My Unschooling Manifesto

unschoolers-manifesto
Sometimes it helps to get really clear what we believe about unschooling. Here’s my list of 25 items that are important in my own personal Unschooler’s Manifesto.

Would you add something to my list?

Would you be interested in creating your own manifesto? 

1.) Stop dividing the world into Educational and Non-educational. Everything is educational!

2.) Nothing is more important than the relationship between you and them – not some worksheet, not a banana peel on the floor, not what time they go to bed, not when they learn to read.

3.) You don’t have to artificially divide the world up into subjects. One thing really does lead to another when learners (children and adults) follow their interests.

4.) Figure out what your family’s rhythm is – and recognize that it may change over time. And! It may not look like someone else’s. But that’s the beauty of truly being able to individualize for your family too!

5.) Be curious about the world yourself. Invite your kids to be curious with you. Support them as they begin to wander with their own curiosities.

6.) Be Interested and Interesting. Unschoolers focus on living a rich, stimulating life with their kids.

7.) Role model critical thinking skills.

8.) Unschoolers recognize that the schoolish ways of lesson plans, curriculum, assignments, quizzes or tests, required memorizing, and grades are totally unnecessary and more about the “teaching” than the “learning.”

9.) Don’t suck the fun out of something by turning it into a “teachable moment.” Take your cues from your kids – a little conversation about it may be fine with them.

10.) Create a support system for yourself – people you can turn to when you’re not sure what you’re doing is working. Best if local, still good if online.

11.) You don’t have to use the term “unschooling” if it bugs you. A lot of options exist. And you may use different terms when you talk to different people – based upon their level of understanding. “Homeschooling” is fine for friends/family who don’t know what the heck you’re doing! Unschooling, at it’s simplest definition, is a homeschooling method. But if you want to call it Whole Life learning, or say, “We’re doing an experiential, individualized approach to learning,” that works too.

12.) Do everything you can to stay focused on TODAY… don’t beat yourself up about screw-ups in the past, and don’t play the “what if” game about all the things that could happen in the future.

13.) Take your cues from the child standing right in front of you. Staying tuned into who they really are (not that imagined story in your head) , will point you toward how to support them to grow and learn.

14.) Deschool yourself as well as your child. Read about how schoolish thoughts creep in, simply because they’re familiar – and because we are inundated with them from society.

15.) Ask yourself Why? And Why Not? Move away from arbitrary reasons. It may not have to go the way your knee-jerk thought wants to take you.  Think about the rationale behind the decision – does this work best for your family today?

16.) Get rid of comparisons. Every person is unique – their interests, their experiences, their internal wiring! The sooner we embrace people for who they are today and not wish for them to be something different – the better!

17.) Recognize that when you are making comparisons or wishing they were different, they’re picking up on your disapproval, your disappointment. If you’re trying for unconditional love – don’t make it conditional.

18.) Observe without judgement. You’re taking in data so you can be the best resource finder or facilitator for them.

19.) Learning is naturally hard-wired into humans. It’s possible that your child has had that negatively affected by schoolish techniques – but it can return if you’re supportive and patient. It’s human nature.

20.) Parents have to have a lot of trust in the process of learning – and in their own children – when external pressures are so strongly pushing for traditional schooling.

21.) Stay flexible and continue to learn about unschooling. What sounded insane in the beginning, may make more sense to you later down the road. That’s ok. What you embrace is entirely up to you. We all evolve as parents and as learners ourselves. Thank heavens, right?

22.) Because unschoolers aren’t following a typical scope and sequence, they will likely have gaps in their learning… at least according to what schools expect. But truthfully, we all have gaps – either we weren’t paying attention, or we transferred schools, or we were out for an illness.  And everyone can easily close up a gap with a quick google search or Siri question! 

23.) 18 is not a magic age – they will learn when they are ready. Sometimes before 18, sometimes after. But the pressure to get It all done by 18 is gone.

24.) Your days will look more like summer vacation – with all the fun, connection, and exploration that can go with it.

25.) Enjoy your life with your children. If this is hard for you, talk with someone to see where your obstacles are.

 

If you’re new to unschooling and wish you had a little extra support, I have a couple of great options for you!
Creating Confidence – A private membership group approach
Stress-Free Start – a 1:1 Coaching plan with a free ebook.

Pinterest and Unschooling

pinterest-unschoolPinterest, a social media platform founded in 2009, allows users to visually share, discover and catalog new interests. I think of it as a visual bookmarking system. When you find something you’d like to save, you “pin” it to a common theme area called a “board.”  You can browse/follow other people who share your interests and also “pin” what they’ve found onto your “boards.”  Pins can be photos, videos, graphics and even articles (although this works best if there’s a photo on the article’s page.)

I think of Pinterest as an Unschooler’s Dream!

I joined Pinterest when it was still really new in 2011. You had to be invited by someone who already had an account – it was somewhat of a cumbersome process!  But by then, my kids were grown. Immediately, I was nostalgic for the days of combing through hard-copy catalogs that had come by mail – always on the lookout for just the right resource. Back in the 1990s, most of the catalog products weren’t online, so we would wait for the mail or pass the catalogs among us at park days or our monthly Mom’s Night Out. Little did we know, someone was about to design something we would have adored – PINTEREST!

If you’re still only using Pinterest for recipes and interior design ideas – you’re barely scratching the surface!

Just as parents in our support group shared ideas, resources and websites at local coffeeshops and park days, unschooling moms are sharing resources from atoms to Zentangles on Pinterest! If your child has an interest, typing in a couple of keywords can give you access to so many options other people have discovered. And you’re not limited to only the other moms you know personally. You can search by theme, and find all kinds of things.  The entire internet is accessible to you – other people have done their research and are happy to share!

The 3 Step How-To

So how do you make this work to your best advantage?

  1. Create Pinterest accounts. Create one for yourself and, with your kids, create accounts for each child.
  2. Start identifying a variety of interests each child has. Get creative! You can have as many as you like. Each should be their own “Board” (in Pinterest lingo)
  3. Sharing boards. Once your child has his/her boards set up, he can invite you to pin onto that too. This will give them access to anything you find when you’re out resource-hunting on the internet.

