showing all articles for the category "homeschool"

Making The Transition To Unschooling

May 11, 2023

About three months into my family's homeschooling journey back in 2020, we discovered that what we were doing was not sustainable.

I had found an amazing online all in one homeschool curriculum that was totally customizable to each student. We did this for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. And I loved it!

But my boys did not. They were 7 and 11 at the time. So 2nd and 6th grade.

This made me very sad, and at first I tried to coerce them to participate anyway (gently, but still forcibly.)

I have always been a "schooly" person. I was good in school and I always did what was expected of me. So when my boys didn't follow suite I was actually quite disappointed. I was excited to "play school" with them and implement my own school routine at home. In fact, I spent hours making sure each of my boys' curriculum had all the right courses at their appropriate level. That their workload for each day wasn't too much, or too little. I even scheduled in time for breaks and chores.

But when all of this didn't work, it was a very tough decision for me to scrap it. I kept thinking: "Maybe they're the ones that need to change? Maybe I need to make them like it?"

In all honesty, I was choosing the curriculum and structure over what was best for my boys.

And I believe that the reason I was feeling that way was partially because I had a poor view of what education was.

I thought that we need strict school structure and curriculum; that actual learning happened during a set time and place.

Boy was I wrong.

After that three months of failed curriculum-based "school at home" style of homeschooling, we decided to "take a break" and then try again with something new, maybe a new curriculum, a different schedule, a change in mindset, something.

Well, spoiler alert, we are still on that "break" and we probably will be indefinitely.

I can't think of anything that is better than what we are doing right now. We fell into this "unschooling" category of homeschooling. No curriculum, no schedules, no arbitrary rules or lessons. Just living life and learning along the way, how nature intended.

You see, humans are hardwired to learn.

It's how God created us.

We live, and we learn.

We crave knowledge.

We figure out how to solve problems.

We naturally learn more about the things that interest us.

If you think about school as the only way to "get an education," then you are both under-valuing our innate need and drive to learn, and over-estimating school's actual impact and worth.

I read in a book recently that talked about how people nowadays trust in the school system so much that if we started implementing a walking course for every 6 month old baby, a couple generations from now people would believe that humans would never learn to walk without walking school.

That's where we are right now with reading, writing, and math.

When I started looking into this, I came across this website about unschooling academics and it really helped me understand that these skills are easily picked up just through daily interactions with the world around us. I started to look for the academic value in each activity that my newly unschooled children chose. It was getting exhausting, really, trying to keep track of all of the bits of information I could categorize as "educational."

It's so hard to imagine how children can possibly learn these basic academic skills without formal instruction. But it happens, all the time. We just don't see it, or rather, we don't think there is anything to see, so we don't look.

This is especially hard if you yourself did really well in school, perhaps you have an overinflated sense of school's importance or influence in your life? (I am talking to myself here). I truly believe I have gained more useable knowledge in the years after high school than I did during my whole 12 years in the public school system.

Our job as a homeschool or unschooling parent is not to shove information into their heads and call it education, it's to establish an environment in which we can foster their natural love for learning. We get to provide resources that benefit them.

If you plan some elaborate school year curriculum complete with worksheets and projects and crafts, but they don't enjoy them, and therefore do not learn anything or retain any of the information they learned, what's the purpose?

I like to think that I am preparing my sons for the real world. And in the real world, no one forces me to complete a worksheet of a hundred math facts in five minutes, so why would I do that to my children? What does that prepare them for? A test? For what? Not for real life, that's for sure. If anything, it makes them resent math rather than viewing math as a useful and relevant problem solving tool.

What also helped was my own deschooling. I had to unlearn everything I knew about education and what children actually need in order to become productive and successful adults. I realized that since not every person ends up pursuing the same career path, let alone the same life path, there's really no need for everyone to have the same education. We don't need to know everything that is taught in school, and most of it we just forget right away.

So the way I see it, why waste the time in the first place?

Instead, focus on what interests your child, and spend the time learning about that.

