Da Ladies #3 - Navigating Social Challenges in the Unschooling Journey

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🗓️ Recorded August 10th, 2023. 📍Sundial Stays, Kendal, UK

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About this Episode

Unlock the secrets to successful socialization in the unschooling journey with us, your hosts, Cecilie Conrad, Carla Martinez, Sarah Beale, and Luna Maj. 

We promise to share our personal experiences, address your concerns, and provide invaluable insights that will help you foster a nurturing social environment for your unschooled child. 

We tackle tough issues head-on, including the challenge of building a social framework outside the traditional school system and the importance of fostering friendships in both urban and rural environments.

As we journey further, we unpack the unique dynamics of friendships formed outside the school environment and the enriching experience of having friends of various ages. 

Discover the power of a supportive community, the challenges of finding like-minded unschooling families, and the importance of patience and understanding in this process. From sharing our own stories to offering practical advice, we hope to empower you as you navigate the unschooling path.

In the final segment of the episode, we reflect on the crucial rewards and challenges of unschooling, emphasizing the need for consistency and proactivity in creating social opportunities. 

We delve into the balance between fun and effort in creating a robust social network and highlight the importance of celebrating educational freedom. Our episode is filled with practical strategies and personal insights to ensure your child's unschooling journey is as enriching and fulfilling as possible. 

Let's embrace educational freedom and make unschooling a rewarding adventure together!


Luna Maj Vestergaard: 

Carla Martinez: 

Sara Beale: 

Cecilie Conrad: 

Watch the full interview on YouTube

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With love


Jesper Conrad 


0:00:01 - Cecilie Conrad
Welcome to the Ladies Fixing the World. I am Cecilia Conrad. Together with three of my girlfriends, I've started this podcast where we talk all things unschooling. I just love to talk to Carla Martinez from Tenerife and Sarah Beale from Australia and Luna Mai from Copenhagen, Denmark. So please join the conversation, listen to the podcast and let us know what you think. Welcome.

0:00:25 - Cecilie Conrad
Here we are again. I thought maybe we could talk about one of the questions we get all the time. Do they have any friends? How will they ever be socialized? How can they learn to handle themselves in society when they're always at home? That's one we all know. Let's try to talk about it in a way where we're not too annoyed, Because it is a relevant question. If you have never thought about unschooling before, If the frame is, this is what we know, kids go to school. That's where they find their friends, that's where they learn to handle themselves and recess. So we do this complete different thing. We take it out the whole school idea. How do they make friends?

0:01:14 - Sarah Beale
I actually think it's an important question and I don't get annoyed at this question Because I acknowledged how hard it actually is to make this stuff happen. So I think it's really something that is worth delving into and worth supporting parents on. I know in the home ed home schooling groups people kind of act as if it's a stupid question and oh my God, of course our kids have got friends and it's so easy. And then they're dismissive of the real challenges. But we in our family have not found it always easy to provide a social framework for our kids. Actually it's constant work, like finding the things, facilitating the things, making them happen, and without the construct of school, which is a one-stop shop. Actually it's not as simple as you might think as people, if you listened to the people who have potentially not found it challenging at all.

0:02:26 - Cecilie Conrad
I don't think I know anyone who haven't had this theme and, to be honest, the annoyance it's more my kids. Now they get annoyed with two questions because they are a little intimidating or can you read and do you have any friends Like I'm 17 years old for crying out loud? I mean I'm not. It's offensive to think that I am lonely and what stupid. So I have this. When I talk about this question, I always have this. I know my kids are really annoyed with it, but I personally don't find it. I don't think it's easier, but I think it's better. The social life.

0:03:12 - Luna Maj
What's better? The social life? What's outside of the?

0:03:16 - Cecilie Conrad
school system. Yeah, the social life that they get to have. It's not easy to have it. You have to start your car and drive for an hour sometimes, or even leave the country, and I mean it doesn't happen by itself. Not where we come from, luna and I, because in our country there are not many home educating families and even fewer unschoolers. So if you want to find some like-minded people to hang with, it's not around the corner, not necessarily, and in that way-.

0:03:46 - Luna Maj
That's actually really interesting, that particular point, because I have been thinking a lot lately, maybe the past couple of years, because I've heard so many younger families in Denmark precisely talking about how hard it is to have their kids at home before school age but also after so, both younger and older kids, and there's a lot of talk about that that, oh, it's so hard and so many people sort of end up giving up of sorts and putting their kids back in the system they care of school because they couldn't find their tribe, they couldn't find the network, they couldn't find community, et cetera, et cetera. And to be honest, I've always found it a little bit strange. I'm like I don't understand, because when we started and my kids were little, and that's almost 20 years ago now, there are a lot less of us, so I'm thinking it has only grown. There's a lot more homeschoolers now than there was 15 years ago or 20 years ago. So to me that's sort of a discrepancy. I don't understand how it's, and also because I didn't find it hard. I don't think it was hard, I didn't feel alone or I didn't feel that we didn't have any friends or that it was hard to find them or anything. But I also realized I was in Copenhagen, but so were you.

But we were in Copenhagen and that's a big city and there's lots of stuff going on, and possibly at the same time maybe I was just lucky, I don't know. But I went to a playgroup once a week that had children from all ages, because the older kids were welcome, so it wasn't just the small ones. That was once a week. And then we had a couple of families that we met with also once a week in each other's homes, and we were like three or four families with between two and four kids each. So that made for a big group of kids too. And then we had neighbors in the little building where we lived, where Flat was, there were lots of kids and my kids were running in and out with the neighbor kids and upstairs kids, et cetera. So I guess that was actually maybe really lucky. I don't know, but I didn't feel that struggle at all. So to me it was a little bit strange that so many people feel it now, because I think the number has grown. So what's up with that? But probably that aspect of where I was and my particular circumstances obviously meant a lot. I can see that I feel like maybe in a more rural setting or a smaller town, I can definitely see that it can be harder to get all of these things. I don't know. So I think it's interesting.