Sometimes people have asked why not simply have your child use your account. Here are a few reasons I think it’s a good idea for kids to have their own account:pinterest-unschooling

  • They can learn more about how social media works.
  • They can easily add boards of their own if this turns into a tool they enjoy using.
  • They can create their own network of people to share pins.

At first, kids may find Pinterest to be a “mom” kind of thing – maybe. But it’s an easy visual way to keep track of the hundreds (thousands?) of ideas that cross our paths as we’re out on the web.

If we’re going to have so many wonderful ideas coming at us at lightening speed, we need to have a way to manage them! Certainly trying to remember it all isn’t going to work. Plus, another advantage is that you can pin something that you’d like to explore, but haven’t had time to yet. Then it can sit in your board and wait until you have time to really peruse the website.

From a mom perspective, Pinterest removes the pressure of “Come look now!” Even when it’s exciting, it can be interrupting – to you or to them! This way each person can check out the topic when they’re actually in the mood to look. And it allows you to continue to find cool resources even after their interest fades a little – it will be there if and when that curiosity pops up again.

Unschooling Mom2Mom currently has 66 Pinterest boards with nearly 2,000 pins!
So, if you’re just starting, go check these out and pin those that interest you.

Happy Pinning!

 

Coping with the Back-to-School Frenzy

Sue-Patterson-adviceI want to share a few quick thoughts about this Back-to-School season. It’s almost a rite of passage here, isn’t it? New shoes, new backpack, new class schedule – so much hope and promise. Yet, we’re all too aware of how this will fade fairly quickly. The backpack zipper rips, the shoes aren’t just right, the bullies rear their ugly heads, and the schedule is more of the same… year after year. But people have to do something to get everyone to forget how they felt about the whole thing last year and buy into the idea that THIS time, it’s all going to be different.

Sigh. Disappointing.

Yet, even as we KNOW that, some of us get a little twinge. We allow ourselves to get swept up in feelings and memories that may not even be accurate! We feel a little left out or like a little fish swimming upstream alone. Or maybe we feel a little jealous of the moms who go for coffee together after they’ve dropped the kids off. We KNOW we’re doing the right thing, so why are we having these weird feelings about this time period that is so clearly manufactured by marketing and hype?

It could be because…
…It’s that rite of passage thing. And we went through it year after year.
…We’re having some doubts about how our home educating path has gone recently.
…We’re mere mortals against the marketing machine at work on us!
But I have a solution!

Bring your own motivations back to the front of your mind. No drifting. Pull out your journal and write your own answers:

1. List the reasons your family chose to homeschool/unschool.
2. Describe examples of your own school experience where it did NOT go as you had hoped.
3. Describe examples of times in your own or your child’s school experience that you will be able to avoid because now you’re homeschooling/unschooling.Next, make a list of new traditions you can create during this time of year. You might be a week or two into the local school year, but seeing what could work and what kind of flops would be good to do – even now.Ryan-Gosling-hey-girl

Here are some suggestions:

  • Get away from it all! Family trips, camping, heading to the beach all can be fun ways to remind you that you have flexibility and fun ahead!
  • Go school shopping! Once school starts in your neighborhood, so many of those supplies go on sale. Stock up on notebooks, pens, calendars – whatever looks fun!
  • Sleep in! And then start the day with a yummy brunch full of everone’s favorite foods. No rush, no hurrying. Put some fun upbeat music on and ponder what you’d like to do ALL.Day.Long.
  • Take photos! Posing near the same tree each year is cool, or even in the same living room chair. It can be fun to look back at the growth. Pinterest is full of all kinds of awesome ways to commemorate special days. If you’re uneasy sharing your photos openly on social media – or you just want to join in on the fun – we have a fabulous thread FULL of kids and their first NOT Back to School photos on our closed group.

Post your photos here

(at the UnschoolingMom2Mom FB group)

The link will work if you’re a member of Unschooling Mom2Mom
Or use the hashtags
#UnschoolingMom2Mom or #NotBacktoSchool

And don’t miss my collection of funny (and sometimes quite irreverant)
Not-Back-to-school memes. 
Not-Back-to-school

10 Lessons for a Homeschooling Mom to UNLEARN

Homeschooing-Moms-10-Lessons-to-UnlearnIt’s all about the “learning”, right? We hear that all the time. And it’s true! But it’s also about the UNlearning! And homeschooling moms seem to have the biggest challenges in this regard.

I don’t know whether we’re so conditioned for approval – thank you schools and mainstrem socialization – or really why this is. But over and over these same particular issues crop up for those of us who choose to step into the home education world.

See if any of these ideas are lurking in your head. Let’s clear them up so you can get on to successfully homeschooling your kids!

  1. I’m not smart enough!
    Don’t you think it’s odd when this irrational thought crosses your path? Most likely, you are a product of the school system yourself. And you want to put your child in the same place that didn’t prepare you well enough? That’s not logical.
  2.  Who am I to do this?
    Do you hear that voice, “Who do you think you are, young lady?” Boy do I hear that loud and clear! This kind of talk seems to hone in on our self-doubt, magnifying it and attempting to embarrass us. It’s odd how we can do that to ourselves. But after years of conditioning, it shouldn’t be surprising.This is a spin-off of the idea that we need to always call in The Experts. We can’t possibly know wha to do in any given situation.Does this one plague you?But did you call in a specialist when your child learned to walk or to eat solid foods? Did you have a tutor sitting with you and your baby when he would attempt to talk? Of course not! Maybe you consulted some baby development websites… but otherwise, you left it to nature. You were completely ok with that. But learning – another one of those natural tendencies all humans have – you somehow don’t think you can do the same.

    Not true! You can. Your child is hardwired to learn. Your role is kind of like when they were learning all of those baby skills: You created an environment that was conducive for them developmentally and based upon their interests. You were flexible and continued to offer options as the baby began to figure it all out. The exact same process can happen with learning. And it IS happening with learning all around the country.

