Book Club Starts This Week!

Do you wish you could break down the barriers between you and your teenager? Maybe those speed bumps are starting to show up in your pre-teen or even younger!

My best guess is that you’re trying to control something that isn’t even within your power to do!  Kids resist control – even when we think we’re being super subtle. They can see right through it!

And OF COURSE you try to control the situation! You have a lot of life experience that shows you how things could go terribly wrong if they “continue down that path!”

Don’t even get me started on how social media feeds that. Parents are applauded for heavy-handed discipline, their “likes” skyrocket. Everyone is SURE what they’re doing is necessary.

But I’d bet money that those kids who were shamed on their mom’s facebook page are busy figuring out a way to get around her. They’re not “seeing the light,” and changing their ways! Their parent/child relationship wasn’t strengthened by that little public cry for approval from other parents living in fear. Instead, that kid probably cannot STAND their mom.  That’s heartbreaking to me.

The bottom line is that “control” is not going to work. Choosing an approach “for their own good,” isn’t going to work either. And even if you do get fragments of success, the price you pay is going to be too high.

And here’s the secret – you don’t have to live that way at all! This book helped me when my parenting techniques were not working. It completely turned things around. It can for you too.

Join us in the private group I host for parents of teens. We’re opening it to parents with kids of all ages while we discuss the book, Parent/Teen Breakthrough: A Relationship Approach.  This way, we can all get better at creating the relationships we want to have with our kids.

When you sign up, you also get all the benefits of being in the private group:

  • Weekly group coaching by phone
  • Weekly live stream video in the group
  • Coaching from me in the group
  • Support from others in this private community
  • All for only $20/month!


Sign me up!          


 <- Order your book asap! Use your Amazon Prime through this link!

Private Group – Parents of Teens

Would you like to unschool your teenager?
Are you not sure if that’s really a good idea?

 

I have something special for you!

 

Lots of parents feel the urge to get their kids to “buckle down” when it comes to the teen years.
Fear grips us and our days of playful learning are tossed aside.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get some support for these years from someone who’s been there?

A Private Group for Parents of Teens! 

Starting on November 1, 2016, I’m opening a private members-only Facebook group for parents with teenagers.  I’ll share PRACTICAL ways to help parents who are struggling with all the new issues that adolescence brings in a private membership-only group on Facebook.

  • Maybe you’re not sure if the play-based childhood you’ve been supporting needs to shift gears?
  • Maybe you’re hanging around with homeschoolers who are piling on the academic work and wonder if they know something you don’t!
  • Maybe you’re simply worried about how to support your teenager and still keep doors open for him/her.

If you have any of these worries, this group will be JUST what you need!

In our Parents of Teens group, we will share ideas and look for ways that can help our kids move into young adulthood – without having to turn into some kind of parent we don’t want to be!

Each month, you’ll receive:

  • Weekly Group Coaching Calls!
  • Access to a private Facebook group with other parents of teens
  • Webinars for parents of teens
  • Weekly live stream videos in the group
  • Q & A sessions with Sue
  • Blogposts, articles, resources specific to issues of parents of teenagers

 $20/month                                                        


 

       $120 – 6 months

Please excuse the weird spacing
… but the paypal buttons have been giving me grief!
Email me if you’d like me to send you the link to sign up via email.  Coaching@SuePatterson.com

parentsofteens

 

What SHOULD They Learn?

3-cute-kidsSo, you’ve ditched the curriculum and lesson plans, and now what? You’re twiddling your thumbs?

I doubt that very much!

But I was thinking about what kids need to know before they move into adulthood. What do I wish I had been able to focus on as a kid/teen? I created this list eons ago – when I still had three teenagers at home (and also a couple of grown step-kids with kids of their own!). I came up with my own list of what I thought would be good to learn.

  • Kindness and compassion. Learn how to put yourself into other people’s shoes.  When everyone else jumps on a bandwagon against something someone did, hold back a little bit.
  • Live in the moment. Realize that there are about 16 waking hours in a day. And when they’re gone, they’re gone. There’s nothing wrong with having a little “down time” but make sure you have some “up time too.”
  • Listen to people when they talk to you.  Give them your full attention.  Think about what they’re saying but also why they might be saying it to you.
  • Get healthy. Learn healthy eating choices and find exercise that you like and can do nearly every day. You’re going to be in this body for a while – longer if you take care of it
  • Learn your strengths and your weaknesses.  Take time to get to know yourself.
  • Manage your stress. Find a way to calm yourself – maybe meditation, visualization, yoga, journaling. Even just getting in the habit of taking your dog for a walk might work.
  • Learn how easily it is to be manipulated. Learn about the nature of advertising and marketing.
  • Learn how to pursue your interests. Learn how to find information on the internet and dive in!
  • Be brave. Try new things. You never know what you might actually like.

