Are You Afraid of Unschooling?

Unschooling - what are you afraid of?

Revised 2022

Are you afraid of unschooling?

Do you like SOME things you’ve heard about it, but… you’ve heard some other things too!
Like... it’s a free-for-all
Or you’ve heard other homeschoolers sound really judgey about those parents who unschool...
Or you’re just afraid you’re going to ruin your kids and they’ll never be successful!

I’ve heard it all.

But here’s what I know…

Fear keeps us from making the choices we want to make.

Fear keeps us from being the parent we want to be.

Fear keeps us from rocking the boat and encourages us to play small.

Fear keeps us from living the life we want to live!


And all those fears you have about unschooling? They’re coming because you just don’t have accurate information about how unschooling works.

I’m Sue Patterson, and this is the UM2M Podcast. I unschooled all three of my kids and it looked really different for each one! Because that’s a key component of unschooling - TRULY individualizing the learning process. When you learn more about how unschooling works, you can see how this really individualized approach is THE MOST LOGICAL way to homeschool.

And, as someone pointed out to me this morning (because she had been listening to my podcasts!) all that money you’d spend on curriculum could be uses for diving into the kids interests and exploring the world as a family! I loved hearing that - because that’s exactly how it works!

I have a lot of resources to help you dive deeper and get the confidence you’re looking for.
I always say this - and it’s true - you really don’t have to figure this out on your own.

You don’t have to do this alone!

So let's unpack some of this because I think it could change the course of your life!

When we decide we want to unschool our kids, it's sometimes startling how many fears we have to wade through to get there. Some of our fears aren't even rational! But they come because they are counter-intuitive from many ideas we've been conditioned to believe are right. If you have a problem overcoming your own fears about unschooling - or if you seem to conquer them, only to have them pop up again at the slightest bump in the road, it's time to do a little deeper diving.

Lots of people write about how unschooling makes sense. But until we do our own legwork and think about why we are feeling some obstacles, we can't get to that sweet spot.

If your goal is to happily successfully unschool - where kids can thrive and parents can move through their world without second-guessing and mini panic attacks - you have to do more than read what others write about unschooling.

You have to look inward and shine some light on those fears you have. It's not always the easiest approach - but you'll be glad you took the time to do it!
Lots of fears can be lurking inside you. You'll need to identify what YOUR Big Fears are and shine a little light on them.

After decades of talking with parents - and working on my own fears raising three kids - here are a few that may be holding you back.

🤔 You're worried they won’t learn what they need to be functioning adults.

When kids and parents are living lives together, kids see what's necessary to function as an adult. So often, parents wish they had time to show the kids various life skills - but when kids are in school, they're too busy for that. They have homework and extra curricular activities and sometimes they really just want to relax after they’ve done all those “required” things. I know when I went off to college - and when my son did too - we were surrounded by kids that didn't know how to run a washing machine, cook a meal, check the oil. So many life skills were left unlearned. When kids are home with you, you have the opportunity to show them these kinds of things while they're relevant to everyone's life - right there in the moment.

So… you might need to unpack what it is you’re thinking is really NEEDED to be a functioning adult in today’s world.
To know which president was the 13th and what he was famous for?
Or when the Battle of Hastings took place?
Or to be able to rattle off the hierarchy of the 8 ranks in biology’s classification system - do you even remember the order of things like Phylum, Class, Order?
Sure, if you became a biologist - but not that many of us do that. And in the rare instance that the rest of us might need to know, couldn’t we just google it?
Or watch a YouTube video.
Because that’s really how we become functioning adults. It’s not about how many things we’ve memorized. It’s about how we figure out and problem solve when we want to know something more or improve some skill.

 🤔 You're worried they’ll never learn to read well
(or do math, or understand history...)

I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before - but it bears repeating:  Humans are hard-wired to learn. We love it. We like challenges.

If you're scratching your head thinking of an example of someone who doesn't - your child or maybe even yourself - I'd like you to consider a couple of things. Sometimes kids have been told by schools to shelve their interests and curiosities so often, THAT becomes the norm. It's not unusual for a person to move away from something that they're constantly told NOT to do.

