The Benefits of Unschooling


I watched Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk today and it really got me thinking about the reasons why we began homeschooling in the first place, as well as how homeschooling benefits us parents as much as our children.

When I was younger, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I never had a real answer, or the answer changed from day-to-day. Even in university, I was asked, “What type of nurse would you like to be?” I had no idea. Worse yet, I didn’t even know how to figure out what I wanted. I had no interests. Nothing excited me. And worst of all, every single little mistake was the end of the world. I hated trying new things because I knew I’d be bad at them. I couldn’t make mistakes or I’d crumple!

So I just went with the flow. I let myself fall into a job right out of university. Then another, and another. (Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bad at these things, I just didn’t care about them, there’s a difference.)

But each day became more and more stressful. Everyday was a battle with major anxiety. Almost half the time I wasn’t capable of going to work because the anxiety was so bad I could barely breath.

I didn’t like where I was, I didn’t like how I felt, but there was nothing to replace it with.

Then we had a baby.

It didn’t take long before we were talking about future school opportunities, future plans for our sweet girl. We dissected ourselves to see who we were and how we came to be that way. We knew we wanted so much better for our child(ren).

We decided to homeschool, more specifically, unschool.

Unschooling means following a child’s interests. It means inviting your child into your interests. It means providing many different opportunities for a child to experience and explore many different topics allowing them to discover new interests.

New things scared me. A lot!

How was I going to unschool our children if I was afraid of making mistakes and afraid of new things?

First, I had to really look at who I was. I needed to own my fears, and I needed to face them.

I read so many books about living, about thinking positive, about mindset. I realized I needed to change my internal focus toward learning and the process more than the outcome.

An amazing thing happened! I began feeling more confident in all areas of my life!

I stepped out of my comfort zone so much more than ever before. I picked up new hobbies, one after another. Time after time, I found myself super excited about something new soon after I became good at something. I often moved on with unfinished projects sitting in a bin.

I allowed myself the freedom to explore any and all topics because I didn’t know what might interest my children. I’ve pursued topics that previously didn’t interest me. I’ve tackled fully landscaping our own yard, learning to sew, working with wire, making jewelry, creating with polymer clay. Combining polymer clay, wire and fabric to create creatures. I learned how to pull apart our dishwasher, fix it, and put it back together. Over the course of the 4 years we’ve officially homeschooled Ella we’ve learned more than either Ryan or I learned in our previous educational backgrounds.

In an effort to expose our children to different topics and different experiences, we’ve allowed ourselves to develop a new sense of curiosity about our world and all it has to offer.

We’ve made mistakes. Some of them have even been pretty costly, but over all, what we’ve accomplished has been worth so much more than mere money.

Ryan’s laughed, in a good natured way, about my changing focus and interests so much. Part of me has been embarrassed and slightly ashamed by my inability to commit to anything. But because we homeschool, my interest hopping has benefitted our children as much as me.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Elle says:

    I am not an unschooler but I am trying to adopt certain a things about it. Have you heard of project based homeschooling? I read this book and am trying to incorporate it for my teen. She wants to be an author so I am letting her lead and research and work on it. It’s up to her. I wish I would have taught that way from day one, but hopefully we can still redeem what’s left of her schooling.


    1. I hadn’t actually heard of project based homeschooling until you mentioned it 🙂

      When I was in university, we used PBL (Project Based Learning), when done right, it’s awesome!

      From what I’ve read quickly on the blog, it seems very similar to what I did in university.

      I hope you and your daughter enjoy the journey you’re on now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s