166: Learning to trust your child – and yourself

Claire had used respectful parenting methods since her children were babies, so child-led learning seemed like a natural fit for her.  She protected her toddler’s free play time and involved her in household chores and nature walks.

 

Claire attended school as a child (just like I did!); she even enjoyed elementary school. By high school she didn’t see the relevance between what she was being taught and the things she was interested in – by that time her biggest lessons came from extracurricular art classes with mostly retired classmates at an art school, and from a theater production which she and other students put on entirely by themselves – getting advice from teachers, but messing up and fixing their mistakes by themselves.

 

It was the art classes and theater experiences that shaped the kind of learning that Claire wanted for her child, so she got herself pretty worked up over the idea of her oldest daughter attending public school.  It was actually joining my Learning Membership that helped her see that if she did need to put her daughter in school someday, they would still be able to find ways to support her at home.  Whichever way that turned out, she and her daughter would be OK.

 

And in the meantime, her daughter had transitioned from the simpler questions of two to the more complex, involved questions of three.  Her new sibling was born, and her writing explorations proceeded in parallel with figuring out her place in the newly expanded family: suddenly she’s highly motivated to write a sign saying:

NO BABIES ALLOWED.

 

Not only has Claire seen her child’s learning develop, but she’s also seeing her own growth as a person and as a parent.  Having arrived at the decision to homeschool from a place of fear and defensiveness, which she would have to justify to her extended family who are teachers, she now feels confident that homeschooling is the right fit for her family right now – even though that may change in the future.

 

And – more importantly – she has reimagined her role in the homeschooling relationship.  She now knows she doesn’t need to high-tail it for the library the moment her daughter expresses an interest in a new subject – she can sit back and observe and see what her daughter is really learning…and then go to the library if that’s the most appropriate thing to do.  Claire is becoming her daughter’s guide on the side who takes cues from her learner, rather than the sage on the stage who takes advantage of every Teachable Moment to impart a lesson.

 

Now Claire feels much more relaxed about her daughter’s learning, because she trusts her daughter – and she trusts herself.  Claire had spent a lot of her own early years feeling uncomfortable, and searching for belonging.  She figured that if she just pushed herself harder, and beat herself up when things went wrong, that eventually she would be good enough.  

 

That she would finally stop feeling ashamed of herself, and fit in.

 

Now she sees that you can’t teach a child to be compassionate.  The way our children learn compassion is by seeing us being compassionate with them – and with ourselves.  

 

So Claire is reparenting herself at the same time as she’s supporting her child’s learning.

 

Claire is in the Supporting Your Child’s Learning Membership, which doesn’t offer a curriculum.

 

It doesn’t tell you what activities to do when, or give a checklist of learning goals for you to fill out.

 

Instead, it helps you to:

  • See learning where it’s already happening
  • Provide just the right amount and type of support to help your child direct their own learning (and ALL children are capable of doing this; even the ones with diagnoses, and even the ones who can’t focus at school)
  • Bolster skills like critical thinking, full-bodied learning, and metacognition, that they can use to learn ANY new idea or skill they like.

 

If you need this help so you can support your own child’s learning, I’d love to meet you in the Learning Membership.  Enrollment is open NOW until Thursday September 22nd, and we’ll get started as a group on October 1.  Just click the banner below to learn more:


 

Jump to highlights:

03:07 Invitation to join the Supporting Your Child Learning Membership

03:50 What life in a homestead is like for Claire’s family

05:43 How does their way of life show out in her child

07:07 Ways that Claire support her child’s learning prior joining the membership

09:17 Claire’s lack of connection to what she was studying in school

10:09 How her passion for art continues to influence Claire’s life today

11:39 Getting community support for Claire help her a lot in embarking her journey in the membership

12:58 Claire’s thoughts and difficulties she encountered when she began the first module

14:53 Claire’s learning explorations with her child’s interest in letters and writing

16:20 How Claire’s daughter uses writing to express her feelings about their relationship

17:49 Claire’s positive and negative feelings when she first started homeschooling her child

19:10 Our education system is failing because we compel teachers to work inside a system that does not work for children.

21:42 Claire’s methods for supporting her child in discovering what she is truly interested in

24:36 Listening to our child with the idea that we might be the one who comes out of experience changed

26:45 Ways we help our children explore what they already know and considering their needs and interests to be worthy

28:16 Claire’s daughter shows an interest in experiments and independently determining the next steps she needs.

