one do when one is eaten by a lion? And yet among us still today are those so ardently opposed to the very concept of society that they seek to isolate their child and hide them from the truth of the world, somewhat akin to the prisoners in Plato's allegory. And yet, eventually such a child must mature and escape the cave and be thrust into a world not of their parents, nay, a world in which such shadows are revealed to be illusions. Indeed, in such a scenario it could be argued that the parent is afraid to let their child escape their cave, and will seek to prevent the necessary onset on adulthood. For this is the greatest crime, to deny a human being, regardless of parentage, the ability to defend oneself in the world, to turn one's back on society and refuse to participate in the greater heritage of our species. Yet such people still exist in today's world, and it is disturbing that so many people wish to isolate themselves away in a cave of their own making, to merely watch shadows dancing on the wall of their caves, and refuse to accept the glory of reality and our destiny as a species, as a world, as a civilization. And when such people assume a position of power and choose further to erode such a society the damage they do to the future generations is incalculable.

The greatest fools are those who deny they are in the cave.

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Fri, 10 Jan 2014 21:16:54 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/103717
Facing foreclosure? Consider a short sale http://unschoolery.com/community/252103 The foreclosure crisis hasn't been in the news for a while. Many have reported that the foreclosure crisis has ended. It would be more accurate to say that the foreclosure crisis has nearly ended but there are still hundreds of thousands of struggling homeowners that are in or near foreclosure. Many homeowners think that their only option is to get a loan modification or walk away. There is another option however, a short sale. In a short sale, the borrower sells the home for less than they still owe on the mortgage. The lender takes a loss and the borrower is now free from the mortgage. Of course the lender must approve the short sale because they are the ones taking the loss. Whether the bank will approve the short sale depends on how short the sale is.

At the height of the foreclosure crisis, short sales were much harder to approve. Since the national mortgage settlement announced in 2012, short sales have been a little easier to get approved but many homeowners still aren't having any luck.

When to consider a short sale

A short sale is far from ideal. Because the lender is taking a hit, your credit score is going to take a hit as well. While a short sale does negatively affect your credit score. It doesn't look as bad as foreclosure. It's always better if you can get a loan modification or find some way to get some extra income to get caught up on your mortgage. If there is simply no way to get current on your mortgage, a short sale can be your way out. You can escape from your mortgage without having a foreclosure on your credit history.

Tips for getting approved

If your requests for a short sale are repeatedly rejected by the bank, there are a number of things you can do. One reason that short sales aren't approved is because the paperwork wasn't all submitted on time. It's important that the bank receives all the required paperwork in a timely manner. To protect yourself, make sure you make copies of all the paperwork you submit and keep a record of when you submitted them. If the bank claims you didn't submit something you can look at your records.

Even with all the proper paperwork your short sale request may still be denied. In this case all you can do is be persistent and patient. Jump through any hoops they ask you to and continue to resubmit the paperwork. As you quickly reply to any and all requests from your lender you maximize your chances of being approved for a short sale. If instead you became frustrated, impatient, and uncooperative with your lender, your short sale will likely never be approved.

Business, real estate, and bankruptcy law and litigation news brought to you by mbblegal.net

Source: articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-05-22/business/sfl-singer-housing-questions-link-20140523_1_short-sales-real-estate-pro-general-informational-purposes

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Thu, 29 May 2014 08:30:50 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/252103
Teens and the Critical Need for community in Life and Learning http://unschoolery.com/community/191829 I was recently interviewed for this post: For Unschooled Teens, Learning Communities Are Critical where I talk about the need and vision behind creating a temporary learning community for teens.

I am the parent of an unschooled teen. Only the last two years has community become a critical need in my son's world. Although we are traveling, we connect with wonderful families and friends online creating a supportive community of unschooling and homeschooling parents, many of which have teens, it is not the same as connecting in person. However, I've discovered the common element among teens are their desire for community to combat the feeling of isolation. Some parents have shared with me that their teens attending traditional high schools also feel the sense of isolation and connection but it's emotional, revealing this is a common theme. However, home educated teens have a greater sense of being alone since the physical isolation is also present.

But my son loves unschooling. And he loves traveling too.

