It is always a great honor connect with other unschooling families, especially single moms who have chosen the same road in life as Miro and I. Alice and Satria are following their instinct and intuition, and I couldn’t feel more blessed our paths have crossed. I hope you enjoy reading their story as much as I did and hope you will become a follower of their story too. Speaking of paths, ours will cross at the “Life Rocks! Conference” in just a few short weeks. Looking forward to sharing all the blessings we receive there! Until then, may their inspiring story touch your hearts.
My name is Alice and my son is Satria . I was born in Australia and my son born in Bali.
I had a mainstream upbringing and went to an all girls school for 12 years in Melbourne. When I later married my Balinese boyfriend and had Satria a year later in 2007 (I was 33), I just assumed that he would go to daycare, pre school, and then school when he turned 6. This is just how it was done. By the time Satria was 2, his father and I had divorced and Satria and I were moving back to Australia. I was starting to see that life is not always going to go according to my mind-made plan. Since we left Bali in 2009 we have lived between Melbourne, Byron Bay and Bali.
Satria went in to a Montessori daycare in Byron Bay from when he was 2 1/2, and at 3 we tried Montessori school in Melbourne and then in Bali. He didn’t want to be in any of them. However, he ‘fit-in’ and did what was asked of him. I dealt with his separation anxiety each morning at drop off as well as his ‘out of sorts’ behaviour each day after picking him up (he was like a Jack-in-the-box wound up so tight busting to get out of the box, literally!). This takes me back to what Dayna once said to me, along the lines that children are very adaptable and will make the best of a bad a situation. Yikes… when I heard that, my heart sank for Satria and what I put him through for 3 years!
Unschooling completely resonated with me, and suddenly in that moment I knew we had found our way. At the time, my son Satria was 3 ½ years old, and it subsequently took me another 2 years to overcome my hesitations before we actually embarked on our unschooling journey. Looking back this reminds me of something that Lainie shared with me recently… how it takes time to actually hear a message, then trust it, then follow it. This is our 2 year story from hearing about unschooling for the first time, to trusting it, and then actually living it!
I first heard about unschooling at the Natural Learning Conference in Australia in 2010. Some friends that we were camping with the week prior to the conference had mentioned it to us, so we decided to go along. This is when I first met & heard Dayna Martin speak. I was WOW’d! It was one of those rare moments that don’t come along often. The unschooling philosophy (as well as gentle, connected & respectful parenting) just made so much sense to me. I couldn’t wait to meet Dayna and thank her for sharing her way of being in the world with her children.
When we came back to the Byron Bay area in 2011, Satria went into preschool and then started at the Byron Bay Community School the following year when he was 5. I had chosen alternate daycare centres & schools for Satria (and paid large sums for them!) knowing that I wanted a different experience for Satria from the mainstream school system. Though I also knew that I had been using daycare and school as his babysitters as I was struggling to be with him on my own 24/7 with very little support. I didn’t think he needed to be at school to learn – I could see that he was intelligent, competent and eager to learn… just from being with me, and being in life.
I was (and still am) a single work-from-home Mum and manage online the detox retreat business that I started when we lived in Bali with Satria’s father. I used my work as an excuse for Satria to be at school. That is until we attended the Conscious Parenting and Natural Learners Conference in August 2012 (because it happened to be in the town that we lived in!). Dayna was speaking again, however this time I had a one on one session with her (Satria was with me) to help shift my fears about taking Satria out of the school system. Fears such as ‘how will he learn maths, or learn to read and write?’, ‘will he have enough friends to ‘socialise’ with?’, ‘will I meet a community of other unschoolers for support and friendship?’.
I was also concerned about negative comments and pressure I would receive from my family and schooling friends for going against the norm. Dayna quoted Byron Katie to me Defence is the 1st act of war. She reminded me that I don’t need to defend myself to anyone. She also said, Build it and they will come, in regards to an unschooling community/support – and she was right! We have since met a wonderful community of unschoolers in the Byron Bay area, online, and on our travels.
In the meeting with Dayna, Satria’s eyes popped out of his head with excitement when she confirmed that none of her children go to school! I had said to Satria on many occasions when he didn’t want to go to school that all children have to go to school. I knew I was lying and I didn’t feel good about it. I think he knew too, but we hadn’t recently been around any unschoolers or home schooling families, so he didn’t have any evidence to present to me and he kept going to school. Sitting there with Dayna (and looking at Satria’s joyfulness with the idea that he didn’t have to go back to school) I knew what I needed to do – listen to Satria’s request (of 3 years!), and withdraw him from the school system.
Satria has always known what he wanted and how he wants to live his life, but I had my own ideas too, thinking I knew what was best for him. Now, I’ve finally realised that he does know what is best for him… and always has… and if I had listened to and trusted him, it would have saved us both from a lot of struggle and heartache!
It is that shift in perception that acknowledges Satria as an equal, not a child to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. He is intelligent and strong willed so there was always a battle when I treated him disrespectfully. It was exhausting for us both. But I didn’t know any differently until I attended the unschooling conference and heard others speak of another way of parenting.
