What does The Desire Map have to do with Unschooling?

For any of you who are wondering why you’re getting emails about this Desire Map thing-y when you signed up for an Unschooling conference, I wanted to share some specifics of how I’ve found The Desire Map to be a perfect tool to accompany Unschooling.

It also happens to be a great tool for navigating ANY area of life – and since living IS learning, any tools we find that make LIFE EASIER will make LEARNING EASIER!

We are drawn to Unschooling because we think that following this lifestyle will give us certain feelings.  (Maybe you’re seeking the feeling of freedom, or peace in the home, or feeling more connected to your kids, or . . .  YOU fill in the blank – there is NO wrong answer!)

The Desire Map can help us identify the core feelings we are seeking by choosing this lifestyle, and it shows us how to use those feelings to uncover the next logical steps on our Unschooling journeys.

Unschooling+DMUnschooing CANNOT happen successfully without a SUBSTANTIAL amount of Deschooling on the part of parents.  We have SO MUCH programming to undo from a LIFETIME of living in a culture that highly values the school centric model of education.  Not just 12 years of school programming, but MANY decades of cultural programming that runs DEEP.

Our culture takes for granted that education and learning happen a certain way and have to follow certain structures.  We collectively believe that academic subjects are more valuable than “non-academic” subjects, and that knowledge must be divided up into these “digestible” subjects for learning to even be possible!

I could go on and on with the cultural beliefs that Unschooling challenges, but I think we can all agree there are MANY.  Most of us need help with this process of Deschooling and of clarifying the steps that are best for our family to take to move toward Unschooling – since for most of us this it is uncharted territory!

Humans are in the habit (both consciously and subconsciously) of following the default cultural norms and ideas.  When we begin to let go of these beliefs that are so ingrained in our culture (and in us!) we can feel a little lost – floating out in a sea of endless possibilities which can be freeing, but also very overwhelming and frightening.

We can talk to other families or read about others’ Deschooling and Unschooling experiences and that can DEFINITELY be helpful, but invariably our lives and our children will present unique challenges.

Rather than relying on “external” answers from others or clinging to yet another educational or parenting “dogma,”  I’ve found that turning inward (and helping our kids do the same) is a MUCH more effective and efficient approach to creating the life we envision.

The Desire Map facilitates this process of turning inward.

It helps us dig deep to uncover the core desired feelings that we are hoping Unschooling will give us.  It helps us figure out how to USE our core desired feelings to guide our daily plans, to-do lists and actions.

And the good news is that when we let our feelings guide our daily actions, we actually accomplish our REAL goals (those feelings) RIGHT AWAY!  We don’t have to wait until we are “full fledged Unschoolers” or “perfect” parents to feel the way we want to feel.  We can feel that way NOW – even if it’s just in small, fleeting moments at first – we achieve “success” WAY before the grand goal is achieved.  And we can build on those small successes to feel the way we WANT to feel more and more and more often as the days go by.

As we use this process we find that we have to look outside of ourselves less and less for advice and guidance.  We HAVE the guidance we need – inside each one of us – and we can access it at any time in the form or our feelings.  When issues come up with Unschooling or parenting or anything else in life, we have a tool to figure out the next steps that are RIGHT for ourselves and our families.

How do our kids benefit?

Well aside from just the general benefits of Unschooling and a more peaceful home, our kids learn from our example. As we learn to access the inner guidance of our feelings, and begin to use them more and more to make decisions, our kids see us and learn how to do this as well.

(That is IF they even NEED to re-learn it – we are ALL born knowing how to do this, but it is trained out of most of us – and many of our kids need MUCH less help getting back to doing things this way).

As we learn to trust ourselves, it becomes easier and easier to trust our kids to guide their own lives and educations – even when the path they choose does not conform to societal and educational norms, timelines and expectations.

Now The Desire Map is certainly NOT the ONLY method of learning to access and use this inner guidance.