Imagine if these ideas permeated school curricula with the same importance as academics. In our homeschooling/unschooling world, it can.  Reading, writing, and math will present itself.  And if you need these more traditional “subjects” for a job you’d like to pursue, that’s why we have community college. But it seems a far better plan to focus more on these kinds of characteristics/traits than something that may not even be part of our world in ten years.

Parenting Teens, A Hands-On Approach

teenagers
For years, we’ve heard other parents say,

“A house full of teens? Good luck!”

And they wander away shaking their head, as if you’ve already lost some battle.
True, the teenage years are full of heightened emotions, raging hormones, self-esteem issues, and basically trying to figure out who they are in this world. These are tough issues!

Why, as a society, would we think we need to take a more hands-off approach to raising teens?

These years seem to be much more difficult to figure out than those pre-school years, when we were so incredibly involved. But so many parents try to deal with it in all black or white. Either they look away and hope for the best. Or they tighten the screws hoping to keep them safe.

Neither really work.

Sometimes, a lot of times really, parents are simply too tired to go head-to-head with their teen in angst. And, it’s true that if you come back to it in a day or so, lots of the emotion will have blown away and it’s easier to get through the day. But the issues are still just under the surface. This is a missed opportunity on so many levels.

By not sticking your head in the sand, here are some things your teen could learn if you talk with them about a disagreement you had.

  • They could see that you are not afraid to go into these treacherous waters WITH them.
  • They could see you’re willing to stand by them and face the scary stuff that they are facing each day.
  • You’d demonstrate to them that you think their problems are important, even if they seem petty and small to you. They are obviously causing your teen some difficulties.
  • You can let them know that they are important to you and helping them solve problems is part of the job of parenting.

You might have to bite your tongue. Teens want to be heard – who doesn’t? They really want to come to conclusions on their own. So asking questions is better than telling them what should be done. Even if you think you know. Helping them learn to problem-solve is the key. Not doing it for them.

Relating stories from when you had similar situations as a teen might help. Watch their expressions though. You might be really “getting into” your story of your own teen years, and they are tuning out. Not because your story is dull (I’m sure it’s not!!) but because the shift of the focus went from them to you. They are the one who is in the middle of a struggle. Keep your story brief.????

So often, they think we cannot relate. Or they’re afraid we’re going to judge them. Or point out their mistakes. These are the pitfalls to avoid in these parent-teen interactions.

While it may sound hokey, they need to know that you are coming from a place of love not worry – because worry implies you think they cannot handle themselves. But from love. You want them to be happy. You want to be their safe place they can run to when their friends stab them in the back. You want to be the one who will not betray them. They will come to trust you, share more with you, and value your input.

Win-win.
.

6 Shocking Facts About Homeschooling Your Teen

6-shocking-FactsI know. Some of these seem like total blasphemy.  That’s because we’ve been sold a bill of goods that simply isn’t true. But these are the facts. And now that you  know the truth, how much easier can you and your teenager’s life be? Awesome, right?

  • Diplomas are overrated.
    Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need a diploma. In the odd chance that you may need one so an admissions clerk can check a box – you can create one with a Word File. Same goes for transcripts.
    This might interest you: Unschooling and Transcripts.

 

  • The World is Your Oyster.
    Your flexible schedule will allow you to experience some awesome internships and/or travel opportunities. Check out this collection of camps, conferences and adventures for teens: Unschooled Teen Opportunities.

 

  • Real Life “Counts.”
    Instead of trying to force your teen into a particular acceptable mold (usually for college,) do the reverse. Let the mold be created by your teen. Stay with me on this. Life is full of so many chances to learn everything you need to know for adulthood. But if you’re too distracted meeting criteria or completing lessons – you miss all of it! And it’s ten times more intriguing out in the real world. And, if you need a little incentive, colleges love applicants that have explored their interests and simply have more life experience.
    Maybe this might help convince you: Top Down vs. Bottom Up

 

  • Avoid SO MANY Negative Aspects!
    Homeschooled teens have numerous advantages because of homeschooling. They’ve preserved their natural love of learning. They’ve avoided unnecessary stress. They’ve had the freedom to make choices.They have better socialization and better influences in general.
    Read more about all of this in Learning from the Teens.