  3. “Real learning” has to look like school.
    School really creates a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. But educational research shows that children learn in so many different ways – visually, auditorily, kinesthetically, experientially. There’s no way schools can accommodate all the different ways a classroom full of kids could possibly need. So instead of admitting that, they simply try to make the kids adapt. They declare that their way is The Way, and that’s that. But it’s not true.In fact, when we look back at the things we retain and/or the things we really learned – more often than not those experiences happened outside the classroom.
  4. What will the neighbors/relatives think?
    This can be tough. Peer pressure has such a strong grip on so many of us. Again, all those years of having to fend for yourself for hours at school – you had to learn how to cope with peer pressure! So when we care too much about what a stranger at the park or the clerk at CVS has to say about why our little one isn’t in school, we need to recognize that as truly inconsequential to our day. Because it is! For relatives we only see at holidays or special gatherings, we have some options for dealing with them in   Dealing with Naysayers and Pass the Bean Dip.
  5. My kids are so unmotivated!
    Kids can be unmotivated for a variety of reasons – and now that you’re going to be with them more, you’ll be able to figure out why that is. Usually it’s because they haven’t been allowed to make very many choices for themselves. Either a teacher was telling them what to do, or we as parents were prodding them along from one thing to another. Sure, they may have been unmotivated in the old setting, but that doesn’t have to be the new norm.
  6. Worrying about gaps in their learning? 
    Another thing to remove is this fear that they will have gaps or that we need to “stay on track.” On track to what? Those tracks that you’re worried about really only apply in a school setting. Truth is, we all have gaps – times we weren’t paying attention or weren’t interested and tuned it all out. If it’s something we ended up needing, we can look it up! “Hello, Siri?” And then we are much more likely to remember it.
  7. Children need more structure.
    This is a myth. Structure makes US feel better when life is feeling chaotic. But let’s not kid ourselves – the children aren’t the one who are needing structure. Sure, some prefer to have bit of a routine, or need more lead time when shifting from one activity to another. But no child needs the structure of Math every morning at 10 a.m. or History every afternoon at 1 p.m. Sometimes we have to look at the fact that the adults cling to the idea of structure when they feel life is a bit chaotic.
  8. Compare and despair!
    Comparisons and competition is also a remnant of years in school. It was used to motivate us and even to shame us into complying with the expectations for the class. So it needs to go.As parents, the comparing often looks like, “Her kid is doing xyz or knows qrst and mine doesn’t! Oh no! I’m failing!” We need to remember that comparing is never a good idea – whether it’s kids or even comparing ourselves with other mothers. Kids all develop differently. They have interests and needs that vary from child to child. Homeschooling is your opportunity to create TRULY individualized learning situations. And comparing yourself to other moms? So often we look at a mom who seems really on top of things and we feel sub-par. But we don’t know what her life is like. We don’t know how much longer she’s been at this either! It’s a bad idea to compare your beginning on this homeschooling path, with someone who started years before you. Also, you have no idea what challenges she has regarding her own family – people often only share the highlights on social media.
  9. Everyone’s House is Clean Except Mine
    Let me put this one to rest right away. When people LIVE in a house, it gets messy! Period. Don’t let having a clean house become a stumbling block to learning. Think about when you dove into some project. Didn’t you spread your stuff out? Same for kids and their projects. Create environments where they can explore their curiosity and get creative. There will be plenty of time later on to have a clean house.
  10. If something doesn’t work out, I’m a miserable failure at this.
    I think this is more of that same school conditioning. We stumble a little and we want to throw in the towel. But remember – even if you’re taking two steps forward and one step back – you’re still making progress! Don’t give up!

 

Dear Suburban Mom

 

Suburban MomHey there!!

Whew! You wrapped up another school year and I know some of you are wondering if you’ve really got it in you to do this all over again in a couple of months.

Let’s face it, it’s been a rough year. You can’t even count the number of nights you spent wrangling with your kid about homework and trying to spin the idea that, yes, this is all necessary despite their protests. Because truthfully, you have your own doubts. All those “necessary” classes and subjects from your own school days – long forgotten! Besides, no one ever asked you about the Pythagorean Theorem or the date of the Battle of Hastings. Heck, you don’t even use your degree! Neither do I! (Talk about a waste of time and money.) Yet you’ve spent the year deputized by the kids’ school as their “Homework Police.,” making sure they memorize all those same irrelevant facts.  And that was not fun.

But what are you going to do? You used to remind yourself that this is simply what everyone must endure until they’re 18 and graduated. But school these days? It doesn’t look like your school days with so much emphasis on testing, the pressure and the stress. The bullying that happens has really gotten out of hand and the teachers seem incredibly frustrated. I don’t know whether the system got too big or too removed from what really works… I don’t know how it has gone so wrong. But you’re pretty sure your kids are not going to look back on these days with a lot of happy memories.

So as you’re wringing your hands and wondering if there are any viable options at all, you’ve started to notice a few more families deciding to homeschool. They’re not all ultra-religious or crunchy granola types either.

And it has you’re  wondering:
Do regular people like me homeschool their kids?

And as soon as that question slips in, the flood of counter-questions surface!

  • Is homeschooling even legal here? Are their a ton of hoops to jump through?
  • Would I even be qualified to do this?
  • How would they make any friends?
  • How would they learn anything?
  • What if we can’t stand each other?

So I just want to tell you,
Yes. Regular people do homeschool their kids.

I did. I had no plans to homeschool as we were trying to make school work for my little kindergartener. But as first grade rolled around, it became clear that the classroom experience was not a good situation. His enthusiasm for learning was already starting to wane. His curiosity was being squashed. His individualism and self-expression – well, there was no room for that. So I started to investigate the homeschooling option. It was the 1990’s and the landscape looked a lot different! Ha!

But the times have changed. And more and more moms like me (and you!) started leaving the local schools venturing into this learning no-man’s-land. Interestingly, there were plenty of people choosing home education back then and thousands more now. It’s a subculture that exists in every community.

