Five Minutes on Friday: What is Unschooling?

I had an idea. Another one. Is it a good idea? I don’t know! Maybe I can tell you about it…

I’ve been pondering the idea of recording a series of videos on basic unschooling topics, each one lasting about 5 minutes. I could call the series, Five Minutes on Friday. I‘d post one a week every Monday. Just joking!  I would post them on Fridays, of course. (I’m feeling silly, maybe because it’s the end of the week and the sun is shining…)

I thought about this idea all week, and today I took action. I decided to talk about Unschooling: Does it ‘Work’ and is it for You? I made a few notes (and applied my lipstick!) But then just as I was about to turn on the camera, I changed my mind about the topic. I thought it might be better to begin at the beginning and first make an introductory video called What is Unschooling? So that’s what I did.

I used my DSLR camera. (Yes, I worked out the settings!) I set up the camera in the family room, rather than in my bedroom. This means I lost
my blank background, but I gained some better lighting. I warned all the girls to stay away (so I wouldn’t feel self-conscious). I borrowed a clock to keep track of the time. Then I turned the camera on and started speaking…

And I discovered that unschooling can’t be explained in a thorough manner in only 5 minutes. My 5 minute video turned into 8 minutes, and
even then, I think I only touched the surface. So this is really 8 Minutes on Friday. I hope I can do better next week and keep to my time limit.

I wonder if anyone is interested in watching my video. Could there be someone reading my blog who’s heard of unschooling but isn’t quite sure what it entails? Will they get a better idea after listening to me trying to explain? I’m not sure!

If you do have any questions, after watching my video,  please ask. And if you have any ideas for future video topics, I’d love to hear them!
What is Unschooling?

Image: What are my girls doing? Are they unschooling? What exactly is unschooling? (The girls are busy filming The Elvis Fashion Shoot!)
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  1. Reply

    I enjoyed your video! My girls are also enjoying reading your girls' blogs. The unschooling method really appeals to our family, and I guess we are inching towards it in many ways. It was nice to hear you talking about how fully immersed you are in your children's lives because in many ways the idea of backing off entirely with my guys fills me with a sadness as we always have so much fun together.
    I'm looking forward to more videos on the subject!

    1. Reply

      Thank you so much for watching my video!

      Inching towards unschooling? I think that's a great way to approach unschooling. We gradually threw out everything that wasn't working for us and arrived at unschooling (without even knowing it!) It was a natural process. Of course spending time with each other and having fun is not something we want to lose. It sounds like you have a wonderful time with your children!

      Your girls read my girls' blogs? That is so lovely! I will tell my daughters. They will be thrilled to know they have some readers. Do your girls blog?

      I have some ideas for the next few videos. I am so glad you want to watch more. Thank you!

  2. Reply

    Wow! Sue, what a great presentation! I now understand more about unschooling, and I think you are wonderful in front of a camera.

    1. Reply


      It's amazing what we can do when we try. I thought I'd never be able to make a video of myself but here I am, speaking to the world (or at least a tiny part of it!) Thank you so much for your encouragement. I was very fortunate. I only had a small amount of time and I managed to say what I wanted to in one take, without getting my tongue in a knot. Last time I made a video, it took me hours to get anything worth sharing!

    • amy
    • May 23, 2014

    oh my gosh sue, you are adorable! oh, and i loved your video too 🙂

    1. Reply


      Oh wow! Adorable? And I thought I was just old and unattractive. You have made my day with your kind words. Thank you! And thank you for taking the time to watch my video.

    • San
    • May 25, 2014

    Sue this is a brilliant idea and I loved the video! I need all the help I can get! I am now working like crazy on my handmade business and have been concerned that Benedict is not moving forward and that I am letting him down. We challenged him to have a change from Lego these past few weeks and he has worked hard and enjoyed building some rather complex Meccano models. I know you have written about strewing which I will have a look at but could you talk us through one example of that and how it works? For instance do you have a list of ideas? What if you offer something and there is no enthusiasm do you move on to the next thing or push forward with the concept anyway hoping a spark might be ignited? Benedict's main interests are Lego, minecraft, Harry potter and cooking any suggestions on integrating these in a loosely formed curriculum?

