Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Unschooling: The Elementary Years

Back in March and April, I began writing about how we unschool our children {A Crazy Little Thing Called Unschooling Part One and Part Two}. I was supposed to continue and share how we approach the elementary years, but I didn't. Why? Why is a couple of reasons, one being I'm terrible with follow through- ha, and the other being, my heart just wasn't ready to share yet. 

Y'all know that this blog is a place of honesty and the 'real', it just has to be, or what's the point really? Well, unschooling can be hard, and this lifestyle can really shake your confidence, a whole lot.  Unschooling requires a certain conviction that you know in your heart that this is the right way to educate your children. It takes boocoodles of faith y'all. 

So, the elementary years, here goes......... Matthew is our first child that has been unschooled since the beginning. He knows nothing else. In the 2's, 3's, 4's and even 5's, I didn't feel any discomfort in allowing him the freedom to explore the world around him and learn as it naturally occurred. By six and seven, I started to get a little antsy and prayed a whole lot for my spirit to calm and I had to reassure myself that he will learn how to read and write proficiently when he is ready. Oh lordy, I doubted myself and this lifestyle, often.  I would try new writing books and methods to no avail. A pencil sat in his hand with a death grip I'm telling you and I'd be nearly in tears and filled with doubt. We'd stop for a few months, then try again, same thing. I didn't want him to feel any pressure, shoot it's unschooling y'all, so we'd forget the reading and writing for a while.

Matthew turned eight, and I'm pretty sure I was chewing off all my nails by this point. Still Matthew showed little to no interest in reading or writing. Now I should say that he wasn't just playing Hot Wheels all these years. This little dude is sharp. He loves  documentaries on lots of subjects especially nature and science. He can spout out facts to rival an adult's knowledge in those subjects. He also, works hard outside caring for his chickens and helping his dad with yard work. House work, got that covered too. Basically, he's an unschooling dream. He is a voracious learner and a very well-rounded little boy. He's proof that unschooling works. I  was the problem.

But then, reading and writing. I took a friend's advice and gave him a dry erase board and markers rather than a pencil and lined paper. He writes. Hallelujah, he writes! Pencils are getting easier for him, but he much  prefers the board and markers. I re-discovered our Dick and Jane books, and the boy is reading. Another hallelujah! I just had to keep tweaking and searching what was best for him, and I had to have the patience to wait for him to be ready. That's the crux of an unschooling lifestyle. I'm breathing a bit easier over here now, I'm pretty confident that he will master reading and writing, maybe even before he's eighteen! Seriously though, unschooling has it's scary, uncomfortable moments, but I still wholeheartedly believe that it's benefits are totally worth all the worry.


  1. Matthew is sharp. He's a lot of fun to be with too. I'm glad you got over your scary bump in the road.

  2. Cant tell you how much i needed this post. My daughter is 8 1/2 and BARELY reading books for kindergarten. I feel very judged , especially since she is suppose to be a 3rd grader and she isnt even close. We just moved to a state that you have to test every 3 5 7 9 11 grades. i am freaking out.

    1. Oh my dear, don't freak out! I know it's really, really hard, but take a deep breath and relax! I can bet you that your daughter excels in some other areas that would blow some folks right out of the water. And remember, those tests are only to show you her strengths and weaknesses and honey, as her mama, you already know those. You are not alone and I know the judgement of others can weigh pretty heavy sometimes, but just step back a little and look at all the awesomeness that is your daughter and know in your heart that it will be okay!


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