To address the questions that popped up first:

1. Legality. Yes, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Each state decides it’s own rules for what hoops homeschoolers must jump through to legally homeschool. A quick google search can take you to your local and/or state homeschooling group and they will have an explanation as to how the community is dealing with the compulsory attendance laws. Some states require nothing of homeschooling families. Others want periodic testing, some want an end-of the-year evaluation. Send me an email if you have trouble finding out about your state and I can help you out.

2. Are you qualified? Of course you are! Do you know everything? Of course NOT! No one said you have to know everything. You simply have to be a good resource finder. Being able to tap into the local community (libraries, museums, friends with skills, the Internet, etc.) is all you need to be able to provide a wonderful rich learning environment.

3. Ahhh… socialization! That question always pops up. They make friends the way any of us do that aren’t sitting in a classroom – shared interests and experiences. These are the real friendships anyway. I can remember being “best friends” with someone for a year while we sat beside each other in class. And then the next year, we had no shared classes and that friendship was gone. :::poof::: Homeschooled kids aren’t missing out on anything by skipping those kinds of shallow “friendships.”

Remember earlier I mentioned a subculture you may not be aware of? All over the country, homeschoolers are getting together at parks and homes, libraries and recreation centers. They’re off on “field trips” together, meeting for “game days,” pool parties, and mid-week (gasp!) sleepovers.

4. How will they learn? Life provides SOO many opportunities – many you can’t even plan for! But when you’re open and flexible, you can stop to learn more about whatever is crossing your path. Between the internet, books, movies, conversations with people “in-the-know,” you will be shocked at how much your kids will learn. And, you’ll probably learn a little along the way too! Learning really doesn’t have to be dull drudgery to get through – it can be exciting and fun. That’s what will make your little learners engage! Not a stack of worksheets.

5. What if it’s too much togetherness? If this is really the case – and not just one of those unfortunate social kid-slams people say – then you will have the opportunity to work on it. You’ll be able to create rhythms in your day that work for you and for your kids. You don’t have to be side-by-side 24 hours/day! But when you remove the rushing around and the pressure that happens in those precious hours after they come home from school and before they hit the pillow, you’ll be surprised how much everyone’s attitude improves! And, if it’s a big concern of yours, I have an awesome book reference – Parent-Teen Breakthrough: A Relationship Approach by Mira Kirshenbaum.

So there are my quickie answers to the first five questions that popped up. I’m sure there are more percolating in there. And we have all summer to talk more. I’d love to be able to help you figure this out. There’s nothing worse than feeling you don’t have any options. At least in this case, that’s not true. You do. 🙂

xo,
Sue

P.S. If you already know you want to homeschool, but you’re overwhelmed with what the next steps are, a new 12 week support group is coming soon!
We’ll talk about deschooling, socialization, dealing with unsupportive family, building relationships, and more.
For more info: Chaos to Confidence.

 

 

Chaos to Confidence: For New Homeschoolers

 It’s Time!

Homeschooling helpA Group Mentoring/Support Program starting August 1st, led by Sue Patterson.
If you’re a new homeschooler/unschooler, Chaos to Confidence is perfect for you!

  • Everything a new homeschooler needs to know to be successful
  • Get answers to questions you have and didn’t know where to get them answered
  • Join a community of new homeschoolers exploring this path together
  • Group coaching from me for those critical first 12 weeks!

Don’t miss out!!!
Space is limited, so sign up soon!





From Chaos to Confidence

You can do this – and I can show you how!

If you’re just embarking on this homeschooling journey,
I want to invite you to this mentoring program:

Chaos to Confidence.

Chaos to Confidence is for you if:

~You’ve just removed your kids from school and you’re unsure about your next steps.

~Your kids are now “officially school age,” so you’re ready to commit to homeschooling/unschooling.

~You’re overwhelmed by all the info on the internet – but wondering who to listen to.

~You have plenty of people who think homeschooling is nuts, but something deep down is telling you that this is right.

~You’re wishing you didn’t feel so alone.

I’ve created this group mentoring/support program because I know what it’s like to be so new that you’re not even sure what questions to ask!

In our 12 weeks together, I give you the foundation you need to be successful and take you from chaos to confidence!

I can help you.  Every Day.  Walking beside you.

I’ve been where you are now – I remember it clearly. I was so afraid I was going to screw up my kid, or that they’d hate me when we were all done with this. But I knew that school wasn’t where they needed to be. I had to figure out what the heck was the right thing to do – and fast.

I saw what worked and what didn’t. Over those years while my three kids were homeschooling, people began to come to me looking for support and advice. They’re grown now, in their 20s. They are not screwed up nor do they hate me! (In fact, they’re successful, socially savvy and really happy with their lives!)

But maybe you want to know more about them…

The oldest went to community college, transferred to a university and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He also spent a lot of time doing community service, got his Eagle Scout award, went to Japan as an exchange student at 16, joined the Peace Corps after college and worked in Nicaragua, moved back to Texas, got married and just bought a house.  He is 27.

The second spent most of her teen years doing community theatre, taking acting, dance and vocal lessons. She took community college classes and went to an acting conservatory in New York City. She finished her conservatory classes in Los Angeles and ended up with an associate degree in fine arts.  She lives and works as an actress in Los Angeles now. She is 25.

My youngest loved people and all the pop culture type of things. After only unschooling, she went to the local high school for a year and half, made the dance team, did fine in school, but decided it wasn’t worth it. She left to go to cosmetology school and now works in an upscale salon in Austin, Texas. She married a local firefighter, bought a house and had a baby in 2015. (Adorable, I might add!) She is 22.

I’m not saying your kids’ paths will look like my kids’ paths. I shared this for you to see how different they each were and yet we were able to support them in ways that were totally individualized – not the cookie cutter one-size-fits-all (even though it’s called an IEP) ways schools have to use.

I can show you how you can focus on YOUR kids’ strengths and help them unfold into the person they’re meant to be. I focus a lot on helping you, the parent, undo the fear and the assumptions that the school way is the only way. It’s not. My kids are living proof of that.

If your kids have been miserable in school, I want you to know that a better way DOES exist! And I’m so happy we’ve found each other because I want to show you how to make this work!