Last year we were considering finding a democratic school so my son could be among his peers and I wrote this article calledFinding community. Dealing with teen isolation- Unschooling & Travel Finding community. Dealing with..article

Then my blunt question to Miro, “do you want to return to the United States and go back living a conventional life?”
His answer, a clear emphatic, “No.
Miro does not want to go back to the US to live. He’s clear about that. Equally, Miro does not want to go to conventional school. He’s clear about that too, as he says over and over that he loves unschooling. And he assures me, he likes the freedom of traveling.
Next, I suggested to Miro that we reach out to our community, online. I am a member of many homeschooling and unschooling groups on both facebook and yahoo groups. I am also the member of many other groups that support families who travel. I figured if they all had children there would likely be some that were at home too, maybe even some around Miro’s age. Perhaps some of them might even be interested in some of the same things as Miro is. Maybe some might be willing to connect online as well. At least it’s something.
And so I put the message out there. Again, I had to remind Miro (and myself) that there is no shame to share our desires as part of the human race. There is no shame in wanting connection. There is no shame in saying we desire “community” either. There is no shame to seek support in order to learn and be supported. There is no shame in asking for help.
So we asked.
The community response was amazing. Miro added about 8 new friends on facebook. Although he’s a little shy, he hopes to connect and create a circle of friends across the world. I hope he finds some connections this way. For now.
Being a single mom is not easy. Choosing our lifestyle is not an easy path. And if we hadn’t chosen this lifestyle, I would almost guarantee we would have a different set of problems, no better, no worse than the ones we have now. The beauty about our lifestyle is the ability to choose what we want to experience every day. We have the freedom to choose something else if it is not working.

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
~Kurt Vonnegut
So we are looking at lots of different possibilities now, open to where the world will lead us. We both love traveling and are feeling the itch to explore some more, new and exotic places. But we also are committed to stay here in Peru for another 6 or 7 months. Together, we are producing a project we both believe in so deeply, called, Project World School Peru. It is no coincidence really this project is about the very thing we are both struggling with right now: community. The project focuses on having learning experiences together and building relationships as an integral part of the process.
So for the next half year or so, we focus on building our vision and fulfilling our dream. Hopefully our passion can keep us fueled during the next few months and we both can find our way to combat loneliness while we explore options for the future.

So it's almost 5 months since I wrote that article. And the depression has lifted from my son and we've become more and more focused on the idea of creating temporary learning communities that involve the immersion of new cultures, immersive learning and now, doing so within a community. My son said, "there's got to be more teens who want to discover the world too and have the kind of experience we are. I don't want to go back and live an ordinary life, I want them all to come with us!"

The deeper we dove into community learning we realized, just like the theory behind democratic learning, mentors and the feedback loop is conducive of meaningful learning. Anytime you have a group of 3 or people involved in an immersive activity there is the potential for deeper and more supportive learning. One idea or observation leads of the next and through conversation and feedback the experience is transformed into learning. We've experienced this countless times throughout our travels and throughout the world.

Worldschooling and Unschooling, inspired Project World School Peru

The article I was recently interviewed, For Unschooled Teens, Learning Communities Are Critical for that appeared on the Unschooler Experiment (unschooler.com) the author Hafidha Acuay examines learning in a community as mentioned by grown unschooler and filmmaker, Astra Taylor, where spoke about this desire during a talk on the Unschooled Life in October 2009. Taylor said, “What I really wanted … is that intellectual community…. I would have loved to commune with other young people and to study marine biology or number theory or playwriting a couple afternoons a week, but for some reason, such a possibility was unthinkable – a wild fantasy. Instead the only option available was to submit to [the school system]. We should wonder why there’s no middle ground.”

From the article:

For Miro and Lainie, Project WorldSchool offers the possibility of such a middle ground, albeit a temporary one. While immersion programs are nothing new, Lainie and Miro are planning a retreat that will be shaped and directed by the attendees. While Lainie works with an education consultant (also an unschooler) to identify the elements of a well thought-out learning community, Miro works to line up housing, guest speakers and other details of programming. The mother and son have been preparing since 2012 for this session and Lainie hopes that every participant will arrive ready to “make use of the inherent lessons of the space.”

If you want to learn more about our project, Project World School, please visit our site at: http://projectworldschool.com

I would love to hear your thoughts about the value of learning within community and how you may have dealt with teen isolation within the framework of unschooling.
Please leave comments below.

