In western culture children are granted full rights and responsibilities at the legal age of adulthood. Until 18 most children are dependent beings who are under the control of the adults around them both at home, in school and elsewhere. In a radical unschooling home notions of attaining freedom based on age maturation are obsolete. Children of all ages are completely unrestricted in an unschooling lifestyle and their ability to self-govern is supported and nurtured. In a home where no one exerts authority over another, each family member is able to do that which he pleases which extends far beyond traditional notions of learning and parenting.
It is truly liberating to witness children who are free to be exactly who they are without being controlled, shamed, manipulated or judged. Radically unschooled children have tremendous freedom and they are trusted to make choices that serve them well. Socialized norms of following the leader in the quest for popularity amongst age peers are replaced with conscientious decisions that impact the greater good. Global issues trump superficial ideals. They often have quite diverse interests and enjoy going against the grain. They embrace their offbeat, authentic selves and are happy to showcase their divergent personalities. Fitting in is rarely the goal. Their entire beings defy homogeneity. Unschooled children are living in the real world getting to know themselves and learning from natural consequences. They are comfortable expressing their many moods and their offbeat personalities without anyone trying to shape them to fit into acceptable mainstream norms. All topics are up for discussion and everything is transparent. Real life is happening now.
My children have been showing me who they are and what they are interested in from the beginning. The passions change but if you are parenting all day alongside your kids you can get a pretty solid understanding of what their personalities are and how they enjoy learning. Though we don’t prepare for future schooling in a prep school kind of way, we do think about keeping all options available. My primary job as the stay-at-home unschooling parent is to open up doors and let my children decide which ones they want to walk through. Sometimes that means seeking out new mentors, tutors or classes to focus in on areas in which that they want a collaborative experience. Liam particularly enjoys the one-on-one interaction when focused on high level mathematics. Mentors come and go but they are always an integral part of the gifted unschooling journey.
Both children are self-motivated and enjoy creating tutorials and let’s play videos which they share through social media. Entrepreneurial leadership is a natural byproduct of self-directed learning. For Liam, the appealing part is post-production as he is an accomplished video editor. His future may very well be in the cinematic arts and his days are certainly supportive of that possibility. He spends ample time breaking down movies and television and enjoys spending countless hours creating and editing his own fan movies. One of our favorite field trips out in the world is our own morning movie ritual at the local theater with the comfy seats and the affordable tickets. We thoroughly embrace technology and media and everyone has ample access to a plethora of both. Liam researches and seeks out new software that provides him with ever more editing tools to help him bring his projects to fruition and in accordance with his high definition standards. He has remarkable depth of knowledge within cinematic and television history coupled with a deep fascination with all things high tech. With each new budding passion, he demonstrates his intrinsic ability to become incredibly well versed in any topic of interest. Formally preparing this kid for anything is futile. He is learning everything he is interested in effortlessly. My best course of action is to stay out of his way, support him where needed and provide him with access to as many available resources within our budget. While editing and filmmaking are at the forefront, we are exploring a full-time film school which would add a bit of a schedule to our unschooling life. Both children are still quite young so no one needs to know what they want to be as an adult. In the meantime, I will just keep inspiring them to develop authentically as I follow their lead.
My not quite tween child is a charismatic and emotionally intense actor who practices his craft daily at home and takes weekly acting classes. Whether it is his goal to become a professional actor is unknown at this point but, at age 7, he has some time to figure that out. In the meantime, he delights everyone with his eccentric, over-the-top dramatic personality as he tends to stay in character when out in the world.
I am not preparing my children for college where learning is still confined to four walls. They don’t need it. College is available if they want it but economics and massive open online courses are making traditional college less relevant particularly for the entrepreneurial types. I am preparing them to be mindful humans who live authentically, stand up for what they believe and create joy for themselves and others in whichever way that manifests. My hope is for them to become self-aware, conscientious humans who appreciate what they are capable of and know how to cultivate the life they want. Our experience has shown us that formal academics is unnecessary so we continue to let passion driven learning lead the way. While Liam is able to take a la carte college courses at a few different universities, he may not pursue that either. His focus shifts every few years or so and we support whatever interest is currently on deck. Living in the moment and trusting the philosophy is a part of an unschooling life.
Following my 12 year old’s lead has brought the entire family to ethical veganism. This change in our previously conditioned mindset has had a spiraling effect on our overall quest to lead a healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyle. My yogic influence helps expand this ethical concept of ahimsa, non harming, to all aspects of how we live and experience the world. We practice non injury to ourselves and others with our thoughts, words and actions. While we are inspiring some people with our compassionate lifestyle, it is yet another aspect of our family identity that separates us from mainstream people and events. Collectively, we may enjoy disrupting traditional norms; however, it tends to make some social gatherings rather uncomfortable. Truthful rhetoric spouted from the mouths of babes has a way of pushing people out of their comfort zone.
Liam’s fervent enthusiasm for the current presidential election has motivated him to delve further into politics becoming knowledgeable about all aspects of the American electoral system and the main characters involved. Life and the internet provide such an interesting landscape from which to learn. He isn’t reliant on a teacher or an outdated text book to disseminate abridged information. He doesn’t need a test to demonstrate his expertise. He learns what he wants when he is inspired and his knowledge encompasses depth, breadth and accuracy. Gifted children tend to be truth seekers with a high moral compass who appreciate justice and fairness. This inborn quality is a driving force in our unschooling experience.
I cannot predict what their future will be but I can help them learn how to create the life they want for themselves. Our unschooling lifestyle is preparing my children to lead authentic, emotionally connected, passionate lives where they are productive members of society, fulfilling their unique purpose and embodying compassion for all beings.
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