"Are there any unschoolers here? How have you dealt with outside pressure to conform to some arbitrary standard? How have your kids done on their own? What kind of resources do you provide? I really just need some support for my decision to unschool."
We are committed unschoolers. Our friends are all hip to the philosophy, so we don't get an gaff from them. Our family is a less understanding, but they (so far) have kept a very respectful distance.
For some reason our society believes that the desire and ability to seek out information stops when a child turns five, and from then on they must be told what and when to learn. But it's becoming more and more clear to me how much hogwash that is. My kids continue to initiate their own education -- I can't tell you how thrilling that is to witness -- and it horrifies me to think of them losing that through being made to "learn" by the extremely unnatural methods schools use.
I do direct them as far as giving them opportunities to become aware of things. For instance, inevitably there is going to arise a situation in which its appropriate to talk about adding and subtracting. And once they had that notion in their heads, they were off. They make up problems for themselves all day long, and since the problems are related to what is going on in their lives, they gain an in-depth understanding of the concepts, rather than just learning how to manipulate symbols according to rules they are given. There's a BIG difference.
My seven-year-old isn't reading yet, but the questions he asks (both when I'm reading to him, and bringing me things, catalogs, receipts, instruction manuals, etc., on his own) makes me think it won't be long. He is also *dying* to play Yu-Gi-Oh with some older homeschooled boys he knows, and he has to know how to read before he can do that, and that is a HUGE incentive for him. So I have no doubt that he will eventually develop the skill naturally, as it becomes more and more valuable to him, just like he did with learning how to speak.
Other resources: art supplies, TV (well, pbs, they love to watch the cooking and painting shows especially), the library, museums, community classes (we are taking rock climbing right now), and maybe most importantly, lots of friends and family who talk to each other and the kids about history, current events, horticulture, sports, music, cooking, science, etc. Their world is farfuller and richer than any textbook could possibly be.