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Fri, 09 May 2014 15:58:15 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/191829
I Opted My Kids Out of Standardized Tests. Then I learned a thing or two. http://unschoolery.com/community/121270 I Opted My Kids Out of Standardized Tests. Then I learned a thing or two.

This article was posted by Lisa T. McElroy, an associate professor of law at the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law.


This article was posted March 6, 2014 on www.Slate.com and is very much with the read.

Here's an excerpt:

Deciding to opt my two daughters out of Colorado standardizing testing seemed like a no-brainer. We aren’t permanent Colorado residents—we’re just here for one academic year while I’m a visiting professor at the University of Denver. My daughters, ages 13 and 14, are strong students. My husband and I see no educational benefit to the tests. My younger daughter experienced some serious test anxiety a couple of years back when taking Pennsylvania’s standardized tests.
And honestly, given three things—that, according to what a school administrator told me, Colorado law allows parents to refuse the testing on behalf of their children; that the testing enrollment forms include an option to “refuse testing”; and that we currently live in Boulder, one of the most liberal, individualistic towns in America—we truly didn’t think this would be a big deal.
Boy, were we wrong.
On Monday, about 15 minutes after I sent an email to the guidance counselors at the public high school and middle school informing them that I was opting my two daughters out, I got a call from the middle-school principal. I don’t know about you, but I can never get anyone from school to call me back in under a day or so. But here was the principal herself, instantaneously calling me in response to an email that I hadn’t even sent to her.
Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, the relatively new set of statestandardized tests) would help my daughter on the ACT. Huh. Given that she’s only in seventh grade, I wasn’t buying that one. The principal then said that the test would show us how our daughter was doing academically. But we get a report card every six weeks, and we can follow her progress in real time through an online school portal that lists her grade on every assignment, so we’re all set in that regard. One more try. The test results, she said, reward teachers by showing them that they are doing a good job. My reaction: And seeing their students’ progress doesn’t?
But when the lawyer in me started pushing back, pointing out to the principal that none of her arguments was especially convincing, I got nowhere. Including off the phone. The principal kept going on. And on. And on. My daughter really should take it. She was the only child in the entire school who was opting out. She might feel weird, being different from all the other kids.
I told the principal that was a risk that I was willing to take. And then I told her that I was on my only break of the day, trying to have a bite of lunch, and I was going to have to go now.
Next up: an email from the high-school principal. True, this one was not directed solely at me—it was addressed to all ninth- and tenth-grade parents—but I had to wonder about the timing, given that it arrived only hours after my email to the school. In the email, the principal said, “[P]lease know that I am requesting all ninth and tenth grade students participate thoughtfully in the exam and do their absolute best for both themselves and our school. We really need your support!” He went on to describe the ramifications of not testing, including that the school’s rating might fall if enough kids did not participate, kids who didn’t take TCAPs would not get “growth projections” (is that code for “placed in high-level classes”?), and kids who didn’t test would be marked absent and might not be allowed to participate in athletics or extracurricular activities that day.
The high-school principal also mentioned that the tests helped prep students for the ACT and SAT; his argument was perhaps more logical than the middle-school principal’s when applied to high-school students but still without the support of empirical analysis or other evidence.
The next day the schools informed us that the kids could not be on school grounds during testing. For my older daughter, this wasn’t a big deal because TCAP lasted all morning, and she could just go into school at 1 p.m. But my middle-schooler had to go to school for first period, then come home, then go back to school three hours later. For several days. No, she couldn’t sit and read or work on a social-studies project in the school library.
She had to go home? OK. We complied. Luckily, as a law professor, I have a flexible schedule; as a full-time student, my husband does too. And so, on the first day of testing, I arrived to pick my daughter up at middle school at 9:25 a.m. I went into the office and checked her out. She and I started walking to my car. It was just as I started reaching for my keys that we realized that someone was in hot pursuit.
It was the middle-school assistant principal.
He was running after us.
He called out. “Mrs. McElroy, could I speak with you for a minute?” My daughter’s eyes grew wide. She’s not the kind of kid who ever really sees the principal. But now we had the assistant principal chasing her.
“Mrs. McElroy,” he said, “I know you’re an educator.” (Oh, goody, I thought, he’s been researching me.) “And I know you care about education.” (Yep, accurate.) “So I really hope you’ll reconsider letting your daughter take the test.”
How would you have responded? On the sidewalk? With your child?
But then he continued. “We support her. Why won’t you support our school?”
I can admit, that was a good line.
I smiled, shook his hand, and assured him that my husband and I had thought carefully about this decision. And then I got my daughter in the car and drove away.