    Hugs and Thankyou

    San x

    1. Reply


      You always bring a smile to my day. Thank you! I've been thinking about your question. I could answer it in a post. Maybe other people would like to discuss strewing. I'll write something later today. I hope that's okay with you!

  3. Bravo, Sue! I enjoyed watching your video very much. I love the background – seeing you in front of a wall of books seems very appropriate. Thank you for taking the time to record your thoughts. I like how you describe unschooling as the way adults learn – I'd never thought of it like that but it makes so much sense.

    I too started out (having read John Holt) with the intention of unschooling and then dallied with other styles before coming back to unschooling – thanks in a large part to your blog (which I was reading for a long time before I had the confidence to comment!). So – once again – thank you!

    1. Reply


      I am sure you are an unschooling adult too! Don't you just love that exciting feeling of wanting to know more? No one has to tell us to 'go learn something.' I really enjoy watching my kids involved with their interests, learning in a similar way to me.

      I am so glad you did make up your mind to comment. I always enjoy chatting with you and sharing ideas. Having the confidence to comment…. I love hearing from readers. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment!

  4. Reply

    This made me realize how much time was wasted for me in public school. It's a wonder that I wasn't totally ruined. I was finally free to learn when I was finished! I did enjoy a bit of college though, but that was because it was English ~ my favorite!

    I have been wanting to ask you though, that if you did not have to report to your state, would your day look much differently?

    Great job on the video. Your have such a delightful personality.

    1. Reply


      It's so sad we lost so much time at school. Yes, real learning began when we graduated! It is different for our children.

      You studied English? Oh, I wish I could have done that! If I'd been encouraged to follow my interests maybe I'd have done a Bachelor of Arts instead of science. Oh well, I am enjoying English now!

      Would my day look much different if I didn't have to report to the state? I wouldn't spend time filling in records books! That task always hangs over my head. I think we'd do much the same things even if we were free to do as we like. I guess there would be more of a temptation to drift through our days if no one was concerned what we were doing. I wouldn't want to do that though. I like learning with the girls and it's good to introduce them to a wide range of experiences. I'd still want them to get up each morning excited about the day ahead, eager to learn.

      Thank you for your kind words about my video!

  5. Reply's not Friday anymore… It took me a few days to get around to watching the video. I am glad I did. As always the advice was great..and good on any ol' day ;).

    You are such a sweet, beautiful, and intelligent woman. I am glad I follow your blog. You are supportive of me in ways you maybe don't know.

    Much love 😀

    1. Reply


      (I know that's not your real name but wonder if you'd like to keep that name private, despite your kindness in sharing it with me.)

      Thank you so much for your support. Your words always make my day and keep me working at this blog. They also uplift me when I'm feeling old and tired. Oh my! I thought people would probably not like the real me revealed in my videos. It's always safer to hide behind words. I have a funny story about videos and being honest. Today I borrowed my son's halogen lights (the ones he uses for his car mechanics) to give extra light to my bedroom, so I could use it to record another video. The lights are very, very bright. They reveal every wrinkle and sag in my skin! If I post that video I have nothing left to hide. Unless of course you want to see the state of my fridge!

      Much love to you too. xx

    2. Reply

      Sue, you can call me whatever you want.. 😀

      And you looked GREAT in the halogen light video. I don't know what you are talking about, missy!!!

    3. Reply

      Oh…and I forgot to say.. I am surprised you remember my name. Just goes to show what a big heart you have!!


    4. Reply

      Virginia Sue,

      How could I forget your name? I was so touched you shared it with me. It's a beautiful name!

      It looks like I'll be using the halogen lamps again for my next video!! I think I'll chat about the question, Is Unschooling for Us? I bet I could ramble on about that for a long time! Thank you so much for all your wonderful support and encouragement. xx

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