Laurie A. Couture on Attachment Parenting, Unschooling, Social Justice and The Planet

Children are Starving for the Holistic, Multi-Sensory Experience of Nature

09 September 2013 Categories: Natural family living, unschooling

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Laurie’s son, Brycen learning and being challenged by the multi-sensory, holistic experience of the natural environment (August 2013).

Our society and our planet are witnessing the deleterious affects of what happens when children are disconnected from natural ways of living, playing and growing. Violence, mental illness, addiction, trauma and the myriad of emotional, behavioral and learning struggles that children suffer and witness, are a direct result of our human family’s disconnect from nature’s wisdom, nature’s intent and from nature itself. Rather than nature being the primary modality through which children learn and families connect, nature has been relegated to the status of being just “a nice thing to visit and observe when we have the time”. The fact that our technologically advanced, industrialized culture spends most of its time indoors, sedentary, at desks, on couches and in front of screens has only exacerbated the physical, emotional, behavioral, social, neurological and holistic health problems children and adults face.

The occasional short trip to a park or an occasional scenic vacation, replete with cell phones and gadgets, does not meet our need for connection with our natural environment. Likewise, a 10 minute school “recess” for younger children or the twice weekly outdoor gym class for adolescent children do not meet children’s needs for play, physical activity or connection to the holistically attuning power of nature.

DSCN9247With each new generation, children are missing out more and more on the adventures, the exhilarating encounters, the quiet pondering, the wonders, lessons and the raw, real life experiences of nature. For the Millenials especially, nature’s offerings are viewed as tedious or dull compared to the sedentary instant gratification of smart phone apps, online video gaming, TV and texting. For many parents and teachers of youth, nature is often viewed as dangerous, dirty, time consuming or something too far beyond their control.

DSCN9603Connecting with the balancing chaos and order of nature, feeling the vibrational force of ascending and clinging to the branches of large trees, navigating a thrilling and unexpected wrong turn through the forest, swimming in the powerful, chilling ocean, building hidden forts and camping out, running through a sun-drenched field, balancing the delicate intimacy of coming face-to-face with an insect or other creature, being faced with the lessons of life’s cycle of life and death, lying in the snow and listening to the sound of pure silence, or respecting the overwhelming pull of a raging river, are experiences that are disappearing from childhood. Yet, these are some of the very educational and holistically attuning natural experiences that literally help wire children for creativity, intelligence and physical, emotional, neurological, social and holistic health.

Nature intended children to live and learn with their entire bodies, including  their arms, legs, hands and feet, their skin, their sensory and vestibular systems, their six senses, their instincts, their reflexes and their internal sense of homeostasis. Nature also intended for children to learn with their entire brains, including via emotion, intuition, sensation and cognition. A secure parent-child attachment and interest-led, nature-attuned play- with varied  intensities of physical movement- fully develops children’s cognitive and creative abilities in the way nature intended. This is true whether children are in infancy or in their late teens.

DSCN8376The body and brain modalities through which learning occurs must be nurtured, respected and stimulated in order for children to optimally and fluidly attend to information and absorb, process, store, recall and apply it. Tragically however, the holistic learning modalities of the body and brain are stifled, denied and starved in traditional schools and when children spend hours in front of screens.

Children need to regularly connect and recalibrate with the natural environment, through its many habitats and living organisms, in a physical, multi-sensory, vibrational and tactile manner. Democratic schools and nature-focused outdoor schools are learning environments superior to traditional schools. However, attachment-focused natural homeschooling and unschooling are the most aligned with nature’s intent, as they are ideally based on passion, freedom to explore, children’s needs and intense play.

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Unparenting is Not Nature’s Intent: Revisiting the Earth Wisdom of Attachment Parenting and Unschooling

17 May 2013 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

Our children need our guidance, otherwise they would be born adults.

Our children need our guidance, otherwise they would be born as adults.

