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Sep 1, 2021


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I am a mostly self taught successful glass artist and entrepreneur who has had absolutely no formal education or instruction of any kind. I am a student of life itself, and I could not have had a better teacher. Not only was I unschooled, I was raised by the most incredible woman, whom I am honored to call my best friend and mother. Her parenting philosophy of love, respect, humility, authenticity, and nonviolence, is what has allowed me to be and grow according to my own natural development, passions, and impulses. As an adult I have found it fascinating to try an analyze why my relationship with my mom, myself, and life in general, is so unusual. I am extremely passionate about parenting and education. I have spent many years providing childcare to a wide range of children and have spent that time observing and studying adult child interaction, how it compares to my own experiences, and what makes it so different.

Show Notes


You are here because you're curious about self-directed learning. You want inspiration, practical tips, information, and a community of people to share your experiences with our guests. Advice and tips will help us all to create the most enriching learning environment we can for our kids. If that makes you curious.


You've come to the right place. So let's learn how we can best facilitate our children in their learning pursuits. Welcome to the rogue learner podcast.


Hey, hi everyone. And welcome back to the rogue learner podcast. If you're just tuning in for the first time. Welcome. I have been so busy the last four weeks, and we have a ton of catching up to do. I do plan to fill you all in, but I'll wait until next week since today's interview is already a super long one.


Welcome to all my new listeners. I'm so glad you're here. My name is Jenna. I'm the host of the rogue learner podcast. And I'm a mom of two awesome kids. My husband has joined me on the show periodically too. And his name is Chris. We are one year into our unschooling journey in episode 24, my husband and I review our year of unschooling.


So you can check that out. If you're interested in hearing more about our experience, I started this podcast as a way to connect with other people on the same path and to learn along the way, I've been lucky enough to interview some of the most influential researchers in this space. And I hope to continue on with a quality show that provides you and me with some invaluable information that will help guide our decisions about how we live peacefully with our kids.


I thought the show was going to focus mostly on education, but I'm realizing that so much of what I was searching for. A little to do with academic learning and so much more to do with my connection with my kids and family. I hope this podcast inspires your family to connect and live a more peaceful existence together.


One that puts respect for each other above all else. Today, I have the perfect guest on the show to speak on all of these specific topics. Summer is a grown unschooler who has never been to any formal schooling whatsoever. She's a unique find even in the world of unschool. Because many children at least take some formal classes along their unschooling journey.


At some point, her and her brothers were raised by their mother who saw the value in building relationships with her kids and trusted that her kids would become the best versions of themselves if she just supported them and loved them unconditionally. This was before the days of internet and unschooling forums.


So today you'll hear summer's unique perspective on growing up in an uncoerced home. There are so many moments where I actually paused the interview while editing to write down a quote, because she made so many profound. Summer is located in Hawaii. And the day we recorded, they had a pretty big storm blowing through, which means that during the last segment where I ask my guests the same four questions, summer's audio went out.


So we couldn't get a connection after that point. So I missed asking her the last few questions, getting her contact details and saying goodbye. So I do apologize in advance for the abrupt ending to the episode. Last thing before we kick off the show, I'm giving away free to learn by Peter Gray or changing our minds by Naomi Fisher, to enter into the drawing for your chance to win.


All you have to do is leave a written review on apple podcasts. Then email me with the book you'd like to win. And the screen name you left your review under. Thank you so much for tuning in this week. And I really hope you enjoy the interview. If you would like to be added to the conversation in some way, you can connect with me in the Facebook group on Instagram or click the voicemail link to leave a response to today's show and or co-host to show with me by clicking the link that says, join me on the show either way.


I can't wait to hear from you. All right, let's get on with today's show. Here's my interview with summer. Enjoy.


Show Notes


Jenna: Hi summer. Welcome to the show. 


Summer: Aloha Hi. 


Jenna: You are in lovely Hawaii and I'm quite jealous. I hear all your lovely sounds in the background. 


Summer: Well, the birds morning here, so all the birds and roosters are pretty active.


Jenna: I love it. Um, I'm wrapping up my day. So I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum, very tired and drained from being out in the cold.


Summer: That's so fun. I love that we can communicate like through time and space all at time. 

Jenna: It's so awesome. Isn't it? I love that. That's the one good thing about technology? Well, I guess there's a few things, but I really like that too. So I am so eager to talk to you because I think it's a really rare treat to find somebody who has thoroughly been unschooled their entire lives.


And not only that, but has never had any formal schooling or formal classes or anything like that in their lives. That's I think quite rare. I think you even mentioned that you haven't met, have you met anyone that has had that same experience? 


Summer: I don't think so. I've met a lot of homeschoolers and I've met a few unschoolers over the years, but I haven't actually met anyone that was like a hundred percent unschooled from the start.


Most people that I've met, who are unschooled did do some schooling. Either some public school or some Waldorf for, you know, a little bit of something in the beginning before their parents chose to go the unschooling route. So it's, um, it's my brothers and I seem to be kind of an anomaly and I didn't actually really realize that until somewhat recently.


I mean, I knew there weren't a lot of us out there, but I didn't realize that I was one of the oldest, fully unschooled people willing to even talk or share my experiences. So I've been getting a lot of interest lately. 


Jenna: You're like museum worthy, right? Like, like, woo. Look at this specimen. Um, yeah. I think, I mean, for the most part, a lot of unschooling or homeschooling families have their kids take some sort of classes along the way, or yeah.


They go to high school for a year or, and try it out or, you know, they get curious and or then they go off to trade schools or colleges and in their adult lives. Right. So I wanted to actually get started with the word unschooling, because I think you have a different definition than maybe what other people have.


And I think your perspective is really important to be shared because you're the one who's actually experienced it. And I think for parents who are unschooling their kids or sending them to self directed schools, it's really comforting, not, not only comforting, but just it's something that we all are really curious about is to hear from someone who's experienced it, obviously, because we are choosing this for our children.


Right. And so we want to know that this is a good choice and who else to ask, but somebody who's actually experienced it for themselves. So, so yeah. Let's start there. 


Summer: Well, I've heard, it's funny. You said that like wondering if it's a good choice because I've had people ask me that before. Like, um, do you think unschooling is good for, for all children or is it just like school where some kids do well and some kids don't and I kind of boggled by that question sometimes.


Cause to me, unschooling is really, yeah. Life without this idea that you have to force human beings against our will to do things you think they should do. So to me, it's like, how can that not be good for anyone? Like life is good for everyone. Life is good for every child. Every child is good for life.


And I, so I don't understand how it can be not good for some people and people are, well, my kids aren't self-motivated and I'm like, I just, I, it's hard for me to wrap my brain around this idea that unschooling wouldn't be good or wouldn't work quotations for some children, because I feel like it's life.


How can life not be good for someone it's just life without this idea that we have to be, he compelled, manipulated, coerced, bribed, forced into becoming something that other people think we should do. Or learning things that we're not interested in learning things that aren't useful to us of following some program that someone else made up somewhere that never even met you.


So I don't see how that could be. It's just doesn't it doesn't make sense to me. I think I come from this really different place of not having this lifetime of programming. So I get questions from parents sometimes, and it honestly takes me a minute to respond because I don't understand the question. I like won't understand where it's coming from.


I'm like, what do you, what do you mean? Why would you think someone would need. It's really interesting to me. So the term unschooling is, I've kind of grown uncomfortable with the term to be honest, because I used to use it very proudly. And it was a term that my family kind of fought for over the years.


I mean, I'm 32 now and my oldest brothers, uh, were they going to be 40? So 40 years ago when this all started for my mom, like there wasn't even a thing. Like no one had even heard of homeschooling in the area I grew up in let alone unschooling. So it was kind of this term that we, we protected and we fought for, and lately I've been realizing that this term unschooling means some really different things to different people.


And it does not mean what I thought it meant. And so that's been a little sad for me. I'm kind of needing to let go of and move on from that term because to me the most basic definition of the term unschooling is no forced education. Like that's the absolute, most basic, you know, boiled down version and it has no force education.


And I'm hearing people sometimes say this thing where they're like, um, well we do some required math and then we unschool for the rest of it. And I'm like, that's not, that's not even possible if you understood, like, to me, if you understood the first thing about unschooling, you would understand that if there's any kind of required, if you're requiring your child to use their brain in ways that they are uncomfortable with on interested in, on ready for or unwilling to, then you go against everything unschooling stands for.


So to me, unschooling isn't like a part-time thing. It's not like a method that you can  use on your kids sometimes when you feel like it, it's not like this thing that you can  throw in. So that's been interesting for me to like, come to the scene. That people have, like, I don't know what it is that people think unschooling is.