32:05 Claire can foresee herself in the future just being guide on the side

35:42 Claire’s journey to trusting herself and her child with the help of her community

38:50 What it’s like having self-compassion with our child

Transcript
Brianna:

Hi, I'm Brianna, and I'm calling from Fredericksburg, Virginia, where I have two children ages 3.25 and one and a half, and I've been listening to Your Parenting Mojo since I was pregnant. If you want to feel confident and informed when making your parenting choices in the face of everyone, your parents, your in-laws, your friends, the media, and most importantly, yourself, and Your Parenting Mojo is the podcast for you. This podcast has allowed me to prepare for the inevitable struggles of raising children and to decide ahead of time how I want to handle the difficult situations that arise. It's giving me the tools to make sure that I am parenting within my values but also effectively so that my whole family is comfortable with our rules and expectations and our freedoms. The information presented here makes the kind of sense that is so well organized, when you hear it you feel empowered to implement it right away. Go to YourParentingMojo.com/subscribe for easy access to all that good stuff.

Jen Lumanlan:

Hello, and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. I wonder what things you remember most from your school experience. Elementary school was fine for me because I'd figured out how to deliver what the teachers wanted and I could do it fairly quickly, so schoolwork wasn't difficult. It wasn't that hard in high school either, but of course there the social factors became much more important and that was a much bigger challenge for me. My guest today is parent Claire who remembers enjoying elementary school, but by high school, she just couldn't see the connection between the things she was actually interested in and what she was learning in school. Her most productive learning experiences came through extracurricular art classes with mostly retired classmates at an art school and a theatre production in which she and other students put on entirely by themselves, getting advice from teachers but messing up and then fixing their mistakes by themselves. Claire knew that she discovered interest led learning and wanted that to be the core of her daughter's experience. So much so that she got herself worked up into a bit of a tizzy because her daughter might one day attend public school. After she joined the supporting your child's learning membership, she realized that whether her child was in school or not, there was a lot she could do to support her child's intrinsic love of learning at home. As her daughter transitioned from the simpler questions of age two to the more complex involved ones of age three, their family grew by one, and suddenly her daughter was motivated to start writing really important signage around their house to confirm her place in the family. I'll let Claire tell you more about that. Claire started homeschooling from a place of fear and overwhelm, but now she feels much more relaxed. She's becoming her daughter's guide on the side who takes cues from her learner rather than the sage on the stage who takes advantage of every teachable moment to impart a lesson. And she sees that modeling the self-compassion that she didn't learn herself until recently is a critical part of her daughter's education plan. She doesn't need a curriculum for that learning because her daughter's interests drive it. Claire knows how to see learning where it's already happening provide just the right amount and type of support to help her child manage her own learning, which all children are capable of doing if we'll just let them, and also bolster skills like critical thinking, metacognition, and full-bodied learning that she can use to explore any topic under the sun. If you'd like to join Claire in the Supporting Your Child Learning Membership, where you'll get all the help you need to nurture your own child's intrinsic love of learning, enrollment is open now until midnight Pacific on Thursday, September 22. Sliding scale pricing is available to fit any budget, you can find out more at YourParentingMojo.com/learningmembership. And now let's welcome Claire.

Claire:

Hi, Jen. Thank you. Good to be here.

Jen Lumanlan:

So I wonder, could you kick us off maybe by telling us a little bit about who you are, where you are in the world? And what kind of things are important to you and your family?

Claire:

Yeah, let's see, I live in central Virginia with my husband and our two kids, who are almost four and nine months, and we spend a lot of time outside as a family, mostly at home sort of tending to our little land here, and that's really driven a lot of, you know, what at least my oldest who's almost four, her interests and her learning is really just so much of a bit is us being together as a family outside doing sort of the things that we love to do. And I'm fortunate where I am right now. I'm not working outside the home and so it's being with my kids is loving to do right now.

Jen Lumanlan:

Can you tell us a bit more about your land and what that means to you and your family?

Claire:

Yeah, let's see, we live on four acres in a somewhat rural environment. We're up on top of a hill that has woods going down to a floodplain and creek that leads into the city's reservoir, some sort of public land up against us. What's interesting is that it's sort of ambiguous as to whose land it is there by the floodplain and especially during COVID we found a lot of homeowners up along that public easement where the tributary comes into the reservoir would, you know walk around when people are like you don't know. It was sort of our little commons and it was this beautiful thing you know, everyone sort of tends to trails along there and sort of wild sort of suburban environments. My husband and I are both trained as landscape architects and artists, and I spent lots of years in my 20s farming, and so, you know, we sort of tried to have our little homestead that, you know, work with our kids, raising ducks, and chickens and gardening and sort of, you know, reforesting to some small extent that we can, but you know, caring for the Earth and other living things around us is very important to us. So that's really what we spend a lot of time doing.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, how does that show up in the ways that your daughter spends her time outside?