Readers of my book, Instead of Medicating and Punishing: Healing the Causes of Our Children’s Acting-Out Behavior by Parenting and Educating the Way Nature Intended know that natural, need-focused parenting and child-led organic learning are not new fads. Although growing in popularity under trendy terms like, Attachment Parenting (AP), holistic parenting, self-directed learning, education hacking, unschooling or Radical Unschooling (RU), these ways of growing children are simply a revival of the ancient wisdom of the Earth; the way parents parented and guided learning for millennia, before the dawn of agriculture. However, as these nature-based principles have gained in popularity, we may be losing some of their deeper intentions.

Centuries of agriculture, civilization and industrialization have perverted nature’s intent for humans, perpetuating a tragic cycle of child abuse, neglect, community and cultural violence, slavery, genocide, war, planetary destruction and endless other forms of human-inflicted suffering. Readers of my book understand that the origins of human violence are a result of unmet holistic needs and trauma beginning in childhood, leading to holistic suffering that was systematically projected onto and inflicted upon family, friends, tribes, communities, cultures, nations, regions… and then the globe. Here we stand in 2013, with nearly the entire human family enslaved by a daily grind of systematic forced schooling, working, buying and paying just to live and survive. Most people cannot see any way out, and thus just resign themselves to the fact that this is life, even as they walk in the woods and wade into the ocean and see that the rest of nature runs wild and free.

The first people to revive the modern Attachment Parenting, organic learning and unschooling movements of the late 60′s and early 70′s were some of the first child advocates and parents to say, “No more. Our children are far too precious for this! We want to raise our children to be free, joyful, healthy, happy and natural!” Pioneers of natural family living began to question industrialized, corporate, processed living and they began to observe, explore and return to unfolding nature’s intent for children and families.

Now that Generation X has grown up and become the parents, Attachment Parenting and unschooling have broken out of the “hippie” fringe and have become a growing trend that has even received some mainstream attention.

Since the turn of the 2000′s, at the very point in history when ubiquitous technology, processed food, cradle-to-grave busywork, cradle-to-grave consumerism and monstrous corporations are taking over every aspect of life, there has been an explosion of information about how to return to the wisdom of the Earth. Organic primal diets, natural remedies for medical and mental health issues, holistic treatments, energy healing, ancient spiritual practices such as meditation, intentional communities, compassionate volunteer work, living off the land, self employment and of course, Attachment Parenting, democratic schools and unschooling have sprouted out of the chaos like a plant that rises through pavement. The premise of all of these ways of reviving the Earth’s wisdom is nature’s intent: These ways of living are holistically healthy because they are in line with nature’s intent for humans.

The foundation of Attachment Parenting (and therefore unschooling) is based on meeting a child’s holistic needs to the best of our ability. Readers of my book are well aware of the secure attachment cycle and the four steps involved:

  1. Child has a need
  2. Child expresses the need
  3. Parent meets child’s need ASAP
  4. Child feel homeostasis

This secure attachment cycle is the same for all mammals and is based on the conditions each individual species requires in order to grow, thrive and meet their full holistic potential. When parents meet the needs of their children at all developmental stages, from pre-birth through late adolescence, children will naturally thrive and grow to be holistically healthy. Humans are all born wired to be loved and to love; the natural state of the human being is to holistically thrive. When childhood needs are met, humans can live up to their potential.

My readers also know the flip-side of the secure attachment cycle, or, what happens to children when their needs are unmet. When parents or the environment fails to meet the needs of children, children are no longer in a state of homeostasis, but in a state of distress. This distress leads to attachment disruption in the parent-child dynamic, or, in modern terms, ambivalent, distant, conflicted or anxious parent-child relationships. Such relationships are not a “normal stage” at any time in child development, they are an alarm signal of distress in the parent-child relationship.

When a child’s needs are chronically unmet, their distress builds and begins to cause emotional and holistic injury, or trauma. In severe cases, trauma can result from just one serious incident of distress. Evidence of distress, unmet needs and trauma are easy to identify in children– Children act-out, shut down, or develop emotional, behavioral, learning, social or even sexual problems. Sometimes, the evidence of unmet needs does not manifest in children for a decade or two. Other children manifest their distress immediately.