What are actually the problems Like? Is it that there aren't enough like-minded or they just aren't where you are, or is it? I'm just going to say that, too, because I talked to another Danish former homeschooling mom recently. She's got quite a big Instagram account and has been sharing a lot about homeschooling and ended up putting her kids to school just recently, and it was precisely because they felt they couldn't feel the need, they couldn't find a consistent network like a consistent community, and I talked to her about it and she actually said something about the fact that people have become so good now and listening to our needs, listening to our kids' needs.

So we're checking much more in, maybe with oh, do you really want to do this?

No, I don't.

Well, then, we don't.

So maybe we were supposed to go to a playgroup today or go to this outing or whatever, but actually we feel like we need a day home, so we just stay home, and the families value their freedom a lot, and the families value, first of all their family unit a lot and put a lot of attention into that, like our families needs and our kids' needs, which is good.

It's good, but at the same time it also creates less of accountability and less of the building of a community where you sort of have to come or stick to the well, not the agreements, but like do you see what I mean? That was her point and she said we experienced this a lot in the homemade community particularly and I thought that was a good point to raise because I hadn't actually thought of it that way and I think she's right. I think there is a lot of yeah, that thing about people and families valuing their freedom so highly that it actually can become a little bit difficult to create communities that consistently are there, like the one I had with a couple of other families.

0:09:24 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, because it takes that you actually show up most of the weeks. If you are only three or four families and you can only count on half to come, that's one and a half family. It's not a group. And it's the same thing with the Nomads. They have this.

It's very hard to make Nomads commit to a plan and they want to hang out but they don't really want to promise they'll be there. And yeah, I think you're very that's a very good point that it can be very hard. I think I've met that, that we've had some people we wanted to hang with but it's been hard to make the play dates. And then, once we've made them, either the other family or actually my own kids not today and I'm like, ok, but it took me three weeks to set this up and we have the time and I bought the tickets and we drove there. Could you please get up and talk to your friend? So in that way I hear you.

I don't think it's healthy to talk about it as something that's very hard, because if you talk about it that way, probably will become very hard, but then, on the other hand, it's not exactly happening by itself either, because all the other kids are trapped in the schools. That's basically the problem. If they were all home, there would be someone around the corner, there would be someone at the library, there would be someone to meet in the park and supermarket. We wouldn't have to start the cars or leave the country or set up a website or make a festival. We could just go for a walk and find a friend. That's where rare species takes more effort.

0:11:23 - Luna Maj
Yeah, there's a balance between having to put in an effort that can be big-ish and then that freedom aspect, that sort of loose aspect that everyone has. So, again, we haven't personally actually found it difficult or struggle or anything. But so, yeah, one thing was that we had a lot of connections in Copenhagen and in the area of where we were when my kids were smaller. But I also clearly remember that we would drive two hours to see someone in another town, or even more than that, like we would do those things. We would travel a lot as well to meet people. So there's definitely something about the effort that you need to put in. But I can totally understand. I can totally see that it can become too much for someone or like hard for someone. I don't really know what the answer is to that. I just found it interesting that that point has been raised by a lot of people. Actually, like, a lot of people are clearly feeling that it's hard and there's sort of a struggle, but there's also, I think, a lot of effort being put in from a lot of people now to create things that sort of meet these needs. So people are wanting to create communities, like intentional living communities, because I think that's the thing too. If you live like we've talked about it, sarah, right with our kids saying, oh, if we only had all our friends, or even us, we've been saying it like in the same street or just in the same little neighborhood, you know we could all be just that. That's great, of course, and you actually do need that.

It's hard when people are like spread out, because then, yeah, then the effort becomes different and it becomes harder and more effort to put in, and that is hard. When you have someone just down the road, or if you live in the same house for a while, it's like easy to go. Nah, I don't really feel like doing that today. Nah, I'm just gonna. Nah, because you know you can just do it in two hours or the next day or whatever. But when you have to plan and, like you say so, when you have to commit to being somewhere at a point in the future, that's harder for everyone, and particularly for people who are maybe less structured, which in the on schooling movement, of course, in a general way, I think a lot of families are just a lot less structured and live a lot more by flow and yeah, let's see what happens, and all that, so it gets even harder to commit. So yeah, I guess it's, I don't know.

0:14:24 - Carla Martinez
In my case, I'm not this kind of person like let's see what happened, I have this, but, for example, I have this particularly example is not with friends, but it's with my mother-in-law, that she's always like we'll see, and I'm like, if you want to meet, we have to set a date and an hour, we'll see. I don't know if we're gonna see each other so we can meet somewhere, you know. Also, it's the friendship or community is something many people ask me also and it's not that something that annoys me. But I have learned that I have this particularly ability or if in me, like depends who you are or how, because I'm a person that have been always organizing things, meeting people and saying let's do this or let's do that, and I always ask this question how many people do you need? Because I'm okay with one, with one, then we are two.

So it's like I don't need 10 people, 20 people, because I said something like let's go to the forest for a walk, and then people start to cancel because I can't go wherever, and then some of others said should we cancel and say, no, I'm going, even though if anyone else is going, I will go. Who is coming? So then in the end there are people going. But I know you need this kind of energy, but I have it by. How do you say by nature by the original.

Yeah, I don't have to put effort on this because it's on me. Even when I went to like start studying and everything, I was this person. So then when I have kids with the maternity I start to, it's when, like, the friendship changed a bit, so you start looking for other mothers and fathers and groups. So I didn't have to make nothing different. Also, we went to these like project education projects so we have people. But then when we start in like work, schooling and traveling, but then we spend like several months in a place, I'm never scared.

I don't feel alone. I always feel like, ooh, like the researching part, I like it. So I learned and I have teach people how you have to do it. Usually people who reach me, they are already in a place and they want to meet someone and you can do it. But it's like before you go there, look where is the people. Because sometimes I go where the people I know they are already there and you contact and you talk and you talk and you ask the age of your kids.

And also I have never limited myself to my kids, to homeschooled kids.

I'm more not flexible, but I mean what things I like, if I like to go, let's say, hiking, so maybe I look for families who like hiking, so I don't really care if they are in school or not, so I'm like open to everybody.

