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Rank #14 in Education for Kids category

Kids & Family
Education for Kids

Exploring Unschooling

Updated 8 days ago

Rank #14 in Education for Kids category

Kids & Family
Education for Kids
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Pam Laricchia shares interviews, information, and inspiration about unschooling and living joyfully with your family.

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Pam Laricchia shares interviews, information, and inspiration about unschooling and living joyfully with your family.

iTunes Ratings

77 Ratings
Average Ratings
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reassuring and thought-provoking

By AsWeAreGoing - Jun 10 2018
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Finally listened in after a few years of unschooling and it’s just what I needed to encourage me to go deeper with unschooling/deschooling. Pam is an excellent host, the conversations are natural and insightful, and the q&a episodes are an excellent resource for anyone, in any stage, of unschooling.

An Exceptional Resource!

By Freya the Beautiful - May 24 2018
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This podcast is an inspirational resource that provides listeners with an in depth look into the lives of Unschooling families! I look forward to listening to every new episode that comes out, and I highly recommend this podcast!

iTunes Ratings

77 Ratings
Average Ratings
76
0
0
0
1

reassuring and thought-provoking

By AsWeAreGoing - Jun 10 2018
Read more
Finally listened in after a few years of unschooling and it’s just what I needed to encourage me to go deeper with unschooling/deschooling. Pam is an excellent host, the conversations are natural and insightful, and the q&a episodes are an excellent resource for anyone, in any stage, of unschooling.

An Exceptional Resource!

By Freya the Beautiful - May 24 2018
Read more
This podcast is an inspirational resource that provides listeners with an in depth look into the lives of Unschooling families! I look forward to listening to every new episode that comes out, and I highly recommend this podcast!

Listen to:

Cover image of Exploring Unschooling

Exploring Unschooling

Updated 8 days ago

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Pam Laricchia shares interviews, information, and inspiration about unschooling and living joyfully with your family.

EU023: Learning to Read in Their Own Time with Anne Ohman

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Anne Ohman is a long-time unschooling mom and Library Director at a small, rural library in New York state. She has been writing about unschooling since 1998, and has a been student of her children since they were born. She is the founder of the Shine with Unschooling community, and co-host (with me!) of the Childhood Redefined Unschooling Summit.

In this episode, Anne shares her perspective on why children at school are expected to learn to read early, why unschooling children who aren’t yet reading aren’t “lacking” anything, how they play with the puzzle of reading every day by living in the world, and so much more!

Quote of the Week

“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.” ~ John Holt

Questions for Anne

1. Can you share with us a bit about your background and your family and how you came to unschooling?

2. School, and by extension society, is laser-focused on children learning to read as early as possible. As a library director and unschooling parent, I’d love to hear your perspective on how you’ve seen these reading expectations play out.

3. I’ve really enjoyed the stories you’ve shared on Facebook about schooled children at the library and how their outlook on reading has changed since you started there. Can you share some of those stories?

4. Our society is so caught up in reading by a certain age that if a child isn’t reading by then, most adults in their lives seem to focus on that missing piece. Why do you think that is?

5. Let’s talk about how our kids have learned without reading!

6. Something that has struck me over the years is how unschooling children are more apt to call themselves readers once they are comfortably reading adult-level books. Have you seen this too?

7. Have you had anyone judge your kids for not being able to read?

8. How do you feel now about Sam’s journey to reading as you look back on it today?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Anne’s Shine with Unschooling email list and Facebook page

Anne would love to connect in real life at the Childhood Redefined Unschooling Summit

Two of Anne’s TUC Talks, 2006: This is Where Unschooling Lives and 2009: What’s So Radical About Radical Unschooling? (scroll down)

Pam’s article about Lissy’s road to reading: “I Can Read, You Know!”

Pam’s blog post about learning to read: Learning to Read Without Lessons

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Jun 09 2016

58mins

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EU090: Growing Up Unschooling with Phoebe Wahl

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Phoebe Wahl is an artist whose beautiful work focuses on the themes of comfort, nostalgia, and intimacy. She left school entirely after first grade and dove into unschooling. Eventually she chose to go to college, graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 2013 with a BFA in Illustration. We have a lot of fun talking about her passion for drawing, the idea of “knowledge gaps,” what she found valuable in her college experience, how unschooling has influenced her art, and lots more.

Quote of the Week

“To talk about gaps is to box yourself into a certain way of thinking about learning because I definitely have gaps in my knowledge but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.” ~ Phoebe Wahl

Questions for Phoebe

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

How did your passion for drawing develop? Can you share a bit about how that journey unfolded for you?

One of the pretty common worries when people first contemplate unschooling is that their children will have gaps in their knowledge. The question itself speaks to how they’re still using traditional curricula as a standard of what a person “should” know because we all have gaps, don’t we? Can you share your perspective on how unschooling as a lifestyle addresses that concern?

You chose to take some classes in high school and then went to college, attending the Rhode Island School of Design. What did you find most valuable about your college experience?

How do you see your unschooling childhood influencing your art?

Your work has been described as “body positive” and in an online interview you were asked how you defined “body positivity.” You answered: “I think it is holding onto the core value that my worth does not lie in my physical features. It is being gentle and patient with myself, because truly loving, sustainable relationships are a “two steps forward, one step back” process. It is HARD work maintaining an appreciative and honest relationship with yourself. Above all it’s about trusting myself. Sometimes I breach my own trust and have to rebuild. But then again, sometimes my own strength and beauty will impress me beyond what I thought possible.” I love your answer and I think the process applies well to just about every societal expectation we may find ourselves grappling with. I was hoping you could expand a bit about how the process plays out for you.

As a grown unschooler, what piece of advice would you like to share with unschooling parents who are just starting out on this journey?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Phoebe has been a regular contributor to Taproot Magazine

Phoebe’s first children’s book, Sonya’s Chickens, and you can pre-order her next book, Backyard Fairies

Phoebe’s website, phoebewahl.com, her Facebook page, and her Instagram

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Sep 21 2017

56mins

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EU071: Changes in Parents with Sandra Dodd

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Sandra Dodd is a long-time unschooling mom of three—Kirby, Marty, and Holly—who are now all adults. She’s also the creator of the awesome unschooling resource, sandradodd.com, and I’m thrilled to have her back on the podcast. In this episode, we talk about the changes that we go through as parents as we live this unschooling lifestyle with our children, and the kinds of questions that people have along the way that seem to break down reasonably well into beginner, intermediate and advanced topics.

Quote of the Week

“No-one is ever likely to read my whole website and I don’t ever need them to. It’s not written to be read from one end to the other any more than a pharmacy is intended for someone to start at one end and eat, drink or inject every substance in the whole room. If you find a page that does help you, guess what? It will help even more if you read it again after a year or two. And if you read it after you’ve been unschooling for five years it will seem that the first time it was a black and white postcard and now it’s a technicolour movie. Because you’ll understand it better and you’ll see the subtlety and the artistry of what people wrote and maybe you’ll wish you’d been able to understand it better sooner.” ~ Sandra Dodd

Questions for Sandra

I recall when I was beginning unschooling, my days were typically a mix of learning about how natural learning works and starting to question a lot of the conventional wisdom I’d absorbed growing up. There are many ways that preconceived ideas and prejudices can limit people’s thinking and get in the way of moving to unschooling, aren’t there?

When you’re starting out, it can be hard to figure out whether to trust a source of unschooling information at first. What tips would you give to help?

You recorded a great 5-minute video a few years ago called “Doing Unschooling Right.” I want to share a short quote: “My definition for unschooling is creating and maintaining an environment in which natural learning can thrive. The environment I’m talking about—what we sometimes call an unschooling nest—is not just the physical home, it’s the relationships within the family and the exploration of the world outside the home by parents and children both. The emotional environment is crucial.”

We’re approaching intermediate unschooling here, where natural learning is reasonably well understood and now there’s a dawning realization of the importance of our relationships. As you say, the emotional environment is crucial so that our children feel safe and secure. Why is that so important for unschooling to thrive?

There was so much tucked into your definition for unschooling! Another great tidbit was, “the exploration of the world outside the home by parents and children both.” We’ve seen our children’s learning in action, and now we’re realizing the important role we play. Parents need to become unschoolers and that process doesn’t happen all at once. Can you talk about why that’s so important?

We do a monthly Q&A episode where we answer listener questions and we’ve had a few about the concept of strewing. That was originally your idea, so I was hoping you could share with us a bit more detail about it while you’re here.

Now I’d like to talk about the perspective of those who’ve been unschooling a long time—it’s a different mindset, isn’t it? It’s not just the intellectual understanding of the principles of unschooling but also the real-life experience of having seen it in action with your own family, and moving through different seasons and different challenges. There’s an expansive feeling of openness and release that comes. How would you describe it?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Sandra’s earlier Ten Questions episode

Joyce Fetteroll’s website: joyfullyrejoycing.com

Sandra’s page of other voices

Pam Sorooshian’s essay, Unschooling is Not Child-Led Learning

Sandra’s Facebook group, Radical Unschooling Info

Sandra’s video, Doing Unschooling Right (subtitled in Portuguese and in French)

Sandra’s webpage about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Leah Rose on moderation, on Sandra’s website

“Of your own certain knowledge …”

UK science fiction show, Black Mirror

Sandra’s pages on service and serving others as a gift

Sandra’s daily boost, Just Add Light and Stir

Sandra’s yahoo email group, Always Learning

And last, but not least, Sandra’s website, sandradodd.com

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

May 11 2017

1hr 32mins

Play

EU004: Q&A Round Table

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Anne Ohman and Anna Brown, both veteran unschooling parents, join me to answer listener questions.

Click here to submit your own question for the Q&A episodes!

Quote of the Week

“I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Questions

1. How do people successfully unschool older kids when there are babies/toddlers in the house that restrict the opportunities for the older one? For instance, I can hardly read to my 5yo because my 2yo constantly interferes.

