Are You a Curious Unschooler?

Do you ever follow rabbit trails, going from one thing to other until your head is spinning with new knowledge?

My head is constantly spinning. I guess my girls’ heads are too. You see, I don’t keep my discoveries to myself.

I’m always saying things like:

“Hey, girls, listen to this…”
“Did you know…?”
“Can I tell you about…?”
“Would you like me to read…?”
“What do you think about this?”
“Want to watch this video with me?”
“Wow, you won’t believe what I just found out!”
“This is so interesting!”

And usually, hearing the excitement in my voice, my girls look up from whatever they’re doing. They want to know more too.

I’m interested in everything. So are my children. I’m glad they are because the world is a fascinating place and I love exploring it with them. It also makes fulfilling homeschool registration requirements very easy. At the end of each day, I always have lots of notes, covering a wide range of topics, to add to my Evernote records book.

I wonder: Why am I interested in everything? Why are my children? Is it something to do with our personalities? Or is everyone interested in everything? Or do we all start out being curious people and then some of us change along the way?

Little children want to know about everything. They’re full of questions. Sometimes they have so many questions we can’t keep up. How do we answer them all? Or maybe we don’t. Could we sometimes give kids the impression that we have more important things to do than satisfy their curiosity? Do they learn that asking questions isn’t a good thing to do?

I wonder: Can curiosity be regained? Can we pass on a curious attitude to our kids?

Perhaps we all need to slow down and look more carefully at the world around us. I bet we miss loads of opportunities to ask questions and ponder possible answers.

But what type of questions?

The other day I saw a sign stating that our local area is now a coal mining-free place. It was a new sign erected by our council. Why did it suddenly appear? What exactly does it mean? Surely we have a coal mine close by? I did some googling. Soon I was investigating legal, environmental, health, indigenous, foreign investment, local employment, and other issues. I looked at maps. I watched videos. I read about protests. I looked at photos. I even listened to some indigenous music. And I shared most of what I discovered with my daughters.

Head buzzing, I made dozens of notes in my records book, not only for registration purposes but also for us. My notebooks are bursting with information we want to remember.

The same thing happened when we were out on a picnic some months ago. I’d brought along a packet of muesli bars. As we sat at our table in the nature reserve, munching away, we examined the muesli bar wrappers. “What’s lupin, Mum? It’s one of the ingredients.”

Was lupin a health condition or a rabbit? Or something else? I didn’t know. We decided it must be associated with allergies because there was a warning on the wrapper. When we got home we did some googling and discovered lupin is a pulse. We found out a lot of other things too. I talked about this picnic and the following rabbit trail in one of my podcasts, episode 58: Responding to Unschooling and Other Critics.

I’m always asking questions and searching for answers. So are my girls. We investigate how things work. We make connections. We ponder solutions to problems. We look at our remarkable world with a sense of awe.

And we don’t have to worry about covering the required topics and finding things to put in our homeschool records books.

I’m thinking about the word ‘curious’. Depending on how we use it, it could mean:

marked by a desire to investigate and learn

Or it might mean:

exciting attention as strange, novel, or unexpected

So do curious unschoolers have a desire to investigate? Or are they strange, odd or eccentric people who excite attention? Or could both be true?

Are you strange? Are you interested in everything? Yes? Then you must be a curious unschooler like me!

Images: A disused railway track runs through our village. Alongside the track is a pile of corrugated iron. It looks like it used to belong to a building. I’m curious. Could it be the old railway station? I wonder if there is a way to find out.

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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    • emily
    • December 13, 2016

    I do that with our DH, too – “Come, look at this!” He’s 10, and NBS (I’m making that up; “Never Been Schooled”, lol), so we encourage him to explore and learn new things with him.

    I taught elementary school for 13 yrs, Kindergarten through 5th grade, and by around 3rd grade kids seem to have lost most of their curiosity, I think b/c in school curiosity is discouraged.

    1. Reply


      How lovely it is to see you on my blog!

      NBS… I like that! That describes all my kids too. My husband is also a school teacher. He does his best to keep curiosity alive in his students, but it’s difficult. How fortunate we are to have our kids at home where they are free to explore the world.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

        • emily
        • December 20, 2016

        Hi, Sue – remember the comment I recently made on your recent video about unparenting/radical unschooling? Well, I have to tell you that God used you (esp. your podcast) to convince me to return to unschooling. Now. I invite you to read the blog post I published today; I explain my 180 (and how you fit into it!) more fully. (I don’t want to put the link here, lest WordPress count it as spam and you never see this comment. It’s called “Another Look At Unschooling.”)

        DS and I both thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for putting yourself out there so that I get encouraged to get us back on the right track. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        1. Reply


          I’m so excited to hear about your decision to return to unschooling. I hope you find as much joy in this way of life as we have. It’s a real pleasure sharing experiences and discussing unschooling with you.

          I hopped over to your blog to read your post. Thank you for the link to my blog! I did write a comment, but I suspect it disappeared as I hit ‘submit’. If it doesn’t return, I’ll write another comment soon.

          Thank you for stopping by to share your news!

  1. Reply

    I had no idea what Lupin was! It has a gorgeous flower. Thanks for the new piece of information this morning!

    We’re all pretty curious around here! As we walk around town, the kids have questions about what’s going on at various businesses, and construction sites. If at all possible, I encourage them to ask the people actually working, and not me. They’ve all been awesome about answering questions. Our big city feels like a very, very small town.

    Thanks for the list of expressions you use to share things with your kids! You should make it into a T-Shirt, or internet meme!

    1. Reply


      “You should make it into a T-Shirt, or internet meme!” What a great idea. I like it very much and I’m going to think about it a bit more and do something with those phrases. Thank you for sharing your thought!

      I can just imagine you walking through your town with your children. Young children are such a delight. I bet people love answering their questions.

      You are definitely a curious unschooler!

    • Bernice
    • December 17, 2016

    Dear Sue, congratulations on your new blog! Looks nice – must have been a lot of work. I moved a few years ago from blogger to WordPress. The only downside, I think is, that blogger made socialising easier.
    Anyway – the reason I wanted to write to you (after a long time) is that I have started reading “The Angels of Abby Creek” to my children and they love it so far! The Angels are truly an angelic family 😉
    Hope you’re all well and enjoying Advent.
    Happy Christmas,
    from Bernice (UK)

    1. Reply


      It’s so lovely to see you on my new look blog! Yes, moving blogs does involve a lot of work. I’ve had to reformat all my posts. I’m still trying to sort things out, but hopefully, all the effort will be worth it. I think you are so right about Blogger being better for socialising. That’s where most of my blogging friends are. I think it’s going to take some time to make connections again now that I’m here on WordPress.

      I’m so pleased to hear your children are enjoying my Angels book. Thank you so much for letting me know!

      Only a few days until Christmas! Is it your first since you moved to the UK? I hope you have a very happy celebration with your family!

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