Unschooling for 7 years
Jill Parmer, Colorado

I'm not one to remember anniversaries, but for some reason, I remembered that April is our anniversary month for unschooling.

Seven years ago, I sat at the dining table forcing Addi to do saxon math for three hours! We were both in tears, from frustration and fear. And I said to myself, NEVER AGAIN! Nothing is worth what we went through that day. I had ignored Luke (3 years old then) for those three hours, unconscionable to me today. So many thoughts sped through my head when I made that declaration, one of which was that I was prepared to go to the mat with Steve on this issue. It's sometimes been rocky with him; he likes convention, and the traditional; unschooling still freaks him out for a moment or two. But I've become better at calming his fears, from learning about natural learning, and deeply paying attention to my kids, and expressing (and arguing) that to/with him. But he gets it that all the spoken and unspoken promises of school and schooling don't come to pass. It's a carrot on a stick; you can never get it, you always have to think ahead, you can't relax in the moment, you have to push, you barely get to breathe.

I had come across unschooling about a year before that ugly saxon math day, but it freaked Steve out and he wanted to see more regular school, so I tried it for 9 months. I'm embarrassed to say that all the rage that year in our homeschooling group was the well-trained mind, which is what I subjected Addi to (not as strict as the program lays out, but still...). Ugh. Hmmm, interesting enough I've been cleaning out lots of nooks and crannies lately and I came across the huge binders that you are supposed to use for that program in which to keep all the paperwork (read: shit) your poor kid generates, and one of the saxon math workbooks; that all got taken away in the garbage today. I thought about giving the workbook away to a local homeschooler, but I didn't want any part of that pain inflicted on another kid. I also found some of Addi's papers from that time; they are lifeless.

But enough about schoolish crap.

Seven years ago also marks when I committed to learning about unschooling, reading at a message board and then finding email lists, and Sandra's site and later Joyce's site.

Addi only went to preschool, kindergarden, and 10 days of first grade, but the damage was done. Deschooling seemed way longer than the, one month for every year your kid was in school; it seems 8 months ago I was helping Addi through an angsty time of, 'the kids from school know more factoids than me', and that they connect with each other over school drivel, and she was feeling like an outsider. Luke who's never been to school has none of this, and he has an unmistakable confidence in life. I think part, if not most of that is their personalities, but schooling damaged Addi's confidence, and unschooling has enhanced both their confidences.

Right now Addi is chatting with and counseling her friend, who has a propensity for drama & trouble with friends and family.

Luke has just been describing to me some armor he is designing.

Today Luke went to the dentist to have a couple cavities filled, he got really woozie and worn out from the anesthetic. He missed kung fu, because he was still feeling wiped, but he had plans to talk to the Sei Fu (sp?) about a problematic kid who disrupts the class a lot, and we'll do that next Tuesday.

We all snuggled on my bed with the dogs and read _The Sea of Monsters_. I'm reading it to Luke, Addi read it a long time ago, but she wanted to come listen. We laughed our butts off at the funny parts. I've become a really good oral reader, paying attention to the words ahead so that I can use the correct voice to the correct character. Luke and Addi both read and love reading, and still love me to read to them. It's quite an interactive event, because we fancy discussing the choices of the character and the words of the author and the events and plots and all of it.

Luke played with friends on World of Warcraft & Warcraft 3, continued their epic, highly detailed role-plays, negotiated frustrations with each other.

Both my kids said, "I love you." to me about 5 times today.

Addi negotiated with a woman buying all her old tack from her horse riding days; we looked at pictures of puppies that she gets to take care of when we go to CA in a couple weeks.

We listened to music, did some trouble shooting on the computer, cooked, played draw-a-letter-on-your-back-and-guess-it, looked at some pictures of historical Fort Collins and learned that a prominent white man (Antoine Janis) married an Oglala woman named, First Elk Woman, the Oglala called Antione "Yellow Hair All Messed Up", he went to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with her when her people were forced to move there rather than stay here without her; we made rice crispy treats, danced, watched funny cat youtube videos,...

We discussed racism, human behavior, books, music, lyrics, classification of plants, illnesses, dog behavior, past fun we've had with dogs, life after death, CA fun places, getting shots (in detail!),...

This week I made beignets for my family, Addi helped me chop down a tree in the backyard (omg, she cracked me up with her tree limb wrestling techniques, I almost peed my pants.), we delivered Meals on Wheels (on our travels we saw a very tall, skinny guy with black hair (style: mullet!), and black garb with metal rings and chains and such, walking an impeccably groomed bright white pomeranian - awesome sight); I got a compliment about Addi from a neighbor who thinks she's blooming into such a wonderful young woman.

I often thank Addi for one of her qualities - persistence, and her resistance to my attempted teaching of her when she 7 years old, for that paved the way to unschooling for us. she always says, "ah mom, it's ok." She's so generous it makes me cry.

I'm SO thankful to the people (namely, Deb L, Pam S, Sandra, Schuyler, Joyce, Kelly L,) who continue to write and document about unschooling on the international lists. Learning about and applying unschooling principles has created such joyful, secure relationships with my kids that I had never imagined. I feel SO lucky. It's been a fun & challenging adventure and I'm excited for more.