Most parents in the AP/RU communities support natural parenting practices such as natural birthing, genital integrity, extended breastfeeding, natural immunity, cosleeping, gentle parenting, relaxed homeschooling or unschooling, nonviolent communication, natural healing, close parent-child relationships and children having freedom in following passions and interests. Most parents in the AP/RU communities understand that disrespecting children by punishing, shaming, controlling, yelling at or hitting them is harmful to every level of their holistic development. Most parents in the AP/RU communities understand that traditional school environments, with all of the human rights violations that occur therein, are also harmful to children on every level of their holistic development. In these ways, AP/RU parents are in line with nature’s intent for children’s healthy holistic development.

While the original AP/RU movement as a whole has been on board with nature in so many important ways, there has been a concerning trend that has developed in the movement that seems to fly in the face of the entire foundation of AP/RU: Unparenting.

Unparenting appears to be a well-intentioned effort to ensure that children are not in any way being stifled by adult intervention. However, the practice borders on (and in some cases exceeds the definition of) child neglect.

I have been dismayed to hear that some parents in the RU community advocate for children wasting days, weeks and even years staring at screens all day, addicted to a constant stream of console and online video games, TV shows, texting and social media. Such parents claim they are allowing children to “make the choice”; however, is it really a “choice” if it is a dopamine addiction?

I have been shocked to hear some in the RU community justify allowing children to gorge themselves on candy, soda, pizza, fast food and other mainstream foods, despite that it is well known in the natural living communities that refined sugar, gluten, dairy and processed foods are toxic and contribute to chronic inflammation, emotional distress, obesity and even cancer. Again, these parents claim they are allowing children to “make the choice”; however, is it really a “choice” if it is a dopamine addiction?

I have been appalled to learn that in the name of “choice”, some parents in the RU community allow their children to be exposed to dangers such as lack of supervision, abusive adults, alcohol, drugs, premature sex and adult media- even porn! (It is sexually abusive for adults to knowingly expose children under 18 to pornography.)

Some RU parents even advocate for allowing children to use extremely vulgar language in public or for parents not to expect basic hygiene from their children.

It shocks me to my foundations that any parent who claims to parent for attachment, who puts the time and energy into AP/RU principles, would then constantly expose their children to addictive, dangerous and toxic lifestyle choices and situations that can cause physical harm or long term psychological trauma to children. I wonder why they don’t just send their children to school and parent in all of the other harmful mainstream ways? While the confinement of schooling and the control of mainstream parenting are at one end of the spectrum of harm to children, some parents in the AP/RU communities have rushed to the other extreme- total hands off, “let’s watch and see” parenting.

Our children need us to guide them on their journey to adulthood.

Our children need us to guide them on their journey to adulthood.

Unparenting goes against nature’s intent and doubles as neglect. It also flies in the face of common sense: If children did not need our intervention, then they would be born as adults, not as children. It should go without saying that children need us to guide them on their journey to adulthood, not for us to stand by and watch them get hurt or lost.

When we observe how Hunter-Gatherer people once lived in nature, we find the opposite of punitive, controlling parenting AND the opposite of unparenting. In peaceful nonviolent tribal cultures, children enjoyed respect and freedom. Parents guided children largely through very strong, constant community modeling. Parents did not stand by idly when children acted in not-yet-mature ways; adults guided and lead the way without demands, control or punishment, but with firm expectation (i.e.: “This is just the way we live”). In no mentally healthy tribal culture did parents expect youth to negotiate childhood alone, without guidance.

How do children get to a place of having rude social skills, poor hygiene or being exposed to toxic food, excessive media usage, dangerous people or adult-themed entertainment? By parents accepting, modeling or offering those conditions. How do children get to a place of not “choosing” such conditions? By parents being heavily involved in guiding children’s choices, asking questions, modeling, expressing parental feelings and thoughts, having some basic, loose family routines, having a schedule of activities, providing information, purchasing only healthy foods, refraining from purchasing cable or electronic gadgets, working together as a team and facilitating exciting alternatives and opportunities that children would find irresistible.

