So you have prayed and researched and prayed a lot more and you definitely feel God calling you towards unschooling. Suddenly you are panicked – no more curriculum, no more parent-led schedules, no more kids being taught what the parents think the kids should know.
First, relax, and pray. If this is where God is leading you then He will help you more than any of us.
Second, you are not alone. Really. There are tons of us out there, we are just spread out far and wide. There are lots of resources out there for unschoolers. We each have walked a similar one and most of us know how hard it is to give up the fear, the looking at everyone else and seeing what THEY are doing and how different we are. That is why community is so important. You are NOT alone.
Next, take a deep breath, and let go. Making a list of goals as a family is good but so is just letting them do what they are interested in doing and watching for the learning taking place. And boy will it ever. It is fine to have a rhythm (or if it works well for your family as a whole) even a schedule, but the key is letting go and letting God direct where you and the kids explore. And as a friend pointed out DON’T compare yourself to other families or what some book says kids should know when. Your kids will be learning at different rates because they will be learning in their (and God’s) timing.
Make sure YOU are learning and growing – if they see you being passionate about things and learning THEY will get passionate about things and grow. Take the time that you would have used to make a schedule/plan a lesson/teach to explore something you have always wanted to know, to watch a documentary you have always wanted to watch, to develop a new hobby or research whatever rabbit trails you find along the way. Share your excitement with your kids but don’t expect them to enthuse – they might but they might not. Either way it will inspire and encourage them more than you telling them to do this or that (remember the old saying, “Show, don’t tell”.)
Don’t be surprised if initially they just want to watch tv all day or whatever – it is called deschooling and it takes a while (usually a month for every year in school and longer for the adults ). A great article on deschooling can be found here. When we deschooled we focused only on the Bible – that was it as far as curriculum went – we spent time reading daily, studying God’s Word together, and learning together through that. Everything else was just gravy – the kids played, read, watched tv, played video games, and LEARNED. Other families do it differently. Just know that it will take you longer as a parent to deschool than it will for your kids (unless they are older and had a particularly traumatic school experience).
As you move along this path you will learn to see what your kids are learning and gently point them in the direction, helping them to find resources that encourage what they are already interested in. DO NOT go out and buy a pile of stuff on horses if your daughter shows interest in horses – you will then get irritated when she quickly moves on to some other interest. Instead, watch and wait. Pay close attention but don’t push. It takes practice (and patience). Strew books and materials you think they may be interested in around the house – in place where they may see it and pick them up (we keep books in the bathroom for just this reason ). Expect to spend a lot of time looking things up online or in books and to find yourself grossed out by some of their chosen topics. You will be surprised by what they find interesting.
Finally remember, if God is calling you and your family to unschool then you can trust Him to show you what will work best for you and your family. We are all different and all have different lifestyles so it will look different for you. The point is that God is in control. We can trust Him.