2. This question is similar in that it deals with multiple children, but it’s a bit different perspective: how does unschooling work with three young children?

3. I feel so much pressure and guilt knowing that family and friends would not understanding unschooling, so I hide it by saying we homeschool when I’m asked. Is that ok? I feel so guilty, and then that guilt turns into doubting whether I’m doing the right thing, yet deep inside I know I am. How do I deal with this constant back and forth internal struggle?

4. I’d love to hear about games that have provided family fun. Any kind of game: board games, computer games, waiting games, word games etc.

Links to things mentioned in the show

For the Love of Learning show, episode #47: Attachment Parenting

Anne’s Shine with Unschooling group: there’s the yahoo email list and the Facebook page.

Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com

My recent blog post about games: Fun and Games in Our Unschooling Lives

How to play the Contact word game.

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Jan 28 2016

41mins

Play

EU146: Common First Questions About Unschooling with Sue Patterson

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Sue Patterson, a long-time unschooling mom with three now-adult children, continues to encourage and support unschooling parents through her website and Facebook group, UnschoolingMom2Mom. In this episode, we have a great time tackling some of the common questions people ask when they are first exploring unschooling.

Questions for Sue

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

How did you discover unschooling and what did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

Let’s dive into some of the common questions people ask when they are first exploring unschooling. Isn’t this just for religious people or super crunchy people?

Am I going to make my kid weird?

Am I ruining their future chances of success?

What if we get on each others’ nerves spending all this time together?

Do we have to commit to unschooling everything right away? Can we get into it slowly and see what happens?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Sue’s earlier podcast appearance, EU003: Unschooling Teens with Sue Patterson

Pam’s book, The Unschooling Journey

Mary Griffith’s books, The Unschooling Handbook and The Homeschooling Handbook

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book, For the Children’s Sake

Sue’s book, Homeschooled Teens: 75 Young People Speak About Their Lives Without School

Sue’s UnschoolingMom2Mom website, Facebook pageFacebook group, and Instagram

Sue’s personal website, suepatterson.com and her Patreon

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript

Oct 18 2018

1hr 11mins

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EU185: Deschooling with Talia Bartoe

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Talia Bartoe is an unschooling mom with four young children who have never been to school. We have a wonderful conversation about her deschooling journey—as someone who excelled in school, she had no idea this would be in her future. Her excitement and gratitude for finding this path and for the beautiful connections that have blossomed with her family is contagious!

Questions for Talia

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of deschooling so far?

For me, one of the biggest surprises of moving to unschooling was how much I learned about myself along the way. And how valuable that learning has been for our family as a whole! Did you find that as well?

Can you share some tips on navigating your unschooling days with four young children?

In a recent interview you mentioned that your joy is multiplied ten-fold when you see the adventure through your children’s eyes. It’s almost like reawakening, isn’t it? Can you share a bit about this aspect of your deschooling journey?  

What’s your favourite thing about the flow of your unschooling days right now?

Things mentioned in the episode

You can find Talia on Facebook and Instagram

Talia’s blog, Our Crazy Joyful Life

Talia’s interview with collectingadventures.com

Alfie Kohn’s book, Unconditional Parenting

Pam Leo’s book, Connection Parenting

Joyce Fetteroll’s website, Joyfully Rejoycing

Jennifer McGrail’s blog, The Path Less Taken

Episode transcript

Read the episode transcript

Jul 18 2019

53mins

Play

EU072: Unschooled Master of Arts with Sophie Christophy

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Sophie Christophy lives in the UK and is unschooling with her husband and two children. She is a self-directed scholar and she joins Pam to chat about her personal Unschooled Master of Arts project: to explore the theory that the key to transformative social change is found via shifting parent-child education/child dynamics to a human rights model.

Quote of the Week

“I feel like just imagining our children’s adult experiences, experiences when they are older, when they are making much higher risk choices like to get married, or to buy a property or they are taking this job or that job or where they are going to live. Help them out by not disorientating them. Just allow them to be themselves the whole way then hopefully, when they reach the point of making those decisions, they are going to be so much closer to what they actually want to do, deep down.” ~ Sophie Christophy

Questions for Sophie

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family, and how you came to unschooling?

Last summer you started a personal project you’ve called an Unschooled Master of Arts. I’d love to hear the story behind it.

You’re working your way through Module 1, The History of Childhood. I find the distinction between children and childhood really interesting. With unschooling, we’re quite focused on children’s lives and parenting, whereas the concept of childhood is tightly woven into societal systems. What are your thoughts around that distinction?

What is one of the most interesting connections between your studies and unschooling that you’ve come across so far?

You’re coming up on one year now, what have you learned so far about the process, and about yourself? How well has it meshed with your unschooling lives?

You wrote an post on your blog a while ago exploring some ideas about consent in education. In it, you talked about negative stereotypes of children society holds and learning through mistakes. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts around this.

I know the issue of childism/adultism is close to your heart. Can you explain the concept and share a bit about the impact you see in our lives?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Dr. Carlo Ricci’s episode, an alternative education professor who strong believes children are capable

The Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation

Sophie’s personal blog, “intersecting parenthood, childhood, education and consent”

Sophie’s Unschooled Master of Arts blog

Sophie on Twitter and Facebook

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

May 18 2017

1hr 6mins

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EU080: Growing Up Unschooling with Kelly Nicole

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Kelly Nicole went to school until 6th grade, when both she and her sister left for greener pastures. Her family eventually settled into unschooling and she’s now 22 and has been a professional actress for nine years. She also teaches acting and improv to kids, as well as directing children’s theatre. We have a really fun chat, diving into her family’s road to unschooling, how her passion for acting developed, what she appreciates most about her unschooling lifestyle growing up, her advice for unschooling parents just starting out on this journey, and lots more.

Quote of the Week

“The most wonderful thing about being unschooled is that I was able to pursue what I loved because I loved it.” ~ Kelly Nicole

Questions for Kelly

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

How did your passion for acting develop? Can you share a bit about that journey and what it looks like today?

I know you teach acting to kids and perform as princess characters at parties and events. Have you found that your unschooling lifestyle growing up has influenced the work you do with kids now?

What stands out for you as you look back on your unschooling years? What, from your perspective now, do you most appreciate about living an unschooling lifestyle growing up?

As a grown unschooler, what piece of advice would you like to share with unschooling parents who are just starting out on this journey?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Free to Be unschooling conference in Phoenix, Arizona, August 31 – Sept 3, 2017

Kelly’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Jul 13 2017

1hr 3mins

Play

EU086: Unschooling an Only Child with Deb Rossing and Pat Robinson

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Deb Rossing and Pat Robinson are unschooling moms I’ve known online for many years and have also met in person at unschooling conferences. This episode came about because I’ve had a few listeners suggest the topic of unschooling an only child, but since I have three kids I don’t have much experience to share on this particular topic, so I’m excited they both agreed to chat about it!

Quote of the Week

“I don’t think it’s better with an only child, it’s just different than having siblings.” ~ Pat Robinson

Questions for Deb and Pat

Can you each share with us a bit about you and your family and how you discovered unschooling?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

Since an only child spends their home time hanging out with adults, did you worry about them having the opportunity to socialize with other kids? If so, did you do anything to address that?

At home with an only child, you are, in essence, your child’s only playmate. Did you feel that way often? Were there times when they wanted to play or do things you didn’t enjoy? If so, how did you handle those moments?

As parents of an only child, you are the people they come to for engagement—to share their thoughts, play their games, express their emotions and so on. I imagine that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Can you share some of the ways you found to keep yourself refreshed and energized?

At this point, what has been the most surprising thing about your unschooling journey?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Rick Rossing’s episode, EU010: Unschooling Dads with Rick Rossing

Pat’s friend’s resources: Mothering magazine, Bradley birth method

Pat read The Continuum Concept

Deb’s on Facebook

Pat’s Facebook group, Heal Thyself

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Aug 24 2017

1hr 12mins

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EU113: Deschooling with Megan Valnes

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Megan Valnes is an unschooling mom with five children and we have so much fun diving deep into her deschooling experience. We talk about finding helpful unschooling information and groups online, the parenting paradigm shifts we make as we embrace unschooling, her experience managing the diverse needs of five children, her husband’s experience as they moved to unschooling, her favourite thing about unschooling right now, and lots more.

Quote of the Week

“Unschooling is a simple philosophy that when you read it, you are like, ‘Oh yes, that makes so much sense.’ But to actually implement it and fully integrate that philosophy into your life, it’s so different because it radically contradicts what we grew up knowing and understanding about the world. It’s like suddenly four plus four does not equal eight. Or, there is a possibility it might equal nine. Is it possible to stretch your brain out that far? Where you can think, ‘It’s a possibility what I have been doing all these years was not right?’” ~ Megan Valnes

Questions for Megan

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

How did you discover unschooling and what did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

After we’ve chosen unschooling for our family, the learning doesn’t stop there, does it. We’re just getting started! And while the growing amount of information about unschooling available is awesome, it also means more sifting to find the sources with solid information that connects well with us. How have you found that process unfolding for you?

Another important aspect of the deschooling process revolves around parenting—it turns out, helping our children’s learning thrive, means shifting our parenting paradigm from “having control over our children” to “being in connection with our children.” What has that shift looked like for you?

With five children, I imagine there are a number of different personalities at play. Can you share your experience around finding ways to meet their diverse needs?

How has the transition to unschooling been for your husband? How have you been helping him with the shift to this very unconventional lifestyle?