Top Comment
Man, a lot of commenters are seriously missing the point with the whole "special snowflake" snark. No one's against testing because it's too challenging for their kids. The testing is a waste of time. Join In
In other words, my decision to opt my kids out might have no real effect at all here in Colorado, but on the other hand if I support friends in other states in opting their kids out, I might cause teachers to be downgraded and schools to lose funding. How does any parent weigh those very real consequences against her commitment to doing what’s best for her kids? As my friend Maria McKenna, the senior associate director of the education, schooling, and society program at the University of Notre Dame, said to me last night, “It renders parents powerless when we hear about the crushing impact that opting out has on teachers and schools. But of course, teachers and administrators are powerless, too. It’s insidious.” Do I stand on my principles, both personal and political? Or do I put the interests of the very important people and institutions that educate my children above those of my kids? And how can I help ensure that more parents, teachers, administrators, and, yes, policymakers recognize the craziness that is our “accountability above all else” mentality?
For now, I’m opting out of making any permanent decision about my kids’ participation in high-stakes testing. But for those who say that these tests have no educational value, I disagree, at least to this extent: Opting out of them has been a real learning experience for me.

- end -

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Fri, 07 Mar 2014 05:13:16 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/121270
My Son Wants To Play Video Games For A Living http://unschoolery.com/community/121958 Leo's recent post, "Won't Kids Just Watch TV And Play Video Games All Day?" inspired me to write this post, which I originally posted on my blog www.fathersonpicnic.com

My Son Wants To Play Video Games For A Living

I have a 12-year-old son.

My 12-year-old son loves to play video games.

My 12-year-old son loves to play video games all day long.

He told me he wants to make a living playing video games and posting clips of his games on Youtube.


Sure, I’ll support his dreams, but at the same time, every decent parental bone in my body is screaming, “BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN’T WORK OUT?! THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO INSTEAD?!?!”

Isn’t that typical? And kinda sad? Why is it that we tell our kids to “follow their dreams,” but then when they tell us what their dreams are, we tell them, “Oh, that’s not realistic. You should try to be something else like a ______.” Many parents want their kids to say that they want to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, firemen…stuff like that. We feel more safe with those career choices.

But honestly, are the odds of a kid becoming a doctor really any better than becoming a pro gamer and Youtuber? How many people drop out of med school or law school every year? How many kids who dreamed of becoming policemen really followed through and made the force? Yet we don’t discourage them from pursuing those careers. We don’t immediately blurt out, “That’s sounds fun, what else would you like to be?”

Many parents would be proud to stand around the water cooler and bust out a pic of “My little Johnny…the one in med school…” But we’d freak out and hesitate to pull out a pic of “My little Johnny…the one at home playing video games…” How would we explain that? Is that even a real thing? People don’t get paid to play video games and make little Youtube videos, right? What are the odds?

Well, for the record, the top video game player in the world made over $400,000 last year.

Just sayin’…

So yeah, becoming a pro gamer may sound like a longshot…like becoming a rock star or something, but so what? He can at least try. I’ll support my son in following his dream. If it works out, then it works out. And if it doesn’t…then what?

Then he’ll just do something else.

Duh. =P

Aloha, Chris

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Sun, 09 Mar 2014 07:19:07 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/121958
Unschooling, Parenting and Teen Rebellion? http://unschoolery.com/community/114629 This is a reprint of post originally posted on my blog here.

Unschooling, Parening & Teen Rebellion?

I have always thought the bond between Miro and myself was quite unique. We’ve always been very close and have established a relationship based on a tremendous amount of love and respect.

When I was pregnant, I read a lot of parenting books, as I was entering into this journey as a single mom. My intention: Be prepared. With all I had read, the concepts surrounding the “attachment parenting” resonated with me the strongest. And so, that’s the approach I took (and still take today).