I’ve spent the last 14 years figuring out this process for myself to create the life and the feelings I desire.  It CAN be done in many different ways by following many different processes. (Believe me!  I’ve studied and pieced together MANY different philosophies to accomplish this!) 😉  But with The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte has created a nurturing and self-affirming process to peel back the layers of our desires and uncover what it is at our core that drives us.  Then she helps us use these discoveries to guide our daily actions and ultimately accomplish our long term goals.

And once we’ve learned this Desire Map process, we can use it over and over as time goes on, as our desires grow and develop and as our family’s needs change.

So whether your goal is Unschooling or something else entirely, Desire Map can help us ALL dig down past our cultural conditioning of how “THEY” say we SHOULD be living, and find our core desired feelings that are telling us how to find a more authentic and enjoyable life – unique to each one of us!

If you’re interested in learning more about Radiant Living with The Desire Map, you can join our Facebook group for inspiration, to hear about my Desire Mapping process and to hear about upcoming Radiant Living with The Desire Map offerings.Unschooling with the Desire Map

I am planning in-person and virtual Desire Map workshops this spring and summer.  If you’re more of a “self-study” kind of person you can get the book and begin “Mapping” yourself now!

We would love to hear about your experiences with The Desire Map in the Facebook group.  It can be like a virtual Desire Map book club.

Ask questions.  Share your doubts and skepticism.  Share your joys.  Whatever feels good to share – share it!

I’m looking forward to what unfolds for all of us that decide to dive into this process!  If you’re drawn to The Desire Map at all, check it out here and let me know what you think! (email me HERE or message me on Facebook HERE.)

Heaps of Love,
Christina

Radiant Living with The Desire Map Unschooling Conference Intuition

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Screens, “Doing Nothing” and Being “Behind”

From a question in the Unschooling Special Needs group on Facebook.  Reposted here with permission from the original poster quoted.

The original question was (in part) about her child who Homeschooled for several years, but the struggle over school work was too much so she sent her child back to school.  He thrived for 2 years in “positive private schools,” but once he had to change to a public charter school, much of the progress he had made was lost.  They’ve begun Homeschooling again, but here’s what mom says about it:

“Homeschooling sucks. The only thing my son will do is listen to stories. He can read himself but will only do so at bedtime. It is video games and if I try to moderate and take him off he will literally do nothing all day. I have to be online a lot of the day and if he sees me online he wants to be able to use electronics too. I am so heartbroken . . . .  He is a zombie at home. And he is “behind” on a lot of math skills for his age.”

There was also a post from someone else in that group the day before, asking for help in letting go of arbitrary limits on “screen time.”  The problem for her was that even watching 1-3 shows seem to correlate with out of control tantrums.

Here’s my response to both of these posts:

Unschooling is trusting your child to show you the way they learn best – and then LISTENING TO and HONORING THAT.

If a child is drawn to screens it’s because they are getting something from it.  When we can look past the “evil screen” and see that the screen is actually a window to a wider world of experiences, it is easier to see what kids might be getting out of it, and see what they are learning from the activity that just happens to be delivered through this vehicle we call a screen. 

Now I know some people say the screen itself has negative neurological consequences for their child, and that might be true in the case of a very few kids with neurological differences or other special needs, but often times we parents blame the thing we don’t like for the behavior we don’t like. 

If we’re already biased against “screens” (or television content or video games or another “unacademic” thing) then it’s much more likely that we will see connections between that awful thing and the awful behavior or symptom.  When we can step back and more objectively look at the situation and behavior, it might become clear that there are many contributing factors, and screens might or might not be among them.

Another thing that often happens with a bias against screens (or anything else deemed “unacademic” like listening to a story instead of reading it) is that we will see activities involving screens as inferior to activities that are traditionally considered educational.  We will then blame these “unacademic” activities for any behavior or result that we perceive as negative.  (Doing nothing, being behind – again a judgement that seen through a different lens wouldn’t be negative.)

EVEN “special needs” kids can be trusted to show us how they learn best.  Even my “barely verbal” 7 year old who has yet to potty train and can tantrum like a PRO can show me what he needs.