I have a white board hanging in our dining room with a few quotes on it to keep us focused. I don't even remember where these quotes came from, they very well could be my own or partially my own. They say:

"Learn by living. You will learn what you need to know, when you need to know it."

"Every person has gaps in their education, it's ok!" That's what Google is for...

"Learning can only happen when you are interested. So figure out what interests you, and let's learn more about it!"

Unschooling: A Day in the Life of My Boys (8 & 12yrs old)

September 21, 2021

I want to keep track of what my family is doing during our unschooling journey, and to share it with others who may be curious.

When we first decided to go down this path back in Fall of 2020, I was online almost constantly trying to find out if there was some kind of recipe I could follow to ensure unschooling success for my two sons (ages 8 and 12 at the time of writing this). 

What I quickly discovered is that this unschooling way of life looks different for everyone. It is quite literally the most individualized and unique "schooling" experience out there; so no two kids' days/experiences are going to be exactly alike. Even if you do things all together as a family, each of your children are in differing levels of interest, passion, and attention during each "activity." So they will come away from each experience with a different take away. 

This is good. It's ok that they are deciding the personal value of what is being placed in front of them.

If nothing else, I'm choosing to be encouraged that I am teaching them how to learn, where to go when they have questions, and who they can talk to. 

What path they choose, and how deep they go, is entirely up to them.

I want to keep track of what we are doing so that when the time comes I can create a transcript and graduate each of my boys based on their actual learning experiences. As I started writing out the "educational" activities and what could actually go on a transcript, I started to realized that I couldn't classify things as just "math" or "science" etc. Some of our activities are easy to classify for a transcript, like reading The Story of the World is obviously "history" as it is a part of an actual history curriculum. Most of the time, we would do something that would count for a little bit of math, a little art, a little history, a little _____ (fill in the blank). It got to a point where keeping track based on how it would be recorded on a transcript became too much of a burden. It made me realize that life isn't separated into neat subjects like it is in school. School does not emulate real life, so I have decided to stop trying to make real life emulate school. 

All that being said, I am currently working with my husband to create a program that can keep track of our boys' real life learning and translate it into transcriptese, or a portfolio of sorts for when my boys are ready to "graduate." This will still require some sort of categorizing, but the intention is to make it very simple and intuitive and user friendly - and eventually sell it to other homeschool moms! Basically, to take the headache out of the homeschool transcript creation process. This project is still in the works, and may take a while to build, but I'm excited for it!

Our Unschooled Week

Monday, September 13 - Sunday, September 19, 2021


This morning was all about Fortnite. The boys had stayed up late last night (2:30am) to catch some kind of live event or new season premiere with a few of their friends online. I wasn't super fond of them being awake that late at night while I was asleep so I made a deal with them that if they went to bed after getting to at least experience the new season for about 30 min, I would be ok with them playing again right when they woke up. We normally have a general guideline that we don't play Fortnite before 4pm, so this was a deal they were happy to make. 

After about an hour of playing, we had breakfast together and started on our daily chores. Pretty simple, my 12yr old unloads the dishwasher (which runs each night), and my 8yr old makes sure all the trash cans are emptied. They have other chores, but we aren't super strict about doing them all every day (except keeping their room in an acceptable condition). 

I helped my 8yr old put his bed sheets in the laundry, and we discussed what temperature his fluffy blankets could handle in the dryer before the fibers would burn and turn scratchy. We also discussed the cost/benefit of extra rinse and soaking cycles to determine if either of those add-on cycles are worth the extra water use in this case. He determined it wasn't. While he waited to change the laundry, he listened to his favorite podcast, The Story Pirates. 

My 12yr old and I read a chapter of The Story of the World and we discussed Pharaohs. After that, he wanted to watch a few DVDs we got from the library: two documentaries, one on insects, and one on rocks and minerals, and then my 8yr old joined us for the Little Mermaid prequel. Then we played Chess and Checkers. 

This was also our first night at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) together at our new class. They loved their classroom, teachers, and classmates and are excited to keep coming back. There were foosball, pool, and ping pong tables there for them to enjoy with the other kids for a few minutes after class. 