Right now, what’s your favourite thing about your unschooling lifestyle?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Pam’s new book, The Unschooling Journey: A Field Guide, is out! You can find it on the usual retailers here: books2read.com/unschoolingjourney

Pam’s interview on Rachel Rainbolt’s Sage Family Podcast

Megan first found Sandra Dodd’s unschooling website

Megan’s Instagram, @momwifesuperstar

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript

Mar 01 2018

1hr 8mins

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EU092: Crazy Family Adventure with Bryanna Royal

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Bryanna Royal is an unschooling mom with four children. And as if choosing unschooling wasn’t crazy enough, she and her husband chose to sell their home and everything in it and hit the road in an RV to travel full-time. We have a wonderful chat diving into why they chose unschooling, why they chose to move into an RV, some of the paradigm shifts of deschooling, how they earn money to support their lifestyle, and lots more!

Quote of the Week

“I feel like imposter syndrome is a perfect way to look at it because, on paper, I looked smart but if you asked me to talk about something that I learned in school, I could not really talk about it because I never really understood the concept, I just knew how to get a good grade.” ~ Bryanna Royal

Questions for Bryanna

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family and how you first came across the idea of unschooling?

What were some of your reasons behind choosing unschooling?

You and your husband decided to sell your home and move into an RV. How did that decision come about?

I imagine you guys are gathering some fun and interesting stories from your travels. Can you share one with us?

What have you found to be one of the more challenging things about living in an RV that you didn’t expect?

On your blog, you have a post about how unschooling works for your family, and I loved one of the points you made. You wrote that it includes, “Trusting our kids and knowing that they understand what is in their best interest. And if we know they aren’t ready, instead of saying they can’t do it, we do it with them so we can work together so they are ready to do it on their own in the near future.” It’s such a valuable paradigm shift. Can you talk a bit more about that?

I love hearing about the innovative ways unschooling families are making a go of things—often some combination of making income and lowering expenses. It can seem out-of-reach, but sometimes some creative thinking does the trick. Can you share a bit about how you guys are supporting your unschooling and travel lifestyle?

Do you have some tips you could share for unschooling parents who are considering the RV lifestyle?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Bryanna’s blog post, Radical unschooling and how it works for our family

Bryanna’s blog post, Full time family travel budget

Bryanna’s travel website, Crazy Family Adventure and her business website, Virtual Powerhouse

You can also connect on social media, FacebookInstagramYouTube, and Pinterest

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Oct 05 2017

1hr 14mins

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EU089: Ten Questions with Jan Hunt

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Jan is the founder of The Natural Child Project, a website that houses a wonderful collection of unschooling and parenting articles. She also has two unschooling books out, The Natural Child and The Unschooling Unmanual, plus a children’s book, A Gift for Baby. Her unschooled son, Jason, is now in his thirties. Jan graciously agreed to answer ten questions about her unschooling experience.

Quote of the Week

“I think children are very adept at hearing our hidden messages, regardless of how carefully we phrase it. When we tell a child that a certain activity is required, we imply that it must be so unpleasant or difficult we would never want to do it. No one has ever required a child to eat ice cream—it is not that we should never make suggestions, but it IS that we should never anticipate or expect a particular response. Or be disappointed.” ~ Jan Hunt

Ten Questions for Jan

1. Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

2. What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

3. You have a fantastic website, The Natural Child Project, at naturalchild.org, that’s been around since 1996. I remember finding it back in 2002 when we began unschooling and hungrily devouring many of the articles—thank you so much! What inspired you to create it?

4. I discovered homeschooling when I was searching for information because my eldest didn’t mesh well with school. One of your essays made so much sense to me back then, it was an essay titled, ‘Learning Disability: A Rose by Another Name.’ Can you share your rose analogy and why it fits so well?

5. Trust is such key component of our unschooling lives. How did you develop trust in unschooling, and in your son?

6. You have a book, The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart, a collection of your essays about parenting and education. You make a great point in the introduction that this approach to living with children has been called “attachment parenting” or “empathic parenting,” and is often considered to be New Age but is actually age-old. Can you share what you mean by empathic parenting?

7. You also edited a collection of essays written by various writers and focused on unschooling called The Unschooling Unmanual: Nurturing Children’s Natural Love of Learning. I love the title! In it is your essay, ‘How Do We Know They’re Learning?’ I think that question is an integral part of learning about unschooling. How do you answer it when someone asks?

8. You’ve written about one of the more challenging day-to-day questions that unschooling parents grapple with: ‘When Does Guidance Become Manipulation?’ On occasion, I’ve described it as the dance of parenting, or relationships. It doesn’t have a one-size fits all answer, does it?

9. What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of unschooling?

10. Looking back, what has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Jan and Jason’s article, Creating a Peaceful World through Parenting

The origin story of the term, “unschooling,” courtesy of Sandra Dodd

Jan’s collection of articles by Elliott Barker, including, The Critical Importance of Mothering

Sandra Dodd’s article, Unschooling: You’ll See It When You Believe It

Jan’s website naturalchild.org and Facebook page, The Natural Child Shop, and their donation page

Jan’s books: The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart, The Unschooling Unmanual, and her children’s book, A Gift for Baby

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Sep 14 2017

1hr 1min

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EU008: Q&A Round Table

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Anne Ohman and Anna Brown, both veteran unschooling parents, join me to answer listener questions.

Click here to submit your own question for the Q&A Round Table episodes!

Quote of the Week

“We live in a world awash with information, but we seem to face a growing scarcity of wisdom. And what’s worse, we confuse the two. We believe that having access to more information produces more knowledge, which results in more wisdom. But, if anything, the opposite is true — more and more information without the proper context and interpretation only muddles our understanding of the world rather than enriching it.” ~ Maria Popova, curator of brainpickings.org, Wisdom in the Age of Information and the Importance of Storytelling in Making Sense of the World

Summary of Listener Questions

1. How to deal with school kids? Our daughter was asked by one of her friends (both 9) how she would learn without going to school and she told our daughter there is important stuff in school she would need one day in her life. Then she asked a question and our daughter couldn’t answer so she said, “and that is why you need to go to school.” How did your children deal with questions like that?

2. I have been getting the message that if I continue letting my kids play video games as much as they like then they won’t have any imaginations or they will lose their creativity. Where’s the proof?

3. Unschooling is such a misnomer—what word or words, or definition would you give to this way of being with children? What was the over-riding philosophy, or mantra or specific vision that brought you the most clarity about unschooling, that helped keep you on the path during difficult moments?

4. How does an unschooling parent apply “principles” at home successfully without getting in the child’s way?

5. I have a 12 year ADD boy and we are in our second year of unschooling. It’s scary for us to see him be bored all the time and not know what he wants to do so he just goes back to his computer. Could unschooling actually hurt this child rather then help?

6. We just started unschooling our two kids (son 13 and daughter 16) last March. My son, who is very focused on one or two things at a time naturally is really not showing many signs of curiosity or willingness to explore new things. I’m not sure if he is just recovering from the trauma of school, just uber-focused, or if maybe he’s not a good fit for unschooling. Any advice or suggestions? Do you see anything wrong with being so focused?

7. I have a battle in my head over a TV programme my daughter likes to watch. I find the programme to be influencing her in a negative way. By forbidding it I am probably making it more desirable. I am sure as the years go by there will be many more programmes that interest her that I am unsure about so I feel I need to really think about the best way to deal with this. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Links to things mentioned in the show

Pam’s article: Unschooling Passions

Anne’s Shine with Unschooling group: there’s the yahoo email list and the Facebook page.

Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com

Feb 25 2016

56mins

Play

EU095: Q&A Round Table

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Anne Ohman and Anna Brown join me to answer listener questions. This month we answer questions about radical validation—and what’s so radical about it, sibling conflicts, unhappy temperaments, and how the three of us have worked through challenges to get to epiphanies and personal growth.

Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!

Listener Questions

Heather’s Question (from Arizona) [TIME: 1:40]

I am SO blown away by Anne’s article about Radical Validation! Especially this paragraph, “When we try to get them out of and away from the uncomfortable feelings because we don’t know how to help them (and just want them to be happy), they just go further into those emotions to protect their right to feel that way. But now they have yet another new level added to their already existing discomfort…”

We have been struggling with how to help a situation in our home for a while. Our 10yo daughter constantly criticizes and belittles her 12yo brother. The only way we know to deal with this (because it is heartbreaking to see how hurt our son is by her comments and treatment) is to remind her to, “Please treat him as kind as you’d want to be treated”. I realize that has so much weight and isn’t the ideal way to handle it. We’d love some further detailed ideas on the best way to validate.

Mikael’s Question (from France) [TIME: 18:30]

Hi,

Thank you for your kind help to all unschoolers and their parents! You are wonderful!

I have a question concerning my son who is almost 7. He has a temperament that makes him being unhappy almost all the time. He complains very often and for very small things. I have already understood that he is a hyper-sensitive person. My wife and I are doing our best to make him happy but still sometimes it is very difficult. What would you advise us to do to make things better?

Carol’s Question (from Montana) [TIME: 30:05]

I’d like to hear from you lovely ladies about your journey through unschooling. Specifically, when you felt uncertain about something that was happening with your child, how you dealt with it, and how it was later resolved. For instance, were you ever at a place where you were thinking you would like to see your child get more exercise, spend less time doing one particular thing, be more open to new experiences, etc.? How did you get through whatever the issue was for you? I love to hear from veteran moms about their reality with unschooling, especially their stories of conflict to resolution. So, I’m not asking about a specific question or concern of my own, but for you to tell your stories of epiphany and growth, and contrasting the way things were then with the way things are now.

Meredith’s Question (from Virginia) [TIME: 39:22]

My husband and I have homeschooled our two girls, ages 8 and 6, since the Fall of 2016. We LOVE it. I can safely say that bringing my girls home to learn has made me fall in love with them all over again. They are special, special people with immense gifts to share with the world.

After one year of homeschooling things were becoming even more clear about the best way for our girls to learn the important things in life. Unschooling was a concept I found that just plain made sense! Ever since then we have unschooled, or to us, just lived!

I have many questions but the biggest one and the one I will ask today is about sibling relationships. My two girls are just shy of two years apart. Lately they have begun a phase in life where they bicker and fuss with each other all the time. Or at least that is how it feels to me who is with them 24/7. To be blunt, it can drive me batty!

