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Rank #12 in Education for Kids category

Kids & Family
Education for Kids

Exploring Unschooling

Updated 4 days ago

Rank #12 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
76
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1

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!
Cover image of Exploring Unschooling

Exploring Unschooling

Updated 4 days ago

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

Rank #1: 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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Rank #2: EU045: Unschooling on a Budget with Glenna McAulay

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Glenna McAulay is an unschooling mom of two daughters, and both she and her husband have a wonderful perspective on living the unschooling lifestyle within their means. We talk about the perspective shifts around money and choices that have helped us over the years, as well as share some ideas for low-cost unschooling.

Quote of the Week

“I think it’s really all about conversation. I mean, we have conversations all the time. We have dad home so much of the time because we’ve chosen that. Now what that means is that we don’t have a huge ton of disposable income, so we have to make the choices of what’s important to our family.” ~ Glenna McAulay

Questions for Glenna

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

I always love to hear what the kids are up to. What things are they interested in and how are they pursuing their interest?

Unschooling families are choosing a different kind of lifestyle, one in which they prioritize spending time with their children. What that looks like can vary widely: maybe they’re living on one income, maybe they’re a single parent, maybe they work-at-home etc. What does come with that, is often a lower family income. Let’s talk a bit about the challenges of that.

In my experience, when money challenges arise, fear can quickly create tunnel vision. Our minds shout no, no, no, can’t do that, can’t do that, and all of a sudden we feel trapped. Each time, I found I need to actively shift from seeing things through the lens of lack to being open creative possibilities. I didn’t see any possibilities until I moved past the fear. Have you found that kind of shift helpful?

When it comes to conversations with our kids, even with less income it still doesn’t need to be about saying no. For me it’s helped to remember not to use money as the first filter when questions come up, but rather one of the last. Just saying “no” shuts down so much conversation, doesn’t it?

With my kids, sometimes it helped to shift our perspective from consumer to DIYer. As we come to know our kids more deeply, and understand the WHY behind their requests, we can sometimes help satisfy that deeper motivation more quickly. So while we’re maybe saving up for “the thing,” we also continued to play with the possibilities, with other ways to satisfy that curiosity. And sometimes it’s super fun for them to play with ways to make their own versions of things in the meantime. Has that been your experience?

There were a couple of conventional expectations that I needed to work through over the years, One was that “new is better.” Which led me to judge myself as a failure if I couldn’t provide shiny, new things. That’s a pretty prevalent expectation in our society isn’t it?

The other conventional expectation was that as the parent, I needed to personally meet all my children’s needs. That one had me feeling like I was failing too, for a while. Then I realized the things they were wanting to do were about them, not about me. And I could reach out to the local community and the online community to find all sorts of creative ways to help them find what they were looking for. Have you found yourself making that shift too?

I thought it would be fun to finish up by just brainstorming a bunch of low-cost opportunities people might find, in their community and online, to get their juices flowing.

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Olive made a coin-operated Lego machine that dispenses Timbits!

Live and learn on organic farms around the world: WOOFing

Chris Guillebeau has a great website about the art of nonconformity and travel hacking

The traveling family Pam mentioned: Normans Running Wild

Facebook group: My unschooler is interested in …

You can check out raspberry pi

Glenna on Facebook

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Nov 10 2016

1hr 18mins

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Rank #3: EU051: Deschooling with Luminara King

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Luminara King is a former Steiner-Waldorf teacher turned unschooling mom. She’s also the author of Unschooling – 7 Steps to Beginning the Journey and blogs at Living the Education Revolution. This week we have a great chat about her deschooling journey.

Quote of the Week

“I think that, as parents, we have to be very careful because there is a real tendency to jump on any interest they have, and just run away with it.” ~ Luminara King

Questions for Luminara

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

You’ve written a book called, Unschooling – 7 Steps to Beginning the Journey. You have a great chapter about learning and I love how you describe becoming an unschooling parent as training to be a Zen Master. You wrote, “You learn the delicate art of allowing and following the flow of your child’s learning; knowing when to offer up ideas and when to step back.” That stepping back can be hard to figure out as you move to unschooling, can’t it?

