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How/ When did you decide to UNschool

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am looking for some info about Unschooling for my 3 year old. He has recently started preschool but asks every morning to stay home. I will probably pull him out this week and want some info that I can share with my DH on Unschooling. I would like to Unschool both kids but DH isn't sure about it and needs some info to read. When did you decied to Unschool? How did you make that decision? I realize at 3 it is all play, which is what we do anyway and don't have a very structured day as it is. I think that is part of the reason he is struggling with preschool. Anyway, any help is greatly appriciated. Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 19

Years ago as a nanny I discovered a homeschooling magazine.  Already an anarchist, peace-lovin' hippie, I decided that I wanted to homeschool my kids.  That I didn't have.


Fast forward.  Two of my Aikido students attended a Waldorf school.  When my first daughter was 2 I started researching Waldorf, even going so far as visiting a Waldorf kindergarten.


Screeching halt!


This school was still a school.  My homeschooling fire.... my Unschooling fire... reignited in protest. I swear, it was that sudden.


So, in some ways I've wanted to since forever, but I really made the decision when she was just shy of 4 years.  Most of my info came from Home Education Magazine, "Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves", and finally the source: writings by author John Holt himself.   It is an ongoing study....

post #3 of 19

I guess we never started officially schooling.  Well there was that semester joke of kindy but other than that we've been homeschooling and for one reason or another play just seemed to get in the way.  Or kiddo seemed happy learning on his own.  Long about traditional 3rd grade he did some testing for an online program and thats really the only 'school' type thing to hit our radar.


I didn't really decide to unschool, more or less I just decided not to school 'yet'.

post #4 of 19

We didn't really decide to unschool, either. I've just never had an inner desire to make the kids learn things they aren't into. We used to "do school" but it was more like we played school and happened to learn real things along the way. I thoroughly enjoy putting together unit studies with foods and crafts and stories and things, and they used to love doing them with me. They don't so much anymore, so it's not really fun to design them. *shrug* They cook and clean better than most adults...earn and manage their own money...can read and write better than the average American...we're good. Any forced academics would just be pointless stress and strain.

post #5 of 19

Let's see my DH stated to me during our first date that he would never send his kids to school, he had a friend who hs his kids and they spent half their time out on adventures and they were really smart and self-secure kids. I kept this in mind for the next five years. Then while I was pregnant I was looknig up different sorts of homeschooling and discovered John Holt's book "A Life Worth Living" which is his collected letters from the time he was in WW2 through his life. It all connected well with all the work I had done in alternative schools. So I guess we've been unschooling from the beginning and decided to a few months before DS was born. Five years into life and I wouldn't want to change our approach to life and learning and I'm not sure what would be gained by it.

post #6 of 19
Unschooling is a wonderful experience. I pulled mine out of school last year and we just did what we wanted. Hiked, read, sang, painted, traveled, laughed, stayed up late, planted gardens, ate from our gardens... We lived and it's something we'll never forget. They went back this year and I'll take them out again when we all feel like it. Seriously it was a family decision to leave school and family decision for them to go back. And that's the thing, nothing is set in stone.
post #7 of 19

Well, I don't have kids yet, but I want kids just so I can unschool them! Heheh.


My reasons are...


1. I got a high school diploma and a Bachelor's Degree with good grades, but even after graduating, I have very little in the way of life skills or job skills! So now that I'm in my 20's, I'm stuck trying to homeschool myself without any guidance while simultaneously holding a stressful job to support myself and pay off student loans. Then once I finish educating myself (hopefully it doesn't take 16 years this time!), I can finally get a real career. Other than college and parts of elementary, I largely hated school. I'm so jealous of all those unschooled kids I've read about. They have a lot more time to spend on things they enjoy, so many of them are able to make a career out of those things. Others volunteer at businesses they enjoy or start their own business, so they already have years of job experience in a field they enjoy by the time they reach adulthood. And they didn't have to ask permission to go to the bathroom either.


2. Most of the things I'd like to be able to do with my future kids, e.g. baking cookies, traveling, visiting the zoo, reading books, playing video games, having a family pet, craft projects, talking about interesting stuff, etc, all have educational value, so school becomes kind of redundant and it gets in the way of those family activities.


3. If a kid can get a good education without school, forcing him to go to school just seems kind of mean. I mean, even if you believe kids should be forced to do things they don't want to do because "they have to learn they can't always do what they want" or because it "builds character" or something, can't you at least force them to do something productive, like housework or community service?


When I originally heard about unschooling, I was skeptical. I just couldn't figure out how it worked. I have to thank Sandra Dodd's website for being so packed with examples and debates that I was able to wrap my head around the idea. (The philosophies of that site aren't to the taste of a lot of MDCers though.) 


