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Category Archives: Unschooling

You’re More Qualified to Homeschool Your Child Than You Think!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard people tell me they would like to homeschool, but they don’t think they’re capable of teaching their children…

I was a classroom teacher for about 5 years and spent the past 3 years working at a university teaching teachers how to teach. We’ve been homeschooling our children for the past few years, they’ve never been to school and only one briefly went to day care. I feel like I’m in a unique position to say this, because I’ve seen so many aspects of the teaching and learning spectrum, and I can honestly tell you that most people are way more qualified than they think they are to homeschool their children.

You learn while they learn.
I do have a masters in education, but I was trained to teach high school! So, while I knew how to teach writing a chemical equation, I had no idea how kids learned to read and write. So… when my oldest was about 5, I researched all the methods of reading and writing. And, I researched how home educated kids learn to read and write. It only took an hour or so to wrap my head around the theories and now I can read a bit here and there about it and just sit and watch how it all unfolds.

The internet.
Seriously… the world wide web. If you have Siri, or you have Google, anything you don’t know how to do, you can look it up or ask. For example, my 5 year old dragged home a whole pile of vines from the beach and she asked me to make a basket. What the hell… I’ve never made a basket! So, I found a quick tutorial on youtube on how to weave a basket, and voila! We made a basket.

You have more time than schools do.
I know, I know… you  may feel like you have zero time. But, trust me, cut out the morning and afternoon school run, and you have way more time than a teacher who sees anywhere between 20 and 100 students per day, who also has to fill out paper work and do administration roles. Even if you give your child less than 10 minutes per day of one-on-one instructions/help/attention, that still could be more one-on-one instruction time than a child gets in school on an average day.

You know your child better than anybody.
This doesn’t need much explanation… you know when they’re over something. You know when they get it. You know when they’re ready to move on. You know when they’re hungry, tired, upset… all their little nuances.

You have the ability to truly make learning authentic.
Teachers in training learn all this stuff about making learning ‘authentic‘ and ‘meaningful‘. In other words, teachers are taught to try and make the day-to-day topics relevant to a child’s interests, hobbies and life. But, teachers are bound by time and the ‘lesson‘ topic, and it’s literally impossible to make a lesson authentic to 25 students all at the same time. If you’re teaching about floods on Tuesday… perhaps little Johnny doesn’t want to learn about floods on Tuesday, even though he was interested in floods the day before… it’s difficult!

On, the other hand, homeschooling ‘lessons‘ can stem from every day life and often lead you off on a tangent (I say lesson, but we do natural learning, so the topic comes up in the form of natural curiosity and life experience).

For example, the other day, we started off on a conversation about my 7 year old’s undies, which had a 4 leaf clover printed on them. Half an hour later, we were watching youtube videos on the Roman Empire. 4 leaf clovers –> St. Patrick’s Day –> Ides of March –> Julius Cesar –> Roman Empire. Like that… This stuff happens in the classroom too, but there’s less room for spontaneity. Imagine 25 kids going off on their own tangent… not gonna happen. Home education can truly be authentic because the learning revolves around every day living, and the topics don’t need to be fabricated, like they often are in school.

Visiting art galleries when most other kids are at school, is a bonus!

You have your own interesting background to bring to the table
What school teachers bring to the classroom, are their own set of beliefs, experiences and attitudes. You also have those! Every parent has something enriching to contribute to a child’s education.

It’s not hard to be trained as a teacher, you’re not missing much.
After working for three years with teachers in training, and teaching their courses, marking their papers, I can honestly tell you that it’s not that tough to become a teacher. Depending where you live, getting into teaching programs is not that difficult, and they often only take a year or so to complete. Part of the application for an education degree is not that you need to have an amazing personality or genius practical skills. Even when we teach students at uni new and interesting ways of teaching, they can still walk away from the programs closed minded and doing things the old way. And, anyway, most teaching skills that teachers in training learn, are about classroom management and getting kids to learn in large groups, which is something a homeschooling parent does not have to worry about!

That’s not to say that there aren’t amazing and super talented teachers out there!! There are many!! But, there are also many average teachers. Teachers are just regular old people, with a little bit of experience. If you want to learn about different types of pedagogy, and how children learn, there are plenty of resources on the internet. Otherwise, your good old observation can work pretty well to see what works and what doesn’t. Actually, many home educators, myself included, would say that there is very little, or even nothing, that you actually need to ‘teach‘! Learning will happen effortlessly in an environment where children are supported and encouraged to pursue their interests. There are many education theorists out there who believe that maybe even one day we’ll make the role of a teacher redundant.

