Because people are accustomed to buying things or to joining clubs, churches, classes, it's shocking to come upon something like unschooling that must be understood gradually and developed slowly, and that others can't do FOR you, or that you can't call a help desk and say "It's been two weeks, and this isn't working, so I'd like to return it."
When a journalist posted about wanting people to speak with, I solicited information along another line.
Even when someone has children and wants to become an unschooler, it takes . . . A Long Time to really understand it.
My oldest is six and I first started trying to understand unschooling when he was a baby. I thought I got it right away. Looking back, I think it was about a year ago that it really started to become something more than an idea that I liked. So I'd say it took me 4 or 5 years to really absorb it and I'm sure that in a few more years I'll be looking back at now and seeing the ways I still don't have it figured out.
I started reading about unschooling when my oldest was 5, she's 22 now. I read everyday. I read books and the writings of other parents in real time. My youngest was born when my oldest was 7. That's when it really started connecting for me. That little baby wouldn't sleep unless they were in my arms, so I sat a lot and read. I started writing then, but not much.
My oldest is 11, left school during pre-kindergarten and I can say confidently that we are unschoolers- confident that I can explain why we have made the choices we have made, rather than just how we do things. I have been reading about unschooling and attempting to live by radical unschooling principles for about 6 years. Even so, every few months, I see new ways I can apply peaceful principles to my life and interactions with my family and with others.
Oh my gosh, we've been actively unschooling for 2.5 years and I'm still nervous to write about it. I read almost daily, even if it's a little tidbit to help me think about something, and I listen to podcasts. Lately, I've felt off my game because we've moved and my regular routine has been massively disrupted. There is so much going on that I'm hardly on a computer or able to listen to the podcasts...Add Light and Stir and FB have been the quick fixes I need, but I look forward to getting back to my usual reading and listening! Radical unschooling requires constant thoughtfulness and mindfulness and it's easy to stray from the path and revert to old behaviors when I'm not actively working on myself.
Jo Isaac :
I discovered unschooling when Kai was 3 - that is 7 years ago. There were various points where I thought 'I've got it!' and I really hadn't. Probably I really started to 'get it' when he was around 5 or 6, and we got over that 'compulsory school age' hump. But I had more deschooling to do around reading, after that, as he didn't read until he was nearly 9. He's 10, now. I might get wobbles around high school age - I think deschooling is a constant process in many ways, when you are surrounded by a schooly world.
We have been deschooling/unschooling for a year and a half, and I am still constantly challenging and rethinking my thoughts and ideas. I learn something new in unschooling groups every day, and rarely do I feel as though I "get it" enough to contribute. Occasionally I've recently experienced something in my own home that is worth sharing on a related thread here or there.
It took me three to five years of unshooling our son before I felt I understood what we were doing well enough to write or talk about it with any clarity or confidence. Real learning is subtle...like a breath. Ethan said something kind of funny to my husband recently. He exclaimed "Now you are breathing consciously!" We all became aware of our breathing in that moment. Learning can become as effortless as unconscious breathing when we it happens without prejudice or too much attention to its presence. It's so big it permeates through everything we do, yet so intangible at times we can only guess at its influence and significance.
Cass Nilep Kotrba:
I remember thinking when we started "I may never fully understand unschooling but some of it makes so much sense to me that I'm going to start walking down this path and see what happens." A year later I understood more and felt less nervous and confused. Life at home was much happier and more calm than prior to starting but we were still a long way from the ideal that existed in my mind.
For me it is a process that slowly reveals itself with different situations and circumstances that arise in life but probably about 4 years into it I realized that I pretty much had shifted my focus and came at life from an unschooling perspective. (Oldest is now 14. I started to read about unschooling when he was 6. Doing school at home had not turned out to be very joyous for us and I had experimented with a variety of approaches before finding unschooling.) Evidence of our kids continuing to learn without classes and teachers helped build confidence in me over the years.
I first started reading about unschooling when my oldest was 15. We did not come to fully understand and trust in it though until she and the next two had already graduated. Our youngest two got the benefit of it 4-5 years later. We had already been very relaxed homeschoolers by then, but there is such a difference even then, with that and unschooling. We also started shifting from traditional parenting to gentle parenting during that same time frame. When our younger kids reached compulsory years we were ready for, and following the principles of, radical unschooling.
Becoming, and being
Becoming the parent you want to be Being with your child Being a better partner
Unschooling, Time and Energy Is Unschooling Exhausting? How much time and energy does it take?