Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Just say "YES!!!!!"
Unschooling Voices question for July is: First, what advice would you have given to yourself early in your unschooling journey?
After swimming yesterday afternoon, Violet asked me if she could "paint" with the sunscreen spray. A couple of years ago I probably would have said "No, that would be wasteful", and would probably have a dozen other reasons why she "shouldn't" use the sunscreen spray to play with and create with. I think the biggest change for me, and the answer to the above question, would be to say "yes" more often and not automatically say "no" to requests that my children have. Funny thing is though, that those thoughts still enter my head. Even while I was saying "yes, sure, why not", in the back of my mind I heard those voices say "no, you shouldn't". Reading the unschooling discussion boards has really helped me change my actions, and my thought processes are gradually catching up. When I see my children enjoying doing things with no limitations it really brings joy to me and shows me that what we are doing is right for us.
Moments earlier, while in the house, Violet said to me, she would like to be an artist when she grows up. I told her that she is already an artist, but that maybe if she would like to make a living being an artist when she grows up, we could learn more about what artist do to make a living at it. I made a few suggestions. I suggested maybe we could interview some artists, and she came up with a few ideas of her own about who we could talk to. We thought about coming up with a list of questions for the artists and going to some arts and crafts shows to ask them. Also, we could go to a college and talk to an art instructor. I told her about the PBS show Crafts across America that I had recently saved on the tv, that she could watch. She's only 8, but I can really see her following this path, as she has always loved art, and it would be wonderful if she could keep that passion. I'd really love to nurture and help her explore it as much as she wants to. I love that she can see a can of sunscreen spray and want to use it as an art medium. I told her that there are artists who really do use different mediums other than paint and pencils to create with and that we could go out and learn more about them. So, I think this will lead to some really neat further discussions and field trips to exhibits and museums that portray this. Olivia had been playing on the computer so Violet went in and told her what we were doing and said hey come join in the fun!
I often hear parents say or even shout "NO!" you can't do that, or you shouldn't do that. I think kids start to tune it out after awhile and you get kids who are constantly disruptive or misbehaving because they don't even hear it anymore. Unless a child is hurting another child, or hurting property that doesn't belong to them I feel that we need to relax and let them explore and learn through doing things that inspire them. Saying "no" squelches creativity, it stamps out learning, it creates negativity. Another reason to avoid using no so frequently is, for example; several times in the recent past, my kids have been offered some candy or some other treat, and politely said "no thank you". The reason my kids say "no", is because I have not been limiting these things. Other parents say, "Oh, but not my kids, I can't do that". They haven't tried. If it's been forbidden for a long time, yes, they may go a little overboard initially. But, Violet knows, from past experience, that sometimes it will give her a tummy ache. Or maybe she's full right now, and knows she really doesn't want it right now, but that she won't be denied it later, if she wants it. I let Olivia have fruit snacks first thing in the morning, if she wants. She will have a healthy cooked breakfast in another hour, when she's hungry. Why do we "have to" eat breakfast first, snack later? Or any food at any particular hour? Sometimes they will ask for something with sugar in the evening, and I just suggest to them, well, that might keep you up all night, and ask is that what you want. Frequently, no, that isn't what they want. Or if they do want it, I just stay up later with them.
Windows can be cleaned, new bottles of sunscreen can be bought, moments of joy can be remembered forever.
The second part of Unschooling Voices theme was; Second, ask your kids to take pictures of their favorite ________ (favorite whatever; person, place, thing, etc).
So here's a few pictures that Violet has taken recently of some her favorite things. She'll be putting some on her blog later.