Finding Our Way Back to Unschooling

unschooling in the woods

I’ve always been an unschooler at heart.

It’s how we started, three years ago when I realised I didn’t want my son cooped up in a gloomy classroom all day, learning what a bunch of politicians had decided every English five-year-old should know.

I wanted my children to have the freedom to explore this wondrous world for themselves. I wanted them to know the thrill of finding answers to questions that had had time to take seed and grow in their minds. I wanted them to have the space to dabble in their interests, and the time discover their passions. I wanted them to fall  in love with learning.

So my children came home, and for six months I let them be.

Once we were home-educators, I began a whole new learning adventure of my own.  I discovered The Well-Trained Mind, Charlotte Mason, Project-Based Homeschooling, Brave Writer and, of course, homeschool blogs.  

All these resources have contributed hugely to the richness of our homeschool. Without these forays into other styles we would not know the joys of The Story of the World, what makes a great living book, or the power of copywork to teach grammar, spelling and writing style.

I don’t regret a single step along the winding path that’s brought us to this point.

But now … it’s time to take the best of what we’ve learned, and find our unschooling groove.

In her beautiful post, Aiming for Love, Not Perfection, my unschooling friend Sue Elvis shares the John Holt quote that has always been at the heart of my homeschooling philosophy.

John Holt quote2

I don’t know yet exactly what unschooling’s going to look like for us.  I’m still calling it almost-unschooling, lest the unschooling police knock on my door and swipe the whiteboard out of my hand in the middle of a living maths problem.

I know there’ll still be science, and writing, and art, and history, and geography – I won’t be able to resist sharing my enthusiasm for these subjects with J(8) and C(9). Perhaps we’re still just eclectic homeschoolers. But, whatever our label, next year I’m counting on our homeschool bringing a few surprises.

I hope you’ll follow me on our almost-unschooling adventure!



To find out what’s new in the other Homeschool Help ladies’ homeschools, head over to:

Highhill Homeschool – Homeschool Teaching Style at Highhill Education

Hammock Tracks – Teaching style + clear goals = success

Every Bed of Roses – My Teaching Style Goals for 2013/14

Barefoot Hippie Girl – New Year, New Styles

One Magnificent Obsession – I call myself… Christian Classically Eclectic

I’m linking up here:

Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird Unsocialised Homeschoolers

Homeschool Mother’s Journal – So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?

Hip Homeschool Hop – 08/27/13


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26 thoughts on “Finding Our Way Back to Unschooling

  1. Labels are always limiting in some ways, aren’t they? Regardless of whether we find ourselves veering towards one approach or another, it’s the joy of learning and discovery that matter. Different approaches will work for different families at different times. The flexibility to pick and choose what works best for our families/children at any point is truly important. Sounds like you’re going to have an interesting year ahead. I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures. 🙂

    1. Good point. I am hereby setting an intention to do what works for us, regardless of labels! (I can never hear that or tell myself it too many times!)

  2. Although for various reasons I don’t homeschool (and yes, I bemoan what is taught – and so often neglected – at my daughter’s school), I hope, like you, that I can provide our girls the love of learning. Being able “to learn whatever needs to be learned” is bound to create a richer, more meaningful life. I look forward to reading your future “almost” unschooling posts 🙂

    1. Thank you! From what I read on your fabulous blog, your girls are surrounded by a very rich learning environment. It’s wonderful how you are able to do all the things you do together in addition to school!

  3. Lucinda, it sounds like you are going to have an awesome year! I can’t wait to follow along! When we take the focus off of the “what” we teach and onto the “who” we have in front of us– oh the doors that open!

  4. Lovely Sue and her kids are a beautiful recommendation for unschooling aren’t they. She makes it look so easy, I adore that woman.

    I cannot unschool, I have tried to, but I panic, as I am a bit of an A-type personality. It seems to work as my older child really likes structure and my younger one just goes with the flow. I do try and incorporate some child-led activites into their lesson time to make up for my “wussism” (yes I made that word up 😉 ) for not giving unschooling a go.

    1. “Wussism” – I love that word. (I think I’ve probably used it about myself :-)) And I really like your comment, Lisa. We can’t just arbitrarily decide on a home educating style without taking into account everyone’s personalities – including our own! Perhaps the most important thing of all is to be comfortable with our choices (as they change from time to time). I know remembering that is an ongoing practice for me!

  5. I am enjoying your blog. I seemed to have found it at just the right moment in our own homeschool adventures. This post really helped me put our own school days in perspective. I am not to the point of unschooling yet but this year is about exploring our interests more.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I’m enjoying your blog very much too – you have a way of writing that makes me want to do the activities you’ve done. I expect you inspire your children in a similar way.

  6. Lucinda,

    Thank you for linking to my blog, and for your kind words! “my unschooling friend Sue Elvis” I like being regarded a friend. Thank you!

    I am so glad you found John Holt’s words helpful. I love this quote and it makes so much sense.

    You said, “I won’t be able to resist sharing my enthusiasm for these subjects…” I am always sharing my enthusiasms with my children. They are very open to my suggestions. I think it has a lot to do with trust. My girls don’t feel pressured. They genuinely want to share any ideas I might have. I share theirs too! So maybe the same will happen with your unschooling.

    I look forward to sharing more of your unschooling adventure!

    1. Hello Sue, I hoped you wouldn’t mind my describing you as a friend – thank you!

      C(9) is mostly like your girls when I make suggestions. J(8) is a slightly different matter, as he is so interested in all-things-computer, which is more his father’s area of expertise (and interest) than mine. But then he surprises me by coming out with Latin phrases – months after he’s been in the same room as C(9) and I have been reading “Minimus” together. I like the challenge of providing an enriching learning environment for someone very different from me.

      Thank you so much for your encouragement!

  7. Thank you for your link to Sue’s site, I spent a very enjoyable evening (read early hours of the morning!) perusing her blog. So interesting, especially the maths. I must go and leave her a message to that effect. It was too late to leave any last night/ this morning. I have GOT to get more sleep!

  8. Thanks, Lula for stopping by my place! Loved having found you…will be back! Also, loved this post and the one on unschooling conference. This is originally where my heart was too as that was the first ever homeschooling book I read and the next was John Holt, who I adore. I have found myself more and more towards the more eclectic-CM-classical approach because my hubby is now much more involved and that is more his bent. My post yesterday on narrations reminded me of my heart tugging in the other direction of were we used to be. I struggle with having the faith to let my children (and God) hold the reigns and respecting my hubby’s desires (he IS the principal of this ship we’re steering!) and getting in everything I want to teach that means something to me. It is a hard balance, for sure! You’re post makes me want to go back and pray some more about where God wants us to be.

    1. Hi Amy! How wonderful that your husband is involved in your homeschooling! I just went back and read your homeschooling story – I can definitely relate to your journey. Your lovely post about your daughter’s St George story brought back some uncomfortable memories for me of stopping my 6 year old’s imaginative “narrations” and insisting he come back to the story… I think that marked the beginning of the end of Charlotte Mason for us! 😀 Oh well, as Lori Pickert reminds us – we’re learning here too!
      I’m very pleased to have found your blog 🙂

  9. Lula,

    I’m a second generation unschooler and my heart has always belonged to interest-led learning. For others, unschooling is wonderful journey you take. The fun is in getting there! 🙂

    1. Hi Rebecca, “The fun is getting there” – I love that! It resonates very much with my life philosophy! Thank you so much for stopping by so I could find your site 🙂 Lucinda

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