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 November 30, 2011, and was written by Kimberly Sharpe for An Unschooling Life.
Each month when I sit down to think about what I am going to write regarding unschooling I find myself overwhelmed with ideas. These ideas sometimes leave me questioning which topic is more important than the next. The concept of unschooling is limitless with ideas for those of us who have found our way and are living this lifestyle. But honestly, why is it so hard for others to understand its benefits and rewards? It’s easy for others to dismiss it and say unschooling doesn’t work.
Unschooling is not just about learning, it is a philosophy and a lifestyle.
When I think about all that has changed in my life these past years since becoming an unschooling family, I am thrilled.
I have become more open to new ideas, and my parenting style is much better. I am a peaceful parent. I do not control my children with punishment or negative ridicule. I no longer believe in grades for achievement or a test for approval. The subjects are now chosen by my children and are learned at their own convenience.
Time does not control our daily life, nor do we worry about the old mundane homework schedules and do not worry about rushing to bed at night. The girls and I spend hours reading, writing, and learning. Our family has chosen this way of life, it has not been chosen for us.
But some children apparently love school. They have fun doing their homework, taking tests, and go to sleep each night excited to get up early the next morning. I haven’t met any of these children, but I have heard from their parents, either on my Facebook page or by email. These proud parents claim their children can’t wait to go to school each day.
On some level, I can relate to these children. I did attend a parochial school and am a graduate of a local public school. However, I do have trouble saying that I loved school. School to me felt like what I would imagine prison to be. A nightmare. I still have bad dreams about being back in high school and not passing a test, only to find out that I didn’t make the grade that was required of me to be a cheerleader.
In the end, I can only wish to see more children having a choice in the way in which they want to learn.
My children now love reading, because they can pick what they want to read, and they love writing because they are writing about what interests them. Their day does not revolve around homework assignments, grades, peer pressure, bullies, or rules.
Neither, Autumn or Chloe are pressured in a closed-door classroom but are respected as equals at home. We are grateful each day for discovering our unschooling life.
I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite pioneers in the unschooling movement.
“No use to shout at them to pay attention. If the situations, the materials, the problems before the child do not interest him, his attention will slip off to what does interest him, and no amount of exhortation of threats will bring it back.” – John Holt