My oldest is craving independence and wanting more space to herself. My youngest just wants to do everything with her older sister. Both are very different in personality. My husband and I have tried to do more things with them separately but it seems like a drop in the bucket. We do not live near family who can take one child for the morning or day so the girls can have breathing room. We have wonderful friends but all have different circumstances that would prevent them from helping in this way too. We are a one income family and so signing up for activities is limited. Plus, it seems unfair to me if I let my oldest take an art class and tell my youngest, who loves art just as much, that she can’t take it because her sister needs space. Am I thinking about this in the wrong way?

Then there is the actual fussing. They are not physical with each other, but are in the throes of retaliation. Tit for tat. One does something so the other does something back. For example, one girl feels the other hid her shoe (which in reality is stuffed under her bed) and so purposely takes the last remains of her sister’s favorite cereal, which she has had no interest in before this point. The other sister sees this injustice, gets mad, lets it be known she is mad and then refuses to let her sister have a bite of her ice cream later in the day, etc. It can go on and on. When we are home I can take each aside and talk with them about what is bothering them, validate their feelings and come up with a solution. This process takes a while, which I am happy to do, however it can be mere minutes after the first argument is settled when a new one erupts. The process starts all over again! Some days it seems that is all that happens. I’m not going to lie, trying to handle this in a non-yelling, respectful way leaves me exhausted!! Some days I just want to curl back up in my bed and hide under the covers. Any suggestions for this phase in their lives? And please confirm, this is just a phase, right?? Thanks for everything.

Links to things mentioned in the show

Anne’s article about radical validation

Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them

Pam’s articles, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Video Games and “I Can Read, You Know!”

Pam’s posts, The Road of Trials: The Heart of Deschooling (outlining quite a few of my epiphanies) and moving through uncomfortable times by looking to my children

Childhood Redefined Online Unschooling Summit

Pam’s talk, A Family of Individuals

Anne’s website: shinewithunschooling.com

Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Oct 26 2017

58mins

Play

EU077: Girls Unschooled with Jo Watt

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Jo Watt is an ex-teacher and now stay-at-home mom of two unschooling girls, ages four and six. She blogs at girlsunschooled.co.uk and about six months ago she, her husband Kriss, and the girls moved from the UK to the US Pacific Northwest. We have a wonderful conversation, digging into learning to read, when people want to do different things, what “fair” means, the value of free time, when we find ourselves out of step with our kids, and much more goodness.

And the podcast is now available on YouTube! The channel is Living Joyfully with Unschooling.

Quote of the Week

“It seemed weird choosing home ed at all, and unschooling just didn’t seem like it was enough, which, of course, is crazy because it’s everything, isn’t it? It’s opening your whole learning to everything and anything.” ~ Jo Watt

Questions for Jo

Can you share with us a bit how you and your family came to unschooling?

I was hoping you could take a moment to share what your girls are interested in right now and how they’re pursuing it?

You wrote a post a few months ago that was all about how we don’t need to rush reading. I was hoping you could share a bit about your journey through the conventional push for kids to read earlier and earlier?

With unschooling, we’re choosing to relate to our children, not through power and control that we were talking about earlier, but through connection and agreement, you know, finding a path forward that works for everyone involved. And it’s such a very different way of interacting with our children. I was hoping you share a story or two about ways you guys have worked through times when the girls were wanting to do different things?

Your husband Kriss has recently started writing on your blog as well. Can you share a bit about his journey to unschooling?

Over the years I’ve come to think that one of the biggest differences between unschooling and a conventional lifestyle is the amount of free time that our kids have to do whatever they choose. You know, you can really see, in our goals-driven society, that we’ve lost sight of how incredibly valuable that free time is. You wrote about this recently as well. I was hoping you could share what are some of the benefits that you’re seeing that come from releasing expectations around how we spend our time?

Your girls are still young, but I must suspect you’ve already experienced this. Sometimes it seems that just as we think we’ve found a groove with our children, things change. You know, we’re connecting well, we’re finding great ways to support them and their interests, and we are getting to the park, we are, figuring out ways that they can both get what they need and thing are happy, and then poof, all the sudden it feels like we’re playing catch up again, trying to figure it all out. Things just aren’t working out as smoothly as they were before. So, I was wondering if you’ve come across that situation, and how have you moved through it?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Some fave games: Goat Simulator and Minecraft

Jo’s blog post, We don’t need to rush the reading

Podcast book chat, Attachment across the Lifecourse

Kriss’s intro post on the blog, An introduction from an unschooling dad

Jo’s blog post, Time, mistakes and forgiveness

The book, Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Jo’s Facebook page, Girls Unschooled and her blog, girlsunschooled.co.uk

And she posts on Instagram

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Jun 22 2017

49mins

Play

EU069: Q&A Round Table

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Anna Brown and Anne Ohman join me to answer listener questions. Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!

Quote of the Week

“Unschooling is about seeing, honoring, and living in the flow of a child’s life.” ~ Anne Ohman

Listener Questions

Shelsy’s Question (from Florida, USA) [TIME: 3:04]

I’m new to unschooling (since December), but I’ve always homeschooled. My daughter is 7 and my son is 5. I’ve listened to hours of podcasts and read scores of web pages about unschooling, but I’m struggling. My son has always been an amazingly individual boy. He knows what he wants, will stop at nothing to get it, will accept no substitutions, etc. I admire his ability to know himself so deeply and to not back down from what he wants. However, he is also extremely physical. He has zero concept of personal space, he is constantly climbing on me, touching me in ways I don’t like, wanting to play roughhouse/tickling games, and hitting (or biting or scratching) when he doesn’t get his way. His primary target is his sister.

His individuality and aggression have led to tons of power struggles and conflicts over the last five years. I feel like I’m to blame because I’ve always been very physical with him when we play and my husband and I also have a difficult time controlling our tempers when our buttons invariably get pushed. I feel like he is both parroting our behaviors and vying for power. Being the youngest and most inflexible he has always tended to be forced into doing things because the rest of the family wants to do something else.

So instead of having a home filled with joy and connection, our home is filled with conflict, fighting, and yelling. I desperately want a reset button but I fear that in 5 and 7 years I’ve already done so much damage. I don’t see any forward progress and I feel full of doubt and guilt. Help!

Tracy’s Question (from Homestead, Florida, USA) [TIME: 18:28]

Hello, Pam, Anne, and Anna.

Thank you so much for this podcast and the monthly Q&A. You are a source of inspiration and encouragement. I have so many questions I have been meaning to send but today I will start with one. I will give you a little intro first.

I have 2 amazing daughters. An 8-year-old and a 4-year-old. My oldest daughter has a huge heart. She loves people. Her gift is encouragement. She can walk into any room and know who exactly needs unconditional love and a big hug. The little one is the life of the party. Her sense of humor astonishes me on a daily basis and we laugh together a lot. I could give you a huge list of all my favorite qualities each poses but there wouldn’t be enough time for other questions.

We’ve been homeschooling for 3 years. I don’t feel confident enough to call myself a unschooler but we have never used curriculum and I have been in Deschooling mode for the whole 3 years. My goal being to move towards a radical Unschooling lifestyle. The most challenging part of homeschooling for me is to be an active witness to the social challenges my daughters face.

I don’t want to sound negative but this is the only way I can think of posing my question: Do you know that kid in the playground that all the other children avoid? We’ve all seen them. They go from click to click, looking to connect and is generally received with a face of disgust. The other children tend to turn their backs in hopes that the child will get the hint or they straight out run from them. That kid is my eldest daughter. She is so friendly and brave that she doesn’t give up and usually does find another child to play with.

I decided long ago that homeschooling park days with big groups was not good for us. We stick to more one on one playdates to give other children an opportunity to see how amazing she is without the “group mentality” interfering. When she was younger, she was more willing to let me help. When I saw that the other child wanted space I would call her over or kneel by her and say something to the point of, “Do you see her body? How it’s pulled away? She’s trying to tell you she wants space. Let’s go look for another friend that might want to play.” Also, I have no problem being the friend that plays with them at the park and I do it often. But, lately I find that she doesn’t want my help. She doesn’t want me to talk her through the social challenge & just gets angry with me and insists on staying around children that obviously do not want to play with her or even be close to her. I think she has started putting together that it’s not that the children want space but that they want space from HER. It breaks my heart and the whole experience is emotionally draining for me. On good days, I’m able to keep it together but on bad days, I tend to break down in ugly ways.

I do not demonize the other children because I strongly believe that all children deserve the respect and consideration that I want for my daughters. I have directly asked the child/children (in a kind way) if my daughter has done something to hurt them or bother them & they usually say no.

Yesterday, the situation reached a whole new level for me and I just don’t know what to do anymore. We attend a class at a beautiful garden. From the moment we walked in, she was being rejected left and right from children that she knows. Children that she has interacted with in the past. She was extremely confused. She tried to sit with 2 children and they both made it clear that they did not want to sit with her. I called her over to me and it took some time but she came and sat with me. Shortly after, my youngest daughter went to the same 2 children and they welcomed her with smiles and she sat with them. My youngest daughter sat with them and my heart sank. I called her over. She did not want to come. I went and carried her off. We were distracting the class so I picked up our things and walked off with both of them. I could feel the tears in my throat. I told my youngest daughter, “If your sister is not welcomed to sit there then you and I cannot sit there either.” We all were upset. The 3 of us went and explored the garden on our own and when we saw the group again, we tried to rejoin but it wasn’t much different.

The wound is still fresh and I feel completely emotionally run down but it is a reality of our life. I do not want to live a completely isolated life but I just don’t know what to do with all of this anymore. I would love your perspective and guidance. How do I help my eldest daughter and my youngest daughter? How should my interaction with other children be?

Thank you.

