Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For People Who Speak Out of Ignorance

Before reading, it must be said, this was not written toward anybody in particular, only as something I can pull out of my purse in the case that someone hounds me about how we school. I understand the concern, but I am tired from attempting to defend it. With that said, I am defending homeschooled for MY family. Not yours. Not the neighbors. Not for anybody else but us. Everyone has their reasons for choosing what they choose, and as long as it works for your family, I applaud you for choosing something that works. That is all...

I have prepared this list in an event, such as this one, where I am asked to defend our reasoning for homeschool, I can supply this as opposed to debating all night long. Once you read the list and finish your research, I will gladly get back with you to answer any questions. Thank You.

Why We Homeschool:

Aside from typical reasons most people homeschool, ie the fact that there is much less wasted time, keeping children away from peer pressure, the schedules don't work right with our family, etc. etc. Here are our deeper reasons for homeschooling-otherwise the list would go on all day:

  • We homeschool for many reasons, but the first of those reasons is that our view of education is much different than that of most people. To us, education is a lifelong adventure. But also, education is NOT the typical grammar and quick math facts. An education is what you obtain through learning. Learning is something you do everywhere, all the time. An education is what makes you a well rounded person. A person who can research their own interests. A person who knows what they are talking about, not just rambling off facts they picked up somewhere. A well rounded person knows that they shouldn't believe everything they see, hear, or read, and knows how to decide for themselves what to think. A well rounded person is a happy person who does not just go with the day to day flow of mass society because they are told to. They are innovators, they are risk takers, they are entrepreneurs, even in a non conventional sense. A well rounded person has been many places, talked to many people, and experienced many things. Homeschooling allows the time and energy for these sorts of things. Homeschooling makes it easy to spend an entire week preparing a Lemonade Stand. It allows for a trip to the Appalachian Trail for 2 weeks DURING the school year. It allows for practicing a new skill from sun up to sun down without interruption. Homeschool is essentially-Freedom. 
  • As an extension of my last point, homeschooling, especially the style we use, commonly called Unschooling, allows for a deeper level of thinking. Unschooling allows a child to dive into their interests as long as they want to. Being in the real world and learning from it gives them a true appreciation for nature, art, history, science, the list goes on. For an example, you can visit this link to my blog: http://immahomeschoolingmama.blogspot.com/2014/05/dear-samantha-i-was-brought-to-tears.html?showComment=1403515682574#c3435599635442357220

Why NOT School-For Our Family:

  • Reason #1: Schools are not individualized. There really is no argument there. No school can provide my child with the 1 on 1 attention, specialized "curriculum" that I can provide for her.
  • Reason #2: Worksheets. Enough said, but I must go on. Most worksheets are repetitive and they are busy work. Worksheets are mindless. And my child, personally, does not want to do them. 
  • Reason #3: Homework. Children are coming home with too much homework these days. I have seen it too many times. It is home from school. Homework. Extra curricular activities. Bath. Bed. And if I were going to have to help my child with homework every night, why not homeschool? 
  • Reason #4: Time. It goes back to the homework. Where is the time for things like playing outdoors, building mud pies and digging up worms? Where is the time to just play in your room for hours and hours? Where is time to see your friends outside of school? Or study the things that truly interest you? These are the things children truly benefit from. Weekends you say? No. No time on weekends. Most kids have ball practice or even more homework, maybe Mom and Dad have to run some errands Saturday or church all day Sunday. Trying to catch up on play can seem impossible for children. For us personally, our weekends are Sunday and Monday because my Husband's work schedule. Sundays we are always camping or out doing something fun, but if she were in school, we wouldn't be able to camp Sunday nights and honestly, she would probably have to be in bed by 8 or 9 which means we couldn't stay out late at the playground or with friends like we enjoy doing regularly. Sometimes we get home at midnight because we have just had a bonfire with some friends and their children. Some days we like to stay at the park until they kick us out. That's okay because there are no real time constraints. Freedom, like I said, freedom to truly experience life without all the hurrying that people do. 
  • Reason #5: Call me selfish, and many do, but I gave birth to my child and I want to raise her...100%. I don't want another person, her teacher, instilling their values in her. I do not want them telling her what to do or disciplining her because I am not there. I do not want a school dictating what she learns, how she learns it, and when she learns it. And I do not want them dictating our lives outside of school, which many schools attempt to do. I want to see her face light up when she finally gets something. I want to hear the joy in her voice when she talks about all the gardening and composting we have been doing the last few weeks. I want to feel the happiness she feels-with her-when she gets her drawings of dogs just right, to her liking. And it goes the other way, she wants me to be there for her 100%. To learn with her, be excited with her, be the person who gives her feedback, and walks beside her down the path she wants to go. Why would I deny my child that sense of love and security when it is so possible to attain? 
  • Reason #6: Religion. Go ahead and tell me...They have Christian private schools. But first, two things: If I am going to slave away at some job and spend my whole paycheck on tuition, why not just teach her myself? And two, we view religion in a non traditional way. I want her to ask questions. I want her to interpret the Bible For. Her. Self. I want her to connect with nature on a level that I never knew growing up, because this is the World God entrusted us with, and we need to know more about it than we do. How many schools are going to teach her to do that? 
  • Reason #7: Lastly, all that being said, schools just cannot provide us with what we need for our family, and I am not willing to sacrifice any of it when I can have it all. 
This is just a short list I have compiled, but there are many, many more (also briefly referenced in the Socialization section.). 