Some of the conscious choices I made as a parent early on, are part of our lives to this day. I had decided from the start to never speak to Miro using ‘baby talk’. The underlying belief is to treat your child as if they were your equal, versus the common approach: Treating your child is a ‘half-person’, incapable of understanding because of their ‘disability’ of being young. By not respecting their capabilities of understanding, children learn that they are incapable, and that’s not what I want to teach my child. Bleh!!!

My approach was consistent and throughout Miro’s life whenever he’d ask me a question, I always honor him with a complete answer as if I was supplying an answer that was within his comprehension. I never dumbed down my responses and of course when he didn’t understand, I tried to explain things the best I could. Finally I always invited him to open up the subject with me anytime he wished to explore it again, either in the next five minutes or anytime in the future.

This is the show of respect he’s become accustomed to, and this has created the foundation of our relationship, which I see that paying off every day.

(+We’ve had some pretty amazing conversations about everything from politics, consciousness, humanity, death and dying to sex! And I have to say, it’s been a pure joy!)

Anger & Frustration

From an early age, I treated my role of the parent as the nurturer, a person who guided and facilitate my son, not the authoritarian. I looked upon the role of being my son’s parent as a distinct honor. The need for punishment or discipline comes from the child challenging or reacting to a set of circumstances. But what about normal anger & frustration? I never saw this as being an inconvenience, rather I see it as being a part of life.

When my son was a toddler and had a reaction to something and either got angry or upset, I was there, present with him and those emotions. My first reaction was always to affirm what he was feeling was real, that the way he perceived the situation was valid and most importantly, he was allowed to feel what he was feeling. I would sit with him while he scrunched up his little face and felt anger or frustration. I would just be there for him while he was experiencing that. In situations where he was really upset, I told him to feel what that felt like, gave him permission to be as angry as he needed to be, but when he was done, I’d be there waiting to talk about it. No rush, and total permission to be ok with the emotions he was feeling. And he always proceed though them on his own, as we always spoke about it after the anger had passed. And I feel the secret to raising a emotionally healthy child is to honor the feelings when they come up, allowing space to feel them and talk about the feelings without judgement.

Permission & Empowerment

As we’ve grown more comfortably into the unschooling lifestyle, I’ve consciously adapted the partnership approach. Miro knows he’s empowered to make his own choices in his life, and always has permission to do what he wants. Last week, I invited him to go to the ballet with me, he politely declined. That was his choice and I honored that. On the other hand, when he wants to spend time with his friends instead of going on a hike with me, I honor that too. My part of the partnership is to express my preferences to him and as long as he honors me by hearing them, acknowledging them and makes a choice based on his preferences, we’ve then successfully communicated. No guilt, no manipulation, no coercing. And through that empowerment, Miro always has my permission to do what he wants, and is empowered to make whatever choices he sees fit. Unconditional empowerment, all the time. And yes, I am willing to let him make mistakes too.

Stuff (the physical kind)

As we are talking about partnership, this flows into all aspects of our lives. If Miro wants something, he can have it. Sounds pretty simple, right? We have declared our journey (on or off the road) as a ‘partnership’. This covers the financial aspects of our lives as well. Miro always knows how much money we have in the bank, which frankly isn’t very much, as we pretty much live, month to month. He knows what it costs to live our lives here, in Peru. He knows what our expenses are and what we have left at the end of the month. And when he wants something, or asks for something, he consciously considers those factors. If WE can afford it, of course he can have it. It’s my pleasure to make sure he has it. And he never needs to jump through hoops, make promises, work for the money, or any other form of manipulation. Simply by being in partnership in our relationship, he is entitled to any or all of our money.


As far as rebelling? What does he have to rebel against? I was really rebellious when I was his age, talked to him about what I was feeling. Identified those things so when / if it comes up, he knows I understand. Sometimes he tells me he is experiencing overwhelming frustration over no reason. Asks to be alone and excuses himself because it must be ‘hormones’. That is self awareness. I am so honored to experience his development with him as a partner, versus the enemy.


I think the mainstream perceives ‘discipline’ in the family as the act of rigid rules being imposed from the parents and enforced either through corporal punishment or the stripping of privileges. However, this is not how discipline looks in our family.

