Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beginning Unschooling

Here is a post of wonderful information that I just had to copy and paste here. It's by my favorite veteran unschooler, Joyce Fetteroll and the information she provided to this Mom is based on questions that I think many newer to unschooling also wonder themselves. This is based on the Mom having a 3 year old, but the ideas are so sound for so many age children. The parts in blue were from a post Joyce was responding to. 

At home, you find a way to fit in what you want to do around your
child. If you want to do laundry, for instance, invite your child
along. Give her bits of it she likes to do. Ask her if she'd like to
keep you company. Find *some* way to include her. Or do it later when
your husband or someone else (like a mother's helper) can be with her.
If you do leave her and she does something she shouldn't it's because
she can't, yet, be alone.

2) Solve problems before they become problems. (Part of being
present!) Notice the direction things are heading and change things.
Don't let them get hungry, tired, testy to the point where they're
hitting or destroying things. Food. Naps. Go home. Put on a video.
Draw one away to do something totally different.

3) Change the environment. The kids are clearly saying "This is a
bigger problem than I can handle. I need some help." Don't, for
instance, put them in the position of needing to be quiet when they're
clearly showing they can't yet. Don't set them up to fail. If the baby
is sleepy, how about wearing the baby? Babies are way more likely to
be able to sleep through a lot of noise if they feel secure.

Will this eliminate everything? No. But until you eliminate what you
can by being more present and so on, working on anything else is like
bailing a sinking boat with a teaspoon.

> Should we really just have to decide "I don't expect kids to be
> considerate at all" ?
The sentence assumes the kids have the ability to control themselves
but are choosing not to in order to be mean and selfish.

Even if they can sometimes be quiet doesn't mean they have the ability
to be quiet when *you* want them to.

This will help: Assume the kids are always doing the best they can. If
they aren't behaving as they need to, they need help. *Not* teaching.
Assume they're trying! Assume they understand if you've already asked
them! It's not a lack of understanding. It's a lack of maturity. IT's
a lack of years.

Assume they are like a 6 mo. No matter how much you talk to a 6 mo,
yell, give time outs, ground, spank, the 6 mo will not be able to
walk. *But* if you wait, and make sure the environment is conducive to
walking, the child *will* walk when he's physically able.

Right now you're pressuring your kids to be something they can't. Your
expectations are beyond their ability. Until *they* don't need you to,
be their partner and help them or do it for them. When they're able,
they will. But pressuring them will not bring maturity to them any
faster than it will to a 6 mo old.

> I believe in MUTUAL respect.
You can't force respect from someone. You can, at times, make kids go
through the motions.

They will *eventually* show respect when they're mature enough. Until
then, be respectful. Be respectful that they have limitations you don't
quiet understand. Be respectful that they're trying but can't yet
succeed. Be respectful of their development and trust they will return
the respect all on their own when they can.

Until then, it's your job to live by the principles of respect. Don't
impose it on them.

If they feel respect as something warm and fuzzy and helpful to them,
they will want to return it. If they feel it's something that they
need to go through the motions of because you'll be angry otherwise,
it will take much much longer. And they may never respect you if that
happens. They may, though, become very good at putting on an act of

> So should someone else have to suffer or should she respect me enough and TRUST >me enough to do as I ask her because I told her it was important? I feel that in a >loving family, enough trust should be present that the children will indeed listen to >what they're told to do so that they can respond immediately when there is danger >and so they can be considerate of circumstances beyond their ability to grasp at this >point.
This is one of the big pieces you're missing. Your can't impose your
right view of the world on your chid. The harder you try, the more
likely she will resist.

What you can do is *live* your right view. *Be* the person you believe
it is right to be. If you believe it's best to be kind, be kind to
her. If you believe it is best to be respectful, be respectful of
her. *Don't* do it because you expect her to act that way. Do it
because you believe it's the right way to live.

If you use your values to help her get what she needs, if she
experiences those values in a warm and fuzzy way, she *will* use them
herself *when* she's able. (Though assume she won't always be able to
do it perfectly. Assume she's always doing her best. If there are
better choices, help her with them.)

> At the same time, I listen to my child and I trust her.
Maybe you're only listening to her words? Maybe that's a piece you're
missing. Her actions are also communication. If she's not doing
something respectful, it's as clear as saying "I can't yet."

> If she tells me to do something, I listen and ask her about it and I trust her to have
> reasons. It is a mutual respect.
No, she's way, way, way too young to be expected to respond in adult
ways. She may sometimes be able to. Leave it open for her have some
opportunities. But drop all expectations that she can do it. For now
*you* need to be the one being respectful of her and being respectful
*for* her. Be her partner on her journey. Don't make her be your

> As such, we reinforce that simple need for obedience with spanking and
> punishments. I don't like spanking but I don't see a way to get a
> child's attention that doesn't involve a consequence.
You do it by listening to the child's actions. If she can't listen,
she's saying "I can't yet do that."

>But I tried non-spanking and it began to transform my very sweet,
> considerate child into a brat.
Yes, if punishment is removed, kids often do go through a period of
testing limits. It isn't the non-spanking that's causing it. It's the
fact that she was spanked and then removed that caused it. If she'd
never been spanked, if you'd worked on other ways to solve problems,
she wouldn't be a brat.

Though she might have high needs! And the sooner you find ways to meet
those needs in other ways, the easier life will be later. As she gets
bigger with bigger needs and bigger troubles, the spanking will just
make things worse. The sooner you can start working on getting better
at other tools, the better.

Have you seen the No More Spanking list? If you read through the
archives, you'll see lots of ideas. Lots of ways to shift your thinking:


> She wouldn't ask for ANYTHING good. I let it go 3 months without
> touching the rule that she could eat all of whatever she wanted
> whenever she wanted and she never improved her habits ... But if
> anything, that utter lack of structure left my child confused.
She shouldn't need to ask. Make food available. Make monkey platters.


Going from food controls to no controls *can* cause an initial period
of chaos. And 3 is about the age when food choices begin narrowing so
that can cause even more confusion.

But right now I wouldn't do more than make a variety of food easily
available. I'd work on the other areas people are giving you ideas
for, especially having more reasonable expectations of what a 3 yo can
do. Listen to her actions even closer than you listen to her words.


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