Unschooling – What We’ve Learned So Far

At the beginning of this year I was admittedly nervous.  While the principles of unschooling felt right to me, I lacked trust in the philosophy and trust in myself and my sons as well.  I was testing the waters, so to speak, after all how much damage could I do when all we were talking about was Kindergarten?  At worst Lan would play all year and at best this unschooling “hippy” stuff would actually work out for us.

I am happy to say, I am now a convert!  We have had such an amazing year!  Lan and Kayden’s curiosity has astounded me, I never know what will spark their interest.  I’ve learned they are not vessels for me to fill with knowledge but trees reaching out their branches in all different directions and soaking up the knowledge in their own way.  I must reiterate here that I do not take on a teacher role.  Our learning is organic and real.  I am not taking on the role of lecturer, trying to force knowledge onto them.  We read books they are interested in and their projects are from their own initiative.  Many times, I am just as excited as they are about learning something new and some of my favorite moments have been when they ask me questions that I don’t know the answers to.  It is in those times that they see that I am not all-knowing and that learning is something that is exciting!  We find out the answers together (thank goodness for Google!) and the boys learn that knowledge is easily obtainable when you have curiosity.

And just so you know, I am not supermom.  I struggle with this role just like every other mother out there.  There are days where my patience is totally usurped and all I can muster is putting a movie on so I can have some down time.  I still yell and “freak out” more often than I would like to.  There are days when I count the minutes until Mike gets home so I can have his help in parenting.  Feel better?  Good!

Here are some of the learning highlights of our year in pictures:

Kayden, my daredevil! The youngest kid ever to make it to the top on the first try!

Picking pumpkins and learning about food prices and the benefits of eating local.

Learning about animals at a petting zoo.

Lego mania! Math, building, structures, planning….

Cutting branches. Living skills and tool safety!

Peering into a bird’s nest

Volunteer spirit, participating in 350.org’s global work party by picking up litter.

Hi Ho away we go, horse back riding, horse back riding!

Navigation! Lan drew a map to help us find our way to one of our favorite spots!

Bird watching on the boardwalk.

Art and creativity!

I am really happy that we unschooled this year.  I’ve been able to try it out in a comfortable environment and give it a “test drive” before we set off on our travels.  I no longer have the big cloud of doubt and questions in regard to how we will school the boys while we are on the road.  I even think that unschooling will be easier once we are traveling.  Although we won’t have access to our wonderful library, we will have access to the world!  We will be learning through experience and adventure!  Exciting stuff is on the horizon…….Now somebody buy our damn house so we can be on our way! 🙂

New to Unschooling?

Here is a list of books that have helped me to build my educational philosophy:

Home Grown by Ben Hewwit

Free At Last by Michael Greenberg

Big Book of Unschooling by Sandra Dodd

The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

Radical Unschooling by Dayna Martin

Unschool Yourself by Jason Xie

How Children Learn by John Holt

How Children Fail by John Holt

Learning All the Time by John Holt

Teach Your Own by John Holt

The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn

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  1. Justin Mussler says:

    Hi Amy,

    Nice plan, trying it out for a year before you travel. I like that idea. Has to be a nice feeling to have the security of knowing you and your kids can benefit so greatly from this upcoming adventure.

    Comfort and Confidence make all the difference.


    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Thanks Justin, it has been a great year for us. I’m really happy with our educational choice and you are right, comfort and confidence make all the difference!

  2. Brenda Sedore says:

    Brings back so many good memories of when I home schooled my now young adult children. In my opinion there is nothing more rewarding than seeing that light in their eyes as they discover something new. You’re doing something wonderful for your kids. They’ll never forget it. 🙂

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Thank you for your encouragement Brenda! I am so glad we followed this path and I love hearing from people who have already done it!

  3. Bizemom says:

    Sounds like an exciting time for your family. They will cherish the experience when they are older.

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Yes, I think our experiences will be a formative part of their lives. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Marilia says:

    Nice to see a beginner in unschooling relating the experience as I think I´ll try it soon too.

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      That’s great Marilia, I’m wishing you nothing but the best and look forward to hearing about your schooling journey in whatever form it takes!

  5. Chaya Shepard says:

    It’s so great that you had such a positive first year unschooling. I don’t know if we can say we are unschooling our daughter yet, as she is only one and half, but we definitely follow her learning interests and plan on continuing this education as she grows. I have worked in free schools and with other unschooling kids, and have loved it. It makes so much more sense to me than the compulsory public school classroom.

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      The more I examine my own education, the more I realize how ineffectual it was! Good for you for discovering different educational philosophies so early on in your daughters life!

  6. Nadine Hudson says:

    Dear Amy and family
    I am very happy that unschooling works for you and hope with you that you will soon sell your house and be off. I think unschooling can work very well with young children (children at the age of yours wouldn’t yet go to school in Switzerland, so they would still be at home without any schooling). But for us, with children who “have” to learn maths and language and don’t show any natural interest in it, unschooling wasn’t the right path. We sort of do a little bit of both. Strict maths and languages and unschooling the rest of the subjects. We have arrived in Mexico (Baja) and we totally love it here!!! What a magical place.
    Good luck with the house sale and enjoy Asia!!!
    Nadine and family

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Thank you Nadine! No two families are the same, and whatever works for you is just fantastic! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in Mexico! I have driven to Mexico three times and each time has been fabulous. I am so glad you are enjoying yourself! Much love to you and your family!!!!!

  7. Nadine Hudson says:

    Thank you Amy. Yes, Mexico has been doing us so good. It is like medicine to a tired soul!
    By the way, what I forgot to write yesterday is that I think you are an incredible mum and that I think you are a great inspiration to your boys!
    I will send all prospect house buyers your way 🙂

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Awe, thank you so much Nadine! I think the same of you, and feel so blessed to have connected with you!
      Definitely send the buyers over, or at least keep on thinking positive thoughts for us 🙂

  8. wandering educators says:

    our 8yo has always been unschooled, and she loves it. she’s so creative, and bubbly, and joyful. i am SO GLAD we unschool.

    love your adventures – can’t wait to read more!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Isn’t it amazing! And they say that at around 8-9 years old is when schooled children start to loose their natural curiosity and start to dislike school.

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