Today was a pretty lazy day. I went to help my sister and the boys hung around on the couch for a few hours watching movies (Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Meet the Robinsons). 

We sat down together and did our BSF Lesson from Matthew 1:1-17 and discussed what a lineage is. We marveled at the fact that Jesus wasn't actually blood related to the lineage that is recorded in those verses, this is Joseph's line, His adoptive father. But God still sees Jesus as a descendant of all of these people. We talked about how God values family and adoption and that He counts us as His children this same way, grafted into His family.

Together we read a chapter of The Story of the World on Moses and discussed how the Bible and History are intertwined, the telling of the same story. 

Then we went out to dinner for my birthday. 


Today the boys had their dentist appointments. We talked about good oral hygiene and the consequences of not taking care of your teeth. 

After leaving the dentist, we went to the library to pick up a book about Pirates.

The boys watched The Lego Movie 2.

We discussed altruism and read about it from the Young Person's Character Education Handbook. 

Then we read a chapter from The Story of the World about Phoenicians and blown glass. We talked about how we used to watch a competition show about glass blowing and how cool that was. 

My 8yr old was playing Battle Buddies online while my oldest and I read aloud. He likes playing this game even though it's an "educational" game. Before you're allowed to attack the enemy, you must correctly answer random math and language arts questions. He says "This is so easy! I am so good at this game!"

Together we watched an episode of Horrible Histories (which is a must for all homeschoolers, in my opinion). My oldest is constantly dishing out interesting facts that he learned from watching this show. Plus it's funny and I find it very entertaining, as well. 


Today my 8yr old had his weekly swim class where he started learning the breast stroke. The instructor said he did so well that he might not need much more instruction before being able to pass this portion and get moved up!

Our "after swim class tradition" is stopping by Sonic and grabbing a pretzel twist. We talked about the price per pretzel and if it's worth it to keep paying $2/ea or if we should look at buying them in bulk frozen. We decided to continue the tradition for now.

We read a chapter of The Story of the World about Assyrians and discussed power struggles between different kingdoms and peoples. 


Today we read from The Story of the World about Babylonians and the Hanging Gardens - which led into online searches about the other Wonders of the World. We learned that there are different sets of the "7 Wonders of the World" and not JUST 7! Did you know that? I sure didn't. 

We did our BSF Lesson together on Matthew 1:18-25 and discussed what "consummation" means in regards to marriage (yes my 8 and 12yr old boys are fully aware of what sex is and how it works - and that it is made to be enjoyed between a man and a woman who are married). 

My youngest suggested we watch the movies Joseph: King of Dreams and The Prince of Egypt (I think he was still curious to learn more about these ancient peoples, especially Moses, since we have been reading about them in The Story of the World.) We discussed the creative differences between the Biblical account of Joseph and Moses, and how their stories are portrayed in the movies. They showed interest in all the grain Joseph was storing, so I showed them some plain raw oatmeal and we talked about how the wheat berries are processed to become flour, oats, and more! A discussion about slavery also stemmed from watching these movies. We talked about how some slaves were treated very well, fed, and respected as a family member, while others may have been starving and beaten and sleeping in mud. My oldest and I read from the first four chapters of the book of Exodus because we needed a refresher on the actual story of Moses' upbringing and beginning of his mission from God. 

My 8yr old played some more Battle Buddies while my 12yr old created a Glyph Chart Decoder made from a strange language from Fortnite. He then used this decoder to create message for his brother to decipher, and then they took turns. He also put Glyph messages all over his Fortnite Nerf Gun and beautifully customized it with metallic permanent markers. 


The boys slept in till about 11am and around noon they went to a friends house to play for a few hours. They probably played video games for most of that time.

My youngest, watching me work on this blog post, saw me use two mouse clicks to open a new tab and open a bookmarked page. He decided that was too many clicks so he taught me how to open a bookmarked site in a new tab with one click! Where did he learn this?? He continues to impress me every day. 

