Three weeks ago, I was online with friends and we were talking about how many questions we have from people about unschooling. Since it was nearly time for school to start back up, many moms were struggling (and lots of kids were panicking) about the prospect of returning to school. I had spoken to a lot of moms with tears in their eyes who simply didn’t know what to do.
That’s when it hit us. We needed a Facebook page for these people to come and ask some of the more simplistic questions about how children can learn at home. They needed reassurance and a little hand-holding. We also realized that a lot of families who are already embracing *some* of the unschooling philosophy were getting stuck. Either something had shifted in their families – because that’s how Life works – or they just had lost the enthusiasm. They needed help getting their mojo back!
We decided to see if other experienced and veteran unschooling moms would be willing to hang out on that Facebook page and create a safe spot for these new people. Turns out, quite a few were happy to do it.
Here’s what we created for our description of the group:
Thinking about unschooling and how it could work for your family?
Just starting out?
Or maybe you’ve been unschooling, something shifted and now you feel stuck.
Veteran and experienced unschooling moms are here to help you figure it all out!
Most of us were conditioned to think that “learning” has to look like school. But unschoolers have discovered differently.
We consider unschooling to be no tests, no grades, no curriculum, no assignments, no required academic work. Parents are resource-finders, tour guides, role models, facilitators, partners, friends.
It also helps if you’re creative, positive, fun-loving, and are generally curious and excited about life!
Some families have carried the unschooling principles beyond education and are applying them to other aspects of parenting. Some do, some don’t.
Here in this group, we might try to gently nudge you into seeing that learning is everywhere but everyone is encouraged to speak respectfully and be gentle with each other. Social media offers people the option to connect and learn from people all over the world – but it also gives people a place to hide while launching a flame war. That won’t be tolerated here at Unschooling Mom2Mom.
So ask your questions, and, if your family unschools and you would like to share your own observations and experiences, jump on in!
And then a few more people came with a variety of interpretations and we needed to clarify a little more. So I added this:
A few questions have been raised about the purpose of our Unschooling Mom2Mom group. So I want to offer some clarifications. Bear in mind, this might be long.
I wanted to create a place where parents (and usually moms specifically) could come to see how they could loosen up on some of their more schoolish ways of thinking about learning. Unschooling isn’t familiar to a lot of people. Looking at learning from this perspective sometimes means examining our world and seeing what we’ve just bought into without thinking, and/or trying on new ways. This is a place to do that.
We have collected a lot of veteran and experienced unschoolers to help with answering people’s questions – at this point, we have over 900 people. And that’s in only 3 weeks! Each offers a little different perspective, a little different way of writing, and brings different experiences to the table for us all to hear about. How cool is that? But since the group is new, even among the veterans, we’ve had some differing opinions on what/how to approach things.
I can get kind of wordy, so I’m going to list out the what this group is and isn’t.
The “Mom2Mom” title was chosen deliberately. We realize that the mom that comes in here is struggling and looking for answers. We have been there. We know what it’s like to be willing to be vulnerable, so you can find something better for your children. We will do whatever we can to walk alongside that mom, offering insight and experience that might help them move toward embracing unschooling a little more.
Ideas vs. people Mom2Mom is very much about that particular mom asking the question. Just as we would do with someone sitting across from us – or in some of our cases, our own grown children – we offer as much info as it appears that person is willing to accept. The original poster may use language that we, from experience, might know will be problematic for them later down the road. But we can see that *that* might not be what they’re willing to look at. We’re trying to focus what could make it better for that person and her child. Not try to make her look at more ideas than she is ready to handle.
Other groups do WONDERFUL jobs of dissecting ideas that are presented, and then thousands of people watching learn and grow. But that doesn’t work for everyone and isn’t what we’re doing here. We are nudging.
My Number Line/Continuum Idea… If you think of a number line or a continuum, people come in here at various points. We are talking with them with the goal of moving them further down the line into an unschooling environment. Not further than they are ready though. You usually do’t stay where you initially land on this continuum. As you learn more or watch others, your position is kind of fluid. It depends on so many individual factors. Your own “baggage” (said lovingly because we all have some,) will determine how much you can embrace. That’s why questions will be so important – where are you stuck? There is no Finish Line. No Graduation. No goal to turn you into me, or anyone else here.
Radical unschooling vs. unschooling – We hear these terms a lot. For those that don’t know, “unschooling” is simply a method of home education that does not use the trappings of school (tests, curricula, divided subjects, top-down teacher:student format.) “Radical unschooling” is when families have taken the principles they embraced about learning and apply it to parenting (chores, food choices, parent:child interactions, etc.) All of the moderators here happen to have applied their unschooling knowledge to their parenting – certainly beyond their child’s academic pursuits. This puts them (and lots of others here willing to share their time) in a unique position to help families no matter where they are on the path.
Are we deliberately trying to turn everyone into a Radical Unschooler?
No. And we have no crystal ball to say that it won’t happen either. We want to help people get more comfortable with unschooling their child. How much they embrace of this philosophy, is and always has been, completely up to them.
When I think of a child who is miserable – whether they’re in a school or in a power struggle with their mom over some aspect of their curriculum, I think unschooling would help. I want parents to hear what is being said in Unschooling Mom2Mom and see how unschooling could make things better.
What Unschooling Mom2Mom is not:
– Not a support group to share your favorite kitty graphics or ask about colors to paint a bathroom. You might meet people here to “friend” and do that with, but it’s not that kind of support group. The topic needs to stay about putting more unschooling into your life.
– Not a place to attack anyone’s ideas, even if we think they’re missing the mark. We might ask if they’ve looked at something, since they mentioned it. But we won’t belabor the point if they’re trying to focus on some other part they want help with.
– Not a place that we will tell you “You’re a good mom!” “unschooling means anything you want it to mean,” or what you’re doing is fine. We expect that you are here because you want to be nudged a little further in the unschooling direction. We want you to try to open up to new ideas. And we know that can be super hard to do. Especially with everyone watching. But it can be done! Everyone has to remove their ego and try to listen to each other.
While we have a lot great voices in here already, here’s the list of moderators/admin at Unschooling Mom2Mom. If you’re unsure about how to respond to someone or feel a little lost in the sea of responses, watch for these folks:
So ask away! Let’s create a wonderful group that can help our families love learning in a way that you might not have considered before.
And, right now, we’re on the brink of 1000 members. The tone has been so patient and helpful. It’s just been a lovely project to work on and fascinating people to get to know. I love it!
If you want to know more about unschooling you are more than welcome to come on over and join us!