There’s this perception that unschoolers live some kind of wild life of chaos. Without boundaries and rules. Sometimes people peeping in from the outside believe that the foolish parents are letting the kids are making all the decisions.
Unschoolers Are Unique
I cannot not and will not speak for others. I will only speak for us. Each unschooling family will have their own approach. And much of what I write about comes from experience of unschooling for the past 2.5 years.
The thing with unschoolers is that we do things our own way. There is no set way of doing stuff as we are all individuals. It’s a constant exploration of understanding who we are and what we need. What we do one year will not apply the next. What we do with one child will not necessarily apply for another.
Finding The Rules That Work For Us
What we found, for us personally as a family, is that we initially let go of the rules. We let our kids explore options and make decisions for themselves. Then as we learned to live and trust each other more (and better) we started creating rules that worked for us.
The reality, imho, is that we all live by rules. The beauty of unschooling is that we tend to focus on the rules that work for us. We question everything and define rules together.
So as examples, right now…
We don’t have specific bed times or start times. Though our two youngest tend to have a routine of getting to bed between 7-9pm.
We don’t have limits on screen time. Though we express our reasoning for a balanced life of screens, physical activity and work that needs to be done around the house/family.
We have a guideline that our older boys should ask if there is anything they can do to help before requesting their own free time.
We have rules about being quiet after our youngest children have gone to bed.
We have rules about always trying to be nice and respectful towards each other.
We make requests that the kids help with the kitchen and dining areas being tidied up after meal times. Actually, we ask things to generally be tidied up. It doesn’t always happen, but we have a guideline that it’s unfair if the parents have to do the tidying up all the time.
We express that us parents are only human. We have needs. We get tired too. We have rules that we should be considerate of each other and our individual needs.
We have a rule that if people in our family smell or are dirty then they should have showers, if not for their benefit, for the benefit of others in the house!
Plenty of Rules!
So, you can see we have plenty of rules. The difference is that these are rules that matter to us. Rules that we have created - through experience, discussion and collaboration.
The rules for other unschoolers will be different.
The result is that we are all happy to live by these rules. And when they are broken there are no punishments, it’s more a case of understanding why the rules were broken and deciding whether to continue with the rules or use it as an opportunity to change things around.