Claire:

She really liked plants. Somehow she has a really good memorization at the age of two and a half, she was correcting her grandparents on the Latin name for coneflower. "It's no Papu, it's Akinesia" Like what? I mean, this is just sort of stuff that's natural to her because it's just me and her dad talking about all this stuff, but you know, learning, you know, where wild grows and the times of year that all these, you know that plants fruit, and you know, we used to think I remember my husband being like, "Is that thing poisonous? Is that thing poisonous? We got to take it out before we have kids", and I'm like, "no, like, this is so valuable, they will learn like what is safe and what's not", and that's all part of living somewhere, and it really has been, in fact, my daughter just got over about of salmonella from relation to the chickens we think, but now she's like, knows, it's like the rhythm of washing hands, and it's like, really stuck. Anyone who gets salmonella has already learned these things, but, you know, sort of learning takes place here is really just from living it.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, nothing like experiencing salmonella to get hand washing to stick. So you joined the learning membership almost a year ago now and I'm curious about what kinds of things you were doing to support mostly your daughter's learning because she was the older one, right? And your younger child is not really quite there yet. What kind of things were you doing to support her learning before you joined?

Claire:

Primarily, I was very protective of her play and her free time, and, you know, we had practiced rhyme more or less when she was younger, and I think a lot of that, sort of my ideas of rye were, it's sort of like you let them do what they're going to do and you just sort of like watch this flower blossom, and it really was like that to a large extent more than sort of what my natural inclination would be, like how I was raised, and everyone else interacts with babies, which is that you have to teach them how to crawl or pick up something, but you know, so we wouldn't even suggest things for her to do ever, like, it was like, we would do things to the family or you know, she'd help out with chores and stuff, but I wouldn't get out toys for her or, you know, so all this stuff was like she always worked through that sort of board, but I mean, is it even possible that a two-year-old can get bored? It's just like everything is so exciting. So anyway, just being very protective of her free time, giving her the opportunities does seek things out and trying to let her play as much as she could in the way she wanted, providing lots of art materials and ways for her to experiment with stuff, being outside together exploring. Yeah, those were the ways we were supporting her.

Jen Lumanlan:

And are you already thinking about homeschooling then?

Claire:

Before joining the membership, I had been doing quite a bit of research on child-led learning and actually sort of gotten myself quite worked up about, "Oh, my God. I don't know”, I can do public school, and yeah, I had really sort of been like, this is really what I believe in child-led learning, and interestingly, joining the membership that sort of opened me up like, oh, well, it wouldn't be the end of the world, you know, if she went to school, we would be able to find ways to support her.

Jen Lumanlan:

I assume you went to school. Is that right?

Claire:

I did. Yeah.

Jen Lumanlan:

So what was school like for you?

Claire:

I’m very schooled. School for me, I think I pretty much enjoyed school until middle school or high school, and then I was very much turned off from it. I was not interested in most of school, and I think like everyone else I knew, like saw no relevance to the things we were learning, but I mean, I had some great opportunities in the art through my school, which were very meaningful for me in high school primarily, so it was tough because there were some really amazing experiences that were really student-led that were really incredible.

Jen Lumanlan:

Funny how that works, isn't it? The things you really remember the student led experiences.

Fancy that?

Claire:

Yeah, because I had that, you know, I went into the arts later on, like through college and stuff, so.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, it seems those memories coming up there and just really interesting to trace that path right? venture schooling says you're supposed to do well in a bunch of topics and then go and get advanced education and one of them and we've launched into a career where you can make a good deal of money and you latched on to something that was something you unexperienced that you were designed, and that took you towards a path that I assume has not been the most lucrative in the world, but my hunch is from you, that this is something that's important to you, and that resonates with you, and that is still present in how you're living your life today, even if you're not technically working outside the home right now.

Claire:

Yeah, it really was. You know, when I was in high school, I got to take art classes with a bunch of retired people at an art school in Philadelphia, which was just remarkable. And I also was in a theater group at my high school, but the students did everything, I mean, you know, I was in charge of the set design, and you know, we had the power tools out, and we just completely did it. We got feedback from awesome faculty, but it was just our thing to mess up and figure out how to fix and everything like that, so that was definitely really formative for me, and, you know, those passions were quite specific, and my higher education was also art school and all that, so yeah, there's some questions for me, I'm like about it all, but to me, I think that's what drove me to learn more and go forth, seek, you know, people with common interests and stuff like that, and yeah, what I want for my kids, yeah, for everyone to be able to do something like.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, you went to school yourself. You're thinking, Okay, I want a different kind of experience for my child. Was there any degree of uncertainty about embarking on that journey? What was that process of deciding that homeschooling might be.

Claire:

I think a lot of it is in talking to my family and my husband's family about it and wanting to make sure I'm sort of covering our bases, like, is this a good idea? Or, you know, like, how can I talk to people about this, who don't like have a natural affinity towards this or who've never even heard of unschooling, which I hadn't until very pretty recently, so and just having the community was really important to me. I know, locally, we have like a homeschooling quite a homeschooling community, but my kids aren't really school-aged yet, so we haven't really been able to tap into that, so this has, you know, been really great to see other parents, like really intelligent, like, just involved and interested people, so I think that's really been so nice to see people coming from so many different places doing this sort of thing for their kids.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, what was it like then to get started in the membership? You were coming at it from a sense of, yes, I'm interested in homeschooling, I'm not quite sure how this is all going to work. What were you looking for? Like, what support were you looking for? And what did you find? How did all that feel once you were starting to get into the content?