But I’ve had to learn to listen in a different way than I would listen to my other kids (or really to every other human being I’ve ever dealt with in my life) so it’s a steep learning curve for ME, but that’s just it – MY lesson to learn. 

It’s MY work to let go of my biases – whether they are about screens, or math exercises or reading “on time” or the importance of college or when it seems my kids are “doing nothing” all day or the zillion other things Unschooling parents worry about when their kid is “behind” according to mainstream educational standards.

In actuality there is no such thing as “behind.” There’s just where you are – where your kid IS. A wise woman, Danelle LaPorte once said “Comparison kills.” When I read that I said “YES that’s IT!  It’s the key to SO much of the trouble parents have with Unschooling.  Ms. LaPorte was talking about the difficulty that arises when we compare ourselves to others but it applies to EVERYTHING and ESPECIALLY children. Comparison is damaging. Period.

Whether we’re comparing siblings against each other, or students in a 3rd grade class, or all 8 year olds in the world, or my yoga pose to the teacher’s pose, or my car or house to my neighbors’ . . . comparison to another person is NEVER helpful. Even when we compare and think we’re better, or our child is better, we create a FALSE sense of superiority.

If we simply work with what we have right in front of us, and take the LONG view (not assessing progress in days or weeks, but in YEARS) we can relax and live in the moment. We can SEE our children better. We can hear THEIR NEEDS more easily. If we want to truly honor our child and THEIR natural way of learning and growing and developing, we have to work hard to let go of our biases and baggage. We have to stop comparing them to any on else and REALLY SEE the child in front of us.

Unschooling is both easier AND more challenging than school-at-home Homeschooling.

It’s easier because the battle between you and your child is diffused. But the internal battle for parents is often intensified. The battle between our instinct and what society has taught us is “responsible parenting” or “appropriate education” is often a daily or even hourly challenge. 

Unschooling is also harder sometimes because we can’t just follow a prescribed set of beliefs about education and we can’t just use a curriculum straight out of the box to make sure “all the bases are covered.”  We have to follow and TRUST our children’s way.  They WILL cover all of the “bases” that are important to THEM.  We have to trust that other “bases” will be covered when the child sees a need.  When the child’s life experience has caused them to ask the questions and develop genuine curiosity about that topic.

Unschooling is hard for many of us because we have to put faith in the process and detach from the outcome.  We have to take a leap of faith that many around us will say is “crazy.”

But Unschooling is MUCH EASIER than Homeschooling once we do a certain amount of work on that internal battle and let go of our biases, programming and brainwashed beliefs that certain subjects or vehicles of learning are superior or inferior to others.  

Once we are more comfortable with following our instincts AND our kids’ instincts Unschooling becomes just an exercise in managing the flow, finding the right resources for our kids and then letting them expand and grow in their own way and in their own time.  No pressure to perform or measure up against anyone else.  The only measure of success in Unschooling is the amount of JOY we and our kids are able to experience!

Young Adult Unschoolers Q&A, Mini-Fig Swap, Bikes, Swords & Mp3’s

sq logoRADIANTKIDSWe’re so excited to announce the Young Adult Unschoolers’ Panel.  We have 5 unique individuals who will answer your questions and share their experience growing up Unschooled!  (Well 4 were Unschooled and one was a “very relaxed Homeschooler using many Unschooling principles”)

Click here to read their Bios and see what other contributions they will be making at the Retreat!

