One of the many roles I see for me as an unschooling parent is to take the world to my children and bring my children to the world! Let them experience the vast array of life altering experiences available in this beautiful world.
This means, that yes while they choose what they do all day I also say….
– I want to take you to this play (they all LOVE our summer Shakespeare in the park)
– Let’s go and see this exhibition
– Today I want to go to the beach
– Do you want to try this curry?/ Learn to ski/ make something from clay/go in a triathalon etc….
The kids are always pretty sure whether they like something or not. Saying that I spent a year asking Charlie if he wanted to join Wayne and Ollie at Cubs every week. He always said, ‘no, cubs isn’t my thing’. I knew he would enjoy it, but just left it. Finally when he was ready he went and came back glowing with excitement and guess what ‘Cubs is my thing, I LOVE IT!!’ I do often remind him of this, with a smirk on my face and I have learnt that generally he likes to see something new in action before he tries it himself.
So yes expose your kids to every wonderful thing the world has to offer, but with no expectations of how they will interpret it. Here is a cool story of exactly this: We all went to see a large Impressionist Art exhibition. Ollie was 8 at the time. I loved the paintings. We all stayed for ages and, as usual all the kids were positive and interested in what we were doing. After we left the exhibit Ollie launched into what he had loved and learned from it. He could tell me how many security cameras there were, where they were and any areas they missed. The routine of the security guards, how you could steal a painting ( we did discuss that in depth, me drawing on my vast general knowledge of the subject!!) He was so passionate and interested and captivated by the experience. He couldn’t tell you a thing about the paintings though! This was a great learning experience for me. Have no expectations about what they will take from an experience. Because they will always surprise you and think outside the square in the gorgeous creative way that they do. And in the way that is perfect for them.
How annoying for Ollie it would have been if he had been expected to answer questions, fill in a worksheet, be dragged around to ponder each work of art. I totally trust that what he got from that day was just right for him, with where he was. And how wonderful it was. Since our trip to Australia he has been saying he would be keen to work as a Customs Officer one day, so that all fits in perfectly!
So trust, trust trust! Not only individual learning styles that are so popular in schools, but also individual topics, lengths of topics, interpretation, and feedback about what has been going on for them. They know exactly what is right for them to be doing.
So give them the world! Serve it up on a silver platter, savour their interpretation of it, sit back, have a laugh, enjoy the view and remember to take a slice or two, for yourself.