Self Directed

#28 - Ann Hansen & Missy Willis | Exploring Unschooling: Nurturing Curiosity and Cultivating a Love for Learning

August 10, 2023 Ann Hansen & Missy Willis Season 1 Episode 28
#28 - Ann Hansen & Missy Willis | Exploring Unschooling: Nurturing Curiosity and Cultivating a Love for Learning
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Self Directed
#28 - Ann Hansen & Missy Willis | Exploring Unschooling: Nurturing Curiosity and Cultivating a Love for Learning
Aug 10, 2023 Season 1 Episode 28
Ann Hansen & Missy Willis

Missy Willis invited Ann Hansen to be a guest on her podcast Let 'Em Go Barefoot - and since then, they have been close connected. In sync as they are. Together they have written the book 'Life Unschooled: Living & Learning without School.' We invited both of them to a talk.

Imagine taking the responsibility for your child's life into your own hands, breaking away from the constraints of the traditional education system and nurturing their curiosity to cultivate a love for learning. That's the essence of unschooling and it's exactly what we explore in this episode with Ann Hansen and Missy Willis.

We kick things off by delving deep into Ann and Missy's backgrounds in education and their personal journeys into unschooling. They bust the myth that one must be a teacher to homeschool, emphasizing instead the role of a curious and attuned parent. As we navigate through their experiences, we explore the power of self-directed education and how it fosters growth, curiosity, and a unique learning environment. Their insights into alternative education are truly enlightening, challenging people to reevaluate societal definitions of success and to trust in  children's interests.

We also discuss the challenges and triumphs of committing to an unschooling lifestyle. Ann and Missy share their wisdom on creating a community among homeschoolers, about the hardships of breaking free from conditioned thinking and about the necessity of taking responsibility for our children. We also get an inside look at their collaborative project, the Barefoot Playground guidebook, a practical tool they've developed to help families navigate the world of homeschooling.

Towards the end, we delve into the complexities of parenting during the teenage years and the importance of a strong family bond that outlasts adolescence.

Expect to have your perspectives challenged and your curiosity piqued in this deep dive into a whole new world of learning, fostering growth, and child empowerment.

Remember, learning is not about filling a bucket, but lighting a fire. Let's ignite that fire with some unconventional wisdom on unschooling!

πŸ—“οΈ Recorded July 26th, 2023. πŸ“Wigston district, in Leicestershire, UK

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Missy Willis invited Ann Hansen to be a guest on her podcast Let 'Em Go Barefoot - and since then, they have been close connected. In sync as they are. Together they have written the book 'Life Unschooled: Living & Learning without School.' We invited both of them to a talk.

Imagine taking the responsibility for your child's life into your own hands, breaking away from the constraints of the traditional education system and nurturing their curiosity to cultivate a love for learning. That's the essence of unschooling and it's exactly what we explore in this episode with Ann Hansen and Missy Willis.

We kick things off by delving deep into Ann and Missy's backgrounds in education and their personal journeys into unschooling. They bust the myth that one must be a teacher to homeschool, emphasizing instead the role of a curious and attuned parent. As we navigate through their experiences, we explore the power of self-directed education and how it fosters growth, curiosity, and a unique learning environment. Their insights into alternative education are truly enlightening, challenging people to reevaluate societal definitions of success and to trust in  children's interests.

We also discuss the challenges and triumphs of committing to an unschooling lifestyle. Ann and Missy share their wisdom on creating a community among homeschoolers, about the hardships of breaking free from conditioned thinking and about the necessity of taking responsibility for our children. We also get an inside look at their collaborative project, the Barefoot Playground guidebook, a practical tool they've developed to help families navigate the world of homeschooling.

Towards the end, we delve into the complexities of parenting during the teenage years and the importance of a strong family bond that outlasts adolescence.

Expect to have your perspectives challenged and your curiosity piqued in this deep dive into a whole new world of learning, fostering growth, and child empowerment.

Remember, learning is not about filling a bucket, but lighting a fire. Let's ignite that fire with some unconventional wisdom on unschooling!

πŸ—“οΈ Recorded July 26th, 2023. πŸ“Wigston district, in Leicestershire, UK

Episode Links

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Podcast website:
YouTube Full Episodes:
Apple Podcasts:

Support on Patreon:
Share a review:

0:00:00 - Jesper Conrad
Welcome to Self-Directed. We are your hosts, Cecilie and Jesper Conrad, and now it's time to welcome this week's guest. Today, we have the pleasure of being together with Ann Hansen and Missy Willis, and the reason I contacted you is I am receiving the newsletter from you, Missy, and I got an email about your book and then I was like, ooh, they sound fantastic. I want to talk to them about life and on-schooling and everything. And, Missy, you have a podcast called Let them Go Barefoot and I heard the podcast you had together. Is that where you met up? 

0:00:46 - Missy Willis
Well, we met through Instagram and followed each other's accounts and then, after seeing Anne's post and kind of getting clear on her voice, I reached out to her and asked her if she'd like to be interviewed. So that started and that was a great conversation and I really appreciated her perspective and her experience. And then we ended up coming together to do the Barefoot Playground, which, funny enough, I had to ask Anne before we started talking about the trajectory of things, because I really forgot. It was just so organic and easy that I kind of forgot what steps we took to get to the point to do this guidebook together. So that's how it started. And then we started collaborating and working together and it's just been so easy and pleasant and we're very grateful that we were able to put this ebook together for new families into homeschooling. 

0:01:38 - Jesper Conrad
And we jumped to you and what is your background? You are an educator as well. 

0:01:44 - Ann Hansen
Yes, so I have a background as developmental specialist. I originally began working as a special educator and doing developmental testing for kids in early intervention. As the years progressed make a long story short the more I was in the education system and thought that it would be a great place for my kids, I realized that it wasn't it was. We were completely misaligned. So that's when I just decided to not send my kids to school and pursue what I thought was the best for their development and their emotional health and we just landed on unschooling. It's funny because when I started unschooling I didn't really know the term. I was just following my kids' leads. I believed in self-direction and it kind of became my passion when I started to see them thrive and grow and be so healthy. So I left the school district, started homeschooling my kids and that's when I began consulting and doing some online work and I worked with some online homeschool programs as well. 

0:02:49 - Jesper Conrad
What do you think it is about educators that end up unschooling? We have really talked with many, many people who are former teachers and I'm like is it a straight path? If you want to become an unschool mom or dad, start becoming a school teacher. 

0:03:09 - Ann Hansen
It's so fascinating to me because there are so many teachers who now have turned into unschooling parents. 

I think it starts because, for me, I went into teaching because I so enjoyed watching how children learn and play, and I'm really fascinated with humans in general, like why we do the things we do, why we process life in our experiences, and I think that has so much to do with education. 

So, for me, I was drawn to education for that purpose and then, when I realized there was more control and I wasn't really seeing children evolve into who they were supposed to be, I actually saw more problems being created in the system. So, yes, it wasn't really a direct path and it's funny my husband and I were just talking about this the other day. If you went back 15 years ago, we were buying into having to move to a good school district and get a good education for our kids. It was so outside of us, we were placing everything in someone else's hands, and now it's completely the opposite. What I realized when we left the school system and you guys have probably seen this too is that we are all so capable of being parents to our children and it's all about relationship. You don't have to be a teacher to homeschool your kids, if that makes sense. 

