I almost feel like it’s my duty, as an unschooling mom to share moments like this because I read so much crap online about how you can’t trust kids to make their own choices. Like if a child chooses their own food, they’ll eat gummy bears and chips every day, all day (not true). And if a child has computer freedom, they’ll either be playing games all day or visiting porno sites (not true).
Jacqueline (8 years old) gets up before I do most mornings and she helps herself to a light breakfast and then decides what she wants to do. Mostly she’ll watch a movie (she’s big into Star Wars right now), work on a story she’s writing (it’s her third) or play Barbies.
I woke up the other morning and started making my morning tea. Jacqueline yelled good morning from the family room and I asked her what she was doing. She replied that she was playing< on the computer. Being she said ‘playing’, I thought she was on one of our games, which of course would have been perfectly fine.
But there she was, having fun with the scientific calculator that’s on the computer. The same scientific calculator that I didn’t even know existed until I saw her on it. In her world, playing around with algebra, calculus and the table of elements is fun.
Let me make something clear – I don’t think the table of elements is any more valuable than her video games. In unschooling, everything has value and is important. I bring up these moments to silence the critics who think that unschooled children will never have an interest in learning anything unless they’re being told to or that children cannot be trusted to make their own choices.
That’s where mindful parenting comes into play. Jacqueline is not left alone to figure out things on her own. I’m there, as her partner, her guide. I take my job as an unschooling parent seriously and I pour a lot of time, attention and respect into her. Frankly, it’s not for everyone – I know plenty of parents who never want to spend more time than they have to with their kids.
In 2005 I created An Unschooling Life, a blog detailing our unschooling experience after adopting our three children. Over time, An Unschooling Life became a hub for unschooling support and advice. The blog has been featured in print and digital media and was home to the popular Unschooling Carnival (later known as Unschooling Voices). I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog where they will be housed under the An Unschooling Life section. This post was originally published on April 19, 2007.