Sunday, May 5, 2013

Unschooling, Part 7: Respect

I saw an acronym on one of the unschooling pages. It is RATS: Respect, Acceptance, Trust, Support.

I love that. The respect thing is huge. When I step back and really look at it, I realize how often I was/am so disrespectful to Maggie. I say things that I would never say to another adult. I drag her all over with no explanation and tell her she's not allowed to touch anything or wander off. I control her entire day with no input for what she wants. Wow. I never really thought about it before because that's just parenting, right? But I don't think so anymore. Just making small changed I am already seeing a huge difference in her behavior. She is so much more affectionate with her words and actions.

I am trying to be very respectful in my words. If/when I mess up, I apologize without a but (ie, I'm sorry but. . . ). I talk to her about what she wants to do, while offering her a wide range of choices. When we go to a store, I tell her she can buy one thing and I explain why I need her to stay in my line of vision, although I am trying to let her wander a little more. I'm planning on having her work on lists with me when we go to stores.

I am trying to let her lead. I lay out several options and let her pick. I talk about what scheduled things we have but I don't force her to even go to those. I'm not sure where I'm eventually going to stand on this. If we are signing up for classes she picks, should I insist on her going? I feel like no but I'm not really sure. She might be too young to make that decision and I just go unless she seems resistant to the actual class (like she was with ballet).

Acceptance. So this means a few things to me. One is to stop projecting what I want Maggie to be/do/etc. I want her to be interested in the same things I'm interested in but that's silly and it's not fair to her. She likes things I don't like and I need to accept and respect that. Beyond that I'm not sure. I feel like I'm very accepting of her.

Trust. This one is huge and has changed so, so much for me. One, trust that Maggie is a good person and is doing her best and wants to make good choices and be helpful. Don't assume she'd never help out/watch TV 24/7/eat only junk if I didn't force her to do otherwise.

Another is to trust that learning WILL happen without my interference or trying to teach her. This is so freeing. I have a huge list of things I want to do with her and show her and take her to. I don't have to constantly look for the educational moment in everything. She gets what she gets and she's learning every second of every day. I don't have to force reading lessons on her or math or writing. She'll learn those things when she needs them. There is so much more to be said about this but honestly this was one of the easier things to accept. I've seen this in my life as a student, a teacher and a mom. I didn't teach Maggie to talk or crawl or walk. She did those things because they were useful to her.

Support. This one's easy and really hard. Just support what she's interested in. Support her when she's sad or angry. Don't be punitive or mean. Don't control. Don't LEAD. Support.

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