unschooling: go with the flow?

unschoolinglargeHere’s the deal. Not everyone is going to unschool. Or homeschool. Or send their kids to any particular brand of school. Not everyone is going to sell their house and move into an apartment. Or a dump in India. Or a hut in Africa. Not everyone is going to do this thing or that thing or any other thing. Because we’re not cookie cutters. We have our own minds and spirits and personalities and families and callings on our lives.

And that’s my point. I think we sometimes fall into the cookie cutter mentality because it’s easier to go with the American Dream flow than to swim upstream. But I think we’re actually called to swim against that current in many respects. To ask why we’re going with the flow if the real deal is the other way.

I want us (you and me) to learn to think for ourselves, not just blindly buy in to everything everyone says/does/thinks around us. I want us to open our eyes really wide and look long and hard at the status quo. I want us to think through why we do what we do. I don’t want us to do things because โ€œthat’s how they’ve always been done.โ€ I don’t want us to stay in a comfortable rut without questioning why we’re there. And I don’t want us scurrying around like headless chickens, trying to cram everything on earth into one short lifetime. Especially stuff that’s not important.

I want us to give some thought to our family’s bigger purpose and how our kids’ schooling fits into the equation.

And, most importantly, I want us to listen for God’s voice, to hear it so clearly that it drowns out all those other loud, obnoxious voices clamoring for our attention in this day and age.

Speaking of God, people of any (or no) faith are heartily welcome to read this book*. As for us, we’re Jesus-followers, and our faith plays a huge role in why we’ve chosen to educate our kiddos at home.

But not for the reasons you might think.

We’re not afraid of public schools and their scary pagan agendas. Our girls attended public schools for years, and we’ve got nothing but nice things to say about their experience.

This isn’t about sheltering our kids or wrapping them in Bible bubble wrap.

It’s about betting the farm on Jesus, pouring our hearts and souls into bringing his kingdom to earth (your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heavenโ€”Lord’s prayer stuff). And we’ve found unschooling to be the best way to free up our little fam to do that. That’s all.

*(Confession: I stole ^these words^ off the pages of my upcoming e-book. Sorry it’s taking so long to get it published, but we’re leaving for Cambodia in EIGHTY-TWO DAYS!! So much to do!)

I’d love to know one of two things:

1. What educational choice your family has made and how you know it’s the right one. (Don’t feel like you have to defend/prove anything. I just want to know your story!)

2. What other questions do you have about unschooling or our family’s particular experience?

12 thoughts on “unschooling: go with the flow?

  1. Risha

    We are a homeschooling family of 4 kids- oldest is in 2nd grade on down to a 1-year-old. Many factors led me to this choice. I will admit that initially I began to consider homeschooling because of the public school district where we live. This reason has fallen further down list in importance as I have formulated our family’s education philosophy. I am also a former high school teacher. What I observed in my four years of teaching was that much time is wasted, there is too much emphasis on standardized testing, and some students are left out the learning process because it’s too hard to teach in every learning modality (kinesthetic especially) when you’re working with a large group of students. My husband is a hands-on learner, and while he didn’t struggle at all in school, he HATED it. He was very unmotivated and underchallenged. I LOVE learning just about anything the piques my curiosity, but I am also a visual learner, so reading is my gateway into everything. I wanted my children to have a learning experience more like mine and come away with a deep love for learning (but keeping in mind they won’t be EXACTLY like me), and I really see homeschooling as the biggest chance to make that possible.
    We are not unschoolers, but I shy away from most things that remind me of traditional schooling. We most certainly don’t have “school at home” like many do. However, I do use a set curriculum and plan, simply because it keeps me focused and confident that I am doing what I need to according to our state laws. We use a literature-based/unit study style curriculum, and we love it!
    Other reasons for our choice…more freedom in how we spend our time as a family. I would love to travel more someday and experience firsthand some of things that we learn. I want to be able to take mission trips as a family or have more freedom to minister locally.

  2. Gaylene Carpenter

    Bible bubble wrap? Sorry that had me cracking up! My husband made the decision (it was his to make) to retire a few years early from the Air Force, but we decided to return to small town so that our two children could be in a considerably better school environment than they were at that time. For our oldest, our son, who was and is very out-going, very bright, not one to ever really have to study, it was a good choice. For our daughter who was (and is) very intelligent, but had trouble with learning, was not as out-going, that choice was not the best. However, today, as adults, that choice is what is helping them in their life decisions. It is interesting to look back and see now how that meshes, especially with our daughter (and son-in-law) homeschooling their five (well, one is only 3, but she has to do what the others are doing, so it is 5).
    I think it is wonderful that such choices are more accepted today than even 20 years ago. For me, school was good; I loved learning, but hated down time, so I skipped a year of high school taking all that was required in 3 years. But, my education has never stopped. Even with now having a doctorate, I am still learning. My kids just shake their heads at me, my husband provides me support and encouragement ( and a nudge to keep going).
    Are you going to continue blogging over in Cambodia?