Believe in Yourself
If you really want to homeschool, and the thing that’s holding you back is that you think you’re not qualified, think again! You’re probably way more qualified than you think!

Trying to Teach a Child vs. Being a Facilitator of Learning

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When I was doing my teaching degree, we learned that ‘gone are the days of blabbing in front of a classroom of students, whose minds are empty vessels‘. The teacher needs to stop spoon-feeding information. We learned that the better roll of a teacher is to step back and let the students take charge of their learning. Facilitating learning, rather than ‘teaching‘, supposedly makes learning more authentic and more meaningful to students. The students are supposed to become more self-motivated and the learning becomes fun and self directed. It sounds awesome, right?

But, I never really ‘got‘ it. Mostly due to the sheer number of students in my classroom, along with having to meet deadlines and deal with behavior, overcrowding, underfunding and disengaged students. I often found myself standing at the front of the classroom, spewing out content. Exactly what they taught us NOT to do. Even now, at my university job, where we teach the value of being a ‘facilitator of learning‘, I find myself ‘teaching‘ way more than ‘facilitating‘. ‘Teaching‘ takes a lot of energy and makes you feel tired. Read the rest of this entry

“There’s No Skill in Playing Candy Land”

Candy Land

A few weeks ago, my brother and I were asked by my 5 year old, to play Candy Land. We both sort of rolled our eyes. I used to love playing Candy Land as a kid, but as an adult, we both agreed, Candy Land seems sort of boring because there’s no obvious skill in playing it, from adult’s perspective. You pick a card from a pile and you move ahead or behind according to the card you pick. It’s especially boring because my daughter’s starting to play much more interesting games, but she still asks to play Candy Land. Read the rest of this entry

Go Ahead, Mix Brown

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Who am I to tell you what your creative process should look like?

As a kid, I was probably taught to keep my colors separate. I can’t remember exactly.

I certainly remember being told to color in the lines.

I remember being taught the right way to draw things… and guess what?

I suck at painting and drawing. Suck bad at it. I was a sensitive type, so every time someone would correct my creativity, without me asking for advice, I would get pulled out of the creative process and start to question my ability. I started thinking that I sucked at painting and drawing, so I stopped.

You can paint however you want, sweetie.

It’s just paint.

It’s just paint.

Whatever you create is perfect.

I let your older sister paint brown and draw rubbish.

Now, I love her drawings and paintings. They are so hilarious and unique. She knows how to keep her colors separate and I never had to teach her that. Actually, she yelled at you today because you were messing up her purple.

So go ahead, mix brown, draw scribble and paint squiggles… be my guest.

It’s just paint.

It’s just color.

Whether you learn to keep your colors separate or not, I don’t care. Because keeping colors separate is not as important to me as your confidence.




Home School: The Rolls-Royce of Education

Home Education

We overheard this conversation at the beach, just about a week before school holidays were over:

Boy: “Mummy… I don’t want to go back to school! It’s so boring!
Mother: “Now, don’t be silly, when you get back to school, you’re going to be so happy to see all your friends.”
Boy: “I don’t care about my friends, I just want to stay home! I hate school!
Mother: “But, I have to go back to work, you can’t stay home with me!
Boy: “I hate school! It’s so boring, all we do is work work work and we never ever get to play! I don’t want to go to year 1!
Mother: “So, do you want to go back to kindergarten?
Boy: “No!!! I don’t want to go to kindergarten OR go to year 1! I want to stay home with you!Read the rest of this entry

Why I Let My Kids Interrupt My Conversations


A while back, I read this meme that said, “Stop your child from interrupting in 1 simple (and respectful) step.

I thought, oh wow, great! I mean, it’s so annoying when you’re trying to talk and your kid comes up to you and just HAS to tell you about the most unimportant and irrelevant thing! Ugh!

The method is to simply take the hand of your child when they want to say something and you’re having a conversation. You teach them not to speak until you’re ready, but you still hold their hand, letting them know that you will be available for them shortly. It seemed gentle enough, and I didn’t think it wouldn’t hurt to try it… Read the rest of this entry

The Moment You Realize You’re Way More Unschooly Than You Thought You Were


Right before we were about to leave to meet twenty people we didn’t know, Margo, 4 2/3 disappears into the bedroom for a few minutes and proudly emerges with black facepaint all over her face. Not like nice pretty color facepaint. Like smeary… black… can-barely-stand-to-look-at-her facepaint. I said, “Oh! You painted your face! Ok, we’re leaving as soon as I get dressed!