We also want to make sure all the kids know about some things they might want to bring to the Retreat:

  • Lego Mini-Figs – we’re having a SWAP!   Bring your tired, old Mini-Figs and take home some fresh, new ones!
  • Bikes – It’s a great way to get around camp, plus it’s just super fun to ride with friends – on the roads or on the camp’s bike trails.  We will also have an organized Bike Race around the Cedar Grove Camping Loop!
  • Nerf Swords or Duct Tape Swords“Hunger Games” is a favorite camping activity among our Home Ed community and we will be organizing a couple of rounds Thursday & Friday.  After that it’s up to the kids to “round up” a game.  Click here for the rules.  There will also be an opportunity to make your own foam sword at the Arts & Crafts Table on Thursday and Friday.
  • Mp3’s for Dancing – Bring your favorites to play at the Halloween Dance Party.  The DJ with start things off, but requests will be difficult since we don’t have internet access.  We’ll be happy to play songs from your device though!  Our sound system can connect with most bluetooth devices as well as Apple and Android products.
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Adultism and Equal Rights! . . . for Children?

sq logo evolutionIt was at my first Unschooling conference that I began to examine and question the discrepancies in the socially acceptable ways we treat children versus the ways we treat adults.  After all, kids are not as “socially valuable” as adults right?  They lack experience and wisdom.  They can’t delay gratification or keep up with “important responsibilities” like bills and jobs.  They require supervision and cajoling or coercion or downright force to “do the right thing.”

I grew up being treated with a certain lack of respect and condescension that I just accepted as normal from NEARLY EVERY ADULT I encountered.  As I grew older I began to use the same tone, same attitude and show the same lack of respect for children that I encountered.  It was ingrained in me.  It was the norm to treat children this way (or worse).  And despite my bent for social activism and all of the philosophizing I had done around equal rights for women or different races, ethnicities or sexual orientations, I had never stopped to think that the largest group of people that are routinely discriminated against, subjugated and marginalized is children!

I sat in the introduction to Unschooling workshop at that first conference and heard examples of ways that we speak to and treat children that would be considered rude, disrespectful or even verbal assault if we spoke to adults that way.  A lightbulb went off and it has been an ever unfolding process of discovery, self examination and deprogramming to change my ways little by little to treat children AUTOMATICALLY with the same respect and consideration that I would give an adult.

It’s not always easy and sometimes I fall back into the old patterns of demanding, coercing and expecting developmentally inappropriate things from children . . . and then treating them disrespectfully when they don’t perform to my satisfaction.

Despite the fact that children have far less experience, self-control and ability to cope with the world, we expect them to have the same amounts of patience, impulse control and initiative as adults.  BUT we are not willing to give them the same respect and consideration that we would give other adults. We speak to them as if they’re stupid and belittle them. We order them around and expect immediate compliance.  We make plans without their input.  We make decisions about their lives and how they will spend their time without considering their needs, desires or opinions.

It’s inconvenient for adults to stop and ask a child about their preferences or how they might choose to do things in a certain situation. We think we know better because we are older.

And this doesn’t even BEGIN to touch the issue that it is perfectly LEGAL to hit, strike or smack one’s own child when the same behavior toward an adult would be considered assault and would justify charges being filed.

This is a problem that has deep roots and even wider repercussions.


This Fall a group of pioneering Unschoolers in Dallas have come together to create a Home Education Co-op that has confirmed my suspicions that we give kids WAY TOO LITTLE respect, consideration and trust.  The initiative, creativity, team work and problem-solving skills the kids in our group have displayed in creating and self-designing their activities and classes has been humbling, inspiring and surprising.  (Even for a dyed-in-the-wool Unschooler!)

Within my own family, I have seen positive results when we take the time to sit down and share our individual goals, find common goals and develop a plan (with input from EVERYONE) to accomplish them.  When we allow all members of our family OR our Unschooling Community Co-op (regardless of age) to contribute, share ideas and formulate a plan of action, the momentum is unstoppable, the engagement of the members is joyous and the level of satisfaction is monumental!

  • Are you ready to examine some long held, collective beliefs about the automatic and socially acceptable degradation of our youngest humans known as ADULTISM?
  • Would you like some tools for releasing these habits and beliefs in your interactions with children?

We have two Retreat Workshops that should prove informative, provocative and challenge you to make some changes or AT LEAST begin to recognize the most socially acceptable form of inequality that exists in all of our lives!