In any growing movement that attempts to heal a social problem, past histories, anecdotal information, personal interpretation and dogma will eventually creep in and dilute the original principles. When many of us detoxed from mainstream parenting, educating, eating, living and healing, we probably asked ourselves some variation of the question, “What does nature say about this?” When it comes to our continued journey in the natural family living lifestyle, when we have doubts, questions and concerns we can also look to nature’s intent for answers. Nature’s intent is the only parenting advice we really need!

What does nature tell us about parenting our children?

What does nature tell us about parenting our children?

What does nature say about children eating a toxic diet? What does nature say about children chronically staring at screens for hours on end, day after day? What does nature say about failing to protect children from people, dynamics, situations, substances and choices that are not developmentally appropriate for them? All we need to do is observe or imagine what (did) would happen if peaceful tribal children, wild animals, trees, plants or the land were exposed to such conditions contrary to their natural development. I believe parents who have discovered the AP/RU lifestyle already know the answers to those questions deep in their hearts and in their primal mothering and fathering instincts.

With a little guidance from nature, Moms and Dads can each tune into their Earth-given instincts and follow their hearts- and their common sense- and know just what their individual children need to thrive holistically.

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What Is It Like to Be Unschooled? Interview With An Unschooled Teen

13 October 2012 Categories: unschooling

Laurie’s son, Brycen R. R. Couture

On 6/11/12 my unschooled teen son, Brycen R. R. Couture answered questions sent to him by a reporter who was interested in learning more about unschooling. Here are Brycen’s responses:

What do you like about being unschooled?

BRRC: What I love about unschooling is the ability to be free and wild. To choose what I want to do when I want to do it. If I want to play music, which is my passion, then I can play music at any time. I am free in every way a person can be free, mind, body and spirit. In public school they shackle your body with their routines, they shackle your mind with their curriculum, and they shackle your spirit with their rules. If they find it difficult to shackle you, they resort to psychiatric drugs. I also continue to grow close to my family and friends because I have the freedom and time to spend with them. [...]

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NOT-Back-To-School: Unschooling is Nature’s “Curriculum”

27 August 2012 Categories: unschooling

Back-To-School? Or Nature’s Intent for Learning?
(Laurie’s son, Brycen, joyfully exploring the wonders of nature)

I revel in the embrace of summer, when children are again a part of the community and a part of the natural landscape! It brings me such joy to see children jumping in the waves at the ocean, running through a wooded trail, exploring plant and animal life, digging in the sand, climbing trees, creating artistically in the community or leaping from boulders into a rocky basin gorge. I reflect with warmth and love at how September for my unschooled son has always been a relaxing and relieving time- yet another month to extend the joys of summer; the beginning of another cycle of him living and learning in freedom.

However, for the majority of the children in society, the “Back-To-School” nightmare seems to get an earlier start every year. Many schools are forcing children to return to school in late August, two weeks earlier than when I was a child. In mid-July, advertisements on TV, the radio, online, in stores and in junk mail flyers begin threatening children a month too soon about the impending dread of school. It strikes me as very passive aggressive that our culture takes a condition that most children find so distressing- being confined against their will for nine months of the year- and throws it in their face relentlessly during the second half of their summer time. [...]

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An Unschooled Teen’s Vision For World Peace: Love and Respect Children

30 June 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting, children's rights, public school

Laurie’s son, Brycen at his unschool graduation ceremony, June 2012

“If every action you made had loving intentions, if every move we made was born of love, the world would be healed, the world would be whole.” -Brycen R. R. Couture

On June 9, 2012,  our family and friends gathered at a beautiful ocean side park to celebrate and honor my son’s unschooling journey with an unschool graduation ceremony. A month prior to the celebration, Brycen was chosen to be featured as a Youth Luminary on Inspire Me Today.com. His profile and his 500-word essay were featured on their site, today, 6/30/12!