Bridget’s Question (from Cleveland, Ohio, USA) [TIME: 40:36]

I have 6 kids (ages 18-6) we have always homeschooled. My husband and I are both educators. I have been home with the children since the first was born. We did use, what I’ve called, a relaxed eclectic approach with the first 3. I mostly focused on math and phonics. The kids basically learned to read on their own. I need to diverge a little and say I was involved in a parenting webpage that was gentle discipline, positive parenting, attachment parenting. So, I believe our homeschooling evolved out of that philosophy. I’m in Ohio and have had the luxury of attending an unschooling convention every year (except 1) since it began at a water park in our state. I admit, I first went just for the discount offered to homeschool families! However, I did find through the years, speakers who were confirming the things I’m doing here at home. So, a couple of years ago, after a convention I told the kids we were done with “school” and we have (tried) to not look back.

Here’s my hang up

It’s the math thing. My kids are thriving pursuing their interests, and I’d write it all out for you. But other “unschoolers” I know personally and on Facebook groups, seem to push math. Specifically, Life of Fred. Like it’s different because a homeschooler wrote it. Or because it’s a reading/math curriculum combined. I bought much of the curriculum before we jumped ship. It doesn’t work for us.

I’ve been working my way through your podcasts. Can I really just skip math? If one of the kids chooses to do math we go with it?

I know the answer, but I have 3, almost 4 teens and I am having a “I’m messing them up for life” moment.

For the record, my husband, 34 years in the public schools, teaches AP and Honors US History and is a better unschooler than me!!! He doesn’t ever want our kids in the schools.

Yanic’s Question (from Quebec, Canada) [TIME: 55:05]

Hi! Unschooling seems like a dream to me, but my son his autistic and I feel like I will have to bend the unschooling “rules” so to speak because he needs structure. I won’t be able to just let it go all the time. He will need my help on many things but rarely asks for it so I will have to hover a bit in order to find that fine balance between entirely child-led and planned homeschooling. I hope this makes sense?

How would you handle it?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Apr 27 2017

1hr 14mins

Play

EU082: Q&A Round Table

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Anne Ohman and Anna Brown join me to answer listener questions. Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!

Quote of the Week

“It’s in following your child’s light and joy and questions and interests and curiosities and conversations where the learning happens.” ~ Anne Ohman

Listener Questions

Anonymous Question [TIME: 3:36]

My son just turned 7 and we have been Unschooling for 2 years. I love unschooling but the one little concern that keeps popping up once in a while from my husband is about his writing skills / penmanship. He struggles writing his name or has no desire to draw. He does the occasional backwards “N” and I know that I was dyslexic in my younger years so I wonder if he maybe as well, which is why I don’t like to pressure him. Now I loved drawing but hated reading. He on the other hand he is an amazing reader well beyond his age. That is what is keeping my husband relaxing about Unschooling.

So I just want to hear from you of any cases where some children maybe natural great readers but had no desire in writing and once they reached a certain age they had the desire and picked up writing with ease. At least that is what I’m hoping for.

I do plan on sharing this with my husband so feel free to speak to him directly lol.

Thank you.

Nikki’s Question (from Ontario, Canada) [TIME: 27:17]

Hello Pam, Anne and Anna! Prepare yourself because I am about to gush! Thank you SO much for your time and wisdom and knowledge and for sharing your experiences. I absolutely love your podcast Pam, and your books and your website, what incredible resources. And I especially love the Q & A episodes, which are so rich with insight and love! All of your support has been pivotal in our Unschooling journey. SO MUCH GRATITUDE!!!!

Ok, some background first before I ask my question; I have 3 daughters, 8,6,4, all of which have never been to school. I was a teacher for 10 years (and to quote Sandra Dodd, I was “made of school”). After the birth of my third daughter I decided to leave the teaching profession to *be unschooled by the experience of Unschooling! I have been deschooling myself for the last 4/5 years soaking up all kinds of Unschooling and life experiences and resources (honestly, *millions of Unschooling books, articles, EVERY PODCAST ON UNSCHOOLING EVER RECORDED! Ha ha, quite seriously!) and still feel like I have a lot of work to do. But I am so passionate about this way of living and it has begun an incredible journey (for me especially) of changing paradigms in our life. My girls and I have incredible relationships, and they are very bonded to each other as well. I deeply believe in what we are doing and I am aware I still get pulled back into my old ways. I continue to examine new perspectives and I have been paying attention to things that make me uncomfortable, as I am learning that things that make me uncomfortable are things that I can look deeper at, unpack and examine.

We have a wonderful small community of Unschooling families who we have bonded with over the past 4 years, and there are many children of all ages who play together and it’s incredible to witness. We also see many friends who are not Unschoolers. I find that the times I feel uncomfortable in these social situations is when someone feels left out, or when a child seems to be intentionally discluded from some sort of play. (The “reporting” of this usually comes from my 6-year-old who is quite sensitive, but it also happens with my 4-year-old with her own sisters at home, and for other kids as well). Situations like these (and they seem to happen a lot) really get to me. I feel fiercely protective to the one being left out and my initial “instinct” is to want to stand up for them and help them be heard. I am aware where this uncomfortableness and strong reaction comes from (I had an overall horrible, very damaging experience throughout all of grade school and was bullied very badly and excluded from many things, I hated school and never wanted to go mainly because of the social aspect.) These are things I am examining through therapy and have been deeply scarred by and still struggle with in my own social circle as a 36-year-old woman. It has deeply affected my self confidence and sadly has shaped me in many ways. (Not all sadly, because it has contributed to many wonderful qualities of mine like my empathetic nature and sensitive super powers!)

I am aware these experiences often creep into my experience now as a mother. (They crept into my experience as a teacher and I had such a hard time navigating the social atmosphere of school as a teacher, I truly despised it).

When it is brought to my attention (either by observation or from a child), I listen to my daughter’s concerns, I am truly empathetic, I suggest things she can say or do (I am not really sure what she should do sometimes), or if it persists, I go over to the situation with her to be present and I attempt to mediate but usually end up trying to resolve it. This doesn’t feel right, and I feel very emotionally charged when this happens (I struggle to remain neutral). I am even close to or in tears after when I discuss it with my husband trying to get his perspective. I am afraid I get too involved and am making to big a deal of it? I know her experience is not my experience but it’s so hard to separate in the moment. I am continuing to work on that. I am looking for suggestions on how to handle these experiences better for my daughter(s).  I think my perspective is so clouded with my school experiences (as a child and a teacher) that I am missing an opportunity to grow from it and support my daughters through these social experiences. Am I resting this from a “schoolish” perspective still? I need some outside perspective. Much appreciated!

Sarah’s Question (from Italy) [TIME: 52:20]

I’ve recently taken away all limits around TV for my 5.5-year-old daughter. Previously she was watching around 2 hours a day although we were fairly flexible. Since taking away the limits she is pretty much watching TV all day. She’ll stop only if we’re going out somewhere or if a friend comes to play. I know this is normal in the beginning however I’m uncomfortable with how much she is watching. She is incredibly bright, I suspect gifted although she has never been tested. She is a perfectionist, has low tolerance of frustration and sensory issues. I’m worried she is using TV as an escape from all of that, to avoid situations that are frustrating or uncomfortable for her. Whilst this is ok some of the time I question whether it’s good for her to watch so much. So, my question is, are there situations where certain children may need limits around screens?

Anonymous Question [TIME: 61:13]

I’ve been homeschooling for 12 years. I have 4 kids. We have tried many different things. My oldest is will be 17 tomorrow. I discovered quickly back in kindergarten that school at home didn’t work. We have always been relaxed but not true unschooling.

I’ve been reading and listening to your podcast.

So, a couple of fears that I would love others prospective on.

#1) We have friends who homeschool and they are definitely school at home. The mom was a public school teacher. So, my 12yo gets upset that she doesn’t know things that her friends knows. She still struggles with multiplication and most all math. So how do you handle or help your kids with issues like this. I keep telling her she will get it not to worry. She is embarrassed that and feels behind.

#2) I know in unschooling you don’t worry if they read really late according to society. What if something happed to the mom and the kids had no choice but go to public school. I would be so worried how they would make it. Does that even make sense?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Anne’s conference talk excerpt, I Was His Scribe

Anne’s Shine with Unschooling Yahoo group

Anne mentioned the book, The Gift of Dyslexia

Pam’s blog post, Learning to Write is About Communicating

Anne recalled Tracey’s playground question, in episode 69

Anne’s website: shinewithunschooling.com

Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Jul 27 2017

1hr 27mins

Play

EU116: Growing Up Unschooling with Summer Jean

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Summer Jean and I have a wonderful conversation about her experience growing up unschooling. We chat about how her mom came to unschooling, dealing with disapproval from extended family members, how her passion for glass art has unfolded, some of the common questions she gets when people learn she didn’t go to school and lots more.

Quote of the Week

“It’s human instinct to evolve. I mean, how did we get to where we are? It wasn’t from someone forcing us to learn something we didn’t care about. It was from us being curious and interested and wanting to get better at something.” ~ Summer Jean

Questions for Summer

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

What inspired you to learn more about unschooling and did it change the way you saw your childhood?

I understand that you guys experienced quite a bit of pressure and disapproval from extended family growing up. How did you deal with that? Any tips you’d like to share?

How did you discover your passion for glass art and how did that unfold?

When people find out you that you grew up unschooled, I imagine they are full of questions. What are some of the most common questions you get?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Pam’s new blog post, The Nature of Time (an excerpt from her book, The Unschooling Journey: A Field Guide)

Summer’s personal Facebook, and her business, Mermaid Art Glass, on Facebook, and Instagram

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript

Mar 22 2018

1hr 26mins

Play

EU083: Unschooling Around the World with Tami Stroud

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Tami Stroud is an unschooling mom of six kids, ages four to thirteen. We have a great chat about her family’s move to unschooling, their journey to becoming a nomadic, sometimes expat, family, the threads that weave through the ideas of hard work, grit, entitlement, and rewards and punishment, and last, but not least, she shares some wonderful tips for unschooling with a large family.

