Saturday, May 28, 2011

LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference: Day 2

Markus and I took in a great talk by Kelly Lovejoy about unschooling tweens (we've recently realized that Tal is fast on his way to being a member of this illustrious group...). It was indeed very enlightening. Questions we didn't know we had yet were answered. We gained a bit of an understanding for why he is the way he is right now and some reassurance that, for tween unschoolers, who are sometimes disinterested and "boring" compared to their always-busy school-going compatriots -- this is just a needed lull while they figure out where they're going before the teen years. The teens at this conference are many and varied and ENGAGED. While Tal and some of the other 9-11-year olds (I'm guessing at ages, here) hides in his hoodie playing lego or reading for hours, or doing activities others are doing -- beside them, with only the occasional word exchanged, the teens create "people puddles" on the floor. They are expressing themselves in every conceivable way, some joining in with parents' discussions, and some being the socially vibrant creatures that they are. And it's really beautiful to see them for the most part accepted as an important and integral part of this community. Kelly talked about the probability that while parents may push the nest a bit at this stage, it's often a much needed cocooning stage for our tweens, and they may in fact need more of our help and attention than before -- and to trust that through this deeper connection they will not become dysfunctional adults, but that they are building their strong roots to grow into independent teens and adults. These are the things we think about abstractly, but to have her talk about them in terms of the specifics of our kids' behaviour right now made them more useful to us.

And those teens? THOSE TEENS! We had a family "Barefoot Boogie" in the evening, (a beautiful bonding moment for us, dancing and glow-stick-fighting with our kids and some of their new friends), followed by the teen prom. The teens came in every shape and colour, and pretty much shook the house. It was really amazing to see the inclusivity and connection, here. I'm sure there's plenty of disharmony that goes on beyond my radar, but on the whole it's obvious to me that these kids are a pretty accepting, open bunch of humans, and that is beautiful to see.

I can't say I'm totally reassured about the changes that my kids will go through in their teen years, but this day, to me, was extremely comforting. With not a whole lot of experienced unschoolers around as examples, it's easy to become worried about our choices. Being here is something like a big sign being held up to us: IT WILL BE MORE THAN OK: IT WILL BE GOOD!!!

Of course, there was more than that. While I was interviewing a mother, Markus took the kids to the farmers' market up the road, and there were also some fabulous kids' workshops at the conference... much more photographable than our parental ponderings:

Animal Clinic! Rhiannon had been looking forward to this since we saw it in the program a couple of months ago. She brought Woofbomb specifically so he could be bandaged up at this clinic. Here he is being weighed.

Hula-hoop making!

Hula-hoop using!

Rhiannon's Daring Book for Girls recommends knee-hooping. Apparently it's very difficult!

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