0:04:34 - Cecilie Conrad
To us. Obviously it makes total sense because we're doing the same thing. I remember, actually, when we took our children out of nursery and kindergarten, so that was even before anyone expected some sort of formal academic style schooling. Some would ask me if I was capable of looking after my own children. Do you think you're capable of that? Are you skilled? I think so. I wasn't Danish so I cannot really translate the wording of it precisely, but it was something in between capable and skilled to look after my own children at that time, two and five, and it just baffled me. How can I even not be considered being the right person to be around my own children? And in a way, that's just the way it continues. They grow, but the baseline of us being together hasn't changed. You don't need an education. 

0:05:39 - Ann Hansen
I think that's one of the saddest things, because when I started homeschooling, a lot of people said to me oh, you can do it because you're a teacher. I got that so many times and I would get really upset and say, no, I'm just an attuned parent, I'm just paying attention to my children. I don't know. You know, it's funny when I started homeschooling and had a different, it looked very different than it did when they my kids are now 19 and 20, so it looked very different as we moved along. But I knew how I wanted it to feel. I didn't know what it would look like and it changed, but I knew I wanted to feel connected. I wanted them to just be curious and playful and I didn't want them to lose that, because it's so important in life to be curious and playful and we take that for granted when we talk about people's mental health. We just we're not playful anymore. So, anyway, it's so sad, but you just need to be an attuned parent to homeschool, right? I mean, missy, we've had these conversations before, right? 

0:06:44 - Missy Willis
Well, and my trajectory is similar to Ann's in that I went to school for psychology, actually, and then I went to get a master's in special education, and I was inspired to do that because of a brother who failed out of school and he dropped out at age 16. And so witnessing his school experience and watching all the stress that was placed on him as a young child, as a teenager, and then what happened to my family because of his experience, made me think okay, I need to go into this system so I can help, and I want to really be able to focus on those children who were very similar to my brother, who were technically. If it was in now time, I'm sure he would have been diagnosed with a learning disability and probably some depression, but instead it was you're broken and you are not doing what you need to do and therefore you were failing and we would hold you back and hold you back. So I actually remember the day he came to school. We were catching up to each other in middle school, so he's three years older than me and then he was still in middle school when he was supposed to be going to high school, and so I remember the day he came to school and walked across the campus and signed himself out of school forever and I had such a sense of sadness and worry because it was like what are you going to do? This was in the 80s, you know, and it was like what do kids do who drop out? Where are you going to go? So that stuck with me and it also made me become even a better student in a way like okay, I can succeed in this environment, even though I solved problems, even though I recognized that it wasn't built for everyone. 

And then, by the time I got to college and then decided that I wanted to go into special education and then I went into the classrooms, I saw how hard it was to do work on the inside because you're stuck against the system and it's there. You're not really in control of your own classroom. You're your handed curriculum, your handed expectations, your handed a list of things that you need to do and even though you want to modify and be very individualized, it's just not set up that way. It's impossible to do. And for one person with 20 plus kids, even as a special educator, when I worked in the classroom, setting to help individual kids trying to you know the language then was to incorporate the special needs kids into the regular classroom, and while the idea of that comes from a good place, I think what happens is those kids just get missed completely and they can't keep up because of just the way their brains work or just where they are developmentally. And so all that to say is that by the time my son came along, I just decided you know what, we don't have to enroll him until age seven, so why not just wait and see? 

And at the same time, my daughter was born six months before he could have gone to kindergarten, and I was like I just don't know if I can separate them right now, like they're just getting to know each other as humans. I'm just getting to know both of them as a family unit of four. And I thought, well, we'll see. And luckily we did have a friend who was doing it too. So it gave me that confidence and I do think that's what a lot of families run up against. Is that if you don't have someone who's doing it, that you don't have some sort of a template to follow. It's expiring me. It's a very scary feeling and it takes some inner fire to just be like okay, I know this in my heart. This isn't the right, but nobody else is doing it, so am I crazy or going to? 

0:10:18 - Jesper Conrad
get sprayed. The rest of the world will tell you you're crazy. 

0:10:22 - Cecilie Conrad
Yes, at least some of them, maybe even your parents. Yeah, we started homeschooling in Denmark. Maybe there were five or eight other families in the whole country doing it Really. 

0:10:37 - Jesper Conrad

0:10:38 - Cecilie Conrad
Or maybe there were a few more families homeschooling, but there were like under 10 families unschooling. It was such a rare and crazy thing that we just and not an easy path to walk and learn. 

0:10:56 - Jesper Conrad
And I asked you Well, you're not alone. 

No, no. But I, as the husband going to work, I put pressure on Cecilia because I, with all the society we have imprinted in ourselves, was like, will they learn? I need them to learn to read Because I, more than Cecilia, who were at home, had to go to a workplace and kind of defend, or I felt they needed to defend and show off. Look how good my children are. They can actually do all this stuff and some of them couldn't at that age when that was expected. But now our the storm with our boy who is 17 and a half years, never been to school, and when I look at him I can just see a system that is actually working and I actually believe you both as educators professionally. Earlier, where I stand today, for me, I look at the on-schooling as it must be the most optimal way to learn and it is just a very scary thing for a lot of people to start with and I know both of you. It helped people on their travel. What is Journey? Journey? 

On their journeys in English. Yes, what is your recommendation for people who are about to take this big, scary jump? 

0:12:26 - Ann Hansen
I think you know for me. I'll back up a little bit Like what you were talking about how scary it is and I think that's huge and it's like for me. When I started I did not have a lot of support, I did not know a lot of people who homeschooled, but I was really listening to myself. So I'll share what happened, kind of what led us to it, because I was in the school system. I'm still thinking that when my kids entered school it would be a great way for us to be part of a community. But yet this community that we were entering did not feel aligned at all with what I knew from my child. So my oldest son was five at the time, not at all interested in reading. He's an artist. To this day he's an artist. He was creative. I used to say he looked at the world like Dr Seuss, Like he saw the world in colors and rainbows and it was beautiful. 

And when I went to all the local schools to see how would they work with him, because he's not interested, he didn't know his letters, didn't care, and they all said, oh, we'll kind of whip him into shape is what they said to me. We'll get that side out of him and we'll get him there. We'll put him in a lower reading group. We have reading groups for kids like this and I knew, because I'm a developmental specialist, I knew there was really nothing wrong with him. He just wasn't interested yet and most kids don't want to read. My five some do, but some don't. It doesn't mean they need to be labeled, so we decided not to go the traditional school route. 

He didn't read until he was about eight, maybe. Till this day he is my reader. He has to surround himself by books. He reads everything he can get his hands on. Once he started to read he took off. There was no catch up. He was not behind and I'm sure you know in the unschooling world we know this to be true. So I feel like his outcome would have been so different if we didn't do that. 

So what I say to parents is getting back to trusting yourselves, because we don't trust ourselves. We trust these standardized systems to tell us your child behind. But I rejected that. I knew him on the part. So I think the work is really with parents to start to trust ourselves and trust in that connection with our kids and see what lights them up and really observe in those first five years what they are learning, because they go to school and then it all seems to be devalued. So really trusting yourself, trying to see where they are learning. Missy and I are working on a course right now with sort of shifting that perspective of what learning is, because we seem to think school is equated to learning and we don't see all the wonderful things that our kids are learning when they're playing in the dirt and playing with friends and having disagreements and questioning us. They're learning all the time. So really helping parents ship that understanding of what learning looks like, yeah. 

0:15:30 - Missy Willis
And I would just add to the long-winded answer. 

0:15:32 - Ann Hansen
Sorry, wonderful, we have time. 