 

  • Finally You Can Catch Some ZZzzz’s.
    Home educated teens aren’t sleep deprived! Study after study shows how the teen’s need for sleep is being completely overlooked with a typical high school schedule. And we all know how any of us act when we’re over-tired: cranky, more stressed, inhibited creativity, poor memory. How could they possibly be learning much at all?
    Read more about Teens and Sleep.

 

If you’re feeling isolated and wishing you had just a little more support through these teen years, I have something I think you’re going to love!  An inexpensive private membership group FOR parents of teenagers!  Click here to find out more and join us. 🙂 

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

 

Homeschoolers & College Admissions


A lot of articles are circulating about teens getting into college. What I think is really interesting for the homeschooling/unschooling community is that many of these articles are discussing how the path to college is changing considerably. That’s good news for everyone! 

The competition-induced stress that teens experience from all of this hyper-focus on grades, class ranking, test scores – it’s astounding. Colleges are noticing that the students are all coming to them like cookie cutter images. And from their standpoint, it’s harder to determine who will sink and who will swim. 

Peter Gray’s study of grown unschoolers and my survey in Homeschooled Teens both report that more than 80% of those surveyed (75 young people in each study), attended some form of higher education after what would have been considered their “high school years.” This includes universities, community colleges, vocational programs and graduate school. 

Chris Weller’s article describes how very non-traditional approaches to academics and learning were celebrated and even seen as the reason some homeschoolers were accepted there. 

There’s a New Path to Harvard – and it’s not in the classroom!
Chris Weller | Tech Insider

With the changing job market, young people have to be able to adapt as technology changes the playing field at lightening speed. Having the time to play with various platforms and systems puts homeschooled teens at an advantage over those who take one computer science class per semester. Valerie Strauss describes how exceptional-looking academic backgrounds and stellar resumes were not indicative of success in the business world. Instead, innovation, determination, resourcefulness – these are skills that are most needed. 

A Venture Capitalist Searches for the Purpose of School
Valerie Strauss | The Washington Post

Home educated teens have so many options that can appeal to them and to colleges too.

  • Teens have the chance to explore a variety of interests diving in deeply or dabbling in a several. In either case, this discovery and exploration is so valuable! Kids that are stuck in a prepared curriculum, have very little opportunity to set and achieve their own goals. These are skills that young people need whether they’re in college or not – but admissions officers see these as attributes as well.

  • Teens have the time to explore internships in their fields of interest. This enables them to get the hands-on experience that helps them confirm that they do, in fact, enjoy this career AND it allows colleges to see that they have proven themselves.

  • Teens have time to travel and see more of the world. Widening their lens of what’s “out there” makes their lives fuller and richer. Colleges appreciate this in their applicants. 

  • The learning that comes from part-time jobs and developing hobbies shouldn’t be overlooked. Like travel, these experiences lead to happier brighter young adults.

  • The Turning the Tide link below shows how the importance of community service is on the rise. Homeschooled teens have the time available to actually participate in a project (or several projects over the years) that interests them and see that they can have an impact on their world. 

Added bonuses come when focusing on these aspects of their teen lives. Instead of cramming more AP-type classes or signing up for extra-curriculars that have no appeal to the teen (but supposedly look good on an application), our teens are truly preparing themselves for their adult life whether it includes college or not. They’re learning to be self-directed, their creative sides are flourishing, and they’re avoiding so many of the negative impacts that come when education is seen as drudgery or stressful. 

Instead of trying to mimic school, homeschooling parents have an opportunity to provide such a richer environment filled with learning, discovery and growth. It takes some more imaginative thinking – but the outcomes are so much better

Think you’d like some 1:1 help navigating these waters?
I’d love to work with you! 
Private Coaching/Mentoring Options

Links about
Teens, Colleges, and Admissions

 
 
Advice College Admissions Officers Give Their Own Kids
Jennifer Wallace & Lisa Heffernan | New York Times: Well 
 
 
Wes Beach | Homeschooler Post

 

12 Tips about Learning & Unschooling

Whether you’re just starting out, unsure about your homeschooling “method,” or struggling along the path, these 12 tips may be just what you need to help you focus on what really matters. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned over the years about learning and unschooling.

1. Learning Is Unpredictable.
Learning happens when the learner is ready – not just because a bell rings or a parent says to turn to page 37. Instead, it’s when learners are engaged… and usually that’s when they’re playing. 

2. It’s Not a Race or a Competition
Ditch the notion of class rankings or bell curves. Go as quickly or as slowly as you desire.

