My name is Erika and I along with my husband are parents of 4 children
(1 daughter-24yrs & 3 sons-21,18&11yrs).
The oldest two live in Seattle(she's a physician's assistant) and Boston(he's a college junior).
My 18yr old is a high schooled senior (his choice, he was homeschooled) and my 11yr old went to school for the second grade when we first moved here to Connecticut and now he is homeschooled again. He says he's not going to leave home until college!
We are from Seattle (both my husband and I were born and raised there) and now live in Connecticut. This is a great state to be unschoolers.
For me, I came to unschooling in a rather unorthodox way.
I ran a small private day school for many years and it was truly a
calling. When I started out, the kids were attending two to four
mornings a week. It was great, we were able to do some really fun
things and the parents-many of whom were self-employed, got to have
support in living a family-led life.
But, as the years passed, the parents needed the kids to come more
often and to stay longer. It was then that I threw out the
curriculum that I had followed and decided that we all needed to
live much less structured lives. And that's when an amazing thing
happened. Kids started teaching kids, the adults started learning
from those interactions, and we all began to experience the joys of
natural learning. It was a great place to be. This went on for
Then, when the kids who attended our school started to get into some
of the best schools in the city, the pressure was on to make it
happen for more and more children. I agreed to mentor several other
small school operators in my area. But in time I realized that there
wasn't a formula for joy that any school that has to be led by
curriculum can follow, so I started to consider quitting altogether.
But I didn't want to let my families or my staff down. So I stopped
mentoring and I was able to enjoy running the school for a couple of
more years. It truly was a joyful time.
But when all the requirements started to change at the state level
(Wa)-they wanted kids in school younger and longer, the state wanted
people who taught to be more and more removed(i.e.
family time was being valued less and less by the new parents I was
to be working with, I decided it was time to move on. It was truly a
very sad time for me. So much of who I was, I got from my school and
the children who came there(including my own). I knew I needed a
So I went on a 3 month train trip in Europe with my then 12yr old son
(I had always wanted to go, but there was never enough time or
money). It was just the thing I needed. Thanks to my very
understanding family-especially my husband, I got to have some one
on one time with my third child. I learned more from him in those
three months than I had ever learned in school. We got to know each
other really well, and he learned that I was someone he could trust
with his dreams.
By the time I got back to my "real life", I was completely
transformed into an unschooler. I completely gutted my kitchen (I
replaced the floor including the subfloor, stripped most of the
walls to the studs, hung new drywall & all the cabinets and replaced
most of the lighting, all by myself!). And I did all of this while
learning most of the skills I needed along the way. It came out
beautifully. I was so proud of myself.
I decided right then that that's how I wanted it to be for my
children. To let them experience life in real settings with real
goals, and have the goals be what ever they decided they were going
to be. It hasn't always been easy, sometimes I can be very
persistent when I think there is a right way of doing things, but
they always remind me of what a good job I have done so far in
trusting them. And if that doesn't work, then I remind myself who I
want to be to them, someone with whom they could trust with their