If it's something that you can use sometimes like, to me, it's not something you can use. It's actually, oh, it's a whole way of life. And it's a philosophy based on, on respect, absolute respect and honor of a human being. And it's, to me the obvious, it's almost like a by-product like unschooling to me as more of a symptom or a by-product of choosing to live in peace and harmony with children.


Because the way that I was raised was so much more than just not going to school like unschooling. Yes. It means no forced education, but it's about where that comes from and why you choose to do that. And if you're choosing to not put your kids in. It kind of goes into a whole thing, but basically in my family, for my mom, she chose to unschool and it wasn't like this conscious choice of like, I'm going to unschool so that it was actually like, I want to live in peace and harmony with my children.


Oh, I guess that means we're unschooling because that is what she felt like was the most respectful and nonviolent way to raise her kids was to not force us against our will. And she didn't feel like she was in a position, like a higher position than her children, like who she felt like, who am I to, to tell another human being how they should be or what they should do with their.


And so it was really more of, um, like, uh, we were a very, like a small tribe, the five of us, my mom and my three brothers and myself. And it was more about friendship and partnership and cooperation and living in peace and harmony together. My mom really trusts our natural human instincts to evolve. You know, she just could see that, like we would walk and we would talk all like with very little assistance and, um, she probably couldn't have stopped us if we tried.


And she just was like, why would anything be any different? Of course they will just continue to grow and evolve. Like everyone wants to thrive and be independent. So why would they not learn all the things that they would need to do that? 


Where do you think she got this original thought? I mean, it's such a progressive thought too, especially if you have… you know, like I found it through Googling. I mean, this is not an era of time where there was just information, you know, information laden. 


Summer: Yeah, exactly. I mean, we didn't have the internet, we didn't even have computers. We didn't, you know, it wasn't, it was not the time of screens. And so, no, my mom, well, I mean, she tells the story better.


I tend to get the details jumbled up because it's not actually from my own memory, but, um, she had my oldest brother really young. She was 21 and she didn't actually know that she was going to do anything different than anyone else when my brother came along and she just fell madly in love with this tiny human.


And she's like, I don't know. She has a really deep maternal instinct and she just gave her life to us. She did try to put my older brother in like a daycare at one point and she just thought it was the most bizarre thing. Like she's in love with this child. Why would I hand him to random strangers to be raised?


Like, this is weird and why would I leave him in a group of children where there's like one adult and they're not going to get enough love and attention. And I think she really just, something in her just thought it was odd. And it just went against her intuition. And my mom was very heart-based and intuitive and really listens to her gut instincts.


And somehow she was able to get in touch with that and listen to that. And she just knew something in her, told her that it was wrong to just leave her kid with strangers that didn't even love or care for him the way that she did. And why would she. Everything. So to her, it was actually kind of a selfish, um, choice.


And she likes to say, she did it for herself. She didn't do it for us. She did it so that she could hang out with us cause she liked us and a lot of other reasons, and it was just kind of little by little. It was one thing after another, you know, unschooling kind of came a little bit later, but it was like, why would I put my baby in a crib to cry themselves asleep?


Like that's denying their own natural impulse to be connected to me and my natural impulse to be connected to them. Like, why would we have these impulses if they were. And so it kind of came from like trusting life, like growing this trust in life and nature and just the natural bond between mother and child.


And she just didn't, she didn't understand why you should break that forcefully. And she felt like it was there for a reason why we have this draw to our mothers and why we have this attachment is healthy attachment. So it kind of, it stemmed from something different. It didn't stem from education. It stemmed actually more from, from this mother, child bond, this connection, this relationship, she just felt like there had to be another way, like why we don't have to break this and we don't have to push our children away and we don't have to be fighting and angry at each other.


And we can have a peaceful, beautiful harmonious home and be friends and be close. And she was right. She was absolutely right. And it took, you know, it was a really long journey for her. It was like many, many years and a lot of really. Self-inquiry and discovery and working on her own personal issues in order to stay connected with us and to recognize the things that break that connection and why we do them and what they cause and the psychological and emotional trauma that we cause children all the time, like completely unconsciously.


Jenna: Yeah. I think that's what's really difficult for a lot of parents today. And I mean, I speak for myself is this deschooling that has to go on, on the adults side to even get to a point where you can trust and live that lifestyle. I always say it's going to be a lifelong process because they don't.


Yeah, because I, you know, we're inundated with so much information from all areas of our lives that don't live this way and don't have these ideals and it's just a constant reflection and yeah, reframe and...

Summer: It's daily, you were trained like most adults are trained their whole lives to not follow their instincts to not, they're not free to make their own choices.


They're told that they're not smart enough. They're not good enough. Other people know best for you, you know, you should do what other people say and what other people want. And that's how you're trained. Your whole childhood is. To trust yourself, not to listen to your own instincts. And so when you get to be where you have your own children, that's like, you don't even know how to get in touch with that anymore.


And how can you allow your children that kind of freedom if you don't allow it for yourself, that's her kind of her place that she likes to talk about is it's about freeing yourself. And now we have this term D schooling, which I've only discovered recently, actually just in the last year, like, oh, D schooling.


That's a thing my mom's like, yeah, actually you call it what you will, but to her, it's about freeing yourself and right. Because how can you allow someone else to be free if you yourself are not, you know, emotionally and psychologically and, and how can you trust your child if you don't? So it's, yeah, it's definitely beautiful.


I think that people have come up with this, the schooling idea and that there's a lot of resources and support for that now. And that's really cool because, um, I think it's really, really important that it's, the kids are fine. Kids are fine. They're fine. It's the parents really that have the struggle and it's a lot of work.


It's hard work. It kind of reminds me the more and more I get into these conversations with parents. It very much reminds me of deprogramming, someone from a cult. It's like, you're in this cult mindset of what education is and how children learn and how we have to train them to make them behave properly in society.


And that's a whole belief system which is part of a much larger system. When you start to deprogram from that, it's like you're leaving a cult and you have to deprogram this whole thought system in order to be able to see something. 


Jenna: Yeah, it's a struggle. I, it is, it is work. It's a job.


Summer:I can’t personally relate, obviously.I mean, to some degree, we all have programming of some kind, you know, so I'm sure, you know, I've got some of it as well. Well, I don't have the same from like the public school system. I was raised to always trust myself. And I was always told that I know what's best for me and that no one has the right or authority to tell me what I should or shouldn't do with myself and my life, with my mind, with my body, with my emotions, with my beliefs.


I was always told that I know that it's up to me, that I know that I'm responsible for myself. And I know what's right for myself and my life. And I was told that through. And when I say, yeah, when I say I was told that it's not just that I was told that verbally, like my mom told me that I was told that every day and how I was treated.


Actually I, what I could say is I was never told otherwise, and it's more like, it is more like I was allowed to keep that and I was never told otherwise. 


Jenna: Yeah. That's uh, that, there's a difference there isn't there?


Summer:  Yeah. There's a difference. It's not like I had to be taught that I really just had to not be taught the opposite of that.


Jenna: Right. Yeah. 


I talked about this with, uh, Naomi Fisher. She's a psychologist who just recently published a book about self directed education. And we talked about how there's a lot of things we learn in school that are not explicitly taught obviously, but things like, oh, you are not good enough or, oh, you, you don't look good enough.


Or, I mean, they're just subtle, but constant and daily reminders. You, you either fit the bill or you don't. And those lessons actually are so much more powerful than the actual academics that go on over time. Constructs the human that comes out the other end, essentially. Right?


Summer: I, that is actually a point that I bring up a lot when I'm talking to unschooling parents, is that I feel like, yeah.


Academic learning. So math and science, reading those things, can be learned actually at any time in life. I mean, anytime you can learn that stuff when you're 80, if you want, like there's nothing stopping you at any point in your life to learn any kind of academic education at all, but there are certain things that absolutely get learned.


At certain stages in life and they cannot be avoided and they are extremely difficult to unlearn later on. And these are these, like these deep, psychological, emotional decisions that we make about ourselves. These beliefs that we develop through really young, super young, you know, we're talking 2, 3, 4 years old, like right in that age range is when most of us make these decisions about ourselves in there based on our environment and how we're treated.


And sometimes it's something really subtle. Sometimes it's something really big and we get lots of these through our childhood. And that's what, like, kind of develops our personalities in a way, certain coping mechanisms, you could say defenses and coping mechanisms is when you're three or four and you hand grandma a picture.


And instead of saying, that's beautiful, she says, that's a funny looking tree. And then all of a sudden in your head, you go, I'm not artistic. And then you carry that around with you, the rest of your life. Yeah. You know, you carry that around with you and it's like you, and then you find more proof for it along the way.


So you get these little seeds when you're young, a lot of people who have these really deep beliefs, they can't even find where they came from. I'm stupid. I'm ugly. I'm not good enough. I'm unlovable. I'm not trustworthy. You know, I'm not respectable, like all these kinds of things. And they happen really young and they say, stick, they just, they stick.