Claire:

I felt the content was like really easy to consume and get started on. I really appreciated the sort of concrete steps, particularly with, you know, starting documentation and learning journals, basically, sort of ways for the parent to really see and observe changes and learning, and of course, that's hard to keep up with, especially with a baby. I'm hopeful that it changes over time.

Jen Lumanlan:

What kinds of challenges? Then they get used doing their own stuff.

Claire:

Yeah, I found that to be really great, because I hadn't really been documenting that stuff. Let's see, what else? How did it feel to get started? I guess it was a lot of stuff I had already sort of been doing, but I think you know, as my kid was really, you know, she turned three, I think a month before the membership started, which really was a big difference from you know, where she had been in her two's and sort of asking more complicated questions, and so I think through the membership, sort of specific how-to, but ways of approaching conversations when my kids like asking me questions about the world, and that's been really, really useful particularly when she has main ideas that would if you heard from an adult, you'd be like, really horrified. Remember, like, one of the first episodes on your podcast that I listened to is like, Is my toddler a racist? or, you know, like those, you're like, wow, that happened now we've got to talk about this, and like, I need to be able to talk to you about this in a way that doesn't steer you down a really resistant path where it's, you know, tolerance and acceptance, so my kids really strong-willed.

Jen Lumanlan:

What kinds of learning explorations have you gotten involved? What path that she led you down?

Claire:

Right as the membership was getting started she'd got really interested in letters and in writing, and it all started because I just had a baby and her preschool had a hand-painted sign that said, "Welcome to the world. Hurray! Big sister Lily" the teachers that signed everyone's name and to a private home, we put it up in my bedroom, I've been nursing the baby and my daughter every day would ask me to read everyone's name, Isabella, Wes, you know, and we go through, and it must have been like weeks of this until finally, I was going like "Oh my God", but this is what got her interested in reading or I mean, she doesn't read yet, but in letters and writing, yeah, so she just found his way in, and it was almost sneaky I didn't quite realize that at first. At first, it was sort of annoying, like, do we have to read this sign again? But you know, through that she's gotten into all sorts of things. She pen pals with their grandmother and writes signs on the doors to keep it no cats allowed, no babies allowed, things like this. It's like things are so relevant to her.

Jen Lumanlan:

Absolutely. No babies allowed doesn't get more relevant than that. Does it?

Claire:

One was mommy don't you dare come in. Okay, that's me. “Mommy, how do you spell mommy?” Don't you dare. Let me think about that one.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, yes there's the immediate we're learning how to write here, right. And then there's also she's obviously exploring feelings about your relationship. That's ultimately what's being explored, right. It seems though it's about writing your sign, but actually it's about what is my place in this family now that the structure of it is changed.

Claire:

That's really true. I didn't really think about it like that but so much of the writing has been about relationships with other people and that gives her a tool to communicate, and tell us what she's needing or wanting and stuff like that which yeah, of course, that's what writing is, right?

Jen Lumanlan:

Absolutely. Yeah, I remember reading about a preschool. I forget exactly where it was, but they had a signup sheet to write your name on, or you make your mark to indicate you are next in line for the swing, because there was only one swing, right? I mean, what's more relevant to a child in the playground at school than when I make my mark, that means that they know that my turn is coming up? Yeah, so yeah, when these things are relevant to our children's lives then they naturally become more interested in them. So I'm also curious about what kinds of shifts that you have seen in yourself over time, or I guess, how are you feeling about homeschooling at the beginning of this journey? Did it seem, yeah, I think we're gonna homeschool and I know what I'm doing, and how is that shifted over the last year or so.

Claire:

I think I'm feeling maybe a little less like defensive about it, or like, almost came to it out of like, fear that you could read a lot about, you know, how wretched schools are, which, for me, it's sort of difficult because I have family, you know, both of my kids' grandmothers, you know, read their teachers are really involved in education, and so it was like, I'm like reading this stuff, and I'm thinking about my experience, and I'm like, I can't like approach this, like, I have good relationships with my mother-in-law and mom, and you know, our parents and everything. So I think what's changed for me is, I think I'm seeing it more as like, instead of, like, here's our path, and like, this is what we're doing and resist, resist, you know, status quo, like, here's where we are right now, this is like how we're doing things, and it's like, really great for the most part, and, like, everyone's seeing, you know, my daughter grows and learn, like, in the context that we've way we've sort of chosen to live our lives, and it's really quite remarkable. So I guess, to me, I'm just seeing it more as like things we do every day, you know, they're going to change, I'm going to change, my kids are going to change, and that's okay. We don't need to have it all planned out, and I don't have to like write my dissertation to present to my parents.