But that spark is still in there.

It may take a little time to fuel it, but it can grow. When given the proper environment, it always does.

Also, it's a myth that children have to be taught all these things. They need an environment and a caring loving adult who helps them find the resources they're looking for. But they do not need a curriculum to learn - anything. Including Reading and Math. A literate environment with adults who play with words and sounds, rhyming and letters, enjoying reading themselves, reading to their children, talking about movies that come from books - all of these things create the environment for a child to learn to read. Children may learn at 4, may learn at 14, and anywhere in between. No one comes to you as an adult and demands to know what your age was when you learned to read!

It doesn't have nearly the significance for children outside of school.
In school, reading is the way kids receive the information after about 3rd grade.

But as unschoolers, children are able to receive information through conversations, the internet, mentors, movies, YouTube - life experiences!
Reading is just ONE way to gain information - and isn't that the point of reading in the first place?
The same works for math. Math skills can be developed by playing games and having real opportunities to play with math concepts.
Discussing historic events help children see the significance in their lives.
Learning things that have context and meaning are what stay with a person.

If you’re thinking,

"OK, I see how this could be true… but…”

And I kind of feeling you hanging on by a thread. That’s when you should grab the Unschooling Guides about Reading or Math. Or join the membership group where we have a ton of resources to help strengthen your confidence.

🤔 You're worried they won’t have any friends.

Desk proximity does not equal friendship. Children make friends based upon shared interests. Since unschooled kids are busy pursuing their interests, they bump into future friends all the time!

You might have to dismantle that idea that everyone needs to be at a school to make friends, or that all kids need to be surrounded by a ton of other kids. Neither are true. Haven’t we all had that feeling of loneliness in the middle of a crowd of people? Crowds do not equal friends. And kids - all humans - have varying degrees of DESIRE to be around other people. Unschooling allows kids to tune into what they really like - what fits THEIR personality? And then parents can help them get their needs met - without having to sit in a desk at school (or at home) for 5 days a week.


3 kids asking, What about socialization
Listen to the Podcast | Get the Unschooling Guide!


🤔 You're worried your choice is going to screw them up their career options.

Unschoolers around the world are proof that this isn't true. Because they got off the education conveyor belt and spent time learning their own interests and preferences, they are in a much better position to know themselves and what field calls to them. They're not unduly influenced by school or parental pressures, so they don't end up with a college degree in something they don't even enjoy! Sound familiar?

Additionally college admission offices as well as employers are happy to see someone break out of the cookie cutter existence where every applicant looks like the next. Unschooled kids' lives are vibrant and exciting - filled with unique experiences that they bring to the table. Because they've had adults in their world throughout their childhood, they haven't formulated an us-against-them mentality, so they often interview really well.

Grab this Book Today!

We all have so many questions!

And the teens (and now young adults!) answered them all!

What better way than to hear directly from those who experienced the teen years without going to school.

This book will give you the reassurance you're looking for!

Grown Homeschoolers share about their lives

🤔 You're worried they’ll hate you when they’re grown for taking this route.

What if it’s wrong? Ahhh my mom used to call that "The What-If? game.  It can immobilize you.

It’s better to move in the direction of connecting and tuning into your child. Helping them get their needs met, their curiosities explored, this will strengthen that connection between you and your child. Because we all just want to be heard. And when you, as the parents, are actually LISTENING to your child, they feel valued and they’re not going to experience resentment about the choices you’re taking.

Also, nothing is in stone. When you continue to listen to your kids, you’re modifying and creating an environment that fits them. And you’re helping them figure out where they fit into the world.

Most young adults have something they resent about their childhoods and/or their parents. But when I talked to 75 young people who lived a life without school, they were grateful that their parents gave them a happy childhood where they were free to roam and explore and grow at their own pace.

So… if you have fears about choosing to unschool, hopefully this podcast can give you some reassurance. If nothing else, it can let you know that you’re not the only who has had fears like this.

Unschooling really does work.
It just takes a little courage on your part to push past the fears!

Reach out if you need more support on this journey - and I’ll be back again soon!
Take care!

Overcoming Fear of Unschooling
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