Then you make some filters because maybe you don't like this person or these families. This is like another thing. The only time, like last year when we went to England, that was the first time I filter in the homeschooled groups because we were our plan was to stay in the same place, so the homeschooled kids are the ones who have more time. So if we wanted to do things in the morning, for example, yeah, but still it doesn't matter For me you just have to like go fishing in all the groups that you feel there can be possibilities or activities that you like or your kids like, and usually also people. They do this maybe one morning and they are done. So then I know you have to do it like every day for I don't know several weeks. Yeah, like you check some of the groups and you go to another group and you talk to someone that you read something they wrote or maybe you have a contact as this contact what they know there, yeah, but this is more maybe like traveling.

0:19:32 - Cecilie Conrad
So I don't know if it is, but I think it's a very, very relevant point when you say I need only one person.

0:19:39 - Carla Martinez

I'm sorry, no, because I wanted to go into the place if I were living in one place, not traveling, because for me it's like I feel more or less the same. You have to move is where we are saying like they are not come to to looking for you. You have to go and look for the people. And also about the what Luna was talking about, the Like, I think there is a bit of compromise, it have, it's flexible. But, for example, if I don't want to go today, I would say, okay, today I don't feel like going. I very, I'm feel very free when I have to say these things.

But I also say, may I will tell you maybe other day, like on next week, but I and I will write back or call back because because I like people, I mean if you want people, I mean you can have a bad week or you are going through something, and I think everyone can understand that. But the thing is like if you really wanted to be with people, then you will call the next day and that's fine. Even if you are too, I don't feel good. But you can come and pick my kids and your house or do something. And I think if you are in that and you want people also. You have to be there also and offer, give also know. You say always I think like give more than you.

I don't know, but yeah, that you take. So if I don't know, it's not that you are, that you have to, but be there. You can be there in many ways, as we say in your truth also.

0:21:35 - Cecilie Conrad
You know like and I think also a very important point that we haven't talked about yet, about the social life of unschooled children is if you compare it to a school life where you have 25 other kids eight hours a day, that's not what they're going to have, but that's not what we want either and that's not what they want, and to me it's. It's been very clear that my children really don't need a lot of people in their life. They don't need the very few they need. They are social, but they don't need 25 people and they definitely don't need 25 people for eight hours a day and they very much do not need that 25 people to be their same age and the same people for 10 years. They really don't need that. That's not what they want. They're happy to have two or three or five friends. They're happy to hang around people of different age than themselves they like.

This is the first time now in my life as an unschooler, unschooling family, where they specifically ask for an age group. Now, for the past year and a half, I have a 17 year old and almost 15 year old daughter, and those two since so since they were 13 and 15, the last few years they're frustrated with only being around kids under the age of 12 and young people over the age of 21. Because the kids in between they're in school and they have a lot of friends who are in the 20th and they enjoy those friends. And they have friends who are younger but they were like just could I get to know? Just like three teenagers, because actually I only know my cousins and that annoyed them. So we've been stalking our friends with unschooled teenagers. We've been trying to go to festivals and to the castle thing we did in the spring and just to find some other teenagers, but before that they would never, never, ever ask can you find me a friend? My age?

So that's a category I think we have to uninstall from the idea of friends and childhood. They don't have to have the same age. Some of my children's friends are, you know, 50 years older than them. It's not necessarily all. A two year old can play with a five year old. It's. My now 17 year old son has a really good friend who's 70. And it's a really good friend. They walk the Camino together. They talk for 200 kilometers. They really enjoyed it. So most of them did the cupping thing while walking. They just had so much fun. So there are so many categories around what friendship is and childhood, what it means, what it looks like and how it unfolds, that are very different. So up to now we've talked about is it hard or is it not hard? And if it's a little bit hard, how do we find these people? And I'm afraid you know, if we're only talking for another half hour it comes out as a podcast, generally saying it is a little bit hard.

You have to work for it, and that's not what I intended. It is a point for the unschooling families that we have to focus on because for in my perspective, primarily because all the other kids are trapped in school and I will say it out loud, we call it the prison in our family. They're all there, they're boss around them or at least the wall. They're not allowed to leave and that's why it's complicated to find friends, because they're all behind the bars and they're only let out in the afternoon and they're not very available because they have their swimming classes and their art classes and they also have to do their homework and stuff. So yes, we have to work for it. We have to drive, we have to follow groups, we have to commit to going to museums with the homeschool group and if we don't feel like it, because that's where the other homeschoolers are. But I also think it would be nice to talk about how the whole friendship thing has a different. It has a different role to play in a life where you don't have to leave your family every day. It's not the same, it's not. I feel like I'm talking a lot, but now I'm going to do it.

So the way I see it, the kids, when they are sent off to school, they are so young. I really feel sorry for them. Look at a six-year-old with a backpack leaving in the morning. They're so young. Then they sit there surrounded by 25 or the six-year-olds, with one adult, possibly a very, very dedicated, nice person who wants to make the world a better place. I'm really not raging against teachers. I think they really, in general, became teachers because they wanted kids to have a good life. But it is one person and 25, six-year-olds. I know how exhausted I am at night because I'm holding my four children in my heart. There's no way they can do it. They are not the primary person in these kids' lives. It's not unconditional love. It can be dedicated, wholehearted work, but it's still work. You still go home and maybe not forget about it, but somehow forget a little bit about it. So these kids, how do they cope with that? How do they carry themselves?

The way I see it, they form the friendships to the other kids. That's where the love is, that's where some level of continuity is. In most school systems, the teacher actually changes several times a day, but the group of kids doesn't don't. How do you say it? So the only consistent thing is this group of other children who also left their family in the morning, who also feel insecure, who also are a little out of whack. Because that's how it is.

They form these friendships and these friendships become so important because that's what they have, that's the security. That importance is not part of the friendship of a non-school child, because the premise is so completely different. I think that's a very to me that was a very important insight when I started homeschooling my kids, unschooling them. They don't need it in that same desperate way to be surrounded by friends, to even have friends, to have best friends, to have a group of peers, all of these things. I haven't locked my kids up in boxes so that they never met anyone else. Of course they've had friends and they have friends and we've been driving around doing things to find the friends. I just realized fairly quickly in my journey that the importance of it is not the same. Does that make sense to you, girls? That makes total sense.

