I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Kim as a writer to An Unschooling Life. She’ll be writing a monthly article on a variety of unschooling topics. In her first article, she writes about her families journey to unschooling.
When my family sat down in 2006 to discuss the possibility of homeschooling the first method of learning we all agreed on was called Natural Learning, Child-led Learning, or better referred to as Unschooling. The choice to home educate was very scary for all of us to make, not because we doubted our capabilities, but because we did not know anyone who lived an unschooling life. The majority of the people we were coming in contact with followed some form of curriculum or structured schedule based on control. In the end, our final decision to unschool has been an exciting journey of love, warmth and unimaginable closeness.
Along with unschooling, being a peaceful parent were terms I had never heard or used for that matter. Up until six years ago when my youngest daughter, Chloe, then 6, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we would never have considered home educating our children. Kids went to a place called school and that was that. Well, little did we know at the time, that along with learning to administer insulin doses, control carbs and change a ton of our habits, we were about to embark on a whole other way of existence called unschooling.
Although we were not strict disciplinary parents, we did have bedtimes, reading schedules and we also assigned chores for each child. I still remember both children asking me to buy them curriculum and tell them what to do each day. In public school, every choice about what to learn had been assigned. They were not given the ability to decide what they felt was interesting or important. I supported their needs as best I could by purchasing curriculum and giving them “school” assignments. However, it did not take long for the kids and I to realize that they could teach themselves, choose their interest without me leading or forcing them. They had inner gifts that they would soon discover just by being left alone.
Autumn, my daughter who will turn 18 this November has enrolled in a technical school/college credit course. She scored so high on her entrance exam that she was awarded free tuition. She recently has discovered that she enjoys painting with oils and has decided to start her own business by selling her work at local art gatherings. My youngest daughter Chloe has such an enormous love for animals and science that she has created her own youtube channel where she shares videos with those who are interested in learning about the care of small animals. Her goal as of today is to become a vet with her own television show.
Instinctively we all want to learn, some at different stages in one’s development. Since allowing my children to express themselves without judgment, they are discovering inner gifts that they probably would not have embarked on if they had been left in the school system. I’m not anti-school, anti-rules, or anti-choice, but I have learned to be more trusting, less controlling and more loving, caring and compassionate with my children. A lot of this I owe to our discussion to lead an unschooling life.
By Kimberly Sharpe
In 2005 I created An Unschooling Life, a blog detailing our unschooling experience after adopting our three children. Over time, An Unschooling Life became a hub for unschooling support and advice. The blog has been featured in print and digital media and was home to the popular Unschooling Carnival. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog where they will be housed under the An Unschooling Life section. This post was originally published on March 18, 2011.