And I think it's really, it's really heartbreaking to me when I see people sacrificing these emotional decisions, like, okay, well, my kid might think they're stupid, but at least they'll have learned. And it's like, no, right. You can learn, you can learn math a lot easier later on, then you can learn that you're not stupid because it's like, yeah, it's hard to explain, but I feel like we all have these real, these beliefs about ourselves.


And oftentimes we don't know where they came from even. 


Jenna: I have an example of a moment where I felt really just sorry for our society and where we're at, because there was a child, a teenager at one of the groups and he was talking about all the things that he's good at, you know? And so it can go the other way, but, but he was like, I'm good at English.


I'm good at math and whatever. And I thought, okay, but that also can be like, it's the mindset needs to be. I can learn anything and I can be good at anything. And to me, even just saying, these are the things that I'm good at is limited, it’s subtracting. Right? It's limiting all the things that you may possibly be good at.


Summer: Yeah. Like saying that like I'm good at this thing can kind of be like, you're saying you're not good at something else. 


Jenna We'll go into high school and then maybe they get really, they base it off of their grades. Right. So they get really good grades in math and science, let's say, and then they choose a career in math and science, because they've always been told you're just really good at math and science.


But, what I would like to see change is not following things based on a specific credential you've passed, but actually things that you're really truly curious about. And you really want to know more about, or do better with, or provide some sort of value to the world in.


Summer: It's absolutely possible.


I mean, on that same topic, you're just reminding me of like one of the very common questions I get when people find out as I'm sorry. And from, you know, from people who are unschooling or interested in unschooling. And one of the most, some of I should say the most common questions I get are, how did you learn how to read and how did you learn how to write and you know, those basic things.


And then the other question is, well, what are you doing now? What are your brothers doing now? What did you grow up to be? And, um, what are you doing in the world? And are you successful? And are you supporting yourself? And like, that's what people want to know. And that to me is tragic. That is tragic. That that's your concern.


That's your question,is my kid gonna be okay in the world? Are they going to be successful? Are they going to be smart? Are they going to learn if I leave them alone? I really think it's sad that that's your first concern. Not that that's not a concern, but it's really sad that's the first thing that comes up that people want to talk to me about.


No one has ever gone, Oh, wow. You're unschooled. Do you have healthy relationships in your life? Like, are you happy? Have you found joy? Are you living the life that you love? No one asks that. They all want to know about monetary success. 


Jenna: Well, that's what our society values. 


Summer: So no one is asking about my mental or emotional state.


Like that doesn't matter. That doesn't matter. And to me that's like, if you are, if that's why you're unschooling is so that your kids will be maybe more successful, I can't help you. My mom told me when I was little, I remember this conversation and I think it had to do with some pressure from some grandparents or something.


And me being kind of like, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, because people would ask me that. And I think it's the worst thing you can possibly ask a child. She said, honey, she's like, I don't care what you do with your life. Like, I don't care if you want to be the garbage man. If you want to work in a gas station forever, I don't care.


I care that you follow your heart and you do what feels right for you and you stay true to yourself. That's what I care about. And it was like the pressure was completely off. I can be myself and whatever that ends up looking like in the world. And so if, if you want anything other than your child to be themselves and live their truth, then you're going to be looking for a method to change and fix them to alter their behavior and to change how they act in the world.


I don't think unschooling can help you with that. At least not in my version of unschooling and at least don't my version of unschooling and my mom's parenting philosophy at all, because it was all about allowing us to be who we already are. It wasn't about making us someone's okay. Are you only going to respect your child's autonomy and independence, if it makes them a better person someday, or are you going to do it because it's what's right, right now for you.


And because it's the only non-violent choice in being with children like it, to me, it's the only non-violent choice. Because any time that you begin to force another human being against their will to do any, anything, and you manipulate coerce, bribe anything, it's violence, it's violence against another human being.


And I don't care how old they are. And so if you're going to make that choice, just because of the outcome, and you're going to be like, well, I'll respect you now because someday it might have a good effect on you. I feel like you're in it for the wrong reasons, but if you respect your child now, because that's, what's right for you is to be a respectful human being.


I feel like that's, what's going to have even more powerful effect on your child because we can feel. You know, you can feel when someone's coming from a place of truth, like children, especially they can feel when you have an ulterior motive or agenda. So if you're treating them a certain way so that they will be a certain way it's going to backfire because they know they can sense it.


I've seen it. I've, you know, spent so many years in childcare myself. Like I can see it when I do that with a child. If I have any kind of manipulative behavior, if I say something so that they will a certain, you know, any of that, it always backfires. It really is about you. It's not about the child. It's about you doing what's right for yourself right now.


Like, do you want to be this manipulative, controlling human being to other human beings, regardless if it's your own child or your partner or your friend. So it's about how you want to be in the world, not how you want your kids to be in the world. And I think that's what's going to affect them is how you are.


And that's what it was with my mom. It's like I learned from who she was not necessarily what she did, if that makes sense. It's about like the place that she was coming from. And that's why often people want some kind of formula or method. Like someone asked me recently, well, what age should I wait before I introduce screens to my children?


And I was like, I'm not an authority. You know, this is not, I'm not going to tell you what to do. Like it's about where you're coming from and where that choice is coming from and how you see your child. And every child is unique and every parent is unique and every situation is unique. So it's not like there's an answer, this formula. And that's the thing is like people have that comfort in school and the school system, because it's like, we know at this age we're supposed to do this and this age, we're supposed to do that. And it's like, you have rules to follow. And parents are comfortable with that because they were, they were raised that way to rely on someone else telling them what to do.


And now you have someone else telling you what to do with your own children and telling your children what to do. And you never have to think for yourself, you can be lazy. You don't have to look within yourself and seek out these answers and follow your own intuition and your gut, and maybe be different and weird.


You don't have to do that. That's hard being sovereign, like being independent. It's hard. It's not easy. It's not comfortable. It's not, you know, you don't just get to like, oh, I just sit around and do whatever I want all day. I'm a self-employed artist. I have my own business and people say things to me like, well, if you do what you love, it's not work.


And I'm like, that is ludicrous. It's like, this is hard work to be self-motivated to be responsible for yourself, to be free. This is hard, but being told what to do and following orders, that's easy. You just keep your head down. You do what you're told to do. You don't question - everything's mapped out for you.


You don't have to dig deep within yourself to find your own truth and your own answers and maybe have some that are different from other people's and challenge other people. Basically with school, it’s set, it's all laid out for you. You don't have to question or wonder. And my mom said, I didn't not send you to school, just put you into another system.


And I feel like a lot of people are doing that. They're taking the child out of school. They want to unschool. They want to homeschool, but they want this very specific thing. They still want a guide book. They want a rule book. They want a method that they can use on their kids that will work. Instead of like finding their own truth within themselves and having this unique relationship with their very unique and original child -  it's going to be different for everyone.


If you're actually present with life itself with your child, then it's going to be completely unique from anyone else, even in the unschooling community. So a lot of people are like, they've thrown out this one rule book, but they're floundering because they're looking for another manual, oh, at this age, we'll do this.


And I'll introduce screens at this age because this is developmentally appropriate. And this is, and it's like, it's still just this wanting to follow someone else's directions and not be responsible for your own choices. At least that's how I see it. I think it's very unconscious. I don't mean anyone's doing this on purpose at all.


I think it's absolutely terrifying for most people to take that leap. Like my mom, it wasn't easy. It was hard. She struggled, it was grueling. It's a lifelong thing. She's still doing her own interpersonal work. You can't just stop and be like, I have the answers. Now this is how you raise kids. This is the way you educate.


This is how all children learn. Like we're never going to have those answers because we're all unique individuals. So it's going to be different for everyone. And every relationship is unique. And I think that's where, that's what it's about for me is it's about the relationship and allowing that relationship to change and evolve and teach you and to be constantly learning from that relationship like you do with other relationships.


Jenna: Yeah. I think the problem with it is that most people don't have healthy relationships with themselves. So you can't have a good relationship with anybody unless you have a good relationship with yourself. That's why, you know, it goes back to the D schooling. I just find that such an important piece and almost, you know, looking back if I could change one thing, you know, like in retrospect, I think I would have spent a lot more time D schooling myself before the schooling, my children, like I would have spent maybe a year and I did to some degree, but I would say that like the intentionality was not for home educating.


It was more about like, I wanted it for myself. You know, I was in that stage of life where I was just kind of questioning and reflecting, but not with the intention of getting to a specific point where I could pull my kids out of school. I didn't have that foresight, but I really wish I would have, you know, at the moment I was like, okay, I am ready to home educate. 


