My boys were [your children's ages]* when we took them out of school. The are now 12 and 15. And the things we're all talking about here don't happen overnight, it takes a lot of time to let go and deschool. But the difference I see in my boys now is...truly unbelievable. If someone had told me a few years ago that they would actually WANT to learn things without pressure and prodding, I would have laughed. But this is a different 'kind' of learning. They don't 'learn' math, they USE math. And both of them hated to read when they left school, but now my oldest reads more than the rest of us do. My youngest doesn't 'hate' reading now, it's just not his preferred method of learning. He reads when he needs to. One boy is a good speller, the other is...not as good. But being a good speller is really only important in school. No one else ever grades people on their spelling skills. (Unless they're an editor or something similar.)
I know how scary it is to think about letting go of what's 'normal', and I know it seems impossible to think about your kids learning on their own, but it's all very possible. More than possible. It's waiting to happen. It's happened for us, and we were as 'normal' as anyone else.
Unschooling has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives, and not only in an educational aspect, but in everything we do. It's changed the way we live, the way we think, and the way we look at the world in general.
It can be scary at first, and it may sound almost unreal when you're first reading about it, but it's all true and the benefits are so worth it.
Lyle, unschooling [dot] com (not the one that's there now), August 28, 2002:
Joanne, I truly don't think there is a child anywhere that unschooling wouldn't 'work' for. It's simply not possible for it not to work. The hardest thing is for the parents to be able to let go of everything they've ever been told or taught about education and raising children in general, because the vast majority of it is simply not true.
Deschooling is all about letting go. Letting go of your schoolish ideals, and even more important than that (in my opinion) is letting go of your expectations for your kids. When you expect something, it's so easy to set those expectations too high, and that can lead to feelings of failure, for both you and your child. No two kids are alike, and they should not be treated as though they are just another face in the crowd, and that is what happens in school. There is no one-size-fits-all educational system that works, contrary to what any public school advocate will tell you. How many times have you heard about children "slipping through the cracks" at public school?
With unschooling, no child slips through the cracks, because the cracks don't exist.
I felt the same way you do when we first started out. I had read these message boards, and a lot of books, and I just could not believe that my kids would take charge of themselves and know what is best for them. But I finally learned to truly let go and give them total and complete freedom, and now, a few years later, I can tell you that it is all true. Every word of it. My kids have come so far and have learned more in the last few years than all the years at school combined. And that's a lot of years. There is no comparison between their attitudes a few years ago, and their attitudes now. It still amazes me, and makes me wonder why I didn't do this from the start.
All the things everyone's said above is exactly the way it works. Your kids will go through a transition period if you decide to unschool, simply because they've never had true freedom before, and there may be times when you feel like it's just not working and maybe you've made a mistake. Those are the times to come here and post your concerns, and let the people here help you through the tough times.
Unschooling works. It works better than any 'system' could ever hope of working.
If you can truly let go, and give your children the freedom they desperately need and deserve, they will amaze you every single day.
Do a lot of reading here and ask a lot of questions if you have them, and let your fears and anxiety go.
There is nothing to fear in unschooling. Fear will only hold back the sense of true peace and satisfaction that is waiting for you and your children.
Read, relax, and LET GO! :)
Other testimonials about unschooling discussions