Sometimes families made the leap to homeschooling but got distracted by curriculum and headed off on the wrong path. They ended up feeling isolated, frustrated, and disappointed in their homeschooling experience. Many ended up putting their kids back in school. They wished they had had someone who could have been a guide or a mentor to them – just someone to help them start off on the right foot or guide them along the way if they get stuck.

So that’s 2 types of families that Chaos to Confidence is built for:

The Brand New Homeschooler who is feeling overwhelmed and doesn’t want to waste time going in the wrong direction.

The New-ish Homeschooler who started probably last year and ended up unhappy with their approach.

Here’s My Plan…

INFORMATION & KNOWLEDGE

You need practical information. Operating in the dark is scary and the info that you’ll get in this program will wipe out a lot of your fears. We will start with the basics – getting legal, thinking about what “learning” really means, finding reliable resources.

CONNECTION & SUPPORT

Sometimes homeschooling/unschooling moms can feel really isolated. They really need to feel connected to other parents on this path. So, I’m creating a private Facebook group for you and the other new homeschoolers in the 2016 Chaos to Confidence program. Over these 12 weeks, we’ll be able to get to know each other and give support. Members can pop into the group to share success stories as well as fears that show up. Learn where to find support locally, in your state, regionally, globally, and online.

REASSURANCE & INSPIRATION

Chaos to Confidence is the reassurance you’ve been looking for! I want to share everything I know with you so you have success and confidence when you feel like you’re swimming against the tide. As you work your way through the program, you’ll find yourself on steadier and steadier ground. Your anxiety and fear will begin to evaporate. Your kids will be happier and more engaged. You’ll see changes in the way the entire family gets along. You’ll be able to see learning in a way that might be different from what you’re used to – richer, exciting, much more enjoyable. And I’ll be with you every step of the way!

Here’s what we’ll do each week!

(I’m soooo excited!!!!)

Homeschool Coaching

And here’s the framework for the entire course!

homeschool coaching

Sounds great, right?

Sometimes we just need a little hand-holding to get started.

I’ve made the price super affordable – just $90 total for 3 months of reassuring support and boatloads of information.  That’s group coaching from me on our private FB group for a $1/day!

But I want to keep the size of a group manageable, so don’t delay.

And now, it’s time to sign up!





Before working with Sue I had tried every method I could think of to make my son’s traditional schooling work for him. I was feeling confused, defeated by all the bad advice I was getting, and very alone in my decision to teach my son at home. Sue helped me to realize that other options existed that were actually better for my son and his situation. I now feel confident and excited about his learning experience. He is now thriving and enjoying this unschooling experience in ways he could never have done in the traditional environment. It has been an amazing transformative experience!
~ Becky M., Michigan

A Wonderful Coach + All That Knowledge = EXCELLENCE!
~Tracy M., Kentucky

Before working with Sue I had tried every method I could think of to make my son’s traditional schooling work for him. I was feeling confused, defeated by all the bad advice I was getting, and very alone in my decision to teach my son at home. Sue helped me to realize that other options existed that were actually better for my son and his situation. I now feel confident and excited about his learning experience. He is now thriving and enjoying this unschooling experience in ways he could never have done in the traditional environment. It has been an amazing transformative experience!
~ Becky M., Michigan

5 Tips for Homeschool Success

 

Homeschool Success!

 

These five tips will help you no matter what you face on your homeschooling journey – and beyond, really. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day-to-day activities or trying to provide that “just-right” learning environment, the biggies like this get swept aside.

After all these years of parenting, I can tell you that paying attention to these particular points will make all the difference in your family.

Let’s talk about why. And! If you have others that you think I’ve forgotten about, I’d love to hear what you think should rank right up there in Top Tips!

Stay Flexible

We get so caught up in how we WANT things to play out that we hang onto ideas long past their expiration date. We do what we can to make educated guesses about the future, but we have no idea how the path will bend or what new variable might be tossed into the mix. Maintaining flexibility helps us stay connected with what IS and not what we WISH was happening in our lives right now. And that includes staying tuned in with that child standing right in front of you. Being able to make adjustments can save your entire day!

Their Path Is Not Your Path

We only want the best for our kids, right? But sometimes they have to make choices that we wish they wouldn’t make. Our own personal experiences certainly give us some wisdom… we can often see “the handwriting on the wall.” And then toss a heaping dose of parental fear into that mix, and we find ourselves predicting dire outcomes. What we haven’t factored in is their experiences, their surroundings, their support systems, their motivations. All that experience of ours may not predict accurately at all!

Additionally, sometimes mistakes help us learn what to avoid next time, how to adjust our course. Their life experiences – the good and (what we consider) the bad – become part of the intricate weavings of your child’s life.

Stay Focused on the Now

It sounds cliché, but “now” is really all we have. We can’t undo the past and there’s no telling what’s in the future. Wasting time focusing on either of those is exactly that – wasting time.
If you find that this is a habit of yours, dig around a little deeper and see if you can figure out why that is. Here are some reasons that might sound familiar:

  • Making plans for the future to avoid some of the mundane-ness of the present. Maybe you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing with your kids?
  • Using “I’m searching for resources” as a way to procrastinate
  • Allowing fear to be in the driver’s seat: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of messing up your kids, fear of looking bad as a parent – and the list can go on and on!

Truly, that child standing in front of you is giving you all the cues you need as to what to do. Get out of your head and tune into them.

Relationship Above Everything

Do you notice that you push your kids a little hard? What does that do for you? My guess is that in your mind, you think you’re helping them prepare for their future. And there’s two things wrong with that notion: it might not even be true; and is it worth the price?

When we sacrifice our relationship because of… well, anything… it has long term implications. Do you really want to be one of those parents whose kids phone home with the obligatory weekly call – or not at all? Do you want them to be those young people who can’t wait to get away from their controlling/overbearing family?  They have plenty of time to learn anything they’ll need as adults. There’s no “finish line” where we have to squeeze in all their learning for their lifetime – so why wreck the relationship for something that really doesn’t matter? And, if we do, we lose the opportunity to guide them or to have them value our experience. We listen to people we respect – and we respect people who respect us.