I would have started deschooling myself and then waiting a long time until I was properly ready to have the trust. You know, and wait till I was confident in my decision because as I was, you know, like pulling it all out and figuring it all out for myself, I was at the same time trying to help my kids along the deschooling process.


And it was actually really turbulent, you know, I mean, and it still is to some degree. So I think that process is just so critical and so instrumental in having a successful beginning. 


Summer: And, you know, you talked about how people may do things on a certain schedule based on the system, right? Like, okay.


They go to school at age three or preschool, and then at five they start kindergarten. And these are the things that people say are developmentally appropriate and they should read at age six or whatever. Okay. 


We get, we follow these guidelines and then it goes on to, I mean, a lot of adults are still following that law.


That our society made up. It's just made up anyway, you know, and people are still following that model. And a lot of people are breaking out of it now, but then they're still sending their kids to training for that model. So what I mean by that is like, you know, you get out of high school, you go to college and then you get married at a certain age.


You buy a house at a certain age, you have a kid at a certain age, you know, you've got this career. It's like that whole model, you know, that, like the American dream picket fence thing, it's like a lot of people are opting out of that now and having really different lives and choosing really different points in their life to have these experiences.


A lot of people aren't getting married until way later. Some people choose not to have children, people, you know, it's like, we're not following all this same model anymore. And yet we're still sending our kids into the system. That's training them for that model. Um, and so it's kind of funny. Like we're still sending them for the first leg of that rat race, but then we also want them to like, not be part of that rat race.


So, but we're still going to train them. So it's kind of funny. It's like why, you know, I want my children to be successful and independent and, and all these things. And a lot of people like their whole dream is to get out of this rat race. Their whole dream is to not have to work a nine to five. They want to be entrepreneurs.


They want to be more successful. They want freedom to travel. They want more time off. They want more time with their family. 


Jenna: Well, maybe they don't want to be shackled by debt. 


Yeah. And all of that. Exactly. Student loan debt and like all kinds of stuff. I mean, there's a whole, it's a whole thing.


And so a lot of people are like, well, I don't want that for my children. And then they're still sending them to the first leg of the training program for that life. And I find that really strange. Right? 


Jenna: Right. And well, I think that, you know, the people who are waking up to this idea are people who are our age and are now experiencing that for ourselves.


So we're like, wait a minute. This isn't actually what I want. And so maybe my kids don't, it's not actually fulfilling and it's not actually necessary. And that you can set up your life in any which way. And there isn't a right or wrong way. And you don't have to follow these, this timeline as Arbus is totally just made up anyways.


You know, it's like someone just, it's just made up. It's not real. It's not true. It's just an idea. So it's funny that we all kind of have bought into this idea that we have to have this certain kind of life, that life happens in these certain stages. And if you didn't know, and you could just live in the mystery, you would enjoy a lot more what's happening.


And instead of trying to follow this, this whole saying, and there's so many different ways of living too. It's like I started my own business. I was only what I think I started making glass beads when I was about 14. And I started selling my work at local crafters and farmer's markets. At 16, I started my own business. It was making my own money at 16 because no one told me that wasn't a thing. No one told me I couldn't do that. Or that I had to wait till a certain age or I had to finish high school first. And then I had to go get a degree so that I could have a good career so that I could blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


No one told me that I didn't have that idea shoved down my throat. So I made up my own path. I started doing what I love as I loved it. It was like, I was able to pursue those things as they came along, instead of like, no, no, no, that's just a hobby for later. That's not really a career. And I remember like my dad actually having those kinds of ideas cause he wasn't super on board with the whole unschooling thing.


My parents split up when I was a baby. I remember conversations with him, like through my teens and my early twenties, where he was like, that's a nice hobby, but you know, you should still get an education and go to college and get a degree so you can support yourself and not become dependent on a man.


And part of me was like, have you met me dad? Like, you know, that's never going to happen, but I understood because my mom had explained to me when I was young about my dad's family, I understood that it came from love and fear. So I didn't blame him, but it was a little bit sad for me, you know, to have him not trust and believe in me the way that my mom did, but he, he came around.


He came around. And at some point in my early twenties, I was looking, working for a glass blowing artist on the big island. And my dad came to visit. I took him to the shop and he saw my friend's place. And he was like, wait, that guy, he pays for that house and all that. And the wife and the car, everything through just making art.


And I was like, yeah, dad. And he was like, he was like, whoa. And it was that moment on, he never, ever mentioned anything about me, should be doing anything different with my life. And now he fully works my glass blowing as a career. Like he didn't see it as a career before he saw it as a hobby. I also, um, one of the things that I probably did differently was I learned as I did things, instead of pre-learning like a lot of people think, I mean, that's what school's for.


Right. It's pre preparation preparation. It's like, you're you pre learn. Right. 


Jenna: They even call them preparatory schools.


Summer: Preparatory schools. Yeah. So they have the preparation for life because what you're doing right now, isn't life somehow. And. So, yeah, preparation. So like, I like to talk about that because I, it's kind of funny to me, there are some things that you need to learn ahead of time that you need to prepare for, obviously, right?


Like, if I'm going to have a surgery, I want that doc to have prepared, you know, like I want him educated, but there's a lot of things that you can learn as you go along. I guess everything in a sense can be learned as you go along, like you work your way up in a way. And so I always find it funny how people are, like, they take these individual elements, like out of an activity out of life, right?


So youextract this one element from life and then you teach it separately, like on its own, completely out of context in order to pre learn it for when it's going to be in context, which makes zero sense to me. Is 0 cents. You're like, okay, we're going to take this thing out of here and learn about it separately so that we can then use it when we put it all back together.


And you're like, well, why don't we just learn it altogether? Like, why are we doing this? Like, why are we separating out these things? We call them subjects, right? We take like one small element out and we try to learn it separately on its own with no application or purpose. Really. It has nothing to do with anything, it's just math all by itself.


And we want kids to like, learn this thing and memorize the saying when it has zero relevance to them or their life zero application, like they can't see the point. And yet you expect them to somehow retain this information. So that someday, maybe, maybe, and this is a maybe like, except for the very basic math, maybe your kid might need that somewhere down the road when it actually applies to real life, but then see, they won't have used it in real life.


So it's going to be another struggle and learning process and they'll have a hard time remembering what they learned because it didn't actually have any purpose or point to them at the time. Uh, so I think that's really funny because I learned things as I went. Some people enjoy pre-learning like my older brother, he likes studying things for what they are for the sake of learning.


I'm not really that way. I like to just jump in and  go for it and learn as I go along. So we all have these really unique ways of learning as well. It's fascinating to me how we put kids in this school system when it's like to me, there's just look at me and my brothers. Like, we all have these very unique ways of learning and acquiring and absorbing information and it would have been just a tragedy.


Had we been forced to absorb it in a certain way? Like some of us probably would have been labeled stupid for sure. 


Jenna: Yeah. Just having, so I just have two kids. And so, you would think that there wouldn't be such a huge discrepancy in the way that they learn, I mean, they have the same parents they've grown up in the same house, like all the things, but they could not be any more different.


I mean, everything about them is so unique to them as individuals. And it's remarkable to me that they survived the school system and they really did well, actually they were super successful in school, but at the cost of. Still thinking, uh, like what we talked about before the cost was that they have definite perceived opinions about themselves.


And like, for example, my son who is incredibly gifted in anything mathematical logical, that sort of thing, he thinks he's not good at math. And that just blows my mind. I'm like, what are you talking about? And he also always talks about how he's not very good at German, but he learned the language in like 18 months and was able to do the work of a first grader with all the other first graders within a year.


But he has this perception that he's not any good, so that can't possibly have come from us or him, you know, that was external. 


Summer: Yeah. And he made it mean something about himself because it's different than being like, ah, I'm not very good at this thing, but you know, it doesn't actually mean anything about who you are.


But like children, oftentimes when something like that happens and they're like, I'm not good at this thing. That means I'm stupid. So it's like, they actually make it mean something about themselves and about who they are as a human being. And that's what we do in our society. That's what the school system does.


We make what you do mean something about who you are. And so kids have this idea that they're not good enough because they can't do the things other kids do, or the things that adults are trying to make them do at a certain time or, or they're rebelling or whatever it is. And so it's like, I can easily say like, oh, I'm not good at that thing, but that's just saying, I'm not good at that thing.


It doesn't mean anything about me. It doesn't mean that I'm any less of, um, less valuable or less lovable or less intelligent. It just means I'm not good at that thing. That's all it means. But in our society and in the school system, that's not all it means. We make it mean like all this stuff about. If you're not good at math, it means that, you know, you're not going to be, it means something about your future.


You know, if you're not good at math, it means you're not very intelligent. And if you think you're not very intelligent, then you're going to struggle in other areas as well, because you're going to be operating from that belief, which will make you probably unintelligent. I know that when I'm afraid of acting a certain way, I act more that way.


