Want to know what a day in the life of unschooling looks like? Then check out Stacey Piercey’s, The Alice. The Alice is like peering into the mind of an unschooler on any given day that their interest is piqued. It’s written like an unschooling journey. What I mean by that, is that it’s not laid out with standard steps to follow, or things to purchase in order to be a “better” homeschooler. It’s a wonderful rabbit-hole of curiosity. In unschooling, a person can wake up and watch a video or see a word or have a conversation that leads to a spark of interest. From there a deep dive begins. We can find ourselves down the “rabbit hole” of learning that can go in many different directions but is all connected from that beginning thread.
“Something to watch”. “Something to strew”. “Something to try”.
It’s not prescriptive. It’s a spark of interest.
I am really enjoying “The Alice” as something to keep checking my email for.
Cost: $4 USD/month – a fantastic resource for home educating parents.
Creator and Host of the podcast, Honey! I’m Homeschooling The Kids
The photo is such a special one to me, the happiness and laughter on my daughter’s face is one thing – but there is something that you can not see in this photo… Minutes before this was taken on Saturday night, my daughter had just watched herself on a cinema screen for the first time in the film premier of a movie that she is in. As the credits rolled, so did her tears – I watched as the tears flowed fast down her beautiful face, she swiped at them quickly, desperate to stop them before the cinema lights came back on. I held her in my arms, and squeezed her tightly- when I asked her why she was crying she replied… “I’m happy mummy, and I feel proud of myself.”
Rewind to four years ago when we decided to take our daughter out of school – she was suffering terribly with anxiety and low self esteem – school were not supporting her at all. At her worst, she was being physically sick everyday, it really was such a distressing time.
Making the decision to home educate was the best decision we have made. At the very start we enrolled Ellila-Jean in a local drama school in an attempt to help her with her confidence, and help it certainly did. She found something that she truly enjoyed and we watched her confidence blossom right in front of us. In the last couple of years she has had some great opportunities, and met the loveliest people.
So this picture is much more than just a happy photo, it represents an incredible journey that Ellila-Jean has been on. It has not always been smooth sailing – but we are worlds apart from where we were at the start, and words can not describe how incredibly proud we are of her.
Four years ago I would never have imagined that our little girl would have the confidence to stand up in front of a cinema full of people and talk, let alone be in a film… but what means so very much more than that, is that she now believes in herself…and that truly is the best thing of all!
(Photo credit Grant Archer. Also in the photo is Tom England)
It is a rare family indeed that isn’t hit by the financial impact of home education. Let’s be honest about that. Whether tag-teaming shift work, paying for books and resources, covering examination fees, or stretching your food budget to incorporate weekday family lunchtimes, the decision to home educate comes with a price tag. It might mean changing the hours that you work, or it might be adapting the way that you work and removing the divisions you might have had between work and family life. For us, it meant dropping from a fairly healthy combined income, down to a single salary. At first, I wasn’t sure how we would cope.
Life is about choices and, in choosing to home educate, you are also free to choose how to cope with the pressures that this brings. Foreign holidays, branded clothes, and pub lunches often lose their appeal when the quality of your daily life improves substantially. As an example, we went from eating out regularly and booking weekly Ocado food deliveries, to a zero-waste semi-vegan lifestyle which feels both highly satisfying and environmentally conscious. Within a few months of practise, we cut our weekly shopping budget in half and significantly reduced spending in other areas; choices which we consciously made to enable us to maintain a reasonable budget for books, visits, and other activities.
Of course, it all adds up, and simple changes make a big difference. Meals can be cooked from scratch, leftovers can be reheated, holes in jumpers can be mended, and wrapping paper for birthday presents can be individually designed using paints or by ‘upcycling’ old newspapers or magazine cutouts. When you are juggling two full-time jobs alongside the relentless demands of school, few people have the time to adopt this kind of mentality and yet, when you do slow down and ‘opt in’ to living this way, it can dramatically increase your appreciation for the value of goods and create a sense of deep connection.
It is an absolute myth that home educating is for affluent middle-class families. Almost any family you meet will be getting by on a tight budget; many couples are on low-incomes and some single parents use shared living arrangements as a financial solution or ‘bridge’ during a particular stage in their child’s home education. It is not an easy or privileged path to choose, by any means. What families do have, though, is unlimited time together, the freedom to make their own choices, and a powerful engagement with the real world.
We have done both and, for us, homeschooling is worth it. We might have holes in our trainers, but we laugh harder, live more wisely, and enjoy closer friendships, than we did before.
Anna is a former teacher turned homeschooling mum-of-three. Her first book The Case for Homeschooling is out now.
I was so excited when I learned about Odyssey. My family moves around the world every two years, which usually means new friends, new house, and new foods! With Odyssey, my kids can now meet and stay connected to their peers, no matter where we are living. In addition to that, I also can meet and connect with similar parents to support each other without all the drama and fighting that can happen in Facebook groups. While enmeshed in Odyssey, I can forget that I’m not in the mainstream and can discuss openly the different ways to work, un, or homeschool without judgement. I do try to teach my kids good digital citizenship, but having a safe space where I don’t have to worry allows me to relax a bit related to screentime!
Review written by Elizabeth and submitted by Streams.
My story began over 20 years ago when our 1st child was born. As new parents, we were full of idealism and wanting the best for our daughter and we both thought home educating would offer a wonderful way to educate our child. My husband encouraged me to home educate then but I was reluctant, due to the fact I had struggled with dyslexia at school.
It took 7 years of a growing desire to home educate. I think if I had meet a home educator earlier, I might taken the plunge sooner. The tipping point for us was when I saw the signs of dyslexia in our second child as she struggled (She is now doing Master in Engineering.) So for the next 6 years, I home educated 5 of our children. I loosely followed the national curriculum using topics to cover all aspects of education….a topic would spark an interest and drive them to find out more.
Maths was the one subject that I taught systemically with a curriculum to lay down a solid foundation. My older 5 are mostly grown up now – two are in employment, and two are working towards degrees, and one doing his A levels. I asked them if it was a good thing overall. They answered that for primary schooling they thought home education was better than school but had mixed opinions about secondary education.
One thing I had not done with my children was formal exams, so when they went into secondary they did not have any exam technique. So my daughter who went into school at 14 years old found that she had a lot of exam practice to catch up on.
I now find myself back home educating my two youngest, aged 9 and 7 years old. After the lockdown I decided to once again stop work and start home educating. I am more relaxed this time around knowing its okay… you can go fast in educating if they are interested in a subject and stretch them, or gentle and slow for the things they struggle with, but in time achieve. Academic results are not the only outcome of home education.
What’s the end goal? For us, it’s happy, kind, thoughtful grown-up children who are able to support themselves in work and accomplish their best.
My top tip would be – get out for the day to go somewhere interesting. Often a trip somewhere to a museum, English heritage or National Trust would generate that spark for questions and learning.