10 Days of Accidental Unschooling – Day 1: Not So Super

New series coming soon... Looking forward to blogging it! #hsbloggers #homeschool

Unschooling sounds like a really anti-schoolish word. I used to completely dismiss it. I thought that unschool families were completely child-led; that the parents had nothing to do with their child’s education besides just keeping them fed and safe. I assumed the child only did “what they wanted” all day long without any parental supervision or direction. It wasn’t until I met unschoolers online, talked to “relaxed homeschoolers” who consider themselves “quasi-unschoolers”, that I began to see unschooling as more of a viable educational direction. At least I didn’t turn my nose up to it as much. Even then, though, I would never have chosen unschooling without God placing me in a position to default to it.

I was the epitome of a ‘school at home’ homeschooler starting out. I bought a dry erase board, two little school-desks with cubbies underneath, a flag for saying the pledge, and stickers to go in my teacher grade-book. I kept meticulous lists of every book the kids ever read. We did anywhere from 5 to 8 hours a day, five days a week – and those were the early years!

I had lesson plans within lesson plans. I lived and breathed teaching. Everything in our family was geared towards homeschooling – down to the foods we ate, the field trips we had planned (almost weekly), and the Netflix movies we might watch. The librarian knew us well – and actually had to help us to the car once or twice with a book cart. My two older children (then 5 and 3) actually begged me not to read them any more books on Native American Indians because I felt like the unit study wasn’t complete until we had read every book and done every activity that our curriculum suggested.

The only thing that prevented me from being a Homeschool Supermom was the fact that God saw fit to keep us moving – almost every year – those first few years of homeschooling. Our home flooded (twice) and we had to move out (and back in)… FEMA bought our house and we moved to another city… we moved out of state after having our house on the market for 8 months… and eventually, we moved back home to Texas. All of those moves kept me in limbo – boxes – and very distracted. Even so, my kids were thriving and our home schooling was a success. I knew so, because I tested the kids annually and they were excelling academically. I was driven to prove something to myself – that I could be a good homeschool teacher; and maybe I had bought in to the lie that I could “do it all”.

Pride, pure and simple. I was a victim of homeschool snobbery.

Three pregnancies and two children later, with two teens in the mix, I can say with certainty that God brought me to my knees again. Thankfully, it’s a place where He reminds me every day that my best was never what he required. Him plus my worst can still bring about miracles. All He really needed was a willing heart, a teachable spirit, and a desire to please Him.

In the next few days, I’ll be talking more about our journey – pulling up a few highlights on the path… sharing with you (and encouraging myself along the way) all the glorious moments when I was allowed a glimpse in to the beauty of letting GO and letting GOD in the driver’s seat.

I’m not saying unschooling is for everyone… nor would I ever have planned to be doing it… heck, I might not even do school this way if things were different in our life circumstances. I do know that my children are learning, though… and that as long as you have your eyes turned upward, and are desiring to please HIM in your parenting (which includes educating your kids), HE will MAKE YOU STAND.

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. ~ Romans 14:4

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalm 37:4

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I’m going to link up the rest of the series here to make it easier to navigate for those that surf in after-the-fact. You can also just click the button in my sidebar and it will be easy to find this series later to read what’s new if you miss a day and want to come back and catch up later.

Introduction to this series
Day 1: Not So Super
Day 2: Morphing Methods
Day 3: Out of the Box
Day 4: Learning From Life
Day 5: Grace is for Homeschoolers
Day 6: Taste and See
Day 7: Grease and Sugar
Day 8: Carschooling and Fieldtripping
Day 9: Reading to Succeed
Day 10: Heart Over Mind

Be sure to join me each day. I’ll be giving away a prize to a random winner in my comments section on these posts – each comment counts as one entry. I love comments! Even if I don’t have time to answer every comment or email, I cherish them and enjoy getting to know my fellow homeschooling moms.

This post is a part of the 10 Days of… Series at iHomeschoolNetwork. Check out the other amazing homeschool bloggers who are participating in the writing challenge by visiting the landing page there.

Thanks for joining me!