0:29:11 - Luna Maj
I think it's a really important point too, because I did start out by saying that I've never found it hard, that my family has actually never struggled with it, and I think also a big part of that probably the biggest part, even more than living where I lived or whatever is that I've never looked at. Oh, my kids' social life need to be what you just described. I've never thought of it as, oh, they need to have a huge bunch of 20 friends their own age and all that. I've never looked at it that way. To us, socializing is with other people, other human beings, and they can be whatever age and they can be, like Carla said, from wherever.

At various times during the years, one of my kids had most of her friends from her club that she was practicing sport in. That wasn't the homeschooling community that made most of her friends. That was actually in the teen years, that was actually her sport. And we also have a family friend, a really close and good family friend, who's like 75, and he's my friend and he's my kids' friend. He's the type of adult who hasn't forgotten how to play. He plays dress-up, he plays ball games. He plays ball games everything like jumps on the sofa? Maybe not, but he lets the kids jump on the sofa. He's the type of person who really enjoys children and who enjoys human beings in general, so that's super important.

I think that the understanding and the concept and if we wanna talk about how do on-school kids have friends? Well, this is how they do. Like you say, we look at it completely differently, from a completely different angle, and when you do that well, it just becomes a problem, doesn't it Like? When you're ready to find the solutions, maybe in other ways and in other places? I don't know. I think there's a lot of.

0:31:27 - Cecilie Conrad
Even this. So you say find solutions. And I think you had a great point in not seeing it as a problem. We have this.

One thing we say in our family is the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop thinking about it as a problem. Exactly, and it solves not a problem anymore. And once I understood the whole dynamic of the psychology of the school to child versus the on-school child, the need for social connection, emotional security, someone to hold your, to be your box of resonance, you would say that changes so much when you leave your family every day and you're forced out of it and forced back into it, that whole dynamic is not there. And once it's not there, the need for the friendship, the whole thing changes so much. And that's when, for me, it stopped being a problem.

So sometimes we would just be on our own and I don't know if we have to address it, but all of us have more than one child and, yeah, three of us have actually four children. So it's very easy to say. That was my first answer. If I just wanted people to shut up, when they were smaller I said do they have anyone to play with? Yeah, it's a group of four children. That was the easy way and of course some children are only children, but I don't think that it doesn't really change it. Then they're only children and then maybe you have to I don't know go out a little more, and maybe the only child doesn't really need the friends that much. I don't know, it's Might be different. I don't know. Maybe we can't imagine, because none of us have only one child.

0:33:15 - Luna Maj
One of us can't imagine.

0:33:17 - Cecilie Conrad
You are an only child, aren't you?

0:33:20 - Luna Maj
So maybe yeah, yeah, I'm an only child. But also my oldest daughter was an only child for five years and then until her younger brother then came along and was like starting to be fun to play with. It's another two years. So for like seven years or something she actually was kind of an only child.

But she was very outgoing, so I didn't. And again, I don't know. We met friends in all sorts of places and again, I don't know, I've really never experienced it as a problem. I never looked at this as a problem either, and I think there's a lot to be said about that, how you view something. But and I'm wondering if Sarah wants to jump in on this, because we have actually been talking I'm bursting, I'm bursting.

0:34:13 - Cecilie Conrad
I will totally mute myself now. Yeah, so I think maybe.

0:34:17 - Luna Maj
I'll just let you. Actually, I think I know what you want to jump in with, so I'll just let you go on with that.

0:34:25 - Sarah Beale
Yeah, I mean I've had probably all of the same experiences that you guys have verbalised a range of experiences and obviously a range of children who are different. They're all different. We're not a family. I know families where everybody's kind of similar, the energy level similar, the needs are similar. That's not the case in our family. We are actually my four children are all quite different and have different social needs, and that's always been the case, and we've been in situations where we lived in one spot for a really long time, had a very stable community. My children had very long-term friendships, almost from birth, with the children of our friends and so it felt really like a tribe. So I've seen what children are like when they're in the safety of their child community as well as having a group of adults to hold that group. And then, of course, I've seen personally what it's like when you leave that and you're on your own for months that are on end traveling. And then we've had periods of longer-term stays in different spots where we've been seeking out community and it hasn't always been easy and it has felt like really hard work and it has sometimes felt like banging my head against the brick wall, trying to find the people and also now having teenagers. So we also experienced what you said, cecilia, about the different needs of kids as they get older and sometimes wanting to connect with kids who are at that same stage of life, that relatability. So I'm coming at what I'm gonna say next from the point of view of not having just one experience but having lots of different experiences. But overwhelmingly, what I see actually is that kids do need other kids. Certainly that's true in our family. My kids have always done better with other kids around, but it is also very different to school. So in our life it hasn't necessarily been like school. Is this model? Unschooling? Is this model? Nothing in between? I can see huge benefit for kids in being with a cohort of other kids that they know really well, but I don't think that it's the school model that works in our like. For us and we've observed that too, I should mention, two of my kids did go to school for some years and they had close friendship groups in school and they had some tricky things at school, like a real combination.

And I think the bit that is often missing in the conversation around socialization is, first of all, that it's separated out of everything else as if it's a different thing. It has to sit over here as a category when actually it's very much how we're human. We are social creatures and so socialising, being social, learning how to relate with others is part of being human. It's not a separate thing. But, as you said, cecil, all the kids are in school, so when you're not, it becomes sometimes this separate thing.

What I observe in kids not in school, and then if I make the comparison with kids who are in school, I do see some differences, for sure, but I also see a lot of things that are the same and I think a lot of. I think a lot, or I spend a lot of time thinking about biology, human biology, what makes us human, what's like, normal or natural for humans. And I absolutely see my kids and other kids that I know who aren't in school, wanting to be with other kids, wanting to forge relationships separate to their parents, except always wanting that safety that you talked about, cecil, that the safety of the family unit to hold that energy for them, to kind of help them regulate or co-regulate. People like to say for a really long time yes, so when they're teenagers, but still, my teenager will still need to come and talk with me about something that's going on in a friendship or a relationship like all the time, like she still wants to go out there on her own for a little bit and then come back. That is the piece, I think, that is often missing at school.