Jen Lumanlan:

And this is why, yeah, and this is why I can't follow what has been your career path for decades. What's important for me to tease out is that this is not a rejection of teachers. For me, it's a rejection of the system that teachers are constrained within. I mean, a lot of teachers know that the way that they want to teach that builds deep relationships that is really responsive to an individual's child's needs. You can't do in schools the way they're currently conceived of, because everybody's required to learn the same material to the same standard, and so you can't be locally community responsive. You can't follow a child's interest because it's 10 o'clock on a Tuesday and it's time to study, you know, pendulum movements, not why are all the slugs out on the sidewalk because it rained last night. I really think that most teachers would teach in those kinds of ways that we're interacting with our homeschooled children if they could, and it's a failure of our education system that we force teachers to work within a system that doesn't work for children, and frankly, doesn't really work for the teachers, either, right? I mean, it demeans their knowledge and their professional experience and expertise and says, "We're going to tell you how to do it. And then we're going to hold you accountable for the results. "

Claire:

I remember some incredible mentor, teachers over the years, and every single one of them was incredibly frustrated with the system. just like how it was.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, yeah. And they were probably doing their very best to create relationships with you to have meaningful learning activities for you within the constraint that they had to make sure that you can answer x on correctly on a standardized test at the end. And yeah, the fact that we force teachers to try to think of creative ways to do things outside the box that actually get you engaged in learning that's meaningful to you, while also making sure that everybody has this equivalent standard, it puts teachers in an impossible situation, in my opinion, because this is not a rejection of teaching at all. And so I guess you're having these conversations with your family members, and starting to feel as though this doesn't have to be, I'm rejecting everything that you have spent your life working on, you're getting more confident in basically doing the things that you love to do in school, and working on those kinds of experiences with a very young child. Were there times when you felt stuck, when you didn't know what you were doing? You didn't know how to move forward? What was that like to be stuck? And how did you get unstuck? Where did you end up going?

Claire:

It sort of came from, like, the ride was sort of steeped in Rye, which is not, it's like, it's hands off, but like, in a lot of ways, it's like, just let the baby explore, they don't need to use the spoon like a spoon. I think I got a little tripped up in some ways with finding ways to scaffold learning without just being like, "I'm just gonna watch you." At a certain point, you know, I guess I just found, in the preschool years, at least with my daughter, it's like, she really seemed to want to know more, rather than just sort of like play willy nilly with something, she's often there too, of course, but so I think that a month ago, you know, she had sort of been asking a lot about airplanes and we had done some travel in the past few months, and, you know, we often have visiting family, I think she'd asked a question, like, how does an airplane fly, and I had been sort of like, "Oh, we're gonna go to the library," and we're going to get out some books and, you know, maybe find a section on planes in the library, and we got, like, all these books, and she pulled out one about gravity and all this stuff, and I'm like, okay, but, and it wasn't even really thinking, but we got home, and it's like, she's the type of kid that once you start something she wants to finish it all the way through, no matter what it is. I think we had like 10 or 12 books and she's like this one, okay, read them all, like, we just get home through the door, you have to read them all, I don't care, your brother needs to nap, whatever, so you know, we're reading them, like, she's not into this, like, you know, she's trying to really want to be, I guess, because we started it, you know, and so I guess it was sort of like finding like when she actually interested in and so after that, it was like, we read them, and then she didn't ever want to read them again, and we held on to them for three weeks, and then eventually I'm like, okay, it's time to return them, what happened here. But sort of in the background, you know, she'd been playing various games by herself, like setting up blankets on the floor, you know, this is the airplane, we're going on a trip and I basically realized, like, as I was sort of watching her, and in the moments when I wasn't really paying attention that it was really much more about like, how flying on an airplane can like take you places like really far away or like around the world and like, so for her it was just much more about like being able to go places like seeing new things, and I guess like in my excitement about like, here we go learn exploration first at the library. I don't think I'm even necessarily quite fair, sort of like, what is my role? Almost like, how can I provide like just a little bit to get her to the sort of the next like stepping stone but, you know, not take over and not overwhelm or go off on a track that she's not actually looking for? So I think yeah, it's like finding what is she actually interested in.and it's not straightforward.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, no, it isn't, and I think that speaks so clearly to the module that we have on listening. One idea that I take out of that module is listening to your child with the idea that you might be the one who comes out of this experience changed, right? We go into a learning interaction with our child, assuming, well, I'm the adult, I hold the knowledge, and so I'm going to transmit that knowledge to you, and you will listen, and you will have the knowledge. What we're doing here is we're completely reimagining that journey, to not just listen to what is the question the child is asking, but what's the real question underneath that, right? And you're getting practice at doing that because in our culture, the initial question is, frankly, the only one that has any relevance, and that can be answered with library books, and sometimes that is actually the question our child is asking, but what you're discovering is that often there are other questions underneath that initial question that are very often about relationships and coming back to what is my place in the world? How do I fit in here? And those are not always questions that can be answered with library books. She's finding ways to explore those through her play, and so yeah, we can get some books on flying and enjoy those, and also learn to listen and really hear the question that our child is asking underneath that.