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  1. says

    Wow, Heather – I'm loving your series already. In the beginning I did a lot more planning…only to have my (now) 6-year-old turn my plans on its head.

    He has such a creative spirit….my art project plans turn out so much better when I let him add on them in his natural way.

    Other things that I've tried simply haven't worked because his learning style is so different from the "norm" (one of the reasons we're homeschooling to begin with). =) You're absolutely right about keeping our eyes on Him and He will provide the learning.

    I'm looking forward to the rest of this series!

  2. says

    I'm looking forward to your series. I am almost through my "trial" year at homeschooling (kindergarten) and I'm becoming more and more intrigued by unschooling. I love how my children so easily pick up things that they are interested in and I hate the fights to do the work that I had planned when they are not interested. If I can learn to follow my kids maybe we will all be happier.

  3. says

    I'm really looking forward to your posts. We are unschoolers by nature but are being questioned at the moment so I'm really looking forward to reading someone else's path for support and ideas

  4. says

    I don't know that I will ever take the Unschool plunge, but I am certainly trying to get comfortable in the Relaxed camp. I look forward to the rest of your series!

  5. says

    I kind of unschool now, too. I don't advertise it, because so many people judge, but we are VERY relaxed. The Lord did the same kind of thing with me. He gave me so many children that I didn't know what to do. I kind of lost control of all of them and had to let Him take control of each of their homeschool courses. I have 10 children now. They are learning all kinds of things, and sometimes I worry that they're not learning what they need to, but the Lord helps me to get things done, and I believe He really is directing all of this, no matter how chaotic and out of control it might seem to me.

  6. says

    I too ended up unschooling because of life circumstances (ironically enough, moving a bunch of times over a 2 year period). We even lived out of a camper for 3 months. Carrying around books was downright impossible. I am a type A person so it is everything I can do to not use a curriculum, but I KNOW this is what is best for my kids (my oldest in particular).

    I can't wait to read the rest of your articles! I haven't been doing this long, so I would love to get more ideas.

  7. says

    Well said! I love the verse you shared in Romans!

    This year has been one of learning to let the Lord help me stand. I have felt so frustrated and chaotic in the past few months. But God is so gracious, He sends encouragement and direction along just when I need it.

    I am looking forward to reading your series! :)

    Many blessings!

  8. says

    Darn. You sure are a good writer, you have me infrequent as to what comes next in your unschooling posts.

    Question: Do you unschool 100%, or are you a bit eclectic?

  9. says

    I was just like you- planned to a tee, thinking unschooling wasn't a viable option, structured and aiming at the "Homeschooling Supermom" title- and now I consider us so much more relaxed. I am looking forward to the rest of the series!

  10. says

    As a homeschooling family who has morphed through many different educational philosophies along the way, I look forward to reading about your journey.

    All my best,

  11. says

    Homeschool 'snobbery'…..I think we can all go down that path…and sit back and watch kick me off my high horse every time I even think about looking at it…though, I'm not sure testing would be as successful here! I can't wait to hear more about your successful unschooling!

  12. says

    Heather this was a beautiful and uplifting testimony to God's grace working in your life. I tried the formal school-at-home thing too and found that my oldest daughter didn't learn "traditionally".

    So while we were living in an RV I relaxed and we headed into the world of unschooling!

    I am anxiously awaiting the rest of the series!

  13. says

    I'm new to homeschooling, and as I plan out our days I'm constantly reminding myself to not over book, and to not beat myself up if we don't get to everything as planned.
    Thank you for this reminder! I know we won't start out unschooling my husband won't allow that, but I need a reminder that there isn't just one way to do things.

  14. says

    I am excited to read the rest of this series. We are a Christian Unshooling family of 3 young boys. It's amazing how God leads us into greater understanding of him and his plan for us.

  15. Anonymous says

    It is so easy to fall into the trap of doing it all! I really appreciate your refreshing post on this topic. I am looking forward to the rest of this series. I also really love the two scriptures you choose for this post. Gods word is so awesome, and really applicable. Its nice to have a reminder of that. Thanks

  16. says

    We're not a Christian family, but we are radical or whole-life unschoolers. I look forward to hearing about your journey. Isn't nice to know that the grass is always greener where you water it! :)

  17. says

    I am so excited to have found this blog! I am new to homeschooling this year and have struggled finding the right thing and unschooling keeps coming up. I am excited to see what you have to share and what the Lord wants me to learn!

