There are so many ways to define what an Unschooling lifestyle looks like, but most unschooling families would agree that it means that the children set their own agendas for learning at their own pace. That is true in our family, but it does not happen in a vacuum. In other words, my children do set their own agendas but they do it within the context of our values and vision. There are 3 main areas that I focus on and do my best to create an environment and family culture where it will be easy for my children to assimilate certain skills and attitudes.
1. Life Skills
I’ve heard parents say that various activities are life skills, everything from laundry to skating to karate. My definition of life skills are skills that will enable my children to take care of themselves no matter where in the world they are living. So to me, being able to cook Kraft Dinner is not a life skill. Neither is skating. (Although I might be convinced that swimming is a life skill.)
I want my children to be able to prepare and enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I want them to know how to put seeds in the Earth and tend them until they are ready for harvest. I want them to be able to assemble common ingredients into things like bread or biscuits, soup or stew. I want them to know what different herbs and spices are used for.
I also want them to feel at ease with many different holistic health practices. I want them to be utterly comfortable with and knowledgeable about their own bodies, inside and out. I want them to know that they can have clean hair and teeth and underarms without smelly products that come in packages and contain lots of chemicals.
And I want them to have the skills to knit a blanket or to sew on a patch or to shorten a pair of pants. There are many places in the world where taking care of your own clothing is a normal part of culture and I want my children to be able to fit in no matter where they happen to be. And I want them to be able to swing a hammer, care for a flock of chickens, paddle a canoe and oil a bicycle chain.
For me, life skills that are only relevant in suburban North America are not enough. I really hope to empower my children to feel confident and comfortable meeting their personal needs anywhere.
2. The Pursuit of Passion
If our Unschooling Adventure doesn’t lead to my children discovering their passions and exploring every topic of interest, then I will have completely failed as their mother and facilitator. I consider it to be my top job to provide my children–collectively and individually–with many diverse opportunities to explore and learn. And I also need to make sure that they have ample TIME to practice and perform and enjoy their skills, strengths and interests.
And their passions don’t have to be limited to one specific skill. Maybe one of my children will love outdoor adventure. Or raw-foodism. Or foreign travel. Or dog grooming. (Ha ha ha. That was a joke. If you know me, you know that I hate dogs. I’m not sure what I would do if one of my children had a passion for dogs!)
I always think that the real gift of Unschooling is just the TIME that my children and I have to pursue what we love to do. Our activities and pursuits do change, but always we have enough time to engage for as long as we want to until we are satisfied and satiated. It’s what Freedom and Joy are all about.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come
alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people
who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman
3. A Sense of Self with a Global Perspective
I hardly know how to describe this vision that I hope to instil in my children as they grow. It’s about spirituality and self-awareness and power and wisdom. But it’s also about knowing that we are important to the Earth and that we each have a role to play in the improvement of humanity. It’s about creating what we want from life, not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. I want them to know that each person of Earth values their own lives as much as we value ours, and that we must make our choices to reflect the value of each life.
I want them to know that it is not their job to please other people but that it IS their responsibility to be kind, patient and generous. I want them to value each person’s time, energy and money as they value their own. I want them to know that their power comes from within them and that it can never be diminished and also that they can extend power to others through their thoughts, words and deeds.
What is your Vision and Purpose in Unschooling?