From the book:
“My daughter loves to dance, which naturally leads to some beautifully choreographed dances she will often share with me. She seems to create dances out of thin air. I have seen her dance to songs she likes giving her interpretation to the words and music of the song through her dance moves. But the other day she came up with something new: she asked me to say a sentence, any sentence, or a word, any word and then proceeded to create a ‘sentence’ of moves inspired only by the words and the rhythm of the words. I was amazed; it was as if she was “singing” the words by dancing them. It was also just a fun, beautiful game that let her express herself and her connection to the verbal world. This was something no one could have ever taught her. It reminded me of my younger son’s discovery at around age five: “I have a calculator in my head that only I can use” he said and then proceeded to enthusiastically ask me to give him some math problems for his very own calculator to solve while he was jumping on the sofa…
Creative realizations and expressions require privacy and freedom but also an audience. The audience serves to welcome the idea or creative expression into the world, almost like a midwife welcoming a newborn baby. It helps to bring it out of the inner world of the child and into the outer world. It helps to make it real and allows it to now grow on solid ground.
In unschooling, one of parents most important roles is to be the audience. To be the person that asks, acknowledges, listens, and interacts. The “social entity” that lets a child be part of this world rather than on their own with only their thoughts. Most parents, whether unschooling or not, provide that role for their children, but often tend to discount how important it is to do so, putting much more emphasis on teaching. Never-the-less, being there for your child, being the audience, is as crucial to learning and solidifying learning as any other role you may have. It’s not that you constantly have to hover around your children, but when you are called, are you able to put other things aside and be there? It mostly calls on you to be clear about your priorities. A simple “my children come first” choice would do, and everything else will fall into place around it.”
I was talking to a group of young teenagers/pre-teens (10-13) the other day about writing. They all dislike it in varying degrees. I was telling them about another group of children I interacted with between the ages of 5-7. The younger kids love to write and tell stories and do so freely. One of the older kids told me how parents praise younger kids and find them cute, but, when they are older, they are no longer cute. They are expected to be grammatically correct and have proper form. They are expected to write and edit, and it’s no longer cute! Parents have stopped being the audience and have become the critic, and it really hampers the love for writing (in this case). That’s where I’m at. I’m trying to be an audience for my oldest son and stop with the teacher/critic role. Thanks for your post. Lots of beauty in it and lots to ponder.
Thank you, Melinda, for your comment. This is such a good point! What happens to us when our kids grow up? We suddenly become afraid, worried that we may not be serving them well enough by just acknowledging their interests and accomplishments. We become fearful that if we don’t push they will never make it. We stop trusting the process that brought them to where they are now in terms of all they have learned and all that they are already doing. We are not alone in our mistrust. The culture surrounding us is very much on that path and it is very hard to step out of it and think clearly.
I love being an audience 🙂 I’m so glad you are revealing the value of just being there to pay attention. It has always been one of my favorite parts of this lifestyle… even being there for other unschooling kids to present to a wider audience than just their parents.