Quote of the Week

“When you think about rewards and punishment in light of entitlement, that goes back to, you condition people to only want to do a thing if they are getting some sort of benefit. You create this reward economy that you are paying for the behaviour or the goodness you want, rather than people just being good to be good and to freely give themselves.” ~ Tami Stroud

Questions for Tami

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family, and how you discovered unschooling?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

You and your husband have chosen a more nomadic lifestyle for your family. What inspired that and can you share a bit about where you guys have lived so far?

You have a great four-part series on your blog about hard work, digging into the question, “Do people do hard things even when they are not forced to do them?” I really enjoyed the connection you made between the conventional method for encouraging hard work, namely rewards for a “job well done,” and the development of a sense of entitlement. Can you explain that connection?

With the diverging interests of six children, I’d love to hear a bit about what your unschooling days look like.

What tips would you share for larger families starting to move to unschooling?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Tami mentioned the Home Educators of Riyadh Facebook group

Alfie Kohn’s book, Punished by Rewards

Alison Gopnik’s books: The Philosophical BabyThe Scientist in the Crib and The Gardener and the Carpenter

Pam’s blog post, “I’m so proud of you!”

Tami’s blog, StarryEyedPragmatist.com, and Facebook page

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Aug 03 2017

1hr 7mins

Play

EU138: The Sparkle of Unschooling

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This week on the podcast, I’ve put together a compilation of sixteen experienced unschooling parents answering the question, “Looking back, what has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling?” I titled this episode The Sparkle of Unschooling because the guests are talking about THE ONE THING. It’s the thing we eventually discover that we celebrate the most. BOOM! Mic drop. Fireworks. And often it’s not the thing we thought we were looking for when we started out on our unschooling journey.

I hope you enjoy hearing what these experienced unschooling parents had to share!

Audio Snippets Taken from These Episodes …

EU002: Ten Questions with Pam Sorooshian

EU005: Ten Questions with Sandra Dodd

EU009: Ten Questions with Amy Childs

EU014: Ten Questions with Joyce Fetteroll

EU018: Ten Questions with Jennifer McGrail

EU022: Ten Questions with Lainie Liberti

EU037: Ten Questions with Carol Black

EU044: Ten Questions with Jennifer Andersen

EU057: Ten Questions with Akilah S. Richards

EU066: Ten Questions with Pushpa Ramachandran

EU074: Ten Questions with Robyn Coburn

EU089: Ten Questions with Jan Hunt

EU111: Ten Questions with Jan Fortune

EU130: Dismantling Shame with Ronnie Maier

EU131: Deschooling with Maria Randolph

EU135: Ten Questions with Anna Brown

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript

{ Episode image fireworks photo by Grégoire Bertaud on Unsplash }

Aug 23 2018

51mins

Play

EU205: Unschooling Dads with Lucas Land

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Lucas Land is an unschooling dad with three kids, and we have a wonderful conversation about deschooling, living in another country, trusting our kids, and lots more! He also recently started a podcast, We Don’t Talk About That with Lucas Land.

Questions for Lucas

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

How did you discover unschooling and what did your family’s transition to unschooling look like?

Was there a shift in parenting for them in that area, from control to connection?

What, so far, has been the most challenging aspect of moving to unschooling for you?

Were the kids excited to move to Bolivia? Is it a family decision, how you guys decide where you’re going to be going when you’re travelling?

What is your favourite thing about your days right now?

You recently started a podcast. I’d love to hear the story behind that!

As an unschooling dad, what piece of advice would you like to share with dads who are considering or just starting out on this journey?

Things mentioned in the episode

Check out his podcast, We Don’t Talk About That with Lucas Land

Books mentioned:
Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids by Sura Hart & Victoria Kindle Hodson
Deschooling our Lives, edited by Matt Hern

Episode Transcript

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Dec 05 2019

1hr

Play

EU204: Q&A with Anna and Pam

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Anna Brown joins me this week to dive into listener questions.

Question Summaries

The first question is about deschooling and moving to unschooling. She has two boys and they have always homeschooled. They’ve been looking at moving to unschooling. She’s been reading and researching and she’s feeling a little bit overwhelmed. The main focus of her question was around Deschooling. Do they need it? What does it look like? How does unschooling begin?

Our second question is about parent’s intuition. She’s listened to most of podcasts episodes and a number of Q&As and understands the perspective most the guests come from, but has left some of those talks feeling uncomfortable. She says that so many times she’s heard moms speak on the podcast that it was their intuition that guided them to attachment parenting or a different way of living with their children and how their intuition led them to unschooling. Yet, when they speak of their concerns around things like technology use or food choices, it feels in the podcast that their intuition is now being dismissed. She feels that there seems to be little respect for moms having a gut instinct about how their particular child is responding to video games, etc. And there seems to be a dismissal of the parent’s intuition, but it was praised when the parent trusted it way back when.

Question three was sent in by someone with a four-year-old who’s currently in a Waldorf pre-school, and she wants to know if it’s possible to unschool when both parents are working outside of the home.

Question four asks, “Do I have to choose between my aspirations and the needs of my children? Because I think I will be a better mom and role model if I can still pursue my calling in the arts at least part time while giving my kids what they need to thrive.” There is also another aspect about anxiety and not knowing whether it was school-related.

Things mentioned in the episode

EU200: Unschooling in Context

Everything I need to know I learned from video games (article mentioned)

EU032: Choosing School with Alex Polikowsky

EU197: Choosing School, Part 2 with Alex Polikowsky

EU45: Unschooling on a Budget with Glenna McAulay

Blake Boles’ book, College without High School

EU201: Unschooling and Self-care with Erika Ellis

Episode transcript

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Nov 28 2019

59mins

Play

EU203: School’s out. Now what? Part 2

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School’s out. Now what? Choosing to step off the conventional education path and leave school behind is often the culmination of a long, and sometimes emotional, process. But, in the bigger picture, it’s really just the first step on your new path.

School’s Out is a curated collection of some of my published articles, in an order that I think aligns well with the unschooling journey. I also had a lot of fun putting them together, magazine-style, in the PDF edition, as well as creating more streamlined ebook editions.

And now, with more and more people enjoying audio content, I thought it was high time I created an audio version as well! However, with ten articles, I split it into two parts for the podcast. You can listen to Part 1 here.

If you’d like to download the free ebook edition (PDF, epub, or mobi), you can get it here: download the School’s Out ebook

Or, you’re welcome to read the articles individually on my website:

Nurturing Curiosity [ en español: Alentando la Curiosidad ]

Cultivating Creativity

Choosing to Quit [ en español: Eligiendo Renunciar ]

I Can Read, You Know! [ en español: “Puedo Leer, Sabes!” ]

What Does Unschooling Mean to Me? [ en español: ¿Qué significa Unschooling para mí? ]

Nov 21 2019

44mins

Play

EU202: Unschooling and Connected Relationships with Liza Swale

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Liza Swale joins me to talk about her unschooling journey and the value of connected relationships. She shares some amazing stories of trusting, being open, and following the flow. We also dive into what she’s learned about staying connected with her two children, who have very different needs and personalities, and how they prioritize connecting as a family.

Questions for Liza

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

What has been one of the more challenging aspects of deschooling for you and how have you worked through it?

Strong, connected relationships with our kids are valuable for unschooling to flow. Can you share some ways you nurture those connections?

Another key aspect of unschooling is supporting our kids as they pursue their interests. In fact, that also helps builds trust and connection with them, doesn’t it? Have you seen that in action with your kids?

What is your favourite thing about your unschooling days right now?

Things mentioned in the episode

Their farm’s website: Earth’s Harvest Farm

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript

Nov 14 2019

57mins

Play

EU201: Unschooling and Self Care with Erika Ellis

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Erika Ellis joins me this week to talk about the very important topic of self care. Of course, we look at the topic through the lens of unschooling, dispelling some myths and letting go of some “shoulds” about how to take care of ourselves. Erika shares so many practical, easy to use tips to help bring calm and peace to each moment. I’d love to hear your favorite tips in the comments!

Questions for Erika

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

Now, let’s dive right into the topic of self care. It comes up regularly in unschooling discussions and, through that lens, it can be different from the conventional advice we often hear. I’m excited to dive into that, but first, how do you define self care and why is it important to consider?

Mindset is also an essential aspect of self care, isn’t it? Was there a mindset shift you found valuable as you wove unschooling and self care together?

Can you share some self care activities or tools that we might find helpful for releasing stress and re-energizing? 

It can be a bit of a challenge, certainly at first, to figure out ways to fit self care activities into our unschooling days. How has that been working for you?

Do you see your kids absorbing these ideas around self care?

Things mentioned in the episode

Erika was on the podcast, along with Tracy, back in episode 158 about unschooling book clubs.

You can find Erika on Instagram.

And you can find her South Miami Unschooling group on Facebook.

Here’s Erika’s go to resource list

~ Meditation ~
Ten Percent Happier app
Calm app
Insight Timer app
Headspace app
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

~ Mind Expanding ~
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Rich Roll Podcast
How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields
Choose the Life You Want by Tal Ben-Shahar
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

~ Nutrition ~
Plant Proof Podcast with Simon Hill
Clean Food Dirty Girl blog and recipes
Plant-Strong by Rip Esselstyn
Whole by T. Colin Campbell

~ Movement ~
Yoga with Adriene
The Movement with Erin Stutland
Potterhead Running Club
StepBet
Daily Burn
Nerd Fitness

~ Overall Wellness ~
Replenish by Lisa Grace Byrne
Replenish 365 online program by Well Grounded Life
Lighten Up online program by Clean Food Dirty Girl
The Alzheimer’s Solution by Dean and Ayesha Sherzai
The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet by Rip Esselstyn

Episode transcript

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Nov 07 2019

57mins

Play

EU200: Unschooling in Context with Anna Brown

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It’s the 200th episode!!! What a wonderful journey it’s been!