Unfortunately, some of Brycen’s words about traditional school were edited out of the Inspire Me Today.com posting. Below is Brycen’s entire, unedited essay on achieving world peace through love and treating children with respect. To see the Inspire Me Today.com post as well as his profile, please click here. [...]

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Forget TIME, Are You Human Enough for Nature’s Intent (Attachment Parenting)?

14 May 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting

Laurie and her teen son: Attachment Parenting is embracing nature’s intent for children

Humans have become a species that have lost almost complete awareness of our nature and of our mammal instincts. In our efforts to prove superior to nature, we have created a twisted wreck of an alternate reality, where we kill anything “nature” inside of ourselves and in others and we replace it with a synthetic, prosthetic lie. When the “nature” in us whispers and the void begins to burn, we violently attempt to drown the thirst and gorge the hunger with more of our plastic paradigms, our digital addictions, our helpless civilizations and our neophyte attempts to transcend biology, holism and life itself. We have reduced our awareness of our nature to some nice patch of green outside of ourselves. Our nature has become a foreign backdrop where we visit, snap cellphone photos and condescend the “pretty” sights and creatures like some museum of what we’ve rejected and drugged ourselves to believe we’ve improved upon. [...]

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Laurie A. Couture Responds to Unschooling and “ADHD” Questions from Anderson Episode

02 April 2012 Categories: public school, unschooling

Laurie A. Couture on Anderson

Here is Part II of me discussing my appearance with my son, Brycen on the Anderson daytime show. Below I respond to some of the common questions and comments raised during and after the show.

What is unschooling?

Unschooling, or radical unschooling, are the trendy terms for the way children learned for thousands of years- up until fairy recently in human history- by playing and actively pursuing their passions and interests all day, most of the time. Nature intended children of all ages, from infants to teens, to learn through play and physical activity. Humans and other mammals have learned this way since the dawn of time. Unschooling has at its core living authentically and freely as a family, nurturing close, connected parent-child relationships that meet children’s needs. [...]

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Unschooling Without TV and Video Games: A Freeing Experience

26 March 2012 Categories: unschooling

As an Attachment Parenting and unschooling coach, I commonly hear the following,

“My unschooled children spend hours a day watching TV and playing video games- Should I just let them?”

The unmistakable “video game stare”: Brycen at age 11, about a year before he decided to pull the plug on home video gaming

While many unschooling advocates approve of regular, daily video game and TV use as part of unschooling, I strongly disagree. My son and I both choose not to play video games or watch TV at home at all.

My son, Brycen dislikes TV, home video gaming, Facebook, social media, texting …and he won’t buy a cell phone. However, he isn’t devoid of media. He runs a state-wide Dungeons and Dragons campaign via Skype and he uses Skype to conference call with friends who live in separate locations. He researches music, art, history and science online and enjoys exploring music and chainmaille technique on YouTube. He watches movies with me, we bust out the Nintendo DS on airplane trips and we both enjoy our summer treks to the beaches and their vintage arcades. So why don’t I recommend TV and video games? [...]

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Laurie A. Couture Debunks ADHD on Anderson Show

19 March 2012 Categories: public school, unschooling

Laurie A. Couture on Anderson

“We see a developing potential for nearly a total control of human emotion status, mental function and will to act.” -Wayne O. Evans, Ph.D. Psychotropic Drugs in the Year 2000 (1967)

“The way to sell drugs is to sell psychiatric illness.” -Dr. Carl Elliot, University of Minnesota Bioethicist The Washington Post (2001)

Drugging children for telling us our culture doesn’t meet their needs

“ADHD” is a fraud. It was a label concocted by psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry that allowed them to turn the distress of children held hostage to public schools (and other traumatic environments) into a financial goldmine. Manufacturing a label for the alarm signals of suffering children serves the needs, pockets and whims  of the pharmaceutical industry, the medical and mental health industry and of course, the factory public schools. The “ADHD” label does not serve the needs of children, who are suffering distress as a result of this unhealthy society we have created. Instead, the label draws attention away from children’s unmet needs and conveniently redirects the focus to stimulant drugs- a form of chemical restraint that requires no responsibility on the part of adults or our culture to meet children’s needs. [...]

