What Unschoolers Miss Out On

Have you ever started the school term with loads of enthusiasm and excitement? Perhaps you’ve thought, “This term is going to be perfect!” Even though last term wasn’t. And the one before that also ended with a fizzle instead of a bang.

I remember many school terms that began with hope and ended with relief.

Oh yes, during the holidays between school terms, I’d make elaborate and what I thought were exciting plans. I’d read books, buy resources, and write loads of notes. On the first day of the term, I could hardly wait to begin.  My kids got caught up in my excitement too. For a few days. Or was that a few hours?

It didn’t take long for things to go downhill as everyone realised what a big task we had ahead of us. All those outside expectations that dragged us away from what we really wanted to do. We’d start to battle over work:

“But you have to do this,” I’d say. “It’s good for you to do things you don’t want to do.”

As the weeks went by, I’d say, “Keep going. It’s not long until you can do what you like.” I was looking forward to doing what I liked too. I was also looking forward to the end of the school work battles.

I have to admit, we hardly ever lasted the whole term. A week or so before the start of the official school holiday, I’d slam our books shut, toss them back on the shelf, and announce, “I’ve had enough! Let’s end the term early!”

My kids would grin. So would I. We were free! We didn’t have to do anything for the next few weeks. No school work. No record keeping. No one could make us learn anything we didn’t want to know about.

Here in Australia, the official school year ended a week ago. Last Saturday morning, while most children were probably sleeping in late after a tiring and busy school term, we got out of bed at 4.30. Soon after 6 am, we were at our local nature reserve setting up the cameras to film a music video for my daughter Imogen. Despite the term having ended, we continued to do what we always do.

On the first day of the holidays, we missed out on an opportunity to sleep late. Did we miss out on anything else? Oh yes.

We missed out on that huge overwhelming feeling of relief that used to flood through us when the school term ended. We didn’t shout, “We’re free!”

You see, my children are free all the time. Free to learn what’s important to them. Free to choose to learn things they feel that they should know. Free to direct their own learning instead of following someone else’s plan. Free to learn whether it’s the school term or not.

So on the first day of the long summer holidays, we were working. We were making a music video.

The other day, my husband Andy asked, “Am I a Youtube star yet?”

“No, Dad,” answered Imogen. “We’re still editing the video. O Holy Night doesn’t go live until Wednesday.”

Yes, Andy joined Imogen to sing this Christmas carol. So did Charlotte, Sophie and Gemma-Rose. I didn’t. I was the photographer. While I snapped photos, I listened to my family’s voices floating through the bark-shedding gum trees and out towards the river. And I enjoyed. I wonder if the early morning walkers also enjoyed this little taste of Christmas.

Wednesday has come and gone. O Holy Night is now live on Youtube. Is Andy a star?

“Imogen’s supposed to be the star, Dad.”


I guess no one’s a star when you’re part of a family. Everyone needs everyone else. We’re all important.

I’d like to thank you for reading my posts, for your comments, friendship, support, and encouragement during 2016.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family. May you experience the peace, joy, and love that come from this special season. Happy Christmas!

P.S. Imogen will be posting one last Christmas video. Carol of the Bells will go live on her Youtube channel on Wednesday 28th December. This video is also a family affair. Andy, Charlotte, and Gemma-Rose once again join Imogen. My son Callum is singing with her too. Sophie recorded this live performance video when he was home for the weekend, several weeks ago.

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    • Kelly
    • December 23, 2016

    I look forward to Carol of the Bells, that’s a challenging one!
    Merry Christmas to you all, God bless you, and well done for all you do.

    1. Reply

      Hi Kelly,

      I’ve really enjoyed sharing with you this year, here on my blog and on Facebook too. I’ve also enjoyed following along with your weaving adventure. You have achieved so much in 2016. You are very talented and an inspiration to me. I don’t think I’ll be a weaver, at least not any time soon, but I do enjoy looking at your beautiful creations, watching your videos, and thinking about the things you are doing. I’m so glad you’ve found a way to make a little money from your work. Now I have to do the same! Thank you for all your support, friendship and encouragement this year. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas with your family. May God bless you too! xx

    • Amber
    • December 24, 2016

    What a blessing to be free all the time! The unschooling life is a good one!
    We really enjoyed the video and can’t wait for Carol of the Bells!
    Your website looks amazing! Hoping to get a chance to explore it and read as much as possible over the next couple of weeks!
    Thank you for sharing.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    1. Reply


      I feel very grateful that we can live this wonderful unschooling life!

      I’m glad you like my new look blog. Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoy reading my posts!

      I also hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas too!

    • emily
    • December 27, 2016

    I recently said to a (somewhat older) friend, whose grandchildren were up visiting from The Big City during their Christmas break from school, “The one bad thing about homeschooling is you never have that feeling of relief from getting out of school to go on a break.” I was quick to add, “But that’s a good thing!” 🙂

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, that feeling of relief when the holidays arrive is good. But never needing to feel relieved is even better! So glad you understand what I’m talking about. I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season!

  1. Reply

    The family picture at the end is great! We haven’t missed the plethora of rules, and check the box activities that are involved in not homeschooling 🙂 Our homeschooling experience started on unschooling so, we’ve never had the curricula experience.

    When I was in public school, I was always allowed to go to the library to study other topics once I quickly finished my work. In high school, I wrapped up my work, and went to the school’s lab to work on my various science fair projects. My wife, who was homeschooled, piqued my interest by informing me that I was essentially self-unschooled. Once I looked into unschooling, it looked phenomenal, and here we are!

    Thanks for all your interesting posts and podcasts throughout the year! They’ve been a lot of fun!

    1. Reply


      I have to admit I’m a bit envious of people like you who have discovered unschooling so early, while your children are still very young. You won’t make the same mistakes I made or get frustrated trying to fulfil outside expectations that aren’t worth worrying about. Actually, like you, we did start out as unschoolers. Unlike you, we got side-tracked because I didn’t really understand what unschooling is all about. Years ago, we didn’t have the same access to info that we have nowadays. No Internet to google unschooling and read about other people’s experiences and gain knowledge and share ideas. I guess our experiences have given me a passion for writing about unschooling. I want to share this way of life, tell people what it’s all about, put right the negative unschooling stories people might read about…

      I like your self-unschooling story. When I was at school and uni, I educated myself in my free time. The only problem was I didn’t get much of it. Never mind. Now I’m catching up with my learning!

      It’s been great fun getting to know you and sharing unschooling via our blogs. Thank you for guest posting on my blog a few months ago. And thank you for writing all your unschooling posts which I’ve enjoyed reading!

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