I can't help too much regarding convincing your DH, as I'm still trying to convince my DP. I'm thinking about telling him, "Look, if we start to have a real reason to believe that [child] will never learn a particular life skill without intervention, then we'll sit him down and force him to learn it. Otherwise, we'll leave him be and let him learn it in his own time."


If your DH is against homeschooling in general, you might want to do some probing to see if you can figure out some personal experiences that may have influenced that opinion. For example, my DP spent much of his life in Tennessee. From what I've heard, Tennessee really wants homeschooling to be illegal but can't make it so because would technically violate religious freedom, so if you want to homeschool in Tennessee they make you sign a paper that essentially says you're putting Jesus in charge of your kid's education. I told my DP about this and suggested it may have influenced the kind of people who homeschool in Tennessee.

post #8 of 19

We are kind of like Zebra15 in that we just haven't decided to school yet, so the common term for what we are doing is homeschooling or if you look more closely, unschooling.


I think the very first page of John Holt (the name of the book was Instead of Education)  that I read convinced me that so much of what happens in schools was not conducive to learning.  I still imagine that dd will enter school, just much later than the average (which at the same time is becoming earlier and earlier), and not anytime soon.


But there are even more articles about why pre-school is better skipped, than about school altogether.  Nothing to do with religion, all to do with how children learn (another gem of J Holt).


good luck!


Edited by rumi - 9/21/11 at 11:12pm
post #9 of 19

My kids weren't really enjoying what we were doing for homeschooling.  My 2 main goals for my children's education is

1) for them to love (or atleast appreciate) to read

2) for them to love learning. 


The rest will fall into place after that. 


After we decided to unschool (which was very recently) things have been a lot more peaceful around here.  I really feel like I am enjoying my kids a whole lot more and that we are really talking to each other again.  My brain isnt so full of lists of things we need to accomplish each day.  Oh we still have stuff we need to get done (like house stuff and cooking, etc) but its as if a huge weight has been lifted.  Oh sure, I still worry about them succeeding as adults, but if they are happy, I considered that a success. 

post #10 of 19

I started to like the idea of Homeschooling after my DD first birthday, but we end up participate in Waldorf Education for couple years. DD was very unconfortable with Waldorf, but for me still school. Unschooling is more or less fit better with our family, ours routines. Now, my kiddos are very social, verbal, and busy. I can't imagine been as alive than they're now in any kind of school setting, no even homeschool. We have a very enriched life, but at the same time they can decide for the own learning process.


I know my kids are ahead for their school level in many areas, but in other not. But the most important that they have a handfull list of desire list of-to-do. They already know that everything they want to do start from their own.

post #11 of 19

Hmmm...how to not write a short novel?  


I became fascinated with unschooling when our first ds (now 11) was a baby.  I read lots of John Holt, fell in love with everything about it.  FForward to age 5, long story short--we ended up sending ds to a charter Waldorf school for Kindergarten.  By this time we also had a 2.5 yr. old and 1 yr. old dd.  DS was okay with school.  He loved it at first, but then got bored with the repetition (don't even get me started on Waldorf ed...).  After that year we decided to return to unschooling, but ended up going back to school the following year.  Did another year, ds was bored, tried another school.  Meanwhile our older daughter did Waldorf kindy, then we switched schools when our youngest started K, no room at the new (Multiple Intelligence approach school) for ds, he returned to Waldorf due to the even worse crappy-ness of the other school  (charter "montessori," which is was not in anything but name) for the rest of the year.


As of right now, all 3 kids are at the same school, the charter with the Multiple Intelligences approach..  We like a lot of things about it.  But this year we realized how many evenings and afternoons are being ruined by homework--I don't think it's as much as regular public school students get, but anything beyond the school day is too much for us.  After reaching a point of being completely fed up, just days ago, we started talking about unschooling again.  I downloaded Dayna Martin's Radical Unschooling to my Kindle, and even just pages into it, I see our lives changing as soon as we can figure out how to pull the kids out of school and run our home-based audio post-production business.


I LOVE Dayna's book, because it's not just about "education," it's about looking at parenting, and life itself, in a whole different light.  We've begun by simply dropping our need to control and expect obedience.  Right now, it's 9:40 at night, and our son is playing his mandolin, and the girls are watching Rug Rats on Netflix.  They've been told to go to sleep when they get tired, which has resulted in me being "the best mom in the world."  We're having our most peaceful evening in a long, long time.  


I'm not sure exactly when we'll pull the kids from school.  I'd do it right here and now if we could, but there are still logistics to figure out.  Meanwhile, we're not worrying about homework, and just doing our best to dance with this paradigm shift.  It's pretty exciting.  I can't wait to see how this all plays out...

post #12 of 19

i heard about unschooling on the internet a couple of years ago and it made sense to me. i self learned a hell of a lot when i was a child and that knowledge is what really stuck with me. i learned so fast when it was something i wanted to know about, i had such a thirst for any and all knowledge. i want my kids to have that and i dont want it to be squashed by a deeply flawed system, like it was for me shortly before highschool.


my DP and i want to unschool his DD. we really dont want her in the school system for so so so many reasons. unfortunately, its not just up to us as she lives with her mom 50%. we havent approached her mom about the idea and i dont know what she would say, especially since i will be the one spending the most time with her DD. as it stands, i consider us to be unschooling right now, i just want to be able to continue after she is school aged (she is about to turn 4). 

post #13 of 19

There's no specific time we decided on unschooling, it's been more a progression of what we've learnt over the last few years that have led us here, and I expect that we'll continue to learn grow and change as we go on.


With our journey into wanting to homeschool we started with all the concerns a normal schooled person would have, the questions over socialisation and how you manage to do school at home and be your childrens teacher.

We started reading and talking and thinking, bascially just looking for answers to all our own questions.

And as we've gone over things it turns out that "unschooling" or child directed living & learning is the thing that's making the most sense to us.

If you'd told me about unschooling before our journey into this started, I would probably have been horrified at the thought ROTFLMAO.gif


John Holt's books were a big eye opener for us, and I also enjoyed the series of articles on this blog about freedom to learn and how children teach themselves



We haven't labelled ourselves anything so far, and we're far from radical, but it's the closest thing to describe what we do for now.

post #14 of 19

My daughter decided to leave school when she was in grade nine and educate herself.  That was in 2008.  Before that I had never heard of unschooling but as soon as I did I knew it was right for her, and I wished I had had the opportunity to unschool all my kids.  The boys were too old by then though.

post #15 of 19

An update on us:   Our kids never went back to school after their fall break!  We are UNSCHOOLERS now, and loving it!


post #16 of 19

This is a very interesting topic. My dd is only 4 months old, but I've been researching a lot about where she should go to school (long story... as this also depends on where we'll live and work....). Then I thought-- hey, why not homeschool?! I've always been keen on the idea, as I've never believed school to be conducive for real world (totally agree with cyllia's point above!). My dh wasn't quite on board until I told him our kids can always take board exams at high-school age for qualifications for whatever reason (college, professional school, etc). In my research about these board exams, I've been introduced to unschooling. The philosophy speaks to me in the same way that natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and all that does... 


It's a radical thought, to just not send your child to school, esp for someone raised in the school system, and don't know anybody who homeschool/unschool. I love reading these threads for inspiration and ideas. 

post #17 of 19

I had to answer this question recently and discovered that when I came across homeschooling, my idea about what it would be was on the unschooling side of the spectrum.  I had read John Holt and Jean Liedloff and what I took from that reading was what is pretty much the basics of unschooling.  Only later when dd was 5 or so and we joined hs groups and online groups, I became aware that some people followed school schedules, or that one could  buy packaged curriculum, etc.

post #18 of 19

Long before I even had children I studied pedagogy (theories of education) in graduate school, so I was familiar with unschooling. I liked a lot about it but considered it to be sort of pie in the sky over-idealistic. I was a big fan of Montessori instead. But then I had the opportunity to work with several teenagers who were unschooled, and I was totally bowled over by them. First off, they all struck me as content and centered--a stark contrast to the schooled teens I knew! Beyond that, they were so well-socialized, and seemed comfortable chatting with adults and little kids in ways that the peer-isolated school kids did not. And finally, they were intense about their academic interests and doing far more interesting things with them than the schooled kids. 


The big thing, really, was how happy and calm they were. I said to myself, "whatever their folks are doing, that's how I want to parent!" and I am. And we love it.

post #19 of 19
I've known about unschooling for years (thanks to MDC smile.gif) but now several of the blogs I read are by unschooling moms which is allowing me to "see" how it works, not just read about how it can potentially work. I'm about 2/3 finished with the Big Book of Unschooling and am totally loving it! I've always wanted to homeschool but now that I'm doing more reading I am pretty set on unschooling. I'd read about it and think "That sounds so nice" then go back to school-mode and go, "No, kids need to be sat down and taught math and reading and how to do this and that whether they like it or not". Now I just think... What a great way to learn! No fear, no pressure! I didn't do well the first couple of years in high school because I was so stressed out and scared (scared of failing and having to go work at McDonalds for the rest of my life because no college would want me... my algebra teacher constantly threatenedall of us with that "future"). Now every once in a while I'll go back and try to re-learn something I never understood in school, and I finally get it. Probably because I'm not scared to death or being ignored by the "teacher". What kind of "teacher" tells their students to put their hand down and stop interrupting the class and then fail? Why would you become a teacher if you're going to be that way? Jeez.
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