Exploring Unschooling Email Newsletter #5
A series detailing my thoughts on each of the 10 “Exploring Unschooling” newsletter emails by Pam Laricchia from the Living Joyfully blog. I wanted to write down my answers to the questions asked , so I can look back and see if they change over time. If you are new to or curious about unschooling (or maybe need a refresher) I highly suggest you sign up for the email series. Email #5: Exploring Those “Can I?” Questions
Our kids ask us “can I?” questions all the time. Each time is an opportunity to grow and learn. It’s so easy, especially when tired or busy, to flippantly snap “NO” to everything.
This concept has really had to take time to sink in. It needed lots of additional resources. I’m going to put them up here instead of at the end because an understanding of this makes a huge difference.
Say Yes More by Joyce Fetterol on Joyfully Rejoycing
Always Say Yes. Or Some Form of Yes. On Sandra Dodd’s website
Say Yes Again on Sandra Dodd’s website
Saying Yes episode on The Unschooling Life Podcast
So in each situation when we’re about to say no, we can stop and think “why no?” Or “why not yes?”. I’ve found that a lot of the time, I can’t come up with a good reason. “Because I said so” isn’t an answer built on mutual respect or empathy. Or better yet, we can give our children permission to question our no answers. Call us out. If we can’t give them a good reason, then we reassess. Contrary to most parents, I want my kids to question authority when rules are being dealt out arbitrarily. I want them to question and stand up to tyranny.
I like the “some form of yes” idea. It also takes time to sink in. Say they want to go play ball outside but there’s a thunderstorm rolling in. Instead of saying “no”, I could look at and show them the lightning strike map, see that the storm is 5 miles away. Tell them “it’s dangerous to be outside in this storm if lightning strikes, how about we wait until it passes or if it’s too dark to play, remind me tomorrow and we’ll play ball then. Does that sound good?” They will most likely agree because they know that I’m not saying “no” without reason, in fact I’m not even saying “no”. My kids are safe. I didn’t say no. They trust that their need to go play ball will be met. We worked out a win-win situation we can all live with. That’s the “some form of yes”. Another example – “We can’t buy that toy right now because we don’t have the extra money, but we’ll see if we can get it cheaper somewhere else, or work together to save up for it”. And then follow through as a parent. Don’t use the “maybe later” as a way to shut your kid up. If you say “maybe later”, work on doing it later. Build trust with your kids that you’re going to do what you say by doing what you say.
Some people criticize this principle and think it means unschooled kids “can just run around crazy doing whatever they want”. Far from it. That’s is where rules vs. principles come in. Unschoolers tend not to have a whole lot of arbitrary “because I said so” rules, and instead live by principles. There’s a huge difference. Pam explains
Principles encourage discussion and the evaluation of a situation, whereas rules shut discussion down.
Deb Lewis explained the difference on Sandra Dodd’s website saying
A Principle-internally motivates you to do the things that seem good and right. People develop principles by living with people with principles and seeing the real benefits of such a life.
A Rule- externally compels you, through force, threat or punishment, to do the things someone else has deemed right. People follow or break rules.
It takes a lot of time to change you thinking about these things. One day, one hour, one moment at a time.
More Resources to Explore:
Living By Principles. Instead of Rules. On Sandr Dodd’s website
Rules vs. Principles section of this general Unschooling page by ?Pam Laricchia on Living Joyfully
Principles not Rules article in Life Learning Magazine
Principles episode on The Unschooling Life Podcast
August 13, 2015 / TaraMcDonough / 0