Or if I'm afraid of what this person thinks of me, I'll be even weirder around them. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think when you're acting from that place of I'm stupid, you'll make mistakes. So when you're, when you're a kid and you have this idea, like I'm stupid and then you're trying so hard to prove that you're not stupid.


It's like you end up making a lot of mistakes. Cause you're so nervous. And you're trying so hard that you're not just being yourself and being natural and present with what is fear based. It's fear-based and you're overcompensating. 


Jenna: Yeah. So I know that people are going to wonder though, like, what was your experience with reading, writing and math?


I mean, because you sound like somebody who was like, okay, I, you know, I'm motivated to do this. I want to do it. And then you, you essentially do it. You jumped right in feet first. So what was your experience with, with those specific subjects, you know, cause these are like the things that people are always just so worried about and my experience is so different, you know, I can't relate to that because my kids already do those things quite proficiently, you know?


Summer: Sure. Yeah. No, that is, that's a huge one. It's always about like, what about reading is really the big one that's reading is the big one. If I don't make my kid learn how to read, how are they going to learn how to read? And for firstly, I want to say about that is I feel like a lot of adults have this idea that their kid has to be motivated and make a decision in order to.


And I think that's not how it occurs to me at all. Learning happens on accident, like right. And laugh every second of the day. It's like not something you actually really have to do on purpose in that sense. Like, I don't feel like it's necessary for a child to have this motivation, like, oh, I'm interested in this thing.


I think I'm going to discover more about this. I've made a decision to explore this and learn about this more. That's not how it works. Like if you watch them, when they're tiny, like I babysit this one and a half year old little girl once a week right now, I just love observing. Like this age is so magical.


She doesn't make a decision to learn about something. She just picks a thing up and puts it in the other thing. And she's just doing, you know, she's just doing and experiencing and being in the moment, like she doesn't have to have this whole psychological process. To get to a point where she's learning something, learning is already happening before you even think about it.


Jenna: At that age, II think it's more about curiosity and experimentation. 


Summer: It is at every age, every age.


Jenna: Older kids maybe, you know, from, from my experience with a 13 year old and an 11 year old. I know that they have specific things that they're interested in. Right. And then they choose or decide like, I want to get better at it.


Summer: Right, I'm not saying that it doesn't happen. That definitely happens. And I have some memories of doing that myself, of being like, I think I want to learn about this and like going for it. So that does happen. I'm just saying that I don't think it's necessary for a child to know they're motivated and make a decision to learn in order for learning to happen.


Jenna: Right. It doesn't have to be a conscious, 


Summer: Right, like an active process. That's what I'm saying. Okay. Be like this conscious choice and a lot of parents who are unschooling and they're new, maybe new to the unschooling and their children are young, they're waiting and they're looking and they're watching for their child to choose to learn something.


Instead of recognizing that they're already learning, they're already learning and they're learning without the conscious choice to learn. Like learning is just happening all the time. It's a by-product of living. And so when it comes to things like reading, writing and math and that kind of stuff, a lot of my learning actually happened by accident just through life because it's around and you can't help it.


It just happens through exposure. You know, if you see that symbol enough times, you're going to recognize it. And then you're going to be like, what's that symbol stand for? And someone's going to tell you, and then you're going to know that happens naturally and gradually. And then there's certain points where something grabs your interest particularly.


And then you'll maybe pursue that for a while. Maybe you'll lose interest. So that's how it would go for me. It's like, I feel like I, um, I grew in lots of different directions at lots of different times and would go in this direction for a minute and then backtrack, or then go in another direction. I'd pick up this thing and then realize that it wasn't the thing I was really interested in.


So that was happening all the time without the conscious thought process necessarily behind it. But to answer the actual question, yes. Reading and writing, I was a little bit older. So we had, there was a lot of negative influence from my dad's side of the family. There was a lot of pressure and a lot of negative influence and, um, it had some negative impacts on us as kids.


And I remember I actually have specific memories. I've written about interactions I've had with my grandma and stuff that made me self-conscious and she made me. Worry about myself and if I was going to be okay, like not going to school, because she would ask these questions, you know, and she would interrogate me when my brothers were out of the room and flashcards and be like, trying to teach me and like, like testing me on stuff.


And it would come from her own fear because she loved us, which I understand, but it still had a really negative impact on us. And so my oldest brother had it the worst because he was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. And, um, my mom just did everything opposite of everyone else. Wondered, do you know?


It was like, no, we're doing attachment parenting and breastfeed. It was all this more natural peaceful parenting kind of stuff that my dad's family just had no idea. They just were horrified. They thought we would be dependent and socially awkward and stupid. And like all this stuff, they were terrified, terrified.


So there was this negative influence. So I like to point that out just because my oldest brother, he didn't start reading, I think until he was about 12, because he was so freaked out from the family pressure that he was exposed to and the fear-mongering from them that he would get really nervous around anything academic, because they made it seem really scary.


And so my mom like was just like tried to give him as much space and freedom and remind him that he's absolutely brilliant and fine, and he's going to be fine and wonderful, but it's really hard when people that, you know, you know, and love and trust like your own grandparents, look at you, like something's wrong and they don't trust that.


You're going to be okay. You start to question if you're going to be okay. And So he had a little bit of a harder time with that. But then my second brother, he was the opposite. He started reading when he was four or five years old. And it was just because he wanted to read this one story in this one book.


And he sat my mom down one afternoon and they spent like a couple of hours and that was it. It was like, I want to read this story and it wasn't. I want to learn how to read it was, I want to read this story. And my mom had this really beautiful way of allowing us to show her how we wanted to learn as well.


Not just what and when, but how do we approach learning, really more like letting the questions come from us? So it was very child led in the sense that she wouldn't just be like, oh, you want to learn how to read. This is how you learn how to read. She's like, really? How do you want to learn? Like, do you want to learn the sounds first?


You want to learn how to read whole, you know, like it was like, she would kind of investigate that with us. What was our interest really? Because sometimes a child has an interest in something for a reason that you haven't anticipated and it's coming from. From some other interests or it's just one aspect of it that they're interested in.


And so if you can follow that drive, it'll go a lot further than if you impose your own ideas about what that interest holds for them or why they're learning that thing. So my, um, my second oldest brother, he learned how to read very, very quickly in like one afternoon, one story. And then my oldest brother, it kind of makes sense now seeing them as adults, because he's more physical in the works with his hands.


Like he's a sailor, he's a captain and, uh, runs a charter company and sails boats and likes to build things with his hands. And he just remodeled his whole house. And like, you know, that kind of thing. My second oldest brother is a computer nerd and works for some startup tech company and has a degree in political science and, you know, he's like the brain.


So it's interesting to see that later on in life. You know, when we were kids, Garrett was busy building things and clay was reading and I was making pretty things then, and Kai was making snacks. Like he became a chef. We all had the seeds of our true passions in us all along, but we explored various avenues and aspects of that.


So then when I learned how to read, I tried really young, but I was the kind of kid that was like, if I couldn't get it right, right away, I'd get frustrated and walk away from it. And luckily I was allowed to do that. So I remember pretty young. I want to learn how to read. Okay, let's do it. You know, like, this is what, how do you want to do this thing?


And then I'd just be like, this is, this is too hard. I don't, I don't want to do it. Like I would just walk away. My mom's like, okay, well, whatever. And I was really busy with my other interests. I was very much into creating tiny things, whatever it was like, you know, I was into sewing and fashion design and making clothes for my dolls and building fairy houses in the woods.


I was really into nature, really into plants, edible plants. My mom got me an herbalism class.  I had all these other interests going on. And then when I was about 10 or 11, I decided I wanted to read a whole book by myself and I read Jonathan Livingston, seagull. I struggled through it and I was like, okay, but I did it, but I'm not, I don't really want to do that again right now.


So then maybe a year or so later, my friend recommended that I read Harry Potter and I didn't want to tell my friend, well, I can't read, you know, I don't want to read or whatever. And so my mom started reading it out loud to us and I got so involved in the story. And then my little brother was like, well, I want to know what happens.


And he started reading and that's how he learned how to read as well. He was like nine. He started reading Harry Potter. And then I started reading Harry Potter because I was like, there's no way he's going to get ahead in the story. And I don't want to wait for my mom to read out loud to me. So I basically grabbed that book and sat down on the couch and made myself sit that I was like, I'm going to do this.


So there was that decision and that determination. Um, but I had already had so many years of exposure to reading my mom, read to us all the time and was always involved in the present and answering questions and all that. So I had all these years of being exposed to reading and letters and words and looking at pages while they're being read and then trying to read myself on occasion.


