Insecurities about Unschooling

Insecurities about Unschooling. Curiosity, eagerness and willingness are the basic motivations of learning.

Sometimes my own insecurities get the better of me and I start to wonder. Are we on the right path? Are our children learning? Won’t they fall behind compared to the kids who go to school or the kids who are being homeschooled with a curriculum? I worry, because I want the best for my children. Like every mom does, like every parent does. I refuse to believe that there are parents out there who just couldn’t care less about there children. I do believe that everyone has there own way of showing that they care, but that is a whole different discussion.

Today I spend time with a friend and we talked about children and their eager- and willingness to learn and our own insecurities. When children come into this world they are basically helpless. They depend on others to feed them, to change them, to hold them, to keep them safe, to bathe them, to clothe them, to care for them. In the process of growing, without anyone telling them what to do, they learn how to roll. From one side to the other and back. From their back to their tummies. And one day they surprise you, again, because you were getting used to the rolling and now your little one mastered the art of sitting up. All by himself. No one told him what to do. And this process of learning continues. Curiosity, eagerness and willingness are the basic motivations of learning. The little one is lying on a nice blanket on the floor and sees a toy, just a little out of reach, but he has to have it. What is he going to do? Everything that happens is part of his learning. The interesting thing is, that while all of this natural learning is going in, most of the moms never wonder if they’re doing it right. They might compare the accomplishments of their child to the accomplishments of their friends children. But they hardly take differences in accomplishments personal. It is what it is. The moms hardly feel like they have failed. Or… that is how it is supposed to be. Your child is learning on its own and you are there to care for and guide your child along his way.

Curiosity, eagerness and willingness are the basic motivations of learning.

So what changed between those early stages and when that little one reached school-age? I wonder? What makes me feel insecure? What triggers that feeling that I might not do enough to help my children? Why do I think that I have to make them work harder, make their results better? Why do I sometimes feel that need that I want them to be able to compete with other children? Why?
It is interesting to look what is behind those insecurities, those worries. For me there are 2 underlying questions:
1. Why do I think I am so important? Isn’t it all about the children? What do they want? How do they perceive our daily life, their unschooling life?
2. Is it that important what other people think?

Looking at these two underlying questions, by underlying questions I mean the thoughts that are behind the questions and are asked in the back of your head. Remember those little voices who tell you what to do. Most of the time they tell you what you can’t do, the judgmental thoughts. In non-violent communication this would be called “jackal-talk”.

My first question or Observation would be “Why do I think I am so important?” I don’t think I am that important. I worry about my children because I care. I want what is best for them and since I was raised totally differently, everything is new, and scary. I am scared for them. That makes me insecure. That is how I feel. I would like to have some certainty that I am on the right track. It helps me to hear stories from other unschoolers how their children are doing or attending conferences.

My second question: “Is it that important what other people think?” To be honest no. I like to be able to choose my own path and I want the same freedom for my children. But deep down, there is that voice, that little girl, that is afraid of rejection, because she is different. And maybe that little girl is still afraid of rejection, of feeling alone. Maybe it is time to be there for that little girl too. Letting her know that is is okay to be afraid, that not everything has to be perfect and that she is not alone. People will always have an opinion. So you better spend your time doing what you love to do.

The steps I was following above are the four steps of non-violent communication. I have a link to an online workshop from Marshall Rosenberg here. Extra resource are my GROK-cards.

1. Observations: the facts (what we are seeing, hearing, or touching) as distinct from our evaluation of meaning and significance.
2. Feelings: emotions or sensations, free of thought and story. These are to be distinguished from thoughts. Feelings are said to reflect whether we are experiencing our needs as met or unmet. Identifying feelings is said to allow us to more easily connect with one another, and “Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable by expressing our feelings can help resolve conflicts.”
3. Needs: universal human needs.
4. Request: request for a specific action, free of demand. Requests are distinguished from a demand because you are open to hearing the response of “no” without this triggering an attempt to force what you want. If you make a request and receive a “no” it is recommended not to give up, but that you empathize with what is preventing the other person from saying “yes,” before deciding how to continue the conversation. It is recommended that requests use clear, positive, concrete action language.

I am still in the process of learning non-violent communication and practice empathy, self-empathy, receiving emphatically, expressing honestly. Being a true person from my core. A kind of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). No hidden agenda, nog judgements. I want to be able to give support in an emphatical way, really listening, observing, listening to the expressed needs and request. I am not there yet, but I am learning. And healing at the same time. I am learning every day and I have the best and most honest teachers you can wish for, my children.

I do believe they are our biggest teachers in life and we don’t even know it.

And back to my worries about unschooling. They come and go. But today I observed Maximan while he was drawing. Out of nowhere he drew two bats. One was flying and the other one was hanging on a branch. After that he was playing with his Lego’s, following instructions and building part of an airplane and deciding he wanted to do his own thing and continued with his own plan. My two year old Midiman was playing with my friends daughter and while they are still young, they were working together. Figuring out how they would work with the water there was in the pool and how they would share the toys there were. And Miniman, he is the perfect example of natural learning. Ten months old and he mastered rolling, sitting, standing and now he is in the process of walking alongside the table. No one is telling him what to do. While I am observing all this I don’t feel worried. Everything will be fine. I do believe that worrying does have a good side too. It keeps me sharp. Although I do think I can let go of the worrying and start enjoying the natural curiosity of my children. I do believe they are our biggest teachers in life and we don’t even know it.