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What are the “outcomes” of unschooling? How do young adults and teens who are raised without school, transition to the work force? What do lifelong interests evolve into? What kind of life changes do parents face? I can’t tell you what it looks like in other families, but I can share our journey and some changes from over two decades of parenting without school. From dragons and computer parts to dolls and cameras, let’s talk about the gentle evolution of interests and natural learning; A visual journey via slideshow of interests unfolding over the years.
Ren and her son, Trevor, will host a casual Q & A session immediately following this presentation.
Ren Allen & Laura Flynn Endres
You know you’re an unschooler if…….
Laura and Ren chat about the ins and outs of unschooling life with sass and wit. An honest back and forth about the funny, the poignant and the disastrous moments that weave together a lifetime of growing up without school. Between them they have four adult unschoolers and plenty of “learning-takes” to share. So sit back, and enjoy a cuppa during this verbose expose about the realities of natural learning and family togetherness.
You Had Kids Not Bunnies:
Reflections on Learning about Unschooling
In this talk I’ll be examining the process of learning about unschooling: the internal steps I went through to “get it” (and I’m still getting it), the questions I asked myself, the resources I called on, the sticky points that caused me to misunderstand and the refining I did to come back to the sweet spot. I’ll touch on the big 5 – food, sleep, chores, TV, and video games. And I’ll share stories from our life that helped me to better understand unschooling principles.
TRUSTINESS: It’s better than sushi.
What if he never learns to read? What if she doesn’t make any friends? What if all they want to do is play video games? What if ….what if….what if?
As an unschooling parent, you, like me, have probably been asked these questions, over and over again. Sometimes, the question, accompanied by a concerned frown, comes from a well-meaning relative (who probably just happens to be a middle school math teacher) or a curious but skeptical neighbor who watches enviously as you and your family pick blackberries from the garden while she hustles her kids out of the house each morning. And sometimes, the question is posed with a little more aggression, a little more hostility, with the unspoken subtext crystal clear. “What do you mean, your kids don’t go to school? How will they learn anything? Do you want them living in your basement, playing World of Warcraft in their underwear, when they are thirty?”
Like me, you’ve probably heard those questions. And like me, you may have even asked yourself during those late-night moments of doubt. It’s okay to admit it here – I once confessed that I had bribed Julian with candy to do some math worksheets, and no one threw rotten tomatoes at me, and I wasn’t shunned for very long…We all have doubts. We all have moments when we imagine the worst. We all have times when we question, we wonder, we worry. Because we love our children, and, as unschooling parents, or parents of any kind, really, what we want most is for them to be happy.
Accepting and then embracing an unschooling lifestyle takes many things. It takes creativity and a willingness to let go of society’s expectations and definitions of success. It takes patience, with yourself, with your children, and with well-intentioned people who just don’t get it. It takes an ability to let go of control and release your own agenda. It takes courage, a sense of humor, and a hunger to live life fully and joyfully. And, perhaps most important, living an unschooled life takes trust.
How do we learn to trust – to trust ourselves and our partners, to trust our children, and to trust the process of unschooling? That is the question, and together, we will try to find an answer.
As unschooling parents, we’re already forging a path most people won’t follow. With no proscribed societal roles to follow, it can be tough to figure out how to be the parents we want to be in a world that insists we parent according to “conventional wisdom”. How do we figure out how to navigate this road our own way, with our own particular style, without the benefit of a map?
Joey was 32 and a dedicated child-free yuppie who had determined never to have children when she fell in love with Miryam, a radical unschooling mother of four. She had to utilize all her creativity and stubbornness to figure out how to fit into Miryam’s family and make it her own. She will share stories from her own journey into transforming herself from a conventionally-parented, white collar, single lesbian into a radical unschooling parent, and will talk about lessons she learned along the way. A casual Q&A session will follow the presentation.
But how will they…?
Go to college, find a job, be successful, have a work ethic, be a productive part of society. These are all questions that new and veteran unschoolers worry about. Parents and relatives, and sometimes strangers frequently asked me and my family these questions as I was growing up, and defending ourselves and helping concerned people to understand became a bit of an art form.
So now that I have “graduated” from unschooling (that’s what it says on my resume) and have been hired at 4 significant jobs, I want to share some ideas, pointers, and reassurances to worried unschoolers and parents, as well as give some advice on how to talk with those critics.
The Baptista-Toolan Family
The Pursuit of Happiness
Can you choose to be happy, or is it something that just happens, or doesn’t? Can a whole family, or a whole community choose to be happy? Can you? Let’s look at living our lives with silly, utter Joy! Come and hear great special music with Julian Baptista, stories with Beth Toolan, and play and explore with Kathryn Baptista.
It’s All About Choice
As an unschooling family, your choices will scare some people. They will offend others. Why did you choose to parent the way you parent? Why did you choose to unschool? What choices have you made that at first frightened you? What are ways in which you can choose to set up your life and home to best support unschooling? When you feel like you’re in a “tough patch” with unschooling, how can choices help you come back around? Come ready to examine these questions and more!
What’s Wrong with Conventional Parenting?
Many parenting beliefs, held in high regard by mainstream leaning families and parenting experts, result in unrecognized consequences that are potentially harmful and may damage relationships. Whether we call ourselves “Radical” or “Whole-Life” Unschoolers, regardless of tremendous societal pressure and purported research to the contrary, we recognize this and strive to parent differently. Why? What is it about conditional parenting that doesn’t work for our families? Despite the challenges posed by questioning conventional ideals on learning and parenting why do we choose to unschool? Jess will respond to these questions from three perspectives: First, by sharing personal anecdotes from childhood; Second, by offering reflections as a parent who realized that conventional “good parenting” wasn’t “good enough;” and Finally, with the insight and candor of a professional with nineteen years in the early learning, child care, and social services fields.
Q&A Moms Panel
Can’t stop worrying about math? Tired of fighting over chores? Afraid to loosen controls on screen time? Not sure what unschooling really looks like? Get answers to these questions and more from our panel of insightful and wise veteran moms. These women possess an uncanny ability to hone in on your concern and offer spot-on advice. What is holding you back from fully embracing unschooling? These moms can help! Moderated by Laura Flynn Endres, who wields the talking stick and knows how to use it, this year’s panel includes Jocelyn Cooper, Ren Allen, Joey B’Shalom, Ronnie Maier, and Shonna Morgan.
Do you have a burning question for the dads among us? Do you wonder what goes on in the male psyche when the subject of unschooling is the topic under discussion? Have you been curious about what goes down in those SSUDs meetings besides beer and strippers? Here’s your chance to visit that undiscovered country called What Goes On in Dads’ Heads. Join a panel of unschooling dads for a Q&A session. Discover their challenges and inspirations as they answer your questions and share a glimpse into the XY perspective. Everyone is welcome. Moderated by Frank Maier.