This week Anna Brown joins me for another Unschooling In Context episode. We explore the idea of deschooling and how it fits in the larger context of unschooling. We talk about language, our values, ideas that we can let go and so much more. Anna and I really enjoy these Unschooling in Context chats—we hope you do as well!

Discussion Points

The concept of beginner’s mind is a valuable place to start for deschooling.

Deschooling our understanding of learning: eventually you’ll be seeing it everywhere.

Deschooling our language: there are words that will likely fade out of your vocabulary as you move from deschooling to unschooling. 

Deschooling our relationships with our kids: they are so much more capable than society gives them credit for.

Deschooling our values: what do we hold dear?

In unschooling groups, we often see some version of this question posted: ‘What is the correct unschooling answer to this situation?’

“Am I finished deschooling?”

Episode transcript

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Oct 31 2019

1hr 22mins

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EU199: Unschooling Stories with Holly Johnson

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Holly Johnson is an unschooling mom with two children, and her family is currently traveling the world together! How they got to that place is an amazing story. We dive into the choice to remove a child from school, helping an anxious child, hacking their lives to suit themselves, and how unconditional acceptance and love is always the answer.

Questions for Holly

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

Your family’s journey started with your son in school, as did ours. What were some of the challenges he experienced there?

How did the choice to begin homeschooling come about? And how did that evolve into unschooling?

Can you share a bit about your experience helping children navigate challenges like fear and anxiety?

I’d love to hear the story behind the children’s picture book you’re close to publishing, and where it’s taken you!

At this point on your journey, what do you love most about having chosen to embrace unschooling?

Things mentioned in the episode

Learn more about Holly’s book, The Happiness Seed, at her website.

Find Holly on Instagram

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript

Oct 24 2019

1hr 4mins

Play

EU198: School’s out. Now what? Part 1

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School’s out. Now what? Choosing to step off the conventional education path and leave school behind is often the culmination of a long, and sometimes emotional, process. But, in the bigger picture, it’s really just the first step on your new path. Welcome!

School’s Out is a curated collection of some of my published articles, in an order that I think aligns well with the unschooling journey. I also had a lot of fun putting them together, magazine-style, in the PDF edition, as well as creating more streamlined ebook editions.

And now, with more and more people enjoying audio content, I thought it was high time I created an audio version as well! However, with ten articles, I’ve split it into two parts for the podcast. Part 2 will come out next month.

If you’d like to download the free ebook edition (PDF, epub, or mobi), you can get it here: download the School’s Out ebook

Or, you’re welcome to read the articles individually on my website:

School’s Out

Whose Goal is it, Anyway?

The Timetable of Learning [ en español: El Horario del Aprendizaje ]

Why Not Yes? [ en español: ¿Por qué no un Si? ]

Finding Patience [ en español: Encontrando Paciencia ]

And if you’re ready to dive even deeper into the personal work that embracing unschooling invites us to do, consider joining Anne Ohman, Anna Brown, and me for the Childhood Redefined Online Unschooling Summit. Enrollment is now OPEN until October 20, 2019.

Oct 17 2019

50mins

Play

EU197: Choosing School, Part 2 with Alex Polikowsky

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Alex Polikowsky joins me to share an update about how her family weaves school and unschooling together. Recently, a listener posted a comment on Alex’s first podcast appearance (almost three years ago) about how much she enjoyed the episode and that she’d love to hear an update. I thought it was a great idea and luckily, Alex was up for it too!

Questions for Alex

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

In the last episode, you talked about Gigi’s school experience—she chose to go for a few months when she was nine and in grade four. She really enjoyed it at first, but she satisfied her curiosity and eventually found that she didn’t have enough time outside of school to pursue her interests as much as she wanted. What were some of the interests and things she dove into over the next couple of years?

Gigi chose to attend school part time last year, and then this school year she started full time in grade eight. Can you share the motivation behind her choice this time and how you felt about it?

Last time we spoke, you talked about how you continued to weave unschooling principles into your days. It really is a different experience when they’re choosing to go, isn’t it? And when we continue to choose connection rather than control in our parenting. Have you been able to continue that this time around?

I’d love to hear what Daniel’s been up to the last three years. When we spoke, he was interested in traveling to Japan, maybe as part of an exchange program. Can you share an update with that and what he’s up to now?

It’s only been a few weeks, but how do you find your days flowing as you weave together unschooling Daniel and full-time school for Gigi? Is it challenging to not let school take over your lives?

What has surprised you most about how unschooling has unfolded in your lives so far?

Things mentioned in the episode

Learn more about the Childhood Redefined Unschooling Summit

Listen to Alex’s earlier podcast episode, Choosing School

Jan Hunt’s site, The Natural Child Project

You can find Alex online in the Facebook groups, Unschooling Minnesota and Radical Unschooling Info

Episode transcript

Read the transcript

Oct 10 2019

56mins

Play

EU196: Growing up Unschooling with Katie Patterson

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Katie Patterson left school after kindergarten and grew up unschooling. She is an actress, a writer, and an all-around lover of horror. We have a wonderful conversation about her childhood, how her path has unfolded, what she loved about unschooling, and what she’s up to now.

Questions for Katie

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What were some of your interests growing up and how did you pursue them?

We talk pretty regularly on the podcast about giving kids room to fully explore their passions, though sometimes that can stretch our comfort zones. I’d love to hear your perspective!

Looking back, what do you appreciate most about growing up unschooling?

Lots of people worry when kids choose career paths that don’t typically provide stable, reliable income. Have people asked you about creating a Plan B? How do you answer them?

What are you working on right now?

As a grown unschooler, what piece of advice would you like to share with unschooling parents who are just starting out on this journey?

Things mentioned in the podcast

Katie’s current project, a crowd-funding campaign for her short film, Only You

Katie’s active on Twitter and she has a Facebook page

Katie’s sister, Alyssa Patterson was on the podcast as well

Episode transcript

Read the transcript here

Oct 03 2019

49mins

Play

EU195: Unschooling Stories with Renee Cabatic

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Renee Cabatic, the mother of two unschooled teens, joins me this week to share some wonderful stories from their lives. We dive into passions and comfort zones, college and quitting, agency and self-efficacy, and lots more.

Questions for Renee

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

Many long-time unschooling parents have a story around learning the value of stretching their comfort zones. The spark is usually one of our kids becoming interested in something that makes us feel uncomfortable, or even fearful. Do you have one of those stories?

I regularly get questions from newer unschooling parents about concerns around technology. I’d love to hear how technology like TV, video games, and YouTube, wove through your unschooling days. What was your experience?

One of the valuable paradigm shifts that often happens on the unschooling journey is around the idea of quitting. Conventionally, it’s often seen as a failure or lack of commitment. But there’s another way to look at it, one that’s much more positive. Do you have a quitting story you could share?

Another common concern is that choosing unschooling closes the door to college. I’d love to hear a college story or two!

Looking back, what do you feel has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling all those years ago?

Things mentioned in the Episode

Renee mentioned a couple of unschooling conferences, Free to Be and Life is Good

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Sep 26 2019

1hr 11mins

Play

EU194: Stretching Our Comfort Zones

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Compilation episode time! This time, let’s explore the idea of stretching our comfort zones.

This can come up in various ways along our unschooling journey. Often, we first encounter it when we’re actively deschooling and questioning so much of the conventional wisdom around learning and parenting that we’ve absorbed growing up. We can also find ourselves playing at the edges of our comfort zones if our child becomes interested in something that we’re not fond of, or we’re unfamiliar with. Or maybe our child’s learning journey wanders further off the beaten path than we were first expecting. More stretching.

So, in this episode, I’ve brought together snippets from eight different podcast conversations that I hope you might find helpful and inspiring the next time you bump up against the edges of your comfort zones.

Audio snippets taken from these episodes …

EU016: Supporting Unschooling Teens with Jenny Cyphers

EU093: Unschooling Dads with Robert Gottlieb

EU097: Unschooling and Diversity with Erika Davis-Pitre

EU110: Unschooling Dads & Music with Alan Marshall

EU122: Unschooling Passions with Robin Bentley

EU131: Deschooling with Maria Randolph

EU135: Ten Questions with Anna Brown

EU162: Ten Questions with Alex Peace

Episode transcript

Read the transcript here

Credits

Image by HowardWilks from Pixabay.

Sep 19 2019

1hr 11mins

Play

EU193: Unschooling Younger Kids with Martha Delmore

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Martha Delmore joins me this week to talk about unschooling with younger children. Unschooling wasn’t on her radar before she had kids—she’s a former high school teacher—but her desire to maintain and enhance her relationships with them led her down this unexpected path. We dive into attachment parenting, when family members question our choices, the transition to unschooling, and lots more!

Questions for Martha

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family? 

I’d love to hear how you discovered your passion for treating children as whole people so early in your parenting journey.

What aspects of attachment parenting have you found to be most valuable for your relationships with your children and how do they play out in your days?

It can be challenging when our parents or extended family aren’t familiar with our style of parenting. Can you share some ways you’ve handled those comments or questions?

I’d love to talk about the transition from attachment parenting to unschooling. How did you discover unschooling? Did your days change as your son reached school age?

What is your favourite thing about your unschooling days right now?

Episode transcript

Read the transcript here

Sep 12 2019

50mins

Play

EU192: Unschooling to College with Amy Milstein

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Amy Milstein’s two children have grown up unschooling. Last year, her eldest decided she wanted to go to college. We dive into how they handled the legalities of unschooling in New York, her daughter’s journey to college, and the lovely flow of their unschooling days along the way. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

Questions for Amy

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

Your family lives in New York state, which has a standardized testing requirement for homeschoolers. I saw you mention on your blog that the process was mostly easy and laid back. For those who may be in similar circumstances, can you share how you went about it?

