Interviewing Sophie (13), an Unschooling Teenager

Ten Minutes on Thursday

“Hey, Sophie! How about I interview you for this week’s unschooling video?”

“Okay. What will you ask me?”

“All those tricky questions… 

Why should children be allowed to follow their interests? Aren’t parents in a better position to know what their children need to know? Should children be made to learn things they aren’t interested in?

In the adult world, everyone has to do things they don’t want to do. Shouldn’t children get into the habit of doing those things now?

Are unschooled children lazy? If they have the choice to do whatever they want, will they choose to do nothing at all?

Are unschooling children reluctant to do chores? Do they leave all the work to their parents?”

Sophie has opinions. She is answering my questions even before I’ve pressed the record button on the camera.

“Hang on a minute…  Okay, let’s begin!”

Soon we have a number of video clips. I string them together, and then add title and credit pages. We have made a new video.

The video starts off a little slowly but Sophie soon warms up. She wants to apologise for her voice. She has a cold and is wheezy from a prolonged asthma attack. (I thought she sounded just fine.)

We hope you’ll watch…

An Interview with an Unschooling Teenager

Sophie blogs at The Techno Maid, and she has a Youtube channel: Sophie Elvis.

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  1. Reply

    Good job, Sophie and Sue!

    1. Reply

      Thank you, Nancy! Sophie really appreciated your comment. (I did too!)

  2. Wonderful video! Thank you, Sophie, for sharing your thoughts on what it's like to be an unschooling teenager. You and your sisters (and of course your mum) are an inspiration to me and my daughter!

    1. Reply


      Thank you for your kind words and for watching our video. I don't think Sophie expected anyone to leave such nice comments. Isn't it wonderful sharing things with a daughter? (With sons too of course!)

  3. Reply

    I really enjoyed your video, Sophie and Sue!!

    Sophie, you sounded very confident in your responses to your mom's questions and you seem like a well grounded and confident young lady. One think I would like to ask is how you arrange your day to accomplish your interest-led goals? Your answer may be of interest to my teen daughter who has asked me to help her figure out a way to keep herself organized and make time for all that she is interested in doing.

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Reply


      I always find it interesting listening to my children's opinions. Sophie had no trouble answering my questions. I was struck by the fact she repeated the words, "You have to have a reason…" a few times. That made me think about why we do certain things. Are our reasons sound? I might write something about that!

      Sophie and I have been mulling over your question. I hope it's okay if I don't answer it quickly in this comment but get back to you with a proper answer. Thank you so much for asking the question and for watching our video!

  4. Reply

    Yes, I think that everyone's "reason" for doing or not doing something is very personal. I always find myself questioning the reasons why I do or not or believe something. I am trying to get away from "should" as often as possible and not imposing on my girls without good reason or explanation.

    Of course it's ok! I look forward to reading what Sophie has to say when she is ready. No rush at all.

    Thanks as always for sharing!

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, we all have our own reasons for doing or not doing something. I wonder if we should examine our reasons from time to time. I used to do certain things for reasons that weren't valid… because of adult peer pressure!

      So lovely of you to return and add another comment. I wonder what Sophie will say!

  5. Reply

    Great video, Sue and Sophie! I am so fascinated by the concept of unschooling. Makes me wish I could go back and do it that way when I was growing up, and even more so when my son was. He loved math,music,and physics. I wonder how different his life might be today if he had been allowed to focus on his true interests.

    I do have a question. How do you think unschooling would work for an only child? Doesn't it help that there are other sisters working on their own and helping with chores too, as well as the social interaction? Could unschooling work for an only child?

    Sue, love your accent! And you are so cute 🙂 Sophie has the confidence of someone ten years older. Precious! xoxo

    1. Reply


      It is never too late to unschool! I bet you do a lot of unschooling without even realising. I am sure it's something most curious adults who love learning do. Maybe your son will eventually move towards other interests such as the ones you mentioned. I studied science at university and worked in this area. But my real love was English and that's what I'm doing now! Andy was always interested in teaching but went down another pathway after school. 27 years later he qualified as a teacher. Sophie would say, it's never too late!

      I know some unschooling families where there is only one child. They are successfully learning and are happy at home. I guess an only children and his parents would share a lot together. If the child liked socialising maybe the parent would need to arrange social occasions more often than we do. My girls regard their sisters as best friends so don't mind if we don't see other people very often. I imagine things will be different for Gemma-Rose when her sisters grow up and possibly leave home while she is still unschooling.