When we begin to become more aware of the ways that we buy into Adultism and begin to change our interactions with the children in our lives, we expereince more peace and harmony within our families and larger communities.  This is truly a beginning step to creating a more peaceful world!


Join us Oct 23-27 in Cleburne, TX for these two workshops and many more at the Radiant Living and Learning Retreat!


“Because I Said So!” just ain’t gonna cut it anymore! ~ Lets talk about Adultism
NinaJones
with Nina Jones

As parents we all hope to form good relationships with our children. Along the way, many of us fall back into certain behaviors and ideas that we were raised with:  that adults should make ALL the decisions for a younger person without much input from the child.

The concept of “because I said so” is one of the ideas that we need to let go of if we are committed to forming truly respectful relationships with our children.
Adultism is defined as: behaviors and attitudes that are based on the assumptions that adults are superior to young people and are entitled to act upon young people without agreement.  This idea is reinforced throughout most modern societies and is a form of discrimination, prejudice, subjugation and marginalization that is experienced by ALL children.
Adultism impacts the development of our youth, in particular, their self-esteem and self-worth.  It trains them from day-one to accept the authority of another merely because of age.  In fact some say it grooms us to more readily accept other forms of discrimination and subjugation as adults.
 
Is Adultism an acceptable and sometimes necessary construct of society?  What would life look like if we pushed past the norm of Adultism to TRULY respectful and egalitarian relationships with our children?  How might children be empowered throughout their lives if they were treated like FULL human beings from the beginning?  

Lets talk about it!


Creating Peace and Harmony through the Family Meeting
DoreenFisher2
with Doreen Fisher
In an effort to find more harmony, reduce stress, and accomplish more of her family’s individual and collective goals, Doreen Fisher decided to implement a Family Meeting to create a little bit of structure in her family’s highly creative, free and unstructured lifestyle.

The result?  They became more grounded as individuals and as a family, found more peace in their home, and began to show up for each other in a way that resulted in measurable movement toward their individual and collective goals.

Join Unschoolers Doreen and Mila Fisher as they share their process for the Family Meeting and discuss the benefits of allowing all family members – of ALL ages – to participate in running family matters and discover their own interests and accountability in the process.

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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!!

What is Unschooling?

There are so many eloquently worded definitions of Unschooling out there, but for me it boils down to an attitude of allowing and of trust.

  • Trusting the path our kids choose as they learn the things that are important to them and in the order that makes sense to THEM.
  • Getting out of the way to allow the natural learning process that almost* every human is capable of.

It often doesn’t look much like the learning we are used to in a school or school-at-home setting, but it ends up being a deeper, richer and more useful education when children are allowed to explore and learn naturally in their own ways, rather than being forced to follow someone else’s agenda.

Unschooling is paying attention to how a child learns best and what “lights them up” and then honoring and supporting THAT.


More definitions of Unschooling:

http://www.holtgws.com/whatisunschoolin.html

http://unschooling.com/what-is-unschooling/

http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/earl_stevens.html

The following link provides a great definition from a grown Unschooler with lots of links to expound on common questions like College? Socialization? Gaps in Education? etc.

http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/p/new-to-this-blog-new-to-unschooling.html


Here is a more in depth list of authors, books, websites and blogs to help understand Unschooling and readings to help us DESCHOOL ourselves.

In order to Unschool successfully, it’s imperative for parents to commit to the process of deschooling.
Here is more information about the deschooling process.


*Absolutes can be problematic – and sure enough as soon as I was convinced that Unschooling was THE optimal learning method for EVERY human (because it is the MOST customized education possible for each individual) my middle child was diagnosed with severe Autism.  That caused me to question my beliefs about Unschooling in a deep and thorough way.

Ultimately I’ve found that even kids with Special Needs (and sometimes especially they) are STILL best off Unschooling – even with all of their differences in how they learn and relating to the world.  There ARE a very few exceptions and we explore these in the group Unschooling Special Needs.  If you suspect your child has learning differences or other “extra needs” that make them an “outlier” on the bell curve of “typical” development, I encourage you to join the discussion there.