So it happened in several batches of learning over the years. And then the final push was just Harry Potter. I sat down and it took me about an hour or two at that point till I was reading super fluently and something just clicked in my brain. And then I was just like, I couldn't believe it. Like, it was the most thrilling experience.


I was just like, overcome. Like I couldn't, I felt like I was, it was like, I would describe it now. Like I felt like I discovered some new, amazing drug. I was just like, this is amazing. And I devoured it. I read Harry Potter in two days, and then I read the second book and two or three days, and it just went like that.


I read probably at least six hours a day, if not more for a couple of years there. And my mom would have to be like, you know, honey, you might want to move your body. You might want to get up and go outside for a minute. And like, you know, she had to kind of like help me because I became really sedentary and just obsessed with fantasy novels.


And then I read so many things. I evenI fell in love with Shakespeare. I read like every Shakespeare play ever written just because I loved them on my own. And then I found out later, as a teenager, that people were forced to read that stuff in school and they hated it. And so I read a lot of classic literature and I loved language and words and writing, and it was just this beautiful, magical thing.


And so when I hear people concerned about their kids learning how to read, I'm always like, that is the last thing I would worry about because. I feel like it's this absolute, amazing, magical thing. Like, everyone's gonna want to crack that code at some point because it grants you this independence and children naturally crave independence.


I mean, you see them, they kind of go back and forth and as they get older, they want more and more independence. No, I want to do it myself. No, I want to get my own thing. No, I want to do this. I want it. You know, like they want independence from you and all of these skills that we're talking about. All these academic skills, those all grant independence.


So at some point they're going to want it because they're not going to want what kid is going to want to be 12, 13 years old sitting in a restaurant and have to have you read the menu. They don't want that. They don't want to be dependent. They want independence. They want to be able to do it themselves.


Jenna: I want to pause there. two things that you said there that, um, really stuck out to me. So, first of all, I know that when kids are, they wait until there's that motivation, there's that thing that they want to achieve and they need this and this and this, you know, criteria. These things have to be met before they can do the thing, right?


Like they have to know how to add or, you know, whatever the, whatever the skill is. And so I've heard this over and over again with unschoolers and home educators in general, that when that happens, the thing that they need to learn, that skill is so rapidly achieved because it's, what's holding them back from getting to their goal, there's a driving force behind it.


That it’s just unstoppable. 


Yeah. And what's interesting to me is that we spend years teaching kids how to read some times and then practicing it over and over again. And that could have all been avoided that, you know, that time spent that time wasted sitting and doing these drills and practice and worksheets and, you know, reading out loud in groups and all of that stuff could have been completely avoided if you just waited until that spark came intrinsically, right?


Summer: Yeah, because it will. And I think that's the problem is that a lot of people, they don't trust that, they don't believe. And I think it comes down to like your basic beliefs about human nature and what a human being is born with. And I believe that they're born with this evolving spirit. They don't want to be stagnant and sedentary, like no human being is born lazy.


It's just not a thing. It's like, they learn how to walk and talk. Like you couldn't stop them if you wanted to. And without the psychological blocks that get built throughout life, like it would just continue that way. And I feel like, yeah, every child who grows up in a healthy, supportive environment is going to find a personal reason to learn these things that they need because they're going to be needed.


So that's the other thing I think is funny is that people are like, well, they need to learn these things. And I'm like, well, if they need to learn them, then they will, you're saying, need, need means it's actually necessary. Which means they won't be able to avoid it. You're kind of contradicting yourself.


If you think you need to force someone to learn something that's needed, because if it's needed for them, they will. You will acquire these tools that you need to live your own life because who doesn't want that. And then people are like, well, if you're really afraid of your 30 year old son living in your basement and never doing anything, I think that's what people are afraid of.


They're afraid their kids are going to amount to nothing, and they're going to be dependent forever. And they're just going to sit around and be lazy. I just don't really get that because I don't see anyone that's been raised like this that's ended up that way. I see a lot of people in public school.


Like I see that our system is pumping out people who don't know how to live their own life. You know, we have this massive homeless population in our country. We have the amount of, um, medical, like psychological problems that we have mental illness, like all these things. And yet we still trust in the system that is creating that.


And I'm not saying that school alone, I'm talking about the whole system. That school is a part of it. I don't know, I'm like, there's no guarantee you send your kid to school. Like they still might end up this other way, like unhappy and broken and depressed and all the, all of these things. So why would you keep S like there's no guarantee in school.


So why do you feel so much safer? And I wonder why we're not changing how we're raising children, because that's where it starts for me. Like, that's where it starts. If you want a healthy human, you start from infancy and it's about protecting their emotional and mental state, because that's what's going to cause them to be successful.


You can know all the math and all the science and all the English in the whole world. Like you can be so highly educated and you can still be a miserable, awful person who treats people like crap, who hates the world, who locks himself away. Like education doesn't have anything to do. With joy and happiness and passion and love and, and health and wellness.


So I think that it's interesting that we still focus on these things instead of like, let's take care of the real problem here, which is our psychological, emotional health and wellbeing. And I feel like the academic stuff will take care of itself because if you're healthy, psychologically and emotionally, then you, you want to thrive and be happy.


And so you will acquire those skills that you need to do that. 


Jenna: I think it's about, you know, like we talked about before, if you don't feel happy within yourself, you can't live a happy life. Yeah. 


Summer: Yeah. Fulfilling, satisfying. It really starts there. 


Jenna: And I wanted to switch gears just a little bit because I know people are going to be interested about how your lifestyle was, you know, like more about what kind of learning resources did you have in your home? What kind of, what, what sort of things did you guys do? And, and let's talk a little bit about strewing because I know you have an opinion about that. And I, I'm very eager to hear it because I like bringing on different perspectives and hearing different people's opinions.

Summer: Well this, I mean, this strewing thing is very simple. It's actually only something I really heard about recently, but it's very simple. It's just what we talked about earlier is that anytime you have an agenda and you're, you're trying to manipulate your child, it's going to backfire.


I feel like this consciously strewing, like I'm going to leave this here so that my kid might get interested so that they might learn and be successful someday. It's all coming from. And it's still, it's still, to me, I'm manipulative behavior. Now there's nothing wrong with like, oh, you see a book, you know, when you're out and about that day.


And you're like, oh, I think, you know, my kid might really like that book and you grab it and then you leave it on the coffee table when you get home. And that's like, that happens if it happens naturally just from, because that's what's happening in your life and you saw this thing and it reminded you of this person.


And so you've got it for them. That's its own thing. But if you're purposefully doing it with this agenda to get your kids to learn, and you're like purposely leaving things in their way, to me, it's just another manipulative behavior because I would not appreciate it if my mom was doing that to me. I would not appreciate that if my boyfriend was doing that to me, I wouldn't do that to my boyfriend.


If I want him to be educated about something, I'm not going to be like, oh, I'll just leave this book here and he might see it and then maybe he'll get interested. And then we can have this conversation. Like that's really disrespected. I would feel like that's really disrespectful. If someone did that to me, I'd be like, why don't you just talk to me about it?


Why didn't you just show me the book when you it's about, 


Jenna: it's about intentionality. 


Summer: It's the same thing as what I was talking about before, it's not just, it's not necessarily the action. It's about where that action is coming from. You know, so if my mom comes home and leaves a book on the table, she's like, oh yeah, I just saw this.


I thought you might like it. I'm like, oh, cool, thanks mom. You know, like that's, that's a thing. Like I can feel where she's coming from with that. But if she does it sneakily and she's like doing it secretly in her own head and not telling me about it and like leaving things for me to find so that I might try and change me because that's what it's about.


It's like, anytime you're trying to like, change your child or make them a certain way or get them interested in a certain thing. To me, that's manipulative. And that's in any relationship, that's not just children. And so I like to take these things that we take for granted in adult relationships and, and apply them to children.


How would you feel if your partner was treating you the way that you treat your children? And so there's nothing wrong with strewing in and of itself. I really encourage all parents to just question where they're coming from every time they do or say something like that, don't just take the first answer that pops up in your head.


Like, I mean, really dig into it. You know, why did I say that? Where is that coming from, sit with yourself and look into that. And that's all part of the D schooling process. You know, why did I say that? What did I want from my child at that moment? What response was I trying to elicit? You know? And when fear comes up, like the thought like, oh, they're not gonna question that thought.


Like, why, where did this thought come from? And where did I get this idea? And why do I believe it? And question if it's true for you. And so the thing with the strewing is to me, it's just like, um, it's just like any other kind of method that we get this idea in our head, and then we believe it. And then we're trying to use this method on our children too, to manipulate them into being a certain way, instead of just sharing something from joy and love, which could happen naturally without this psychological process of I'm going to do this thing.


