One of the biggest challenges we have experienced and seen around us with unschooling is figuring out how to make it fit it in to your daily life.  I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that this is probably the biggest sticking point in creating a successful unschooling journey.

Wannabe unschoolers often don’t have the time or money. Or they don’t know where to start.    Or perhaps as parents they don’t feel qualified to have their child’s education in their hands.  All of these things together mean that it’s a huge challenge to figure out how to make unschooling work.  It’s made harder by the fact that most parents don’t start out with a plan of unschooling, this essentially means they haven’t prepared for the life on unschooling.

Unschooling Requires Change. And Change Is Hard

Unschooling is a massive life change.  It’s more than hard.  It’s often slow. And painful. Full of ups and downs.  Parents are made to question everything they thought they knew about their children and education. Everything!

It becomes a very confusing place to be which makes it so easy to regress into old habits - in this case perhaps going back to school is an easy option.

Parents need to reconsider their priorities. Sacrifices often need to be made.  Habits need to change. Work, schedules and income needs to be reconsidered. There is usually a huge time and learning investment for the parents to figure out what is the best unschooling approach (for them).
One of these on their own is hard and prone to failure.  Combine all these factors and you get so many parents and kids not sticking with unschooling longterm.

The Biggest Challenge In Unschooling Is Making The Life Changes To Allow Real Unschooling To Happen

And of course, there is no one definition of what unschooling is.  How you make it happen is personal to you.
However, what I'm trying to get at is (assuming a two-parent family exists):
  • if parents work full time - it’s really hard to unschool
  • if parents have goals, desires and passions that are not compatible - then it can be hard to be ok with that and change it quickly enough (without resentment)
  • if parents are over committed financially - it can be really hard to unschool with freedom
  • if parents are over committed - it can be hard not to feel over rushed or stressed
  • if parents are not prepared to learn and understand how children tick - then problems and frustrations will surface
  • if parents don’t understand that learning can’t just be done or outsourced - then arguments or tantrums on both ends will be had!

Parents often lack the planning to become resilient unschoolers mostly because they have assumed their child’s education will happen at school.

To become better at unschooling we need to plan for our future.  We need to consider the needs of the whole family. The values and ethics we would like to live by. The careers of the parents. The changing needs of our children.

What I See Time And Time Again

Where I am now, I see:

  • many unschooling parents not coping
  • parents that don’t know how to make unschooling work.
  • parents who don’t have the resources, or are stressed out and are acutely aware of the lack things
  • parents who are not currently unschooling but are desperate with the unhappiness of their children. They feel stuck.
  • parents who believe they don’t have it within them to make their unschooling journey work
  • parents who find it hard to really find local people that they can connect with.
  • parents who feel like they’ve done what they can, but the best thing is to send their kids back to school (or give in too easily to send their kids back to school)

It’s Hard Because It’s Not Easy To Fix

I don’t think there are quick fixes for this.  It’s something that requires education, awareness raised and a real support network.

Unschooling is a very feasible option with a much higher chance of succeed if parents have time to plan way ahead of time.

To make unschooling easier, I think that we as a society need to:

  • raise awareness of home education and unschooling as viable education options - this is so parents and future parents can become aware of it and start making plans ahead of time. Just like parents would plan around their kids starting school, unschooling parents can start planning for how they plan to educate their child(ren).
  • not assume, praise or worship the 9-5 or excessive work hours of modern job culture
  • as a family, learn to grow and thrive on one income or less of income
  • learn and teach people how to live indepedently, be creative in making money and being open minded to what good work is
  • find an easier and better way to learn how kids learn best in an unschooling fashion (it has taken me years to start to feel comfortable that I’m doing the right thing)
  • help people to rediscover the joy of spending huge amounts of time with your kids (because that is what they probably need)
  • really consider what it means to live; and how work shouldn’t take away (so much) from our family lives

Dare To Follow Your Heart

Most importantly - there is a strong need to be open minded about everything we do.  I feel I have gotten better at trying to follow what my heart tells me to do over what others and society will try to dictate.

My life doesn’t feel much easier, but I definitely feel more balanced in meeting the needs of our whole family.  Modern society does not give enough opportunities, freedom and space to just allow us to be.

My heart tells me my family are better of without school.  My heart tells me to follow my child and carefully create things that they need. My heart tells me to do work in a way that works for me and my family.  My heart says to focus on the beauty of my life and family.  I will do that.

If more of us followed our hearts we would find ways to make the things we want to happen.