How Do I Get My Kids To Think Like An Unschooler? (Episode 248)
"How do I get my kid to think like an unschooler?" This was a listener question I got in recently that tied in perfectly with our discussion this week! As we discussed 4 Steps to Motivate Your Child With Curiosity last week, we laid out ways to engage with our children...yet how can you really get them focused and excited about something when they just want to veg out in front of a video game or TV screen?
So here is the question in its entirety. And, instead of just Nathan and I addressing this on the podcast, we asked our youngest little podcaster, 9-year-old Juliette, to join us for her take as we dig into how to respond to this question:
How do I get my kids to THINK like an unschooler?
This is our first year homeschooling. We are more eclectic/relaxed. They have about 2 hours of structured learning, then they are done for the day.
This week, since my littlest and I weren’t feeling well, I told them they were in charge of their schooling this week.
Well, I don’t know what I was expecting but I guess I wanted them to be more productive. I had them write goals for the day, then after dinner they wrote what they accomplished and learned. But I feel that was too much structure and pressure for them.
Over the summer we “deschool” and play a lot. No schooling no journals nothing. During this time they get bored a lot and I’m constantly trying to entertain them.
Do unschoolers go through this too? Or do they think like adults do and just move in to the next exciting task?
Maybe my expectations are wrong. I just want my kiddos to love learning as much as I do. And maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.
Any suggestions would be great.
Thank you both so much!
Yes, boredom plagues every home for sure. We've had plenty of podcast episodes where we hit on kids seeking entertainment all the time, battling boredom, and navigating lockdown and virtual learning. First and foremost, yes, unschoolers get bored just like other kiddos. The shift, however, is what we do with that. That whole constant entertainment...that right there is where many of us get trapped. Because we can entertain them, we take on the pressure that it's all on us.
Yet every person, eventually, takes their own initiative to find how to stay engaged and entertained in this world, and that entertainment is very individualized. Last week we really dug into screens a bit more with a video and my explanation of when screens are valuable and when they are not. Be sure to check that out if screens tend to be the first default for boredom (or constant entertainment).
There are more ways to take in information and learn beyond simply observing a screen. The more interaction, the better. Life is interactive and hands-on, so get out and explore! I know it can oftentimes be hard for me to step away from cleaning the house, or defaulting to a movie because we don't feel like coming up with something different. Getting away from the house and changing up the scenery and making the TV not so "convenient" are two ways we've really been able to help in these areas.
What we're looking for is leading with delight. What can spark your child's curiosity? What is interesting enough it grabs their attention?
- Start out with a curiosity board - grab magazines with different areas of interest, get out drawing materials or paints. Create a Pinterest board.
- Watch Ted Talks and documentaries - there are so, so many to choose from, all different lengths of time.
- Interview, shadow, and/or apprentice someone in a profession you're curious about.
- Take field trips - go to the library, nature centers, community centers, playgrounds, museums, hikes, plays, concerts and more.
- Do regular errands...and let your children run it as much as possible. Maybe you go grocery shopping and they are in charge of creating the list, getting the groceries, and price-shopping for the best discount.
- Interview individuals who are doing something in your area of interest. Have a conversation with them about what they love about their job.
- Create. Have a full creativity day with materials but no agenda. See what develops - both in your art, and your conversation.
There are incredible opportunities to just try out a job when you're a teen that may not be your forever job, yet help you so much:
"Our teen daughter has been learning how to gain confidence in interacting with others. The past several months she has been babysitting in someone else’s home once a week. It has forced her to interact with the parents of the children in a positive way. We have seen her confidence level rising in other areas as well." Susan
Think about what out-of-the box ideas and opportunities may expose your children to something they may not yet be aware of. Oftentimes the "I'm bored" and "I don't know what I want to do" are the perfect opportunities to expose them to something they don't yet know about.
What If I'm Scared To Dream?
Life is a constant period of growth. Try new things. It doesn't mean you have to commit to it for the rest of your life. Allow for variables. Keep your constant as love and connection, not a certain curriculum or routine. As we grow, our interests and needs will change. Life has seasons, and that's a-okay. The more we embrace that, the better we flow with it.
Sometimes we are hesitant to pursue our dreams for fear it's a lifelong commitment. Be open to learning and growing and how that evolves. Sometimes a natural evolution happens that morphs them from an original dream to something completely new and undiscovered.
How are YOU Internally Motivated?
If you want to have children inspired to learn, let them see you light up with your own growth.
Create accountability partners with your children. Ask them to help you be the life-long learner you want to be. It empowers them and earns you the right to push them to do the same.
How did you learn how to...use the internet, do a podcast show, sell real estate or drive a car? When we are internally motivated we do what we need to do to learn something new.
Your Challenge this week - create a curiosity board - all of you. What are common interests? What are those random curiosities that may light up that "bent of genius" in your family?
Get creative together - maybe it's on pinterest, or with magazines, or using nature or art to create something magical. Walk around with open eyes - where does your interest take you?
- Quarantine Boredom and Life Skills (Episode 140)
- True Parent Struggles: BOREDOM (Episode 91)
- Why Travel (even just outside your own door) is the Best Education (Episode 242)
- Have You Forgotten You’re A Parent? (What truly is “parenting done right?”) (Episode 229)
- How To Parent – and Teach – Along the Way (Episode 244)
- Have Life Seasons Got You Stuck In A Funk? (Episode 179)
- The Seasons Of Life (Episode 3)
- Does Your LIFE Have Seasons?