    Blessings, Carri

  18. says

    Hi Heather! Fellow unschooling mama and 10-day series blogger! Nice to meet you; love your blog and look forward to hearing more about your unschooling journey with your children:)


  19. says

    I'm now to the homeschooling network of blogs. I'm a FTM to a now 20 month old. I have a prek/primary education degree and I'm thankful for the opportunity to stay home full time and someday homeschool. I'm interested to hear more about "inschooling". I'm like you, super organized and gung-ho. I know I need to be flexible and open to advice and God's leading in this area though. : )

  20. says

    I am so excited to read this series on your blog. We have homeschooled for 6 years and just started down the unschooling path. This past 1 1/2 weeks have been much more relaxed and peaceful.

  21. says

    I can so relate. I definitely turned my nose up at "Unschoolers" for years. The Father has a way of humbling us, doesn't He ;o)I have 9 children of which the last 4 are 5 and under. Oh yeah, and did I mention the oldest two are in high school? Yeah, got my hands full alright. Thanks for taking the time to blog. I plan on reading the rest of your series and quite a few of the "cornucopia".

    Julie from http://atthewateringhole.blogspot.com/

  22. says

    Thanks for emailing me back about this. I am soooo excited to see if God uses you to change my way of schooling, since we seemed to once be doing the exact same traditional kind of schooling, and it didnt seem to work for either of us. I'm glad I found your blog. :)

  23. says

    The word unschooling is a little scary, but me and my husband are both learning the times he spontaneously learns, he retains it better. Just the other day watching golf with daddy turned into an hour long math lesson about positive and negative numbers. I'll be reading the whole way along my friend!

  24. says

    SO excited to have found you. We're accidental unschoolers too; we pulled our 12-year-old daughter out of public school on Feb. 29 of this year, and I didn't really think "school at home" would work for us – since "school at school" sure wasn't – and I asked Sarah what she was interested in learning about. ROBOTS… so we read about robots and built robots and did robot art… and then it just kind of snowballed, and here we are! Very excited to read more of your journey!

  25. Gayle says

    I’ll be reading this series!! I’ve felt that I’ve been “unschooling” but would never admit it. My children are learning, but the “lack of structure” in our “schooling” has really made me feel guilty and unsuccessful as a homeschooler. I’m looking forward to “coming out of the closet” and admitting this to the world. “Hello. My name is Gayle, and I’m an unschooler.” :)

  26. says

    Ooh girl- 5 hours of schooling a day!? That gave me the shivers just reading it! We are relaxed homeschoolers over here, or maybe unschoolers with one hour of true lessons thrown in for good measure. Either way, whatever it is called, it works for us. And that’s the point right? Do what works for your family- the joy of homeschooling!

  27. says

    A tired, homeschool mom of 21 years I am, so this caught my eye. We have also been defaulted to unschooling, in a sense, at times, and this post resonated with me. I currently school the youngest of 6 children, who is 15.

    I look forward to reading on.

  28. Eileen Mynes says

    We took a similar journey with ‘school’ at home, but after only a year and a half of rigid lesson plans, I threw up my hands and pursued something totally different, because the second child turned 5 and proved to be severely ADHD with co-morbid LD. All teacher’s manuals hit the book sales, and we unschooled.

    Six years later, we had a family crisis. At age 16, the elder bought used science and math books from FEAST and attempted to master all subjects for the Accuplacer in two or three months. She passed it with flying colors and started college. She is now completing her second year. She has proven that unschooling works. The younger is still in high school, and has a learning style that could have put her in special ed despite her intelligence. We love our homeschool.

    • Kat says

      I’m curious about your unschooling experience. My 8 yr old son has the very similar situation as your younger one and I’m seriouly considering unschooling. What were your days like? Was your younger on meds or were you successful without meds?
      Do you recommend to teach how to read and write plus basic math first before starting unschooling?