New to this site? Click here for a great place to start!

Homeschool Fiction

Follow homeschoolers Nadia and Aidan as they travel the USA! Each book in this series explores a new state and a new research topic. Along with their parents and pet turtle, they find adventure and learning everywhere.

...and just what is that mysterious device of theirs?

Support Do Life Right



July 2010
« Jun   Aug »

Recommended Sites

Site Information

Month Day
Topics: 20 Questions,education,empowerment,homeschooling,mindful parenting,photographs,relationships,Unschooling

Answering Questions About Unschooling

My family was recently interviewed about our unschooling lifestyle. While I didn’t answer all the questions exactly like I do below, nor were the same questions asked, I thought you might enjoy reading some answers to questions that have been asked of me and my family lately.

Bentley Family June 2010

Q: What is Unschooling?

A: Unschooling is a type of homeschooling which focuses on children’s unique learning styles and individual interests. It’s all encompassing and allows children to truly learn, rather than temporarily memorize facts given to them. Unschoolers live in a stimulating and enriching environment with lots of parental support for the kids to pursue their individual interests and passions.

Q: What is Radical Unschooling?

A: Radical Unschooling takes unschooling beyond just the educational, into all aspects of parenting and living as a family. Rather than the parents telling children what to do and how to do it, Radical Unschoolers discover and discuss life and family goals together, including when the best time to sleep is, what foods are healthy to eat, what needs to be done around the house, etc. The family works cohesively as a team, rather than top-down mainstream parenting. Each member of the family is an equal member.

Q: Is Unschooling a realistic alternative to public school?

A: Although all children can learn and flourish in an unschooling environment, it isn’t a realistic lifestyle for all families. Unschooling requires parents who are very committed and actively aware of all that is needed in order to provide the necessary enriched environment. The parents also need to have the time and energy to help their children pursue their interests, dreams, goals, and passions. Not all parents can do this, nor want to do this. Unschooling is extremely hands-on parenting and can only work when the entire family is fully committed to it.

Q: What are the disadvantages of Unschooling?

A: Unschooling requires a large time commitment from the parents that not all parents are willing or able to give (unschooling is the most hands-on type of parenting there is). Most unschooling families find that, at least while the children are little, at least one parent needs to become a stay-at-home parent. Some parents accomplish this by alternating schedules or having both parents go part-time. This could be a financial issue for many families. While there are many single-parent unschooling families, it’s often more difficult due to financial reasons.

Unschooling can also be difficult for some parents as it requires that they challenge their beliefs on how people learn, and what educating and real education look like.

In my family’s homeschooling/unschooling endeavors, we’ve also discovered that there is a huge lack of children’s and young adult (YA) books about homeschoolers and unschoolers. Nearly every homeschooled person I’ve met (I’ve met thousands) has told me this when I’ve asked. For my proactive family, we took this as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage: I’ve written a series of children’s chapter books, Wright on Time books, about a roadschooling (homeschooling on the road) family who lives in an RV and travels the USA. Each book is set in a different state with a different and fun educational theme. I’ve started my own publishing company, Do Life Right, Inc., that is actively seeking submissions for other like-minded children’s and YA books about realistic homeschoolers.

Q: What are the advantages of Unschooling?

A: Almost too many to name! ūüôā

Living an unschooling lifestyle makes our family a team that works¬†together. Our relationships are amazing! We don’t have adversarial issues that top-down parenting often¬†has. Children who live in this freedom don’t need to lie, sneak, or “get¬†away” with things, as they are allowed to pursue anything they are¬†interested in.

For my family, the intellectual advantages are amazing. Their knowledge¬†bases are quite diverse and deep. I’ve yet to meet an unschooler who wasn’t an expert at something phenomenal. It’s amazing how much a person can accomplish when they are given the time and resources to pursue their interests.

Q: How, specifically, does unschooling work in my family?

A: Since unschooling looks completely different for all families and for all people, and since everyone learns differently, has different passions, and interests, I’ve listed how unschooling works for each of my children individually.

