Shine with Unschooling

Hello!  I have always used what I refer to as *Briefing* and *De-Briefing* with my children, especially my highly sensitive child.  The following are some excerpts from the Shine with Unschooling Yahoo Group from posts I have written about the concept.

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So breathe… and have some conversations.  Perhaps try what I always refer to as briefing and de-briefing.  Before you get in the car, talk about where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, who needs what in the car, and what you can do while you are out to communicate with each other.  Then the de-briefing… afterward, talk about how they feel, talk about any difficulties that came up, talk about the fun you had, talk about how you loved it when you did this together… or when you saw that amazing sky together… and see if they feel anything needs to be done differently for the next time you go somewhere together…

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Most importantly, we would *discuss* it all ~ before and after ~ which we came to call *briefing* and *de-briefing*, so that other people's judgments would not hurt my children's hearts. We would talk about things *before* ~ what we were doing, how long we thought we might want to stay, what the situation might be like, what might be there that might bother my sensitive children, what to do if they felt bothered, what to do if something happened, etc. Jake Always Needed Information. And so we provided as much as we could beforehand.

With the de-briefing, we would discuss how we felt it all went... what happened that felt good... what happened that felt not-so-good... what we can do next time to make things better... we talk about things that other people said that might have felt icky or confusing... we just get it all out because it was important that my children feel good about themselves, and the best way to get to that place was to get any bad feelings *out* instead of holding onto them.

In your situation, I understand that you are working through how you feel about YourSelf with other people's opinions and judgments affecting you... This is the inner work that you are here to do...to learn to Love YourSelf As You Are and with the choices you have made for you and your family ~ without allowing other people's judgments to hurt you. This is growing.

And this briefing and de-briefing honestly helped ME come to a place of Strength and Knowing that the path we are living is absolutely the right path for *us*... the briefing and de-briefing allowed me to heal the childhood pain I had of feeling different and misunderstood... when I gave that life's energy to my children to make sure *they* felt safe and good and remained Whole... that was healing and strengthening and reinforced the *yes*'s that were in my heart about it all. And that didn't mean that everyone else had to SEE that ~ it only mattered that *we* lived it and felt it was right for us.

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Anne has written a lot on the idea of briefing/debriefing, and it's a concept I've found very helpful. In a way, you can relate this to the idea of making expectations known. 

I was just going to write about some briefing techniques!!

I don't think I would use the word/idea of *expectations*, though. If it were me, I would have a conversation before-hand. I would share my excitement with my child about the "performance", talking about how long *we* both think would be good for it to go on, discussing what *secret code* word we can use if *one of us* "forgets" that there was an agreed upon time...perhaps thinking/talking about sort of a surprise "prize" at the end of the performace ~ maybe a *new* activity for her to move on to...

I just wouldn't use the word *expectations* at all...because I am mindful of *never* having expectations of my children of any kind. It's important to *us* in our family to *feel* the moment and follow the flow. The briefing
*before* events that require a little pro-active discussion is to bring an awareness to everyone that there *are* issues with things that maybe have not worked well in the past... and here we are, talking about them so that
they can f-l-o-w sweetly and maybe *work* better THIS time... And yet nothing is set in stone...nothing "works" every single time, and life continues to shift, flow and expand.

Life requires a lot of lovely briefing.

:)

The de-briefing happens *after*...when you can talk about how it all *felt*...about what worked and what didn't work...what felt right and what didn't feel right. Our de-briefing was always necessary because Jake has a
way of holding onto the negative and de-briefing helped him to release it. If something bothered him, he can get it out and talk to me about it in the de-briefing, before it had a chance to fester and grow within him (funny ~ 
it *still* happens so much every day, but they are now just *life's conversations*!!...but he *knows* how to help himSelf get to a place of feeling good about things and about himSelf by engaging in these *briefing* and *de-briefing* conversations!).

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We can help our children understand the inherent expectations of various situations and work together to find satisfying ways to navigate them, rather than just leaving it to chance and assuming they'll figure it out.