One of my sons neighborhood friends came by and they all walked to the park together. This is always hard for me, to let them go without me. But they are getting to that age where they need to be more self sufficient and do these things. The other kid's mom was already at the park, so really they aren't unsupervised. It's just the walk to the park that freaks me out a little bit. Once they get there, I know they are safe.

After the park, the other kid and his sister came over to jump on the trampoline with my boys, and play some video games. So today was a pretty full day of fun and friends!


We go to church every Sunday morning, and right now our church is hosting a viewing of an episode of The Chosen Season Two each Sunday night. So we went to that as well. 

A little more

We don't have a very strict wake up or bed time routine. The boys wake when they are fully rested, and usually come out of their rooms around 10 - 11 am (so I never really know when they actually "wake up"). They are generally in bed around 11 or 11:30pm but they don't always go straight to sleep. We ask that they at least have the video games turned off by 10pm, and then start getting ready for bed. Sometimes they will read a book alone in their own beds until lights out, and other times they have "sleepovers" with each other and will be up playing, roughhousing, crafting, listening to podcasts together until I finally decide I'm ready for a quiet house. But I have seen that they are much more cooperative with "bed time" or "lights out" or "please be quiet" now than they have ever been before, and I think it is because they realize they have much more freedom now than they had before when they were public schooled (strict schedule, and all.) I believe this makes them comfortable with the little structure that we do have, and I think they actually appreciate and prefer it.

So there you have it! That is a full weeks worth of what unschooling looks like in our family. Obviously, we do so much more than what is just listed above, but this is the best record keeping I can do. For the most part, this is all "student led" with little coaxing from me. I do suggest things, but they choose if they want to do it or not. It works. What we have learned about our boys is that the most valuable learning happens through our daily conversations. They ask us questions, and we do our best to answer them right then and there, and if we don't know the answer, we look it up. For example, we talked about road signs and safe driving habits one of these days, I just didn't write it down. The point is, as long as you are interacting with your kids, and you are intentional to put good information and experiences in their path, they will succeed. Follow their lead. Find out what makes them excited, and do more of that. 

My favorite quote right now is "Learning can only happen when a child is interested. Otherwise, it's like throwing marshmallows at their head and calling it eating." I don't remember who said this but the point is so true. We all learn best when we are hungry for the knowledge. So just let the learning happen. Our kids are living in the world we are trying to prepare them for. So learn in the world that your kids are in, after all, that's how you'll make sure they're prepared for it.


The Decision To Homeschool

September 18, 2021

Ending the 2020 school year with nine weeks of covid distance learning taught me one thing: 

I need to homeschool my children. 

I pulled them out of the public school system a couple months before our district's "back to school" plan was established and announced. It didn't really matter what their plan was because I knew that my boys wouldn't be there, they would be home, with me.

I knew that God had been calling me to homeschool for about 6 months before the schools shut down and moved to online distance learning. I always brushed it off, I did not want to homeschool. I have friends and family who homeschool their children and I just could not see myself dedicating every waking hour to being with my kids. Saying that now, I can't believe that's actually how I felt... 

When my kids would go off to school each day, I loved my time alone (and I still do, it just looks different now). I would wake up, help them get ready, and drive them to school. Then, for six glorious hours I was free. Free to do whatever I wanted. Which usually included all the homemaking chores like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the house, etc. and my volunteer work for my church and bible study group. But even though I had responsibilities, I was alone. Just how I liked it. There was plenty of time for me to carve out at least a couple of hours a day to just... exist. It was peaceful and I enjoyed it. To be honest, when those six hours were almost up I would watch the clock with dread knowing that my free time was almost over and I had to go get my boys from school. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love my boys. I love being a mom. But I really enjoyed having that "break" every weekday. What I have realized though is that break was only necessary because I had the wrong mindset and the wrong idea of what parenting actually is. 

My boys were not getting what they needed out of school, and it's not the school's job to make sure they get what they need, it's mine. 

Public school has it's place, but for me and my household, it's time is up and we have moved onto something much better. 

This post was originally written in Sept of 2020. I just procrastinated posting it for two years. No real reason, just busy doing other stuff :P