Here’s the deal. Unschooling is a choice. At least in the UK we have the option to educate our kids from home. Some countries don’t. So from my perspective it is a choice.
It’s a lifestyle choice that needs people to think differently. We’re so accustomed to how we should be living that we forget what we can be capable of.
So I’ll expand a bit.
Unschooling is a feasible choice for many of us.
It’s easy to come up with reasons of why we can’t unschool our kids. You can force yourself to believe you are a bad teacher. Or you wouldn’t be able to cope. Or you can’t afford it. Or you just don’t know where to start.
Society will happily lead you along the path that both parents should be working. Women want to be equal afterall, right? At what cost?
The cost of working is huge. Childcare. Travel. Spending more money because you don’t have time. Fast food. House help. Whatever it is. When you work, you spend a lot more money (and I bet the government loves this).
And then there are the hidden costs, like missing your kids grow up. I’ll save that for another post though (!).
Whatever the excuses, they are easy to come up with. It’s so easy to say - I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
But instead of saying you can’t. You should be asking ‘how?’
How can we make unschooling work for us?
And when I say how, (in this situation) I’m really thinking of the practicals.
It involves stopping listening to what others say and looking at your own situation. How can you make it work for you and your family?
My excuses use to be:
- I can’t afford to
- I have to work
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t know if I am the right person to teach my sons
- I really don’t know if it is the right thing for my kids future
- I worry I might lose the plot
I should also highlight that one of my sons is still in school, I’m working towards getting him out!
So lets tackle each of my initial worries:
I can’t afford to
Actually I can. Perhaps (or most probably) I make less money because I am unschooling. I know I do. But I save money in different ways. There’s no after school or holiday club fees. I cook better and more cost effective food. I don’t pay for a commute - whether it is bus, train or car fuel.
We all get creative when we need the figures to add up. We can do this whilst we are unschooling too.
I have to work
Yes I do (kind of). Partly for money, partly to keep me sane. I run my own business. It’s hard work. It needs me or it will die. However, the funny thing is that since I started unschooling I’ve started re-thinking my business. What are the parts that I enjoy the most? What are the most profitable? What parts allow me to live the lifestyle I want to lead? As a result things are changing. I’m working towards what I think is best for the business and for me.
As a result I commit myself and focus on opportunities that work for me. I don’t charge for my time. I charge for deliverables that work around my schedule. I then outsource or collaborate to get things done that I can’t do. Some (that know me) say that it’s easy for me to say this. I have it all set up, but it’s not always been the case. It was only 18 months ago that I set my mind to make my business work for me, before that the future of it wasn’t clear. But I’ve been thinking, trying and experimenting. I’m still far from where I’d like it to be, but progress is happening every week.
It’s slow and organic business growth and I like it - very much an unschooling approach to business.
I don’t have the time
Life before kids was such a breeze, I never realised how much spare time I had until I had a child. After I had my 2nd child I thought I had so much time when I just had one kid. I now feel even more stretched with 3 kids. Life with 2 kids seemed so easy back then.
The truth is - if you want the time then you find it. It’s all there, it just requires some hacking about to find it.
I don’t know if I am the right person to teach my sons
I worry about this all the time. I’m not qualified in any kind of educational type activity. However, the more I unschool the more I see it is about me understanding my kids rather than teaching them. Sometimes I do teach. But to be honest, most of the time I guide, encourage and follow them. They learn naturally if you just open your eyes and ears.
Stop and listen to help them learn. Relax too. I find the best educational times are when we just relax and have conversations. Sometimes they are deep. Sometimes just funny. But most of the time they are about answering their questions they have of the world. I often say I don’ t know the answer, but I follow it up later after I’ve done some research. I find them something to watch or read to educate them on the topic. Or I plant seeds, I say I don’t know, but the way to find out would be by doing x, y and z.
I really don’t know if it is the right thing for my kids future
This is always a big question. I think the longer I unschool the less it will be a worry. What if they want to be a doctor? What if they need to go to university? What if their unschooling education ends up working against them? Questions that I use to ask myself, now they are questions that other people ask me.
Erm, what if they don’t?
The reality is that in most cases of life there are different ways to achieve your goals. The paths are always different. Is forcing them to go through 12 years of school the right thing to do just in case they want to do something? I think not. And even if they do want to do that something it can still be done without going proper schooling.
Parents always want to do the right thing. I look at my son and see his happiness because he can do things in our way. He enjoys it. He doesn’t want to go back to school. Life is much more relaxed now he is out. And he is learning, lots, constantly. Why would we go back to seeing a stressed, tired and unhappy boy?
I worry I might lose the plot
I worry I might lose the plot when my kids are at school or not. I stress out with work. I stress out when my kids are at school. I stress out when they are unschooling.
I must stress that I don’t stress all the time (!) I’m just saying that life brings stresses, to us all (I guess!).
Stress is a part of my life, a part of most people’s lives. We need to deal with it as life changes. Coping strategies change as we ‘mature’ and as life changes. Sure, unschooling brings some stress to things, but it also brings a ton of happiness and multitude of eye opening experiences.
Finding some quiet time to myself is what helps keep me sane. Sometimes it’s hard to find!