How We Came to Unschooling

April 12th, 2010 by Dionna | 6 Comments
Posted in Children, Eclectic Learning, Guest Posts, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, Preschoolers, Toddlers

Today I would like to welcome Darcel, who has written a guest post on unschooling. She is a mother of two beautiful daughters (with one on the way), a wife, and an advocate for attachment parenting and unschooling. You can normally find Darcel over at The Mahogany Way, her website on motherhood, breastfeeding, and more; or at her networking site, a place for mothers of color to discuss natural living. Today, I have a guest post on The Mahogany Way. So, once you’re done reading Darcel’s thoughts on unschooling, head on over to find out some answers to the frequently asked questions of parents considering homeschooling.

The Beginning of Our Unschooling Journey

Let me take you back to the summer of 2008. Charles and I were discussing homeschooling, and we both agreed it was something we would never do. I have since learned not to use the word never, because I have eaten my words on several occasions now.

We had just enrolled Nakiah in a speech therapy program through the county earlier that spring. Someone came out to the house to evaluate her, because we were concerned with her speech at the time. We told them all of the things she was doing so well, how active she was, how she could work the computer by herself at the age of two. They did not care about any of those things. They told us that her speech was what was important if she were to keep up with her peers once she started school.

Back then I took the advice of someone I had just met; I realize now how stupid I was. I know my child better than anyone else.

Nakiah would come home with her arts and crafts, and we would stop in from time to time and check up on her. I started to think that everything they were doing with her, I could do at home.

Who Determines Normal?

I researched speech for three year olds and found that there was a wide range of what was considered to be “normal” for her age range.

Then I started to wonder why  they refused to recognize all of the things that she excelled at.

We attended a Parent-Teacher Conference and went over the plans for after summer break. They wanted to move her into a bigger room with about 25 kids and one teacher. At the time she was in a room with 10 kids and three different teachers.

I explained to them that I didn’t think she would work well in an environment like that. Their response “She’s going to have to adjust. That’s how it’s going to be when she starts public school anyway.”

That statement didn’t sit right with me. I knew she didn’t like large crowds and seemed to do much better with smaller groups and one on one attention.

I also thought that if this is how they treat a child so young, how will they treat her as she gets older?

I Can Homeschool!

Later that week I woke up with homeschooling on the brain. I went to the library and picked up several books on homeschooling. My neighbor let me borrow one of John Holt’s books: Learning All The Time.

After reading all of the books, something clicked in me. I thought, “I can homeschool my kids!”

I started to realize that there was nothing wrong with Nakiah. She was learning at her own pace. She was unique and her strengths deserved to be recognized, no matter what anyone else tried to tell us.

She most certainly did not have to sit in a classroom with 25 kids and be put into a box. We had a choice!  We didn’t have to do anything we weren’t comfortable with.

I started really researching unschooling towards the end of the year. I found Sandra Dodd’s website and Joyfully Rejoycing.

It all sounded so perfect to me. I realized I was already doing everything the school had done with Nakiah. We did crafts, coloring, puzzles, pretend play, we had music around the house, we played outside, she helped me cook.

Most importantly, we were following her interests and going at her pace.

Personalized Learning

When I approached Charles with the idea of homeschooling he said NO right away. He thought homeschooled kids were weird and wondered how they would socialize. Those were my initial thoughts, too.

We started researching together, and he agreed to give it a year trial run. He really didn’t like the term unschooling, so I decided to call it “Personalized Learning.”

We started last April. It’s been a year and unschooling has transformed our family. The way we interact with each other, the way we respond to our kids, the way we trust in them; it’s amazing!

It hasn’t always been easy, but the good outweighs the bad. I wrote to one of the unschooling lists two weeks after we had started unschooling. You can find my letter here: Thoughts on Changing.

Unschooling is becoming more than another way to homeschool, it’s becoming a lifestyle.
It changes the way we think, act and feel about the world around us.
The world is our curriculum. I love watching my naturally curious girls explore the world around them.

Nothing is out of reach.


6 Responses to:
"How We Came to Unschooling"

  1. Thank you for sharing. We always knew we wanted to homeschool our kids but didn’t know what that would look like before we had kids. Unschooling just fit in with our consensually living lifestyle. It’s definitely more than just an educational choice for us.

  2. As a education graduate and a to be (hopefully) public school teacher, I totally support parents that want to homeschool or unschool. I have known a lot of kids that were homeschooled that weren’t weird or unsocialized. Personally, in my previous classrooms I never made a kid fit into my classroom, I made my classroom fit them, but I know not all teachers are like that, especially teachers that have been teaching forever and are really set in their ways.

    Yay for parents that are doing the right thing for their kids’ education, no matter what that choice may be!

  3. Darcel   mahoganywaymama

    Thank you both for your comments.
    We are having a great time living life, and learning through living.
    So many parents don’t understand that they really do have a choice. I’m very glad to have found this path we are on.

  4. The more I think about schooling for my little one the more I lean toward alternative education like home/unschooling, Montessori, etc. I like being able to read about other mamas’ experiences so that can make an informed decision.

  5. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Darcel – thank you again for sharing your story. I love the unschooling philosophy. I haven’t committed to it yet, because I’m still such an anal-compulsive bookworm, but I’m coming around ;) I think it’s magnificent progress that Tom now talks about the *FACT* that we will be homeschooling Kieran, not just the pipe dream or the possibility!

  6. Darcel   mahoganywaymama

    Nicole – I think it’s great that your researching so early on. We always said we wanted our kids to go to private school. I’m not sure where we thought we would get the money from, lol.

    Use the hashtag #unschooling on Twitter to find more mom’s and dad’s to follow.

    Dionna – I have OCD tendencies, so it was really hard for me to let go of certain things. I grew up with a very controlling mom. I still struggle sometimes, but I’m doing much better than I was two years ago!

    I also love hearing Charles talk about homeschooling the girls. It makes me feel warm inside :)

    Thank you for letting me do a guest post on your blog.

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