0:15:33 - Missy Willis
That's great. I would add to those who are new and are curious first to get our book, get our downloadable guide. It's only $15. But really, in all seriousness, ann and I thought very deeply about what we would include in this guide and we originally called it a bite-sized guide because we thought we would be just kind of a breeze, sort of like a touch point. We touch on various topics, but once we got into it we realized we couldn't just touch on it. We had to go a little bit deeper. 

And part of that is a paradigm shift and shifting the parents. Parents shifting their perspective on what learning is, questioning what success is to them. Are they going to sign up for a very specific expression of success or are they going to look at their individual families, their values, their children's interest and follow those versus what society says to you is success? And so back to the idea of so many teachers coming into unschooling. I think it's not. I think there's an extra step there and it's people who become parents who start questioning the way that children are treated in general. So when you become a parent and you start looking at the situation around you and seeing how there's a lot of punishment and coercion and force and shame, and it's very disconnected. You know this authoritarian, like you do, as I say, and I'm going to control you. So when you start asking those questions and start wondering, it's like a string gets pulled, a thread gets pulled and then it starts kind of going downhill. So that's how it happened for me is that I had such a. 

My perspective of my parenting was that I wanted my relationship to be first, and once I had that kind of solidified, then when my son became five, almost five, I was trying to put him in school. I thought, well then, but why? And so once I started asking those why questions, it just continued and, like I said, we were like, well, let's just try it, let's see what happens. And that was in 2007. So my son is almost 21 and my daughter is 16, and neither one of them have ever been to a conventional school model. 

They picked and choose whatever they wanted to assign up for. So if they wanted to take classes, they did. They wanted to join in some sort of online activity, they did, but it was all very self led. But it goes back to that questioning, that paradigm shift of asking what you want as an individual, what your children want as individuals and what you want as a family, and then you have to be willing to hear. The answer to I think that's the other part is sometimes the answers come and you're like no, no, no, no, no, that's too hard or that makes me uncomfortable, or I'm not quite sure how I'm going to make that work. So, and I really wanted to impress upon people the importance of empowering yourself with information and with your own awareness and your own ability to lead, and I think, maybe because of the fact that we've had our school system in place for so long, people just become disconnected from their own inner voice. 

0:18:38 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, I point to that is, you know, sometimes when I talk to parents or when people talk with me, then I'm like, hey, can we stop there? I went to the public school system and maybe it didn't break me, but did it hurt me? Yes, in some ways. In some ways I have things in my life where there was put a stamp on me, or it's easier sometimes to see it on other people instead of admitting my own inner voice as a person and what was instilled in me by the school. I can look at my brother who was told by the school system that he was not reading, he was not good at reading and he got that stamp and that sat with him for so many years and the pain of trying to keep up with the system of other people who won other levels. How has that affected his whole life? So maybe the system didn't break him, but it hurt him. 

And I don't know if you in your life have similar stories where you can look back and say how was your school life? How had it affected your life? How have you been hurt? I know, for example, a very stupid little thing is I went to a speech specialist because I had a lesb and I probably still has. But I was just correcting your grammar. I'm signing the correct grammar. I'm hoping to correct your grammar. 

0:20:19 - Missy Willis
That's how kind I am. He said to me, there are these words you can't. 

0:20:22 - Jesper Conrad
You will never learn to pronounce them and to this day I'm still scared of trying to say three. I'm not really sure that it's still, but I was a little boy. I was seven or eight years old. Someone told you you could never say thorough. 

0:20:43 - Cecilie Conrad
No, I still can. 

0:20:49 - Jesper Conrad
No, but let's shine the light on someone else. Can you look at your life? And my reason for this question is actually sometimes, when we talk about school and what is wrong with school, it's nice to hear some examples also, because to better understand what is so good in my mind about unschooling, it's also good to hear personal stories, personal stories about what has happened. So do any of you have one you could share? 

0:21:20 - Ann Hansen
You want to go first, Missy? I mean, I'm sure we both have stories. 

0:21:24 - Missy Willis
I have so many, so many. I will say what I realized a little further along, when, by the time I got to high school, I was. I learned to not make mistakes Like it was. Don't make mistakes, try to do everything as perfectly as you can, always get the A, because that means you're a good student. And so what happened was that I stopped making mistakes, which meant I stopped trying to challenge myself, and there were many of opportunities I turned down or didn't pursue because I didn't know if I could perfect it or really do the best. And so I played small a lot of times or just only did enough to get by, when in fact I know that, looking back on so many of these particular experiences, I probably could have taken things a little further or pursued an interest of mine more thoroughly. 

That wasn't academics, because it was so academic focused and I loved art, and art was considered an elective or an extra curriculum class, and as a kid I always wanted to see an art class longer and it was like, nope, time's up, put your things away. And I just always remember that feeling like, but I'm not done yet, and then we'll get to it next week. And you go next week and they've already moved on to something else and everything you did week before was shelved. So that feeling of this doesn't matter became a message of like this is an important, but your interest, but it's not important enough to really focus on. So that was the one area I wanted to be sure that I gave my kids space to become and do the things that they were super interested in and also that came naturally for them. 

So, funny enough, my daughter is an artist and her ability to draw is just so amazing to me, and then she's surpassed my skills long, long ago. But I really do associate that with the fact that she's had an unlimited amount of time to spend on it and she can work on her craft in a way that works for her, that doesn't meet somebody's standard or that she's graded on, and neither one of my kids have ever received a grade from me. I've never. I don't feel qualified to grade their things, you know, and so I feel like that has a lot to do with why she's pursued it and done so well at such a young age. 

0:23:48 - Ann Hansen
So, missy, we laugh, missy and I, because we say that she's East Coast Anne and I'm West Coast Anne. We'll see. We have so much. We've lived these entire little lives. That's so interesting. So similar to Missy for me. 

I did well in school but I was completely uninterested in anything I was learning. And I started to get the message because, like Missy, I was really into the arts. I loved dance and music, gymnastics and the things that I loved and really wanted to do all day were not valued at school. So I did well because I was supposed to. But I started to really internalize that something must be wrong with me because, I'll be really honest, I don't love reading. I love film, I love movies. I don't love reading. So what's wrong with me that I don't want to read a book every week? Well, I started to really internalize that message. I also, because I didn't love math, I got the message early on that I wasn't good at math and those things still, till this day, impact me. But what I learned when I was in graduate school and we were learning about math and how everybody's mind works differently, I started to learn, like, wait a minute, I'm not bad at math, I was just mad at like that way of teaching. So I'm sort of recovering from all of that. But it's interesting. Today I do work that I love. I left a job with the school district to pursue my interests, to really help people get the message out there about choice and education, and I still have guilt some days that I'm not doing enough, that I'm not doing something or value which is so interesting. I think it definitely goes back to what I valued as a child wasn't valued by the school system. So yeah, I mean when people say that, oh, I made it through the school system and I'm okay, it's almost like that's the trauma speaking in people. It's just denial that they don't want to see what's happening. 

And I will add that I think school today is way different than it was when we all went through school, because it is. I mean, I've been at this for about 30 some odd years and even when I first began teaching, preschool was preschool you play, you know that was it. Now I know many preschools where they're trying to teach pre-reading and doing worksheets and it is so different. Kindergarten was half day when I first started teaching. Now it's full day, at least here in the States and most places. So education has changed. So to say that you know, as an adult, you made it through it is completely different. We're in a different world right now. We didn't have computers when I went to school. Now we have the internet. You know we had to get information from encyclopedias Remember that encyclopedias and left them right. And when it's time to go to a building to get information, and now you don't. So I think it is so simplistic to say well, it worked for me, it worked for them. 

