Starting Unschooling


Initially, I liked the idea of unschooling so we set off down the unschooling pathway. But it didn’t take me long to discover a few things I didn’t like about this way of life. We ended up moving away, travelling down various side-tracks as I explored other homeschooling philosophies. For a few years, I searched for the perfect way to bring up and educate our children.

Although I considered many different ways of homeschooling, I never intended to return to unschooling. Hadn’t we already tried that? But we did finally make our way back. It happened gradually, without me realising where we were headed. And when we arrived here, I discovered unschooling wasn’t what I’d thought it was. I’d misunderstood unschooling completely. Yes, our journey to unschooling was gradual and unintentional. But not everyone comes to unschooling in the same way we did. For some parents, it’s a conscious decision, after a lot of research and thought. They come to a point where they announce, “We’re going to try unschooling.” What happens next? Is the transition to unschooling always smooth?

In this week’s podcast, I discuss the topic of starting unschooling.

  • Is moving to unschooling a big step for children?
  • How can we encourage children to get excited about their own learning?
  • What if a child just wants to sit in front of the television or computer?
  • Do adults and children have different ideas about what kind of learning is valuable?
  • And what about trust?

Program Notes:

Suzie Andres’ books

A Little Way of Homeschooling

Blog posts about starting unschooling

It seems to me that very few of us like venturing out into the relatively unknown, especially if it means we are heading off alone. Even when we can see things need to change, we make excuses why we shouldn’t try something different. We persist day after day, knowing in our hearts that all the work we are doing is futile, but still, we lack the courage to leave behind what is safe and familiar.

Could it be important that parents get excited, show they enjoy learning, share their own passions, be a great example?

Watching TV, Playing on the Computer, Doing Nothing Much at All
They’re sitting on the sofa watching TV. When they’re not doing that, they’re playing computer games. Or they’re lounging around, doing nothing much at all. And you are worried because this isn’t what you had in mind when you said, “You’re free to do what you want.”

Unschooling and Trust

Now that we’re not directing our children’s learning, do we believe they will learn what they need to know in their own time, without us interfering? Do we trust our kids? Or deep down, do we still have certain expectations? Perhaps if they’re not being fulfilled we will start to doubt what we’re doing.

There are more posts under the label ‘starting unschooling’


60’s Quiz Show by Podington Bear, (CC BY-NC 3.0)

If you listen… Thank you!

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  1. Reply

    Sue, your podcasts always give me things to think about and although you may not feel very "professional" I find your episodes interesting, the sound quality is excellent and your delivery is fantastic – in fact, your podcasts sound very professional compared to many others I have heard. So, I would definitely love to keep hearing them!

    1. Reply


      Your comment is so encouraging. The sound quality of my podcasts improved after we bought a good mic, and I also learnt a few editing tricks! I'm so pleased you want to keep listening. Thank you!

  2. Reply

    Sue this is wonderful! Thanks so much for doing what you do!

    1. Reply


      I appreciate you taking the time to leave such positive feedback. Thank you!

  3. Reply


    I really enjoy the podcasts and posts. The content is thought-provoking and I learn a lot and enjoy them. As an American, I also really enjoy your accent!

    1. Reply


      It is so lovely to chat with you again! I sometimes wonder if my accent is annoying and perhaps a distraction to people from other countries. It's good to know it doesn't bother you. Thank you very much for responding to my request for feedback. Your kind comment really helps!

    • San
    • July 13, 2015

    Dear Sue,

    I think your podcasts are very professional, they are a real joy to listen to as well as being very informative.

    We have morphed into unschooling by default :-). I have had to "work" which has meant that I am unable to plan or execute a curriculum and let's face it work books are not exactly Benedict's thing!! It doesn't mean that I don't panic about his future but your tag line is a daily reminder for me ~ trust, respect and love unconditionally.

    San xx

    1. Reply


      Morphed into unschooling by default… I think that's the perfect way to arrive at unschooling! Perhaps you could share some of Benedict's latest learning adventures on your blog. I'd love to read about what he is doing.

      My tag line… for me, those words tend to sum things up. They're also a handy way of ending my podcast! Thank you so much for your kind words about my podcasts. I'm so glad you like listening to them. xxx

  4. Reply


    Sorry, one more thought. I would love to hear more about what unschooling looked like in your home when your children were younger. I have a 7 year-old and a very active, outgoing, exuberant 4 year-old. I would be interested in what your day to day was like, not just learning to read, but how you handled things such as hygiene, helping around the house, and siblings fighting? My kids are young, but it seems like parenting dynamics change as your kids grow and develop. Any wisdom to share with those of us with youngers?

    1. Reply


      I love receiving suggestions on what I could write or talk about. Thank you for yours! I don't know if I have any wise thoughts to share, but I could think back to the time when we had younger children and tell you how things were with us (if I can remember that far back!)

    • Hwee
    • July 13, 2015

    Sue, I really enjoy your sharing of your experience and thoughts on how unschooling works for your family. Your blog looks so very professional! I like the new look. 🙂

    1. Reply


      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them very much. I'm glad you like my new look blog. I'm hoping older posts will now be easier to find. I enjoyed playing around with the template!

  5. I'm a fan and a subscriber to your podcasts. I really enjoyed your episode on "Mathes". I would enjoy hearing more on how your children have naturally learning things like reading and language arts. Please keep podcasting.

    1. *learned not learning 😳

    2. Reply

      Thank you so much for subscribing to my podcast and for the encouraging feedback. I appreciate your comment very much!

      Reading and language arts… I have to admit I made lots of mistakes with reading! I have written a few blog posts about learning to read. (Such a difficult thing to let go of!) Maybe you'd like to read this one:

      Here's a post on learning to write:

      I will think about these topics further and maybe I can talk about them in a future podcast. Thank you for the suggestion! And thank you for stopping by to say hello.

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