Claire:

For sure. You know, like, she's still so young to sort of them, like, I find myself in this place where I'm wondering is it necessary to like really push it further, like, she doesn't really need to know, like, you're saying, like, we have to pour it in, and she's going to find it out on her own, for the most part anyway but, you know, it's often like, oh, like, come in with a little thing, and maybe it interests her a little bit for a while, or it's sort of a little thing to do, but yeah, it's more often than not, I'm finding, like, a bit. And it's just sort of the things that are happening, like naturally, the big things that her dad and I are interested in and just doing as a family, and that's sparks the own sort of questions and conversations. Really, yeah.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, exactly. And I think that it's really easy to get down that rabbit hole of I need to be the teacher, and very often, yes, it can be interesting and useful, but frankly, at that age, they're going to forget most of what we talk to them about in a year anyway. And so parents often ask, "Well, why am I even bothering to do this then, if my child's going to forget everything that we talked about?" And so, I think the critical part for me is not what the child retains. If the child retains nothing, it doesn't matter. What we're doing here is we're establishing a pattern of what happens when I express an interest to my parent or caregiver? How does my parent or caregiver respond? Is that sort of shutdown with an "I don't know" and we're not going to talk about it anymore? And stop asking questions? or is it sort of a semi-shutdown by jumping right to Google? And well, what does Google say is the answer, and then well, that now we have the answer, there's nowhere to go, or does my parents sit with me and wonder? I don't know? How does that work? And help me to explore what I already know about that and then listen to me deeply and find out what's my real question and work to explore that. That's what the habit that we're setting up for ourselves and for our children through these kinds of interactions, and so whether she retains any information whatsoever from any of those 10 books about flight is irrelevant in my mind, but you're starting that habit already of responding to her in a way that treats her interests as serious and worthy of serious study and learning, and that's what she'll retain and carry forward, and that's what's going to make this deeper and so much more fun the older she gets.

Claire:

And actually, we had sort of this funny thing today. She's like, "Oh, I want to do an experiment." And I'm like, "Oh, okay." She said, "I wonder what will happen if I pour water in a paper bag?" And I was like, and she goes, "I wonder." I'm like, "Oh, that's like what I normally say," I wonder, and I was like, "Yeah, I wonder if we could do that outside." So she collected her materials, and we all went outside, but it was sort of this fun little thing, or she was sort of repeating back, like, what typically happens when she does ask a question, I do try to sit with that, like I wonder, you know, often I get distracted and, you know, whatever, but sort of leaving that open and in that case, she was like, let's go find out, like, let's test it, and it was really cool to see that even though that was pretty much she just, like, poured it in the bag, and you know, then we're outside playing whatever, but it was sort of that like next step from like, why is the earth round? I wonder? But you know, towards like the next step of trying to figure it out on her own, and, you know, she often has these like, theories about things if I don't answer her questions, that are just like, I mean, often I'm like, I have no idea what this is, but you know, but she does really have theories about the world and how it works, and you know, sometimes it's really close to what I view as reality other times it's not at all and it's, it's fun to hear her share that and, you know, if I hold my tongue and don't correct or try to push it even further, it's clear that she just wanted somebody to tell. This is what I think about things and stuff and it's like such an honor, you know, to hear, have heard say those things to me.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, absolutely. I love that paper bag example because I think it perfectly illustrates the two qualities that we want our children to have, right? as a self-directed learner, which is I see gaps in my learning and I'm motivated to close those gaps, right? Not every time I might think, "oh, yeah, I'm interested in that, but I'm not interested enough to actually spend time on it, because I've got this other thing I'm interested in, and I'm just going to hold that as a sort of tangential idea." But when I see a gap in my knowledge, I am motivated to close it. And then, secondly, I know how to close it, right? Because she has the skills to be able to wander and then hypothesize and then think, "Well, could we actually test this? And what would we need to test it? Well, we need a paper bag and we need a glass of water. " And so she's demonstrating those two principles so clearly and she has them and so many young children have them and their experiences in school teach them that it doesn't really matter what you're curious about what you're interested in because you need to learn what's on the curriculum, and doesn't really matter if you know how to close gaps in your knowledge, because we're not going to tell you how to close the gaps, we're just going to give you the information you need, and she is taking on that responsibility for herself, and we talk in the membership about your role is not to be the sage on the stage to tell her what's going to happen when you pour water in a paper bag, but to be the guide on the side who says I don't know, paper bags are under the sink, water is on the tap, let's go figure it out together. And so those are exactly the kinds of experiences that are setting her up to continue this path of being a learner who directs her own education, and she is four, right? She's so early in this journey, I mean, the two of you have this beautiful path ahead of you where you can kind of sit back and relax a little bit and know that she has these skills already, and that your job is just to kind of be there around the edges providing a little bit of support and you're already doing that.

