Ideas for Starting Unschooling

A few posts ago, I was talking about collaboration. Would anyone like to work with me as we try to spread the unschooling message? Could we light a gentle unschooling fire together? I was afraid no one would respond to my invitation, but quite a few people did!

You might have noticed the recent guest posts which have widened the unschooling conversation. Instead of just reading my thoughts and ideas and hearing about what my family is doing, you’ve been able to see unschooling from other parents’ perspectives.

But guests posts aren’t the only way I’m collaborating with other unschoolers. Hayley, from the blog Taking a Kinder Path, had another idea. She took the closed captions for a couple of my Youtube videos and adjusted them so they match my spoken words perfectly. When I’ve updated the captions, thanks to Hayley, you’ll be able to watch the videos with the sound muted without missing a word.

I’m also going to publish the video transcripts here on my blog as posts. And that’s what this post is really all about. Today, I want to share one of those transcripts with you.

Hayley transcribed my video Starting Unschooling. The spoken words originally came from one of my podcasts. They were a taste of episode 33.

The transcript for the Starting Unschooling video:

Do children need time to adjust to a new way of doing things? Do they need some encouragement to start following their interests? And does it take time for trust to build up between parents and children?

I think unschooling is a whole new way of looking at things and it affects the way we live our lives. It’s a big step and I think it does take time for parents and children to actually adjust to this step. Maybe parents have to trust that given time their children will start following their own interests. With a little bit of encouragement, they will actually start following their own pathways. In the meantime, it can very difficult for parents to have that trust, to say, ‘Well it’s going to happen, all I have to do is wait’. I can imagine a lot of parents saying, ‘Come on, you’ve got to learn something, what do you want to learn?’ And to start questioning their decision to unschool if nothing fantastic is starting to happen pretty quickly.

I wonder if asking our children what they would like to learn about is too confrontational. It might sound like we’re applying pressure, ‘Come on you’ve got to learn something.’ Maybe instead of jumping in with questions like this, we could begin just by relaxing with our children. Just enjoy being with our children. Watch a few movies together, read some books, play some games, go on a few outings, do some craft, take lots of time to talk, just have some fun together, concentrate on building up our relationships.

I know that my relationships with my children were really suffering when we were doing structured homeschooling. As I said, I often put other people’s expectations ahead of my children which resulted in a lot of hurt. Maybe one of the first things to do is to work on those relationships so that we build up trust with our children. While we’re doing this, we could be doing all those things that we always meant to do. I always had a big long list of things that I used to want to do with my children when we’d done the serious business of homeschooling. ‘We’ll do this when we’ve done all the work,’ I would say. But, of course, that never happened. The work was never-ending and all those things that I really would have enjoyed doing with my children got put aside day after day after day. We never actually got there. I wonder if you know the sort of things I’m talking about. So maybe some of those things are good things to actually start doing once the decision to unschool has been made.

Here’s the full podcast just in case you’d like to listen to the whole episode:

And here’s the video in case you’d like to watch as well as read:

I didn’t edit the transcript to make my spoken words flow better as written ones, but I’m going to do this before I include it in my  upcoming unschooling book. Yes, I’m still working on the book and I’m determined to finish it!

Thank you, Hayley, for your hard work. I love working with you. Your ideas are inspiring and your enthusiasm is contagious!

If you’d like to collaborate with me, please leave a comment or an email or you could join us in our Unschooling Collaborators Facebook group.

And if you have some ideas for starting unschooling, I hope you’ll stop by and share them!

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    • MotherOwl (Charlotte)
    • July 17, 2017

    Thank you for these words. I’m a reader, not a listener, and those words gave me a gentle shove in the right direction for ideas on how to spend the rest of the summer holidays.
    Descolling days are over, now we need to do unlikely things – those together-things, we always push ahead of us until work is done 😉 Learning will happen.

    1. Reply


      I was thinking about you when I said some people prefer reading rather than listening. I hope I can post more transcripts because I know you find it difficult to listen to podcasts and watch videos.

      I’m glad you could relate to my words. It’s good to actually do those together things, isn’t it? Oh yes, learning will happen! I hope you enjoy your unlikely things!
      Sue Elvis recently posted…Watching a Child LearnMy Profile

  1. Reply

    First, I want to say I love your blog! I don’t know if I’m a ‘real’ unschooler, but my kids are still under school age, and all their learning has been interest-driven as of yet. Next year they have to start school (homeschooling is illegal where we live), and it breaks my heart. Any advice on how to support unschooling while the child is in school would be very welcome.

    1. Reply

      A worried mama,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoy reading my blog.

      I definitely think you are a real unschooler! Unschooling starts from birth. It’s a natural way of learning. Kids are curious and can’t help learning. All we need to do is provide a rich environment, encourage them and be good examples of learning ourselves. Learning is a natural part of life. I’m sure you already know this by observing and interacting with your own children.

      I’m so sorry you won’t be able to keep your children at home. It must be very difficult not to be in total control of their education, especially when other families like ours have the freedom to do as we like. Despite having to send your kids to school, I do believe you will still be the biggest influence on them. There’s a lot you can do during the hours that they are at home. The principles of loving unconditionally, acceptance, respect, trust, forgiveness… these can all be lived out within our families whether we school or not. We can support and encourage our children’s talents and interests, accept them for who they are, encourage them to become the people they are meant to be.

      Perhaps you’ll find Grace Llewellyn’s book ‘Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School’ helpful.

      I haven’t read the book, but it sounds good. If you buy it, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

      Please feel welcome to stop by another time if you’d like to chat further.
      Sue Elvis recently posted…Why Becoming an Ex-Unschooling Blogger is a Bit ScaryMy Profile

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