You have a fun intro to unschooling video on your website and in it, you mention how Lego was a catalyst in your journey to unschooling. What happened there?

I love your blog post about embracing averageness.  I think that’s such a valuable shift that can help us parents shed expectations that we might still carry about who our children “should” become in the future. Because that can interfere with how we see them today, can’t it?

You’ve mentioned you have a college degree. What’s your perspective on college nowadays?

One of the hot topics around unschooling is “screen time.” I put that in quotes because I think the phrase itself is part of the problem. It lumps together so many different activities and part of deschooling is teasing all that out. What has your experience been on this topic?

Recently you published a post on your blog titled, “I’ve had enough of justifying our unschooling life.” And you mention this idea in your book too, in a chapter on dealing with other people’s negative reactions. What are some tips you can share for dealing with those moments?

What has surprised you most about your unschooling journey so far?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Luminara’s ebook: Unschooling: 7 Steps To Beginning The Journey (it’s available in Kindle Unlimited)

Peter Gray’s book, Free to Learn

We Don’t Do That School Thing by Jessica Robinson

Ken Robinson’s TED Talks: Do schools kill creativity?Bring on the learning revolution!, Changing education paradigms

Pam’s blog posts about unschooling and extended family: Enjoying Visits with Extended Family, Supporting Our Kids’ Relationships with Their Relatives, When Negative Relatives Won’t Let Go

Carlo Ricci’s episode, including our chat around the idea that “children are capable”: Unschooling as Alternative Education with Carlo Ricci

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Dec 22 2016

1hr 21mins

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Rank #4: EU042: Curious and Engaged, Pam’s Conference Talk

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I’m excited to share another one of my conference talks, Curious and Engaged, with you! It may have been through an unfortunate series of events that it happens to be this week, but after all the work I put into developing conference talks, I’m happy to have a way to share the audio version, as it was meant to be presented!

So in this talk, I focus on learning. Specifically, three valuable characteristics of real learning that, when they are at play together, allow it to thrive: engagement, motivation, and time to think. I explore what they look like through the lenses of both the conventional education system and unschooling. And from there, I talk about the day-to-day ways we can live this learning lifestyle with our children.

I hope you enjoy it!

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

one-page summary handout

text of the talk

Oct 20 2016

53mins

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Rank #5: 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

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Rank #6: EU046: Growing Up Unschooling with Brenna McBroom

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Brenna McBroom is a 27yo grown unschooler. We had a fun conversation and touch on her transition from school, to homeschooling, and eventually to unschooling; finding connections as a teen; how her passion for ceramic art developed; her experience at Not Back to School Camp as both a teen and as staff; her new blog, Millenimalism; and her (and my) experience that young adult unschoolers are generally self-reliant and living intentionally, rather than just following societal expectations.

Quote of the Week

“We are what we repeatedly do.” ~ Aristotle

Questions for Brenna

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

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

The unschooling lifestyle is a pretty unconventional one, which can sometimes be both awesome and challenging in turn. Can you talk about a challenge you encountered and how you guys worked through it?

How did your passion for ceramic art develop? Can you share that journey and what it looks like today?

The conventional parent-child relationship is often steeped in power and control, but unschooling encourages a different dynamic. Can you share a bit about what was your relationship with your parents was like growing up? And now as an adult?

You recently returned from the Vermont session of Not Back to School Camp, a camp for teen unschoolers. You attended as a teen, and continue to return as part of the staff. Can you share a bit about your experience as a teen camper? What kept you going back?

I saw that this session you ran a project called Deep Dreams: Unearthing, Mapping, and Achieving Your Hidden Ambitions. What drew you to that topic? Can you tell us a bit about how it went?

This year you started a blog called Millenimalism. What was the inspiration behind that?

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

Brenna’s ceramic art website: Brenna Dee Ceramics

Brenna’s blog: Millenimalism

Not Back to School Camp

Odyssey of the Mind

Dale Donovan Pottery

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Nov 17 2016

39mins

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Rank #7: EU068: Unschooling and Technology with Teri DeMarco

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Teri DeMarco is an unschooling mom of three: twin 10-year-old sons and an 8-year-old daughter. I met her in person last year and when I decided to do a technology-focused episode I knew she’d be a great person to chat with!

