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We are unschoolers but not radical ones ( as in the Sandra Dodd sense) but I am quite interested in how radical unschooling families make it work. the areas I can’t seem to think through in particular are things like totally free screen time, freedom of food choices and the idea of not enforcing limits—- all of these are really frequently asked questions I know, so I’m sorry to be bringing up the old chestnuts again as it were! I’d just be really interested to know more about how radical unschooling works for your family and your thoughts around those issues.
Thank you lovelies x
Unschooling Mama to River (7), Rain (4) and Blossom (2) xx
Screen time…when I first removed the limits, yep, they watched a lot. Now it seems to be seasonal, they watch far more in the winter and very rarely in summer. I have also noticed that as Len gets better at reading she watches less.
Food…a bit different for us as we live in a vegan house. So, they eat vegan anything they like at home and anything at all when we’re out. We do the shopping together and they get what they fancy. They actually don’t eat a lot of sweets, their preferred snacks are tortilla chips, olives, gherkins and vast quantities of fruit. They eat sweets less than once a week, but they get them whenever they fancy them.
No limits…I assume you are talking about behaviour? No limits, as I understand it, does not extend to taking away another person’s freedom. I think we approach it from a point of view of principles rather than rules…as an easy example, ‘no hitting’ vs ‘kindness to others’. Generally, I try to prevent situations arising that they won’t be able to deal with in a peaceful way, if that fails (or I’m not in the room!) I help them to express themselves to each other calmly - in an age appropriate way. So for Leni, that is mainly reminding her to use kind words, for Fliss I often help her to re-phrase what she has said so that they can negotiate effectively. If all else fails, I remove the most over wrought child, help them to calm down, then do the rounds of talking to them separately then bringing them together to resolve it.
We are radical unschoolers too. My guys are 7y5m, 5y9m and 2y9m. We have no restrictions on screen time and food at all. There are days that the TV/computer/3DS is in use most of the day then there are others where they are out in the woods all day or playing imaginative games or doing jigsaws. It all balances out really. Also, because food and screens are not restricted, the kids don’t feel the need to “binge” on them as they are not limited at all. Their diets are overall very healthy, and they are as likely to help themselves to fruit as crisps. They are thriving and happy and learning lots. We have never looked back
Radically unschooling mama to three gorgeous pickles Alfie (April 06) and Holly (Nov 07), Amber (Nov 2010)
Not trying to hijack thread but with screen time…I understand the idea that kids will self regulate (and agree) but I keep reading studies about how damaging TV is, especially to young kids…and we keep talking about getting rid of it altogether as we do notice how much more calm Ava is with less screen time. (She currently watches one or two things a week..so very little)
But it bothers me because I don’t like limits beyond the very essential and basic…I’m not sure what I’m asking but I suppose I feel like it’s my job to ensure some degree of harmonious and safe environment and I don’t know if allowing unlimited screen time is doing that. ..especially since I’d rather Ezra didn’t see any and with Ava watching some he will…
We are radical unschoolers too, and, what the others said!
We don’t restrict access to TV or computers any more than we would restrict access to books. Children who have stresses they need to escape from use TV to switch off, that’s a healthy thing. Healthier still to not give them stresses they need to switch off to escape from. My children consume a lot of television sometimes - and sometimes none at all for weeks at a time. I don’t believe children “self-regulate” - if your goal is what *you* perceive as balanced viewing, that might never happen. They are capable of making choices, and finding out what works for them. If you’re prepared for what works for them being different to what you think *should* work for them, you’ll be starting from a better place.
Foodwise there is unrestricted access here including to “bad” foods. They don’t gorge on it, it isn’t made more desirable by being forbidden.
They are not permitted to just do whatever they like - nobody is. It isn’t about total freedom, it’s about being able to make genuine choices that affect their own lives, having bodily autonomy, and partnering with them to help them to get what they want and need within the actual real world they live in (not some fantasy world where there are no consequences for hurting other people or breaking the rules/laws of the place where you live). We say yes as often as we can. That doesn’t mean we never say no - but we try to not put arbitrary boundaries out there just because we’re the grown ups!