  3. Melissa

    We’re homeschooling and I know it’s the right choice because I can see it. I can see my little guy thriving and growing and learning and that he loves learning. I don’t ever want to do anything that might jeopardize the love he has for learning. In the beginning I did a lot of research and I still feel strongly about the research, but it’s the seeing it that makes me know it is the right choice. Will it sometimes be a hard choice? Yes, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t trade being there with him for anything. I don’t want to shelter him either and I feel like I can actually expose him to more of the world than he could be exposed to sitting in a classroom for the majority of the day. I want to go out there and see and experience the world with him. Let us live all of life and learn through our living. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Nina

    Hi, Marla! Wow! I have been away from the blog world for some time and am just seeing all the changes that have been occurring in your life. Very exciting/scary stuff.

    1. My daughter is now in Pre-K and I’m sending her to a private school that offers a classical Christian education. To be honest, I am more of a humanist than anything else, and I’m primarily interested in the “classical” aspect of the education offered. Music and art are major components of the education offered, which is another big reason we chose this school.

    2. No idea! To be honest, I am unfamiliar with the term “unschooling” and will have to read your previous entries first.

    All the best!

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      Welcome back, Nina. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would love to hear more about your choice to send your daughter to a school where they’ll most likely teach things you disagree with. xoxoxo

  5. Jill Foley

    We homeschool…always have. We are about 80% structured classical homeschoolers, and 20% unschoolers. : )

    I know its the right choice because it’s hard….but there are daily moments where God shows me it’s worth it. And I have the complete support of my husband which is priceless.

  6. Janelle Taviano

    I was reading God’s Word one day, when the boys were little….. and the verse
    1 Cor. 10:31
    ” So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
    God spoke that word deep into me, He showed me their papers they bring home, He showed me like everything they would be doing all day. A lot of it in public school was “o.k.” but that is not what …..He spoke to me.,,,,,, He said,
    ” I want it to BRING Me GLORY, to GIVE ME GLORY “…and so….
    .Temple Christian School, was dropped into my heart big time….and I KNEW…
    @ that moment….it was a deep calling to do, HOW ?????
    asking Rock…..”no football”…..some ” you are just sheltering your kids, some day, Janelle they will have to live in the REAL WORLD. ” God later spoke deeply into me…” I am the real world…spiritual is the real world.” So, tuition, driving cost every day…..He provided for what in one verse HE called me to do and I would have to answer if I obeyed. Alot of pros and cons came from that….but this I can stand in front of God and say, ” I obeyed”
    When Gabe was in Jr. High or 9th gr. …..He told me to ” start ” right now, taking him to Grace College, so that when he is older….Gabe will have already seen, became a custom and college would be the natural way to go, Grace would be in him already. I had never heard of Grace, never even thought of…. yrs. before he was to go. And so I started taking groups of kids to Grace…….making it ” a day “. But it was in a time alone that I heard….” this is where , Janelle, start now for your boys…..( did they have their own decision to go where ever ? YES…..but how God wanted to influence them, HE DID )
    And even if something were whatever…..I pray with their lives today……they ” KNOW JESUS” a little bit closer, they heard HIS WORD, their little papers, their alphabets, their profs, their chapels….they learned to give HIM glory . The ” what so ever” the Holy Spirit meant – EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING….with their school is to give ME GLORY.

  7. Amy

    As of right now, we are doing public school. I know it is where my little guy is suppose to be because he is thriving!!! He is doing the preschool peer to peer program with our local school district, with an IEP, and has done so well. I know he is where he is suppose to be because of how God completely opened doors, brought people into our lives and clearly lead us down this path to help our son get the help that he needs. I have no idea what his education will look like from year to year – we are completely trusting God to lead us and guide in this area, but for now, for this moment, public school is exactly where he is suppose to be…and we are so, so very thankful.

  8. Teresa Henry

    I loved this post! I just needed to hear this for my job and for my kids! We can’t compare and size up others…and judge and worry and wonder. We can learn and glean and understand better and do what is best for what God has called us to be and do.

    I have three children. My oldest went all the way through public school. My middle daughter went to public school until 9th grade (private school one year only because I taught there) and then homeschooled 9th and 10th. I wish I would have homeschooled her earlier. She has Apsergers and for her personally she thrived as soon as I pulled her out of the sensory overload of school. For 11th and 12th she has done a program called Running Start. She has gone to Community College for free earning the rest of her high school credits while at the same time earning her AA at the college. This has has been positive and negative aspects. My son is in 10th grade and has homeschooled since 6th grade. We do have a schedule and we do go through a homeschool connection program through our school district. I am a single mom and I work full time. So for us this is the way we make it work. Somedays I just want him to learn with out the structure…but I am not home and he needs structure this year. I have my teaching certificate. I believe that all kids learn different…all kids need to be able to tap in to their learning styles. Even when I taught in the public schools I worked hard at teaching my class in all different ways throughout the day. Now I work full time in Children’s Ministry. I could go on and on…because really just as you said…we can’t all think that one way is the best for everyone. Here is a simple example: I fold my bath towels a certain way because they fit better on my shelf that way. My mom folds hers different because her shelves are a different depth and height. Neither way is better than the other…but we both do what fits for our needs!

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