I know your daughter, Maya, chose to go to college last year. I’d love to know how that choice come about and how you helped her along the way.

She’s finished her first year now. What was the experience like for her? Has she chosen to return?

What has surprised you most about how unschooling has unfolded in your lives?

Things mentioned in the show

You can find Amy’s unschooling writing at unschoolingnyc.com and her photography at amymilstein.com.

Amy mentioned her early influences, Wendy Priesnitz, Sandra Dodd, and Wendy’s magazine, Life Learning

The teen travel group Amy mentioned, Unschool Adventures

Episode transcript

Read the episode transcript

Sep 05 2019

1hr 3mins

Play

EU191: Q&A with Anna and Pam

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Anna Brown joins me this week to dive into listener questions!

Question Summaries

Mom hears many parents on the podcast talking about hanging out with their kids so much more now that they’re unschooling. But since she stopped limiting screen time back in January, her boys, 15, 13, and 10, play online games. Her question: “Will they ever stop playing computer games so we can hang out together?!!! Nothing is as enticing as disappearing off into a fantasy land with their mates online ALL day. I feel fed up and I see much less of them than when they were at school last June.”

Dad is wondering if it’s safe/wise/possible for parents who are themselves very laid back and relaxed to unschool their kids. What if the parents lack that motivation/drive, and ‘leave it to the kids to find their own way’?

Mom is considering unschooling her 14-year-old. He hates school and has trouble with critical thinking and reading comprehension, but she wonders if it’s too late to get started.

Mom is a type A personality and avid “rule follower” who started homeschooling last year. She’d love to dive fully into unschooling but is struggling with falling back on her old beliefs and fears.

Things discussed in the episode

Pam mentioned the video game compilation episode

Anna mentioned the interview with Amy Martinez

Episode transcript

Read the episode transcript

Aug 29 2019

54mins

Play

EU190: Unpacking Unschooling Memes with Sue Patterson

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Sue Patterson joins me this week to dive into five popular unschooling memes. Memes can be quick, inspirational pick-me-ups, but we don’t need to stop there—we can use them as a springboard to learn more about both ourselves and unschooling. It’s so worth doing the work.

The five popular memes we discuss

1. “You cannot raise your children as your parents raised you, because your parents raised you for a world that no longer exists.”

2. “Not every place you fit in is where you belong.”

3. “I don’t have a 9-5 job. I have a “when I open my eyes to when I close my eyes” job.”

4. “The reason that kids need to learn to read so early in school is because in school kids read about doing stuff instead of doing stuff. When kids live life outside of school they actually get to do stuff, so it’s not as important to read about it in order to learn.”

5. “In the end, I am the only one who can give my kids a happy mother who loves life.”

{ taken from Sue’s Unschooling Mom 2 Mom Instagram feed }

Things mentioned in the episode

Pam’s blog post, Are You Playing the Role of Mother?

Find Sue on Instagram and Facebook.

Learn more about Sue’s membership group.

Episode transcript

Read the episode transcript

Aug 22 2019

1hr 14mins

Play

EU189: Ten Questions with Amy Martinez

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Amy Martinez joins me this week to talk about her family’s move to unschooling. Amy is a mother of five, who range in age from 15-29. They had time in public school, homeschooling, and ultimately moved to unschooling. Her insights on those transitions, on living in a big family, and on the connections and amazing relationships that have developed with unschooling are inspiring!

Ten Questions for Amy

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

With parents who are discovering unschooling with older kids, it’s pretty common to hear concerns like, “If I let my kids decide what to do, what to eat, or when to sleep, they’ll play video games all night long while eating only junk food!” The three youngest of your five kids were older when you moved from a school at home approach to unschooling. What was your experience?

The transition from a more conventional lifestyle with rules, expectations, and curfews to an unschooling lifestyle focused on trust, respect, discussions, and grace can be a bumpy one. We’re learning a whole new way of engaging with our children. What was that transition like for you guys?

I regularly get questions from parents with larger families about the challenge of trying to meet the many needs of everybody in the household with mutual consideration and respect. With five children, how would you answer that?

Speaking of five kids, sibling relationships in unschooling families can look really different too, can’t they?

When we connected earlier, you mentioned that you’ve learned some things from your kids about handling arbitrary societal norms and the pressure to conform. I’d love to hear more about that!

What has surprised you most about how unschooling has unfolded in your lives?

Another topic you mentioned earlier that caught my eye was how we can help our kids really feel at home, rather than like perpetual guests in our house. I’ve not heard it put that way before, but it’s definitely something I’ve thought about, especially as my kids have gotten older. Can you share more about that?

Looking back, what, for you, has been the most valuable outcome from choosing unschooling?

Things mentioned in the episode

Conference talk that Amy mentioned: A Family of Individuals

The Christian and unschooling sites I mentioned are christian-unschooling.com and The Path Less Taken

Sandra Dodd also has a page with more resources for Christian unschoolers

You can connect with Amy on Instagram and Facebook

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript

Aug 15 2019

1hr 26mins

Play

EU188: Our Unschooling Work with Jen Keefe

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Jen Keefe joins me this week! Jen was on the podcast almost three years ago and I really enjoyed learning a bit about how their unschooling lives have grown and changed since then. We dive into what she found challenging as they moved to unschooling, how it’s been life-changing for her as well as the kids, video games, unschooling resources, the podcast she’s started, Real Women’s Work, her favourite thing about their unschooling days right now and lots more!

Questions for Jen

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What was something you found challenging as your family moved to unschooling and how did you work through it?

With years of unschooling under your belt, what does the phrase “kids are learning all the time” mean to you now?

Unschooling can be life-changing not only for the kids, but for us as well. Has that been your experience?

Since we last spoke, you’ve started a podcast called ‘Real Women’s Work.’ I’d love to hear the story behind how that came about.

What is your favourite thing about your unschooling days right now?

Things mentioned in the episode

Jen’s first podcast episode

Check out Jen’s Real Women’s Work podcast, and find her on Instagram and Facebook

Jen’s new blog for unschooling and personal reflection is ponderingjen.com

Joyce Fetteroll’s website, Joyfully Rejoycing

Sandra Dodd’s website

Recent podcast episode with Talia Bartoe

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript here

Aug 08 2019

1hr 12mins

Play

EU187: Time and the Wild Landscape of Unschooling

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I originally wrote this essay for Rosemary Magazine, for their winter issue, which had the theme, “wildschool.” I loved playing with that idea!

There’s the outer wildness of living outside the structure of compulsory school. In the world, rather than in the classroom. Kids in the grocery store in the middle of the day. Running around the local park in the middle of the week. In most places, that’s decidedly outside the box.

And then there’s the inner wildness. Learning on their own timetable. Following their curiosity and interests rather than a curriculum. Cultivating their creativity rather than encouraging conformity. The time to daydream. To ask themselves questions and contemplate possibilities. To choose what to do. To explore the edges of their comfort zones. To discover how they tick.

This way of living—of welcoming children into our lives with warmth and grace—flies counter to much of the current conventional wisdom around parent-child relationships which urges us to control their wildness so they fit neatly and quietly into our adult-centred culture. Into the box. Tamed. And many of us deeply absorbed those cultural messages growing up. They feel like truth. So, when we lift the lid and peek out, the wild world of unschooling seems almost unfathomable.

And the wildest, most subversive thing of all? Giving our children an abundance of free time.

In this essay, Time and the Wild Landscape of Unschooling, I dive into some of the beautiful ways that free time weaves through our unschooling lives and helps our children stay in touch with their wildness.

Things mentioned in the episode

Check out Rosemary Magazine

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ‘s book, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life

Milva McDonald’s podcast episode, The Gift of Time

Carol Black’s essay, On the Wildness of Children

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, written by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire

Isaac Asimov’s essay on creativity, Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

Rachel Rainbolt’s podcast episode, The Value of Relationships

Adrian Peace-William’s podcast episode, Growing Up Unschooling

{ picture credit: Michael Laricchia, taken in Norway in 2018. }

Episode transcript

You can read the essay here.

Aug 01 2019

21mins

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EU186: Sparkle and Zest and Unschooling with Teresa Hess

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Teresa Hess is an unschooling mom with three kids and the family—Teresa, her husband, and the kids—live in a cool co-housing community on an island in Washington state. Teresa and I had a wonderful conversation about their unschooling lives, diving into the shift to peaceful parenting, the ever-deepening spiral of mothering and self-awareness, the concept of “joy,” and lots more!

Questions for Teresa

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?

What did your family’s move to unschooling look like?

A couple months ago you posted a wonderful manifesto on your blog, explaining that you are a radical unschooling family and listing some of things you believe that led you to that choice. I urge everyone to go read it! In it, you also talk about how you came to this way of parenting, and I think that’s a big shift for many people as they come to unschooling. Can you
share what that process looked like for you?

You have a beautiful blog post titled, ‘The Storm and the Ocean Mother,’ and I want to share this quote from the end of the post: “This is how I learn to be more fully myself: by mothering my children. And this is how I learn to mother my children: by being more fully myself.” I love how clearly you described that ever-spiraling cycle and it’s been my experience
as well. Can you share your thoughts about that?

You also wrote recently about learning to follow our intuitive sense of our own Joy. That’s something else that we learn in ever-deepening cycles, isn’t it? It sounds pretty simple, “follow the joy,” yet I named my website Living Joyfully more than a decade ago and I’m still discovering the depths of that phrase. Can you share some tips for people who’d like to explore the concept of joy and how it weaves so elegantly into our unschooling lives?

What’s your favourite thing about your unschooling days right now?

Things mentioned in the episode

You can find Teresa’s blog at sparkleandzest.com

And here are the blog posts mentioned, Manifesto, The Storm and the Ocean Mother, and Joy Stepping Stones

You can also find Teresa on Facebook and Instagram

Episode transcript

Read the transcript here

Jul 25 2019

1hr 14mins

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