Unpacking the Parent-Child-Education Conundrum

In a recent conversation about homeschooling special needs (dysgraphia, dyslexia, etc.), a new homeschooler/education adventurer said the following to me. It’s a common reaction, especially if you have limited experience with homeschooling overall.

“I don’t think unschooling is for us. I like the ideas, but I panic. My kids are already middle-school age and I only have a limited amount of time left. And it makes me really uncomfortable. And, I’m a writer. That’s really important to me. I want them to read. Everyone in my family reads. I really think they need to as well.”

I chose not to respond at the time, because it felt like anything I might say would add pressure to a person already putting intense pressure on herself. Knowing that this woman was already maxing out her courage, it seemed like a time to just listen.

Someday, sometime, this is what I’d wish for her to think about. Continue Reading

Unschooling in Action

Our “Unschooling in Action” series highlights photographs of real, live unschoolers doing real, live unschooling. If you’d like to see your unschooling photo here, please post it on our Facebook wall!

Unschooling at our home. Our three playing the Game of Life outside with two of our neighbors, also a fulltime RVing family. It did come to blows (between our two boys!) so a good time to learn that life is indeed hard and unfair at times, but doesn’t need to end in a fight.

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Our first lemon!

Our first lemon!

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Local Butterfly Exhibit

Local butterfly exhibit.

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Apple Field Trip ~ iMovie

Apple field trip.

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Writing Transformers Fan-fiction.

Writing Transformers fan-fiction.

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Perusing books at a library book sale.

Perusing books at a library book sale.

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Assembling new Lego sets.

Assembling new Lego sets.

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Grand Opening of local gym; Zumba demo in which 9-year-old son joined right in. He loves dancing!

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A bunch of homeschooling cousins enjoying a nighttime trip to the zoo and talking to a naturalist after seeing a live tarantula, snake, porcupine, hawk and opossum.

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Share your unschooling photos on our Facebook wall for a chance to see them showcased here next week! Meanwhile, if you crave more, you can browse previous Unschooling in Action posts, or check out the Unschoolers’ Art Gallery blog for cool art from unschooled kids.

~ Happy Unschooling!

Just Another Ordinary (Extraordinary) Day

Some days just seem so ordinary – but if we have eyes to see, the extraordinary will appear.

  • Miss 9 was awake watching television when I got up …

… She was also looking at a diary and last year’s calendar, and was using her new blue clipboard (a longed-for acquisition). She seemed deeply engrossed but slowly managed to raise her head from her paper world, and the questions began: “Mum, how do you spell February?” “Mum, how many days are in March?” Which naturally progressed to discussions about leap years, the history of calendars, and a little rhyme I learned as a child, to help with remembering how many days were in each month. Continue Reading

What, You Learn on Saturdays?

When I got to kind of introduce myself to the Christian Unschooling community through the Unschooling Portraits series, I described myself like this:

I’m Joan Otto, wife to Chris and mom to Sarah (who’s 12). We live in central Pennsylvania in a house that also includes my mom, a large dog, 5 cats, and a hamster. We’re new to homeschooling of any sort, sort of – I was homeschooled for several years, but our daughter had been in public school until Leap Day – Feb. 29 of this year. We blog about our life at Our School at Home. (Which was a funny choice for a title, really, given that we aren’t “school at home” types at all.)

Continue Reading

Unschooling Parents Are Just Lazy

Left to his own “devices”

Did I inflame you with my title? Or, maybe you are nodding your head in agreement.

That title is exactly what I thought, at one time, about parents who chose unschooling.

How judgmental was I?

In my mind, unschooling was a great concept in theory. In reality, however, I didn’t see it being played out very well. Parents would simply trust their child to decide when they wanted to learn math? It sounded like an utter FAIL. Continue Reading

Unschooling to Us Is About Being Whole

When we first started on our unschooling journey, I was desperately trying to ease the frustration that my daughter and I had over the formal curricula I had chosen.

Unschooling was an escape from the tests, grades, and pressures of academia. But over the years, unschooling has come to mean much more to us.

Unschooling to us is about being whole.

whole: adjective

  1. comprising the full quantity, amount, extent: entire, full.
  2. containing all the elements properly belonging; complete.
  3. not broken, damaged, or impaired; intact.

Continue Reading

Unschooling Question: What About Math and the Other Boring Stuff They Need?

This post was written back in 2008– since then we have become completely radical unschoolers and it has been an amazing journey.  Back then I never would have guessed the kids would become passionately interested in and teach themselves (yes, they have taken on ALL the boring stuff.:))

I run into this question often from friends, family members, forums, and even unschooling friends. Many are fearful enough that their children won’t naturally attempt to learn things they deem boring or important (often both) that they specifically purchase a curriculum for just that subject – regardless of whether the child has shown interest in it. Continue Reading