But the piece that can be missing in the homeschooling, unschooling world is a recognition that kids do often really need other kids. So how we then make that happen when many of us are moving around and nomadic or semi-nomadic, and that has felt hard for us because actually we're a really social family and, as Luna said before, we often talk about how amazing it would be if all of our favourite people were just living in one village and then, yeah, we could spend a whole day with the door shut when we needed some downtime, but then we just have to open the door and head outside and everybody's there and it's much more organic and natural rather than, I guess, the current situation for many of us where we've actually got to make a plan, make something happen, and there's a lot of interruption to relationships. I see when that has to happen, like when my kids can just walk out the front door and off, they go on their bikes or they go around the park and they see other kids. The flow is so easy for them and there's nothing else required than like their own legs really and their own hearts. They don't need equipment, they don't need planning, and sometimes it definitely feels like there's some things lost in the transition to the next thing, the planning. Yeah, so I don't want to downplay, actually, that it can be hard, and the reason I think it's important to acknowledge that is not to get caught up in it, because I'm an endlessly optimistic person.

But I think a lot of people who come into this life maybe have this expectation of oh, it's easy, because there's a lot of activities which there is, and then, if that isn't as easy as they thought, or their kids don't vibe with that stuff, because my kids actually hate structured activities, so they are not the ones that want to go to the museum just to see people. They're like no, we don't want to go to the museum, I don't want to do a class, an art class, just so I can find friends. They just don't want to do that. So that is something that we've had to be quite intentional about and so what I see in the broader homeschooling, home educating community is that people will go and try something because they've read that's what you have to do, you've got to enroll your kids in the stuff because that's where their kids are, and then that doesn't work out and then they suffer and then they give up because that's what they thought they were supposed to do. And I actually really do think and I have started to talk about this much more openly I actually do think that the home education community, and what I'm finding here as well, is it's very adult controlled, and I think kids often sniff out that agenda because that's not what they want.

They just want to play with their friends. They don't want to have do an adult, controlled, orchestrated activity with an outcome at the end for an hour. They actually just want to go run off in the woods with their friends and they don't necessarily want adults and they don't necessarily need adults to be involved in that, because there's a lot of learning that happens for kids when there is no adults watching, and that is something that I think we often miss and there aren't very many people talking about that because everybody's busy planning the trips to the museum and the art class and the gymnastics class. So I don't think it's about. I think it's important to be honest because I actually think it's really helpful for people when we're honest, because I get a lot of people say to me yeah, my kids actually don't like that either, but I don't know what else to do because there's nothing else out there. So the more we talk about it and the more we're open about what's possible but also how humans actually are, I think the easier it can be for people, the more they've got to tap into and the more they can be honest when they find it hard, and then they can be held by other people who will go.

It's okay, like you don't have to put your kids back in school, because that tends to be the knee jerk reaction. Right, and children will say that, like so many children will say oh, I want to go back to school, especially if they've been before, and that happened to us too. Actually, after our first year home schooling in Australia, my oldest daughter wanted to go back to school and because of all of the reasons that I just said, and perhaps if there'd been a bit more conversation around me about what I could do differently, what questions I could ask, we wouldn't have put her back into school at that point. I mean, I don't know, and I don't tend to have any regrets about it, because there's a lot of other things that happen that were amazing. But, like when it's, if we can't talk about the bits that are hard, then it gets harder, I think, to sort of move to something new, shift into something new that could work for people.

0:43:53 - Cecilie Conrad
I think it's very hard to find the thing. I've said it all the time all along we want to hang out. When we meet other unschoolers, homeschoolers, we do it to hang out and I find it really annoying. If it's at the museum or I don't know, let's go see a play all together. I'm like mm-mm.

0:44:15 - Sarah Beale
Yeah you can't talk.

0:44:15 - Cecilie Conrad
I've been talking for hours with you guys. I want to talk to you. That's the only thing I want to do, but it seems like you're right that there is this culture. It's like let's meet at the museum, let's meet at the whatever libraries tend to be better because they're more free play kind of places we arranged in Copenhagen back when Luna and I were both living and unschooling there. We had was it twice a month, maybe we would meet in either my house or another homeschooling family's house just to hang out, and it would be open doors for anyone homeschooling. And that did fill that need.

And that was after I had tried to penetrate the homeschooling community in Copenhagen, where it was this we're meeting at the museum, we're meeting in this whatever event thing. And every time I came back my kids were really annoyed with it because they like unlike yours, they really like museums. They want to go, but they don't want to be distracted by playing. Then they want to read all the signs and ask all the questions and talk to the custodians and spend hours. They're really nerdy and they don't want to be distracted by being social. So I arranged these afternoons in my home and then it became too much and a friend took half of them. Was it every Friday? Can you remember Luna?

I think it was very often she was only once a month, but it just felt really overwhelming.

0:45:47 - Luna Maj
It was good also because at least some of them were like, open to like outsiders. They were all open.

0:45:54 - Cecilie Conrad
They were open to. Well, you had to be homeschooling or really interested in homeschooling. That's the thing.

0:46:03 - Luna Maj
We could bring like so that people. That was good, because people could then see what it actually looked like. What does that look like? Then You're talking about this oh, we do have a social life. The kids do play, the kids do have friends, and the adults too, et cetera, et cetera, and that was actually a really good occasion to like watch that playing out. How does that actually work then? So, yeah, those were great. They were great days, happy days. So the house now.

0:46:37 - Carla Martinez
I would like to share an experience I have when we went to England, because in England it was, there are tons of homeschoolers and it happens what Sarah said, that everything I was like in many groups and then there was there were always these activities like art thing, and you have to pay also, and it's like I don't want to pay because I want to meet people for free just to hang out. So what I just did in the place we were going to be was in Harrowgate. I just wrote in the group like I want to hang out, go to the forest and walk or play or whatever, and I actually find two families. They answer me, they answer me like two or three, and then we met and we went just to the forest with the bikes or just play or whatever. And it was for me it was okay.

I mean, it's like maybe I don't have 20 people, but it's like the. It's like it's a door you cross, you have one family and then you will get. If we stay there longer, you will get connect more to more people and then go to their house or because they invite us actually. But then we left. So but we are all. It's true. It's true the thing of the activity thing, because it's like if one of my kids wants to go art, then I will look for art thing, but if I'm looking for friends I don't need the art class. You know, you just let's meet and do a picnic and we just meet each other and talk and bring game boards or whatever.