Be Their Biggest Supporter

If you listen to interviews of people who excel in their fields – from movie directors to scientists, you’ll find that they have one thing in common: They had someone rooting for them.  Life is full of so many opportunities. And we want our children to be brave enough to venture into new territories and make discoveries on their own. But when anyone takes risks exploring options, failures are inevitable. It’s much easier to have courage – and to dust yourself off from a misstep – when you know that you have a parent helping you see your strengths, encouraging you to try again, loving you no.matter.what.

I know that new homeschoolers may have hoped my list would give them great insights into organizational tools or tips about finding resources.  I have those – and I’m happy to share them! But it’s the “thought work” that’s going to lead to homeschooling/unschooling success. Getting clear in your thinking – and a lot of it is revisiting how we parent – these are some critical first steps. It’s what weaves itself through our choices and decisions, making our family lives so much better.

All the rest will work itself out.

_______________________________

C2C
If you’re new and wishing you had someone to walk you through the first steps of homeschooling, you’re in luck! I’ve created a group mentoring program that will start in August. Leave me your name and email, and I’ll keep you posted about it.
Or click here to read more

 

 

 

For the Love of Learning – Grown Homeschoolers

I’m so excited to share this fabulous show with you!

I interviewed Jared Martin, Rose Sorooshian-Harrington and Michael Patterson for this 2-hour live show, For the Love of Learning. I’ve known all three of these young people since they were very little – and one is even my own son. They’ve grown into these fabulous young adults who are more than happy to allay any fears you might have about homeschooling your own children.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that they were able to convey so many of the advantages of their educational paths. It’s heart-warming.

Jared Martin, 27, grew up playing with video cameras and exploring his world. Through a series of interesting events, he ended up in the USC film school, graduated, and now works as a filmmaker in Los Angeles.
Michael Patterson, 27, loved travel and community service projects. He was an exchange student in Japan at 16, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas State University and then went to work for the Peace Corps in Nicaragua for 2 years. He is married now and lives and works in Dallas.
Rose Sorooshian-Harrington, 25, grew up in Southern California following a variety of curiosities and interests and began her dabbling in the community college system at age 14. She too went on to California State University where she joined a sorority and graduated with a degree in Deaf Studies. She got married last summer and continues to work in the Long Beach area.

I know you’ll fall in love with each of them and be thrilled to hear what they have to say! Sit back and enjoy!

Grown Homeschoolers

I’m hosting a program that will be live-streamed on Monday(April 18, 2016) in the evening. It’s called FOR THE LOVE OF LEARNING and is typically hosted by Lainie Liberti. She is homeschooling her own teen and has been traveling around the world for several years – yet she continues to produce these thought-provoking shows every Monday night.  

But this week, Lainie is traveling and unavailable. She asked me to fill in for her and told me I could pick whatever topic I wanted. And, of course, I wanted to talk to those grown homeschoolers who have a lot of reassuring ideas and experiences to share with parents who worry about homeschooling through the teen years.   

Here’s the talk description:

Tonight we talk with three young adults who were homeschooled during their teen years. They participated in Sue’s book, Homeschooled Teens: 75 Young Adults Speak about their Lives without School and are here to answer the questions everyone wants to know… like:

  • How did they learn?
  • How did they make friends?
  • Did they feel they “missed out” on anything?
  • What are they doing now?

These three grown homeschoolers are going to answer these questions and more! You’ll be surprised at how they made friends, got along with family, and explored unique learning environments. They’re eager to share the benefits and advantages they experienced through homeschooling. Their lives were (and are!) full, rich, and happy.

Bring your doubts—reassurance is on its way!

You can read more about my 3 guests, Jared Martin, Rose Sorooshian, and Michael Patterson over at the show link.
I hope you can join us live, or watch the recording later. It’s going to be fun!  

 Here’s the link to the show, now that it has been published!

Why Go to A Conference?

Here’s a look at the adorable cabin where I spent my weekend and wrote this post! I was at the Texas Unschoolers’ Conference in the beautiful Hill Country – surrounded by families who wanted to invest their time and money in creating connections with the community, learning more about home education, and having a good time together as a family!  I was so excited to encourage you all to find a good conference to go to.

Quite a few conferences exist out there, but they’re not all created equally. Some are all about their vendor hall – they have tons of curricula to feed any interest (or fear) you might have. Some aren’t really kid-friendly and their sessions primarily focus on the moms.  Some moms have even left a couple of these conferences feeling inadequate and incapable of doing what the speakers suggested. To me, that’s the total opposite of why a person should go! They should come away inspired and loaded with all kinds of ideas and enthusiasm. 

That’s why I want to go out on a limb here and encourage you to go to an unschooling conference or an unschooling-friendly conference – even if you don’t consider yourself an unschooler. 

Here’s why:

Come One, Come All!

You’ll find all kinds of people at an unschooling conference. Sure, plenty of unschoolers, but also relaxed homeschoolers and even those who are just considering homeschooling. Everyone feels welcome!  Lots of unschoolers struggle to find other more open-minded homeschoolers in their local community. Conferences help them see that there are a lot of families out there creating paths that look nothing like school – yet are filled with learning opportunities and adventures.

Stretching Comfort Zones

Some people adore conferences and they seem to go to as many as possible! Others – maybe the introverts among us? – drag their feet a bit. But I’m here to tell you – push yourself past the initial discomfort. Before you know it, that mom or dad sitting next to you in that workshop will be sharing resources, tips or even helping you connect with someone or something locally.

More Inspiration

One of the hallmarks of the unschooly conferences are that their speakers talk a lot about parenting and opening our minds to different ways of learning. If you find yourself stuck in the deschooling phase – you’re still thinking about learning the way school attempts to deliver it – these conferences will be filled with people who can help you break free from that. Often, they’ll have speakers who have grown unschoolers – and if you’re lucky, some of those grown unschoolers will be there too! 