After the conference I also had a Field facilitation session with a friend. A facilitation session helps to remove old beliefs that are holding us back from living our full potential. Then the next day, I went to Satria’s school and let them know that he wouldn’t be going back. Once I did that, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. This was a major decision for me to make and I didn’t take it lightly. It was interesting that the day before Satria started school in 2012, I put my back out so badly that I could hardly walk and was in so much pain. I really do believe it was the universe literally trying to make it impossible for me to get Satria to school. I didn’t listen and he went to school and it took me 6 weeks to heal my back and another 7 months to actually withdraw him from the system.
We have been unschooling (with a lot of deschooling for us both) since the end of August 2012, al though it has only been since February this year that I would say we are true unschoolers, otherwise known as radical unschoolers. This is when the parent lets go of controlling/limiting their children’s choices (especially around food, screen time, and bedtime) and instead the parent lets their children make their own decisions. This is not unparenting, it is quite the opposite – the parent is there alongside their children available to discuss with them about the pros and cons of their decisions and to talk with their children about the responsibility that comes with making their own choices.
Then add in our current lifestyle (including world travel), and we become Worldschoolers – a new term coined by Eli Gerzon: “It’s when the whole world is your school, instead school being your whole world.”
I’m not one for labels (and I’d prefer to use a description without the word school for how we are living), however labels do help with the desire of building a community of like-minded people.
In our new way of being in the world, there has been a huge shift for both Satria and I, especially around the way we relate to each other and relate to the world. The more that I connect with Satria and his needs (instead of controlling him and telling him how I want him to do things), the more loving and happy our relationship is and I get so many more cuddles and kisses.
We have become partners in this life, which has replaced the authoritarian parenting paradigm. Furthermore, instead of being his teacher, I am his facilitator. I am always there to answer a question, and if I can’t answer it we look it up together. I think that is what is so beautiful about our unschooling journey. It has been about letting go of the control and actually listening to Satria and trusting him. With that trust comes freedom… for both of us. And in that happy and free state, learning comes naturally, and easily.
I have read many blogs, looked at many links, read unschooling websites, spoken to unschoolers, bought 5 gentle parenting, and unschooling books, & have been to home schooling catch-ups. I have asked lots of questions and have also shared our experiences. And finally, after being on this journey for 5 months, I feel we are exactly where we need to be – I am excited for what lies ahead for us. I feel that we have found our groove.
I love what Dayna Martin and her teenage son Devin shared recently in one of their YouTube videos – that if children are treated with respect and not made to conform by having boundaries and limits put on them, then as teenagers there is no need to rebel against their parents. Rebellious teenagers and unschooling just don’t seem to go hand in hand. There is nothing to rebel against. In to their teens, unschooling children seem to have the same loving and free relationship that they had with their parents as when they were children. I can see with the recent changes in our life how this makes sense.
At the same time as withdrawing Satria from school, we also booked flights to go to Dayna’s Life Rocks! Radical Unschooling Conference in the USA in April 2013. I just knew that we needed to be there and that somehow we would make it happen. In January we were struggling to pay our rent, and the most important thing was to get to the conference in April. So, we packed up our home in Byron Bay and put everything into storage except a car load of personal items to get us by for the next 6 months.
We started to housesit/pet sit so that we didn’t have to pay rent. We then headed south to Melbourne and stayed with old and new unschooling families along the way. Our journey has began!
Our next stop is the USA for 3 weeks in April, then Bali for the month of May, and from June… who knows! The world is our oyster…
Here we are living a nomadic unschooling/worldschooling lifestyle and we are the happiest that we have ever been. Even though it meant having to let go of our home and put everything into storage because we couldn’t afford our rent! But we tried it the other way (mainstream schooling), and it just didn’t work for us.
It happened because I finally listened to my heart and I trusted Satria to listen to his heart – everything else is falling into place. I don’t even think about his ‘learning’, or ask any of the questions to myself that I asked Dayna (like ‘how will Satria learn math?’) as I can see that in EVERYTHING that Satria does, he is learning… including teaching himself to read and write, and math!
Learning is a natural consequence of Satria’s life because he is interested & passionate about what he is doing in each moment. Children actually want to learn when they are in a supportive & nurturing environment. This was a revelation for me. It’s not that they even want to, it just happens. Just like adults, children have wants, needs and desires. They will do what needs to be done to have their needs met. I can see that I’m raising a free-thinking entrepreneur and what I love is that through Satria’s learning, I am also learning. Not only new things, but so much about myself and how to have a lasting happy parent/child relationship.
Where to find us
We are currently setting up our unschooling travel blog (with support from Lainie) and would love for you to be a part of our journey.
Until that is ready, if you would like to join us, please ask to join our unschooling Facebook page here.
Thank you for reading about us and our journey to unschooling. I am extremely grateful to Lainie for giving us the opportunity to share it here – thank you Lainie. And of course thank you to Dayna Martin for coming into our lives and introducing us to unschooling!
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