      Sophie was delighted with your comment. Thank you for watching our video!

  6. Reply

    Well done Sophie and Sue!

    Sue, I just wanted to tell you thank you for posting all these vlogs about unschooling. They have been so wonderful to watch and help with my own thoughts about unschooling. You're story about going to your first unschool conference sounded sooo familiar. It seems as if (maybe just here in the US) that most unschoolers are of the new age variety and my family is not.

    Thanks for taking the time to post!


    1. Reply


      Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate you stopping by to give me some feedback on my videos. I am glad you are finding them useful.

      My first unschooling conference story… I hope I didn't sound critical of those people we met there. They really were very friendly but they were just not like us. Yes, unschooling can be for everyone, not just those living a more alternate lifestyle. I guess many people might think we are weird and a bit alternate ourselves, though from the outside we look rather conventional!

      It's lovely to chat. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Amy
    • June 18, 2014

    Laughing at your above comment about possibly being weird & alternate….Maybe we are too…..but I surely would LOVE to meet you in person & sit down & chat for awhile. I've been homeschooling for close to 20 years now……& it took me quite a while before I ever heard about UNschooling & realized that WOW, that's the way we did things with our learning. Now, that I'm at the tail end of our schooling adventure, with just two more left at home, I'm really loving our learning more than ever! You two did such a wonderful job on the interview! Wondering if Sophie takes actual piano lessons or not. I ask because my youngest who is 15 plays, but she has taught herself. She got her first guitar when she was 12 & taught herself to play…..she has a real gift & an ear for music…if she hears it, she can play it. Since then, she's learned piano & the ukulele. She has NO desire whatsoever for fromal lessons….as she says, it would take all the fun & enjoyment out of it. My neice, who is also homeschooled (but very formally, I must add) takes piano & violin lessons & really does NOT like it at all. She wishes she could play 'just for fun' like my daughter does.

    1. Reply


      I would enjoy sitting down for a good chat. So lovely of you to say that you'd like to meet me. Thank you!

      It sounds like your journey to unschooling was similar to ours. I had heard about unschooling but didn't completely understand what it was. I was quite surprised to discover what we were doing could be described as unschooling.

      Oh yes, I'm loving learning with my tail-enders too! We seem to have been homeschooling forever but at the same time, it has all passed in a flash. I want things to slow down!

      Sophie does have piano lessons. My older girls do as well. The boys had piano lessons when they were younger but only learnt for a couple of years or so. Imogen teaches Gemma-Rose (and gives extra lessons to Sophie). The girls choose to have formal lessons and do exams. For some reason, they thrive on the challenge. Maybe it's a personality thing. I don't think I would enjoy the stress! Like your daughter, I never had music lessons as a child. I taught myself to play the clarinet and enjoyed playing for fun. I'd have hated music exams.

      Thank you so much for watching our video. It was so good to see your comment!

  7. Reply

    Hi, Sue, I'm just catching up finally! I really enjoyed this video – Sophie is very articulate!

    I thought it was funny when you asked about the impression that unschoolers are lazy. Having followed your blog for a bit, you and your girls seem to do much more, rather than less! I wonder if being continually forced to do things isn't part of the problem of laziness. I meet schooled kids who don't want to read during the summer because they "don't have to," an attitude we find incomprehensible.

    I feel like there is something here about man being created to work, and Jesus saying that the Father is always at work. After the Fall, work has become associated with drudgery, but it should not be so. We have a friend in prison, and the prisoners have a great desire to work, to do something meaningful with their time. I think when work is seen as something we are forced to do, we lose the sense that it is a gift. Unschooling can restore that sense.

    I really liked Sophie's reaction when you asked about the chores. She does the chores she doesn't like because she loves her family. How beautiful!

    1. Reply


      I think you are so right about work. Work is enjoyable and satisfying. Yes, being told to work is very different from choosing to do it.

      Thank you for sharing the story about your friend in prison. Meaningful work… Work can be very healing. When Thomas died, I worked on an embroidery for hours at a time while I pondered and prayed. Later, homeschooling gave me a reason to get back to work, to take an interest in life again. It did help to have some meaningful work to do.

      I have been surprised at a few things my children have said during the interviews. Yes, they have said some things that have touched my heart. Callum says something similar during his interview. We are so very blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with our children unschooling, aren't we?

      Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my videos and read all my latest posts. And then commenting too. I appreciate it!

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