3. 18 is Not a Magic Number
A switch does not flip and suddenly a teen has arrived in the land of maturity. Don’t let an arbitrary age determine anyone’s readiness for anything. Don’t feel rushed to “be finished.” See #2, there’s no finish line.

4. Relationships Are Different
Without “schoolwork,” kids have time to spend with people and get to know their interests. No one has to be rushing around (I’m sensing a theme here, aren’t you?) The locker mate, the desk proximity, or the first letter of a person’s last name does not choose who their friends are that year. 

5. Let Go of Familiarity
Sucess at learning is directly related to how quickly one can get out of that school-think rut.

6. Examples Pop Up – Don’t miss them!
The more you watch, the more you will see your child learning – in so many unexpected ways. This will help you trust the process more.

7. Resist the Influence of Society
Middle of the night (or day) panic attacks can happen because most of society want to remind you that the process/your child/YOU cannot be trusted to know what’s best to do next.

8. Ahhhh….sleep!
Adjusting sleep schedules can totally change attitudes. Body clocks change over the years. Stay flexible and tuned in. Read up on how teens need sleep in a a different way than when they were younger kids. 

9. “Punished by Rewards”
Alfie Kohn’s book with this title is still relevant today. Arbitrarily creating rewards and punishments for getting a child to comply can often do more harm than good.

10. The Artificial – and Unnecessary – Use of Subjects
Dividing the world into separate subjects that must be worked through systematically does not help a child transition to adulthood. Real Life weaves all sorts of “subjects” in and out and back again.

11. The Perfect Plan
Oh, Perfectionists! You’re going to struggle here. Looking for a curriculum can be a way to procrastinate simply getting started. You have all you need – your child standing in front of you, is full of verbal and nonverbal clues as to the next steps in your path. Watch. Listen.

12. Cheerfulness and Curiosity
Try to approach life as a cheerful adventure. Stay curious about your world, your child’s world – whatever is crossing your paths. Your attitude will have a direct influence on how the journey will go. Have fun, hold on, and enjoy the ride!

 Sign up for my free weekly tips, resources and inspiration! 

Peter Gray: Videogames & Culture

I heard Peter Gray speak at the Texas Unschoolers’ Conference last spring. I’d heard him speak before, but this time seemed different. He’s a very casual speaker, sitting on the table and sharing what he knows about children, learning, parents, and research.  Lots of research!  

Dr. Gray is a research professor at Boston College, is author of Free to Learn and has a blog at Psychology Today.  He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology. His current research and writing focus primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. And he’s come up with some very interesting conclusions. 

One simple idea in particular stood out to me, and I’m sure you’ll be interested to hear this! 

Over generations and through numerous cultures, play is the “practice” for adulthood. Children play at all kinds of things they’re not doing yet, but they’re watching older kids or adults do. In other cultures, kids play with fire and knives, starting small and moving up as they become more proficient.  They play chase and hide-and-seek, as a way to hone hunting skills that were important in the past. (And in some cultures, still today.) Many of us remember playing school – as a practice for when someday we’d go to school. 

And here we are in this modern society where CLEARLY videos, TV, electronics, the media of all kinds are here to stay and the wave of the future. No one needs encyclopedia sets anymore, we have Google or Siri. Yet parents are weird about censoring their computer time. It makes no sense. Everything they need is there. They’re prepping for their future!

“Children aren’t growing up for your world; they’re growing up for their world. And they know that…
Computers are the primary tool for our culture.” ~Peter Gray

Peter Gray wrote a fabulous endorsement for my book, Homeschooled Teens
You can read his, and others’ endorsements here.

Homeschooled Teens

If you’re worried about how you (and your teen!) are going to survive the teen years together – this book is for you! Over the years, I asked young people who didn’t go to school, the questions that I’ve heard people asking for years. (Decades, really!) We all want to know about the same things:

  • How did they learn what they needed to know?
  • Where were they from?
  • What were their family relationships like?
  • Did they have hobbies?
  • Did they get involved with sports?
  • Did they travel?
  • Did they hold down jobs?
  • What did they see were the advantages?
  • Did they learn to cope with peer pressure?
  • Did they make enough friends?
  • Did they date or “miss going to prom?”
  • What is their life like now?
  • Did they go to college?
  • Did they get jobs?
  • Are they happy?
  • What advice do they have for new homeschooling parents?

I’m so excited that I finally FINISHED my book, Homeschooled Teens. I started collecting information for it in 2011, and now, in 2015, it’s published. 75 young people shared what their lives were like as homeschooled teens.

2016 Speaking Engagements

I’ll be speaking about what I’ve learned from the homeschooled teens and young adults who participated in Homeschooled Teens. If you’re attending any of these conferences, please stop by and say “Hi!” 