~Jill (Addi 14, Luke 10)

Unschooling: Getting It Typical Unschooling Days Milestones in Unschooling Lives

Views: 103


Replies to This Discussion

I am so certain that children needs their parents PRESENCE andJOY by their side when they live and learn.

The relationship needs to grow and the shared experiences of learning feed their love for ever.

I believe the majority of parents have no clue how to LEARN with their children.

Love your child, share hundreds of fun ''dates'' with them, take them in the world with you, and have shared fun with other FAMILIES in sharing LEARNING;

I am soooo passionate about living with my children and learning WITH them and other families, that the only school i would care for would probably feel too restricting...?

i believe i need to learn more about THE INFINITE AMOUNT OF LEARNING AWAITING for us tomorrow and I just pray everyone would GET IT ;-)

absolutely right on track anne
you know the way of unschooling

the best advice i can give to anyone venturing in unschooling:

in between being your children's guide and mentor,
get together with someone who supports you, or supports your unschooling ways
and create a regular gathering of those interested in "schooling options".

everyone needs support and encouragement and love. create a vision of unschoolers coming to live near you .... put a picture up on the wall and consistently see unschoolers coming to live right near you ...

Nice to meet you.

You will like



i enjoy reading those pages months after months

Get the world swirling around you (first) and your children (second) so there are sounds, sights, smells, tastes and textures... —Sandra D

ow will you be, as a parent, and why? What's keeping you from being the way you want to be? — Sandra Dodd
Sometimes I feel that we unschoolers are the leading edge of a
paradigm shift. At least it's nice to think so! You know how it is
when you meet people so stuck in the school mode of thinking that
they can't even see it when you explain that you don't use a
curriculum? I think of them as stuck in an old paradigm. Sometimes,
they can shift when you show them the contradictions, but way too
often they try to patch up the holes in their theories about learning
with more discipline and longer school days.


We are going to Life Rocks  www.liferocksconference.com

an Unschooling with the Law of Attraction conference for a week in april in North Conway New Hampshire. There is another unschooling conference in MAss in August and I have heard of others out west. What a fun way to connect with other unschoolers and learn new ideas. I will be in an unschooling advocacy session talking to others about our unschooling experiences. We have been unschooling from the get go. I learned about it from Naomi Aldort.  www.naomialdort.com 

I believe she is most like Anastasia in her parenting techniques. Alfi Kohen is very good too. We do not practice Sandra Dodd's version of radical unschooling. We do not have tv or unlimited sugar. I do not feel that this is allowing my children freedom. I have seen what diabetes does to people and I grew up with no tv which gave me great freedom to be creative in Nature becuase we lived deep in the woods. Instead we live outside as much as possible and eat from our garden. Of course we do eat sugar sometimes like when we go to some parties and we do watch tv when we go to Grandma's house. We were even interviewed on the news about unschooling and on tv ourselves. My daughters are 5 and 7, Nature and Avalon. We love singing, sewing, drawing, painting, building fires and debrit huts, dancing, gymnastics, growing plants, picking berries, going swimming, surfing, horseback riding, acting, climbing, laughing and playing. We draw designs of our Kins domain. We draw permaculture designs. My 7 year old does not know how to read yet. She has friends who are also unschooled and do not read yet and she has friends who are public schooled. We played school yesterday because Avalon wanted to. She practiced her letters on a chalk board and Nature sewed buttons on her guinea pig jacket. My girls are so creative and fun! We play all day! I often say we are on vacation all the time. We are so blessed to have an abundant Daddy. He owns businesses and deals with stressful meetings with lawyers so we can play all day. We support him with good food and lots of love. We are going to buy land where we will create our space of love as a family and we will provide land for other families for our kin domain settlement as well. We have found land with south facing slopes, far enough away that you cannot hear traffic and on a lake. It abuts the Koviashuvik farm. A living school they have there Where they teach the NAtive American ways of living sustainably. I took 7 classes from Tom Brown Jr and that is where I first learned about teaching by example and by asking questions empowering children to think for themselves. It is called invisible schooling. I like this term better then unschooling.



Thank you ladies for this inspiration...

My little one is only 2 years old (and she can already do aerial circus acrobatics and performs with us, her splits are awesome!) but I know I never want to push her into a curriculum or anything like that.

Now, I grew up in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal and unschooling unheard of, and the school system really hieararchical, so I was made to feel proud that I got to waste 13 years of my life sitting behind a desk being bored to death instead of the not-so-smart-kids who only got to waste 9 or 10 years doing that, before they got to learn something they liked to do (if they were lucky) or something they don't really like to do (just to have a job) and then do that for the rest of their lives.

It was a big thing when I realized the whole deception...

sometimes I feel sad about these thousands of wasted hours (imagine what I could do now, had I started doign circus at age 2, instead of age 22?), and all the programming still to undo, but It didn't get the better of me in the end and i won't let the system catch my little angel!!!

keep it up mamas!







© 2021   Created by Sacred Earth Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service