Unschooling conferences tend to be full of people who are much more tolerant of seeing life from many different perspectives – instead of One.Right.Way. This way, we can gain clarity on our own ideas and make adjustments as needed. I learned so much – even now! – at this conference in Texas. And this happens to me every time! They’re all so inspiring and enlightening.

Family-Friendly Activities

Most of the unschooling-friendly conferences I’ve been to, create activities for the whole family to do together: Talent shows, family cookouts, fashion shows, to name a few that come to mind. 

Unschooling conferences tend to have a lot of fun sessions for kids and teens. Some that I’ve seen include crafts, cooking, nerf gun wars, face-painting, games (yes, online games too). There are dances, pizza-parties, CPR classes, letterboxing, scavenger hunts, cosplaying – and so much more. 

Making Connections

For those of us online a lot, it’s so fun to put faces with names. Conferences give us the opportunity to actually meet the writers of those blogposts or Facebook comments we’ve read throughout the year. Dads aren’t left out.There’s usually a time-slot in there for them to share what’s troubling them or what’s working out – in a session solely for men. 

The connections that you’ll see the kids making will really warm your heart. When they meet each other through all their shared interests – or maybe just out at the swimming pool – don’t be surprised to find them Skyping with conference friends long after they’ve gotten home. 

Walk Down Memory Lane with me…

For those who don’t consider themselves unschoolers, per se, I want to tell you about a friend I had when we lived in Alaska. We were all part of a group that was really diverse – from radical unschoolers to traditional school-at-home homeschoolers. She was what’s considered “a Relaxed Homeschooler.” By the time we met her, we were embracing a lot more unschooling concepts. 

She told me that she loved having friends who were unschoolers because they always seemed to have a cheerful curiosity about the world around them – including what was happening with their friends. She found unschooling moms to be resourceful, creative, and willing to make schedule changes if something interesting presented itself. 

She had invited us to come celebrate the Greeks with her family that day. They had just finished a pretty intensive study on the subject, but wanted to create something festive for the end. We were happy to join them eating Greek food, listening to Greek music, wearing togas, and imitating some Olympic style games. 

So look and see how you might be able to add some more excitement into your lives. Look around for a conference!

More Resources

For a list of really great conferences
Which conferences Sue will be speaking at in 2016

 

January Newsletter Is On Its Way!

I’m so excited to start the year with my newsletter, Sue’s Notes! I think I’ve been promising a newsletter to people since the FIRST time I spoke at the Texas Unschoolers’ Conference! I’ve been holding on to all of these names from clipboard sign ups, and now, Hooray! Most of them will be getting a newsletter from me. I hope they like it – but frankly, right now I’m just basking in happiness that I got it out the door!! haha!

I ended up merging two ideas because they had a lot of overlap. I wanted to do a newsletter for people who were new homeschoolers/unschoolers, those in their first year. Or maybe they were homeschoolers who had used a lot of curriculum in the past and wanted to venture into the unschooling world. But I also wanted to share lots of information with parents of teenage homeschoolers – I have collected a lot of great info over the years! And, yet, many of those were also in their first year. 

But, alas, I am only one person. And I have many many fun projects and ideas for 2016! So, the one monthly newsletter will be for both groups. Hopefully everyone will understand. (There’s always the little “get me outta here” unsubscribe button at the bottom of the newsletter.)  😉

And now., I’m off to ponder and produce the Weekly Q & A!
Everyone who signed up for Sue’s Notes will also get the little Q & A bonus… hopefully Monday! :::cross your fingers!:::

Very exciting!

More Happiness, Please!

I want to get down to the basics. Simplify. And what do I want? More joy. More happiness. Who doesn’t, right?

So I’ve been reading some easy ways to bring happiness to the forefront of my brain and I want to share it here with you. This is a simple doable task with a major payoff at the end of the year. And from what I’ve been reading, it’s going to start way sooner than December 31, 2016. Making the conscious choice to focus on the good things happening each day, has a giant impact on our overall outlook.

It’s like the Buddhist saying,

Turn Your Face Toward the Light

So here’s the deal with this new habit I’m starting.  
Want to join me?

Every day, write down the happiest moment of your day and put it in the jar. These small activities are going to shift our focus and impact our lives. Even on bad days, look for something good to add to your jar. It’s going to seem insignificant – until they start adding up. Then on New Year’s Eve, pull them out and read them. Remind yourself of the good things that happened throughout the year. Easy. Handy. 

This jar, because you can see through it, will be evidence that good things are crossing your path. And you’re strengthening that muscle that helps you see them. Think of them as little gifts in your life. Grace, maybe? They’re there, we just have to notice them.  

Go on… go grab a jar. 🙂 

T’is the Week Before Christmas

T’is the Week Before Christmas and what can we do?
Perhaps shift the focus – less me and more YOU!

In a week we’ll be gathered all ’round the tree,
With our families and friends, content and carefree.

But what about the week, leading to the big day?
Does it seem that our nerves are beginning to fray?

And if we’re stressing out, what of our neighbors
Whose money is scarce despite all their labors?

So let’s help them out, just a little will do,
A couple nice gestures to help get them through.

Here’s a week of suggestions, you can always add more,
Since Christmas is coming, let kindness outpour!
 
 

Dec. 18th – Donate canned goods to the food bank

Dec. 19th – Tape change to the vending machine with a Merry Christmas note 

Dec. 20th – Deliver sandwiches and water bottles to the homeless near your house 

Dec. 21st – Tape a couple of dollars to the gas pump with a note, “Maybe this will help.” 

Dec. 22nd – Take supplies to the animal shelter 

Dec. 23rd – Pay for the person behind you in line’s coffee 

Dec. 24th – Take Christmas cookies to the fire station

Unschoolers and Learning to Read

When it comes to learning to read, kids have so many opportunities crossing their paths! Here’s a quick look at some of the ways words creep into your child’s life. Remember, no one learns to read until they are READY. Schools are incorrect to believe that everyone is ready at the same time. And because of this, children whose brains were busy with other things end up feeling behind or ahead of the pack – and none of that is really true. I don’t know if they still do this, but do you remember the “slow reading group” of the past?  What a horrible thing to be reminded every day that you’re in the slow group.  And even if they tried to be clever and call them the robin and the bluebird and the hummingbird group – kids knew if they were in with the smarter kids or those dubbed “dumb.” And if you’ve read much about Self-Fulfilling Prophecy… it certainly fits here!

