On one of the larger unschooling yahoo lists someone asked about what brought people to unschooling, what their unschooling story is, so I thought I would post about it here, so this is our story:
Jackson and I had talked a lot about parenting before we had children, although not a word about school...I had never even heard of homeschooling, LOL. But we talked about our own childhood and parents, how we wanted to parent, didn't want to parent etc. And we soon discovered that we were both interested in parenting in a way more responsive to our children's needs. Not following current social trends, not letting a baby "cry it out" etc. And I also knew I did not want to control my child's eating in any way. Other than to be a partner. I know my mom rewarded and punished with food and told us what we could eat and when and how much and I feel that is a big reason I have food issues now. So all of that was out on the table.
We had two boys and as our boys grew, questions from other people started coming about preschool. I hadn't even thought of that yet.I was not ready in any way to send my son out there to navigate a big school without me, and he was not in any way ready to separate from me. So I started looking into alternatives. One thing I have learned over the years is that there is always an alternative, LOL. We were just getting connected online in Germany, using CompuServe (remember CompuServe? LOL) and so I just started doing my research. I have also learned not to make any decisions based on fear but to use my gut instincts to find all the information I can.
So I learned about homeschooling and signed up with a program in California that sent you a "curriculum" to use. Well for preschool it consisted of good books (although we already had a ton of those, you can never have too many books right? At least that is my philosophy), and some instructions to basically follow your child's interest. Trying to do crafty things (they had a book of cool craft projects) and outdoor time (had no trouble with that...we loved the outdoors) etc. So basically it meant to just keep on doing what we were already doing. The boys loved it, so did I.
Kindergarten was more of the same...."cool this homeschooling thing is easy and makes more sense than school." Well in first grade they added in a math book (I think) but I talked with my mentor and said that we were already way beyond that book just doing our every day "stuff". So she suggested that I just eliminate that book and keep doing what we were doing. Second grade they added another book, can't remember what it was, but that was when I decided that they were just going to keep adding "text books" into the mix until we were surrounded by them. And if I am not using them why should I pay for them. So we stopped using that program and just kept on doing what we were doing, living life.
Of course in 2002 (I think that was the year) I read Mary Griffith's Unschooling Handbook. I remember we were on our way to Asheville to meet up with some of Jackson's family for supper. I was reading it out loud to Jackson and the boys were in the back playing. It just made so much sense. And put what we were doing into words and GAVE IT A NAME. It was nice to have a name for what we were doing. I thought we were just crazy, I didn't know any other homeschoolers let alone unschoolers (we had just moved to NC). Jackson was totally on board with everything she was saying in the book, it just made so much sense for our family.
I went home that night and did an online search for "unschooling". Was too nervous to join any e mail lists but did some more reading and found The Unschooling Conference in Columbia, SC. Didn't know Kelly Lovejoy, didn't know any of the speakers, didn't know it was the first one. But it was only a 3 hour drive away. Jackson and I talked about it, and decided that we would all go and if we didn't like it we could easily just drive home. LOL. I loved it, we all loved it, the boys loved playing with kids "just like them", LOL. See adults treat children with respect. See children speaking their minds. I cried. It was just like my home...I knew then that I was NOT alone.
Although I still didn't join any e lists for another year. It was after my second unschooling conference in Columbia, hearing people talking about different lists, then coming home and hearing someone on a local list, talk about how they were so mean on one of those lists, LOL, I knew I had to join. Something was pulling me, I had to find out what they were talking about. So I joined my first list, Unschoolingdotcom and the rest is history... LOL.