0:48:24 - Sarah Beale
I think the other thing we've I guess this is where you're going when you're talking about needing to show up, needing to be consistent, which can be hard when you're freaky homeschoolers but the benefit that we have if you were to compare it to school, but also the thing to remember is this thing about time and patience, and sometimes frustration is part of that letting something play out, and sometimes it can take a long time for something to click. And again, if you and I think this is why parents tend to fall into oh, we have to organise the activities to take the kid and pay the money and do the hour session, that's a very kind of schooled mindset, taking all of the best things of like human nature and what we see about kids and their need to connect with others and our lifestyle outside of school and outside of a curriculum and a schedule. We can actually take time. We can take a week and maybe the kids don't talk to each other in the week and on the eighth day they do, and this actually happened. Carla, do you remember when we were in France and by then our two daughters, who are a similar age but they don't really share a language, had seen each other a lot of times for quite extended periods, and yet it was the last couple of days. I remember them walking through the field holding hands and skipping and doing something, and Carla and I were noticing it and like laughing and kind of going like, oh my God, that now where it's about to end, about to leave, and now they're like connecting and talking and this is often how it happens, right. So our kids need sometimes some support to be able to stick with something.

And then, of course, the other piece that Luna mentioned earlier is we do tend to be families who listen to our kids more. So when they say I don't wanna do that thing, we tend to be more inclined to say, okay, we don't have to do that thing then. And yet there is something about for parents that, in a leadership role in our family, just quietly being able to show our kids sometimes how to stick with something or how to just sit up against something that's uncomfortable and how to accept that maybe you're not gonna be best friends on day one, but maybe by day eight you can have a conversation and you don't know where that's gonna go. And actually something pretty funny happened yesterday related to that, and that's that there's a group of people that meet up in a park local to us every Wednesday and I happened to know that this was happening via Facebook and I messaged the person that seemed to organize and I sort of knew her a little bit and I'm like, oh, we're new to the area, like we're not staying around super long, but we would like my youngest really would like to connect with some other kids. So we went a couple of times to this meetup in the woods and there isn't really a particular kid there that my youngest super connects with.

And I think the first time we went she spent about half of the time just sitting next to me saying she was bored and the other kids weren't really super inclusive. They didn't like run over and say, oh, come and play. So she realized at some point that it was gonna have to be her that broke into the group, which is quite a big thing for a youngest child to do. She's nine and she's the youngest, so she's always had her siblings around and she kind of just went okay, I'm gonna do it and she you could see her like visibly, take a deep breath and like run into the woods and find this group and I actually don't know what happened because I wasn't watching but she played. And then the next week she wanted to go again. I'm like, okay, cool, we'll go again. And then the weather was bad and we were away and so we actually haven't been for a few weeks. But I was aware that it was on and I was also aware that it's not a group of kids that she loves. She's not really getting her cup filled.

So there's always this like balance, I think, with some of this stuff, like the effort required and what you're gonna get back. And of course, by the time they're nine, they're very clear about what they want. They're very clear about where they wanna put their energy and they can also be really clear about what return they want. So and this is why my kids have a lot of autonomy, because they know this stuff they know instinctively do I wanna put the effort in to get nothing back? Or like, can I put the effort in to get not much back, and how long and at what point am I gonna sort or wanna return?

So I asked Peggy yesterday morning do you wanna go? And there was also some stuff going on in the family around bike rides and whatever and she was like a bit hesitant, not really sure. It turned out anyway that we all went to this park. There was like Luna's kids, my kids, another kid that's staying with us all on bikes. My husband came and we sort of accidentally came across this group of people who were meeting in the park and Peggy went oh, let's go say hello. So we did, and then she spent the next hour or so in the woods playing with these kids Absolutely no pressure from me. And then at the end she went off with her siblings on the bikes and one of the kids said, oh, where's Peggy gone?

And I was just thinking like that all just happened sort of magically.

But also we had to know what was out there.

We had to have a bit of skin in the game and there had to be some decisions made about what the output was gonna be.

And I don't know whether she's gonna wanna go next week because the other bit is not holding on really strongly to the attachments about what we want to happen and trusting our kids and trusting the path, and that can feel hard if you're not used to doing that and that, again, that's really different to school where you don't really have to trust anything because it's all laid out. And even if it's hard at school, even if your kids aren't really making friends, even if they've experienced something tricky, you still get to like hand that over and somebody else is taking care of it. But when you're responsible as the parents in your family, when you're seeing all that stuff play out and it really can test your yeah, your faith in whatever framework you wanna use to kind of see the universe's power, whether it's like God or whatever, like you've gotta just kind of go. Okay, we've got all the pieces in place, we've got all our foundations and now we actually have to just trust that this stuff's gonna work out.

But also I think the point was Well, you had a lot of good points there.

0:55:15 - Carla Martinez
I was waiting because I wanted to add these that you just ended saying yeah, and I think it has to do with this kind of lifestyle or philosophy, that unschooling is Like when we said it's hard or you have to put a lot of effort. It's like everything in this lifestyle because you don't have anything like. I think you just said that you go to school and you just have for granted the friends that will be there, they will make friends. But in our life we have to put yes, put intention in almost everything. We are responsible. You just say that. So I would think that it's all about that. Like, yes, you will have to do something to get things. I think it's like learning and it's life If you want something, you have to go out and find it. And I don't know. And there are like tools.

We have said a lot of things ways and also I think we have to learn that it's fine not to be with 25 people, because I think there's something in our like structure, head, like unless you are with 25 other kids, you will be alone. So we learn. I think we are more like our relations are really meaningful, even though they are not best friends, like pay with this group, but still she learns things and she have to make her effort in there. And then, yes, evaluate Should I no. And also because for social life you need energy. You know we have talked about this social battery and, yeah, and sometimes you just don't have the energy and other times you are full and you can do anything and go and run in the forest after the other kids. So I think it's a learning process also about them. They have this opportunity that the other kids don't have at school. They just happen to be there with many people that maybe they don't like.

