If you feel that you still don’t know exactly what this #RadiCoolUnschooling thing looks like, there is a reason…
It looks different for every single family…even every single child.
So I have been reluctant to tell you what it looks like at #HomeCrazzyHome lest you think that is the one twue way.
What I will say is that it has three key characteristics which make it different from not only other forms of home education but other parenting styles as well.
#RadiCoolUnschooling allows the little human AS MUCH AUTONOMY AS it practical and SAFE.
How is that different from Unschooling itself? What exactly does that even mean?
Unschooling as defined by the Welsh Guidelines – the learner is encouraged to initiate own learning through exploration and engagement with activities of their own making or sourcing.
In other words, the little human chooses what to learn, and perhaps how, maybe even when. With #RadiCoolUnschooling those are all true. No ‘school time’. No set curriculum. No written and graded work. Perhaps as in PanKwake’s case…no books even.
But how exactly is that even possible? Don’t kids just goof off all the time? How can they possibly learn anything that way?
You would be surprised how curious our little humans are. How innate the thirst for knowledge is in all of us…if it has not been extinguished by schools that is. Even then, given time, emotional support, and freedom, even Cognitive Death can be overcome…and curiosity reborn. All that goofing off can actually teach them quite a bit.
I admit it. I am one of THOSE parents. PanKwake spends hours upon hours upon hours on the computer and iPad. Like most of the rest of us in this Western society. She adores gaming. MineCraft, Roblox, and her latest passion SIMS. From those she has learned…
Design – How to build things…tree houses, trains, underwater homes, barns, the most kawaii pink bedroom you can imagine, even the laws of physics…or not. And thus…
Science – She has been known to tell me that this design would not work in real life because of the laws of physics. Anatomy & physiology too…like how in real life you cannot breathe underwater.
Maths – She learned place settings through handling her Robux. All of a sudden whether it was 10R$ or 100R$ or 1000R$ was IMPORTANT in her world. Because she knew that she was not getting unlimited supply of them. She also learned reason and logic…two parts that are woefully missing from all the national curricula. She and she alone had to make decisions…is this worth it? That is not a maths question you find on tests but is in fact the most important application of the subject.
Geography – In Minecraft she has learned about different biospheres…desert, jungle, ice, ocean and more. What is more she has learned direction, maps, and tracking. Trust me…the meltdowns we have been through when she was younger and went so far from her home that she got lost. She also learned how to build beacons so that would NOT happen again.
English – When I had pushed reading so hard a few years ago that she would not even allow me to read bedtime stories to her anymore, gaming chat was the only time she was interested in reading or writing. Not just Cookie Monster and I, but once upon a time, her carer who had been a teaching assistant in schools would spend the whole three hours just sitting there reading what was being said and helping her to respond. In fact, we made the radical decision to teach her computer English rather than ‘real’. Because it is phonetic. ‘Y’ is so much simpler and logical when you have severe dyslexia than ‘why’.
Citizenship – Speaking of online chat, multi-player gaming is the best teacher of real life citizenship there is. Oh, the number of times as I am falling asleep that I hear…That’s not fair. That’s cheating. Yes, it is socialization too.
Physical Education – One word, folks…Parkour. If you don’t know what that is, Google it. Oh, the number of times that PanKwake has designed and built (that one AGAIN) her own REAL life ones…at gymnastics or in the backyard…or around the house even. And she applied all that physics to it too.
Computing – Of course, this one should go without saying.
Eight out of twelve subjects from the National Curriculum covered by gaming alone. I could probably even stretch that to nine by pointing out that music is usually played along with most games…Minecraft for certain. I am sooooooooo tired of hearing that one composition when she runs off and leaves her computer running.
That too is my point…our kids…MOST of them…left to their own devices…after a time…do NOT need to be forced to get off the computer. They too get bored of it. Yes, they GET BORED of those games too.
Which is when PanKwake gets in her ART and her history and occasionally even foreign language…but like reading that one is a landmine of cognitive death due to her severe dyslexia.
As for her Welsh, we point out words as we walk along the street. And keep it simple…do those sound alike, the Welsh and English. I know from personal experience that dyslexia, even mild such as my own, make learning foreign languages even more frustrating than reading or writing. Your ear just cannot hear/detect and then reform foreign words easily.
But with #RadiCoolUnschooling we go even further. It is not just WHAT you learn, HOW, WHEN and even WHERE and WHO. With #RadiCoolUnschooling, the little human is given AUTOMONY and control over as many other areas of her life as she can manage without ENDANGERING herself or others.
- What, when, and where she eats.
- What, when, and where she goes…stores, home ed events, and even doctor’s and dentist’s appointments.
- Even when she sleeps.
Yes, I said WHEN she sleeps. And with PanKwake, she does not have a 24-hour circadian body clock. So that means there is no consistency. For awhile, she will be going to bed at a relatively ‘normal’ time…10 or 11 PM. Then a couple of weeks later, she will have moved around the clock and be up all night and sleep all day.
The one thing is…she does get a ‘normal’ amount of sleep each day. Between five (rare) and thirteen hours (also rare and usually to balance out that five).
And as she has gotten older, she has gained more and more control of her own body. These days, she can almost always wake herself IF she wants to. If there is something happening that she wants to do, she will wake up…or stay awake until it is over.
That is where RESPECT comes into it.
#RadiCoolUnschooling means that you RESPECT your child as a LITTLE HUMAN.