I just like to look at the world. I just like to go a little bit deeper, that it's a different world. We need to prepare kids for this world. We can't be afraid of it. We have to empower them. That's the thing. That's the message I got too was I didn't have a lot of power, I was disempowered. 

And, like Missy, one of my oldest son is practicing to be a composer. He's a music composer and you know we heal through our children. You hear that a lot and for me, giving him the gift to pursue music and know that music is valued, it's his language, that's how he speaks, that's how he processes emotions through his music, and to see him fully supported and pursuing that is. It's so healing for me as a parent, and my younger son, too, is going into design, architectural design Same thing I feel like. Both my kids are artists and I really value their unschooling experience because my one son, who's studying to be an architect, he spent most of his homeschooling days building with Lego and going to Lego conventions and meeting people online and collaborating in building and I knew in my heart there was value there. I knew I just keep letting him do what he loves and he learned about deadline, collaboration, persevering, responsibility. 

It's amazing because he was doing what he loved. So I am so passionate about giving children the freedom to do that. They will always rise to the occasion, and if we have concerns as parents I'm sure you both know this let's talk to our kids instead of enforcing these policies before there's any problems. Right, let's talk to our children, so. I'm sort of. 

0:28:40 - Jesper Conrad
I'm almost jealous sometimes at my children. You know that feeling and I'm like not really jealous, but part of me is thinking okay, how would my life have looked if I hadn't had the opportunity to pursue my passions that much? And I'm logging in the way that my parents. They were very, very, not creative people in that sense at all, but they were very supportive. 

0:29:09 - Cecilie Conrad
They were very supportive. 

0:29:11 - Jesper Conrad
I came home when I was 15 and said, hey, I want to make a feature film, an amateur feature film, and their answer was okay, cool, how are you going to do that? They didn't push me in any ways, but they didn't stop me and that have given me it is close to unschooling. But I went to the school. It's absolutely not unschooling, but the passion led, self-directed Part of that I got to run with. They only said you need to go to high school because you need something to fall back on, and I can kind of laugh about that. How can you fall back on? 

0:29:46 - Cecilie Conrad
high school? That's not going to help you go anywhere. 

0:29:50 - Jesper Conrad
That's not going to help that much, but it has been a fun ride. I know this. Can I say something? Absolutely? 

0:30:00 - Cecilie Conrad
Just because I feel I haven't. No, no, no, I want to hear Now, I've had my coffee and I'm kind of awake again. No. 

No it's just because you'll all share this non-interest in the academics and being more the artist or the musician or and I have a different perspective. I felt school was such a waste of my time really because the level of the academics was so low. I was bored until the wrong side came out of me really. I just wanted to read all the books. I wanted to understand everything. I was so academically curious in school and this should be fair and honest. 

My school year started just as my parents divorced and that was horrible. So in the beginning it was just horrible. But once I came over that trauma and my mind kind of woke up again, I was very academically interested and my problem with school was it was such a waste of time. It was six hours a day getting in the way of my studies. I would stay up at night and sit under the kitchen table reading the encyclopedia, everything. My mom luckily she had a library because she's an academic, so we had a lot of books at home. The public libraries at that time wouldn't let children borrow more than three books at the time, so I had to go almost every day, which was really annoying, and sometimes the librarians would even say we don't believe you're actually reading the books. So now you can't take any books home today. I'm like this was so frustrating. 

So for me, my perspective of there are many levels, layers of this, because on a base layer I don't believe in stealing children's time. It's not fair that I tell them what to do for 10 years of their life, six to eight hours a day, maybe even more, with homework. So whatever they want to do, I don't feel they are my hours to decide over. But on top of that I don't want them to waste their time. I mean, right now we were in a bookstore. We're in Great Britain, so this is just paradise, because we had travel full time and we spend a lot of time in countries where we more or less do not speak the language or do not speak it at all. So in Britain we can actually buy books. 

And we went into the bookstore, the second hand bookstore, and out comes our daughter with like 10 kilos of books, the Norton version of Shakespeare with all the notes and everything so she could go deeper into Shakespeare, the Globes of Fish Fill book on Shakespeare's life and place and two first versions of Shakespeare and a novel about Shakespeare, and she's 14. And I'm not saying this to be like. I'm just saying that because I think it's also. It's equally important to get out there, for those who might not be on schooling yet, that some unschoolers are all about academics. She's studying four or five languages. Right now. She's all about Shakespeare. She's reading all the time. She's very academic. 

0:33:15 - Jesper Conrad
And she also rolls for three of flowers. She's annoying, yeah, yeah. 

0:33:18 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, she's an overachiever, but you know. But I come from a point of view where I was really bored and I would have loved to have more time to study it instead of sitting there at school waiting for anything to happen, because it was just boring and one of well, all of our children each their different way. They do that. So I think that school can also be under underachieving or just not giving space for those who actually like the academics. I don't want to leave this conversation and put it out there online without underlining that unschooling can be very, very academic. 

0:34:01 - Ann Hansen
You bring up such a good point? Actually because for me, I wasn't connected to the academics. But my kids make fun of me because the books that I do read are very much like textbooks and academic books. Right now I'll read books on neuroscience and they laugh because I say I don't like reading, but I rave that knowledge. I didn't like the way I was being taught and my son was the musician. 

My husband and I are constantly amazed at what he reads. It's not he doesn't really read anything about music, it's religion, sustainability, environmental, psychology, like he's constantly getting these books that I am. He's still educating himself. Right, we don't stop educating yourselves. So I think that's such an important piece of it that that yes, I mean it's the way academics are taught in school is just wrote. It's dry and as humans, we crave knowledge. Most people do, you know. We just need to have that freedom. And when you talked about your daughter coming out with all those books, I almost feel sorry for parents who think they have to coerce their kids to learn, because I think there's nothing more beautiful than watching your curious child just be eager for information, and it happens all the time. When we let them self-direct, they go so deep and so many parents miss out on that opportunity and it's beautiful to watch your kids grow like that. 

0:35:31 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, I really guess, when I was going to add. 

0:35:34 - Missy Willis
I can relate to the encyclopedia part, because we had a little row of encyclopedias in our hallway and I would sit and open them and read, because I was very academic, especially early on, and I wanted more and more and more and more. So I would. You know, I had my dad order National Geographic magazine, so I would sit on the floor and just pour through those magazines and read about people in other parts of the world and all of that fascinated me and that's the kind of stuff I wanted to continue to do. But then you had to do that on the side, do your studies, and then you know. Then you got to go deeper when you wanted to, which is what is the beauty of the unschooling and self-directed lifestyle, is that you just it's a fascinating to watch where it goes, and that's the other part of it is you cannot predict the future. So even if you have a lesson plan, how are you supposed to predict where your kids are going to take that information and how they absorb it and what they think of it and what questions they have? So any of this planning that people get really caught up on is only trying to look in a crystal ball and you don't have that. So your kids are the curriculum and they are the ones that you can look at and say it appears that you're interested in this period of history. Right now I have actually this book over here. You might be interested in it. It's like what you would do with any person that you care about. If your brother is into herbs or herbal medicine and you see a book that you would think you would like, you would just grab it for him. It's the same thing with your kids. If you know that they're into a particular topic, why not grab some books when you're at the library? Or if you're out and you see something that you think they would enjoy a little further, then why not pick it up? So it's more about just that relationship and recognizing what you would do for somebody that you care about. And then when kids Anne was mentioning how the Legos with her son and where it's led. 

