Routines have been a source of stability for many parents during the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic.
But, if online learning and daily schedules have left your family frazzled, you could try following in Alanis Morissette’s footsteps and let your kids take the reins on their education.
The bold approach to learning is one the “Jagged Little Pill” singer shared in an interview for Health Magazine’s May issue, of which she and her youngest child, Winter Mercy, graced the cover for a candid breastfeeding moment.
Morissette was the magazine’s perfect choice for a cover star; in her customary honest way, the 45-year-old spoke openly about her parenting struggles, motherhood joys, and managing her mental health — very on-theme topics for the upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day.
The profile also highlights a lesser-known fact about Morissette: she homeschools by choice in an unusual way, which has intrigued many Canadian parents who have had to adapt while school doors are closed.
Morissette and husband Mario “Souleye” Treadway practice “unschooling,” an informal education approach which allows children to choose what they want to study.
“So if there’s some agenda like, ‘Let’s play with these magnet tiles,’ and my daughter is like, ‘F*ck those tiles. I want to put glitter on that thing and cut the tree and put the thing,’ boom—we do that,” she told Health.
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents defines unschooling as learning through living, driven by discovery over following class subjects.
Art appears to feature heavily in the Morissette household’s anti-curriculum. Over the years, she’s shared snapshots of kids Onyx Solace and Ever Imre immersing themselves in creative ventures.
Some of her family’s success with unschooling has been through “pods:” Morissette sections parts of her home for different activities, like spelling or playing with animals. She gave Instagram followers a peek of spirituality-themed pods two weeks ago.
But if the lack of direction sounds too chaotic for you, Morissette empathizes. Calling the system a “major commitment,” she admitted to Health that she’s always on-call with her eager pupils.
“If my son is going to bed late on tour and he asks me three really huge, existential questions, there’s no, ‘Ah, we’ll talk about it in the morning.’ That is the moment. Unschooling is 24/7,” she said. “When I share with people that I unschool, a lot of people I’m close with say they’d love to do it but just can’t. And I get it.”
The jury’s out on how effective unschooling is, but a 2013 study indicates the benefits of freedom are balanced by the stigma of taking an unconventional approach.
Proponents of the teaching style believe it’ll make a comeback from obscurity because of the pandemic.
Others joked about the hidden benefits parents can reap from letting their kids run the show.
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