My little one, Goldie, 2 1/3, who had been wandering around naked, also disappeared into the bedroom and emerged, showing off her own outfit. Every article of clothing she had on had stripes. Striped shirt. Striped pants that were 3 size too big for her, but functional, as they were not falling down. A mismatched pair of socks, both with stripes. Oh, and a tutu on top. No undies. Read the rest of this entry

Why This School Teacher Thinks Tests Are Really Stupid


Please tell me of one single job on this entire planet where you would have to recall facts all by yourself, without talking to anyone, without LOOKING at anyone, without the help of resources and without the help of the internet or technology.

That’s right.

There are no such jobs.

Well, if there are, there’s not many. Yet, we make kids sit silently at their desks so they can ‘recall‘ information. How far from reality is that? Read the rest of this entry

How to Unthink a Volcano

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*embarrassing parenting moment alert*

I wasn’t sure what to do with ourselves today, as it was all rainy, until a friend of mine sent a message that it would be a great idea to make home-made volcanos. “Aha! YES!” Now, seeing as I haven’t made homemade volcanos in a while (I’m a high school science teacher), I had forgotten the perfect baking soda to vinegar ration needed to make the best explosion. I quickly googled ‘how to make a volcano’ and a million blog posts and wiki’s came up on how to make one. I instantly felt my mind get overwhelmed.

Oh geez, we have to actually ‘make a volcano’. Look these people have made theirs out of clay… well, we have clay… oh but it will take an hour to dry… and these people made theirs out of newspaper… oh, but then we have to paint it and it has to dry… and these people put yellow and red food colouring in theirs… well, we have red and yellow food colouring. And, what really made it worse, was my chemistry teacher mind started to analyze. I was thinking, a ‘homemade volcano’ doesn’t actually stimulate a volcano at all, with molten lava, it’s really a chemical reaction. So, then, I started thinking at it from a chemist’s point of view… which one is the limiting reagent (meaning which one will stop reacting first), etc. My mind got so caught up in making ‘the perfect volcano experience’ that before I knew it, the kids had started fighting.

I starting getting really mad at them, telling them they needed to stop and in my head I was screaming, “Would you shut the f*ck up, I can’t even think!!!

Then, I stopped.

What was I doing?! My kids are 4 and not even 2! What. The. Hell. They don’t care what their stupid volcano looks like! And, what would they learn if I had gone through all of this trouble to make sure that we made some perfect volcano replica chemistry/art project? What, that I get stressed every time they have to ‘learn’ something?! (My friend who reminded me to make volcanos is probably laughing at me if she’s reading this). Oh, dear me…

So, I got off Pinterest or whatever I was looking at, and asked Margo what sort of container she would like to use. “A CUP!” She exclaimed. Ok, so, I got a cup. I said, “Here’s baking soda and vinegar, let’s see what happens if we put them together.” I also grabbed a big plastic tray to catch any overflow. She poured some vinegar in, then she put the baking soda in and voila! A volcano!

LET’S DO IT AGAIN!!!” She cried. (the little one was scared and only wanted to watch).

Ok.” I said.

We did it again. And again. And again. By the end of it, do you know that she figured out all by herself how to find the perfect ratio of vinegar and baking soda to make the most impressive reaction? Not Pinterest. Not me (the chemistry teacher). It was her, a little four year old, who by trial and error found out how to do a chemistry experiment without me telling her a damn thing. To her, she was practicing her pouring skills and her coordination just to try and not spill anything! Maybe if she were 16 years old, then we could talk about what was really going on. And, if she were really keen, maybe one day she would want to make a volcano out of clay and paint it and pretend that it was real. But, for now, she was just happy to overflow her cup. Over and over again until all the vinegar had been used up.

It’s really amazing what kids can do if us stupid adults, with our preconceived notions of how things should be, can just step out of the way. She had such a blast and her mind was free to come up with her own conclusions based on her observations. Next time she asks to do this experiment, I’ll be sure to buy a much bigger bottle of vinegar!

What This School Teacher Has to Say About Unschooling

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Exactly two years ago, I was happily teaching science in a very respectable high school with intelligent and well behaved students. A colleague friend of mine and I were yapping away during lunch and she told me about this thing called ‘unschooling‘. I’d never heard of it.

You know,” she said, “Like ‘no-schooling‘. Like, the kids don’t go to school, they get homeschooled, but it’s even more radical than that. They can learn whatever they want and whenever they want.

BUT… BUT… WHAT?!?!” I replied… “That’s crazy!!!

Read the rest of this entry