Beautiful Chaos

Finding adventure in the everyday

Why we do what we do: unschooling


So, I’ve kind of dropped the ball on my series why we do what we do and the first installation of said series. But, here I am giving you the next part. Feels pretty risky continuing to let the world know just how different we are, and I think that’s why it’s been at least a month since I’ve given you any more details into our world. But, I prefer risk over safety, so here you go world. Enjoy.

The winter before Spunky turned 3 I started thinking about schools for her. One of the ones I liked had a preschool that started at 3 and if you didn’t get in at that level, chances of getting in for kindergarten were slim. I HATED the thought of sending her away everyday. Even if it was only for a few hours, it felt like MY job that I was giving to someone else. I felt like I wanted to be a major part of her discovering her world and finding her interests.

But I had a problem. What was in my head as homeschooling was NOT what I wanted. I didn’t want to take on a new role in her life that would cause more stress and division than there needed to be. I didn’t want to have to make her learn. So, I kept searching.
A friend mentioned looking into unschooling. What?!? It sounded super sketchy and totally made up. But as I read about it, as I let my mind open to the option, the more it fit with who we are.
When Travis was a freshman in high school he tried really hard at “school”. And he got C’s and D’s. So he stopped trying. Still C’s and D’s. As a freshman in college he tried really hard again. Same thing. I’d take a leap and say he didn’t learn much those 9 years except how much he could NOT do and get away with it.
I was the opposite. School was a piece of cake. I knew how to study and how to cram and I could ace a test any day of the week. But I learned very little as well. I know shockingly little about history, geography, political…stuff and science. But I got A’s and B’s in those classes. My brain is awesome at memorizing but if I wasn’t interested or it was too much information too fast, I didn’t actually learn.

Enter unschooling. As with everything we’ve been discovering on our journey towards oddball-ville changing our perspective of education and children in general is where I needed to start. Unschooling says that kids WANT to learn. Babies want to learn how to roll, crawl, walk, talk… And kids want to learn how to tie their shoes and ride their bike and read. Somewhere in childhood learning becomes a pain in the ass because people are making us do it and grading us on how well we did it. Someone is telling us what we need to learn and we are forced to comply or get bad grades that then follow us.

If someone did that to me right now, forced me to learn, I’d be furious. I don’t care about finance or mechanics or engineering and so making me learn it would be a waste of your time and mine. It just wouldn’t happen. You may be able to motivate me to get good grades by some sort of bribery, but I wouldn’t actually remember a thing if I didn’t care.

So unschooling trusts the child to have an intrinsic desire to learn and then let’s them do it. That’s it.

Last summer, Spunky said, “I want to learn to tie my shoe.” We spent an hour on it and she had it down. A week or less after that she said, “I’d like to learn to read.” Bam. We started working on it together in a way that made sense to her. And now, she’s reading. No fights. No forcing. No stress or pressure on her part to do well to please someone. She is having so much fun learning. She wants to get out her practice book and do some with me. Today, she said she wanted to do 4 “lessons”. She wants it and so she is going for it. All on her own.

That’s unschooling. Exposing her to things she may be interested in and letting it go if she isn’t. Trusting that she will want to understand grammer so she can write cards and letters that she loves to make people. She will want to learn fractions so she can cook on her own and feel SO big. She will want to learn history because the stories are our stories and she can take them in one at a time.

Schooling this way, for us, is the natural way for her to be discovering who God made her and how he wired her to see the world. She isn’t the same as Monkey and they will explore different things and learn in different ways. Their passions will be different and so it only makes sense for their educations to be different. I love their desire to learn and I never want to squish that or turn it into a chore. 12 years out of high school and I love learning again. At my own pace, about the things that set my heart on fire. I’m so grateful to allow them to discover what sets their hearts on fire and run after that.

A few unschooling/homeschooling things I’ve enjoyed recently:

An article about how we learn

Kid hacking education

Matt Walsh on Standardized Testing- he’s super blunt, but I kind of love it

posted under Family, Unschooling
2 Comments to

“Why we do what we do: unschooling”

  1. Avatar February 14th, 2014 at 5:38 pm Colleen Says:

    I love this! I feel sorta similar in terms of the fear of writing about it and telling everybody we don’t do worksheets or even lessons! So good on you for being open about this!

  2. Avatar February 14th, 2014 at 11:01 pm Holly Hemsoth Says:

    Thanks Colleen! I think there are more of us out there than we realize and we are teaching our kids in an unconventional way, but not a bad way. Nothing to be ashamed of! (Easier said than done sometimes though!)

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