We have several things planned for Un In The Sun 2017 that are designed specifically for dads:
Dad’s Panel – come talk to other dads who have been unschooling for a while. Ask questions, help answer questions or just come to listen.
SSUDS (Secret Society of Unschooling Dads) – Hang out with other dads in a relaxed setting by the adult pool. Enjoy a beverage, sit back and chat it up with other unschooling dads.
A few members of our Dad’s Panel write about their experiences attending unschooling conferences:
My first unschooling conference in 2010 (Great Big Happy Life) was a life-changing experience. We’d never had a lot of community around us so being in an unschooling bubble for a few days was amazing. I was often the only dad at our homeschooling activities; seeing and meeting other dads was inspiring.
Watching other families drove home the point that unschooling is a holistic, family lifestyle. I noticed that parents and children had positive relationships. I don’t recall hearing a single parent yell at their kid. It was full of peace & happiness – who wouldn’t want that as the norm in life?
And while presentations and panel discussions are great for learning, nothing beats meeting & talking to other dads. The dads there ranged from veteran unschoolers to those on the fence about unschooling. I met a few local peeps and got to know others from around the country. (I’ve kept in touch with most of them too.) Seeing dads enjoy and have fun with their kids is gratifying.
I also learned a little secret: most unschooling dads are fans of beer. I still remember Jim W’s homemade red ale we had at the Secret Society of Unschooling Dads’ meeting! Many an unschooling discussion has taken place over some brews, both at conferences and in our local communities. (And if you’re not into brews, that’s cool too, we’re an open-minded lot ;))
I was a skeptic at first, much the same with the whole “Natural Child Birth” concept that my wife suggested and path which we would eventually follow. Having a baby outside a hospital just seemed crazy. However, after 12 weeks of Bradley Method / Husband-Coached Childbirth it became a ‘No Brainer.’ It was one of those when you know all the facts why wouldn’t everyone do this? So even with that bit of background the concept of Radical Unschooling a few years later didn’t sound right at first. It seemed too crazy and “out there.” Being a product of the public school system and being the only path I knew, I was pretty closed minded at first. I had all the typical concerns, how’s my child going to learn….., what about socialization….., etc…. I kind of stuck my toe in the water at an event here and there but never really bought into the whole idea. Until… we went to our first Unschooling Conference, Big Happy Life, in the Catskill Mountains of New Jersey. There my life changed, forever for the better. It was nice having Unschooling pioneers and experts there giving advice and answering questions but the biggest value to me was meeting other families on this same journey. Getting to know them, their children, sharing stories, asking and answering questions and seeing the results really opened my eyes. There were some newbies like us and some that have been on this path for awhile. Seeing the kids who have been unschooled, how they were, how they interacted with other children and adults took away all of my apprehension and fears. To me, it was a peek at what the finished product might look like and I was All In.
Even though this conference was over 7 years ago and 1400 miles away we forged connections and bonds with other families that have become great friends to this day. Following this conference, we couldn’t get enough, we went to other conferences across the country, in San Diego, Texas, and Arkansas to name a few. And with each one, came further reinforcement we were on the right path. The conferences not only laid the foundation for our unschooling lifestyle but helped us create Un in the Sun, in our community. To me it is the single biggest way we can give back to the unschooling community. It’s a wonderful opportunity to look behind the curtain, whether you are radical unschoolers, homeschoolers or just thinking about it, you’ll get to meet other unschooling families, to see, feel and touch the experience. Not only is it a wonderful time at a beautiful resort on the Gulf of Mexico, but I get to witness, each and every year, families impacted in a similar way as I was at my first conference so long ago.
Unschooling conferences have been a great source of networking for us Dads. Whether it’s talking to another Dad between sessions, or getting together in the evenings at the venue, there are always Dads who want to help each other. It really helps to ask questions of another Dad who has been through what you are going through.
For me it helped to talk, about difficult issues, to veteran Dads when I first started unschooling. Now I can give that same advice to newly unschooling Dads. It really does work that way. We pass down good advice to one another. And sometimes it helps just to hear what you are doing isn’t crazy like some schooled Dads might profess to you. There isn’t a lot of support for anyone who unschools, let alone Dads. So it helps to be with others who get you! That’s a big part of why I go to conferences in general.
I am inspired simply to be among other Unschooling dads. Knowing we are thinking alike in the best interest of our kids. Discussing everything and anything Unschooling with them has opened my eyes to their perspective, inviting new ideas, working out concerns, and learning how they fit with their Unschooling families. I always learn something new. And I’m happy to give back, sharing my views, and especially helping the new Unschooling dads relax and embrace their decision and comfortably begin their Unschooling journey.
[If you haven’t yet registered for Un in the Sun, or if you still need to book your hotel room, go HERE for more info.]