Quote of the Week

“If you have a lens of ‘What is the educational value? What are they learning?’ that is a layer that goes in front of that relationship. And it doesn’t need to be there, because your kids will reveal to you all that they’re learning when they are in the flow of the relationship.” ~ Teri DeMarco

Questions for Teri

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

When it comes to technology, the conventional term that gets thrown around a lot is “screen time.” I personally don’t like the term for a couple of reasons. What’s your take?

One of the first steps in pulling apart and examining the technology issue is recognizing all the learning that is happening—and all the joy and fun! What has your journey with the technology issue looked like?

If a parent is concerned about the amount of time a child is spending, say watching TV or playing video games, instead of immediately imposing limits to fit their comfort zone, how might they explore the situation to discover what’s up? There are so many possibilities, aren’t there?

Something that can unnerve parents is when their child gets angry when asked to stop playing a video game or watching TV. Fear can quickly have them interpreting that behaviour as “addicted” and blaming the technology. But when we look at the situation from the child’s perspective, things can look very different, can’t they?

One of the big aha moments for me when I was examining my attitude toward technology was the realization that my children learned so much more about weaving technology into their lives through actual experience—like they have learned so many other things through unschooling. What are some of the things you’ve seen your children learn about life with digital tech?

As always with unschooling, it’s important to be engaged with our children, whatever their interest or passion. One of the concerns I hear regularly is that parents feel disconnected from their children because they are engaged in their interests through technology. Let’s talk about some of the ways we can engage with our children “even when” they are using digital tools.

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

The Childhood Redefined conference (we’re putting together an online version right now)

Map of the many places Joseph’s video game play took him

Minecraft on YouTube: Sky Does Minecraft and Stampy Longhead

E3: Electronic Entertainment Expo

Some games: Roblox, Subnautica on Steam

Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, Finding Flow

Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset

Unschooling Gamers Facebook group

Teri’s blog: The Urban Unschooler

Teri’s also on Facebook

Pam’s blog post diving into the mainstream mantra, “You Have to Limit Screen Time”

Pam’s article, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Video Games

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Apr 20 2017

1hr 38mins

Play

Rank #8: 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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Rank #9: EU076: Choosing Home with Kerry McDonald

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Kerry McDonald lives and learns together with her husband and four never-been-schooled children in Massachusetts, US. She blogs on her website, wholefamilylearning.com, is a founding member of alternativestoschool.com, and is on the board of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education. We have fun digging into all sorts of things, including what it really means to learn naturally, the distinction between equal opportunity and equal participation in the workforce, and Kerry’s passion for the intersection of self-directed learning and education policy.

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

Quote of the Week

“No matter how wonderful the teachers are or how thoughtful the curriculum is, it’s still someone else’s ideas around what a child should know versus a child asking their own questions, pursuing their own interests, and moving along a path that’s meaningful to them.” ~ Kerry McDonald

Questions for Kerry

Can you share with us a bit about you and your family, and your journey from a Masters degree in Education to unschooling?

I love hearing what unschooling kids are up to! What are your children interested in at the moment and how are they pursuing it?

You recently wrote a blog post that I really enjoyed, “Natural Learning in an Artificial World.” I want to share a quote: “As homeschoolers, I think we have a tendency to seek out classes and educational experiences that foster what we consider to be natural learning. We look for programming that encourages self-direction and child-led learning. We search for teachers who connect with children and ignite their curiosity. But real, natural learning cannot be captured in a classroom or caged in a curriculum.” Can you talk more about what you mean by that?

You co-edited a book, along with Rachel Chaney, called Choosing Home: 20 Mothers Celebrate Staying Home, Raising Children, and Changing the World. Can you share the inspiration behind this collection of stories?

In your essay in the book, you talk about the consequences of society’s pursuit of equal participation of men and women in the workforce, of seeing the rise in stay-at-home moms over the past 15 years as a bad thing. What are some of the consequences you see?

You are on the organizing team of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Can you tell us a bit about the Alliance and its plans?

