Our 4th Unschooling Anniversary (And Growth)

Getting Ready

Swing High

Flying Boy

I love unschooling. I know that probably goes without saying, but it’s good for me to be reminded sometimes. 🙂

Yesterday was our fourth unschooling anniversary. Four years ago we made one choice that changed our world. And today I’m reminded just how phenomenal and empowering a choice it was. See, I don’t love unschooling because of its “results.”

I love unschooling because of what it gives us: freedom, space to heal and the courage to live passionately.

Four years ago, I stood before a child that was angry and sad. I stood before him with questions about how to help him and how to ignite the interests he once had. I was worried that he no longer loved to read or wanted to play with numbers or patterns.

Our life was anxious and nervous and uncertain.

In school he felt a lot of pressure to perform, took to heart anything that sounded like criticism, and became paralyzed by fear of failure. Even things he enjoyed and excelled in were avoided.

Reading was one of those things.

Although we had been reading since he was an infant, although he was excited to learn to do it on his own, and although he picked up on it quickly and easily, he was before me declaring his hatred for books. With pressure, judgment and limitations placed on him his loved for books suffered.

But unschooling changes those things.

Living outside school gave us the freedom to be ourselves, the space to heal our wounds and the courage to live passionately.

As I type this today, four years later, I’m sitting beside my 11 year old as he writes his first novel. And it’s not just any novel; he’s writing an epic fantasy novel.

My heart is so big and happy right now. 🙂 I wish there was a smiley with it’s eyes closed and it’s face basking in the sun. Because that’s how I feel, as though I’m basking in the glow of a beautiful life.

My son is writing a novel. And I’m not concerned with any of the details, the grammar or spelling or “doing it right”. I’m not even concerned if he doesn’t make it past the second chapter (because he’s already finished the first…and it was Oh.So.Good).

I’m concerned with feeding his passion and his desire to want to do something So Big, so outside his usual comfort zone.

I’m concerned with supporting his sense of empowerment, as he chooses to do something that conventional wisdom wouldn’t expect from him.

I’m concerned with helping him feel the potential within him, to know he CAN, even if he chooses not to.

I’m concerned with his sense of freedom, giving him the space to grow and feeding his courage to live passionately.

Because those are the things that nurture a personal definition of success.

Those are the things that change things.

31 Replies to “Our 4th Unschooling Anniversary (And Growth)”

  1. Happy Anniversary! So glad to be one who helped get you on the path. I can tell you that the better the book is the harder it is to simply let it go when they lose interest, because you just want to find out what happens next!!

  2. As we’ve recently decided to unschool with our daughter (currently just 1yo), your post is so pleasantly reassuring. Thank you for sharing your journey! 🙂

  3. Happy Anniversary to you both! I hope that he continues his interest in writing the book. My friend and I wrote a book together when we were in school (on our own for fun) and it was a memory that I’ll always treasure.

  4. wow, has it been a year already ?? I remember your post from previous years anniversaries – that’s scary!! Fortunately, that’s the only scary thing. What a wonderful life you guys are living, how open and free and positive.

    And yeh for Zeb to be writing his own novel. I too remember embarking on a similar venture with a friend of mine at about his age – I didn’t have the tenacity to see it through and gave up after a chapter or so (and have been seeking the courage and inspiration to return to writing ever since) but my friend did – she wrote an entire novel (and a sequel too I believe) – a fantasy story along the Narnia type theme, but as I remember it, even better. I must ask her whatever happened to that – I do so hope that she has kept it, as it would be such a great thing to read to my children now. I hope Zeb enjoys his creative process (the only other thing I would add, is that I know my friend took some years to write hers – period of intense production followed by weeks or months of leaving it alone in a drawer, but I’m sure because no disappointment was expressed at her not following through, no attempts were made to persuade her to see it through, she always eventually gravitated back to it, and did get there in the end – possibly something to bear in mind for explaining when or if the initial flurry of enthusiasm ebbs away – sometimes in the creative process it is necessary and beneficial to walk away and have some distance and then return when the itch to create really needs to be scratched rather than to force oneself to sit at the table and create). But then I am sure you know this already!!

  5. Wow – a novel! What an amazing guy you have! Keep us updated on his progress. I just love your words and photos here on this site. Thanks for writing.

  6. December is our 2 year unschooling anniversary, and yes, how powerful it is to remember back and reflect a bit. We, too, had BIG problems with school, but I think we are all healed now, and living life so full, I can hardly keep up with the interests both of my boys have. Thanks for the reminder, and so happy to hear about it all.

