unschooling when you are not okay depression crisis stress trauma

Unschooling When You’re Not Okay

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on continuing to unschool when you’re not okay – through depression, grief, and other emotional upheaval. I started writing this nearly ten years ago, reflecting on a time 5+ years before that…when I was deeply apathetic and miserable, and not yet aware that I was experiencing psychological abuse from those closest to me. 

I started unschooling when my kids were 4 and 1 – and I was 22.

I didn’t learn about attachment parenting and never even considered unschooling until I had my second child.

I have to wholeheartedly agree with parenting expert and unschooling mom Laurie A Couture, when she says that unschooling is a natural extension of attachment parenting.

Unschooling is more than a parenting style, it’s simply the natural way of relating to human children, from birth onward, into what most people call the “school years”.

However, a good education arguably needs to go beyond just survival. When I was struggling with depression, grief, and other challenges…were my kids thriving back then?

Well, they were fed and safe, and their most basic needs were met, but we weren’t really living a rich, full life together. I wasn’t capable of following their interests much, because I just didn’t have the bandwidth, the finances, the stability…

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Advice for New, Worried Homeschoolers from a Longtime Unschooler

I realize that there’s loads of public school parents freaking out right now because of school cancellations – thinking their kids will fall behind if they don’t keep up with worksheets and reading texts and lesson plans until school-as-normal resumes.

So if your kids are unexpectedly home with you for the unforeseeable future, here’s my advice on how to keep everyone sane: Continue reading

Food Freedom? On Allowing Your Kids to Eat Whatever They Want

This article was originally posted on TheHomestead.Guru

Unschooling goes beyond education and learning–it bleeds over into every area of your life, eventually. So what does it look like to be unschooling food?

For many unschoolers, unschooling food means exactly what it sounds like: kids are given the freedom to eat whatever they want.

Many of you may now be picturing ice cream for every meal and nary a vegetable in sight–but the reality of food freedom doesn’t stay that way, even if it might begin like that!

Kids, like people of all ages, tend to be drawn to what’s forbidden, especially if there’s a fair amount of emotional energy surrounding those taboos.

For example, when I was a kid, my parents were health nuts of the low-fat, low-salt variety. However, sugar was not yet seen as the villain many now know it to be.

Unsurprisingly, I craved exactly what I was forbidden–things like bacon and potato chips! Never mind how many popsicles I ate on a daily basis…

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“I’ll be my child’s ONLY teacher!” Are you sure that’s a good thing?

Unschooling is not for everyone, and it can take a LONG time to get it. Like, years. It’s not something you can read a book and some blogs and go, OK, I got it!

For me, unschooling has been an inseparable part of my approach to parenting, as well as part of my self-healing process in breaking generational narratives.

Unschooling goes far, far beyond academics…IF you allow it to!

The thing is, humans are inherently holistic creatures. Truly, we live in a holographic world, meaning – we are all parts of a bigger whole, enfolded within each other.

Education is not just one part of our childhood – we are not brains in jars or empty vessels passively waiting to be filled.

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The Problem with “I Was Spanked and I’m Fine”

Before we begin, I’d like to remark that it is 2018 in the most information-saturated society in the history of the known world.

I can’t believe we still need to have this conversation.

However, new studies show that the more frequently children are spanked, the more likely they are to

  • defy their parents;
  • experience anti-social behavior;
  • increased aggression;
  • mental health problems;
  • and cognitive difficulties

Are you surprised? I’m not.

Furthermore, even the AAP (whom I heartily disagree with on several counts) has come out against corporal punishment of any kind against children, due to the new research that shows normal brain development is impacted by physical discipline.

Statistically speaking, physical correction and spanking are still very common practices in American parenting. Continue reading

Unschooling & Parenting Respectfully – Without Feeling Like a Martyr

Are you feeling curious about unschooling and whether it might work for your family?

Wondering how to apply the principles of cooperative parenting with your kids?

I’ve definitely been there! My oldest child is now 18, and we’ve been working toward mutually respectful and cooperative relationships for a long time.

I first learned about gentle parenting in 2002, and we’ve been unschooling since 2004.

My family of seven has experimented with many variations of alternative parenting over the years.  We’ve tried so many things, and ultimately, what we’ve arrived at is something I call Relationship-Based Parenting.

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Inspiring the Peaceful Mother – An Interview

This interview was originally published in March 2014 as part of the lovely Olga Dossa’s “Inspiring Peace” series on being an empowered, joyful and peaceful mother. 


Olga Dossa:  What was the catalyst that inspired you into mothering the way that you do?

Krystal Trammell:  I became a mother when I was just 18, and my parenting style has really gone through many shifts and evolutions since that time, when I was so overwhelmed and terrified of messing everything up.

I suppose, when I really think back to just one thing – it was my desire to succeed in breastfeeding my second child, which led me to La Leche League’s work – that was truly the first step in the journey towards Now.

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Parents, Unschooling, and Emotional Healing

On sharing space with your parents, as an unschooling parent:

For many years, even into adulthood, I was consumed by the desire to escape, to run away. I didn’t want my kids to have a close relationship with my parents. I didn’t feel like my parents and unschooling “got along” – they valued obedience and control, not freedom.

My dad was “not nice”, while my mom would “nice you to death” in order to make sure you felt pressured enough to follow their lead. They shared their opinions as if they were facts.

I have come to realize that my parents had real trouble seeing and interacting with me, as opposed to the idea of me that they had fabricated in their minds.

When people say they have experienced abuse, I think we think that’s a clear-cut concept, but nothing could be more complex. Did they hit you with solid objects? Abuse. Did they scream at you and shame you and tell you what you were feeling wasn’t true or real? Abuse.

BUT–did they also read you bedtime stories every night, cook you healthy meals, and tuck you in with your favorite blanket, freshly warmed up from the dryer when you were sick?

Did they go out of their way to bring you sour candies and fancy drink parasols from their work lunches? Did they sit down and dig through the Lego box with you, take an interest in your artwork, and remember that your favorite popsicles were the Blue Bell green ones?

See, it’s complicated.

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what do unshcoolers believe

What Do Unschoolers Believe? Unschooling, Defined.

Unschooling, defined? How we’re different:

Unschoolers believe similar broad concepts about the nature of children and of learning, that set us slightly apart from other people. There are plenty of unschoolers who may disagree on some of the finer points, but the core beliefs are, in my opinion, fairly common ground:

Unschoolers believe strongly in the innate capabilities and curiosity of the human spirit from birth.

Firstly, we do not see children as inferior to adults (that’s adultism, FYI).

We strive to treat people of all ages as primarily competent, well-intentioned individuals who possess sufficient internal motivation and drive to learn and grow throughout life.

In short, unschoolers believe positive, life-affirming things about human nature, and we have (or cultivate) a large amount of trust in our children as people.

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Unschooling: Writing your first paper EVER for Graduation

Recently, my oldest son wrote something–for basically the second time in his life.

He’s 18, and ready to graduate this month. We made up a list together, tweaked several times, about what we both felt made up a well-rounded and useful list of experiences, accomplishments, things to read, and so on.

Writing has never been a big thing for him. He’s fine with basic communication via email, etc. He knows how to interact online, obviously, and can do a good job of being professional as well.

But as far as writing “essays” or “reports”, that wasn’t really something on his priority list. He’s never been into “literature”, although he did go thru a jag of reading fantasy novels when he was maybe 14. Continue reading