Unschooling Portraits: Patrice

Patrice, please introduce yourself:

We are currently a family of five. My husband is an air traffic controller who owns a tax business and I’m into all things natural birth. I’m a doula, student midwife, placenta encapsulation specialist, author (I wrote a book about my births), herbalist (I make lotions, soap, medicines and a lot of other things), and I’m a classically trained coloratura soprano. My husband and I have 3 sweet girls: Jaiela (jay-la) is 12 at the moment, Jenai (jen-ay) is currently 7, and Jasmine is 3 for now. We are more on the radical unschooling side of things. My blog is Empowered to Live Naturally.

What does your typical day look like?

Lol! I suppose the only thing that is typical about our days is that we’re up pretty late most nights (12-1am sometimes later) and the girls get up late (after 10:30am). That’s just about where the similarities ends. My girls are often on their own quest for knowledge in some kind of way with the two youngest often merging their quests into one.

What does the term “unschool” mean to you? Do you even use that word? If not, what do you use and why?

I do use the word unschooling. I’m okay with it although I’m not particularly married to it or anything. For me it’s all about child-led learning. No forced or coerced learning as I’ve learned how futile and useless that is.

Have you always unschooled or did you, like many, gradually move from traditional homeschooling (or public school) towards unschooling?

Although my oldest went to daycare off and on until she was 4, we always unschooled. I didn’t even know there was a name for what we were doing. We just lived and learning happened every step of the way. I’m big on doing what I feel led to do whether it makes sense to others or not.

What interests do your kids have that you never would have guessed they would develop?

Well for one, I wouldn’t have thought to help my middle child with math and reading at 3 but she was doing both quite well at that time and kept bringing it to my attention. She also loves science, so I make sure to get her things to do experiments and such.

My youngest is the dress-up queen. Even when her outfits make no sense at all, lol!

My oldest is all over the place as well. She asked to borrow my camera to take to dance class for a few weeks and by the time she was done, she’d made a video with the pictures she took, complete with music and special effects. It was her memory video as she was leaving that dance studio to start at another that was as she said, “more serious and challenging.” She cooks everything from scratch and has fun figuring out how to sweeten her recipes without sugar. For Mother’s Day she made some granola bars, pancakes, and blueberry muffins, and my middle daughter made scrambled eggs – all from scratch. They are great cooks!

What are some of the benefits of unschooling that you have seen?

I couldn’t begin to schedule the things they get into and am quite happy to get out of the way and see what they’ll do next. :)I think unschooling has helped them have a confidence in themselves that is absolutely unparalleled. They love challenges and don’t hate any subject at all because they’re never forced to do things that are of no interest to them.

What are some of the negatives?

Hmm, I’ve not found any negatives at all yet and we’ll be 13 years in soon. 🙂

Tell us about your best day (or your worst).

My best days are when I stop and see what each girl is doing. I’m always floored by their ingenuity and drive. I love it. I don’t consider any days bad or worse at this point because we’re always learning and growing and that’s a good thing.

Thank you Patrice for this Unschooling Portrait!

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