 

What does “Radiant Living” even mean???

By 2007 life events had led me to a point where I could no longer ignore the fact that I was put on this earth to
1. learn how to confidently hear and follow my “Inner Voice of Wisdom” and
2. help others do the same.

Often I just call it “The Voice” but it goes by many names: Intuition, Instinct, Gut Feelings, Higher Self, Inner Knowing, Emotional Guidance and more.  No matter what we call it or what we believe it to be, we’ve all “heard” it at one time or another – or THOUGHT we heard it and wondered.

Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t.

At pivotal moments in my life, this Voice has “come through” very loud and clear as it echoed in my head.  Other times it has taken a more subtle form: gentle nudges, strong feelings, hunches, feeling “guided” to take a certain action and other hard to describe phenomena .  But however my Inner Wisdom ultimately communicates with me, it always rings true in my heart and I have learned after 41 years of “experimentation” that it’s in my best interest to listen.

We are born tuned into The Voice, but the voices of our family, teachers and other “authorities” often steer us away from listening.  Sometimes this is done subtly and sometimes with strong coercion, threats or punishment.  By the time we are grown, most of us have learned to successfully ignore or drown out our Inner Voice of Wisdom with the external voices that hold power in our lives, our communities and in our culture in general.

What does all this have to do with Alternative Education or Partnership Parenting?

For me, choosing to approach education and parenting in this way is:

  1. a result of hearing (and finally following) my Inner Voice of Wisdom
    and
  2. a means by which I can continually practice listening – and recalibrating my actions and choices to line up with my Inner Wisdom

Almost every external voice I’ve ever heard has said things like:

  • “Children are too young and inexperienced to know what they want.  They CAN’T know what’s good for them.”
  • “Learning is difficult and can only happen when children are FORCED to sit and attend to ‘unpreferred’ activities.”
  • “There are certain things EVERY child MUST know and they must learn it in the time frame and order in which ‘educational professionals’ prescribe.”
  • “We must DEMAND respect from children (without reciprocating that respect).  We should not be our children’s ‘friends’ and if we don’t discipline, punish and force our children to do certain things, they will never learn respect, responsibility or be motivated to do anything productive with their time.”

My Inner Voice of Wisdom has NEVER agreed with these ideas on education and parenting that seem to be dominant in western culture at large.  The moment I made the decision to Unschool and try parenting without using punishment, the most profound sense of Peace came over me.  I’ve learned over the years that this sense of Peace is a strong indication that my actions are coming into alignment with my Inner Wisdom that has never steered me wrong.

Of course doubts and questions have arisen as our family has made our way toward Unschooling and Partnership Parenting, but these have just been opportunities for me to practice quieting those external voices and tune into myself and my children to find the answer that is right for our family.  And when things are still unclear I seek out experienced people on this path whose voices resonate with my my own Inner Wisdom.

Trusting children is a primary component to Unschooling and Partnership Parenting.  In my experience, learning to hear, trust and follow my OWN Inner Wisdom is ESSENTIAL to learning to trust my children.  How can we ever trust THEIR Inner Wisdom if we are unwilling or unable to trust our own?

So for me, Unschooling and working toward parenting in a non-coercive way can only be accomplished if I am CONTINUALLY tuning into my Inner Voice and recalibrating my actions to line up with that Voice.

Why RADIANT Living & Learning?

I’ve found that people who live from the inside out – meaning their motivations, choices and actions come from an authority within – these people GLOW.  Their lights shine more brightly in the world.  They RADIATE beauty and confidence and love and acceptance.  We are drawn to these people because we want to be like them – maybe not precisely imitating the details of their lives – but we want to live our lives with the confidence and authenticity they do.  There is a light in each of us that is trying to shine just as brightly.

We cannot live & learn “radiantly” when we are following someone else’s agenda.  That just dims our LIGHTS or blocks them out entirely.  When we are following our Inner Wisdom, pursuing our passions and fulfilling our life purpose, we SHINE.