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You Can’t Reform An Education System Built on Oppression

16 November 2011 Categories: public school

Laurie’s son displays his Occupy Education post

Talk of “education reform” is viral all over the internet. Despite multiple failed attempts at “reform” over the past decades, society refuses to think outside the “box” of schooling and consider a radical return to how children learned for millennia- By playing, living and doing! Teachers and others in the field of education continue to propose that the oppressive, prison-like institution where children are forced to stay seated in a building all day pumping out paperwork can and should be reformed! When democratic schooling, homeschooling and unschooling advocates attempt to join the conversation and offer models that are successful and truly radical, they are often met by educators and their supporters who dismiss these models as idealistic and not “realistic” for “everyone”. Additionally, people seem not to be aware of the fact that despite talks of reform, the needs, voices and leadership of the people who are the most adversely affected by public schooling- youth- are left out of the conversation. [...]

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Attachment Parenting Our Teens

08 August 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

Laurie and her 17 year old son, Brycen

Laurie and her 17 year old son, Brycen

So many Attachment Parents start out so passionate about giving very young children the best start possible in life- Moms birth naturally, spare their sons the trauma of circumcision (MGM) by keeping them intact, breastfeed for at least three years or longer, carry their babies at all times, cosleep for several years and they ideally are gentle and nurturing to their young ones as the children begin to assert their wants and express upset emotions.

Sadly, however, something happens between the ages of seven and 12 in far too many families who started out as “attachment”-minded families: Moms and dads stop parenting for attachment and connection and start letting the mainstream lifestyle creep in. This often translates into sending children to school to suffer with all of its toxic elements, passively allowing children to become saturated and enslaved by the media, consumerism, pop culture and peer culture… And most tragically, moms pull away emotionally and physically from their older children.

If children as young as ages seven to 12 are being slowly absorbed into the mainstream cultural ideals of consuming and “individuating”, where does that leave our teenaged children? Very lost and disconnected, for sure! [...]

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Education Reform: An Oppressive System Can’t Reform Itself

18 June 2011 Categories: public school, unschooling

I read this article in The Huffington Post about “education reform”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-richardson/have-schools-reached-limits_b_853848.html. I don’t believe that a system designed to oppress children (and the population as a whole) can reform itself. Politicians have used the false promise of “reform” for decades now to gain votes. Politicians are aware that most people forget that “reforms” in the past have only worsened the school environment for children and caused it to be more oppressive. [...]

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Nature’s Intent for Parenting and “Educating”

12 June 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

Laurie and her son Brycen, 2006

Nature’s intent is the only parenting advice and “educational curriculum” we truly need. Our parenting challenges, concerns and choices can become so simple if we consider, “What is nature’s intent for a child’s holistic development?”

Nature is our reference manual, our guide to mammalian and human needs. I hear so often parents say curiously common phrases along the lines of, “There is no one right way to parent”, or “School works for my child- My child could never learn on her/his own.” Often those types of statements translate to, “Something in my past is being triggered and I am feeling defensive, so I am unable to consider alternatives.” [...]

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Homeschoolers Who Run Businesses: The EpiCoutures Family Store

31 May 2011 Categories: Natural family living, unschooling

Laurie's son Brycen with his Feendz creations, 2006

One of the coolest things about unschooling/homeschooling families is their creative, brilliant inventiveness! I have met so many homeschoolers- children of all ages- who have their own businesses selling beautiful handmade crafts, comic books, graphic novels, CDs, stuffed animals, jewelry, art work, films, books and helpful services. Children who are allowed to live and learn freely have the time, support and creative passion to devote to starting businesses or making and selling their unique art and craft works.  My 17 year old son, Brycen R. R. Couture, has been selling his artistic products since he started his stuffed toys business, “Feendz”, at age 12. As a metal musician, Brycen released his solo EP on 4/8/11 and he is now making and selling custom chain maille bracelets. [...]

