Government Oversight is Over-rated


It’s always interesting to me that society, school administrators and the government feel the need to provide educational oversight in home education. They insist that parents must provide an education “equal to the education children would get in school.” Many home education parents provide an education that is not the same, and is far superior to what children might get in school.

That might include “unschooling,” which is so different from the classroom model and in many ways is so much better.  It provides freedom, passion, choice, control, personal responsibility, creativity, determination, motivation and unequaled absorption of learning for the sake of learning, rather than learning to get marks. Children can’t get much of that in a classroom dictated by government rules and oversight.

The most important years for brain development is from 0-6. Children need 3D experiential learning to develop brain cell connections for healthy growth. Does the government intervene in parenting in order to provide children with the optimal conditions for development in those years?  No.  Why then for the school-aged years? If there is no government oversight in parenting, then there should not be for education either.

The other reason society wants to regulate home education is the theory that a teeny tiny number of children may be maltreated, and will occur under the daily oversight of teachers, coaches, bus drivers and school nurses.  Yes, that may occur.  But it also occurs to children in school.  Abusive parents are good at hiding their child’s bruises in school. Many school staff people are too busy to notice the hidden signs of abuse.  The percentage of children abused at home and attending school is far higher than the percentage of children that are home schooled and may be abused. We don’t make laws based of the .000000001 percent that might be affected by them.

Besides, the vast number of abused children are toddlers and preschoolers, not school-aged children. Young children have very little executive function (self-control) abilities and parents who don’t understand that their children’s “not listening” is a development issue and not a discipline issue, tend to use punishment to correct what they perceive as a defect. It’s wrong, it is misguided, and we have no government oversight for those children. They are essentially abused on a daily basis and nothing is being done for them.  By the time children are school-age, they listen better and the rate of abuse goes way down.  Just as for parenting, government oversight is not required for homeschooling, anywhere, anytime.

Posted in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Ages 0-5, Democratic Parenting, Elementary Children Ages 5-12, Homeschooling, Why Unschool? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Unschooling To University

Judy Arnall describes Unschooling to University

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Elon Musk Unschools His Children

After his less than wonderful childhood in public schools, futurist Elon Musk opts to unschool his 5 boys.  Read more here:

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Attend UCA’s 2nd Annual Online Conference

UCA: 2nd Annual Un-Conference:  Family First

Our second annual online Un-conference will be held online on March 18 and 19th, 2017. Reserve your seat now! Our special guests so far are Pat Farenga, Carlo Ricci, Judy Arnall, Linda Clement, and Pam Laricchia!

Know someone who would like to attend?  Have them join our association for only $11 and they can attend too. Or purchase a non-member ticket for just $22. Sessions will be recorded so if you can’t attend the live presentation, you will still have access to them and the Q and A sessions.

Saturday March 18, 2017

8 am to 11:00 Mountain Time

Speakers:  Pat Farenga, Pam Laricchia, Judy Arnall

Sunday March 19, 2017

10 am to noon Mountain Time

Speakers:  Carlo Ricci, Linda Clement

Register at


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The Door Stopper

My son was 2 years old and loved those door stoppers that went twang. You know those coiled thingys with the white rubber cap.  They drove me crazy! I wanted to remove them all. But I didn’t, because my son seemed to love the resultant noise.
Here is the email he sent me last night. (He is an unschooler that is now taking engineering.) “Hey Mom, These days I’m doing analysis on oscillating machines, like a door stopper. You know the spring ones where you pull it to the side and it goes dwawawwawanngg? Who’d have thought I’d be doing the same thing today in school as I was doing 22 years ago….”
Posted in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Ages 0-5, Democratic Parenting, How to Unschool, University Children Ages 18-25, Why Unschool? | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You Don’t Have to be Like Your Parents

You Can  Change Your Parenting Style


by Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE

Do you come from a “dysfunctional family?”  Is your ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score so high that you worry about doing the same to your kids? Can parenting habits change in one generation? Yes, you can change your child’s destiny! Many parents with ACE scores as high as 7 has raised children with 1 or less. You can too!

If you were raised by less than stellar parents, here are some changes you can make to become the parent you wished you had, for the next generation that you are raising. You do not have to repeat negative parenting habits with your own children. You can change your parenting style from over permissive or authoritarian, to a collaborative/democratic positive parenting style.

  • Fake it until you make it. Act like the parents you admire. Copy what they do.
  • Start with yourself. Learn to love you. Change self-talk into positive, loving thoughts about how you look, and what you do, and who you are.
  • Learn the language of respectful communication. Take a course through colleges, universities, churches, parent centers or community centers. Learn how to use I-statements, active listening and problem-solving.
  • Learn child development through courses, or books, to help you know what to expect from children at different ages. Only 23% of parents know child development past the infant stage, and it’s essential for parenting.
  • If you were excessively criticized as a child, consciously make the effort to encourage your own children and hold back the negative.
  • If you were not hugged or touched as a child, make a concerted effort to hug, cuddle and hold your own children, even if it feels alien to you.
  • If you were hurt, upset or sick and were told to “buck up, suck it up, or shut up”, give your child comfort by saying “It’s okay to feel what you do.”  And hug, caress and pat your child with non-sexual touch.
  • If you were ignored as a child, respond right away to your own children.  Give focused attention when they need it and even when they don’t. It’s ok to have fun with your children.
  • If your parents never played with you as a child, read, talk with and play with your own children.
  • When you are angry, take a time out. Your time-out. Not your child’s. What need of yours is not getting met?  How can you meet it? Work on your anger first and you will make better parenting decisions when you are calm.
  • Forgive your parents. They probably did the best they knew how at the time, with the resources they had.
  • Know what your triggers and hot buttons are. We all have sensitive areas in parenting, no matter what our background was, and our awareness of them helps us to come up with alternative behaviours and coping strategies.
  • Start looking at your life through the lens of gratitude. Being grateful enriches life.