At Radiant Living & Learning Events you will hear from Radiant Community Members who are creating the lives they desire by following their own inner voice.

If something you read on this website resonates with YOUR Inner Voice of Wisdom or makes you pause to reconsider the way you’ve always done things, the Radiant Living Community is sure to provide more inspiration and encouragement to confidently create the life you desire for yourself and your family.

We hope you will join us ONLINE or IN PERSON soon!

Heaps of Love,

 

 

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Can an Unschooling Conference be good for your health?

Hi Radiant Tribe!

I saw a quote recently that made me think of y’all.

“Copious scientific data proves that loneliness is a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise, and finding your tribe is better than any vitamin, diet, or exercise regimen.”            – Lissa Rankin, M.D.

It didn’t really surprise me, but it struck me profoundly at that moment.

I DO feel better when I’m surrounded by my Unschooling Tribe.
The effects are lasting and are renewed each time I connect with like minded souls.

I knew I liked how I feel during and after Unschooling gatherings, and I knew that feelings of happiness, joy, as well as feeling understood and supported are good for my physical well being, but I never made the leap that an Unschooling conference could actually be beneficial to my health!  (Maybe because I’m so tired afterwards) 😉

Get in on the health benefits of hanging with your tribe!
Join us for the

2015 Radiant Living & Learning Retreat
Nov 5-9

We will have most of the stuff we had at the Retreat last year, plus we are adding an Open Mic Night/Talent Show.  It’s such a JOY to watch the kids AND adults share from their hearts at the Talent Show at RE, so we wanted to bring that energy to the Retreat!

Registration is open. Click here for pricing.  

If you need tuition assistance” check out
this page for info on joining the Radiant Staff to earn Registration Credits.

Please email me if you have questions!
Can’t wait to hang with y’all in November!  Until then . . .

Love your Radiant Life!
Christina
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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!

Self-Directed Learning: Do you have what it takes?

Yesterday I read a blog post called “24 Core Questions for Self Directed Learners.”
It was written by Lisa Nalbone.  Here’s a sampling:

What?

What do I want to learn?
What are my goals?
What are my next steps?
What problem can I solve?
What can I contribute?

You can read all of the 24 questions here:
24 Core Questions for Self-Directed Learners

For some reason the list didn’t sit right with me.  I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why, but initially the questions seemed kind of unnecessary to the way I personally approach learning and I couldn’t figure out how I would use it in facilitating my kids’ self-directed learning.

I wondered: Am I missing something?  Could this list offer us an opportunity to delve deeper somehow?   I asked in the comments of the post for suggestions on the application of this list since the way we approach learning at our house presumes that the “right” questions just come up naturally in the course of exploring one’s interests.
I asked, “If your learning is truly self-directed, why would you need to use somebody else’s list of questions?”

Lisa replied (I’m paraphrasing) that she intended the list as a starting point for those who are moving from school and a more “directed” learning style to a self-directed approach.  She also mentioned that sometimes those who’ve homeschooled or unschooled their young children worry about their kids approaching high school age, so the list is intended to help them remember that self-directed learning can work at any age.

She then asked about my family, our history with Unschooling and for my thoughts on her list of questions.
(You can read her entire response to my question in the comments section of her post.)

I wanted to share my answer with you here for two reasons:

  1. I’ve been meaning to write an “about me” page for this site and maybe this will do for now.
  2. Lisa’s answer helped me pinpoint what felt “off” for me about suggesting a list of questions and helped me formulate what I might offer instead.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely think we should help people gain confidence in their ability to direct their own learning.  I know parents DO need reminders that the organic learning little kids experience CAN continue into the teenage years and beyond.  Some people will totally benefit from Lisa’s list BUT my advice for these two groups of people would be very different from Lisa’s list of questions so here it is.

My kids are 13, 6 & 3.

I learned about Unschooling 6 years ago in 2007 as I was researching Homeschooling because it was very clear that my oldest child’s learning style was NOT a match to what they were doing in school.