0:57:40 - Cecilie Conrad
That's one thing my kids have said about their social life yet that, yes, sometimes they have been a little bored or felt a little lonely, or maybe there was too many days between something that looked like a play date, but at least they choose their friends. They wouldn't want the alternative, because the friends that they have chosen are the people they really like and they wouldn't want some random people to invade their, their hours. So so one of the great advantages we have as unschooling families not all unschooling families have that, but most do we have a lot of time to talk to our children and we can have very long and interesting conversation with conversations with them. So if they say I'm frustrated, I feel lonely, I need some, I need some friends, then you can sit down and talk about that for three hours, 15 times, to find out what's that really about and how can we work with this, and you can get over these problems that we've or obstacles that we've talked about in this conversation, like so you need to commit. Then if we are to hunt down other people that you might like, then on the days where we go, you have to put up your nerve and go. I can't make all these appointments with other homeschooling families and cancel 95% of them.

If you really find it necessary for you to find some more friends, then on that day, even though you don't feel like it, even though you didn't sleep well, you get up and you tighten your belt and you go out there and you work for it. Maybe not every time, but has to be worth it for me as well to spend my time looking for this, and that's the thing that my kids have learned over the years. They're older now but I can say this you know, it's today, it's not next week, it's today. This festival is this weekend and it's full of people you might like. So if you want some friends in this country or this area or with this specific interest whatever the concept is, it's now. You get up and you go out there and you talk to them and because they know this is the price of admission for their lifestyle that it's a little bit more complicated to find your tribe probably just as complicated if you're in school you just don't really notice. Maybe you have to work a little more for getting into that space where you find the people you really like. They know that by now, so they do decide. Sometimes I don't feel like doing this today, but I'm going to do it anyway. And that they do because I've talked to them and they've talked to me. We've talked to each other many times about the importance of these things. If it's important for them, they have to play their part in the show. So that's, if we are to sum up, some recommendations for those who feel a little more nervous and who are just beginning on schooling in their life and they feel nervous about this, and kids can be really so.

This is my experience when I, when I talk to women who start the journey and they feel insecure and they need someone to hold them a little bit, it's very often that their children say I feel lonely, I feel bored, I want some friends, and it really freaks out the mothers and I think, in a way, the kids know this. You know I can freak out my mom. I'm not saying the vicious, I'm just saying they get the reaction and they kind of want to know what's this all about? Why is mom freaking? I have to push all the time to understand it. I'm not saying the vicious. I don't think kids are, but I think they're curious. So if mom is reacting very much to this. I want to explore it.

So I talked to moms who have kids who might say 50 times a day they're bored and they want to unschool, but they get insecure because the child is bored and and, in a way, chill, they can be bored, it's okay, just be bored and go look for play dates that are just play dates. Maybe take the initiative to do it and take your time talking to your kids about with your kids, about the whole theme of friends and social life. A life as an unschoolers, very long life with your children is many, many years you get to spend with them, which is great. So freaking out when they are seven if they feel bored or lonely or don't really have enough friends, there's really no need. It's not that bad to be bored for a while, it's okay, it's actually healthy for the brain.

1:02:36 - Carla Martinez
I have another question that usually the mothers have asked me like have they ever said that I want to go to school? Because I have once a friend, her kid said that it was like three or four years old, because the other kids, they know, they were at school. So he wanted to go to school. So, but then I asked her like what is he really need, his? What he's needing? Because he's not school for sure. I always am very like I have this position that I don't think any kid want to go to school, because I always say, like you have to wake up at I don't know 78 depending, because then you have to get dressed, eat breakfast and go to school every day and you cannot say today I don't want to go, so from Monday to Friday you have to go. So I don't think anyone want this, so it's like it has to be something else. So, yeah, this is the work we have to do and we are saying, oh, but it's a lot of work, okay, we're choosing this.

1:03:49 - Cecilie Conrad
We call the price of admission in our family. So this is now you pay. This is what, where you have to put in some effort. But that's like what is it? 10,000 days, I don't know. Did anyone do the calculation? How many days does our children not get up in the morning? So it's 200 days, 200 days a year for 10 years. So 2000 days. So 2000 times you're not getting up at seven in the morning. Today you tighten your belt and you go out and you sit in this park, don't have to talk to anyone, but you come with me If you want to find some friends. It's just a yeah, just the thing that you pay. Or this is now you put in some effort.

1:04:32 - Luna Maj
It's also just a different kind of effort, isn't it? Because I think actually, there are two things that are maybe a bit important to remember, and one is that a lot of times when people will ask about the socialization and the social life on schooling, blah, blah, blah, it's like it's in opposition to oh, but in school it's perfect, and in school it's like no problem and all that. But there are lots of problems with the social life in school and there's a lot of effort to be put in, just in different ways. So, yeah, when we say, oh, you have to put in an effort, yes, but so do people go to school like it's not, that's just a human condition, like the likes just living whatever life it is, take some kind of effort. So that's one thing.

And then I think it's super important to remember, as with everything in on schooling, it's really primarily first of all about the deep programming and the D schooling. So you have to put in an effort, yes, for the social side of it, but you have to maybe start off with learning to think differently about, like we talked about, what kind of outcome is that I'm looking for and what does it mean. So, put in an effort, but be prepared that that effort might look different and lead to something that one what you immediately thought it should or could, etc. So I just think that's super important to to remind people as well that it's all about how you look at it.

1:06:07 - Cecilie Conrad
And also sometimes what the kids are asking for when they ask for it. I agree with you, sarah, that they do need friends. They do need someone outside of the family. I'm not saying they don't need it, but sometimes when they want something similar to their neighbors who go to school and they want friends in that way, and sometimes they see something they don't really understand. They see how they come home from school together, they see some kind of community.

It reminds me of the people longstocking book where she wants to go to school so she can have the summer break because it's just, it's just so unfair that all the other kids are having a summer break and she doesn't have some a great break. So she enrolled herself in school and it lasts one day. But in a way that's what goes on very often, and and when we talk to two children, obviously we know a lot of children who are in school, and so I know when my kids talk to them and and they say, oh, I wouldn't, I wouldn't, you know, let go of my school because that's where I have all my friends, and then you talk to them about it but you're not on, they are not unfolding their social life in school, and so it's not about recess and after school, so it's not about the school, it's about the social life, and the unschooled children sometimes think that that social life is more interesting than it is in school hours, and I think sometimes they just need to have these conversations, like you said, kala, that you know what is it really you're looking for. Because you're not looking for getting up at seven in the morning 2000 times. You're not looking for sitting, not being allowed to talk to your friend, because you have to write the letter D 500 times in order to get it perfect, or whatever is going on.

