5 Things Your Unschooler Needs to Know
Unschoolers will often challenge the use of the words “have to”. I’ve probably driven my husband crazy by answering his, “I have to…” with a “Really? HAVE to?” with a big grin. But I’ve been caught in my own joke, annoying him on purpose has only led me to question my own beliefs… again. Yes it’s true, I am so against the grain that I challenge myself, regularly. So here is my dilemma. You know all those homeschool and school supplemental (as if we need to supplement school) books; “What your third grader needs to know” or “What your teenager needs to know”? They always get me right at the title. “No one, NEEDS, to know anything at all”, I say in my head. Yet, sometime last week, this thought of mine (mostly sarcastic and playful) came to a screeching halt and I found myself, asking myself (who else?)…
“Is there anything an Unschooler HAS TO know?”
Is there anything out there in this whole universe, so important that an Unschooler must, must, must know, no questions asked? Is there information out there, so monumental, that if an Unschooler didn’t know it, it could drastically change the course of his/her life forever? The answer is YES. There is. And if I haven’t already blown your mind, I’m going to tell you there are actually 5 things that your Unschooler NEEDS to know, MUST know, and just HAS TO know. And just like you probably guessed, I’m going to tell you what they are in no certain order.
- Joy: Do you know joy? Do you know what brings your child joy? Do you fill your world and theirs with things and opportunities that bring you all joy? You must! My children love being at home and free from control and coercion. They value their joy like no other child. I’m always wondering… how can I bring them even more?
- Trust: We live in a distrustful world. Rules, laws, regulations, and forced “guidance” tell children they aren’t trusted. Trust your child, change the world. A child who grows up trusted, becomes trustworthy and trustful. Trust your child to learn and make decisions for himself. Just make sure it’s not in spite of the fact that you don’t. Oh and most importantly, be trustworthy.
- Mistakes: Our society doesn’t always value mistakes. Punishment of a mistake, negates learning from it. And no I don’t mean “learning their lesson” or “learning their place”, I mean real, natural learning. Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. A mistake can happen anywhere, anytime and is often unavoidable. Unschoolers should feel safe to make mistakes.
- Love: This knowledge isn’t the sort of knowledge you can test or measure. It isn’t the sort of information that you are requiring your child to learn and find. They can’t read it in a book, find it on the internet, or get it at school. Love actually starts with you, it should be unwavering, and it should encompass all of the other things that your child must know. Being loved, promotes loving. A child who grows up unloved or even feeling unloved, will likely have difficulty expressing or feeling love. I believe that all children need to know love.
- Friendship: Parents are friends. Doesn’t that go against the mainstream?! My children not only have my love, my trust, and my guidance (if they want it) but they have my friendship. I am there for them when they need me and even when they don’t. I am joyful and trustworthy. My children and I are humans, we make mistakes and I still give my love freely. When presented with a sticky situation my children know I am on their side. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that they know that. I won’t leave them physically or emotionally alone when they need me, ever. I am right where they need me to be.
It was my intention to write this piece without clear examples of how to make sure your children know these things. These five things, although highly important, should never be forced or tested. As a parent, it is your job to think about and figure out how you will make sure they know these things without actually requiring them. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle, (G. I. Jooooooooe… don’t’ tell me you weren’t thinking it!).