You’ve been publishing some great articles lately on websites like Intellectual Takeout and Foundation for Economic Education. The thread running through most of them seems to be diving into the consequences of the conventional school system. You write with such passion and I’d love to hear what has drawn you to that aspect?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

The Pioneer Institute, a think tank in the Boston area

Scratch, free programming language for kids—and the Scratch Jr. free app

Parts and Crafts, a makerspace in Somerville, MA

Kerry’s blog post, Natural Learning in an Artificial World

Kerry and Rachel Chaney edited and published a collection of essays, Choosing Home: 20 Mothers Celebrate Staying Home, Raising Children, and Changing the World

John Taylor Gatto’s book, The Underground History of American Education, and his letter published in the Wall Street Journal op-ed section, I Quit, I Think (July 1991)

Kerry’s a founding member of the website, alternativestoschool.com

Kerry’s articles on Intellectual Takeout and Foundation for Economic Education websites

Kerry’s website and blog is at wholefamilylearning.com and her Facebook page, Whole Family Learning

She’s also on the board of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Jun 15 2017

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Rank #10: 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

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Rank #11: EU124: Unschooling the Early Years with Jen Kobrick

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Jen Kobrick connected with me recently and suggested an episode about the idea of unschooling in the early years—before kids reach school age. Her son is almost three and she so beautifully explained why she thought it was a valuable topic that I asked if she’d be interested in talking about it with me. I was thrilled she said yes! We have a great conversation about her experience with attachment parenting through toddlerhood, ways to approach various parenting challenges through connection, like bedtimes, sharing, and technology, the conventional push for early childhood education, and lots more.

Questions for Jen

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

How did you discover unschooling?

I’ve mentioned in the past how attachment parenting can transition pretty seamlessly into unschooling as children hit school age. But that’s been based more on my reading about attachment theory than experience because I didn’t come across the concept of attachment parenting until my kids were older, and now they’re all in their twenties. So, it’s been a while! You’re engaged in attachment parenting circles right now, so I’d love to hear your perspective. Have you found the attachment parenting and unschooling mindsets diverging as your son enters toddlerhood?

Why do you think this becomes more pronounced in toddlerhood?

I’d love to dive into a few examples with you! Can you share some ideas for parents who are looking to work together with their young children rather than gently controlling them to do—or not do—the “thing.” Let’s start with bedtimes.

How about sharing? How do you approach that through connection rather than control?

What about brushing teeth?

And lastly, what tips do you have with regards to young children and technology?

Conventionally, there’s a big push for early childhood education. I suspect you’ve felt that already, and I was curious how you respond to it through the lens of unschooling.

Before we go, are there any more ways that you find the unschooling mindset valuable for approaching your days, even though your child isn’t school age?

Links to things mentioned in the show

Jen’s fun Facebook page, Adventures En Pointe

Episode Transcript

Read the episode transcript

May 17 2018

1hr 13mins

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Rank #12: EU101: Deschooling with Heather Lake

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Heather Lake and her family began unschooling in January of this year, 2017, and she has been blogging about the experience. I really enjoyed chatting with her about how the journey has been unfolding so far. We talk about what prompted their move to unschooling, how her relationships with her children have changed since they left school, the hardest part of the journey so far, and lots more.

Quote of the Week

“It’s like, you read it in theory, especially when you’re starting out—the kids will learn from the world around them—but it surprised me to actually see them learning totally on their own, with no direction or force; no force at all. I mean I knew it was supposed to happen but to actually see it happen, it’s amazing.” ~ Heather Lake

Questions for Heather

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

How did you discover unschooling and were there any particular concerns behind your family’s decision to move to unschooling?

How have your relationships with your children changed since you began unschooling?

How is the transition to unschooling going for your husband? Does he work outside the home? How are you sharing the process with him?

Is there a question or challenge that you’re working through right now?

What’s been the hardest part of your unschooling journey so far?

