If I can help just one person make a decision to unschool their children, I would feel very fulfilled. Even if all they do is read this article and get inspired, I would be happy. I know that for me, the women in my life who homeschooled, had home births, and practiced attachment parenting, made all the difference. I feel so grateful for their inspiration.
That is why I am now offering coaching for people who choose to unschool. Parents need reassurance, guidance, and inspiration which I would enjoy offering as a coach.
It is really important for a parent to be able to be strong in the face of criticism. People criticized us because Chris (and our daughter, Maud) did not learn to read until they were 9 years old. People might also be critical if they think a child is not learning practical skills.
I believe that the most important thing that children need to learn are to learn how to think critically and creatively, have high moral standards, be able to work with others on a team, and be able to dream big and go after their dreams.
Chris’s experience with getting a Master’s in Communication, which included teaching public speaking, really showed me that he accomplished these goals. He emerged from college with the same values that we (his family) and his peers inspired him to adopt. You can read about his experience in college here.
I want to share a bit more about my son, Chris. I shared in a previous story that he had no desire to read. But he loved to listen to audio books. I’m glad that Harry Potter and other adventure stories he would listen to had characters who had good moral standards.
As I mentioned before, Chris did not learn to read until he was 9 years old. Here is an article that shares a lot of resources about why early reading is not necessarily beneficial. But I think that his voracious appetite for listening to audio books and stories on the radio–like Adventures in Oddysey– helped him to increase his vocabulary, learn grammar, and learn about how to formulate good sentence structure.
Even though Chris did not write that much before he went to college, he became an excellent writer. In his first English class, the teacher gave a test to the students to see where their skill level was. Chris didn’t do so well, and she advised him to take a remedial English class.
Cliff, Chris’s father, encouraged Chris to just take the regular English class. Chris ended up getting A’s in English, writing a paper that his professor used as an example of an excellent paper, and writing his Master’s thesis.
How much did listening to audio books help him be good at writing? I can’t say for sure, but I’m trying out the theory. I’m also encouraging parents to see that when their child really wants to do something–like graduate from college–or learn a skill–if they are motivated, they will achieve their goal!
When Chris was about 12, he decided he wanted to play the bass guitar. We had just started attending a small church where anyone could be part of the worship team. He had no idea what he was doing with the bass. He thought it was like the drums that he had been playing before he took up bass. Treating it like a rhythm instrument, the notes he played were completely off key, and he didn’t have the ear at the time to discern what was happening.
I didn’t want to discourage him, but when one of the participants in the service told me how awful Chris sounded, I knew I needed to do something.
Not knowing how to play bass guitar, I consulted a bass player friend who played on the worship team, and he kindly made a simple chart where Chris could easily see how when he would press down the string on a fret, a note would be played.
I knew enough about music to explain to him that when others were playing music with chords, he just had to play the note that was the name of the chord.
He immediately was able to do this, and play in such a way that was harmonious. Soon, he decided to take lessons and we found a good teacher. He only took lessons for a few months, and he was on his way.
He loved practicing bass for hours. We didn’t have to pressure Chris to be disciplined. We also bought him some software for recording songs, since he was starting to write songs.
The software inspired him to learn the keyboard and acoustic guitar because he wanted to have a nice background to the music. We were amazed at how many hours he poured into this passion.
I noticed that his voice was not as strong as it could be, and he would get a sore throat when he was singing. I gave him a few voice lessons, but we determined that he might learn better from a stranger. I interviewed some voice teachers, because I knew how important it was to find someone who was both kind and skilled.
Chris enjoyed voice lessons, and took them for a month or too. He learned voice exercises that still help him.
I was overjoyed when he decided to get a band together. Chris was the lead singer and played bass. Although the band never really took off because of various reasons, they had a handful of wonderful performances and the experience of practicing, recording a CD, promoting the band, working out conflicts with band members, writing songs together, and of course, the camaraderie, was a very rich experience for Chris.
You can probably see that being in a band helped Chris expand an array of skills.
I was so happy that Chris did not want to play video games very much, and watched TV minimally. In fact, at one point, he was allergic to TV’s and when we went to someone’s home where there was a TV, we would need to ask them to cover the TV. We decided not to watch TV (although we did so rarely) and cover our TV when Chris went through this phase.
We were very blessed to almost always live where there were other kids who were homeschooled or unschooled, so Chris had lots of opportunities to socialize. I think it is really important for parents to find a group or start a group so that parents can support each other and help their kids make friends.
I am glad that Chris never had the desire to go to public school, as some homeschooled children do. He experienced a very rich life for the most part. I feel overjoyed that he was able to focus on what he was passionate about.
I hope this was helpful. What are your experiences with unschooling, if you care to share?