Photograph shows two children playing with a variety of coloured shapes.

Unschooling Surprise

I’m unschooling and it’s beautiful.

I said it.

I feel guilty about saying this. Life for us, is so different to most people that it feels like Im being smug about enjoying it.
I don’t even know why I don’t allow myself permission to say “We unschool and we love it” when others discuss school or I get asked will my children go to school.

For my neurodiverse family of four it’s been the most incredible leap and I think need to go forth with proudly saying “we unschool and it’s awesome”.

It was only this year after we tried kinder for the second time with our 5yr autistic son, we decided to make the leap to unschooling.
The first try with kinder ended badly and we were told to try again a year later.

It was the same the second time.
Ending with a child who was unable to flourish in an environment unfit for his needs. Too many children, too many noises, too little quiet and space to be alone, too much direction and  too little freedom.

But the second time I already had been reading about unschooling, seen some families online doing it. I had been reading and researching all the “how do they learn to read, socialise, go to uni, make friends, do maths”.  I had read enough to know it sounded wonderful. And enough to be scared that “it wasn’t for me or us”.

Scared I wouldn’t be able to let go enough of all the ideas that school, and the schooled ways of learning are they way we learn.
Maybe I needed to live on a farm, I needed chickens, more money, more wooden toys, I needed an art room, more space in our house, I wasn’t creative enough, I never finished school myself…..

As we realised that kinder was just a mirco version of school. We were aware of schools failing children with disabilities everyday.

We knew too many stories.
We were not prepared to fight for my child’s rights, for supports, accommodations at the level that we saw others doing whilst their children were at schools not meeting their needs.

We had to make a choice.
The choice, saying it aloud and agreeing that here out new path lays was filled with emotions. Relief mainly but I was nervous and overwhelmed.

We have been unschooling now for most of the year.
We are living and learning and learning by living. We follow our children’s interests and allow them space and freedom to do what it is that makes them tick.

We are slowing down our life in all areas and I’m honestly shocked at how out of the rat race of life I feel. My children are so happy and the biggest learning is for me.

To unlearn all I thought I knew about how we need to live our life and how everyone goes down the school road to get there.

I’m learning so much about how much am conditioned to controlling things and I have done things I never imagined. Like no limits on screen time. If someone told me two years ago I would adopt that, I would be stunned.

The best thing about this all is that my children are flourishing and so am I.

I’m really excited and learning so much and have challenged so many things I always believe to just be the way.

I’m so glad we took this opportunity to turn our life on its head, visions of school uniforms, school pictures and sports days were things I looked forward too. It’s funny because now those things just don’t matter. Because I know where we are is were we are meant to be. I hope if you’re thinking of options for your children and you are drawn to unschooling, don’t dismiss it. Your heart might be telling you something, mine did and I’m so grateful for my unschooling surprise.

Photograph shows two children playing with a variety of coloured shapes.

Photograph shows two children playing with a variety of coloured shapes.

4 replies
  1. Becki Hirsh
    Becki Hirsh says:

    I only learned about unschooling recently. While it may not be for my family, I can absolutely see how it could work for others. I used to work in the school system, a hospital and also have many friends who have children with learning difficulties for a variety of reasons. The strain the "the fight" takes on a parent, fighting for your child from the teacher, the district, the bus driver, the bus aide, the OT, the PT, speech, the bad days, the hard mornings, the sleepless nights, the drained kids, and so much more…and then I read articles like yours. Your children are so lucky that you are embracing what's right for your family. Wishing you the best of luck on this journey!

  2. Christina
    Christina says:

    My 14 yo son officially does Distance Ed, but he is on a modified program and I am encouraged to adapt it even further. Essentially we are doing unschooling as he is allowed to follow his interests…and this is celebrated by the teacher who then works out how it addresses the school curriculum. For example, him posting ads on gumtree to sell things counts as English!!! My son has really started flourishing after I finally realised that traditional schooling did not work for him. I wish I had realised that years ago!

  3. Cath
    Cath says:

    Love this Amy! Such an amazing journey your family is on. Sounds like your beautiful children are thriving and happy and loved and secure. What more could we want?! A beautiful piece.


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