My son was huge in the Legos. He ended up putting a computer together at age 15. And I just think it just looked like Legos because he was watching videos on YouTube and he was learning. And when he told me he wanted to build his own computer, I thought, oh gosh, I'm going to have to take a computer class, I'm going to have to read manuals, because in my mind I was going to have to help him. And he was like, mom, I've got it. And then when he turned 15, he had everything already in, like a shopping cart, and he collected his money from his birthday presents and money he had been saving up and bought all these pieces. And then they came and we just watched an amazement of him putting this computer together. And I mean, if that was on me to do, he never would have made that computer If he was supposed to wait on me to tell him what to do. And so that's the beauty of it as well is how far they can go with the information. 

0:38:13 - Jesper Conrad
You know, it's the gift of time to give them. Yes. 

0:38:20 - Cecilie Conrad
I just have to read that because it was not ours, to begin with, to steal their time. They entered this life, they have their hours. 

0:38:28 - Jesper Conrad
I agree. 

0:38:29 - Cecilie Conrad
It's a very big, bad ugly misunderstanding that we get to choose and decide and rule over the hours that our children have. It's their life. 

0:38:40 - Jesper Conrad
It absolutely is, but it's still a worldview that I came out with. But you married a worldview like that and I'm from the start. You know that's where it works. 

0:38:53 - Cecilie Conrad
Yes, it's going online I have to be clear that I don't believe in that worldview. We don't let them have their hours, we back off. 

0:39:03 - Ann Hansen
And that's the biggest problem, I think, the whole education system and parenting. We insert ourselves so much and so prematurely and we stop this natural process and, like you said, their time. I mean I think that is the root of all of this. It's no special way to educate, it's how we treat children, it's the rights of children. Children don't do well when we're overly controlled and mean it breaks your free will. And we are constantly breaking the free will of children and then we put these labels on them like, oh, they don't learn or they don't like this, but we've completely interfered with that whole process. I totally agree with what you're saying. 

0:39:44 - Cecilie Conrad
And also we're overly focused. We even talk about it in this conversation because we all know and because you said in the beginning, how would we advise someone new? So we're kind of all having this mindset of talking to someone who's not on schooling or not familiar with on schooling, new to the idea. So we're all in the good. But the thing is we talk a lot about learning and they will learn, and there's learning everywhere. But actually, at least from my perspective, learning is not the point of it at all and I don't mind if they're not learning, as if that would ever happen. But I'm not. I really have let go of the idea that they should learn or it would be better if they learned more, or this whole measurement that there's something to accomplish that you have to accomplish before you, let's say, 15 or 17 or whatever would be normally school years. 

I think that whole idea that we're overly focused on what children learn, how fast they learn it and to what extent we can grade it, to what percentage do they know the math, all of that is just. They grow up in an environment where the judged all the time on performance and they don't have. This is over. No, making a square out of something very, very much more complex than a square. But there is a tendency to judge the children, label everything, look at what they're doing, telling them whether they did it good or bad is it A, b, c, d or F? And just all the time they have to measure there's a measuring stick everywhere and maybe we should just leave them be and really come back to that first moment when we had them in our hands and appreciate their pure existence. Yeah, absolutely. 

0:41:40 - Missy Willis
I hear you? I definitely hear you, and it is a matter of bridging people who are unfamiliar with unschooling and self-directed education and using the language that they're familiar with to help them understand what the possibilities are. And you're exactly right, it's just too many opportunities to say you are above or behind or below or ahead, and all of that language really does just go away when you accept the fact that our natural desire to be part of a community is just so built in, and I'm talking community within the family, and then the community within your extended family and friends, and then it all starts working itself outwards. It's such a natural progression and I think the more people that become interested in homeschooling and unschooling, the more I think we'll start being able to accept that, or change the language, if you will, of the fact that we need to measure learning all the time, because it's become much more accepted. 

0:42:48 - Ann Hansen
I mean, what you're talking about is so complex too, because even I mean, I know through my whole unschooling journey we talk and we talk a lot about this in the book, releasing those conditioned ways of thinking. They have to prove to us what they learned, or we have to measure them, or by 18, they should be doing this. When I'm working with parents, that's probably the hardest thing and the thing that keeps coming up, because we think we've released it and then all of a sudden these fears start to, or these conditioned thoughts come back in. So it's constantly working on that. I would like to say today oh, I don't have any of those beliefs, but they still creep in, and so it's getting really good at when you have those fears, having these conversations with your kids and releasing the need to be certain like, oh, if they get a good education, they will be successful. 

It's all so fabricated and it leads me to think about my younger son, who actually is deciding to go to college. When he was younger, he would have been the child that people said would never take a course, would never learn, but he was just being who he was and because he had that ability to just be and he wasn't graded. We never did tests, he really didn't do any courses. He chose to just not just, he chose to build with Lego. See, that's my conditioned thinking Fantastic, right, it's so powerful, it's so powerful. And so to see him today choosing a path that I could never even have imagined, it, just it humbles me because it shows me how little I know. 

And so Missy and I talk about this a lot, like I may know a lot about children or a lot about unschooling because of my experience, but there's so much I don't know, and I think unschooling isn't for kids, it's for families. It's this way of being. We are choosing to try to be open, to try. You know what I'm saying. It is so complex. So when I talk to parents, if I start too deep, it's like I can lose somebody because we're so conditioned. So it's baby steps. But I really appreciate what you're saying and bringing that up, because it's these conditioned ways of thinking, these ideologies that have been so deeply instilled in us, that can take over if we're not constantly reflecting. 

0:45:21 - Cecilie Conrad
And I really appreciate all the things you've shared and your great perspectives in this conversation. I just felt, as another unschooler, that we have to somehow put that element into the equation. Hey, wait a minute. It's not about learning, it's about respect. It's about living. It's about owning your own time. It's about owning your own body, your own existence in this life. 

It's about as you said in the beginning and said several times both of you. It's about the relation, it's about how you feel with the people you love and you grow into a larger community, all of these things. That's what it's actually about. But when we talk to those who are pulling the plug, taking the kids out of the school, having to rethink, oh, what's going to happen then we kind of have to start out by smoothing it a little bit and reassuring all that that they will not get now, they will get the good part, the learning, the things they will not fall behind or be left behind or all these ideas. So obviously we talk a lot about learning when we talk about unschooling. I just I kind of had to. I got a little bit. 

But anyway, what's that? Two pots, oh yeah, passionate Right. 

0:46:38 - Ann Hansen
And that's kind of our condition. We have to almost prove that if you're an unschooler, you're learning. We have to prove this and it's like, yeah, no, we need to shift to a completely different way of being, and that's our hope with having these conversations and planting these seeds for people to think about. What are we really doing with children? Again, it comes down to being, to me, so disrespectful the way children are viewed and treated. 

0:47:11 - Jesper Conrad
I'm sitting and thinking about survival strategies as a young person, and where I want to go with this is that when I look at the boy I grew up to be, I can look back and ask myself how much of my personality was a survival strategy to survive next to 28 or 24 other people. And I can still see traits of this boy who is getting away with a smile and a quick-witted something and I can question myself today was this because that was how I survived being in that environment and where does it still do me good? Should I go on another development in my life where I take off the layers that were a way to survive in a school setting? 