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Unschoolers Should Live and Learn Freely

26 April 2011 Categories: unschooling

My son, Brycen is a free spirit, much like Mom! When his sense of intrigue and curiosity envelop him (which it does nearly every minute of the day), there is little that can distract him from passionately exploring, creating, wondering, questioning, researching and playing. Unfortunately, State legal requirements for homeschoolers are the few times in my son’s enriching life when he must take a break from living and learning and instead perform some task in order to produce some product for our annual portfolio that will cover some requirement in some mass-determined “subject” that some unknown person decided was necessary for all children his age to “learn”. Of course unschoolers know that nothing forced is truly learned, only finished and produced. [...]

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Unschooling Parents (Not School Teachers) Best Equipped By Nature to Guide Learning

20 March 2011 Categories: Blog, public school, unschooling

This evening I read the first sentences of an online article speaking of teachers in almost fantastical, iconic-like terms, painting a picture of nurturing, loving caretakers wiping away children’s tears, inspiring the passion of youth and shaping the future. I felt the indignation and frustration of years of working with children ages 3 to 18, whose spirits, bodies and psyches have been mangled by traditional schooling, often at the hands of teachers.

Contrary to the sentimental, somewhat maudlin cultural imagery of school teachers pouring out selfless nurturance, tending to the needs of youth or lighting the passionate fires of inspiration in grinning, alert children, the youth I have worked with and met over the years have painted me a very different picture. And it ain’t no Mary Cassatt. For six plus hours every day traditional teachers indoctrinate, control, coerce, punish and regiment. They deny children their basic physical and emotional needs, hold children hostage against their will, stifle creativity and freedom of movement and force-feed them irrelevant, dull, boring theories and biased “facts” prefabbed by the government. They ooze ubiquitously into children’s home and free time with homework expectations that strangle play, exploration and family time. When children cannot tolerate the terrible, developmentally inappropriate environment of schooling, teachers are often the arm of the school system that coerces parents into believing their children are “disabled” and are thus in need of chemical restraint (aka: “medication”). [...]

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So You Want to Unschool Your Child or Teen? Yes, you CAN do it!

02 March 2011 Categories: unschooling

So you want to unschool your child or teen? Yes, you CAN do it!

I have uploaded six videos to my YouTube Channel, explaining the five steps to the unschooling process.

The Five Steps to Unschooling:

1. As parents, deschool your beliefs about education

2. Let your children play and follow their interests

3. Hook into resources in your community, provide materials related to your child’s interests and get involved in your local and online unschooling communities

4. Document your unschooling journey with a portfolio and daily log book

5. Trust nature’s learning process for your child! [...]

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Five Questions for Laurie A. Couture by E. Christopher Clark of Geek Force Five

20 February 2011 Categories: Attachment parenting, Blog, unschooling

Five Questions for Laurie A. Couture by E. Christopher Clark of Geek Force Five

Laurie A. Couture is the author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing: Healing the Causes of Our Children’s Acting-Out Behavior by Parenting and Educating the Way Nature Intended. Her book was chosen as a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book-of-the-Year Awards in 2009. She appears as an expert in the documentary film, The War On Kids (2009) and is the host of The Free and Joyful Childhood Radio Show. Laurie was a recipient of the 2010 Manchester Union Leader’s Forty Under 40 honors.

  1. The title of your book is pretty comprehensive and self-explanatory. Beyond what’s spelled out there in the title, how would you pitch this book to prospective readers? I pitch my book from many different angles—It is far more than just being the obvious parenting book—It is a book that challenges us all to look beyond what our culture has drilled into us as the only way to live and to instead realize that there is a much freer, more creative, more intelligent, more compassionate, and more fun way to live than the typical, “Be born, go to school, go to college, get a job, try to steal a few moments of recreation, go to bed, get up, do it again and die” scenario. [...]
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Every Child Innately Knows How to Learn- By Playing!