What has surprised you most about your journey so far?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

I’d love to learn how I can better help you on your unschooling journey! Please participate in Pam’s 2017 Survey (open until December 14, 2017)

Heather’s blog, Learning at the Lake House and Facebook page

Episode Transcript

Read the transcript here

Dec 07 2017

1hr 1min

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Rank #13: EU055: Living Unschooling with James and Taylor Davis

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James and Taylor Davis both originally went to college to become teachers. Taylor did teach in an elementary school for a number of years, while James ended up playing poker professionally. Eventually, they settled in New Jersey and started down a pretty traditional path—until their first son was born. He has been their greatest teacher in many ways, inspiring them to start questioning everything. And so began their unschooling journey.

Quote of the Week

“Every minute that I spend living in that place of fear about whatever hypothetical thing I’m worried about might happen in the future, it’s just eating away at my time right now with my kids and with my family.” ~ Taylor Davis

Questions for James and Taylor

Can you guys tell us a bit about you and your family?

You both went to college to be teachers and now you’re embracing the unschooling lifestyle. Could you share with us a bit about that experience and what happened to change your course?

I was hoping you could tell us a bit about Camp Stomping Ground. What role has it played in your unschooling journey?

What do you do when you hit a rough patch and begin to doubt unschooling?

James, you wrote a great article that was published in the December issue of Tipping Points, which is the online magazine for the new Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Sometimes when people are first learning about unschooling it can seem like some “perfect” life for children, but I really loved how you described the real life of an unschooled child. You wrote:

“Our kids still make mistakes, but we help them work through their mistakes without shame. Our kids sometimes have regrets, but they don’t resent us for causing them to miss out on the things that are important to them. Our kids sometimes get angry, but it usually comes from frustrating moments while doing things are important to them, rather than getting angry because we are a barrier between them and their goals.”

I love that you brought up regrets because I think regrets kinda get the same bad rap that mistakes do. As parents, we can get caught up in wanting our children to have the “perfect” childhood and imagine that as no mistakes and no regrets. I think parents have an easier time understanding how mistakes can happen and not shaming their kids as they through those choices, but regrets can be harder to frame. If a child later comes to regret a choice, parents may feel bad, taking it on as their failure, thinking they “should have” insisted their child do, or not do, the thing at the source of the regret. But it’s really just more learning for the child, isn’t it? Regrets aren’t a failure on our part, are they? They are part of navigating life.

You mentioned to me that you’re both self-employed and spend about an equal of time with your kids. I’d love to hear how you’ve gotten to that point.

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

You can watch my talk, The Art of Unschooling, at the Canadian Online Homeschool Conference , which runs February 3-7, 2017 (that’s an affiliate link, but my session is free to watch February 3rd and 4th)

I’m also speaking at Unschooler’s Platform, an unschooling family conference in the Chicago area, February 13-17, 2017

RSA Animate video of Sir Ken Robinson’s 2010 talk, Changing Education Paradigms

The camp they founded with Laura Kriegel and Jack Schott: Camp Stomping Ground

Documentary, Surfwise

Near the camp is the Philly Free School

Teresa Graham Brett’s book, Parenting for Social Change

James’ Tipping Points article, Why Self-Directed Education?

Taylor’s online community, created with Fiona Griffin: New Mama Project. It’s a “place for new moms who are feeling overwhelmed, guilty, anxious, or alone because they’re finding their postpartum days to be harder than they expected. We offer stories, information, ideas, planning and wellness tools, and connection to other moms who are in the same boat.”

Camp Stomping Ground on the web: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Taylor on Instagram (private account but she’ll add unschooling families)

Episode Transcript

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Jan 19 2017

1hr 2mins

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Rank #14: EU067: Deschooling with Anna Black

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Anna Black is a former Montessori student and teacher, now an unschooling mom to two lovely daughters in Australia. We have a wonderful conversation, digging into conventional wisdom like, “kids need to do things for themselves,” and “fewer toys is better.” We also have a great chat about how unschooling children develop their own moral compass.

Quote of the Week

“One of the greatest things that I think unschooling has given me and our whole family is the idea that it’s actually okay to be nice to your kids.” ~ Anna Black

Questions for Anna

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

You have a Montessori background, so I was wondering what you found appealing about the idea of unschooling at first?

What did the first few months of your journey to unschooling look like? Did you start out with some structure and then loosen up over time? Or did you treat the transition more like a vacation and not go back? What did it look like for your family?