0:48:10 - Cecilie Conrad

0:48:12 - Missy Willis
Well, and I think so much of the issues that we see in our own families, in our own society is just the loss of community and we don't have our larger communities that we grew up in a long time ago, where we had an extended amount of people who had our best interests at heart, literally, that they cared for us and we knew we had people to depend on everywhere we turned. Because now we're like is this person a friend or a foe? Is this teacher a friend or a foe? Is this kid in my class? Can I trust this person? 

So we're putting kids in these very unnatural environments, and adults too, with the work environment that we're putting people in and expecting them to spend so much time with people that they really won't have any other connection to other than a job, so they don't feel like there's really a deep bond between people. So we're going from environment to environment. That's not a bonding experience, and so those survival skills are natural to come out. I mean, I think it's something like you're born with a temperament and your personality is what gets created to survive. And so you know, like you were saying I know my brother was a complete goofball like to survive in class. So, instead of the teacher focusing on him and his mistakes, he became a class clown, you know. 

So it's that typical stereotypical thing you see about kids in classes that are like, well, let me make people laugh and therefore I won't be focused on for what I'm not able to do, you know. 

And then it happens for all of us. It's like you know what my perfectionist tendencies kind of came up for oh, I can't make a mistake, Whereas now I see mistakes as absolute opportunities and our friend, you know, that gives us another chance to try again. So, yeah, I do think that community loss is huge, and that's what it feels like with the amount of people who are saying no, thank you to conventional schooling. It feels like it's the call of the community. It's like we need to get back to the smaller, the more connected, the more caring, the more understanding, versus just getting up every day and living somebody else's life or living a schedule and living on a timeline that someone else created, that you had no say so in the thing is just, at least for us when we when we embarked on this home based lifestyle, is that once we step out of the school system, there is no community. 

0:50:39 - Cecilie Conrad
All the other kids are in school, all the neighbors go to work, mom and dad you know two cars backing out of the garage in the morning or kids being dropped off. It's really, it can be a really lonely thing. And so we started traveling, I don't know, maybe five years after we started homeschooling. In a way, there is more community now because we can move around and the other world's schoolers are just as open minded and flexible as we are. And as everyone are moving, we bump into each other all the time rather than sitting in our corner waiting for something to happen. 

But I find the lack of community let's be honest, this is the hard part Especially probably more in Europe than in the States. I think the statistics are better at your side of the water. There are more homeschoolers, percentage-wise, in the States than in Europe. Once you pull the plug, you're likely to be on your own and you're likely to have to sit in your car and drive for 45 minutes to visit a friend. There will be. We will have to work for it if we are to build a community, because it will not be the neighbors. 

0:52:05 - Ann Hansen
That was my experience. I live in a small town and it was really isolating. It took a lot to stay true to the path. I believed it. I really believed it. I lost friends over it. I lost family over it. It was not easy. I can say today it was the best decision we ever made. As a family, we are so true to what we believe in. I just feel like we live our values. We're not living somebody else's life. So, yes, it was lonely. Yes, I mean I did. I lost family and friends over this because they thought I was crazy. I look at my children today and we went through the teenage years. They didn't rebel because there was nothing to rebel about when we spoke to each other. 

I look at my public school kids, my friends whose children went to public school, the problems they're having and they roll their eyes and say, oh, it's teenagers. It's not teenagers, it's human beings who have been disrespected and disempowered and disconnected from who they are. So I look at my teens and the CU families that I ended up connecting with here in my town. There's only three other families that we homeschooled with. That's it, that's all it took. And then I went online and I found other people. I found other like-minded families online, I found information and that just fueled me. But yeah, it was lonely at times. 

But that's one of the reasons I'm so committed now to helping families, because you don't unschool and then everything's just great. Not everybody has unschooling communities, but if you believe it, there's nothing better than living a life that's aligned with who you are and it doesn't take a ton of people. I'm not the most patrio person in my town, but that's okay with me. I'm really happy with the decisions and we made and we love being together as a family. We actually like each other's company. My adult children like being with us and I think it's because of how we've all we've had lots of years to practice communicating and going through the highs and lows with each other. 

0:54:23 - Missy Willis
I so very much agree. I wanted to further Anne's point about the community and the fact that it's not just a magic bullet. You know that you decide okay, we're going to go from this system to a different system and it's just an automatic, like it's already created. There does take a lot of effort when you decide to break away from what already established and there are moments of desperation, even there's moments of oh my gosh, what have I done? I'm going to ruin my children's lives. I took them out of something that was already created. Who am I? You know, and especially with people thinking because you're a teacher, you have a free pass to do it. There are some people who are like you're a teacher, why would you do that? What are you? You've already got a system. Why would you take away this, them from the system? So you just run up against a lot of questions, a lot of concerns, a lot of your own worries, a lot of your own ego coming out to say you know, how dare you try to interfere with your children's lives? And I do want to encourage people to remember that this decision to unschool for our family was not imposed on my kids in the way that maybe school is imposed on children. It was more of a here's how our family is operating. 

And my son at four at one point thought he wanted to go to school because of our neighbors going to school and catching the school bus. And I offered him the very basic information facts only tried to keep emotion out of it, even though in my mind I was like don't say yes to school, don't say yes to school. But I told him I was like here's how it would work. You would leave at this point, you would go into the classroom, you would be there till this time and I would come pick you up If you were ready to go during the day. You can't come home, you know. Of course he would come home if he was sick or whatever. But he looked at me at four and was like well, that's stupid. So at four years old he could understand what that would look like. And so the decision was made together. And some people may say, well, yeah, but he's four, how can you allow him to make such a big decision? And I was like but that's just it. 

I know how, can't you? And then I was like but you have to understand, it's not about we're not making decisions from now until, like he's 20. We're saying now in our lives what works. And that's the other piece of it that sometimes people think when they make a decision to homeschool they're locked in from now until who knows when. But just take it day by day, you know, and don't project so far. And because we've I mean we've interacted with a lot of families and you know I've had people say to me when their kids are like five or six, well, what about algebra? You know? And I'm like they're not, they're five. You know, you've got time. It's not algebra. 

It's not your problem right now, yeah, so they worry about what high school is going to look like, and their kids are just just now old enough to even start school. So it's that just take it day by day and take a breath and slow down and remember that there's not, you know, the learning emergencies that we create. We think it has to be a certain way by a certain time, and it just doesn't. And, if anything, it allows you more opportunities to connect with each other and become a tighter family unit and then also be able to pursue those things that do speak to your souls. 

0:57:44 - Cecilie Conrad
I think, though, when I talk to new families, I usually say, yes, take it day by day, you don't have to think about the forever future, but maybe do a year commit to a year, because if you're trying to evaluate after a week, right, I mean, it can't be done. There's so much learning, there's so much process that has to go on within the adults. We are what, 10 years into the journey and I still find layers to peel off. I still I wouldn't call myself like ripe with unschooling. There is still more to think about and talk about, and so if you embark and you think maybe I should unschool, maybe at least for a while, then I think evaluating it like every week or every month, so at least give it a year. How much can go wrong in a year? Give it a year, have a pause, breathe, think about something other than learning for a year, and then think about it again. 

That's just yeah. 

0:58:59 - Jesper Conrad

Yeah, that's a great point. There's something interesting also about when you choose not to outsource the responsibility of your child's years, from their five to their 15 and whatever they will learn in that period. You take on the responsibility also if it goes wrong. But I like to twist that around and ask myself what is the success rate of outsourcing it? It's not like sending a child to school and everything is just peachy and they are happy forever and they will learn everything they have to. 