Have you read what Sandra writes to beginner unschoolers? Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch. See what is working well, making life sweeter and healthier for your children. Say yes when you would have said no before, and see what happens. Don’t throw out all the old rules for a bunch of new rules (like “unschoolers always say yes” or “you can’t stop them doing something that’s hurting someone” or “they need absolute freedom from rules”), don’t do what you don’t understand, give it time. “With anything, if a family moves from rules (about food, freedoms, clocks, what to wear) to something new there’s going to be the backlash, and thinking of catapults (or trebuchets, more technically, or of a rubber band airplane, or other crank-it-up projectile vs ...) the more pressure that’s built up, the further that kid is going to launch if you let it go all at once.” —Sandra Dodd
More studies on the effect of television on children:
http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/jesse.shapiro/research/tv.pdf (television watching raises IQ scores)
http://news.healingwell.com/index.php?p=news1&id=531360 (television watching does not increase ADHD symptoms)
I absolutely used to heavily restrict TV. I had read too much Waldorf stuff condemning it, and as a result saw “symptoms” in my kids that probably weren’t even there, because I was afraid. When I first started allowing more television, it was scary, and I was convinced they would be “sucked in”. Jenna (who had been restricted the longest) did gorge on cartoons, and I did a lot of deep breathing in those days. http://sandradodd.com/t/economics Now, I can’t imagine banning television watching any more than I can imagine banning the written word.
“If men learn this,” exclaimed the king, “it will impart forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder.”
“And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples,” he went on, “but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.” [Plato, Phaedrus, 275a-b] On the art of WRITING!
Arguments against television almost all use a curious kind of reasoning that suggests children are either watching (stationary, mindlessly, without interaction) or living real life. My children do not sit and watch like that. They are active. They are engaged. Talking to each other, discussing what they see with me, acting bits out, memorising poetry, singing, dancing, watching upside down, drawing pictures of characters or animals or scenes. They live real life at the same time as watching, and they often leave the room without finishing watching something (which I try to pause for them!) or wander in and out. It isn’t an either/or scenario.
(Baby does not watch television at all. It has been on and off and on again since she was born, but she pays it as much attention as she does the hedge in the garden - actually, less. It has nothing that she wants.)
That’s imteresting how yours watch TV Sarah, mine are definitely in the viewing OR participating in real life bracket. My DD is a very visual child, therefore she is fixated by screens, I don’t find it healthy viewing, therefore I do impose limits:) Im sure I will get more flexible with this as they get older, but whilst they are still so little I will continue to limit screens.
To dare is to lose ones footing temporarily, to not dare is to lose oneself.
LETS number 137
I would say that I am in most ways, other than that my oldest goes to high school and my youngest will be starting high school in September after 4 years of being unschooled.
I don’t limit screen time. My oldest, who’s 14, enjoys watching a few programmes and played a little on the xbox, but he also loves taekwondo and football, and reading. He spends half his time on wikipedia. My youngest loves the xbox, but again he also loves street dancing, free running, taekwondo, climbing trees, playing outside etc. They both train hard in their sports, so I don’t worry too much that they like to sit in front of the TV for a while everyday too.
With food, I don’t restrict anything, but I do encourage healthy eating. They eat lots of the raw foods which I eat, and they enjoy juices and smoothies, and they also eat some foods which I don’t eat. Although i’m vegan, my youngest loves meat and fish so I let him have the choice.
I’ve found this is a lovely way to connect with them, and they see me as someone they can talk to and i’m hoping that will last.
I think it’s important for every family to find what works best for them. There’s no right or wrong way to parent, and it’s certainly not easy whichever path you take, but always do what feel right for you and your children.
Hippy, free spirited, minimalist, raw vegan, yogi, mum of two teenage boys.
I agree with the comment that watching TV can be an active pursuit, not a mindless soaking in of nothing. I find that watching TV stimulates me and leads to all kinds of questions. I also think it helps if children know something about the craft of making TV programmes. If they understand that all kinds of creative skills and artistry goes into making TV, the experience of watching becomes active. Talented script writers are required to make good television, costume-makers, camera technicians, actors. If children learn something about what is involved in each of these skills they begin to view what is on screen differently and to critique it. Absolutely anything can be used as a learning experience. What the parent can do is to enable the children to find it. I’ve had five years of unschooling and I wrote a book about my own experiences called ‘Unschooling: A Teenager’s Experience.’