Curious about Self-Directed Learning? Sue Patterson can help!

Sue is a veteran Home Educator with 3 grown kids.  All of her children were Unschooled, and Sue is a wealth of information on many aspects of alternative education.

From transitioning away from the curriculum mindset and into a learning partnership with your kids, to Unschooling through the teen years and supporting young adults as they transition into college or work, Sue’s perspective is invaluable.

If you are struggling with an aspect of Home Eduction or Partnership Parenting, Sue’s wisdom and experience can help reassure and guide you through the moments of doubt.

If you are simply curious about what Unschooling family life is like, she can share a comprehensive look based on her own experience and what she’s learned from her extensive network of Home Ed families.

Here are some of the sessions Sue will be leading at the Retreat.  We will hit the ground running on Friday morning with workshop sessions and circle discussions, so getting there Thursday to set up your bunks, tents and campers will ensure you don’t miss any of the action!

Learning All the Time: Unschooling 101
Friday Morning (Oct. 24)

Life Learning, Whole Life Learning, Self-Directed Learning, Organic Learning, Natural Learning, Interest-Led Learning.  There are so many different names for this type of alternative education and almost as many definitions.

Come discover the core principles behind this method of education.
Gain clarity on what Unschooling IS and is NOT.
Is there a “right” or “wrong” way to Unschool?  Is it still Unschooling if we require a few math or phonics worksheets here and there?    What is “Strewing?”  What is “Deschooling?”  What is “Radical Unschooling?” What are the benefits and drawbacks to Unschooling?  How can we be sure our kids will turn out OK educationally and otherwise?  What if I give my children freedom and all they do is play video games all day?  What if my child HAS to or WANTS to return to school in the future?  How do I comply with Homeschooling laws as an Unschooler? Can I do it as a single parent, or when both parents must be earners?
We’ll tackle these questions and help newbies, spouses, grandparents and in-laws understand this complex and rich form of education and help you discover tools to move forward with Unschooling in confidence.
To read more from Sue on this topic click here.

When Your Unschooler Chooses School

After being radically unschooled her whole life, Sue’s youngest daughter decided she wanted to go to the local public high school. While Sue supported her daughter’s choice, they “did high school” on their own terms. After a year and half, Sue’s daughter had enough and returned to the freedom of unschooling.

We will explore the ways that Unschoolers use mainstream schools, alternative schools and “schooly” classes and lessons to achieve their goals.  Can this still be considered “Unschooling?”  How can we support our children when they choose methods of education and institutions that we as parents are ideologically opposed to – or just feel are not the best “place” for our kids?  How can we allow our children to be exposed to the negative aspects of school that we have tried to shield them from all their lives?  Can a school truly be a place of Unschooling freedom?

Unschooling Teens

Are you worried about unschooling your teen? Are you afraid that your choices may close doors instead of opening them? Sue’s three grown unschoolers took completely different paths through the teenage years. Come hear how they navigated these years and rest assured that it does NOT have to be as scary as society makes it sound! Sue also wrote a book, Homeschooled Teens that will be available in October. She interviewed 75 teens and young adults who homeschooled/unschooled as teenagers. She will share their responses to her questions about what life was like for them: finding friends, learning opportunities, hobbies, sports, work, travel, advantages they feel they have now, advice for worried parents, and more!!

Announcing the 2014 Retreat!


Super Early Bird Registration opens Monday, May 5
Prices are good through June 15


Radiant Living and Learning Retreat
October 23 – 27, 2014
Cleburne, Texas
(1 hour south of Fort Worth and 1.5 hours southwest of Dallas)

Every little bit of freedom that a child is allowed in determining how they spend their days living and learning is a step in the right direction. 

Nobody gets it “right” 100% of the time, but the more we can move toward honoring our children’s choices and unconditional acceptance of and respect for our kids AND ourselves, the closer we will get to Unschooling Bliss!

Radiant Living and Learning is a community of families who are supporting one another in moving toward a more peaceful, harmonious family life – toward living and learning together in joy as we celebrate each family member’s unique gifts, needs and passions.

Join us at the 2nd Annual Radiant Living and Learning Retreat this October!
Last year, 41 families had a BLAST playing and supporting each other.
This year we plan to double that number!

We will gather at Cleburne State Park for:

  • Workshops and Informal Discussions on various
    Unschooling and Partnership Parenting topics
  • Campsite Trunk-or-Treat
  • Halloween Dance Party
  • Community Campfires
  • Women’s Sacred Circle
  • Unschooling Dads’ Gathering
  • Littles’ PlayLand
  • Fresh juice and smoothie bar
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Canoe rides and more!

Accomodations:

  • Campsites for tent and RV camping
  • Campsites with screened shelters
  • Heated bunk house for non-campers
  • More options for non-campers
  • Heated bathrooms & showers for everyone!
  • Indoor community space in the Dining Hall and Group Rec Hall

Here’s some feedback from last year’s Retreat:
“As we drove away from the retreat, my kids agreed unanimously that was the best Unschooling Conference OR Campout they’d ever been to!  We can’t wait until the next one!”  – Ami

“I’m so overwhelmed at the love, and how wonderful everyone was!  I’m new in DFW and everyone was so inviting and welcoming. It meant a lot to me. Thank you all for being so great!”   – Amanda

“Thank you for a very cool conference.  I was pleased to see people from out of state, too.”   – Rob

The retreat will be similar in pricing and content to last year with some additions and upgrades.
Details on pricing and registration here.