For us, discipline in the traditional sense is non-existant. The closest thing for our family is our commitment to define our individual boundaries based on our individual needs, preferences and desires. I admit, there are only two of us, so it is likely simpler than with a larger family, but I believe the foundation of these approaches can work in almost every situation.

Have we ever had discipline problems? No. Are we prepared for them? Yes.

Do I think serious acts of rebellion will ever come up? Not really, because we have established an open line of communication, and it is seeded with respect and trust. But if it does, we can handle it.

We developed respect and space for emotions over the 13 years of our lives together and continue to practice these choices each and every day.

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Tue, 25 Feb 2014 14:18:36 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/114629
Wild Beyond Wild, Calm Within Calm http://unschoolery.com/community/115581 This was originally posted on my blog over at Country Kid Farmers...

We have been Home Schooling for a bit now, and there have been good days and struggling days. My Ben is so much like me that we can butt heads. We are learning how to work together for mutual benefit.

In the process of beginning Home Schooling, I let the Homestead fall to the wayside. I started buying packaged foods because I didn't have time to make food. Something about that seemed like a loss.

As I look at the Tao for my weekly dose of Community Discussion on that topic (over at Tao Te Ching Daily), I find I am more drained and unsure than ever. What am I doing here? I have lost my way. (These are all sections of Chapter 38 of the Tao te Ching)

"The Master does nothing,

yet he leaves nothing undone.

The ordinary man is always doing things,

yet many more are left to be done"

That would be me - doing and doing and doing, and trying to pack knowledge into Ben and more and more and more is being left undone.


We live on a farm. There is so much to learn here about life and the cycle of life, the seasons, the planting and growing and harvesting, preserving, setting aside for later, living off what we have or make, bounty, wide open spaces, climbing trees, and building forts. This is what we focus on, and this is where we learn.

I am exploring Unschooling as a real option. My kids are curious. They always have questions. I want to go toward their curiosities, and not have to tell them those questions don't fit into our lesson plan. Life is education. Life is about learning and making mistakes and learning from them and trying again.

This is not easy to talk about because there are people who will think we've fallen off the face of the planet, that we are now raising wolves... well... we are in a way (see here, here and here). This is outside of the mold, and I know that. I like to be able to check off little boxes, so this will take some getting used to for me. However, this is the way my children learn best - by going off on little tangents of curiosity and delving into a subject, and reading up on it, or scouring the internet for ideas and answers to their questions. We are going to learn together, and play together, and build and design and do art, and raise animals and feed ourselves.

We have our first Music Lessons tonight, and we'll probably look at 4H or Future Farmers or something like that for some group activities.

My mind is full of hope and joy right now.

"When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.

When goodness is lost, there is morality.

When morality is lost, there is ritual.

Ritual is the husk of true faith,

the beginning of chaos."

I do not know what that means. Somehow, I am seeing that I enjoy ritual, and perhaps it is because I have lost my center. I am skirting the edges of chaos on a daily basis, and trying to bring ritual in as a way to save us. Perhaps there is something deeper. There are several more layers up that I need to go. I am clinging on to the lowest rungs on the ladder.

"Therefore the Master concerns himself

with the depths and not the surface,

with the fruit and not the flower.

He has no will of his own.

He dwells in reality,

and lets all illusions go."

In my desire to educate my children, I do not want to look at just the surface - the test scores, and whether they know dates and random names from History - I want to look at the depths - do they understand kindness and justice and respect?

There have always been revolutions. Why have people been revolting? That is a question worth asking and looking at and we will delve in to see history through the lens of art, and through the lens of rebels and wild men, of people seeking a better life for themselves, of sages seeking sanctuary. We will explore dance through the ages, and inventions through the ages, building projects and design conundrums - because these are the things that interest my boys. I think we will learn plenty. With joy.

I am letting go of the illusions that I know what they need, or that the education system knows what they need or will need in 20 years. The world is going to be more different than we can fathom. Kids that learn to figure things out on their own will thrive.

This may be the direction I have always wanted to go - the Little House on the Prairie sort of learning style - reading as a family and working together and figuring stuff out as we go.

photo from here

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Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:20:12 +0000 http://unschoolery.com/community/115581