FAQs About Unschooling:

More often than questions about homeschooling itself, I get asked question about our style of homeschooling, unschooling. Here are a few questions we are commonly asked.

What is unschooling?:

Simply put, unschooling is a practice in which you throw out everything that doesn't work and use what does. Many times that means throwing out the textbooks and worksheets and getting down and dirty digging in the dirt for "ancient artifacts" or even spending the afternoon on the couch reading an entire chapter book about Clara Barton-together. Unschooling means allowing your child to lead so that they will love what they are learning, remember what they are learning, and pick up all the skills they need to continue learning as they grow. (This includes reading, researching, and making connections-things they spend many years teaching in schools, things that don't really need to be TAUGHT at all.)

Is it legal?

Of course it is! Georgia's state laws do not require a particular curriculum or style, just a requirement to cover the core subjects, which we do in a non formal way. We read books (reading), play computer games (math and reading), go to museums (history and science), parks (science), and do a variety of studies, experiments, and activities.

How do you know your child will learn everything they need to learn?

I don't. Because I don't know everything she will need to know as an adult. Most of us don't exit school knowing all we need to know for the future. We really only retain the basics. And the rest we learn as we go. Learning is a whole life venture, and we should learn what we want to learn so that we are enjoying ourselves and when it comes to something we need to learn, we will know how to learn it. As a child, I never learned to cook or garden in school or even at home. But now that I am a Mom who is interested in organic foods and health, I have had to set out and learn things on my own in my own time and in my own way. On a related note, Most of the things we learn in school are completely unecessary. When was the last time that you had to use your knowledge of prepositions that you went over in school...every...single...year? And say you have used that knowledge regularly, for your job, couldn't it be something that you learn later on, just like other job skills? Or how about your knowledge of the French and Indian War? Do you even remember all the details from those two paragraphs that your textbook had about it? Not everybody needs to know the same thing. So why attempt to group us all together under one curriculum? Each individual will need different skills for the future they choose. We can't possibly teach it all in schools. So why not just teach them how to obtain the information they need?

Why let your child choose what they learn? They won't learn if they don't have to. They would just watch TV and eat junk.

Ah. This is typical of people who have children who are formally schooled-in one way or the other-to say. "Children are not to be trusted." Well, that's because we take away their ability to make decisions. And we take away their love for learning. At the point where children have been told what to do, what to eat, what to wear, what to learn, and when to learn it for so long, they begin to need to be told. And they lose the motivation to do anything beyond what they are told.
Children learn from their parents. A typical child who sees their parent reading regularly for enjoyment will grow up receiving the message that reading is something we do for enjoyment. A child who sees a parent watching TV for 8 hours a day receives the message that watching TV is what we do all day. Children learn from what we do, not what we say. If we teach out children TRUE learning is fun. Children will KNOW learning is fun.
Here is a thought. Given a supportive, loving environment, children learn all they need to know before school age without or with minimal assistance. They learn to walk, talk, and sometimes sing their ABCs or even read. Until the last few years, preschools were seen as unnecessary. Children were simply allowed to play...until age 5 when they go to school...until age 18...Then after age 18 we leave them on their own to decide what they want to do in life. They need to learn what is necessesary for their career of choice, weather it be in the medical profession, technical profession, a skilled trade, or even a stay at home mom. They learn to be married, have children, travel, whatever it is they want to do, but they learn it by choice and they find the resources or they learn on their own. What happens between the ages of 5 and 18 that makes us not trust children to learn what they need to learn?