Parenting, for the most part, is a learned pattern. We can change parenting patterns and develop new ones. When we become aware of our shortfalls and make a conscious effort to change how we behave, we become really good at parenting after lots of  practice. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Rome was not built in a day. Even with new learned behaviours, in times of stress, we tend to fall back on our old habits. Apologize and vow to do better next time. With renewed commitment, we get better at changing old habits with time, practice, information and continuance. You can change family dynamics in one generation and give your child the healthy gift of less ACES in their childhood.  It all starts with you!



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Benefits of Travelling With Your Children


February is the time of the year that I get the travel bug.  Winter is dragging on and I want to get away and see something new.  Travel is so easy when you unschool.  No schedules.  Just plan a date, pack and go.

We brought our two children (a toddler and a baby) to England and Ireland on our first family overseas trip in 1996. During that first trip, we were introduced to the travelling perils of sick infants on cars, trains, ships and aircraft, and jet-lag sleep schedule disruption, and the wonderful task of hauling cumbersome baby travel gear around. Since that trip, our family has grown to five children, and we have logged another 10 overseas trips. One holiday was to Australia with our five children, ages 5 to 16, for six weeks. No school course could ever rival all the things we learned in six weeks. During our flight home, listening to a mother in front of me coping with a toddler tantrum, I reflected that it is easier in many ways to travel with older children. They can carry their own bags and they can immerse themselves in books or movies during long flights. My children don’t remember much of our travels before age 12. But older children do have their own challenges, such as becoming downright uncooperative when facing situations that they don’t like, picking fights with each other when bored, and becoming just as expensive as adults when venues charge full fare for kids over 12.

Although it can be hard work for parents, children of all ages benefit immensely from travelling.  Travel is a multi-sensory learning experience that is much richer than textbooks, videos or classrooms. In addition to the obvious academic facts that they absorb from visiting science centers, zoos, aquariums, art galleries, wildlife parks and museums  (such as the quantity flow model demonstrating Pythagorean theorem at the Perth science center), children learn many important life-skills while travelling, such as these:

  • Perspective: They learn that home is actually not that bad, compared to some of the rest of the world. Tripping over each other in a 500 square foot cabin helped us appreciate that we have a home to call our own.
  • Group decisions: They learn that they must either provide positive leadership to the group, or must go along with group decisions. Not everyone can get their way even some of the time.
  • Consideration: They learn that when we are guests of others, we must be considerate of their plans, their home and their possessions. They learn to ask permission, that they must limit noise and clutter, and cannot just raid the fridge. They also learn how to socialize with hosts.
  • Adaptability: Things go wrong, such as missing sleeping bags, not enough pillows, unexpected weather, no transportation, lost mp3 players  as well as dealing with clean laundry too wet to pack. Children learn to accept and/or make-do. Our motto when things went wrong while travelling was “Oh well”. Sometimes it was either laugh about it or cry about it!
  • Problem solving: When adapting to new situations or circumstances, children learn how to solve problems. They can brainstorm options and help choose the best ones. Our 15-year-old and ten-year-old son got lost on a hiking trip. I was astounded at their problem-solving ability to find their way back to the camp, all the while not knowing what camp, city or state we were staying at in Australia.
  • Different rules: Rules and courtesies we take for granted in our country are not the same in many other countries. For example, chewing gum is illegal in Singapore.
  • Patience: Travel requires so much waiting around that children learn to be patient. They wait in long lines for check-in, for security, and for boarding. They wait for take-off, they wait for food, and they wait for the washroom. They wait for landing and more line-ups. It’s endless.
  • Self-entertainment: Children learn how to cope with boredom from lack of media devices and electronic devices. When mp3 players, DVD players and laptops are not available for playtime, they get into sandcastle building, drawing, card games, board games, word games, scavenger hunts and good old-fashioned conversation.
  • Socializing: They learn to be polite to relatives that they have never met before, and discover to their surprise that they find them likeable.  They learn that strangers can be friends for travelers and it’s okay and enjoyable to strike up a conversation with them.
  • Logistics: For older children that wish to get involved in trip planning, they learn useful skills such as how to book itineraries, rentals, and accommodations. They can learn how to acquire documentation such as passports, visas and consent letters. They learn the protocol for security at airports and museums. They also learn mapping, budgeting, and documentation (photos and journals) skills. They learn how to secure transportation and groceries.
  • Tolerance: Travelling with family members means that for a few weeks or days, family members live in close proximity with each other full time. That means siblings constantly in each other’s faces.  Children get very practiced at learning how to cope with different quirks, personalities and people’s feelings. They may discover a side of a sibling that they never noticed before and actually quite like.
  • Skill Building:  Children learn how to keep themselves and their luggage safe, as well as how to save money, avoid crowds, avoid scams and keep healthy while on the road.

With all these travel benefits, it’s no wonder that many families take several vacations a year together. Whether staying in a tent, trailer, cabin, cottage, hostel, hotel or visiting relatives, travel provides an experience of a lifetime for both parents and children.

And the best part is……as adults, children still want to travel with you.  Visiting new countries with adult children is one of the best parts of parenting and home education.  And they even pay their own way.

Guaranteed, life will never be boring.  Have a fun and safe summer!









Posted in Democratic Parenting, Elementary Children Ages 5-12, High School Children Ages 15-18, Homeschooling, Junior High School Children Ages 12-15, University Children Ages 18-25, Why Unschool? | Tagged , , | Leave a comment