Unschooling: Then and Now

I remember how excited and scared I was back in 2009 when I started Unschooling.
Reading through those old posts, I can vividly remember what was going on in my life, where we lived, conversations I had in person and over the phone, and how I felt then.

unschooling then and now

Guess I’ll start by answering the biggest question people have.

What exactly is Unschooling?

I know a lot of people think it’s all about not using a curriculum, but that’s not it. Unschooling is so much more than that and it can’t be summed up in one blog post.
The basic definition is living without school. I know that sounds really wild because school does exist, so how do you live life without school?
Here’s a question for you….what would you do if there were no school for a year?
I think that year would look like summer break for most of us!

Biggest question to that question? How will they learn?!

Just because we don’t use a curriculum doesn’t mean the kids aren’t learning.
Learning isn’t confined to a one size fits all approach and shouldn’t be restricted to Mon-Fri from 8-3.
What if we challenged everything we were told and everything we thought we knew about how children learn?
What if learning happened all the time, in an organic, hands-on way? What if we trusted that children are naturally curious and helped support them in following their interests?

unschooling farm animals unschooling golf
In May of 2015, I wrote about what Unschooling looked like then.
I wasn’t always as confident with Unschooling as I am now. Proof of that will be linked to a couple of posts below.

I  have loved reading through my blog and seeing what Unschooling has looked like for us over the years. I didn’t edit posts, except to fix typos. I left my thoughts and comments as they were. I laugh at the way I thought and some of the things I said years ago, but most of it is still true for my family.
The kids were getting older and around August of 2012 I shared some reflections and admitted some of my doubts. Funny how t hat always happened around the start of the public school year.

In 2013 I wrote about how I was feeling more comfortable and secure in this lifestyle.

unschooling youngs dairy

unschooling sports


Soooo much has changed since 2009! I became a single mom, we’ve had an autism and dyslexia diagnosis, we moved out-of-state.
I am more confident than I’ve ever been. I feel really good about Unschooling and how well it works for us.

So what does Unschooling Look Like Now? The same in some ways and different in others.
We attended a homeschool co-op then just like we do now.
I don’t treat unschooling as a method of learning like I used to. Now I understand and value it as a lifestyle and philosophy. Being intentional about savoring the ordinary moments and living as joyfully as possible is probably the biggest change.

We spend a ton of time together as a family. Last week that looked like working on a home decor DIY project together.

family diy project

Seeing what kind of art we can make with items found in nature.

nature art

We visit new places, like this cute little market. The vendors were so great to talk to.  I can’t wait to go back and try the coffee shop and jambalaya.

2nd street market

Hiking: we spend as much time as possible outdoors.
It’s been a little difficult with season allergies being so bad this year.
We have a few favorite trails.

We have made a visit to Ohio’s State House. The Newport Aquarium.
We watched and researched the solar eclipse.

We aren’t always on the go. Some days Unschooling looks like enjoying down time at home…

multiple rounds of Uno
board games
farm visits
library visits and classes
Minecraft: pocket edition and on the Wii u
Mario Kart
Netflix and Hulu
movie night
reading solo and together
learning how to make and edit videos
everything space related: checking satellite photos, google earth, talking about the planets.
learning how to knit and crochet
researching Paris
reminiscing about living at the beach
trying a new online course called Jam.

We might spend a Sunday after church hanging with friends, or venture out with just the four of us and end up playing in a sunflower field until sunset.

unschooling joy sunflowers at sunset

Let me finish up by saying that I am not a guru, I do not have all the answers. I am not living in Unschooling perfection over here.

Unschooling looks different from family to family. So if you visit another blog, or talk to someone else, they may have a farm centered life because they live on a farm. Another family may live in the mountains. Some families live the city life and explore as if they were tourists. One family may travel the world and live in a new country every 3 months. Some families travel the United States by RV.

There are so many resources for Unschooling, but that’s another post for a different day.

I’ll leave you with links to other blogs and websites by people who write more eloquently on the topic than I do.

Akilah S Richards: She is fiercely passionate about Unschooling our black children.
There is a wealth of information on her website. Podcasts, essays, eBooks. Enjoy!

Amy Bradstreet:  She has helped me a few times over the years. Her always unschooled children are now grown, and I would consider her to be a Unschooling guru.
I’m linking to all of her posts on Unschooling because I couldn’t pick just one to share.

Sheila Baranoski: Her post on Living as if School Doesn’t Exist really resonated with me.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.
I enjoy reading and responding to your comments and emails!