Claire:

Yeah, it means it's nice to just sort of, like, hear them. I can definitely foresee areas in the future where I'm like, I hope I can be comfortable just being the guide on the side. So yeah, I think there's less fear involved as the parent responsible for the learning, but like, just from doing this for, you know, I just really do see all that can come from it, so yeah, it's really just wonderful to be able to sort of trust in the process, and I feel so fortunate that I've like found people to support me and like doing this stuff that just feels so right and natural, and it's not stuff I would have done if I hadn't like found your community and, you know, right people and stuff. It's definitely not, but everything about it It's just to me, it just feels and rings to be so true and so right. It's just has been good for me.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, thank you for sharing that. And I just want to address the sort of elephant in the room, but there's math in high school, and all the things that parents are terrified of, so usually somehow it's math, and the idea that just because we may not know a lot of advanced calculus, or whatever it is, the child needs to know, that doesn't mean that we can't effectively support our child, right? Some states, there are going to be regulations that say your child must be performing at grade level, and so then we come from the perspective of well, we love homeschooling and we want to get to you spending most of our time doing this. In order to do that, we need to demonstrate you can do these things, so let's spend a week working through this content, and we'll take the test at the end, if you pass the test, we're done. If you don't pass the test, we'll go back and review some of the stuff you had a hard time with, and we'll take the test again, and so we're sort of approaching it from a perspective of this is what we need to do to keep doing this stuff that we love to do in the short term, and then in the long term, it's really based on, well, where does my child want to go? Right, if your child wants to be a physical therapist, or a marine biologist, or whatever it is, they're going to need some math for that they're going to need some steps for that, and chances are if your child is gung ho on marine biology, or whatever that topic is, it may be something they fall in love with. It may be something they're like, I don't really like this, but I recognize it's necessary for the path that I want to be on, and therefore because I have chosen that path myself, and it's not a path that somebody else is forcing me to walk, yeah, I'm willing to spend time doing this stuff that I don't particularly enjoy because I want that thing so much at the end. I mean, we do that all the time ourselves, right? We do things that we don't particularly enjoy because we want to do the thing at the end that feels really valuable to us and our children can do that too iff we trust them to choose a path that works for them and support them through that whole process of understanding how do you make those kinds of decisions? How can you test them out? How can you figure out if yes, this is really a thing I want to do? Or is it just a thing I want to do for a couple of years? And that's okay, and then I get to pivot and change and do something different.

Claire:

Yeah, like you're giving them the opportunity to discover what they really love and that it's not just a single path, you know?There's so many different ways to go about it.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything about your journey that you would like to share with parents who are sort of earlier in the decision-making process about homeschooling, about how to support your child's love of learning that you wish that you had known?

Claire:

I just always sort of think it's that it's more sort of on the parenting advice. I don't know how aware you are that I joined the parenting membership, like nine months after. A lot of it has to do with community, I think, because, you know, it's hard to find people in my just physical everyday life that do parent this way and share really similar values. So, for me, it's really just been to have the community and hear other people their struggles and ways they're working through things and stuff, but I don't know, I sort of look back on things now, especially since they have like another child who is nine months. I sort of think I'm back on times when I was so nervous about something with my daughter and now it's I'm like, It's okay, like with sleep, for example, I was so afraid, she's not sleeping independently, or whatever, like, you know, if it's bedtime, like, I have to put her to bed and leave I can't just let her work it out with me on the bed for a little bit before get her comfortable, and so like now with my son, I guess with just the normal things you don't think about learning, it's just more like parenting course, he's learning how to sleep and play on his own and stuff like that, but to just sort of like the trust that it's okay there's not like a single way you have to start and continue and you know, it's so hard to like, you can't just tell people relax, obviously, you know, you have to live through that and do it, but like, just like trust what feels good for you what feels good for your kid, just work your way through that together, that you can figure it out together not just think why isn't it happening? Where do I need to find the right information to get this? Right. You know,

Jen Lumanlan:

I mean, that's such an amazing message for parenting, for life, for supporting our children on their learning journey, right? That to trust yourself and trust your child and that with a community of support you can do this. You can.

