Pam Larrichia is an author, a blogger and a mom of three. She breaks about unschooling to help parents look for ways to learn and enjoy fully with their family this unconventional choice. She discovered unschooling in 2002 and shares with us her learnings and the joy that she's found thru unschooling.
Links from this episode:
Scott Noelle's An Unschooling Life
Sandra Dodd's Radical Unschooling
Pam Larrichia Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life
Pam Larrichia Free to Live: Create a Thriving Unschooling Home
Pam Larrichia What is Unschooling?: Living and Learning without School
Unschooling. It is basically a style of homeschooling, but to get there is a very unconventional lifestyle - so much of it is questioning the paradigms that we grew up with. It's all about how do children really learn.
As you get to discover this "special world", you start to have these monsters - questions, people who don't understand, etc. The whole process of learning how unschooling works and to bring it into your family is very much the road of trial.
The bigger picture comes later, the second phase of the hero's journey - how you want to be in the world, your goals, what's important to you, how you define success.
Homeschooling. Pam's son went to school; however his personality in the classroom did not mesh very well. She tried working with his teachers, some years it worked well but there are times where it's "you need to fit in this environment, we're not making any accomodations for you". She could see his son learning at home, have fun, and she saw that it wasn't about his kid. He's a fun, loving kid but he just didn't enjoy fitting into the classroom. They tried private school for a few months, she continued to work with the teachers and at the same time she came across homeschooling. When she found out it was legal and doesn't have those artificial constraints they went right away to homeschooling.
Pam got excited with homeschooling, especially that she's having so much fun when the kids are home. She of course have questions of her own - "How are they gonna learn instead?", "How will I know what they need to know?", etc., but at the same time she was excited as well as the kids to see how it's going to work when they don't have that framework of going to school.
Unschooling vs Homeschooling. Unschooling is the same style as homeschooling. It's pretty much learning without a curriculum, without that student-teacher paradigm.
It's not just about dropping the curriculum and leaving the kids to learn on their own, as most envision, but it's replacing that curriculum with a nurturing environment in which natural learning flourishes. It's living in the real world with the kids right now and following the child's interests and passion. If you think about it, human beings learn effectively when they're engaged in the task/activity that they want to do.
Unschooling will learn things when in need or an interest develops regardless of age. When you're not looking at the school's framework, you look at life as the opportunity to learn and does not stop at a certain age. When kids are so engaged there's a much better chance that what they learn is going to be understood and remembered, not just memorized and forgotten after because it has meaning in their lives in that moment. The goals isn't the knowledge, the goal is the pursuing and the knowledge is something they need to pick up along the way to get where they want to go.
Typical day with homeschooling. It's very different. It's kids waking up when they woke up, not by the clock. They wake up and dive into whatever they want to do that day. There are days where they go places, they have a calendar where they set schedules for what they're going to do. For Pam, there is no typical day, but what she finds interesting is that there's a basic motiff that underscored her day. Even if the things that were happening are different, she is always available, willing and supportive of the kids.
Unschooling meant for her to be available when the kids wanted to chat about things. Being open and available for conversation was very important for her or offering help when the kids need it. A typical day is more of being in the flow with the kids, being engaged wih them. It's not about any particular things that you do.
Kids. One of the good things is when they pursue what's interesting for them and spend time diving into those. His eldest son is into stories and is working on his writing. Her daughter discovered photography when she was thirteen and dove into that. The youngest wanted to try out martial arts and he loved it - He's now working at Medieval Times as a stunt performer and he's loving it.
They found their passion since unschooling fits like a glove, because it comes from their heart, from their interest, from their passion. Even if things go in different direction, they're still related to what they're interested in.
Unschooling around the world. Pam asked basic questions about people and got a response from 23 different countries. It was representative of how unschooling is spreading around the world. Some hasn't started unschooling yet, but is still learning about it, which is great before fitting it into their family.She asked challenges they encounter and she get to relate to them - extended family and friends not understanding their choice for unschooling, figuring ways to meet the needs of the kids with diverse interests and personalities as well as feeling isolated.
How to learn more about Pam: