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#1 of 8 Old 11-26-2010, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm hoping for some advice from those unschoolers who have done or attempted this. I realise that the entrepreneurial family is historically (and presently in many regions of the world), the norm, but given that it certainly isn't in Canada or even North America, and this is where I live, I would be trail-blazing, and that's a bit scary with so many little people relying on me.


On the other hand, it is immensely scarier to continue to rely on a paycheque from my partner's ridiculous gov't job. He's not in danger of losing his job, but it has taken over our whole life, and we need to change that.


So, my family needs to own and operate business/es from home that generate(s) our whole income, I need to start and finish a 4 year university degree, dp needs to start and complete a Master degree (3 years), and we need to prepare to move overseas all with a five year time-limit and of course including the usual domestic chores and importantly, meeting all of our needs. I need the degree before we go, and we need the business both for income and savings, but also to take with us. We can both do nearly all of our coursework online, but will have some in-person courses and proctored exams to complete as well.


Childcare is unavailable and sending my children to school is not an option (and wouldn't help if it were, given that I only have two who could go).


Do you think that unschooled children suffer or benefit from this sort of undertaking? I would want to include them in as much of this as possible, given that raising children to follow their passions and live their lives their way is imbedded in our reasons for unschooling, and dp and I would be living those ideals with them. In my mind, it seems like it would be me doing stuff, the children doing what interests them with me, and basically just us doing our life with no child-centred stuff at all, like no gymnastics or library story-time sort of things because we really would have to spend all of our time in our little world, at least for a few years. This is what my relatives did, but they also sent their children to school at least for a few years. My wee littles would be spending a lot of time playing amongst the chaos/order, and the older ones could work alongside or pursue interests that don't require more commitments.


I want my children to be prepared for adulthood, so this is an ideal learning environment overall, but the details are a bit frightening. Perhaps I need to just start and work it out as I see things evolving.


What do you think?



Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#2 of 8 Old 11-26-2010, 02:49 PM
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Haven't been there done that yet, but we are considering something similar with less children and less study required so will be reading along :) Good luck.

Grateful mama striving to respect the two precious beings entrusted to me DD '06 and DS '09
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#3 of 8 Old 11-26-2010, 08:26 PM
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This isn't exactly the same, but we have friends who are unschooling and homesteading, with the latter being a dawn-to-bedtime undertaking for the whole family. They also have five kids. They're three years into it. The kids are now 6 through 17. They're having incredible experiences, learning tons, area basically happy and don't voice any regrets about the choices their parents made for the family. The kids are limited in what extra activities they can do: at most one sport and one music-related endeavour, both being local and inexpensive and hopefully shared with at least one other sibling.


I know another family that runs a fishing lodge and their kids unschooled for many years within the context of that endeavour -- helping out, exploring on their own, working for the family business, participating in promotional travel and so on, living a good proportion of the year at a fly-in lodge away from civilization. They loved it, at least until the kids were teens, at which point the isolation from peers at the lodge became an issue. But until age 13-ish it was fabulous.


In both cases the family business has a certain amount of child-friendliness to it. The homesteading family has rabbits and gardens and horses and chickens for the kids to tend to and enjoy. The fishing lodge people have lake swimming, boating, fishing and such. If these families were, I don't know, importing and selling large-format LCD clocks or something, the kids probably wouldn't be taking the same delight in the family business. So it depends, as with everything.


What worries me is that what you describe sounds like a good bit more than my friends were/are doing. The post-secondary studies might seem like they can fit around the periphery of the entrepreneurial work and basic family responsibilities, but with the time-line you're describing (full-time study) the coursework is likely to require 30-40 hours a week from each of you. And the small-business families I know put far far more than 40-hour work weeks into their businesses, especially during the first 5 years. I'm doing the math here and thinking 55 hours for the business venture and 35 hours for university course work and 55 hours a week spent sleeping: that only leaves 23 hours a week for everything else, including eating, meal preparation, cleaning, grocery shopping, showering, laundry, etc. etc. etc.. Doesn't seem like you'd be able to stop long enough to breathe!


But you know the details of your degree programs and of the type of business you're considering. Perhaps there are reasons why the time requirements would be less onerous than I'm imagining. Good luck with whatever you decide!



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#4 of 8 Old 11-27-2010, 01:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for that, Miranda. I watched Astra Taylor's talk about her unschooling experience tonight, and it really helped me to decide some things for myself. I've been waffling on whether or not I want the degree. I really don't honestly, but I do need to accomplish a lot in the same time-frame, so I am amending my short-term goals to achieve success with our business as my primary pursuit, while my dp will work primarily toward completion of his Master degree.


My business plans are very family-inclusive with lots of opportunities for our dc if they want to participate, and deciding against the degree for myself is very relieving to me. I went to college to learn specific skills and deliberately undertook my own liberal arts or humanities education because I just cannot stand enforced inefficiency in my learning, which is a reality of undergrad degrees.


Anyway, your post along with Astra's talk have been very helpful to me. This has been on my brain for years, but more acutely recently because of a timeline that my dp and I have. My decision must be made by January, and I am feeling better about focusing on a business than trying to do both or trying to do the degree while coping with dp's job.


I needed some reassurance where I began second-guessing the choices dp and I have made. It started with the school board requirement that we prepare a three year education plan for our children. In looking up the curricula for the provinces they follow, I was concerned: I don't want that for my children, and I will not enforce it. Then, when realising that the decision to start our business or not was imminent, I thought that if I'm not even lightly monitoring our dc the way that I do now (being pp, and sitting down a lot more than usual), will they learn what they need to, or will my activities impede their progress? After hours of discussion and Astra's talk, I know I was having an irrational emotional reaction to events of late wherein others have heavily criticized us for free-learning. :( And I usually have a little introspective freak-out just before I embark on what I really want to do. redface.gif


As usual, I don't ask until I'm at the cusp of being sure, returning to options previously discarded, and then seeming like I'm making a hasty decision. I'm not, though. This has all been in process for a long while, and I think my mini-panic-meltdown is resolved and I can get on with it. :)


Thanks so much for the encouragement! I'd love to learn about how others do this logistically. When I admitted that my leadership qualities are far, far more dominant than managerial aptitude, with friends, they immediately said that maybe we aren't "cut-out" for homeschooling. :(


Dp and I have joked about it since: "Your back is sore? Send your kids to school!"

"Hungry? Tired? Ran out of clean clothes? Send your kids to school!"

"Don't enjoy schedules? Cooking? Children? Send your kids to school!"

You could do sooo much more with your life if you'd just get them out of your way...


Anyway, it's nice to be encouraged. :)

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#5 of 8 Old 11-27-2010, 05:43 AM
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Well I don't know about homeschooling since it is illegal here but I do know about post-graduate education, starting your own business, emigrating to another country, and babies. Even with sending my oldest to school here, that would be too much in a 5 year span. Oh and I only have 2 kids (5y, 10m). 


Starting with a master's degree. My DH got his PhD when DD was 6 mos - 4.5 y and that was a ton of work. I had to make up most of the slack in childcare and income because he had a school deadline. Kids aren't always the most cooperative when it comes to studying and working schedules. Sometimes they just want to go to the park, yk? 


Starting your own business. This varies on what kind of business you want to start but there is a ton of work that goes into it. Employers actually do a lot of paper work, etc to keep everything in order. Just arranging taxes is a ton of work. 


Emigrating. Yeah. I hope you speak the language. I didn't and there were lots of tears on my part. Even if I did speak the language things in other countries are randomly different in ways you would never expect until you screw them up. 


Babies. I had my last baby here and without a support network, it has been tremendously hard. I am actually thankful for DD's school because her teacher arranges fun activities that are just for her on days I am barely out of pjs. 


I think all of the plans you listed are fantastic and worthwhile but all are a tremendous amount of work. Maybe you should research specifically the degree program for your DH, the country you want to move to and its requirements, the business you want to start, and unschooling your children.

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#6 of 8 Old 11-27-2010, 09:40 AM
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I want to agree with the PP. have you sat down and worked out the full and real costs of both degrees and starting/running your own business? It isn't just about annual costs, it is also about cashflow- where is the money coming from THIS month to pay for rent/mortgage, food, etc? After all, the checks don't always come when you expect they will or when you need them to, unlike a salaried job.


What is your credit like? It is very very very hard to get loans these days for small businesses. My dh and I run/own a business and even though we have been in business for 8 years, and have excellent credit history, a strong history of revenue, and a fantastic business model, we are having a hell of a time getting just a modest extension to our line of credit. A new business starting up with no history has nearly no chance. So all the capital for start up will have to come from your own personal resources.


Look, dh and I believe in bootstrapping (we did it for the first 6 years of the business) but that also meant we went heavily into debt and went without - and we worked our tails off. And our business did not have a huge capital investment requirement.


And I found that for my business we could not do it without childcare for my kids because they needed the supervision and attention. A lot of my business involves meetings, conference calls, networking events, and non-child friendly locations/environments. For DH, his work involves long coding sessions where he needs 100% focus. Luckily we were able to have childcare in our home while we worked from home, so our kids were nearby - but even that was not easy, as our kids wanted to interact with us when they needed us, but we were not always available because we were trying to keep the business going.


You have to also think about the time commitment. You are basically signing each of you up for three full time jobs - being a student, being a business owner, and being an unschooling parent. This is a lot for anyone to put on themselves.


Owning your own business is like having another baby, and who takes a lot more care and a lot more money than a real baby. It is NOT the silver bullet it is often painted as. There are huge rewards, but they are equal to the huge risks involved.


In terms of combining business with unschooling - for older kids (like 7 on up) there are probably plenty of opportunities to incorporate them, depending on the business. Our business is software development so until my kids learn to code - or at least read - there are not many opportunities for them to get involved. We do plan on teaching them how to code and design databases and the like, and I do talk to them about the business. We don't unschool btw - my kids are in regular school full time - so it is possible regardless of your educational approach.


You do realize that the traditional model of home based business was forced labor of children, right? Kids learned on the job - but it was a job that they had to perform, otherwise the farm fell apart. Just know that if you are relying on their labor for your business, you are going to have to make sure they know their participation is not optional - and if that is what you want for your kids.


Also, most traditional home-based businesses were multi-generational, with unmarried adult family members helping in return for food and shelter. Older teenage girls or grandmothers too old for physical labor were often used to care for littles, to allow mom to attend to the homestead.


ETA: Sorry to be a downer, but being a business owner is all about reality - otherwise, it could be a very expensive mistake.



Good luck!

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#7 of 8 Old 11-27-2010, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for sharing your experiences, lalaland and siobhang. :)


Just to make sure this is not misunderstood, our business is adaptable to include children, but we do not require their participation. Other information I left out is that we have experience with dp being in university and I used to run my own business, but I shut it down just before ds1 was born because I was the talent, my pg was a surprise, and I didn't have time to reorganise my business because I was several months along when I found out (a strange story...), but I do have experience with running a business and a close friend who is a book-keeper winky.gif. I don't have experience running a business while with five children, though, but my ability to multitask has been greatly enhanced since having them. We do not have pressures from city-living because we choose to live rurally.


We also live in an economic bubble that is like business start-up heaven. The stats are heavily in our favour here, which is one of the main reasons why we moved here just over two years ago. We have been moving our life as quickly as possible to a point where we could do this, so it's not at all an off-the-cuff decision. We've already been working our tails off to get to the point where we can even consider doing this. My dp's job was one of the choices we made toward this because it can be weaned to half-time and less with little to no hassle, and we knew we'd need some external paycheque for a while, but getting to the point where he can move to half-time is going to be challenging.


I posted that I'll not be taking my degree afterall, and I'm happy with that decision. I had wondered what others thought, because to my mind, I could do the business or the degree, but not likely both. I really want the business, but not really the degree. My dp needs to complete his Master degree for our emigration (by our choice because being an international student is veeeery expensive and our timeline is tied to some other life-goals I haven't discussed here and probably won't until I have my freak-out just before we're doing it), and I need either to have the degree or to have a business going, and that is like a dream come true for me; I am passionate about doing this, and that it is necessary allows for it to be properly prioritized.


As for unschooling, it really isn't a job at all, let alone a full-time one; it's just our life, and we are very engaged in learning all day, every day. We live on a farm already and my children are enthusiastically self-directed in their learning. My business (in our little economic bubble) can be openly inclusive of my children without hindering my progress. My main concerns were whether or not my plans could be carried out realistically, and then I had that panicky-unschooling parent thing going on after some unfortunate interactions. Oh, and I was having my pre-big-change freak-out. lol.gif


So, I'm on with it beginning in January, dp will still be full-time at his job then, and until he can move to half-time (which is two 12hr shifts/week, so affords lots of time for family, schoolwork and business support).


I'm still very interested in the stories of unschoolers who have done this. Granted, if they are doing it, likely they don't have time to post here, but maybe someone here knows of them and can tell a bit about how they did it or what they did/are doing, like Miranda did above.

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#8 of 8 Old 11-27-2010, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I just found out that Willow Toys is the business of an unschooling family. :) Off to read/watch!

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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