So! The point of my rant is to say that all a parent needs do to is to expose their child to words, notice them when you’re at home or out and about.

Read to your kids – make it a cozy delightful experience. Ditch the pressure. Get rid of the timetables. You have all the time in the world.

Windows for learning do NOT close! _______________________________________________________________________________________________

Unschooling Mom2Mom has an awesome Pinterest board dedicated to Learning to Read without pressure and coercion. Check it out for thought-provoking articles and inspiration! UM2M Pinterest Board The Homeschooler Post dedicated an entire issue to learning to read, with a special focus on late readers. You might like that too! Homeschooler Post: Reading Here’s that same graphic from the “thumbnail” above … only easier to read and/or share:Reading UM2M Unschooling Mom2Mom has an awesome Pinterest board dedicated to Learning to Read without pressure and coercion. Check it out for though-provoking articles and inspiration! UM2M Pinterest Board

Lean Into the Love

Parents with children older than mine would look at me when I expressed concerns and say, “Don’t worry,” or “They’ll figure it out.” Sometimes they’d tack on, “Just have fun with them.” They were so right. And I LOVE that they were!

Still, I worried about gaps. I worried about getting into college, or whatever higher learning they’d want to pursue. I didn’t want doors to close on them – I wanted them to have all the choices in the world.

In spite of my lapses in trust, or my occasional meltdowns about facts, they did have every opportunity they wanted. After a (mostly) radical way of unschooling our lives, they have been able to pursue whatever they want.

I applaud those moms of babies who are reading and learning about unschooling BEFORE they need to know. So many of their school-induced thoughts about learning can be dealt with before their kids are even school age. To deschool themselves before they’re in the thick of it will help so much.

I didn’t know any homeschooling, let alone unschooling, families the year before we decided to take the plunge. The idea that keeping your kids home to learn and live would actually be good for them – and not just an act of self-indulgence by a mom who couldn’t let go – was not on my radar at all. I was a suburban soccer mom – although then it was T-ball and Tiger Cubs. I was surrounded by moms who were trying to find the right preschool or mother’s day out. I only knew people who encouraged distance from children so they could go back to work or follow their own pursuits or just get a little sleep! No one talked to me back then about leaning into all these feelings that come with having children.

This month, I’m hear to tell you to just lean into the LOVE. Look at your babies and toddlers and children and teens. See how they trust you. See how they look to you for support. See how you are their rock. Please notice the math: You will probably live to be about 80. Your kids will need you as their sole support for maybe 20 years of that. That’s only 25% of your life. Most likely you’re over 20, so you’ve already spent the 1st 25%, kids are the next. That leaves 50% of your life to pursue whatever you want! And regardless of your first 20 years, if you REALLY focus on your children for the next 20, the second half of your life will be full of wonderful relationships with them as well as memories and plans for the future. It will be so much richer for focusing that one little 25% on them.

So here’s my list of LOVE

Some of it I did well. Some of it, I wish I had done so much better. And if you’re still raising little ones, you have such an opportunity to learn from our choices and have an even better experience at this.

❤ LOVE who they are now.

Don’t try to shape them. Just sit with them and listen to their ideas. Share your opinions without squashing theirs. Stop yourself when you feel like you’re making judgements about them. Let them unfold naturally. If you focus on the LOVE you can let go of the FEAR.

❤ LOVE that you have the entire day to do with as you wish.

Create a home that is full of excitement and interesting things to explore – be it books or videos or pinecones or magnets. Play with them yourself. You’d be surprised how your own ability to play can come back. It’s human nature to play with things. It’s just that if you had to go to school, you were told to stop playing and settle down in your seat. In order to succeed in that setting, you had to learn to curb all your enthusiasm. It might take some time to entice those feelings back. But they’re there.

❤ LOVE that you live in a time and place where so many opportunities abound.

Use your community, and the community next to yours! Find cool places to explore. Learn with your children. Even if you think, “I’m not that interested in that,” it’s worth a try to check it out. There might be something there that you DO like. Or it might spark a new passion for your child. Show them that there are all KINDS of interesting adventures just outside your door. And now, looking them up on the internet makes it so much easier to find.

❤ LOVE that they can go see and touch and hear things in the real world.

Children who are tied to lesson plans or curriculum – whether they’re in the school or the home – can only read about these adventures. They have to wait to start their exploring later in their life, or after their “real work” is done when their brains are exhausted or worse.

❤ LOVE their interests.

Even if you’re not into video games or horses or Justin Bieber or BMXing, love it anyway. Show them you value their choices. Ask them questions about it. Nurture their passion instead of putting timers on to say how long they get to enjoy that. Take them to get that game they’re longing for. Ask them what game could you start on to learn what they love. Take them to horse stables. Take them with a friend to concert of their choice. Drop by the bike shop with them once a week to see what’s the latest. Find a magazine on BMX-ing.

 

Before you say, “I don’t want to put more money toward those choices,” maybe you should rethink that. It’s their passion! Even if it’s fleeting. It really will lead to something else – it always does. And they will have had the opportunity of seeing that they can look for passions without someone telling them how to find it or where to find it. Or what’s a good passion to have and what’s not.

Your LOVE will build their CONFIDENCE.

And as an unschooling parent, your job is to create an environment for them to learn and grow. They’ll need tools to do that. AND it will improve your relationship. In the end, that’s what matters most: the LOVE between everyone in your family. When there’s a disconnect there, look to see what you’re afraid of happening. Because it all boils down to two things: Fear or LOVE. Just practice bringing it back to love. After all, learning their times tables by a certain age really doesn’t matter that much at all – their phones have calculators and for anything else, there’s GOOGLE.

“And in the end…the love you take… Is Equal to…the Love you Make”

~Paul McCartney