submissions to Unschooling Voices #5

These submissions are part of Unschooling Voices #5 which is posted above.

From Pam G:
Family, hmmmm, I don't really have much family left. All parents, grandparents, parents-in-law, grandparents-in-law have crossed over. My two brothers live a long way away and are really involved in their own lives to be support or anti-support (is that a word? LOL) for me.

When we first moved here to North Carolina almost 9 years ago (wow it has been that long) I had no friends, did not grow up in this area, had never lived here before. My boys were younger, like 6 months and 4 years. I would take them to the library story hour etc. Things like that. But I was kind of lonely not having friends, and started thinking about my children as they get older and want friends. I joined the local homeschool group but there were no
unschoolers there (that I knew of). I just kept my mouth shut, my boys were making friends, didn't talk about my unschooling much, although they all knew I was an unschooler. I just sat and listened to the curriculum, being polite. But there was never any deep conversations about parenting or homeschooling, just the superficial stuff.

I was searching the internet for unschooling, just that general topic, was not on any yahoo list at all. I found the web site for Kelly's Live and Learn Conference in Columbia SC. Asked dh if he wanted to go, it was only 3 hours away so my thinking was if we didn't like it we could come home, no problem. Well we LOVED it. I am kind of shy so we didn't make any friends, but I listened to all the speakers, nothing new but it was nice to see I wasn't crazy and that other people unschooled too. I hadn't been long that I even knew what we did had a name. My boys loved finding kids like them so much that they cried when we had to leave on Sunday. They wanted to stay longer. I cried because it was amazing that they could make connections to other kids so strong in that short a time. I still didn't join any yahoo lists.

I saw a post on a statewide list from a mom about one of the unschooling lists, so I went and joined that. I think it was Unschoolingdotcom. And also saw she was really near me (45 min drive) and was just taking her kids out of school. So I encouraged her to join the local homeschool group, now there would be 2 of us..LOL, and we met in person at park day and our kids hit it off. That was my first unschooling friend, who really got it.

She then met another mom from the area and introduced me, we live about an hour apart. Kelly encouraged me to start my own statewide list so I did, LOL. It is a very active list with so many unschoolers on it. I started meeting more and more unschoolers that live pretty close to me, and some that don't. And now our local homeschool group has 13 unschooling families in it. The group has gone through a split because the more conservative types didn't
like our unschooling ways. LOL

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you don't have an unschooling community or unschooling friends you can build your own. I thought there were none around here when I started out. I don't have any biological family near by but I have friends that are closer than family. OK this is getting too long, but that is my story. LOL. My unschooling
family and friends.

From Catherine:
In terms of support, my parents and in-laws are hands-off, but they do not "get" what unschooling is really. So I am glad they do not interfere, aside from my Dad asking the odd question now and again, like, "Does Ben read books now, and does he know basic mulitplication?". Annoying, but manageable.

In terms of friends, I have an unschooling friend 12 minutes away and it is great to be able to get together and understand one another. She is very busy with politics right now, so we don't see each other as often, but it is great she is there. I have another friend who is "eclectic" and does a relaxed school at home approach, but we are connected well, and enjoy one another's company. Our children play well together too which draws us together despite the different way we see learning. It's interesting, I connect philosophically with the unschooling mom, but connect emotionally with the school at home mom, in terms of friendship! Part of this might be the number of kids we have.

I am on two unschooling lists, and I read when I can. I am reading Unconditional Parening by Alfie Kohn right now (very challenging and excellent).

I find unschooling in a rural environment hard in terms of meeting others of like minds. But, it is where dh has work and the kids have lots of room to roam and yell and be crazy without disturbing the neighbours!