Zo√ę, age 13: Her current passions include geology and astronomy (specifically¬†exogeology), Jeopardy! (specifically working for the Clue Crew some day),¬†Girl Scouts, a variety of art projects, movie making, and writing. She recently won 2nd place in the USA Today/NASA¬†“No Boundaries” competition. In addition to a $1000 cash prize, she was asked to make¬†a presentation at JPL in Pasadena, and invited on a VIP tour of the¬†facility. She has also written two articles for NASA websites (here’s a link to the first), and has¬†plans to write more, as well as continue her Exogeology ROCKS! project by¬†going to all of the NASA facilities around the USA. She’ll be interviewing¬†more NASA employees (including two she interviewed at JPL, and Astronaut Mark Kelly who she interviewed over the 4th of July weekend), making videos of the interviews, and much more. We are¬†going to Alabama in November, Ohio next May, and probably one or two other¬†locations in between those two.

In addition to this, she is working on her Girl Scout Silver Award: a Greek gathering (Percy Jackson themed) event for Cadette and older Girl Scouts. She also makes jewelry where the proceeds are given to various animal rescue organizations, works as an assistant to my own creative writing classes, takes college classes, loves to cook and create new recipes, and manages to keep a very active social life.

Zoe Bentley, age 13

Be sure to follow Zo√ę on Facebook and twitter to find out more about her¬†Exogeology ROCKS! project.

Teagan, age 9: Her current passions include running her own business, Teagan’s Creations, which creates favicons¬†for other websites. She’s planning to expand into other creations as well.¬†In that, she is learning basic accounting, time management, business¬†correspondence skills, programming, and much more.¬†She also spends her time in ballet classes (including an award winning performing team), Girl Scouts, writing books,¬†learning algebra just because it’s fun, perfecting her Rubik’s cube and¬†hula hooping at the same time skills, reading, doing arts and crafts (a lot of 3D tape constructions, sewing, and abstract art drawing), playing imaginative games and board games, and¬†computer programming.

Teagan, age 9

Be sure to follow Teagan on twitter to hear about exciting and fun things she likes to tweet about.

Our family as a whole: A big part of unschooling in my family, in addition to us parents following¬†our children’s leads, is that we include them in our jobs and interests. It is¬†because of my children that I wrote my Wright on Time series of children’s¬†chapter books. The books take an unschooling family on a trip around the¬†USA. Each book takes the fictional Wright family to a different state,¬†learning a different educational topic. These are topics and states that my¬†own family has researched, discussed in great depth, and then decided¬†together what would be the most fun for the fictional family to pursue. Through the researching, writing process, and¬†creation of my own publishing company (including raising venture capital), my¬†children have learned a lot of skills, including: literacy issues,¬†publishing, marketing, business finance, travel skills, photography¬†(including studio photography), and much more.¬†My older daughter was able to take the presentation skills that we gained, and use it in her presentation to NASA in June. The skills that¬†I’ve learned, my kids have also learned–we’ve been a TEAM, doing this¬†together.

Both of our daughters understand what my husband and I do for a living, family finances, how to run a household (shopping, upkeep, yard work, bills, etc.), and what it’s like to be a functional grown-up in our current society. These are very important skills that are naturally learned when parents include their children in their lives.

The biggest part that I want to emphasize here is that parents need not already know how to do everything the children want to do. We have infinite resources available to us. Within seconds I’m able to look up information online. I can also consult books, movies, and people. Every single professional we have approached with questions has been more than willing to answer our questions. People love sharing their knowledge with those who are genuinely interested in what they know. Never underestimate this!

Q: What is a typical day like for my family?

A: Every day is different in our family, and every Unschooling family lives¬†differently, according to the family members’ interests and needs. For us, now¬†that my children are older, we spend a lot of time on our computers doing a¬†variety of projects from: researching, reading, writing, programming,¬†developing ideas, art, and more. When we are home, we go for a lot of walks around our 10 acres, enjoying the scenery, animals, and conversations that always ensue.

We also have a lot of outside-the-home activities¬†which include group tours and events with other homeschooling families,¬†ballet lessons, Girl Scouts, creative writing classes that I teach, as well¬†as regular errands such as grocery shopping that we include our children¬†on, as well as daytrips and tours we go on for just us. We also travel a lot (we’ve been to 30 US states and 7 countries so far, with plans to go to the other 20 states within the next 4 years), and our kids are actively involved in all aspects of this.

Want to know what Unschooling looks like in other families? Check out my series of “20 Questions for Unschoolers“.