What’s Stopping You From Unschooling?


I’m sure there are many people investigating unschooling. But not everyone who considers unschooling will actually decide to give it a go. Why’s that? What holds people back? Do they like the sound of some aspects of unschooling but aren’t sure about others?

In this week’s podcast, I talk about the things that could be stopping people from unschooling.

  • I also share some of our unschooling story. Why did we start as unschoolers but then go in a different direction? How did we make our way back to unschooling?
  • I discuss the question: Who can we trust when we’re looking for unschooling info online?
  • I tell a few family stories while pondering joy.
  • And I share lots of resources

Podcast Notes

Imogen’s Youtube Channel

My children’s fiction blog: Sue Elvis Writes

My children’s novel: The Angels of Abbey Creek (The Kindle version will be available for free from Fri 5th – Sun 7th February.)

My grief blog: The Baby Loss Club

My Instagram account: Sue Elvis

Sophie’s photography blog: The Techno Maid

Sophie’s blog post: How a Famous Musician Followed Me on Twitter


Miss Austen Regrets (Rating is PG, not G as I reported in my podcast.)

Miss Austen Regrets on PBS

Miss Potter


Coal House

Coal House at War website

Coal House at War: episodes on Youtube

Youtube channels

NumberphileNew World’s Biggest Prime Number

Periodic Videos: Four New Elements

Standup Maths

Peter Hollens; Loch Lomond

Lindsay Stirling


How They Sell Music: Lessons from Celebrities on Creating Your Own Success

Photography Podcast

Picture This on Youtube

Picture This on iTunes


Cook It! History Cookbook

Podcast Music

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

You can find my Stories of an Unschooling Family podcast on

and here on my blog.If you listen to my podcast… Thank you!

And if you’d like to comment on this week’s episode, please do. I’d love to hear from you!

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  1. Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. It played a huge role in helping me decide to unschool… Or at least to give it a try. I have a time limit for this experiment – till June. This way we can assess and decide. Today was day one and I am very happy with it. The kids seemed happy, too, though maybe not quiet sure how to react. I think it will take us a while to get used to it fully. I feel liberated and joyful. Keep up this very important work. It really inspired me and hopefully will inspire many more people.

    1. Reply


      I'm so pleased you stopped by to say hello! What a great adventure you have set out on. I really hope things go well for you and your family. It sounds like you had a great first day. What did you do? Was it very different from what you used to do? I hope you all adjust quickly to your new way of life and enjoy your days together.

      Thank you so much for reading my blog and listening to my podcasts. I appreciate your encouraging words very much. It's so lovely connecting with you. Thank you for your comment!

    2. Reply


      What a great day you had! 'We talked a little about leap years.' Oh yes, we share so with our kids by talking about all kinds of things. Some of my favourite times are when we sit around the table sipping coffee and chatting about everything and anything. It's so lovely to have the time to do that.

      I love your diary idea. If you have a day when you begin to doubt your kids are doing much, you can open your diary and remind yourself of all the wonderful things they've been experiencing. If you take lots of photos, you can enjoy them all over again!

      Thank you so much for returning to tell me about your day!

    3. Reply

      To start out our kids made a campfire. Aginst all odds, rain and wind, it burned. They cooked potatoes in it and really enjoyed their burned snack. Our older daughter and I crocheted. We texted back and forth with extended family. Older daughter read stories from Arabian Nights and all played and did watercolor and listened to an audiobook. Younger daughter wrote out the dates of February and we talked a little about leap years. And I did not force any of this! However the greatest benefit so far is everyone is just much nicer to each other. I am keeping a diary so I don't forget. Thank you for asking. It all seems to be such a blessing!

  2. Reply

    ho, I want it transcribed, I want it transcribed ! Please please Sue ;-D !

    1. Reply


      Thank you for wanting to know what I said. How can I refuse such an enthusiastic request? Yes, I will transcribe the podcast!

  3. Reply

    I meant quite… It's past midnight here…

    1. Reply


      I understand. I found a mistake in my post after I read your comment. I wrote 'form' instead of 'from'. So easy to do!

  4. Reply

    Love your podcasts, too. Thanks again for sharing your journey and inspiring us along the way.

    1. Reply


      I appreciate your kind words very much. Thank you!

    • Gina
    • February 4, 2016

    Sue, is it still unschooling if I tell my kids I want them to study math each year but I let them choose which program we use or, in some cases, what area of math to study? Or is that more relaxed homeschooling? Or does the label even really matter?

    1. Reply


      I don't think labels matter much except when we want to find like-minded people. They're good for Googling! Labels can tell us something about the people who adopt them. But I suppose labels don't work so well when we can't all agree on the definition of a particular label. This can happen with the unschooling label. Some people would say that if we make exceptions, such as not trusting our kids to learn maths without us insisting they do it, we're not unschoolers. As a former 'we unschool everything except maths' mother, I can understand how difficult it is to let go of this area completely. Perhaps it's okay to let go gradually and only as far as we are able at a particular time. There are lots of different methods of learning maths. Maybe your kids appreciate how they can make decisions about what and how they learn this subject. Are they happy with this way of doing things? I guess the most important thing is that we do what suits our family best.

  5. Reply

    Thanks so much for this podcast, it was great!! Having young kids myself, I would love to hear more about the early days of your unschooling and what you feel like is really important for young kids. Is there a certain age where you would more actively seek out interesting things for them? Or does it naturally progress when they find things they're interested in? Also, was "screen time" ever an issue with your children? I know that putting limits on things usually just makes us want it more, but I also feel that it affects my children's behavior and other things on days they binge in front of a screen.. Just some thoughts perhaps you can expand on. Can't wait for the next one! 😉 Thanks!

