Click here for more “20 Questions Answers from Unschoolers” around the world. If you’d like to answer these questions yourself, please read this post — I’m actively seeking more people to answer these!
NOTE: This is the first time that an Unschooled “child” answered these questions for me! While Idzie isn’t a child anymore, she has answered these questions having grown up as an unschooler. I really appreciate her perspective and I’m sure you will, too. 🙂
DoLifeRight: Tell me a bit about yourself and your family (name, children’s ages, where you live, etc.):
Idzie: No kids yet! I, however, am an 18 year old longtime unschooler who lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with my parents and 16 year old sister.
DoLifeRight: How long have you homeschooled your children? Do you consider your family an unschooling family? What does this mean for your family?
Idzie: We’ve been “homeschooling” of one sort or another for 13 years. I left kindergarten part way through the year, and we started out as relaxed homeschoolers. Over the years, we got steadily more relaxed, so that by the time I reached my teens, we were full fledged unschoolers. What unschooling means to my family is that children and teens are people too. People with their own aspirations, their own interests. People who have the ability and desire to make important decisions for themselves, and lead their own life, instead of having their life led for them by someone else who “knows best”! In short, unschooling means freedom and respect, no matter your age.
DoLifeRight: Did you plan to homeschool your children before you actually had children? What is your own educational background?
Idzie: My mother wanted to homeschool me from the start. My father, however, had different ideas. So off to half-day kindergarten I went! However, there were problems with other kids, and a horrible principal, so after a pretty bad experience, my father decided that maybe homeschooling really was the best option! As for me, I most definitely plan to unschool my own children, when they eventually come along. 🙂
DoLifeRight: Why did you decide to not send your children to school? What research did you do to make this decision? Were there any books, magazines, or websites you would recommend new parents (or parents who are new to homeschooling) read?
Idzie: I can’t really answer that accurately, but what I can say is that I highly reccomend the Teenage Liberation Handbook to all teens, both in and out of school!
DoLifeRight: Did you consider yourself an “Attachment Parent” when your children were infants? How did this (or didn’t this) affect your choice to unschool/homeschool your children?
Idzie: My mother never used the term “attachment parenting”, and I’m not sure she even knew the term existed, but we (we being my sister and I) co-slept, were never left to cry alone, lived in my mom’s sling when we were little, and I was breastfed until age 2 1/2, my sister until 5. So basically she practiced attachment parenting! And I’d certainly say it affected her choice to homeschool. We were always a tight knit family, and I think it felt incredibly wrong to her to send her little girl away to school daily!
DoLifeRight: Do you have a regular schedule in your life? How does this work with outside commitments and responsibilities?
Idzie: No, we do not have a regular schedule.
DoLifeRight: How important have support groups been for you? Do you have online ones, in person ones, or a mixture? Please list any you want to share.
Idzie: There was never any unschooling support groups in real life in our area, which was very hard for us. That’s why I’m currently working on getting an unschooling support group started up here in Montreal! I think it’s incredibly important to have others support your choice to unschool, which is why I want to create a community that supports and validates each other, as well as simply enjoying each other’s company! I feel this is especially important for those new to unschooling. In the last few years, my family has become more involved in the greater unschooling community, first through Yahoo! groups, then through Not Back to School Camp and the Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering, as well as other conferences we’re going to later this year. We were involved with our local homeschooling community when my sister and I were young, but it was a very school-at-home type group of people, so didn’t really make us feel better as unschoolers…
DoLifeRight: What resources do you use for your children’s “educations”? Feel free to comment on the word “education”.
Idzie: I’ve used the library, the internet, and the people around me. I’ve researched whatever strikes my fancy through both books and the internet, written a ton, and most importantly had many amazing conversations. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) more from long discussions about important things than almost anything else I’ve ever done. I’ve also danced in the rain, taken long walks, ran, swam, giggled late into the night, meditated by a campfire, looked up at the stars on a clear night, lay around in people piles, talked too long on the phone, and a million other things I consider equally valuable. Life is learning. I’ve simply lived my life, and through living, I’m learning!
DoLifeRight: How did your friends and families react when you told them your children wouldn’t be going to school? Have their opinions changed over the years?
Idzie: I’m not so great for telling you how people reacted way back when, but I can tell you what reactions I get as an unschooler who’s now 18, and is neither “in school” (I consider myself to still be learning, of course. Learning never ends!) nor working a paid job. That reaction is very split. Unschoolers and similarly freethinking people are very supportive, and seem to be impressed with how I “turned out” as an unschooler. Some more traditionally minded family friends, however, are considerably less supportive, feeling that I should be working if I’m not in school. Also, as my schooled friends go into higher education, I feel there’s some “what is she doing with her life, anyway?” feelings being sent my way… Handling negative reactions can be hard, but since the people I interact with are mostly supportive, it balances out!
DoLifeRight: What have been the benefits (unexpected and expected) to homeschooling?
Idzie: The benefits of unschooling have been that I’m a happy, healthy person who knows my own mind and isn’t afraid to express myself. I refer to myself as a “social introvert”, meaning that I love being around people, but find large groups incredibly draining. Had I been in school, I have no doubt that I would have hid in a corner most of the time, made few friends and most likely no good ones, and become a complete grade slave, struggling to please teachers and get good grades, while enjoying none of it. I am not a person who would have thrived in school, and I’m eternally grateful to my parents for never forcing me to go to school!
DoLifeRight: What are the biggest issues you are currently having, or have ever had in regards to parenting and/or homeschooling/unschooling?
Idzie: For me, personally, the biggest issues I’ve had are with not having a supportive community in real life (the internet is an entirely different story!). It’s hard when even the most open-minded schooled people still don’t really get it, and don’t quite approve, no matter how much explaining you do! This is especially hard for me since I’m a person who really seeks validation from others, and wants my closest friends and family at the very least to be entirely supportive of my life decisions.
DoLifeRight: Do you have any websites, yahoo lists, etc. that you run or maintain? Please list them here with descriptions.
Idzie: I have a blog, which I consider to be my home online, a place where I write about unschooling, anarcho-primitivism, environmentalism, freedom, anarchy, and whatever else I feel like. Basically, it’s a place to share my feelings, thoughts, emotions, interests, and simply my daily life. It can be found here. I also have a Yahoo! group, recently started, but that’s only for people who are actally going to be participating in the Montreal unschooling group!