defending educational neglect!
OP: to me unschooling doesn't mean no rules about how we spend our time. i consider myself an unschooler and we have rules about screen time, video games, TV. no screens during the day when the sun is up. we're outside, PERIOD. no screens when we are with other people. much more screen time during the dead of winter. so just because you are uschooling doesn't mean anything goes.
also, i want to defend the notion of education neglect.
i don't think kids need us "following their sparks" all the time. kudos to all you attentive mamas doing that, and i think it's wonderful, but i also want to say that i don't think it a bad thing to let one's kid be alone with his own thoughts and activities. i love that john holt said that just keeping your kid away from school, even if you left him all alone in the yard all day while you peeled carrots and made snacks, was better than what happens at school. i agree with that, and i find it a tremendous comfort when i'm feeling judgment toward myself that i'm not doing enough, to remind myself that i am, just by being present and protecting my kids' ability to think her own thoughts and avoid the coercion of a school environment 30 hours a week.
again for OP: i find that keeping a log of all my child learns is tremendously comforting. i keep mine for the county but i'm glad for the excuse to do it. i keep mine with the county's subject headings, school-speak, i call it. under science i have things like how she and a friend experimented to see why she always went faster while sledding, switching sleds, switching spots on the hill, sitting in the front of the sled, the back, sitting and belly positions, etc. translation: scientific method, testing a hypothesis, control and experimental variable, momentum, friction, center of gravity. i find that once i am attentive, i can see a million ways in which she is learning ALL THE TIME.
it is simply AMAZING what she pulls out of thin air. suddenly she's reading, 10 new books a week from the library, so much that i have to make clear guidelines about how we don't sit inside all day reading. (can you imagine?) suddenly math equations start appearing. 1+1=2, 2+2=4, all the way up to 11+11=22. then minus appears. then she uses the word facetious in a sentence. then she tells me that the mona lisa she's reading about was in a magic treehouse book too, in the paris story. on and on. it is simply mind-boggling. what i feel now is that you can't STOP a kid from being curious, interested, and learning, except by coercing and shaming them (like at school).
being around other unschooling families is also tremendous for making that leap of faith. now that my eyes are open, i can't conceive of a time when my eyes weren't open. it's that amazing.