what does unschooling look like?

Hey there.  Did you ask what does unschooling look like?  Well, that’s a very good question.  One that I am pretty much constantly asking myself and answering for myself as well, I guess.  To me, unschooling is pretty much just stepping outside of the standard education box and doing it your own way.  (The ultimate DIY?)  So, it can probably look very very different depending on the family.  I don’t necessarily think that unschooling has to mean totally devoid of any kind of structure.  On the contrary, though we often spend our days in pajamas until noon or later, our life is pretty simple and routine.  Not that we do the same things in the same order every day by any means.  Just that our life is based on a structure of values.  One of those being real-time simplicity at this point.  That means that I’m not rushing here and there to take my kids all over town but that the kids can count on our days being comprised of any combination of a short list of activities.


Such as visiting their grandparents.  We usually get over to their grandparents house once a week at least and spend an evening playing, eating and watching hockey.  Hockey night in Canada, any one? Eh?  (Or is it “ey”?   I dunno).  We also have a few friends and cousins that we see on a semi regular basis.  We either meet these people at a park or have them to our house.  No fancy rendezvous for us, thanks:)

039Being outside.  This picture was taken pretty recently and yes, that’s my baby barefoot outside in the middle of January.  What?  It was unseasonably warm!  I usually try to either take the kids around the block with their bikes, get to a park, walk in our local natural area, something, once per day.  This doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes it feels like going outside in any form must be some kind of cruel and unusual torture for the kids.  Yet, other times, like yesterday for instance, they were so enthralled with playing in the neighbor’s yard that they threw off their coats and wouldn’t come inside for hours.  My conclusion?  Neighbors are the secret ingredient to cold weather play.  If you don’t have any, get some.  If there are none in your neighborhood, move:)

108Free time.  Oh yes.  Lots of this.  To me, free time (also known to some as boredom) is the secret to a rich life of imagination and creativity).  It seems like many people are afraid of their kids getting bored.  I say, bring it on!  Children are nothing if not perpetually curious, playful and resourceful.  I’m just letting them utilize these inherent talents while I attend to more important things (such as laundry and dinner and maybe the occasional blog post, winky, winky).  By the way, don’t think that my kids are always playing together this cooperatively or idyllically in the background.  This shot is RARE.  They are often fighting or bickering and are usually quite unruly and mostly plain and simply LOUD.  Just early social navigation in my opinion.  Perfectly healthy if not always pretty.

106Then there’s this: just the hint of adult-led things like art projects to beautify our home, perhaps a modest circle time of some stories and songs, stuff like that.  (I’m sorry, did that say “ADULT-led”?  “Attn: would the real adult parent please stand up?  Repeat: would the real adult parent please stand up?  We’re gonna have a problem here.”  (Slim Shady, anyone?  no?  K’ guess it’s just me:))  This would be the Waldorf-inspired part of our homeschooling.

What about structure, you might be asking.  Or anything resembling school?  Well, there’s this, which is really just dabbling in teaching letters and reading the Waldorf way.

107I really would like Ruth to come to reading on her own terms because the last thing I want to do is make it unpleasant or something she dreads.  I thought I would try a few things and see if anything piqued her interest.  This is the way they teach reading in Waldorf schools, by turning each letter into a picture of something and having the kids write before they can read.  Ruth has a special book that she uses to copy these into, though often she doesn’t seem super into it, gets bored and doesn’t finish.  So….

The truth is, I’m really in no rush for her to read.  I am also not concerned about it.  I have confidence that she will read when she is ready.  I love reading.  The kids love being read to.  We read together every day.  Enjoying time spent reading is more of a priority for us than learning to read by any set time or age.  (Did that sound defensive?  I just re-read it and it did seem a little defensive.  That might be one of the biggest struggles of homeschooling: to not always be or seem to be on the defense.  This might just be part of the package any time you step outside the box, especially as a new homeschooler.  Shrug.  I guess confidence will come with time.  Or it might always be something I struggle with, I’m not sure.  As I said, I’ve never done this before).

So, that’s a little taste, a little sampler of our life as unschoolers.  There’s more to the story, many more nitty gritty details, but that’s a short overview for now anyways.

I also feel that, because we homeschool, we have the ability to change things up whenever we feel like it and to let the structure evolve as the kids grow.  So, unschooling will not only look different from family to family but also from year to year in the same family.  It’s exciting to think of the things we can do!  It sounds cliché but the possibilities really are endless!  I’m really looking forward to seeing where this path leads us and hope you’ll come along on the journey.

What does homeschooling/unschooling look like in your family?

Author: Terry

Welcome! I am a Waldorf and unschooling-inspired homeschooling parent of three, ages 2, 4, and 7 living in the Lansing area of Michigan writing from the front lines of parenthood. Join me as I try to navigate homeschooling and bask in the craziness of life with young ones. Feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by!

One thought on “what does unschooling look like?”

  1. our homeschool/unschool moves and shifts from total lack of structure to one of my 4 going to full time school this year. we are not stuck with any particular style or method, but feel the freedom to do what is best for each child at each step of their development. 🙂

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