When people hear that we don’t send our four children to school, they seem to immediately jump to the negative.
‘Oh I could never! I don’t have the patience!’
‘Oh gosh poor you. How do you do it?’
‘Oh no way I’m so thankful for school.’
It’s ok. I know they just don’t know. But, it’s also sad.
Because this life is magic.
I mean it. There is nothing quite like life without school, or schooled ideas. It is enjoyable and fun and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
So let’s let people know! Life without school is AWESOME!
10 Things I Love About Life Without School
One of my favourite things about life without school is the freedom. Freedom in SO many ways. Freedom from rules and expectations. Freedom from pressure and standards. Freedom to create a life that suits us, instead of one where other people decide how we spend our time.
We are so conditioned to not see freedom as our right. It’s actually perceived as kind of selfish. Who are we to live however we like? Who are we to choose differently than the majority of people? Who are we to follow our joy every day instead of settling for the way you ‘should’ do it?
Who are we? We are the people who are living this life! The one life we get! We can do whatever we like with it! I won’t have my children learning that they are powerless. That the path is already laid out for them and that they have no choice. That other people know better what is good for them than they do.
I want them to know that they are free. That their life is their own. That it is not selfish to spend your time doing whatever makes you happy, as long as you are not hurting anyone else. I want them to love life, not tolerate it. So we choose freedom.
“One cannot be truly free within a mandatory, coercive system of social control.” – Kerry McDonald
This is a big one. It makes me so sad that we are made to believe that connection with our children is only important for a few short years. By the time a child hits 4 or 5 years of age it’s time to sever that bond. They need to be ‘independent’.
We chose life without school because we value connection. Childhood is so short. They will only be in our arms and houses for a limited amount of time. I am not ok with giving that time up to an institution. To people who don’t know them and love them like I do. They deserve to spend their lives surrounded by love. We have that right here.
We are connected. We are in tune. We ENJOY each other’s company. We don’t have a list of things we have to get done, or a time schedule. We can just be. Together. And that is priceless.
3. Sibling bond
I remember when my third daughter was born, less than a month later my eldest daughter was due to start school. Watching them bond and get to know each other it was so clear to me what she would have been missing if we had chosen to have school in our life. So much separation, so many fewer chances to connect, so little time to form a strong bond. She would have missed out on so so much. Not to mention how heartbreaking it would have been to be separated from her other sister for 5 days a week.
For us, life without school means forging bonds with siblings that last a lifetime.
Everyone’s all stressed out about socialisation and we’re here hanging out in nature, ice skating, visiting museums, swimming, laughing, and playing with friends with no time limits. No bullying, no teasing, no cliques, just love.
Life without school means authentic friendships, unstructured play, unlimited time, and support navigating social issues. It looks wonderful.
Isn’t that something we all want? More time. Everyone warns you that childhood goes so fast. In the blink of an eye they’re all grown up. I bet it seems even faster when 5 days a week are spent apart.
Unschooling means more time with your kids. More unscheduled time. More time to be present. And that is priceless.
At school there is little room for differences. Children are standardised, and socially there is so much pressure to ‘fit in’.
Without school, unique individuals flourish. Children that have never had to worry about what is ‘cool’, what they ‘should’ be interested in, or what other people think. Children who aren’t measured by standards and averages. Who aren’t focused on beating other people in order to do well. Instead, all that matters is what is important to them, who they are, their own unique talents and passions.
It is such a blessing to truly know who these amazing people are meant to be. To see their personalities that are not shaped by the pressures of schooling and toxic socialisation.
Everyone deserves to feel free to be themselves, and to be accepted for that.
7. Yes Life
So much of the real world is closed off from children. They are locked away, day after day, doing tedious busywork instead of experiencing life. But the real world is where real learning lies. So many opportunities are missed by not being able to live it.
School free life means saying YES. Yes we can go down to the creek and catch tadpoles today, yes we can visit the museum, yes we can spend all day reading books and resting because you’re tired, yes I can help you count your money and then we can go to the shops to spend it, yes you can do art all day when you’re feeling inspired, yes I will help you research koalas, yes we can spend all day playing freely with friends. YES we can live our lives and you are an important part of that. YES you can be involved. YES you are needed and valuable and enjoyable to be around.
“The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they – at some distant point in the future – will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.” – Alvin Toffler
8. Real learning
Learning without school is unimaginable to most people. In fact, so many of us believe that a child cannot become educated without schooling, whether that’s in an institution or at home.
The truth is, natural learning is beautiful and powerful and the absolute best way to get an education. Children were born ready to learn. School doesn’t control learning, it just interferes with it. Children are perfectly capable of learning on their own terms, at their own pace, with supportive caregivers to help when necessary and protect their right to freedom of learning.
Children who have never been forced to learn, love learning. They have a passion for life that is rarely seen among school-aged children. They are self-motivated, inventive, inspired, joyful, and independent. They learn because they are built to learn and no one has interfered with the process. They remember what they learn because they have truly learnt it, not memorised it for someone else’s benefit.
“Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning. They are little learning machines. Within their first four years or so they absorb an unfathomable amount of information and skills without any instruction. They learn to walk, run, jump, and climb. They learn to understand and speak the language of the culture into which they are born, and with that they learn to assert their will, argue, amuse, annoy, befriend, and ask questions. They acquire an incredible amount of knowledge about the physical and social world around them. All of this is driven by their inborn instincts and drives, their innate playfulness and curiosity. Nature does not turn off this enormous desire and capacity to learn when children turn five or six. We turn it off with our coercive system of schooling. The biggest, most enduring lesson of school is that learning is work, to be avoided when possible.” -Peter Gray
Read more about what learning without school looks like here.
“Autonomy is characterized by a feeling of being free. People are happier and healthier when they feel autonomous.” -Teresa Graham Brett
School free life means that children are able to have full autonomy. They can choose when to eat, sleep, use the toilet, go outside, what to wear, what they are interested in, what they want to learn about, and more. People have a right to make decisions about their own lives and how they spend their time. An adult would never stand for the amount of micromanagement children are expected to tolerate in schools.
Unschooled children are free and autonomous because that’s what they deserve.
Children who are free from school are intensely motivated and alive. I think Carol Black explains it best in her essay ‘On The Wildness Of Children‘…
“We didn’t have a name for it, but my friends and I often noticed that our kids–– who didn’t go to school–– had this quality of attention as they moved through the world. They were in a different mental state from schooled kids. You could see it. They noticed everything. They remembered everything. Their minds were open, clear, alert, at ease. If something caught their interest, they were on it with laser focus. When we encountered adults who were used to dealing with groups of school kids — at museums, aquariums, archaeological sites, animal-tracking hikes, beach clean-ups, citizen science projects –– they would say they had never seen kids like this before. They would be sort of dumbfounded by it. They expected all children to be wound up, tuned out, half-frantic with suppressed energy, like a dog who’s been locked in the house all day.”
I honestly think I could go on all day about the positives. I will never regret spending my life this way. With my children, truly knowing them.
What’s your favourite part about life without school?