On parenting and education

Here are some lovely (and perhaps controversial?) pieces of advice from an 'unschooling' email list I belong to.

Give your love generously and criticism sparingly. Be your children's partner. Support them and respect them. Never belittle them or their interests, no matter how superficial, unimportant, or even misguided their interests may seem to you. Be a guide, not a dictator. Shine a light ahead for them, and lend them a hand, but don't drag or push them. You WILL sometimes despair when your vision of what your child ought to be bangs up against the reality that they are their own person. But that same reality can also give you great joy if you learn not to cling to your own preconceived notions and expectations.

Don't worry about how fast or slow they are learning. Don't test them to see if they are "up to speed." If you nurture them in a supportive environment, your children will grow and learn at their own speed, and you can trust in that process. They are like seeds planted in good earth, watered and fertilized. You don't keep digging up the seeds to see if the roots are growing—that disrupts the natural growing process. Trust your children in the same way you trust seeds to sprout and seedlings to develop into strong and healthy plants.

Think about what is REALLY important and keep that always in the forefront of your interactions with your children. What values do you hope to pass on to them? You can't "pass on" something you don't exemplify yourself. Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful. Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible. Think of how you look to them, from their perspective. Do you order them around? Is that respectful? Do you say, "I'll be just a minute" and then take 20 more minutes talking to a friend while the children wait? Focus more on your own behavior than on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.