18 February 2011 Categories: Blog, unschooling

Laurie's son, Brycen in 2005

Have you ever pondered the redundancy of certain quotes commonly used by the education institution? For example, “Try to learn something new every day”. Have you ever tried NOT to learn something new every day? Is it even possible to NOT learn something daily? How about, “Children need to arrive at school ready to learn”. In my opinion, it is precisely when children arrive at school that beneficial, relevant learning stops! [...]

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Children are Born to Learn Everything They Need On Their Own

03 January 2011 Categories: Blog, homeschooling, unschooling

No one has to (or should) teach children anything. Children are wired from birth to learn everything they need to learn to reach their full potentials. They just need adults to get out of their way and instead guide, mentor and expose children to the resources they want and need in order to explore, create, play and invent. Children need to be free in order to learn. Public school destroys children’s innate passion for what they were individually born to do and forces them to be something they are not. Those who can hold onto a piece of themselves will then spend the next 20+ years trying to undo the damage that the school did. [...]

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Public Schools Pathologize Childhood; Cause Severe Distress to Healthy Children

21 October 2010 Categories: Blog, homeschooling, public school

Every single day in my work as a mental health counselor, children of all ages are being brought to me, being referred, because the public school insists there is something wrong with them, something that must be punished, manipulated, controlled, pathologized, drugged up and strangled out. That something is called childhood–the basic needs, nature and energy of childhood. The schools are causing healthy children to become depressed, anxious, distressed, aggressive and suicidal. Healthy, energetic, normal childhood, boyhood behavior is labeled a brain disorder (ADHD) and children are subdued with chemicals so that schools can continue to operate in a grossly developmentally inappropriate manner. The schools so aggressively overpower parents that parents ignore and deny their natural instincts and intuition about their children’s needs. Parents instead become extensions of the school’s oppression on their children, keeping children locked into a place that they hate- A place that drowns every pleasure and joy of being a child that they can uncover. Even when children have made suicide attempts due to their distress about the pressures and demands of the school environment, parents still won’t do the obvious and remove their children from the source of their distress.

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Back to School Signals the End of Childhood Joy and Freedom

15 August 2010 Categories: homeschooling

This past weekend my 16 year old son and I went camping with some friends of ours. While kayaking alongside my son and our friends during our trip, I marveled at the vivid beauty before me: Mount Chocorua gracing proudly and breathtakingly in the distance, accented by New England White Pines, peaceful Lilly-padded lake and the salve of nature’s sounds.

I had to take a breath of sheer awe at the perfect beauty when my son and his friend in their boat rowed by with playful boyish charm across this backdrop as I sat and watched in my kayak. I regretted that I had not wrapped my camera in a plastic bag and brought it along to capture this moment. My mind immediatly soared back to the days of Native America, when joy was the purpose of childhood, when Native American children would have paddled their canoes across this very backdrop, laughing, racing and splashing just like my son and his friend, while loving parents in their canoes smiled serenely and with perfect love and gratitude for the children, the mountain, the lake, the trees, the lilly pads, animals… and the freedom. [...]

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Child Advocacy and Children’s Rights Resolutions for the New Decade

02 January 2010 Categories: children's rights

With every decade that passes, new legal and civil rights have been fought for and won for every group of adults in Westernized cultures. The fight continues around the globe in order to share those legal protections with oppressed populations in other cultures. With each passing decade, there have been landmark victories won that validate the journey for adults to assert their basic human rights- In the 00′s, gay marriage was the fight that finally found victory in the United States.

However, children seem to exist in a surreal incubator; a sterile laboratory in which they are viewed and treated as if they are human beings-in-the-making, like objects waiting to be assembled, or feelingless, spiritless bodies waiting for someone to bestow humanity onto them. Decade after decade passes, and yet an industrialized child’s world always looks the same, with little more than trite hope of obtaining any real victories beyond the superficial “right” to be intoxicated consumers and technology automatons. [...]

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