So that they'll see it so that they'll have this, so that'll have this effect and then there'll be like this. So it's kind of hard to describe because to me, it's not necessarily about the action. It's about the process behind it and the cause where it's coming from, right. Adults are extremely manipulative toward children without realizing it unconsciously all the time.


And sometimes they'll be like, well, no, I'm doing this because I love them. And I'm like, yes, Let's look a little bit deeper because that's an easy answer and oftentimes it's a little harder to get to the truth. So don't always accept, you know, that first answer, like sit with the question and like, let it, let it dig into you and show you.


What's really going on. 


Jenna: Yeah. I want to get to this question and we're going on, you know, almost two hours. I want to be respectful of your time. I think I'm going to have to have you back on because we have so many topics to cover, but I definitely want to talk about this one. So please explain to me a little bit about how your mom handled boundaries in your home because I think as unschooling parents, I mean, some people take it to an extreme where there's like no guidelines or house rules.


Summer: Or  kids become dictators and it's just like all over everything, anytime, anywhere, whatever you want. And there's no kind of structure to the household.


Jenna: Yeah. I've seen that. Right. And you talked about living harmoniously and peacefully and joyfully. And to me, when I first started this journey and started reading about these parenting styles within the unschooling community, it occurred to me that that wasn't going to work for me because I do value peace and harmony and that doesn't seem to coincide with having boundaries and being able to live communally. 


Summer: A lot of people assume, you know, like when I remember when I was younger too, and like my mom would talk to people and it was all about like, to her, it's all about freedom. And people would assume that we just had this chaotic household, you know, food fights and up all night.


And you know, like who knows what they were thinking it was insanity and absolute chaos. That's not how it was at all. And this is where it comes down to. Like my mom is, she really operates from the heart and from her intuition and her gut. And so it wasn't as much of a psychological process for her, which I think is really, really beautiful because then she didn't have quite so much in the way she wasn't trying to follow someone else's model.


She was really making it up as she went along. And she was very clear about that with us. So it was really, we operated, um, see equality goes both ways and respect goes both ways. So oftentimes what I'm seeing is I'm seeing people in, in an effort to allow their children freedom, they're giving up their own freedom and that's not freedom because anytime that someone's freedom is being sacrificed to another person's freedom, then that is not true.


Freedom. My mom had this beautiful way of somehow finding this balance of like where all of our freedoms, curbed, each other's freedoms, like where, where do those freedom. And affect one another. And so that's really interesting and it's difficult to explain sometimes, but I like to explain it in the sense that like, we didn't always have physical freedom because you can't just do whatever you want.


Like you can. Like I heard recently about an unschooling mom who was struggling because her two sons were just tearing up the house and destroyed the couches. And she was living in a rental and they broke a wall and like all this stuff, but she's like, but I'm trying to unschool and let them be free and all this.


And I was like, that's not, has nothing to do with unschooling actually has nothing to do with that of schooling. In my family, we really operated like a small tribe, like a democratic house where we would sit and discuss things together. And we would all be part of the decision making process. And we would all have to make adjustments and sacrifices for each other.


So it wasn't like my mom was this dictator, like in when there's equality, it means that not one is above the other. So our freedom was not more or less important than her. She had this beautiful way of kind of being that facilitator. And it always made sense. And she was always willing to hear us out and our concerns and considerations and to change and adjust and grow.


And we tried so many different things, you know, it was kind of like, we all had to help out with the chores. That's kind of how it works. And when you're living in any community, you don't just get to leave your dishes in the sink. Like everyone has to do their part and clean up after themselves. It's not fair to leave that all on one person.


So we worked out so many different ways, you know, like there was a time when mom would make a list and we'd all sign up for the chores that we wanted. Um, there was a time when we tried all doing our chores in the morning, there was a time when we tried doing them at different times of the day. There was a time when we tried rotating, there was, we tried so many things to find what worked for us.


So it wasn't just like she would make up these rules and implement them. It was very much like we were all figuring it out together all the time. And it was all about how can we live in peace and harmony together? So that's what, what came first was the peace and harmony of our home. And there were very few times in my life I can remember my mom like putting her foot down and I feel like she was totally justified and it made sense to us and we respect. 


Jenna: Yeah, I think the difference is the top down approach. Do you know what I mean? Like, it was more like, and that's, we've had those similar conversations in our family a million times, like, okay, it was working, but now it's not, let's see how, how can we change it? Because I still feel like I'm being burdened more than the rest or, you know, whatever. 


Summer: Yeah, no, you constantly have to be willing to change and evolve because especially with children because they are developing so quickly that it's going to be changing and evolving all the time. And you're never going to come to this place where you're like, okay, we've got it now.


It's like, it's an ever evolving growing thing. It's like a garden and you, you don't get to just stop. And it never ends, it’s not stagnant. And you just, like, we found the way it's like everyone's different. And every combination of people is different. So every family is going to have to kind of find that way that works for them.


But we. You know, we had a routine and we found the things that worked for us, and it was really beautiful, happy, and peaceful childhood, is how I remember it. And my mom was only a few times really that she had like certain things that she would put her foot down about. And, and that had to do with when it came to protecting our health and wellbeing.


And when she felt like something was harmful or dangerous was the only time that she would really step in and kind of pull the mom card. And I'm super, super grateful that she did. And like, I feel that that's a parent's job is to protect their child so that their child can develop according to their own natural instincts and, and brain development, you know, but there are certain things that get introduced that can alter that, that can affect a child's natural brain development in, in negative ways.


Um, felt that that was her job to step in and prevent that so that we were allowed to develop free reading. Naturally. 


Jenna: Can you give an example? 


Summer: Well, you know, I, yes, but I also don't want to be like judgmental of other people who feel it, those aren't harmful because everyone's a little bit different. 


Jenna: Just for your own life experience, like, was there, what was the moment that you remember?


Summer: Yeah, we didn't have video games and that's, uh, well, people are, you know, the screen time thing is a really controversial topic and I don't usually talk about it cause I feel like it's something everyone kind of has to discover for themselves if it works for them or not. And some people are doing fine with the unlimited screen time and that's fine.


But in my childhood also, it's very different. Like 30 years ago, technology wasn’t very good. So we didn't have handheld devices and stuff. So it's a different game. Now my mom actually threw out the TV when I was little, she just saw the effect it had on my brothers. And she was like, this makes you guys so weird and uncomfortable and agro.


And she's like, why am I even doing this? So to her, again, it wasn't like a psychological process of if this is good or bad, or if I should let them because of this and that and the other. And it wasn't like that. It was really just like her mother's intuition stepped in and was like, this is having a really negative effect on my children.


And they were at that age where it wasn't like you had a conversation about it, you know, two, three years old. And it was just like, ah, we're just not going to have TV. And so we didn't, I have TV. And then when I was a little bit older, we did movies. Yeah. Documentaries and stuff. And we work that out as a family, like how much and when, and that kind of thing.


So it was another one of those things that we, uh, discussed altogether. And then there was a time when my brothers were going to their friends to play video games. My mom was not going to say they couldn't do it when they weren't in the house. You know, like she had this really cool way of saying like, this is our community space and we need to do what works best for everyone in this space, outside of this space, you're a free sovereign individual, you know?


Right. So within this space though, like we do have guidelines and rules for what works for everyone. It's kind of like, you know, the democratic free school, summer hill. I remember watching the movie. It's a great movie by the way, um, summer hill, the movie, and there's this scene where they're like, they make up rules together as a school.


And one of them was like, you can't skateboard inside. Cause someone got a splinter in their foot. And I was like, yeah, that's basically how my family worked. It was like, no, we don't do video games in this house because then Garrett and clay, if they play video games, they become mean and nasty and they treat Kaia and I really poorly, and that's not right.


And so it was like, that's not okay in this house. And mom also, and this is where it gets really hard to have this conversation sometimes because it's so easily misunderstood. And I have a hard time communicating it properly, but there's things that my mom just didn't support and that was one of them.


So she wasn't going to buy us something that she felt was unhealthy and she didn't want around herself. So she just didn't support it. She didn't take it away. We never had it in the first place. And they went and played video games with their friends, and that was okay for a little bit. And then they would come home really angry and unkind to me and my younger brother, which broke my heart.


I remember this because they were the most wonderful. And they would come home and it was awful. And then my mom would be upset and I remember her crying and crying in front of them and telling them like, this is really painful for me to see you like this. And I don't want to be around you when you're acting like this.


I don't want to be around you when you're like this and we're hurt and we love you and we miss you. And if you want to play video games, then just don't come home for an hour or so afterwards, so that you can detox and be yourself when you get home. And that's what we worked out actually.


And they agreed to that. So I think everyone has to find the different things that work for them. And nowadays, you know, like people are talking about how much educational value there is in screen times and video games. And I don't argue that. Of course there is, but that doesn't mean that everyone needs to do unlimited screen time.


