We didn’t start unschooling because of COVID, but it was spurred from COVID sending the kids home when in-person classes came to a halt.
In this short time, I quickly learned that my kids were totally doing their school work, because they *had* to. They weren’t energized and engaged in the content.
It was work. Not play.
Kendall even threw pages of work on the floor one day out of frustration.
I was reminded of all the times I suffered through textbooks and reluctantly the did work I couldn’t care less about. Let’s face it: at 30 hours a week at school, plus homework time, this leaves little room for kids to explore their interests. When my kids came home from school, they wanted to zone out, eat a snack, and do nothing.
That’s not education. At least, not a meaningful education.
I think when they were at school, what they were learning was out of sight, out of mind. It was what everyone does, so it was a part of life. So, I accepted school.
Once their resistance brought up my own schooling feelings, my husband shared that he had a similar experience. I didn’t love learning until I was in my 20’s and was learning whatever I wanted—some things just to fill my curiosity, other things to propel me forward in my current goals and projects.
We don’t want our kids to spend 12 years of doing what they had to do. We want them to spend 12 years getting lost in whatever they’re curious about. That’s a meaningful education in our eyes.
I certainly didn’t expect for us to arrive at that conclusion in 2020. Had 2020 not happened, they may have stayed in public school.
So when my desire to redefine what education looks like, I went back to the reasons I didn’t want to homeschool.
The idea of the free play and the interest-led learning opportunities that homeschool kids experience have long-time inspired me, but there were two reasons I previously said I’d never homeschool my kids:
This is how those problems in my head played out in reality:
I CAN, in fact, keep working on my business, grow my creativity, and have quiet time to myself when the kids are home.
The first couple months were a total sh*t show. I put my work on a shelf, attempted to do their “e-learning” circus, and took on the role of entertaining the kids. This turned into an unexpected GIFT. Before, I’d easily spend 6 hours a day at the computer. Now, I was LIVING outside of working.
Slowly, we found a rhythm that just… works for us.
I don’t entertain them. I LIVE for when I find them bored, prompting those critical thinking + imagination skills.
I’m working almost as efficiently as before, with some adjustments.
I’m handling the “Mom!” commands, asks, and tattles almost as if white noise now.
I’ve found ways to “sneak away” for quiet—sometimes thanks to my husband, more often, from noticing when they’re immersed in their own thing or through bribes. Whatever works.
So reason #1 not to homeschool has been eliminated.
As for reason #2, not wanting to teach, these books illuminated “education” in a different light that proved I don’t need to play “teacher.” Thank God.
This is where unschooling comes into play. This is a lifestyle more so than a “homeschool approach.” It’s where your kids learn through their self-led interests. Self-led interests breed humans who are self-starters. They don’t do thinks for the A+, the gold star, the paycheck, or other reward. They do them for their own fulfillment.
It sounds ludacris, I know. Instantly, your conditioning is probably like, “Well, sure life is full of meaningful learning… and also they *need* to learn certain math, science, writing, reading, etc. skills. What if they’re not interested in them? They just SKIP them?! What a joke. No way. I want my kid to go to college.”
You’ll need to do your own research to satisfy your concerns. This is a list of insightful books on unschooling.
What I will say: there’s many people who were raised without traditional school or traditional curriculum and they turned out just fine. You can go to college without traditional secondary education. This book, in particular, has over 30 case studies of unschooled kids that went to university.