I can’t remember the exact website where I first saw the concept.  At that time I was desperately searching for answers – staying up until 3am every night reading all over the internet about other people’s experiences with home education.    I knew I had to take my kid out of school, but I also knew that doing school-at-home was NOT a good choice for us because we were basically already doing that each night with homework and THAT was a nightmare.

My thoughts on the 24 core questions: I guess they could be a good starting point for someone who WANTS some guidance or who is SO used to being directed that they feel lost when trying to jump to entirely self-directed learning.  However, I believe that remembering how to be a self-directed learner is best accomplished when the person is encouraged to find their own way.  If we continue to “direct” them even with “suggested questions” aren’t we perpetuating their need to be directed?  When we tell someone how to do something we can miss a chance to help them gain confidence in their abilities to do it themselves.

Now, I’m not saying to never offer help, but in my mind the first way to help someone who doesn’t trust themselves and their abilities is to say, “I TRUST YOU to come up with the questions that will take you in the right direction.”  If they are stuck or otherwise asking for guidance I might ask them a couple of questions from this list, but those questions would arise naturally because of the situation, not because I looked at a list.

I’m realizing that one thing that feels “off” to me about the list is that it presumes that “learning” looks like what you might find in school.  And it seems to presume a lot of “shoulds” about learning.  Maybe this is because the list is intended for people who are used school type instruction and for people who are worried about their teenagers and what kids SHOULD learn at that age in preparation for “real life.” 

Fair enough, but learning at my house doesn’t look like this at all.  And I believe that real learning actually looks nothing like what we usually see in school.  At our house we don’t sit down and say, “Today I want to begin learning about XYZ.”  We just see things that interest us and then a question arises naturally and we set off to answer it.

These 2 questions from the list seemed especially unnecessary to me, and I’m going to go so far as to say they perpetuate a myth in our culture about the nature of learning:

“How do I know I have learned enough?”
“When will I finish?”

I know I have learned enough because I have no more questions about the thing – for now.  But tomorrow or in 6 months a question might arise on the topic.  When that happens I will try find the answer.  That could lead to more questions or it could lead to an interest in another topic entirely.  For me and my kids it is just an organic process of living life and answering the questions that arise as we explore the world.

From my perspective we are NEVER finished learning, and in our house we do not divide our learning up into subjects or “chunks of learning” that begin and end.  My hope is that one day we can change the cultural myth that learning begins when we reach a certain age and start going to a certain building each day at 8 am.  That learning ends at 3 o’clock or that it ends when you graduate from high school or college or graduate school or even when you finish a “self-directed learning project.”  I hope more of us can move beyond the idea we are ever “done” with learning or growing or becoming more.  So many in our society are so busy chasing an end goal that we lose the joy that comes from the process of achieving our goals.  We forget the value of each step along the way because we only value the end result.

At first I thought maybe I was missing something about how this list of questions could apply to my family.  They are a lovely offering for someone who is looking for something like this, but aside from possibly perpetuating myths about learning, I also wonder if suggesting these questions could perpetuate the very dependence we are hoping to eradicate as we work to empower people in learning under their own direction.

My advice for those people would be – trust yourself – the right questions are inside you and those questions will guide you to the right materials and resources and people that can help you learn the things you want to know.

And for parents I would say: trust your kids and the questions they naturally come up with.  And trust yourself to guide your kids when they are stuck and asking for guidance.

As a society we have a habit of looking to “experts” for answers – even answers about what questions to ask and about how to learn.  What I want people to know is this: We all are born knowing how to learn, and letting our natural curiosity guide us and help us formulate questions is going to lead us in the right direction every time. 

We ALL have what it takes to be self-directed learners!

Many thanks to Lisa for writing her list of questions for anyone who wants to start there.  And for giving me some food for thought. 🙂

What do you think?  What advice would you give to someone switching to self-directed learning?  Or to parents who are nervous about older children continuing with a self-directed approach through the high school years?  Please share in the comments below!