That is why I have used those words more often than child or kid or offspring. And honestly, it is something that is woefully lacking in the education systems and in modern parenting styles. I wrote a blog about the subject once entitled…When Does Human Life Begin?
The sad truth is that these days parents still treat thirty and forty year olds like children. Telling them what they ought to do. Nit picking on what they wear or how they look. Offering unsolicited advice. Is it any wonder than so many of those ‘adults’ are living at home still?
By Respecting your little human and giving them as much autonomy as you possibly can without compromising their safety, you are in fact better preparing them for the real world than those ‘controlling’ parents.
While you may not allow a three or four year old to control their own sleep…unless you are certain that they are in a safe environment to do so, of course…certainly by their teens they are able to do so? But where those lines are are individual decisions for you and your little human.
Nonetheless, the core idea that this is a little person, a little human, can and should be respected from birth. Ask yourself about things like…passing a baby around from stranger to stranger…without consent? Forcing your child to kiss grandma or hug Uncle? To obey adults…just because they are older? Do you realize how dangerous those practices are? Pedophiles are counting on them, folks.
Respecting your little human’s boundaries in terms of their bodies. As much as they are physically able! Allowing him to select his own clothes each day…no matter how they look fashion wise. Permitting them to have food preferences without shaming or guilting. These are small and simple ways from babyhood that you can communicate RESPECT to your little human. Then as they grow you can add more responsibility as and when she is ready.
Oh, in terms of this, I encourage you to read the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and John Holt’s Escape from Childhood. The first is quick and fairly easy. The latter…even I find myself challenged by Holt’s ideals.
One final word…did you see that bit…as far as they are able…safe from themselves and others? Those are important. It is a key difference between this #RadiCoolUnschooling and neglect.
That does not make it easy though. For #HomeCrazzyHome, the clearest example is letting PanKwake roam the streets in the middle of the night. When she is stressed, anxious, and certainly when she meltsdown, there is nothing PanKwake wants more than to escape…to be alone. From very early, she has always done ‘runners’ or ‘eloped’ as the nasty nickname given it by #AutismParents. BUT it is NOT safe. Not for a pre-teen. Or realistically even for a vulnerable teen.
That does not mean that we as the adults or parents take this one lightly though. It is not easy denying PanKwake something that we know she actually NEEDS. When she does meltdown and begs and pleads…let me out. It breaks our hearts. We are even seeking long term solutions for the situation…a service dog that could go with her, protect her from strangers, or self-harm, even lead her home if she got lost. But until that time, our obligation to keep her alive and safe supersedes her right to roam freely. To do otherwise would make us negligent parents.
Contrary to popular misconception #RadiCoolUnschooling parents are NOT negligent. In fact, they are some of the most INVOLVED in their little human’s lives.
Of all the lies and untruths out there, this one is the most prevalent and damaging to the Unschool community. This idea that we are off somewhere living our lives, ignoring our little humans, and forcing them to raise themselves. Nothing can be further from the truth.
In fact, we are there for our little humans 24/7/365 in ways that traditional parenting would accuse us of being…helicopter moms. In addition to waking up at all hours of the night to get PanKwake food, water, or technological assistance…to read gaming chats with her…
Being a #RadiCoolUnschooling parent has always meant that I sacrificed what I wanted…and sometimes even what I needed for my little human. Be that money…time…or even relationships. I put her needs first. And that is why most people will never adopt a #RadiCoolUnschooling approach…even if it is miraculous for their #neurodivergent or #PDA little human.
One clear example of this involvement was the years that I spent with PanKwake in London parks teaching her social skills. I spent money to create her ‘park bags’, full of toys that most parents would not have thought to bring to the park. Sand toys, balls, bubbles, and her favorite…parachute men to drop from the top of slides and watch drift down.
By being allowed to share this…on HER terms…I have fostered a healthier view of sharing than traditional parents. I have seen parents force their child to share their favorite doll with a stranger on the playground. Of course, these same people would not share their mobile phones or their partners with others.
On the other hand, PanKwake was given AUTONOMY over her park bag. She was allowed to decide What she would and would not share. For instance, she had no problem sharing her parachute men. In fact, she loved seeing whose would go further. But not the red one. That one was hers alone.
And her wisdom! I remember one day she refused to share something with this little boy. She was willingly sharing with others. But not him. I asked…I pleaded…I cajoled. But no. Then she told me…He would not play the game when I asked him. So why should I share with him? She was six or seven at the time…and had a healthier understanding of human relationships than many adults. That was the day I stopped questioning her decisions on sharing.
You know what else too? I was usually the ONLY parent out there actively playing with the children. Not counting the ones with young children, of course. They usually tagged along after the toddlers and many even engaged with their little humans. But after the age of three or four, most parents sat on benches…either talking to one another or rarely looking up from their phones.
At fifty, more than twice the age of some of those Moms, I was the one out there playing tag, hide-n-seek, and helping the little humans to learn and negotiate the world. Not just my little human either. But half a dozen or more of those ‘traditional’ parents. It never ceased to amaze me how they all thirsted for my attention and approval. How they craved the things that I gave PanKwake.
No, #RadiCoolUnschooling is not neglect. It is in fact the selfless giving of yourself for another…and that, folks, is why tomorrow we finish this series with WHEN and WHO should NOT home educate or especially #RadiCoolUnschool.
Change that…one more after that on why government needs to keep its hands off home ed and worry about changing the education system.
Oh, and if you still have no idea WHAT #RadiCoolUnschooling actually looks like…that was my purpose. It looks like what works for YOU and YOUR LITTLE HUMAN.