Living together when everyone is different

Our children are all different. I have four children and they are all different. They have different personalities and different interests and different methods of learning and different peaks and troughs in their days. They have the freedom to follow their own curiosity in their own ways, they have individual preferences in how they interact with the world socially, emotionally and cognitively.

I have one child who can spend hours on a project at a time on his own, building or filming or researching for himself. He listens to every conversation around him and remembers everything that has been said. He prefers to enter groups quietly, after previously observing all the participants and the dynamics of the group.

I have another child who finds solace in his own space and protects it religiously. He prefers to have absolute control over his environment and his learning. He is very active and likes to climb and bounce and fidget as he watches or reads or plays games. He prefers to join in with activities only after he has watched from the sidelines multiple times.

I have a child who is energised by social groups and large role play games. She likes to plan what she is going to do the following day. She has a creative spirit that she boldly uses in endless drawings and paintings and sewing. However she can be anxious about other endeavors and relies on her care-givers to support her.

I have a child who is physically active. She climbs and runs and swings and rides constantly. She needs to be with others and never alone. She absorbs herself in her small world play and loves playing with other children. She loves to tell stories and confidently tries new tricks out.

All of them have different preferences for how they dress and wear their hair, one of them loves singing and another is sensitive to noise, sometimes one is desperate to go out and meet friends and another needs to stay home and avoid social interaction.

This is how we live together when everyone is different:

There is lots of problem solving opportunities in our house and we are not afraid to think or work outside of the box. If the solution lies in a less than A-B format but everyone is happy with the outcome then that’s the option that we take.

There is lots of discussion and negotiations. I mean, lots. Constantly sometimes, all day. We can spend longer discussing and negotiating than we do on the solution but the value lies in holding space for each of us and valuing each other and our needs.

Allowing each member of our family to grow by supporting their self expression now and refraining from moulding them into a preconceived idea of who they should be based upon outside influences provides them with the opportunity they need to grow into the best version of themselves possible. It also gives them need to rehearse skills that enable them to value others diverse natures and work towards cultivating social groups that embrace and support each others needs.

Read more:

Supporting self expression

Being the bridge and not the gatekeeper

Learning styles

Supporting self expression (coming soon)

Published by heiditsteel

Teacher turned Unschooler: passionate about autonomous education and supporting our children's natural inclination towards learning through play.

4 thoughts on “Living together when everyone is different

  1. This is to really interesting! I can see that the younger girls are more that right? That means they can play together, while the boys are sometimes/ more frequently happy to play alone? That has worked fairly well perhaps. Our difficulty is that we have a solitary son and s very sociable daughter who is devastated by the constant “rejection” from her brother. It us our biggest challenge. Do you have any advice please? I cant hleave him at home and take her out either!


    1. Hi Anna. This must be really hard during lockdown. Can your daughter access friends using Skype etc My sociable daughter plays Roblox with friends, or they sit and colour together, we have even done ballet classes together via YouTube.
      Under regular circumstances, we try and go to social meets that suit all of my children or take tablets/games etc that I can play with my less keen ones. Other suggestions are to arrange to meet in places where being sociable isn’t necessary e.g a play park where they can play on their own if they want to.
      Trying to meet everyone’s needs can take a lot of practice and be mostly your responsibility when they are young but they will increaingly come up with some awesome ideas too.


      1. Just getting round to saying thanks for that response Heidi! As regards taking tablets etc ti social home ed meets, for example, to be really honest I have not done this as I feel it would reflect negatively on us and annoy other parents. I guess I might need to face this rejection?! I once saw a home ed child ” sneak” ( he wasn’t allowed it) into a playground during a home ed trip. All the kids crowded round him on the play equipment. This was met with much shaking of heads and consternation including of his mum who took it off him and told him off. Perhaps I just should aim (in future) to find parents who are not like this with their kids but that is very challenging here. TIA


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