Claire:

Yeah, the community that you really feel that really resonates with you because, you know, I think through my coming of age, my youth, and my late 20s and early 30s, I just felt so uncomfortable. I always felt like this is not who I am, you know, there's certain things where it is, and I just think I spent so much time like not embracing who I actually was even though I was who I was, but there was just a lot of shame and hiding as well, I think a lot of that was like not having my people but you know, also a lot of other stuff from not being trusted kids kid and whether with my interests or than my family with feelings and stuff.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, so you're sort of learning to trust yourself and practicing trust with your child at the same time.

Claire:

Yeah, definitely. In the parenting membership, we were having a conversation about some challenge someone was having, and I had been thinking about you know everyone talks about self-compassion. I was like, "I don't understand what that is." It has been very recent that I finally understand what it is like, even just the idea of it didn't get, you know, I really, what? I've never actually done that and told myself this is hard, like, it's not okay, try hard or whatever, you know, but I sort of realized, "Oh, this is what I tried to do for my kids, And I can do that for myself as well." like, yeah, it's just like, that feels good.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, I mean, you're interrupting cycles of intergenerational trauma is what you're doing and re-parenting yourself and giving yourself the love and care and compassion that you needed when you were a child, and you're also giving that to your children, and you're recognizing that you are worthy of the same care and compassion that you have towards your children. That's a profound lesson.

Claire:

Yeah, it's really good because, like, when you get that and you feel that, that's what helps you get out of whatever you're in, not the like, why are you just doing it? Or, you know, not like self-flagellation, or you know, all that stuff. I think, you know, I just thought, or believed, or whatever, I experienced that yeah, if you give yourself a hard time.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, well, that's what our culture teaches us. That's what's school teaches us. That's what everything around us teaches us is if you're not doing it right, either, because you don't have the knowledge, in which case, get the knowledge. You have the knowledge, and you're still not doing it right because you're not putting enough effort in. So put more effort in and then you'll be able to do it and I mean, that's a recipe for burnout, and a recipe for shame, and hiding parts of ourselves that feel unlovable because they seem unacceptable to other people, so yeah, so that we most of us were taught that and that's why that's so present for you, and I think a lot of parents wonder, well, how do I get my kids to do hard things? How do I get my kid to stick with stuff? And I always answer, "Well, firstly, is sticking with the right thing?" Because there are times when we sort of have this sunk cost and we think, "Oh, well, I've sunk so much into it, I have to ride this one through," when frankly, there are times when walking away is the better option, and secondly, is how we're going through the way to do that? Or should we be taking a step back and giving ourselves that self-compassion? And asking ourselves Is this right for me? Does this feel right for me? If it is something I want to do? Okay, how can I shift this situation to make it something that I can do that I can be successful at? And if not, then still, perhaps walking away is the best thing to do. We're not taught that we're just taught to keep trying and keep keep keep keep going, then you will be successful. You'll be able to buy more stuff.

Claire:

Yeah, fill the void in your life.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yes, yes, that is created by you feeling unacceptable to set to other people.

Claire:

It's just so nice to hear what you have provided in your membership, like, you know, for the online community is like a lot of validation around like, this isn't your parent's fault or your fault, like so much, It's like what white supremacist society does to people, like, of course, you feel that way, of course you do things this way, of course it's hard to be compassionate to yourself and your kids. I think that has been like really, really helpful to hear all that like again and again, you know, everything, all those reminders.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yes. Yes, we all do. We all do. Yeah. Well, this is not where I thought this conversation was going to end up. And I'm so glad that it ended up here. Thank you so much for being here Claire, It was such an honor to talk with and and to go deeper right to hear about that learning just the same as you're doing with your child is we're hearing what is the question on the surface, and then what is the real thing that's going on underneath and I'm so grateful that you've led us into what's going on at home.

Claire:

Thank you.

Jen Lumanlan:

Thank you so much. I'm so grateful to Claire for letting us see into her world and not just that everything's okay stuff on the surface, but the hard stuff that happens underneath as well. That was a real gift to me and to all of us. And as one last reminder, if you'd like to join Claire and the other parents in the supporting your child's learning membership, you can do that right now by going to YourParenting Mojo.com/learningmembership. We have sliding scale pricing available doors close on Thursday, September 22. It's a small membership compared to many others around so you get a lot of personalized attention and the opportunity to interact directly with me about your child's learning. I hope to see you there

Brianna:

Of all the places to get parenting advice Your Parenting Mojo has been the most consistently helpful, easy to implement, and effective that I've come across. I'm Briana Watts from Fredericksburg, Virginia. And if you've liked this information, please pass it on to your friends. Go to the website to subscribe. And by the way, as easy as it is to fast forward through ads, I think we can all agree that it's really convenient to be able to listen to this information without ads and also to support small businesses and really put our money where our mouth is for the kinds of things we want to support. So please consider being a patron of gents buying a cup of coffee, helping support the podcast and keeping this information out there for all of us so that we can use it to support our families healthy growth and development. Thank you

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About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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