Adventures in Unschooling

Posts Tagged ‘learning

Yeah I know…I got overzealous with the posts this weekend. But back to business:

By its very nature it is virtually indefinable. But for our family it means allowing our children to learn at their own pace, in their own way, in their space. They will learn to read when they are ready not when someone decides they should know this. It is learning by living. It is unstructured so that it can allow maximum time for reading, doing and reflection.



We unschool because we want our children to be socialized. Not in the way that schooled children are socialized by their peers (who are all at the same level of maturity or immaturity) and by their teachers (who are authoritative figures who spend their time classifying children into varying degrees of smart and unsmart).  But rather by being with adults. They learn to be validated by adults and they also learn to be with a kid with their friends. They develop a truly rounded personality.

For example: A child wants to learn about building musical instruments. The best course of action would be to bring him to the library to research his subject. Then he could try to find someone who builds instruments and do some volunteer work in his shop for some tutoring in this subject of interest. In this task alone he learns about music, math, construction, perhaps running a business. What if the world was your teacher?


We unschool because we want our children to love learning. We want them to love reading. But kids quickly dislike reading or learning once they enter school. What can make reading a good book a miserable experience? Well, someone that tells you how you should interpret scenes, characters and events could do it. So could being asked to write reports and being told that your ideas aren’t good enough. Or worse, you might not like the book at all and be forced to do these things. 

I don’t know many people who read for pleasure. My husband adores immersing himself in books but it took him a long time to re-train himself to see reading as pleasure instead of work. He hated school work and it affected his overall enjoyment of learning. This, sadly, is the norm. Especially among males. 

Homework is another big crime against the joy of learning. Not only do you have to endure the drudgery of school during the day but you have to take it home with you as well. When is a child supposed to have time to read for themselves or to enjoy the company of different kinds of people?

In an unschooled scenario, a child would read what they like and learn about what they like. So they may spend a year obsessing about Trojans. How pleased I would be!

In that year they would get a chance to learn about government, economics, training and war strategy, culture and currency. What would you learn if you have all of the time in the world?


To think we must teach children to learn and live in our world is cruel and arrogant. Children deserve more respect. They learned how to walk, talk and play all without our careful instruction. My son is learning about time and addition all on his own. He is four years old.

Children are incredibly bright and capable. They could certainly use us as guides. People who help them locate people and resources but they don’t need us telling them what they need to know. They know what they need to know.

I trust my kids to grow as they are supposed to and I will be there when they need help.


If they should want to go to school I would never stand in their way but if they want to stay home I will always be available to facilitate their learning. What are children supposed to learn from always being told where to stand or sit, what to read, how to read, what to think and how to think it. I think we do a great favour to our children by saying that we trust them to make a good decision on their own.

If you are interested in the experience of some other families there are many great Unschooling blogs. I also love this book: Homeschooling our Children Unschooling Ourselves. It’s from the perspective of a school teacher who decided school wouldn’t be right for her children.

 For more information on Unschooling try some of John Holts’ books including Teach Your Own or Dumbing Us Down by John Gatto.


Just want to quickly say that I added pictures of that bowling set I spoke about in my post from a couple of weeks ago…if anyone was interested in seeing it.

I have been reading this unschooling book called Homeschooling our Children Unschooling Ourselves. The books is entirely about unschooling and not homeschooling so I am not sure why she chose that title but no matter, it is still a lovely, inspiring book.

She talks a lot about her experiences as a teacher in a public school and how she saw young children full of excitement become apathetic teens. It was disheartening for her to see how the things the teachers did smothered the love of learning in so many children. When it was time for her children to go to school she couldn’t bear to send them to school. She then began her journey into unschooling.

I was regalled by her stories of her children learning a wide diversity of topics to the kind of depths that school never allows. Her children are now roughly the age of my parents (so obviously she was involved in the very beginnings of the movement).

I have been so inspired by her doubts and her eventual success. There once was a time when she thought her daughter would never read. Within a few years from then her daughter was reading far beyond the level of other children her age. Awesome!

I have been thinking about how we plan let our children direct their own learning and how that applies to the rest of their lives. Specifically the potty training aspect of it.

My gut tells me that I should just back off and let them tell me when they are ready to stay dry but the other part of me feels like exploding every time I have to change my four year old’s diaper.

And of course, my three year old won’t potty train either. Why would he want to when his brother won’t do it?

I just feel so lost and alone with all of this. Sometimes I think about putting Trey in playschool just so the other kids can make fun of him for wetting his pants. That sounds horrible but my being patient and supportive hasn’t helped, neither has blowing up though.

I sure hope we get this over with soon. I have been fighting with him for over a year and I have been at the end of my tether for a long time. And he will stay dry all day when he feels like it so it seems 100% psychological. Ugh! Well there goes my good mood.

Anyways, I have a picture of the kids learning their letters and reading completely on their own. These are flashcards they received from a teacher family member. I thought, “what am I going to do with these since I don’t “teach” my kids?”

Well, I let them play with them and they spent about a half hour working on the reading the words in the back and learning the letters. What do they need me for?  🙂


And the other day Trey came up to me with one of his magnetic fridge letters (the E) saying that the sun was making an E. And sure enough the sun was shinning through our window and forming a giant E on the wall.

A couple of months ago we let Trey have our old film camera. He has loved taking pictures and so when we had his film developed I thought he might like to scrapbook his pictures. Here are some of his scrapbook pages. I didn’t help him with any of this by the way.


And we also set up our Christmas tree last week. Here is Joel DSC06728cwearing a stocking on his head.

Yup, they are excited all right. This is going to be a good Christmas.

I am constantly impressed by what our kids are learning. Trey used a surprisingly large word in proper context this week.

Anna is learning to walk and is already manipulating her brothers.

Joel is using his imagination more and more and Trey is expressing  more interest in reading. It’s amazing to see them grow.



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  • withoutloveweallperish: 50 books for $10!! As a book lover, that sounds like Christmas come early! Lovely library set up, need to set up one of those for myself!
  • theworldismysoyster: Sure. Just none of my kids. :)
  • goobrobinson: Hi! I'd like to seek your permission if I can reuse one of your pictures for my next post? Specifically the second picture.