    1. Reply


      Thank you for your questions! I hope you don't mind: I answered the question about strewing in this week's podcast. It was good to have a specific question to address. That helped when I was deciding what to speak about. Thanks! I hope you are able to listen to this week's episode. Please feel welcome to return and ask another question if I wasn't any help to you.

      Screen time has never been an issue with my children. They all have their own computers and I don't regulate their use. Computers are tools and we need them to follow our passions. I find that, although we do spend quite a bit of time behind our screens, my children are also happy to do other things. They like to spend time doing family things, exercising, going on outings, chatting and drinking coffee, reading, making things… I think they have naturally found a balance with their usage of screens.

      So, I think it's not inevitable kids will become addicted to their computers if they are given freedom to use them as often as they wish. However, I speak for my family only. Things can be different for other families. If behaviour is a problem perhaps you'll want to do things differently from us.

      Did you listen to episode 32 of my podcast? I talk to my daughter Imogen about kids and computers.

      Here's another post about computers:


      Computers are tricky. Lots of opinions! I guess we just observe our kids, listen to our hearts and do what we feel is best.

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I'm so glad you listened!

    2. Reply


  6. Reply

    Sue – I so enjoy your sharing through your website and podcast. 🙂 I have to say that I really resonate with your experience and message. There are two areas where I continue to do more prompting and lesson planning: copy work and mathematics. Yesterday I asked my two school-aged children what they would like to learn about this year and what they would do all day if left to their own. My 12-yo son said he would learn how to program and modify his computer to do more gaming and he would read all day. My 9-yo daughter said she would listen to audiobooks all days about mythical creatures. When I asked if there was anything that was a bother for them my son said nothing did and my daughter said she didn't like copy work. Well – I'm glad I asked and we will just work on her writing and spelling in her own way…I don't know where she got that 😕 Ummm…maybe her mom. 🙂 She is very creative and doesn't like to have to fit into a model. My son really likes to have concrete parameters to feel like he is completing something. And I was glad that they both said they still like our math program (even though sometimes they express frustration 😮 when we run into new and mind-stretching concepts). So that is how we are approaching education here. And I really like to hear about what is working for your family!

    1. Reply


      I really enjoyed hearing about how you do things with your children. I love how you asked your kids how they felt about their learning and what they want to do.

      Learning how to program… Do you have a course your son is going to do? There are some great resources online. My girls love mythical creatures too. Maybe your daughter will end up writing fantasy novels like my girls!

      I'm glad we could connect through this episode of my podcast. Thank you so much for listening!

  7. Reply

    An epic podcast!! You nailed explaining about un schooling and reminded me that relationships are far more important than results 🙂

    Please keep writing, podding(!) and strewing resources for the listener … I will be checking out your links later xx

    1. Reply


      An epic podcast? Oh my, you are so encouraging! I'd probably have given up writing and podding(!) long ago if it wasn't for my kind friends stopping by with kind comments like yours. Thank you. I'm so glad you found something useful in my words. I love sharing with you, San. Thanks for listening and for stopping by! xx

  8. Reply

    Natasha, Kim and San,

    I am so sorry I haven't answered your comments yet. I've been running through this week, trying to keep up but I'm failing. I hope to catch up soon. Your comments are greatly appreciated and I'm looking forward to chatting.

    Natasha, I answered one of your questions in this week's podcast. I've just edited it and it will be published as soon as I've finished writing the associated post. Very soon!

    • Cierra
    • August 20, 2017

    Hi😀I am a mom of 3 little ones ages 5, 3 and 15 months. We are a practicing Catholic family as well. I just committed to homeschooling my daughter this past April, despite my hesitations of being a possible failure at homeschooling. I felt like God had pit this idea in my heart and didn’t want to regret not giving it a go. I just told myself to try it out for one year and see how it went. Since deciding On this path I have had lots of emotions. I have now come so far in learning about all the traditional types of “homeschooling” and very recently fell in love with the idea of “unschooling”. I was having so much anxiety about deciding on a curriculum and I worried that if I let my kids have a more untraditional learning environment our days wouldn’t have enough structure (I’m still not sure if I can manage this balance) but I knew wanted to spend this year really focusing on good virtues and character building and forming good habits. I’m part of the Wild + Free homeschooling community (great poscasts) and recently started reading some John Holt books on unschooling. It has been extremely liberating to let go of all this pressure I have been feeling. I am focusing more on just being intentional and practicing more positive parenting to better bond with my kids. Tonight I randomly googled “catholic unschoolers” and your blog popped up.😁 I feel like I am in such a small subset of “homeschoolers” since all of the Catholic families I know use a traditional schooling approach. I haven’t listened to your podcasts yet but I will asap! I also want to read the Catholic unschooling book you mentioned on another post. I am so thrilled to have found your blog/podcast and will be in touc I’m sure as our unschooling or self directed learning journey unfolds. God Bless you and yours ❤️

    1. Reply

      Hi Cierra,

      I’m so pleased you found my blog and stopped by to say hello!

      Yes, Catholic unschoolers are a small subset of the homeschooling community. I don’t know any other Catholics who are unschooling in my offline life either. However, I’ve connected with some wonderfully supportive and friendly families via the Internet. I wonder if you have seen the Unschooling Catholics Yahoo Group:


      Suzie Andres, the author of the Catholic unschooling books ‘Homeschooling with Gentleness’ and ‘A LIttle Way of Homeschooling’, belongs to that group. I’m sure you will enjoy Suzie’s books immensely. Suzie has a page here on my blog.

      Thank you for wanting to listen to my podcast. Yesterday I published a new episode after a two-week break. I hope you enjoy listening!

      Please feel welcome to stop by again. I’d love to hear more about your unschooling adventures. May God bless you and your family!

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