In many circles, in real life and online, I have come to see that many people seem to believe that Unschooling and child led living go hand in hand when really they can be and are quite separate. It is easy to think however that one equals the other, as it is true that many families that practice a child led learning method such as unschooling do extend the child led ideology to all aspects of life. However, it is not something that all unschoolers believe in and child led living is not at all unique to unschooling.
There are many families that are child led and use public school, as there are many unschoolers that believe that child led learning is the best way to learn but believe that family dynamics are very different.
Personally, child led living is not something that I strive for which seems to surprise many people.
I believe that in a family the parents are the leaders, we are the ones with life experience, we are our children’s guides through the beginning of their lives. We are showing them the way and teaching them the skills to love and thrive. However, it remains important to remember that as parents and guides, we are not dictators, children deserve respect, they have a voice, they have a right be listened to and though they may not have all of the control it is not taken away from them completely either…
Mutual respect, consensual living, unconditional love, non-coercive and gentle parenting are the keys…
I think that there needs to be a balance in a family and the more we are the more we have to work as a team. There are times that some may not be happy, and in those times we do our best to help through the transition and work through those feelings.
If we need to leave from the park and someone is not happy, I will not stay there and wait until they are ready, however, I will also not say that I am leaving and instil the fear of abandonment just to get my point across. There are many ways to talk to kids, to help them with the transition of going… there are some kids that are easier than others and there are some that give you a run for your money and having 3 very different children there are times that you really need to get creative and yes there are sometimes tears… but with those tears there is always support.
The thing is… kids are not always 100% right and they do need guidance… but parents are not always 100% right either and we need to remember that kids often know more about what they need than we give them credit for. As a family there are times that we all have to make sacrifices and there are times that the right thing for one is not always the right thing for the other and it is not always the child that gets their way, but it is also not always the parent… I might want my kids to sleep at a certain time so that I have some time to myself…. but if they are not tired then why should they be forced? However, that time needs to be quiet because there are others that may be sleeping and evenings are quiet time around here…
It is that fine balance that seems to be so hard… guidance but not control… letting go of arbitrary expectations and letting kids have their say without making them having total control either…
Being a parent is hard and being a child is hard also… so my goal is to make it easiest for all of us and of course we always strive for better.
Great Post Paxye! You got me thinking about this topic a lot this morning so I wrote my own blog post on the topic. http://annie.paxye.com/
Annie… thank you so much for that post…. you really touch in depth what I wanted to say…
I really like what you had to say here. It is closer to how I think than I would have thought. Have you read the continuum concept?
I read it a few years ago and it really impacted the way I thought…
It shows! 🙂
Hey. I re found your blog from Annie’s and I’m so glad. Furthermore, I loved this essay. We are unschoolers but not child led in the rest of our life. I’m actually kind of strict about boundaries and routines and manners. I think this makes my kids feel calm and safe. And because they are so calm and happy, they are such easy company. They know what to expect and how to act.
Its not an opinion you hear very often, so thanks for writing it out.
Well said! I believe that there’s a big difference between providing guidance and just being the boss. Noncoercive parenting is not exclusive of leading and guiding our children. They want our guidance, hopefully. Parents have natural authority by nature of our experience and the fact that we love our children and want the best for them–their happiness, confidence, etc. I call us unschoolers, if someone wants a word for our homeschool style, but unschooling means so many different things. I just mean that we don’t make the kids do learning activities, lessons, or whatever. Although they do lots of learning activities and enjoy lessons.
your blog is like a breath of fresh air for me.. I am just loving reading it. I wish I had someone like you to hang out with lol!!!
And this: “Mutual respect, consensual living, unconditional love, non-coercive and gentle parenting are the keys…” yes! Unschooling does NOT mean unparenting. 🙂