Here are some links that might be helpful:

My Self-publishing page at CreateSpace
Endorsements from some fabulous home education advocates
Amazon Link
My Homeschooled Teens Website
(with more blog posts and resources for Parents of teens)
Sign up for my free newsletter with helpful links for parents of teens 

And a few reviews: 
Pam Laricchia at Living Joyfully
Pat Farenga at John Holt GWS
Lisa Nalbone at her Joyful Learning blog

Something Just For You!

Would you like to see a little before you buy the book? Or maybe while you wait for it to be delivered? 😉
Click the button below to get a copy of the chapter about the Advantages that the teens and young adults experienced because they were home educated.
And, just because I’m so excited for you to see it ALL, I’ve tossed in the preface and introduction too! 🙂

Get My FREE Chapter!

 

Deschooling – What does THAT mean?

QUESTION:

I guess I don’t really understand what “deschooling” is. I thought if we took a week of relaxing, we’d be ready to jump into unschooling. I feel like we’re not doing anything educational! 

SUE’S ANSWER:​​

Deschooling may be one of the most misunderstood terms! Not because the definition is tricky – it isn’t. 
Deschooling is simply removing the schoolish ways we attach to the learning process. 
But as new unschoolers/homeschoolers we tend to attach time constraints and expectations to the idea of deschooling. And then we don’t understand why “nothing is working out.”

We have to remember that for most of us, we went to school for a really long time. We have ideas about learning that we don’t even realize, until something triggers it in our homes. It’s hard to prepare for those kinds of scenarios, so that’s why we can’t really set a particular time limit on the deschooling process. Some people say that you should anticipate deschooling one month for every year you went to school. The problem I have with that is that as our children go through different developmental stages, various stories and expectations can pop into our heads that set us back. We may understand deschooling well while our kids are all playing and learning at 6, 7, and 8 years old. But then when adolescence rolls around, we start worrying again…gaps in learning, getting into college, missing out on high school events… and we’re back to Square 1 on Deschooling again. If this happens to you, don’t worry, undoing that kind of thinking can be done! 🙂 

So let’s start with a good description of Deschooling.

Deschooling is about separating learning from schooling. It is removing all the props associated with school. We often think that the only way to learn is the way school presented it to us. 

Academically, we think about grades, testing, “keeping up,” avoiding “gaps.” 

Socially, we think about making friends, learning from the adults in charge, cooperating in groups, and even little things like “homeroom parties,” etc. 

These are the tips of the icebergs that can exist in a parent’s head. Children, depending on how influential school has been on them, can suffer from these misconceptions as well. Even children that haven’t gone to school, or only attended a few years, can get ideas from extended family, TV programs, community events – implying that going to school is the norm and the only ticket to success. 

Deschooling is the term we use when people are trying to get past these schoolish versions of learning. When we deschool, we open to the idea that learning is actually much bigger than that. We begin to recognize that we have created stories around these thoughts and hurdles that we now have to overcome.

If you had a less than stellar school experience it might be easier to walk away from all the schooly ways of learning, socializing and connecting. Still, since unschoolers and homeschoolers are such a small segment of the general population, things like back-to-school sales, football games, and prom season are everywhere. They may trigger some wistfulness that you or your child harbors. 

Your child may think they have to do worksheets to demonstrate learning, or that authoritarian top-down teaching methods are required to learn.  Children that had a rough time at school may need time to relax into this new approach. On the outside, it may look like a lot of “vegging out” or TV/video time. Enjoy that time with them. Show them that you mean it when you say that learning is not going to be similar to school. It may take a while for your child to trust that you really mean that. 

On the flipside, children that were People Pleasers at school, may think you’ve lost your mind! They may have gotten really good at figuring out how the system worked, and now you’ve turned it all upside down. These children may need you to help them identify ways that they learned outside of a school setting. You may need to talk to them about ways the adults in their lives learn new things. And, it may take a while to undo some of the conditioning that has happened in years of school attendance. 
Here’s more reading  about how we have all been influenced to think that curricula/teachers/experts are needed.

How quickly a family moves through the deschooling process will be unique to your child, yourself, and your family. As the person in the original question found, you may even revisit ideas that were buried but surface later when you child enters a new developmental phase. That’s ok, you’re human! And schools have been big parts of the average American life. Give yourself some time to get acquainted  with this new way of approaching learning and shucking the shackles of the school’s version of education!

Want 10 Tips to Help You Deschool? 

This was included in the second Q & A Update.
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