They are children that comes broken through the school system and, even though I believe that unschooling is way better, there might be some kids out there where it's not right for them or their family. Of course there is. But I'm just always thinking it interesting that we trust in the system so much before we take the choice that we are afraid what can go wrong if we choose not to outsource it and take on the responsibility to ourselves. But where is that question in our mind that people ask us when we choose to homeschool or unschool about? Aren't you afraid it will go wrong when you put them in school? Aren't you afraid they will get bullied? Aren't you afraid they will develop low self-esteem because they are told they aren't good at this thing or this thing, or this thing. It's just wild. 

1:00:39 - Missy Willis

1:00:41 - Cecilie Conrad
You think I'm wondering. You know, if you follow mainstream, maybe you forget to be afraid. Maybe there is some comfort in doing what everyone else is doing, Having a system to believe in. Sometimes I wish I believed in the system. I wish I believed in democracy and schools and tax and war and food and health, administration stuff like it would. Just what if I believed in all that? What if I believed in it? How easy would my life be. There is some comfort there to find and some I get. Why they are not afraid? Because it's like you get the full package. It's like a McDonald meal, nice little curled up paper bag with something smiley outside and it's full of flavor and it's so tasty and yummy and you can even eat it from your car. It's so easy. 

1:01:43 - Missy Willis

1:01:44 - Cecilie Conrad
Am I being too radical? 

1:01:46 - Jesper Conrad

1:01:46 - Cecilie Conrad

1:01:47 - Missy Willis
So when Anne and I mentioned that, we were on the podcast together, and then I had an idea to do what's called the barefoot playground, and that was my outreach opportunity through my website and to do Zoom gatherings with families on particular topics, and they were very low cost and it was just really to get together over a specific time frame and to just discuss concerns that parents had. And so Anne joined me on a series for parent empowerment and I enjoyed that so much because it felt like we were really getting to connect with parents and hearing their questions and hearing their concerns and it helped me become more solid even in my understanding of everything, even after doing this for so long. And so that, like we were talking about earlier, just naturally progressed into this next idea, which was an e-book. And Anne is amazing at coming up with outlines and getting us going and I drag my feet sometimes on ideas and, yeah, we just work so well together. 

Both of us have laughed like after we finished it. It was like, are you kidding? We just did this and it was. There was no drama, there was no, it felt perfect. It was just such a great match. So that was the idea for the e-book, and then we talked more about let's take this to the next step and let's see what happened. So that's as she mentioned. We were working on a course together and that's evolving at this point. You want to add anything? 

1:03:27 - Ann Hansen
No, you can't say it all, but with you and I work really well together and we're it's funny that we've actually never met in person and we feel like we've known each other for so long because we really work well together and we we've joked that I I have a feeling we've Y bake is by one I for lack of a better word unschooled. We have the same unschooled lifestyle. I think we have the same approach to learning and there is no drama because we are just kind of putting things out there and seeing where it goes and it's working so far. So, yeah, we have ideas about really sharing more of this information with families who want to leave the school system but really just can't imagine how it might look. 

We're trying to be able to provide information that will reach families that are at all these different levels and levels of awareness, because people come to homeschooling for so many different reasons and I think a lot of people start out with one set of reasons I think somebody mentioned here. Once you leave those systems, you start to question everything. Everything seems so absurd, things that I thought were so true. Now, that is, how can anybody believe this? So, anyway, people come to it for so many different reasons and our goal is to be able to get information, to meet people where they're at and then take them where they need to go. 

1:04:56 - Missy Willis
And I think, too, we're using our own personal experiences of what it felt like for us when we first started and what we were looking for, and so that has really helped be the impetus for what we might want to create and offer to other people who are at the same point. We were maybe 16, 17 years ago, and then it really is the shared desire to empower the parents. It's not we have all the information and now we're just going to pour it into you. In the same way the school system tries to pour into the kids. It's more like here's our experience, these are our stories, here's what we've witnessed, and I think there's power in story and sharing our stories and sharing our experiences, why podcasts are so popular. 

People love hearing how it worked for other people or what it looked like for other people, what the problems were, what the challenges are, where the joys are, and so it's almost as if, through all these different conversations, we're creating another portal almost into what options are for life, and we bled with the school system for so long that we all just kind of automatically started following it. 

It was just like autopilot, and so I'm a fan of not doing autopilot, and anytime I find myself doing that, even if a conversation with my kids. Sometimes I'll fall into these patterns and I'm like, wait a minute, where did that idea come from and why did I say that that way? So it's a and, like you mentioned earlier, you do have to keep questioning yourself and you pull back layers and you're always peeling layers and I don't think it's an ever done process. I don't. We don't ever stop really evaluating things. I mean not to the point where you're just constantly evaluating and almost becoming obsessed about it. It's not that. It's more like if you're aware and you're conscious, you're noticing things. 

1:06:49 - Cecilie Conrad
I mean, it's just because I never participated in your conversations. So, from a practical point of view, say, say, let's pretend I'm a beginner and I'm, I'm drawn to unschooling. Let's say I, I, my kids are small, so it's not really a problem yet. But I would like to know what would it look like. So I would join a Zoom call and you would be hosting a conversation, or would you be giving a speech, and how many people would be there? Would I have to be on camera? 

1:07:20 - Missy Willis
You mean with the barefoot playground when we first started doing it? Yeah, I put out. He's still doing it. So maybe that's question one. No, we did it over that. 

1:07:29 - Cecilie Conrad
So that was how your journey began, so maybe then my question is not relevant, because then I can't point my listeners in that direction. Then just go on with the story. Where, where did that take you? 

1:07:41 - Ann Hansen
Yeah, so that would sort of took us to creating content now for families, the ebook. You know we're working on this course. One of the things we really want to, one of the areas we want to put more information out, is for teenagers, because a lot of people are unschooling their young kids and you see kids playing in nature and it's wonderful, right. But then this idea of what happens with high school they have to learn, they have to do academics, they or they'll go nowhere. So we kind of want to put more information about out out about what it looks to continue to self direct as teens right, it's really a continuation of how we worked with our younger kids, but there is an even, I think, an even stronger conditioned thought process that goes with teenagers and learning and rebellion, and so we'd like to share more information from our experience on how it can look different, because it's really hard for people to grasp that, that that idea that they don't have to be doing subjects, right, they don't have to be doing algebra when they're whatever age, they do algebra now, and I'll give an example. 

Actually I've been using this a lot lately because we never did formal math with my kids they, they, they learned what was of interest to them and they kind of dabbled with some curriculums. But it was not formal. We didn't do testing. I've never graded my kids. My one son who decided that he wants to do study architecture in college was taking a physics class and when he signed up for the physics can you hear my dog in the background? 

1:09:21 - Cecilie Conrad
Right, I wouldn't mind. He's whining right now. Well, maybe you should let him in then. 

1:09:27 - Ann Hansen
Oh no, I'm just saying be be, feel free, anyway. So when he started taking this physics class, he learned in the first weeks of physics he needed to know trigonometry and he had never taken trigonometry because he's been unschooled and didn't fear this. He was very resourceful, he Googled it, learned the trigonometry that he needed to learn in two weeks to go back and take this physics course. He loved it so much he took three physics courses. He didn't have to. He did it because he wanted to. So it's just that example of they don't have to be doing this traditional trajectory of you know algebra at age whenever. I don't even know the ages anymore, but eighth grade, ninth grade, you know trigonometry. 

