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How do I fight the trend of directive-protective style of parenting? We homeschool. But even homeschooling can feed the directive-protective style, even more closely controlling what a child can and can't do, who a child can and can't associate with.
Some call it unschooling. Some call it relaxed homeschooling. We call it it living. There is enough evidence that rigid structured schooling is not beneficial and potentially harmful in the first decade of a child's life, depending on the child's interests and development of course, that it seemed pointless to push when there was so much to be gained by not. For instance, the Moore Foundation and Charlotte Mason hold philosophies that support this idea.
One day my six year old son wanted to talk about college. I told him that lots of times when someone went to college it was the first time they moved out of their parent's home and created their own. Seriously considering the idea for the first time and concerned, my son asked, "Mom, will I be ready?" For a moment I panicked. Would he be?
So I said, "Well, let's look at what you're learning. Are you learning about good nutrition and how to cook and to take care of your body?"
"Yes," he said.
Are you learning to do laundry?
Are you learning how to take care of your stuff?
Are you learning about handling money?
Are you learning math?
Are you teaching yourself to read?
We both sighed relieved. A lot of young adults don't know enough about these things when they leave home. I didn't. Yet, he's gotten a good start just by being a growing and participating member of our family.
I do get challenged by other parents that being unstructured is bad for my kids primarily because they won't learn how to "follow directions." (I think following directions takes a whole lot less practice than most think it does.) What seems hidden to many parents is that this relaxed way of life may very well be more challenging to children (and therefore more enjoyable and engaging) as well as make them better equipped for life than rigorous, forced academics.
Converging evidence shows a major shift toward independence around age four.
Attending an elite college provides no long-term advantage to most students.
Pursuit of passions requires time for play and self-directed education.
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