Early Bird Registration ends June 15.
Last Call for Discounts ends Aug 15.
Large family discounts and day passes are available.

We also have plans in the works for an Unschooling Conference in February 2015 at Great Wolf Lodge and Water Park in Irving, TX!

Click “Follow Us” or “Join Us on Facebook” in the right hand column of the homepage for events updates and periodic blog posts on Unschooling.

Join the Education Evolution!

Retreat Workshop: Unschooling when your child chooses School?

Ami and Russell Campbell have always had their 3 children close.  As their babies grew they moved from Attachment Parenting to Unschooling and cherished the fact that home-education allowed them to spend so much time with their children.  The Campbell kids thrived as they were allowed to follow their interests, enjoy friends and other activities and play all day.  So Ami and Russell were a bit surprised when, at age 7, their daughter Aelish expressed a desire to go to school.  Despite their concerns, the Campbell’s supported their daughter’s choice and began the search for the right school.

After looking at the neighborhood public elementary school, Aelish instead chose a very small and homeschool feeling Montessori.  Her goals were to learn to read, to learn some math, to make new friends, and to see what all the fuss was about.  Her parents were pleasantly surprised with her enthusiasm, and with her quick progress from total non-reader, to reader, and at her quick grasp of the concepts in the classroom. Her teacher was unsure at first how to approach and teach this freethinking, unschooled kid, but she soon became a favorite of his, and he frequently spoke to the Campbells after school about her “surprising” progress.   By Spring, Aelish had learned what she set out to gain from school, and had also had enough of the school social scene and was ready to come back home.  Her parents were often amazed by her thoughtful insights about how the students were treated, how the students treated each other, and how her own mind was treated while in school.

Come hear Ami, Russell and Aelish share their experiences of giving school a try.  Aelish is THRILLED to share the insights she gained from her year in school and her return to home-education.

Click here for the Speaker’s page to read the Campbell’s Bio.

Click here to see other Workshop Topics planned.

Click here to REGISTER for the Radiant Living & Learning Retreat.

Can limiting “screen time” HURT our kids?

Last week I attended the Rethinking Everything Conference and was fortunate to see Dr.Peter Gray speak.  It was a highlight of the conference for me since I have enjoyed his Blog on Psychology Today for a while now.

I also highly recommend his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.KidsUsingiPad

Ever since the conference, something he said about limiting screen time has stuck in my head.  I wanted to share it since there seems to be such a push in “mainstream” parenting advice to limit children’s time in front of the various screens we now have in our homes.

Dr. Gray talked about hunter-gatherer societies and compared the way children learn in these societies with the way they learn in Sudbury Schools and in Unschooling.  In both environments children are free to play almost all the time.  Gray said that in these environments there is an “extraordinary indulgence” and trust in children ages 4 and up.  Kids choose how to spend their days and often choose to play with the tools that adults in their respective societies use.  They pretend scenarios that they see in the adult culture.  Through their (mostly unsupervised) play in mixed age groups, they are able to practice and learn many of the important skills that they will need in adulthood, from interpersonal and relationship skills to problem solving and technical skills (using the tools of their society).

Dr. Gray said, (and I’m paraphrasing from my notes) “It’s no wonder that the children in our society have a strong drive to ‘play’ on devices with screens.  Screens are tools in our society.  Parents often ask me if I recommend that they limit ‘screen time’ for their children, and I say no – limiting screen time in our culture would be like limiting ‘bow & arrow time’ for a child in a hunter-gatherer society.”

This struck me so deeply.  In the past few years I have embraced (almost fully) unlimited screen time for my 3 children, but occasionally I wonder if I “should” work harder to re-direct their attention or encourage other activities when I’m feeling like they are using screen devices too much.

I fully appreciate all the advantages of trusting our kids to make their own choices, but have worried that there might be some deleterious physical or psychological effects from using the screens.  I can see many ways that activities using screens will prepare kids for the future, but I still had that nagging doubt that resulted from always hearing about the “latest study” on screen time and ADHD or sleep disorders.

Dr. Gray’s point showed me yet another way that imposing my agenda (based on fear or influence from society) could possibly hold my kids back.  I accept without reservation the idea that trusting my children to choose how they spend their time will give my kids the gifts of self-confidence, self-regulation and trusting themselves fully, but I sometimes felt conflicted in putting this theory into practice and always honoring their choices when it came to “screen time”.

I see now that by limiting my kids’ opportunities to fully explore activities they enjoy because screens are involved, I could not only undermine their self-confidence and self-trust, but could be thwarting some learning that is preparing my child for the future.  After all there is no way to know what skills and knowledge will be useful 20 years from now, but if they continue to practice activities that utilize the tools of our society as society and technology changes, they will always be “proficient” in the current technologies and will be well placed to make the leap to the next level of advances.

I will still continue to provide opportunities for my kids to get outside, connect with nature and partake in social and other activities that don’t involve screens.  I do think balance in our activities and connection to nature is VERY important for all human beings.   But I also appreciate deeply Dr. Gray’s perspective which has quieted those nagging doubts and supported my instinct to allow my children to learn freely in the ways they choose.

Invitation to Share:
I believe that there is no ONE correct way to raise or educate children.  We each have to find what works best for our children individually and for our families as a whole.  My experience is likely to be different from yours and I believe that in sharing our experiences we can help each other find the way that fits our families’ needs best.  Please share your own observations and experiences on “screen time” with your children in the comments below.
(Or click the comment bubble at the top if you’re viewing this on the Home page.)