Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slightly Radical Unschoolers

There is a wide range of unschoolers. There are those who simply unschool learning. At the other end of the spectrum are radical unschoolers. This is where unschooling encompasses the whole life. Children are given the same power and choices as adults. Both of these options work. There are also many people who live their lives somewhere between these two options.

We are a family somewhere in between, probably closer to the radical side but not totally radical. Lately I've experienced the radical unschoolers who can't accept that you can choose to be a little less radical or for some not radical at all and still be an unschooler.

We tried the total radical unschooling gig. Our daughter was a mess. She thrives on structure and without it she falls apart. This doesn't mean that we structure her whole day. She just needs to know what is going to happen in her day. She needs a plan. She needs to know what she can expect.

We are more radical when it comes to TV and bedtimes. There are almost no limits on TV. She watches as much as she wants, but the TV is off for most mealtimes. There are of course exceptions, for example, when we eat while watching a movie. We try to get into bed by 8:30 but that doesn't always happen. Our usual routine...we head to bed at about 8:30 and Chloe watches TV until about 9:30 (most of the time). Then it's time for her to settle in and go to sleep so that I can have my TV time. She has the option of going into the living room and watching on her own. She never chooses to do that. Truthfully, by that time of day she's tired and wants to sleep.

With no TV limits, she will turn the TV off to go play or help me in the kitchen or something else. Some people, even my husband, are often surprised by this. But with no limits, turning the TV off is not a big deal.

When it comes to food, well, that's a different story. Our daughter has "eating issues" for lack of a better term. She is five now and just started eating in July. Yes, she has been eating for only four months. Before that she drank only milk - raw milk so it was more nutritious, but only milk. Okay, she did it some food: Goldfish crackers for a while, then corn chips, then rolls or bagels. Yes, that was the extent of it.

She ate baby food as a baby, but rejected solids and slowly phased out the baby food. She developed a fear of food. We worked with many professionals and maybe some of it did some good. The real turning point was when (against the recommendation of professionals) I talked to my daughter and told her that she needed to start eating. I told her our concerns for her health and development and she understood.

It has been a slow road, but we are working on this together. I need to set more limits for her around food because if I don't she will eat only bread and rolls. Based on the recent discussion on our local unschooling list I shouldn't do this. I think it would be irresponsible of me not to. I do give her choices and she eats only things she likes. On occasion she does have to try a new food, but she only has to take one very small taste.

For the most part there are few limits in her life. We do have principles:
respect
safety
kindness

If we follows these principles it should all be cake...right? ;)

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