When we started unschooling, it was out of convenience. We had just pulled Keturah out of school, and I was not prepared at all, so I asked her what she wanted to learn about. She told me that she wanted to learn about spiders, and she did. We used spiders for research, reading, and writing. She learned so much, and retained the information so well, that we continued down this track. Sometimes, the kids ask to learn something that seems trite, or unnecessary, so we required them to justify why they want to learn about it. We have taught them to stand up for themselves and their wants and needs by doing this.
This independence comes with unexpected consequences. A while back, my daughter slowly started pulling away from ground meat, starting with taco meat — I know, unimaginable. She could not express why she was pulling away at the time, but one ground beef based food after another went to the wayside. Then, a few months ago she was finally able to express what the issue is: the texture. She cannot stand the texture of ground meat, therefore, unless it is accompanied with something such as pasta to change the texture, she will not eat it. I was obviously frustrated, as I use ground meat in many of my dishes, but we taught Keturah to stand up for herself, and her needs. Once she explained what the problem was it enabled us to find a solution: use a very tender roast pulled apart and cooked as I would for the dish. This may be an extra step, but with our Sous Vide it is not much of one.
Last week we tried taco meat, and a cabbage roll casserole. Both worked out wonderfully. The flavor was there, but the texture was different, and one Keturah was happy to eat. This is the first time she has had taco meat in several years. The lesson both of my children learned from this is 2 fold, 1: standing up for yourself is worth it, and 2: work to seek solutions to problems, rather than complaining about them.
This type of child led learning creates a very strong willed person who will not give in, even to authority, if the authority is wrong. I was wrong to insist that she try to eat ground meat in a manner that she cannot tolerate. I am right when I give her acceptable options such as pasta when I make chili, or make the simple change from ground meat to pulled beef. Overall, it is worth it to know I am growing kids who can stand up for themselves and others.
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