I think one of the conventional ideas we wrestle with as we deschool is that, to foster independence, we should never do for the child what they can do for themselves. With unschooling, that logic doesn’t hold. We do things for them when they want us to, regardless of whether they could do it themselves. Can you share how you worked through that shift?

You mentioned to me earlier that one of your biggest shifts coming to unschooling was around general abundance. Can you explain what that looked like for you?

Again, you came from a Montessori background, which holds quite conventional views on children’s use of technology and the need to control access. Can you share a bit about your experience with that?

What are your children enjoying right now and how are they are exploring those interests?

How is your husband feeling about your unschooling lifestyle? Was he on board early or have you been helping him learn more about it? What’s his journey looked like to this point?

What has surprised you most about your journey so far?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Canada has a La Leche League and Australia has the Australian Breastfeeding Association

Sandra Dodd’s website and Always Learning email list

Meredith Novak’s podcast episode, EU029: What Learning Looks Like with Meredith Novak

Jo Isaac’s podcast episode, EU035: Redefining Success with Jo Isaac

Joyce Fetteroll’s episode, EU014: Ten Questions with Joyce Fetteroll

Steve Jobs’ quote on creativity, from a 1996 WIRED magazine interview: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity.”

Facebook groups where Anna participates: Radical Unschooling Info and Unschooling Q&A

Follow Abby’s doll, Little Winifred Rose, on Instagram

Episode Transcript

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Apr 13 2017

1hr 7mins

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Rank #15: EU156: Surprises on the Unschooling Journey

Dec 27 2018

1hr 19mins

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Rank #16: 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

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Jun 22 2017

49mins

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Rank #17: 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

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Jul 18 2019

53mins

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Rank #18: 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

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Oct 03 2019

49mins

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Rank #19: EU103: The Gift of Time with Milva McDonald

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Milva McDonald unschooled her four now-adult children starting back in 1991 and this year she published a book of essays about their experience, Slow Homeschooling. We have a great conversation, diving into her family’s unschooling journey, how music has woven its way through their lives, unschooling’s gift of time, college, and lots more!

Quote of the Week

“The things that they chose pursue when they were older are very connected to the playing and exploring that they did when they were younger. And I feel like even as adults, that’s when we get the most joy out of life, when we’re getting that spirit of play into whatever we’re doing.” ~ Milva McDonald

Questions for Milva

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

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

Music has been a big thing in your family. I’d love to hear how it has woven its way through your lives over the years.

I really enjoyed reading your book, Slow Homeschooling. In one of your essays, ‘The Gift of Time,’ you share that your kids benefited hugely from the simple availability of time. I found that as well—I think that turned out to be one of the most valuable aspects of our unschooling lifestyle. Can you share some of the benefits you saw?

Similar to the gift of time, but still distinct, solitude is also so valuable, isn’t it?

Over the last decade or so, homeschooling has grown enough in popularity that we’ve become a market for a wide range of educational products, beyond the typical curriculum-in-a-box. And while increased options are wonderful, I think they can also prolong our deschooling, including the philosophical journey to appreciate the remarkable value of large swaths of free time in our family’s lives. Have you seen this as well?

I really enjoyed your essay, ‘Do Kids Have to Go to College?’ and I’d love to chat about that a bit. I think my favourite line was, “There’s a certain amount of irony in play when homeschooling parents expect their kids to take a traditional path.” Can you explain what you mean by that? And how has college woven into your lives so far?

You’ve co-written a fiction book called Unschoolers. What inspired you guys to take on that project?

Links to Things Mentioned in the Show

Milva’s book, Slow Homeschooling

And the fiction book she co-wrote with Sophia Sayigh, Unschoolers and their website, unschoolersbook.com

Milva’s website, apotlucklife.com

Episode Transcript

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Dec 21 2017

59mins

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Rank #20: EU039: 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 to the Q&A Round Table!

Quote of the Week

“All I am saying … can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~ John Holt

Listener Questions

1. I am thoroughly enjoying your podcast and get excited when one appears in my feed. Thank you. Listening to parents share insights and wisdom has helped me on my own journey with my 8-year-old son.

I am at a point in our journey where I doubt whether I am supporting him and exploring with him in ways that he needs me too.

