Back to Unschool

When the kids were younger, we had a very laid back learning style. We read books together, checked out books from the library on a multitude of subjects, visited forts and parks, and pursuing self-created projects and experiments {in addition to the ones mom found}.

Monkey was making a dress for her Build-a-Dino.

Over the last few years, however, something very odd began happening. Even though we have been successful – indicated not only by their high test scores {required by the state} but also with their ability to delight others in conversation when we were out and about – I have started sliding into “school at home.” I was trying to schedule all of their subjects and direct what they were supposed to study – I began “teaching to the test” of college admission. And the result of my hard work? The kids gradually losing their innate desire to learn….there has to be a better way!

This was an amazing field trip, but they were pretty much ready to go when we got there.

I started thinking about what has worked in the past, and what caused my change. I realized that is was FEAR. I was afraid that the kids would not be able to succeed after high school, and although I would not have called us unschoolers, I began researching how unschoolers get to college.

I discovered a lot of articles and websites that helped to alleviate my fear and reaffirm that we can continue to pursue our path and have college success – not to mention, the possibility that college is not necessarily a requirement for adult success. Want some examples of what I found?

I also came to the realization that every amazing thing they have accomplished – from tasting all of the spices to committing large chunks of time to art – have been due to their own passions. They have been motivated to learn them – they are unmotivated to learn something just because some arbitrary person says that they need to. But, on the flip side, if it turns out that they do need to learn it in order to accomplish their own goals {ie college}, then I have no doubt that they will succeed.

Sitting and reading with their cousins.

Now I am embracing the Unschool philosophy, and we are in a period of deschooling right now to encourage them to reignite their love of learning for themselves, and it is going pretty well. I’m learning to say “Yes!” more often, and they are learning to be excited by the possibilities again.

But, I’m sure you’re asking, “But, Gidget – what about that beautiful planner you were just telling us about?” Well, I am happy to report that I have found a way to use it for my own record-keeping. Instead of using the squares to write out what I want to do – I am using it to record what they have done. I’m also continuing the lists of books and field trips. This will help me when I write my end of year review {required, once again, by the state} and when I help them create college portfolios….assuming that is the path where God takes them.

I believe that every family has to find the path of homeschooling that fits them best, and I am so happy to have found our way back to ours.


9 Thoughts on “Back to Unschool

  1. Thank you! We haven’t started school yet and you brought me back to what I have had on my heart. We need to get back to what worked for us. :)
    Gidget P recently posted..Book Review: Inescapable by Nancy MehlMy Profile

    • I know that I definitely have a habit of letting how the rest of the world does it influence me. I’m so glad that you were encouraged – for me, it’s a constant re-set. :-)

  2. We started with interest led this fall with Sophie and it has made a world of difference for us! I’m also letting go of the idea that we HAVE to sit and have school for X amount of time and just going with the flow. Many times we end up covering quite a bit of *school* during everyday talk and play!
    aurie recently posted..Top Ten Tips on Reviews & GiveawaysMy Profile

    • Oh, Aurie – you will be amazed at how much they learn and how much more relaxed your home becomes! I look forward to reading about your experiences. :-)

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s the first one of yours I’ve read, and being an unschooling family I imagine it may have been the first one I would have loved so much lol! I particularly loved the way that you examined your observations, the way you took time to ponder, and the way that you responded by humbly being able to change direction once you realised it was best for your children.

    • Karen, thank you so much for your kind words! It is definitely encouraging to have other unschoolers out there who have fruit to show for this lifestyle :-) Thank you for your encouragement!

  4. I am an old time homeschooler , ready to break from the box b/c my 2 current adopted children cannot seem to fit in the cookie cutter molds. it is easier for me to implement this relaxed way with the younger one but the highschooler isn’t getting it , when I give her permission to follow her interests. she just doesn’t have the motivation and is afraid she wouldn’t be doing school , yet at the same time she struggles to do school. can you make suggestions here.

  5. Thanks for all the great info here! I love how home education really just means instilling a love of learning in our kids. We are getting ready to move to Taiwan next year and we can’t wait for all of the adventures and new experiences we’ll get to have. Home schooling means that we CAN be flexible in the activities we do!

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