Tips on Unschooling Stress Free

by Kimberley McGee
What is unschooling
If you haven’t tried unschooling, this Type A mom highly recommends it. I’d heard of unschooling, and it seemed like a great idea, ya know, for vacation. I had no idea what it really meant. I worried homeschooling would be so hard to navigate. Putting the kids in charge of what we were planning to learn in our homeschool seemed like a ridiculous idea. Math would never be on the schedule! Unschooling showed me otherwise.

Definition of Unschooling

It gets kicked around a lot as a term by new homeschoolers and veteran homeschoolers. Most of the time, the definition gets lost with all the online banter from skeptics and enthusiasts. Unschooling is not not schooling.  Often called child-led learning, unschooling is letting the child learn at their pace rather than a schedule set by a curriculum, state or peer-graded structure. Unschoolers tend to have a strong sense of self-direction because they are following interests. They tend to be motivated and confidently go in search of resources to meet their goals. Everyday tasks are ways to learn everything from math to reading and critical thinking. Unschooling also incorporates gameschooling. We’ve used both in our relatively new homeschool to great success. No tears, lots of joy and learning moments for the kids as well as mom and dad.  

Our Unschool Experience

When we first left the school system and began to homeschool, we made plans, schedules, studied curriculums. No matter what, we felt we weren’t hitting our groove. I finally dropped everything around Thanksgiving and unschooled through the holidays. It was glorious. Kids read, continued to voluntarily do the math program we found online that they loved and otherwise school themselves in between field trips and holiday parties. Then the New Year came. I felt I needed to get organized and serious about this whole homeschool thing. I had them assessed by a former teacher who taught homeschool classes. The assessment helped us in a few ways. I slept better knowing they had not only kept up with their peers but had excelled in math and reading comprehension. It also showed me the value of letting go of the reins a little and letting the kids find their way. They were ahead of grade because they followed their interests, not a pre-planned workbook or curriculum that paced their learning to what they should know.

Making it Work in Real Life

Your homeschool should be just that, all about what works for you and your kids. For us, incorporating unschooling into our homeschool worked well for our curious twins. They found a renewed sense of joy in learning and tackled challenging courses on their own via Outschool and at the local YMCA. I learned to let go more and let them lead, which game them more confidence and a vested interest in what we were doing every day. We set a course for schooling in a traditional way that I prefer, but with their interests and direction. The twins help me choose our curriculum. We ditch what doesn’t work when it becomes obvious it’s not working and we can find something better. They have hit the books a few hours throughout the day with only the occasional push back about boredom with their school work. This way of unschooling has worked for us. It’s not traditional unschooling, more a mix of traditional homeschooling with a healthy dose of unschooling to keep us balanced and in good spirits. Homeschooling, learning in general, should be fun and enjoyable. It may take more work to find that math curriculum that actually works for your child’s learning style and needs, but it’s worth it. Don’t waste time on workbooks and programs that don’t work. It doesn’t work. We now hit the unschool button a few times a year. It refreshes their natural excitement and inclination for learning and seems to propel them forward in their grasp of a subject. Taking time to rest and take in all we’ve been learning seems to be a good idea. #unschool #deschool #learning #homeschool #homeschooling #homeschoolingmom  

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