19 April 2010
unschool monday :: the magic word
Yes. Its the most important word I use an an unschooler. It opens up so many new opportunities and experiences to my owlets. Allowing them to follow their ideas and discover the world as they see it. Its blissfully simple, but also remarkably challenging. There are times when I have to stop and think first. My first reaction might be to say no. I don't want to. I'm busy doing something else. I'm worried about what people might think. My default programming is just no. But when I step back and think about the situation, I evaluate the reasoning behind the no, often its unnecessary, or knee-jerk. Why am I saying no? They are people too, with their own thoughts and needs. Why are my needs and wants more important? I'm thinking too much now...But... No can be stifling. It can shut down learning and exploring and creative thinking right then and there.
We were at the park a couple of weeks ago and a girl who seemed about Big Owlet's age came over to play with her. They were climbing on the play equipment, exploring and watching each other, learning from each other, as kids do. They got to one part that had two bars leading down to the ground, like the rails on a slide, but without the slide in between. They were climbing. Discovering new things they didn't know they could do. Having a great time. The girl called to her parents to watch her. They were outside the fence, having a picnic. "Hey Dad, look what I can do!!" The girl called excitedly. "No" was the response. "Dad!!" "No, I don't want you to do that. Its dangerous, you haven't done it before and I don't want to come inside the playground and help you." "Oh but Dad!!" "NO!!!!" So the girl climbed down. She went and played in the corner of the playground alone. They left a short time later. Big Owlet was really confused. "Why did the man say no and why didn't he help her to learn how to climb?" Imagine the same scenario if the father had come inside the playground and watched his daughter play safely? That simple act of support, that little tiny word, yes. Perhaps five minutes of standing there and watching his daughter learn something new. Showing her how to do it safely, then she might have moved on to the next thing and he could go back to his picnic. I'm guessing they're not unschoolers.
There are times when no is the only appropriate word to use. If you simply can't do something, or its really unsafe or whatever... But most of the time if I really think about it, I can say yes. Spend the time explaining how to do something safely. Or "Yes, but not today. Tomorrow would be a better time". Usually with unschooling though, you have to strike while the iron is hot. So we go with the flow, keep an open mind, help out where we can and say yes.
A couple of books on my shelf that have helped me arrive at yes first...
Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort
Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life by Rue Kream