Some background:

He is our only child and we are older parents. I’m 52 and husband is 56. We both work from home with a flexible schedule. We belong to a local homeschool group and attend weekly field trips and park days. We enjoy our time with them.
I feel he looks to me to figure out our plans for the day. Like, “mom what are we doing today?” or “mom what are we doing tomorrow?” Some days we don’t have plans so we hang at home. He primarily spends his time watching videos of Minecraft which he’s started to play a few months ago and also videos of kids playing nerf wars, etc. I offer up different kinds of videos which he usually isn’t interested in. But I still offer now and then just to see. We play nerf wars in the yard and swing. He started to play Minecraft with a friend over Skype.

I guess I’m confused because I think he’s seeking more, hence the question of what are we doing, and yet falls back to watching videos. So am I to continue to support his video watching or keep trying to find things that pull him away from that? Or both?

He’s not interested in me reading books to him, nor playing with his toys. His interest in Legos has dropped off considerably these last few months to almost no interest. No interest in learning to read or write. Taking classes he can do without.

I feel like I’m lacking in being a playmate, because he needs someone to play with when at home, as well as lacking in my role as unschooling mom.
Just wondering if you can shed some insight on what this scenario looks like to you.

2. My eight-year-old only son has been home from school since February, when we chose unschooling. He has found gaming to be his thing this entire time. He currently loves Halo. It is his choice above all other activities. He will take a break on occasion to do research or enjoy videos on YouTube, to go with family on various outing or trips, and to hang out with friends when invited. Friends who come to our house are very happy to be left alone for hours to enjoy gaming with my son. I have just been letting him pursue this as he desires.

My question is: am I too relaxed in my involvement? Pam mentioned in a post (and I’ll paraphrase. Correct me if I didn’t get this right, Pam) to figure out what the child loves about the game and find things along those lines to strew. Well, I have asked him and what I’ve been able to get from our conversations is that he likes the cool armor. He likes the “good overcoming evil” aspect, and I know he likes getting better at the game and seeing himself rank up. It also allows him to play with others that are much better than his parents, through a multiplayer aspect.

Do I NEED to strew? A few weeks ago I bought a Halo novel that I thought we’d read together. He was happy to see it and held it and looked it over but hasn’t asked me to read it with him (probably too complex for him to read on his own right now). He used to draw nearly every day (often Halo related images) but doesn’t any longer (which I miss, but just hope he’ll pick up again later). Or, should I just continue to chill and let him immerse himself in this thing he’s finding to be so satisfying, strewing when he seems to lose interest and seem at a loss?

I would like to add,

– Anne’s description of her oldest son fits Gabriel to a T. Paraphrasing here, ‘his wonderfully obstinate refusal to let anyone hijack his mind and spirit brought about our decision to unschool.’

– Gabriel is still deschooling and he is still resistant to doing most things that he didn’t think of on his own. I feel remorseful everyday for sending him to school. I feel like I ruined his wonder of the world and his excitement for exploring it, his openness to discovering with me at his side. He spends most of his time playing video games and watching YouTube, researching questions about the games there as well.

I don’t know if his resistance will ever lighten up, although I think it will as it seems like a knee-jerk reaction to any invitation to look at something or go some place with his parents. It comes so fast that he couldn’t possibly have given it any thought. Two things he doesn’t react this way to are going swimming and watching most videos.

I have coaxed him into some things, a hike for instance, where he said he liked the destination so much that he was sorry he complained the whole way, and some excursions into town for various reasons. The latest was after a rainstorm when he marveled that the clouds were so low that they looked like paint on blue canvas. But it took a lot of talking of why it was important to me/us as parents of why he come along and then it was a grudging “Fine, I’ll go.”

