If You’re Thinking about Unschooling…

It seems to me that very few of us like venturing out into the relatively unknown, especially if it means we are heading off alone. Even when we can see things need to change, we make excuses why we shouldn’t try something different. We persist day after day, knowing in our hearts that all the work we are doing is futile, but still we lack the courage to leave behind what is safe and familiar.

And I wonder why this is.

Could it be an overwhelming feeling of responsibility? If we choose to do something different to the crowd, we might fail and then everyone could criticise us. More importantly, we might fail our children.

Whereas if we stick with the crowd and nothing works out, who will blame us? This is the way everyone does it. This is the way it has always been done. Why should we think we know better than the majority? We have tried our best, sometimes under very trying circumstances. Is it really our fault if we fail?

But what if we take our courage in our hands, and do what weknow in our hearts is right, despite the possibility of criticism, despite everyone else’s opinions, despite our own fears?

I think that for most of us deciding to homeschool, rather than send our children to school requires this sort of courage. But sometimes we get to the next stage…

What if our method of homeschooling isn’t working for our children? We’ve chopped and changed and tried all the mainstream methods, and still haven’t found what’s right. What about unschooling? What if we throw away all those conventional ideas about education?  What if we decide to trust instead of fear?

This is my story. It might not be yours. But if you are searching and wondering…

What did I find when I stepped away from the crowd and other people’s expectations?

I found out that unschooling is a way of life, not merely a method of education. It’s not about cramming knowledge into children, but about encouraging them to be the people they are meant to be. I discovered a new relationship with my children, a feeling of peace…There isn’t enough room here to tell you all I discovered…

Why not try unschooling yourself? If your present method of homeschooling doesn’t feel right, what have you got to lose? All it takes is the courage to let go.

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  1. Reply

    This is a thought-provoking post, Sue. It does take courage to step out of the box. I've felt constrained by BoS requirements, lately, and also by some homeschool blogs that talk a lot about the responsibilities and duties of homeschooling. Ticking all the boxes can be portrayed as our obligation, whereas freedom and creativity is often portrayed as lazy and irresponsible. I know this isn't true but it did make me doubt myself. I began to see our children's freedom as a sign of my own laziness. Still, I think the biggest mistake I made with unschooling was a lack of involvement. I gave up read alouds at the very time that I think I should have been reading to the children more.

    At the moment, I'm trying to step back a bit and find the balance between involvement and independence that suits our circumstances, right now.

    Lots to think about. Thank you for posting this, Sue.

    God bless:-)

    1. Reply


      Maybe unschooling is very much misunderstood. For some, it can seem a lazy way of homeschooling, and even a negligent way of bringing up children. But criticism comes from those who have never tried it. I am always reluctant to accept people's views based on opinion only. Sadly, those with the loudest voices make us doubt our own decisions.

      You are so right that unschooling needs involvement. It takes time and commitment, just like parenting… the two are so bound up together.

      "the responsibilities and duties of homeschooling"… I've seen similar discussions on various blogs! I really don't see why we should regard homeschooling as a duty. That sounds so negative, as if we just have to suffer for the sake of our children. I want to enjoy my children and have them enjoy learning. I love this quote from A Little Way of Homeschooling:

      "God will give each of us the time that we need to learn everything He wants us to know; this applies to both ourselves and our children. Why do we expect we must teach it all to our children in our homeschool? And why do we automatically assume that this burden of prospective learning will be painful for them, arduous for us? There is a less frightening way…."

      The BoS can be a big worry when we are homeschooling. Of course we want to ensure our registrations are renewed each time. So far, I have been very fortunate and haven't had to compromise our homeschooling in order to comply with the requirements. The longer we homeschool, the more confident I am that we are doing what is right for our children, and I think it is very evident our children are learning and growing. I hope that the APs who come to visit us see that for themselves!

      Lots to think about? I'm still thinking too! Thank you for continuing the conversation.

  2. Reply

    Now that we are on summer break, I'm just gonna unschool and see if I can continue that way into the fall! It's scary, but I just read Dayna Martin's radical unschooling book, and it is making more sense to me. So now I am re-reading A Little Way of Homeschooling by Suzie Andres, which I think you contributed to, Sue. Thanks so much to you ladies who are such an inspiration to me! I'm really excited about this journey, and I'm already seeing positive changes in my family. Be well, Rita

    1. Reply


      Hi! It's so lovely to swap a comment with you.

      I haven't heard about Dayna Martin's homeschooling book. I will have to check it out. Once upon a time I would have steered away from anything labelled as radical. I think it's all to do with levels of understanding. The more I unschool, the more I get a real appreciation for this way of life. I have probably been guilty of what I accuse others of doing: judging without experience. I guess our opinions evolve over time as we think and read and try things out.

      A Little Way of Homeschooling is a great book. I didn't actually contribute to it. Suzie and I are friends and I like to promote her book as I feel it could help many people.

      Unschooling is very exciting. Positive changes? Yes! I wouldn't want to go back to those days where education was a battle with my children. I didn't give into them to keep the peace, but changed my views on what education and parenting is all about.

      I hope you enjoy your summer break!

  3. Reply

    Hi, Sue!
    I live in Pennsylvania, US, and my state has very strict homeschool regulations regarding documentation, work samples, and standardized testing. Two of my kids don't want to do anything but play Minecraft all day, which worries me because of the legalities. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    1. Reply


      I often wish there was no such thing as homeschool registration and regulations! But there is, and we have to work around them. I find that my children learn so much, they easily cover the requirements. I just need to keep good records and arrange their learning in such a way that the authorities can see they've covered the requirements. So far, it hasn't been difficult to match up what my children want to learn with what is expected. But I can see this might not be the case for all children.

      Sometimes it is possible to take an interest of a child's and branch out in other directions. Now I don't know much about Minecraft because my children haven't played it, but I heard there is a Minecraft homeschool.


      Students sign up for classes that teach team building, history, engineering…

      Branching out from the game, how about learning computer game design on a site such as Gamestar Mechanic?

      Then there's coding on sites such as Scratch.

      As I'm not familiar with Minecraft I've run out of ideas directly associated with the game, but maybe you'll have more…

      You could always encourage new interests by strewing resources such a books, movies, games, outings, music… If you actually use them yourself, and also share your own passions and interests, your children may be more inclined to get involved. I often say such things as, "Hey! Look at this! Do you want to watch… listen… try… this with me?"

      I wrote a post called 'When a Child has Only One Interest". I wonder if you read it.


      Each of my children has a folder or portfolio of their learning experiences. I photocopy covers of books they've read, add copies of their blog posts and stories and letters, print off photos of outings and handicraft projects, add museum guides and maps… anything that looks educational. Maybe this idea would work for you as evidence of work samples. Testing? I haven't any experience with that as our children aren't required to take any.

      Learning the language of education helps too. Playing a computer game is computer technology. problem solving, typing skills, team work, critical thinking. It could also be maths, history, reading… depending on the game. Cooking is personal development if nutrition is discussed, and it's also maths (add the words fractions, measurement, weights, volumes…) It could be culture if you're cooking international foods or science if you look at the reactions taking place or you might discuss the ingredients which might lead to botany or farming. Perhaps safe food handling techniques were used or safety in the kitchen. Watching a movie could be many things depending on the subject, but if you discuss it, it turns into participating in a group discussion, expressing opinions, analysing, film studies… These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. If you write all the learning experiences down using such words in a records book, it will be easier to satisfy all those educational requirements.

      This is a rather muddled comment. I hope some of it helps!

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