  7. just had a little cry over this. some dear friends and i were just talking about this sort of thing. we’ve all chosen to homeschool/unschool/whateverschool. our kids range from 6 months to 6 years and we are all starting to see the fear bug a little. we had a long chat about it, but as mothers to littles its hard to see through 5 minutes from now sometimes.

    this was just beautiful. i am so appreciative of unschooling families that are willing to share their details. gives me hope and comfort when i see the older kids doing fine. no more than fine, being happy and free. just like what we hope.

    thank you.

    1. i was just thinking about this today, about how much has changed and how difficult it was to see past the next 5 minutes when zeb was little. it was so easy to get caught up in doubts and fears (and sometimes it still is). it took a long time to teach myself to give anything a couple more weeks before i made changes to what i thought “wasn’t working.” and in those few weeks it always worked itself out. lol

  8. Four grown sons later, I too wish I had the vison and wisdom you have had with jeb. Two were school kids, two were not. It was always a struggle with lots of disapointments along the way. Your passion and insight will go along way to helping moms now to feel confident enough to walk outside the system and trust themselves.

  9. The way you live life with your family is beautiful. Sometimes I don’t fully understand it as I try to make sense of it from your posts, but I have gleaned so much from you, and I love coming back.

    1. thanks erika. 🙂 i hope nothing i’ve said has made it less understandable…or maybe something i need to expand on? i know we can do some things that don’t make a lot of sense to people, but i try to answer the questions i can. and then some answers can only be answered by seeing it, rather than hearing about it. 🙂

      1. Oh no, no, no. It’s not how you explain it by any means. It’s just me trying to wrap my mind around how you parent because it’s so opposite of everything I ever experienced. But you challenge me, get me thinking and questioning, and have even been a part of inspiring change in my own parenting.

        I’ve wanted to make changes forever, and have even tried but didn’t have confidence in my desires or abilities and often failed, but now that I finally have confidence and am more certain of my desires, I am fully committed to changes and have set boundaries for myself. And in just a few days, I have already seen a difference in myself, my perspective, and in my children.

  10. Happy Unschooling anniversary! Zeb looks like one very happy chap! I love the idea of kids writing novels. I bet you are one proud mama! Homeschooling/unschooling seems to be ever present in my conversations with my hubby. It seems that I am feeling it stronger and stronger as each year passes. Although we are sending our eldest child to a non-mainstream school, there has been various issues that keep raising their heads, hmm. Food for thought, thanks!

  11. beautiful! you are such an inspiration for living free and full, love it! barefoot on a swing is a favorite place for my boys 🙂 and congrats on this celebration of looking back and growing forward. what a journey! thank you for sharing, you have helped inspire less have to’s and more want to’s around here as we have gradually gravitated toward more natural life learning in our own homeschooling adventure.

  12. Happy Anniversary! It’s so inspiring to hear how great unschooling is working for your family. Tell the little dude I said good luck on the book. 🙂

  13. Considering a couple of months ago, I wasn’t even aware of this philosophy called “unschooling”, I’m constantly amazed at the wealth of blogs out there to draw wisdom from!

    Congratulations on your anniversary. 🙂 We’re officially at the one month anniversary of unschooling, so pray that we’ll have much bigger and better anniversaries to come.

  14. I really needed to read this this morning. Your experiences and words give me strength, especially when I seem to need it.
    We have been unschooling for 9 months. I feel like we are still in the thick of deschooling sometimes–ok a lot of times. I love our life, but the words “simple but not easy” keep coming to mind, mostly because of old paradigms wanting to creep in.
    Thanks again for the inspiration and congrats on 4 years (phew)!

  15. I am so loving this.. even as I just reluctantly put my own kiddos in school.. but I do think that unschooling is more of a frame of mind than anything.. I know that my kids will get the chance to spread their wings and explore and discover as they need, no matter what. And YOU, my friend, are a huge inspiration for that!! Congrats on four awesome years!! xo

  16. Bravo for unschooling! My two went to a Waldorf School which, here, was as close to home schooling as we could get. Then, my daughter opted for public high school. Dropped into college two years early and led us on a different kind of journey.

    Very inspired by your blog! Glad I found you. (through @photobird)

  17. I’m so excited for Zeb! Once kids are fired up about their own writing projects, the sky’s the limit. *That’s* what it takes to make a writer–not spelling or grammar or anything else. I’m glad you realize that. And if he gets bored with this particular novel, don’t worry. Professional writers move on from stalled projects all the time. If it’s something he really wants to do, he’ll do it whether you feed his passion or not. Either that, or he’ll find something new to excite him. 🙂

    Happy anniversary!

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