It doesn't mean that it's healthy or safe. It doesn't mean that it's not, I'm not saying one way or the other. I just know that it did not work for my face. And then when we got a little bit older, we got a computer. When the internet came out, we got a computer and internet and we all figured out how to use and share that time and use the internet to research things and watch cool videos.


And the educational resources online now are absolutely amazing. I use them a lot myself. We were a low tech family, low tech lifestyle because that's what worked for us and my mom. It was all about whatever supported the peace and harmony of the home. So whatever was disruptive to that got investigated and then thrown out or not, depending on the outcome of our family investigation into that thing.


And then, you know, my mom was a super, super health nut, so there were things that she wouldn't buy for us. And also she was really, really passionate about animal cruelty. And so there were things she wouldn't buy because they participated in that. And she's like, I'm not going to contribute when you can raise your own money and buy that if you want.


You know, so that's kind of where freedom comes in. Between the parent and the child is like, I, I really do feel that a parent has the freedom to say, I don't support this and I don't want to participate in this, but that doesn't mean that you can force your child not to, if they find the means to do that on their own.


So that's kind of an interesting and different thing. I watched a video with an unschooling mom who was like, she made a video of her and her son and she was going into a McDonald's to buy her son a hamburger. And she was like, I'm going to buy it even though I don't eat meat and I don't believe in McDonald's. This is what my child wants.So I'm going to do it for him because he's free. 


And I was like, yeah, he is free, but you are also free to say, honey, I don't want to go into McDonald's and buy that hamburger for you. So you can figure out a way to do that on your own. Like there's freedom goes both ways. And equality goes both ways and your child is free to not like that.


You know, they're free to be upset about it. So it's kind of, it's a really hard thing to explain because to me, it gets kind of more energetic and emotional, like how that works and that communication and that relationship and with my mom and I, like, I never felt like she was encroaching on my freedom.


I felt like she was standing up for herself and I learned how to do the same from seeing her do that. So like she set this example of being strong and staying committed to her convictions and holding to her principles without imposing them on us. And so I also learned how to do that. Like how to stand up for myself and say, this doesn't feel right for me.


I don't support this. I don't want to be involved in this, but without imposing it on other people, that's how she was. And I think that was just super, super beautiful. And there were times where she didn't want to buy factory farm meat. And it was like, she didn't just say, no, she was like, this is why.


And she took us to an animal sanctuary and we watched videos of factory farming and we all were like, yep, that's right. We don't want to be part of that either. Mom. Thanks. You know, so she always explained her position and made it clear and also was like, you know, like with the video games or like, I'm sorry, I don't want to participate in this.


And I don't want to support you in something that I feel is harming you, but you're free to do as you please. I just don't want to be part of it. And we respected her for that. I feel like that was one of the things that earned my respect immensely was her being her own independent, sovereign being and allowing us to do the same.


And finding that balance and that line where you're not crossing into each other's space and trying to control each other, but you're also staying true to yourself and your own beliefs and your own convictions. 


Jenna: Then also, if you do, then you go back and have a discussion about how you are, sorry. 


Summer: Yeah. Oh absolutely.


My mom had an immense amount of humility. She was very vulnerable with us and very open and very honest and always, and sometimes she would be like, yeah, I don't know why I said that earlier. You guys, I'm really sorry. I was just like, whatever, like she apologized all the time and she also would tell us she didn't know what she was doing.


We would sit together as a family and she'd be like, guys, I don't know what to do about this. This is really hard for me. Like, what do you think we should do? Like that was the video game thing. Her being like this isn't working for everyone. You know, like this is really hard for me and this is painful and this is how it feels.


And this is what I'm seeing in you. And this is what I'm afraid of. And this is, you know, and it was like just this very open, raw, real, honest, vulnerable communication, and constant humility of being like, I don't know how to deal with this. Help me out here. Let's do this together and not being like, she always had all the answers and then being willing to change it, to get changed a little while down the road.


You know, I think, um, my little brother got like one of those handheld video gamey things when he was, I don't know, we were a little older. I think my older brothers had moved out and stuff and we had a different thing. So it wasn't always like never any video games in the house. It was just like, we were constantly finding what worked for us and how to function together as a family.


And I think that's really important that you never come to this place where you're so attached to things, being a certain way that you're not willing to change them for them. 


Jenna: I think the best way to wrap up this conversation is back to sort of where we began with the fact that it really starts with relationships like relationships with yourself, relationships with each other.


Because if you are staying in tune with that, like if that is in balance, that should be your guiding light. There's no, there's no book or, you know, structured rules that are going to work for every single family. You are unique, your family is unique, but if you're feeling like everything is harmonious within your family group, then you're probably doing all right.Like that's a good sign. 


Summer: I've told a lot of moms, like you take care of the relationship and the rest will take care of itself. Um, and I don't feel like it's a choice between. Sacrificing, you know, academic learning for the relationship or sacrificing. But I do feel like you often people are sacrificing their connection, their relationship with their child for that, for academic learning.


But I feel like if you take care of the relationship and the connection and your child's emotional and psychological wellbeing, the academic learning will take care of itself. It doesn't, it hasn't really need you to manage it. It just needs you to be available and willing, but it really doesn't even need you to know that it's happening.


Like learning does not require your attention. I mean, your child's learning doesn't require your attention. Um, in that sense, like, it doesn't need you to know that it's happening or to focus on it or to monitor it or like keep track of it or anything like that. It can happen without you knowing anything about it.


And all it really needs is that connection, that relationship with you, because then your children feel safe to come to you and ask you these questions. Which is how they learn, you know, and sit down with you and let you teach them something that they're interested in because they feel safe and they trust you.


And so if you have that connection, that trust and that mutual respect, then they'll be fine. They'll learn everything they need to learn because they'll have that security and they'll have that safety and you can go anywhere from there. 


Jenna: I think that's a great, that's a great way to wrap it up. That is like the, that is such a great last word.


I love it. Um, before you go, though, I have four questions that I ask every guest on the show. Would you be open to answering them? 


Summer: Sure. 


Jenna: Okay. So the first question is, what are you curious about right now? Like what are you digging into. 


Summer: Well, I, that's a good question. I mean, I'm always curious about my glass blowing.


I was blowing glass all day yesterday. I made a whole bunch of big pieces and I was experimenting with a whole new color and design patterns. So I'm very curious to see how those turn out. I don't get to pick them up until this afternoon, but right now I'm also really into my garden and I'm building a chicken coop.


So I'm curious, I'm learning about chickens and how to keep chickens. So that's been fun and my neighbor is having a baby and she's a good friend of mine. So I'm actually learning a bit more about that whole process, pregnancy and birthing. And I've always been fascinated about that and I'm made with free and doula and that kind of stuff.


Jenna: That is my like number one. Well, I guess number two, passion aside from education, I am like obsessed with the birth process. So anyway, um, so onto the second question? What is your favorite way to learn?


Summer: Oh, um, I really don't know how to answer that question because I feel like I learn in so many different ways and sometimes unconsciously, but I primarily like if I'm going to learn something on purpose consciously, I, I think I'm mostly a visual type of learner I like to be shown.


And then I like to try it myself. 


Jenna: I think that's so funny. A lot of people say that, you know, like that's a hard question to answer. And, but I think that just is the. That comes from unschoolers. Like, I don't think everybody would answer that way. So I always kind of like grimace and like laugh a little bit internally when I hear the people to be like, that is such a hard question. I'm like only an unschooler, I think, would say that. 


Summer: It really is because I think that we weren't told that we had to have a certain way to learn either. So like a lot of people will grow up in the school system and they get this idea that they learn a certain way. And unschoolers often times we’re like, I don't know. I just learn stuff.


Jenna: So, again, I'm very sorry about that. Abrupt ending to the interview. I just wanted to say that I am so grateful that summer joined us on the show today and gave us so much food for thought. So many things to think about and consider in our families. And also I wanted to tell you how you can connect with her.


If you have any questions or want to, you know, reach out to her directly, you can find her on Facebook at this beautiful living freedom, or she has a website for her glass art it's called mermaid art So thanks again for joining me, Summer. And I look forward to talking to you again in the future.


Bye-bye thanks for listening to the rogue learner podcast. If you're enjoying the show, please take a moment to hit subscribe and leave a review. Reviews are the best way to support the show and allow me to record great new episodes. If you're looking for amazing learning resources, you can check out the rogue learner where you'll find a free directory of podcasts, apps, websites, curriculum, and online courses for your kids.


For even more support, you can join our rogue learner Facebook group. You'll find that link on our I hope to see you all next week and until then, remember, let curiosity lead the learning.

Helpful Resources Mentioned in Today's Show


Episode 024 - Reflections After One Year of Unschooling


Summerhill (The Movie) 


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