Why don't you FORCE your child to learn?

It's simple, you can't force ANYBODY to learn. If they don't want to learn, they won't. Many adults remember as a child memorizing those History facts for the test just long enough to regurgitate it on the paper so that they could get an A and make the parents and their teachers happy. So why fight and chance extinguishing that natural, fiery passion for learning when we can just wait until the child is ready and willing?

The "S" Word:

Much to most peoples' surprise, we homeschool FOR the socialization.

Socialization is defined as "the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs, and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society." Socialization is NOT the ability to conform, but the ability to interact and live in a world with a variety of different people from different cultures, with different ethnic backgrounds, with different belief systems, and different personalities. What better way to learn to do that than to spend your days out in the community volunteering, seeing friends, going to farmers markets and fruit stands, and just meeting others in our community everywhere we go?
When we look at socialization, we have to decide if the situation is positive or negative? Some situations that would be considered positive would be visiting with relatives and discussing the past, playing pretend at the playground with a friend, discussing with a local farmer the details on processing a cow. Some negative situations would include dealing with bullies, peer pressure, and being placed, without choice, in a large setting where children really aren't allowed to be themselves. While it is true that our children need to know these things go on in our world, they do NOT need to deal with it at the young age that they do. Children need solid foundations on how to deal with things-in our family's case, in a Godly manner-rather than lashing out or even closing up as a result of situations they are not ready for.
How can this POSITIVE socialization be properly attained inside of schools where passing notes and talking are generally not allowed, recesses are slowly being taken out of schools to prepare for "testing," which does not allow interaction, children oftentimes have assigned seats in the lunchroom and are told to talk quietly, if at all, and the only other time that children are allowed to talk is during group activities, which are not always daily, and when they are in a group, they are discussing the assignment? In these cases, children are not learning about each other's differences or similarities. They are not discussing their interests or having a deep intellectual conversation. They are not being social at all. Children are not social until after school hours, when they have time. If we can make friends outside of artificial environments, which we can, what is the issue with homeschooling and socialization?
For our family being around others of both sexes and all ages is extremely important. I do not want my child only playing with other children her age, as that is not what she will encounter in the "real world." She can connect with babies through caring for them. She can connect with children her age through play, learning how to make rules, work together, being the leader, and be lead. She can connect with older children who care for her. She can connect with adults when she has a common interest, such as her love for the Civil War, and she can learn about it from the adult in a non intimidating manner.

Before you ask...

Yes, our child does volunteer regularly in her community. She helps speak out for the Unborn. She sorts donations, files folders, counts money, and babysits younger children at a local pregnancy center. While there she encounters and interacts with people of all ages and backgrounds.

Yes, our child does partake in extra curriculars. She is in Homeschool Gym Kids twice a week, and is part of a support group where she takes field trips, has social get togethers, parties, and other activities that schools do. (So she is not missing out on the fun.)

Yes, my child has friends. She sees her friends regularly, and when they get together they play pretend, play games, go outside, and talk-just like other kids.

Yes, my child can function on a daily basis. She can talk to adults and children alike. It may take her a few minutes to warm up, but that is a personality trait, not a "weird homeschooler trait."

No, my child is not awkward. She wasn't awkward before she turned "school" age and I stayed home with her and there is nothing awkward about her now she is older.

There is so much to say, but I assume by now that my point has been made, I tried to answer what I believe are the most common concerns others have in the most respectful way possible. I appreciate your concern for my family, as most people have what they believe to be legitimate fears. As I said before, if you have any further questions, I will gladly discuss them with you, and thank you for taking the time to read them. If you are interested or know anybody interested in homeschooling, I have listed some Resources below:



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Have I told you how much I love you. :)

  3. Not lately, but I love you too. ;) Why you remove your first comment? :(

  4. Lol well I do. :) and it said the same thing but I didn't push the notify me button so I reposted it and pushed it. Didn't know it would leave it there lol

  5. Also you didn't add the resources part.......

  6. Ha Ha. Yah. It's weird that it does that. I know. O got bored. lol But I with before I print. ;)