Could be something remotely more interesting in schools. I'm not against academics as such, but they don't know, especially when they're young. They just talk to their friends from the playground and and they don't know. So we need to take our time talking to them about it. Yeah, any final words.

1:08:35 - Sarah Beale
Yeah, sorry, just springboarding off of that. One last thing no, no, I'm happy. I think often when kids are saying, oh, I want to go back to school, or I'm bored or I want more, you know well, there's a couple of things going on, because kids do naturally get to an age where they don't want to just sit on the forum page Trains or day they. They want to shift into something new which might look like some kind of productivity that they weren't that worried about before. But also there's this issue of rights of passage and it's like sorely lacking in our Western culture but it and it pretty much only exists in school. So all of the things that kids might look to, like what you were saying before the city, they see kids coming home in their school uniform, with their backpacks on with their logo, they do homework, they have a snack, these things have become like replacements for rights of passage and I think actually humans deeply need rights of passage and ritual and ceremony, and because kids often don't have them except in school, if we're not like intentional and observant of that, naturally kids might look to school as where those things happen, like I do remember where my oldest said that she wanted to go to school, but actually she just really wanted a backpack and a uniform. She was seeing these kids going to the next thing. So it's like, oh, they're five Now they're doing the next thing. Well, I want to do the next thing too, but I the only thing I have to look at in our society is kids going off to school with a uniform and a backpack. And in Australia you have a packed lunch, so then you get a lunchbox as well. It's very exciting. And there's the consume, the, the commensal Right. So these are all. These have become rights of passage. Going to the back to school, sales at the local shops and buying, going into the stationery store to get the special pink puffy pencil cases, got all the little compartments and zips and special pens, and you have matching backpack with bigger you know whatever like that's. Kids see that stuff. And then that continues. You've got like exams, even like exams become a right of passage. Detention, school holidays, like what you were saying, summer holidays, like these are all.

Unless we kind of understand that maybe kids are not looking for those specific things, but they might be looking for some foundational pieces of their life. And yesterday I overheard my boys chatting. We were at the park they had all written bikes there by one and a couple of new bike riders in our midst, including the boys friend. He's a recent bike rider, my youngest is a recent bike rider and they were talking about that and actually one of the boys said the boys friend said like this is the stuff we're going to remember when we're older, just riding our bikes to the park and like those sorts of things can be rights of passage. They can be these like rituals and ceremonies that our kids notice and enjoy and appreciate, instead of school holidays, exams, high school dance, you know, the last day of school, all these things.

So sometimes when kids are saying I want something more, I think I need to find that at school they might want something more and they might want some new level of purpose. You know, like at different ages they just shift into these new things. Or maybe I want to and I think, cecilia, you were saying this the other week you know a couple of your kids want to actually kind of dig into some kind of like study, not study like it looks in school, but like they're ready for something more. They're ready to maybe build some mastery in something, and I definitely see that in our unschooled kids too, and that can look like boredom. Then, oh, I'm ready for some new level of mastery. I want to. I want to become proficient at something, and of course, our kids want to have choice over what that might be.

1:12:39 - Cecilie Conrad
And and I think it's worth paying attention to as unschooling parents- I think both points are very interesting the right of passage thing and the maybe, maybe, the boredom thing is just a little phase, just a little leveling out, making space for the next jump in life. I know that my children so we are not talking much about nomadic life because we are trying to make this about unschooling, but we're automatic and we are. We're the stupid ones in my family compared to you three. So we move like at least twice a week and we've done so for more than six months now on road trips since February 1. And my kids would just wish they were bored. Like really, they say that in the morning please, please, just nothing, just give me nothing for a week. And I'm like, yeah, but what do you want to cancel? And maybe not, maybe not what's on today, and then we keep going. So boredom is actually also a privilege and, and for me it's even a choice from a philosophical point of view, I want my kids to be bored. I want them to have the option to be bored, because out of the boredom comes the choice what do I really want? Whereas if you have a structured life and something someone else decided all the time is just raining on your brain, then you have no, no way of finding out who you are and to evolve into whatever you want to involve into. So in that way, even when they were smaller and they would say they were bored, I would get really bored in the winters back when we lived in Denmark. It was still the right thing to be bored for a while, because boredom was our space to grow in a way, or just maybe lying out the foundations to make the next jump. I know that even though it's really boring to be bored, it's also really nice to know that. Okay, this is just. You know, I'm I'm challenging my battery. Battery, maybe that's the one thing. And then I just want to share stupid little story, the right of passage thing.

We always had fun with the back to school Hype every year. Every year, the Facebook day of kids with backpacks and smiles and proud parents sending them off to school in front of the door to the house is it was like everyone doing the same and we did not back to school. I think I just like to be a little provocative. So we did not back to school day same day, and we always would make French style pancakes, the credits, and sit in the garden and do that. And when we started being a nomadic nomadic, we would do not back to school on the day where school started in the country that we were in, which sometimes was like three or four or five times in the fall, because we move south as the sun goes away. So not back to school. And then might, we made a ritual, we had cake and had fun and we did not back to school in the country that we were in, which is a little bit provocative Facebook posts and then three weeks later it was not back to school in France and the same thing, and it was just fun.

So you can do these parallel things. You can even talk to your kids about it while they grow up in an unschooling context, saying Okay, now everyone else has this fabulous, not back to school, we have this crazy, ridiculous ritual. And then, like when you have your final day of mandatory, you throw candy out the windows. And I know one family who gave their son a bag of candy he could throw in the windows to their house. Today he formally was done with mandatory schooling. You can just do it anyway, do the. You can even give them a test if they want one, or uniform. You can have school uniform. You don't have to go to school to wear it and just take, put it on like a style. Yeah, yeah, I see the time is flying for us again. You're so smart girls. You have so much to say. I think we should stop for now and then meet again. We're chatting to you, girls.


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