Newly arrived in my home are the books Curious Unschoolers and Radical Unschool Love written by my online friend, Sue Elvis, of Stories of an Unschooling Family. I’m looking forward to diving into them in the days ahead.
Instead of ordering them for myself, I requested that my library system purchase them. Why? So other people will find them in the library and to spread the lovely unschooling message Sue has been sharing with the world for many years.
We are technically not an unschooling family even though I am very much an unschooler at heart in many ways. We’ve been relaxed homeschoolers bordering on unschoolers for a good portion of our time. To someone who homeschools following a strict philosophy, we probably look a bit like unschoolers because we do adopt a lot of that philosophy in our day to day life. However, given the struggles related to 2e in our home, I do take control of certain aspects of the planning and curriculum.
Unschooling and Relationships
What I especially appreciate about Sue’s writing is that it is relationship focused. This is something I’ve seen change in the homeschooling movement over the past twenty years.
Early on when I started reading about homeschooling and interacting with homeschooling parents online, the importance of relationships within the family were a core part of the homeschooling message. I’ve watched as that has slowly been de-emphasized in recent years. As homeschooling has become more professional, more performance focused, and more zeroed in on ideal academic outcomes, relationships seem to be emphasized less which I think is a tragic mistake. Sue, however, does an excellent job of bringing it back to relationships over and over again in her writing and podcasting.
Unschooling or Unparenting?
Something else I appreciate about Sue’s writing is that she makes it clear that unschooling is not unparenting. Unschooling requires focused and deliberate parenting. It really is the antithesis of unparenting.
This is one of the things I’ve learned in my own homeschooling endeavors. Being relaxed homeschoolers means I have to pay MORE attention to what my child needs, not less. I’m always responding to her needs and where she is rather than running her through a predetermined academic program or syllabus. This takes much more focus and adapting on my part, not less.
Even if you aren’t an unschooler or even a homeschooler, if you are a parent I think you would enjoy Sue’s website and books. She is a breath of fresh air in terms of how she speaks about her children and her relationship with them individually and as a group. I honestly think many homeschoolers would benefit from her thoughtful and loving parenting ideas.