This is not to say that I just leave them to their own devices to eat whatever 'junk food' they can scavenge from the cupboard and watch TV in their jammies all day. I am a more engaged parent for not simply falling back on rules to guide us. I offer lots of opportunities for interesting learning opportunities (a science experiment, an outing, craft supplies, etc.), and I offer advice (i.e. "You look sleepy, hon, let's brush our teeth and read some books together in bed."), and I offer opportunities to help in a meaningful way ("Wanna help me clean the livingroom and then have a dance party?"). All of these offers, really are offers. They are free to say no, thanks, or not now, maybe later.
I say yes as often as I can, and I give reasons for my no's. I believe that these children are not just potential adults needing to be filled with knowledge, but full-on human beings experiencing the world on their own terms. I am here to guide them in matters of safety (their own and others), and to provide an environment that allows learning to flow freely both at home and out in the world. That last bit is inspired by, perhaps paraphrased from, Sandra Dodd, a longtime radical unschooler who has collected a lot of inspiring writing on the subject of unschooling.
This radical unschooling gig plays out differently in each family based on the interests and temperaments of the family members. A lot of what I share here is how these principles of trust and respect (and yes!) play out in our family. So, here's what two more days of radical unschooling at the Verde house looked like.
naked egg experiment.
After playing, and a run to the library, and reading, and swinging, and dancing, and watching Bill Nye, the Science of Music and The Pirates of Tortuga, and eating and playing on instruments, and Camille's play rehearsal, the girls decided to clean the living room. It doesn't happen every day, but one of the beauteous things about not requiring chores is that children can choose to joyfully do those things which could otherwise be seen as drudgery. Ayla loves to help with the dishes, Camille enjoys organizing things, and Sylvia is often happy to sweep and dust.
Today was sunny, but cool. We strolled down the road and into the woods.
We gathered corn cobs left behind from the harvest in a nearby field. Ayla 'grated' the cobs together while Sylvia grated carrots for Camille's egg drop soup (shredded carrot, garlic, sea salt, cumin, and beaten eggs in boiling water)
Sylvia loves to chop and grate and Camille enjoys cooking on the stove, so the came up with a dessert soup as well. "Mama, this is so good. You should put this recipe on your blog!"
Apple Blueberry Soup
Chopped apples and fresh or frozen blueberries stewed in water with maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook until fruit is soft but not falling apart. There you go.
Right now, the sky is dark, Camille and Sylvia just came in from playing and closing up the chicken coop for the night. I started this crazy-long blog post sometime around the soup-making time and am just finishing it now. Ayla is sleeping in my lap, Camille is reading Sylvia a Choose Your Own Adventure story,and I think it's a damn fine life we're living.
*linking up again over at Owlet's Unschool Monday.