Talking To An Unschooled Child

There was a discussion, on one of my unschooling e-mail groups, about how extended family members seem to have a hard time talking to a child when they can't talk about school. It's like the only questions anybody can think of to ask a kid is "what grade are you in?", "what's your favorite subject?" and "how are you doing in school?"

I've found this to be true sometimes, not so much from family but from friends and people that we meet while out and about. I'd like to share the reply I posted on the e-mail group. It's a mock letter I wrote about my youngest child, my daughter Jacqueline...8 when I wrote this, she's 9 now.

Dear Friend,

Please don't talk down to Jacqueline when you speak with her. Your eyes may see only a young child, but I see a person who is interesting and knowledgeable in many areas. If you give her half a chance you may learn something that you didn't know before you met her.

Ask her what she's interested in and she'll tell you all about the Mars Odyssey satellite. Ask her what she did today and she'll tell you how she fixed her grandmothers VCR...after her daddy called her to ask for help. Talk a bit longer and she'll tell you the Barbie story she wrote, and what her next story is going to be about.

Ask her about her life and she'll tell you that she's a four year Girl Scout, that she met an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center and that she has her own plant at her grandmothers house (which is next door) that she waters every other day.

Also, if you're going to ask her why she's not in school, be prepared for her to tell you she dropped out in the first grade. She has her daddy's sense of humor. :-) Don't look shocked. Laugh instead. She's being funny.

Speak to her like a human being and she'll speak to you the same way.

Jacqueline's mommy. :-)

*originally written in 2007, updated in 2008*


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thank you for this wonderful post!

May I copy the letter?

It was hard enough for people talking to my son when we were a new homeschooling family. Now that we have evolved to unschooling, it is even more difficult.

And I love your daughter's wonderful sense of humor!

Joanne said...

Of course you may. :-) Thank you for thinking it's copy-worthy.

She gets her sense of humor from my husband. LOL

Thanks for stopping by!!

Crimson Wife said...

We're not "unschoolers" but there are several families in our support group who take that type of approach. I always ask the kids simply what they've been up to lately since they always seem to have very interesting responses to that question :-)

Joanne said...

That's great that you're interested enough to ask. A lot of adults aren't. Good for you! :-)

baby advice said...

That is a wonderful letter! Sounds like you have an amazing child

Cami said...

Thanks so much for all the info and support on unschooling. We have homeschooled from the beginning with our four kids, but have more recently evolved into unschooling. Your posts are insightful and encouraging!

Joanne said...

Baby advice...yes, she is amazing. :-)

Cami, I'm so glad you find something useful in my ramblings. May I say that I'm totally jealous of parents that homeschoooled from the beginning!! When we adopted our three, my older two were in the 3rd and 5th grade but Javqueline had just started kindergerden the month before but we didn't take them out until the following year. Drat!

SabrinaT said...

What a wonderful family you have. I have just spent some time reading about your adoption journey.

Joanne said...

Hi SAbrina...thank you! And I'm glad you stopped by. :-)

Sarah said...

Great post! I have friend who just started homeschooling her daughter. I ran into them in the grocery store, in August, and I asked her 7 year-old daughter, "Are you going to school, or are you homeschooling?" She proudly said, "Homeschooling!" Later, her mom thanked me for phrasing it that way, and validating the homeschooling for her child. Happy Uncshooling!