Part 1 is my Facilitate Plan that I decided to make in order to expose my teen to “subjects” I want her to learn. I also explained a little about my role in her unschooling journey. In part two I explain some of my teen”s learning history and one subject I feel is important for my teen to understand. In part three I’m going to talk about more subject and why these “subjects” specifically.
A short rundown of my action plan: I’m going to send my teen links to articles, books, and videos I want her to check out. I also send her reminders to do them as well as reminders to do other predetermined chores or activities, like unload the dishwasher or practice her singing. And I’m going to talk to her about the links I send, the books we read, the shows we watch, and her other interests. I already do this on a small scale but want to get more involved.
I don’t really think this goes against our unschool lifestyle. I’m not forcing her to learn a set of facts or demanding she write papers on what she’s learning. Neither is it entirely child-led. But my definition of unschooling might be different then more radical followers. I do think its important that a person has a certain amount of knowledge in order to function in society-and I do think its important to function in society. I believe its my job as facilitator to expose her to those things and make sure she has at least a basic understanding of some of them. I also respect that she is an individual but believe she chose to be born into a family and needs to learn to respect other members of the family and contribute to the unit as a whole.
My teen has not been an unschooler her whole life. From homeschooling half way through grade K we then morphed into unschooling. It took a long time to get the hang of unschooling and is not without its obstacles still. As a baby I thankfully did instinctively attachment parent her. However during her toddler and preschool year she was not parented as extreme as I parent now. Instead of providing a safe environment for her to express her feelings, I forced her to bury negative emotions and maybe even some positive ones-this was also done to me somewhere along my childhood. Much healing and trust is still being established after some poor parenting skills. While learning about unschooling, attachment parenting and gentle discipline I was also exposed to Montessori and use some of those techniques, which line up nicely with unschooling, in guiding my preschoolers. With Adeline I missed out on guiding her through learning skills when she was ready for them. So basically her learning style is more challenging because I didn’t foster an early love for learning or a mutual respect for each other from her early childhood. We are also hindered in our journey because she meets opposition of unschooling from her other set of parents. Sometimes she questions what is important to learn and feels ashamed of her mental abilities and capabilities.
I tell the above for two reasons. First, she has two toddler sisters and a couple siblings on the way. Often she is annoyed and frustrated with them and with me. I think this is partly due to my parenting style being different from her to them. In some ways I think she feels resentment (maybe only subconsciously but its there). My hope is that by exposing her to article about child development, attachment parenting, and peaceful parenting then she’ll better understand them and better see why I parent them that way. Perhaps she’ll even be able to find the tools to help the emotions that she struggles to express. I also talk to her often about the mistakes I’ve made with her and with them. This in itself builds trust and respect between us. So, one of the main subjects I feel is important for my daughter to be exposed to is gentle parenting and the affects of the child and parent. This will benefit her family life now and maybe later.
As far as late start to life learning goes, it means sometimes I have to push her a little more then someone who’s picked up learning skills earlier in life. Yes, even unschooling takes certain skills. It takes ambition for one. It also takes observation. Neither of which I was very good at fostering in her when she was younger. So while I believe that if a person loves to learn, she will be motivated to seek out the information she wants, I do think some people need to re-learn to learn. Sometimes that takes encouragement from someone else. Because we do talk-its not all online communication-I know that she wants me to remind her to do things. I even have to remind myself to do things. If my day is not schedule I often wander around and can’t focus on a task-or I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. When I take the time to write out a list of stuff for me to do then cross things off the list as I don them, then I feel more accomplished and I feel like continuing. Lists are my external motivator and for now, I am my teens external motivator. Honestly I don’t know if this is a trait that is learned or if its just a teen thing.I also think that for the negative feedback she’s received- she needs double the positive encouragement. While I send her links of things I want her to be exposed to, I also send her links to things I know interest and entertain her. I also like to show her examples of other successful unschoolers and entrepreneurs.
This situation may not apply directly to you or your teens. In part 3 I’ll write about subjects that I believe everyone should at least be exposed to.