Yes, thank you for clarifying.


I have always felt that this is HUGELY important for my children to live a life of *awareness* ~ outside of our home in the "real" world (as I wrote in another earlier post, Jake feels strongly that radical unschooling is about
sharing just such information with your children so that they don't go into the world "clueless"). Also a hugely important concept, I believe, that those telling people to *just say yes* seem to not touch upon at all or *enough*, one that would help people understand better that radical
unschooling is *not* unparenting.

For us, still (and I'm just speaking more specifically to our own lives and situations, knowing and living with my children ~ not arguing or disagreeing at all with what you're saying, which is beautiful and right and True), I
don't tell my children that *others* have these *social* expectations of them. I feel (from knowing them) that that would *still* be a weight on them and freeze their spirits. I would usually say that "they" have these expectations of PEOPLE, in general...perhaps of CHILDREN, in general...and allow my children to decide ~ after much discussion/conversation (as always!!) ~ whether or not they *still* want to walk into this event or these circumstances.

Being radical unschoolers, our children are out and about in the "real" world for much of their lives, from a very early age (in our family, anyway), and they often didn't *need* the discussion/conversation because they understood from being aware, observant, ALWAYS-LEARNING Be-ings out in the world, watching and learning from their parents' interactions and behavior when we are out and about. But, for Jake, who sometimes *misses* such social cues, the conversations *were* (are still!) very important and I never walked forward "assuming" that he knew and understood what he was
walking into. Thus, the briefing and de-briefing. I always wanted it to be *his* choice, so that he would not end up in a situation where he would end up feeling bad about himself because of a behavior that he didn't realize
was inappropriate for the event/circumstances.

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I believe I created a space for living where there was no room for outside questioning of our family or my children or how we live. We *lived* and *loved* and when we were going to be around other family members or people who might not understand my beautifully unique children, we would be prepared with ways to *deflect* any judgments. Sometimes we did this with humor, sometimes by just changing the subject (a *this sure is good bean dip* moment...), sometimes by just filling up the space with loving, kind understanding toward the child, and sometimes by coming up with some sort of secret *signal* that we could direct toward each other in private, conveying a "Grandma doesn't quite get it" message to each other and then discussing the situation more when we were alone (discussing it w/my kids, that is...if that felt necessary to do...and it was *always* necessary with Jake as my child!!). We often squeezed each other's hands three times...it meant *I Love You* mostly, but sometimes it also meant, we can just let this *roll* off of us so the situation doesn't become bigger than it already is and we'll talk more about it later when we're alone...  

Most importantly, we would *discuss* it all ~ before and after ~ which we came to call *briefing* and *de-briefing*, so that other people's judgments would not hurt my children's hearts. We would talk about things *before* ~ what we were doing, how long we thought we might want to stay, what the situation might be like, what might be there that might bother my sensitive children, what to do if they felt bothered, what to do if something happened, etc. Jake Always Needed Information. And so we provided as much as we could beforehand.

With the de-briefing, we would discuss how we felt it all went... what happened that felt good... what happened that felt not-so-good... what we can do next time to make things better... we talk about things that other people said that might have felt icky or confusing... we just get it all out because it was important that my children feel good about themselves, and the best way to get to that place was to get any bad feelings *out* instead of holding onto them.

In your situation, I understand that you are working through how you feel about YourSelf with other people's opinions and judgments affecting you... This is the inner work that you are here to do...to learn to Love YourSelf As You Are and with the choices you have made for you and your family ~ without allowing other people's judgments to hurt you. This is growing.

And this briefing and de-briefing honestly helped ME come to a place of Strength and Knowing that the path we are living is absolutely the right path for *us*... the briefing and de-briefing allowed me to heal the childhood pain I had of feeling different and misunderstood... when I gave that life's energy to my children to make sure *they* felt safe and good and remained Whole... that was healing and strengthening and reinforced the *yes*'s that were in my heart about it all. And that didn't mean that everyone else had to SEE that ~ it only mattered that *we* lived it and felt it was right for us.