3. Hi Pam, Anne and Anna,

We are around 2 months into our unschooling journey. My 10 year old daughter and 12 year old son are currently deschooling. We took them out of school as my 10 year old daughter was being bullied and my 12 year old son had had nothing but a tough time for the almost 8 years he had been at school. We had numerous meetings with teachers over the years, he had endless detentions, a diagnosis of ADHD (which I don’t feel is true as he is just a spirited young boy) and both have a diagnosis of Dyslexia (all of these tests were requested by the school, I didn’t feel the need to have my children labelled, however this is the way the cookie has crumbled – just a little back ground for you). My son in April lost one of his really good friends in a tragic accident, he did not cope too well and he’s a really loving empath. I feel he is holding onto much grief still as he will mention this friend every week or so. We had been looking for schools as none of us were happy and the morning tears all around and huge trauma to get to school each morning was taking it’s toll on myself and the kids, wearing us down. We could not find the right fit for both of my children, so during the July holidays I decided to take the plunge and pull the kids from school much to their delight to deschool and subsequently unschool.

Now here comes the bumpy part. My son decided that he would like an Xbox one around that same time and it was his birthday, he also wanted a game Grand Theft Auto in which he has been begging for since its release a few years back. My husband and I always felt that the content of the game was not appropriate, however along my journey and search I found many positive articles about how the game has more to offer than the violence. I explored and decided after chatting with my husband that if might be a good idea to let him have an explore the game as he had already watched so many youtube videos on the subject he was well versed in the content anyway. He has been playing day and night and even for up to 30 hours in one sitting on numerous occasions. The last time was just two days ago where he woke at 7am played until 4.30pm at which time the internet failed and he loudly expressed his frustrations and cried himself to sleep. Slept for 3 hours, woke at 8pm then played for another 30 hours non stop until midnight of the following night, where I could see that little things in the game were starting the frustrate and upset him and I could see that he needed sleep, so suggested that he come have a snuggle in bed and chat for a bit (he promptly fell asleep actually).

He’s been doing a heap on the game. Only yesterday I helped him to gather the funds by selling vehicles, so that he could purchase and office and warehouse in the game. I heard him later online telling his friends of how we had changed the structure and that he was now a CEO of his own company. He was very excited and he just loves the game immensely.

Here comes the downer. My husband works long hours and often is away from the home for 12 hours each day. All he sees is my son gaming when he leaves and also gaming when he returns, then into the night. It’s causing him a lot of angst. This has been building for a number of weeks now and he feels that our son is not learning sufficiently, learning how to rob people, will end possibly end up in prison due to all of this, has noticed my son has started calling us cuss words quite frequently, won’t know how the real world works due to such huge exposure to the game and would like him to either go back to school or for me to stop unschooling and move to school at home with set work and allocated times for gaming (he doesn’t want to remove the game completely, just reduce the time spent playing).

I have tried to negotiate a deal with my son as it’s really affecting the whole family and the tension in the house is insane (we can hear him gaming all night even though he has a headset and on quiet, so we are not sleeping more than a few hours each night). I have suggested perhaps he might go for a bike ride, come swimming, come meet up with friends to play Minecraft, go for a surf, play with the dogs and even asked him if he could go anywhere or do anything what it would be.

However, he is not open to negotiation on doing anything else, he just wants to play on his Xbox one, he may however change games from time to time if a friend on the forum suggests it (Call of Duty). He also likes to game out where he is part of the home and where the wifi is optimal, so we can all hear from no matter where we sleep due to an open plan home.

Pam, Anne and Anna, I’m so sorry for such a long post, however I wanted to shed the full light on what is happening here and hope that you can help me in any way shape or form to regain some sanity in our lives and to repair our relationships as our home is not the happiest right now and I can feel things tearing apart, whilst I’m between a rock and a hard place trying to glue it back together and make everyone happy.

4. I have twin boys 15 years of age who began unschooling in January 2016 when I pulled them out of the public school system. Now they are entering 11th grade studies and would like to attend an art institute after graduating 12th grade to become a multimedia artist.

My question is: how do I prepare a transcript/diploma of what they’ve learnt, studies they’ve taken in English, math, history, etc in order to enroll them in a college or an art institute? AR community College wants some type of transcript in order for them to be enrolled there and I’m assuming that an art institute would want something of that kind as well.

Thank you for any suggestions or advice that you may have.

5. Hi. What would you advise to a mother who wants to unschool while her husband does not want to? Thank you!

Links to things mentioned in the show

Episode Transcript

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Sep 29 2016

1hr 14mins

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