I don't know what they are because we didn't follow them. But my point is it really doesn't matter, it really doesn't. And so to give parents back that power of you, don't? This doesn't have to dictate your life. Your team doesn't have to be schooled in this way. So we hope to share more information on teens, because that seems like a lot of parents are curious about that. 

1:10:33 - Jesper Conrad
Oh, yes, and also about the whole having, as you talked about earlier, problems with teens. We don't have problems with our teens because there's, as you said, not that kind of problem, but there's nothing to rebel against and we had a talk with that mom to carry all those Shakespeare books. 

1:10:52 - Cecilie Conrad
Oh yeah, yeah, that's heavy. 

1:10:55 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, that's it. But we talk with a parent who had a problem with her son's level of gaming and I just wanted to ask you know? So what is your problem? Actually, I was there, you were against it and she also was emotionally drained about having a fight. And then it's like why not say it's not a problem, Then you don't have a fight, and then, actually have that connection. 

1:11:25 - Cecilie Conrad
The problem is a soft bite, yeah. 

1:11:28 - Jesper Conrad
It's like just do not set up all those rules for your teens. That should be wonderfully easy. 

1:11:34 - Cecilie Conrad
But another thing about teens is I feel that all these parents that struggle with their teens and fight with their teens and have all this lack of trust and lack of it's just such a waste. Just like I said, it's such a waste of really, really a waste of time to go to school, really seriously stealing hours that could have been full of joy and exploration or a simple, chilling or whatever fun, meaningful life. I feel it's such a waste of beautiful relations, loving and wonderful years when our children so ours are 24, 17, 14 and 11. So they are not young anymore and when they are coming into this age of so, only the 11 year old is still actually a child. So we are now overtaken by other adults in our family or young adults, and I just think it's so interesting to not be in charge. 

I think it's so interesting to get to know my children's personalities, ideas. When we talk about things, whatever things, more often than not they know things that I don't know and they come up with perspectives or critiques or questions that are very, very interesting and we just we have a lot of fun. We watch a lot of movies, we talk about a lot of things, we walk hand in hand in parks. We're walking the Camino next month or the month after, whatever, and we just look forward to all those hours of walking because we get to talk, we off work for three weeks and we lovely. It's just. I love my teens and I love being a mother of teenagers and now also of my daughter in her 20s. It's wonderful Really. I wouldn't miss a day of it. I almost want to hang up just to go talk to them, right now. 


1:13:47 - Ann Hansen
Yeah, yeah, I'll write with you and not be honest, because when my kids were approaching their teen years, I have to say I thought I really was nervous internally. I thought I know a lot about young kids. I hear horror stories about teenagers. I was really nervous, did not think we were going to continue to home school. Every year my kids had the opportunity Do you want to go? Do you not want to go? 

Anyway, as they approached the teen years and I could see them changing and I could feel my role needed to shift. It was really different. Instead of getting more in their face, I watched more and I started learning exactly what you're saying. The quieter I got, the more I saw how incredibly creative they were, the ideas that they have. They're amazing. I went with that. 

I can see how parents I think it's that shift in our role that leads parents to become more fearful and then they control, they limit things. Then you become the police. I didn't want to be the police of my children. If I start enforcing all these rules, somebody has to police them. It just felt so unnatural. I got quiet and I got to really see who they were. Like I said before, we were like you. We enjoyed those teenage years. I loved being the mom of teens. Now I love being the mom of young adults. It's just, they had that ability of getting more quiet and watching, instead of thinking that we have to step in and enforce. When they're on their computers, when they go out, we just have to let go. If you choose to hold on, you're going to have those kind of battles with your kids because nobody wants to be controlled and teenagers are just like everybody else. Nobody wants to be controlled and denied their freedom, just a fact, yeah, I was going to add oh, go ahead. 

No, no, no no, no, please Okay. 

1:15:48 - Missy Willis
I was just going to add that piece about relationship again and also the fact that our children call us forward. They call us to deal with our own issues. It's like each age area where they change and shift. We have to change and shift. So when they become teenagers, we have to deal with all of our own issues related to our teenage years and maybe the way we were parented or our experiences, and so we bring a lot of baggage to our parenting and to our relationships with our kids. So they do require they call us to deal with it. They ask us to bring it forward and we joke around a lot at our house. As a matter of fact, you were talking about going to see your kids. My son's been gone from us to week and he's coming back like any minute, so I'm just waiting to hear the dog start working Any minute, yeah okay. 

1:16:37 - Ann Hansen

1:16:39 - Missy Willis
But I really try to be honest with them, and that includes also saying to them be honest with me, even when I'm being a jerk or have us stepped over the line or you need me to back off. I need you to tell me that it's okay to do that. And so they do, and they have. And there have been times when it's happened and I'm like, oh, that stung a little bit. Then I remember it stings because I'm growing and it's making our relationship better and it's also making them realize that they can trust me no matter what. And that's what ultimately I think it's what parents want with their kids is they want their children to be able to come back to them and know that they have this tight family unit, not just from kindergarten through the time they graduate high school, but all the way to the very end. 

1:17:32 - Jesper Conrad
And, as we love to talk together, it could be fun to continue the talk, but we are going to feed some wonderful children who are hungry. 

1:17:42 - Cecilie Conrad
But on our side it's evening and I'm going to feed calories. 

1:17:46 - Jesper Conrad
Normally I ask people where can people connect with you, but I actually just love both of your websites names, so let them go. Baffert, I've loved that name. Let them go backcom and in a parent coaching so fantastic name for the development and journey parents are. 

1:18:05 - Cecilie Conrad
If someone out there wants to talk to you, or one of you or both of you, how do they reach out and what can they get? 

1:18:11 - Ann Hansen
I'll just start. So if somebody wants to, if someone is curious about homeschooling, unschooling, they can reach out. They can reach me through my website. I have my email information there and I help families when I coach them one to one, kind of unpack their situation, and I don't tell people what to do, but I help them figure out what they're really seeking and what might be right for them and their children, because every family is different. And they can also get our guides and hopefully some courses, so they can get information that way through my website as well. 

1:18:47 - Missy Willis
Yeah, and I will just add Instagram is where I am most active these days and it's at let me go barefoot, and on Instagram there's the bio, so there's a link you can click there too that has a list of all the other ways to contact me. And, same as Ann, if I work with you individually or one-on-one, it's really just to get deeper and find out where your fears are, where your worries are, what's causing you to feel like you're stumbling or what are the stumbling blocks, and then we just kind of peel back those layers and hopefully provide some comfort and some resources for you to move forward. 

1:19:26 - Jesper Conrad
Thank you for your time. It was wonderful talking to you. 

1:19:28 - Cecilie Conrad
It really was. Thank you for having us. 

1:19:32 - Jesper Conrad
Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed today's episode and if you liked them, then please share it with all your friends and family. We would also love it if you gave our podcast a review. Thanks, and if you want to support our podcast and work, then you can find us on patreoncom slash the Conrad family. We will continue to travel full time and if you want to tag along, then please follow us on Facebook and Instagram at the Conrad family, and you can also read more than 100 blog posts on our website, theconradfamily. Until next time, make a wonderful day, thank you. 

Unschooling and the Role of Educators
Unschooling and Trusting in Alternative Education
Navigating Education and Pursuing Passions
Unschooling and Self-Directed Education
Reevaluating Focus on Learning and Measurement
Unschooling Communities
Unschooling and Taking Responsibility for Education
Unschooling and Empowering Parents With Information
Parenting and Relationship With Teenagers