Category Archives: starting unschooling

Typical Day As Unschooling Teen in High School

When people hear that unschoolers choose their own schedule and decide what to study, it’s often hard to imagine. A typical day with unschooling is different for each person and changes over the months but here’s one of mine while unschooling high school:

I wake up around 8:30 am. I have breakfast and then leave for the public bus to the subway around 9:15 am. I go a few stops and walk to Literature Group with a bunch of other teen unschoolers. The group is run by Maureen Carey who used to be a school teacher and has two unschooled kids, one who is in the group (she gets to sleep in a more and attend class in her pajamas).

We each take turns reading aloud books by Anton Chekhov, Jane Austen, J. D. Salinger, Jules Verne, Moliere, etc. Halfway through we break for snack including some of Maureen’s homemade challah or other delicious bread and black tea she buys when the family visits Ireland every year.

When we finish a book we watch a movie of it. We always say,”The book was better.” But it’s fun anyway.

I was of the last generation to take these classes for free. Now Maureen charges about $10/person/class. It’s worth it for the challah. Let alone the good books and the chance to hang-out with other homeschoolers your age.

I go home, make myself lunch, check e-mail, and then go to cross-country after school. Some towns let homeschoolers take high school classes, even get a diploma. Mine didn’t but they let me continue to run cross-country and track.

In the evening I take a bus into Harvard Square and attend a class at Harvard Extension School on calculus, linguistics, or anthropology. I’ve always been interested in these subjects and I really enjoy the classes and learn a ton.

The classes meet only once a week in the evenings. Like at college, many unschoolers and homeschoolers take only a few classes at a time, at community colleges (like Harvard Extension) and classes organized by homeschoolers (like the literature group). And those classes often meet only once or twice a week.

Some unschoolers don’t take any college classes, others have a full college workload once they get into their teens. My first year as a sophomore I had no college classes and after that just one or two per semester.

It was important for me to have some scheduled activities during the week. But some days I had nothing at all scheduled. Reading on my own, talking with people, writing, and walking in the woods were major parts of my education.

In my last year of unschooling high school I spent a lot of time running my own odd job business and planning for my solo travels around Europe. And that started my unschooling college and worldschooling!

This post was in response to a question someone asked in a comment to my last post (thanks Miriam!). So please feel free to ask more questions!




Filed under homeschooling, starting unschooling, teenaged unschoolers, unschooling

Upcoming Unschooling Conferences 2009-2010

Here’s a list of upcoming unschooling conferences all over North America in 2009-2010 with dates, locations, and websites.

Most of the list was actually compiled by Erika Davis-Pitre: she posted it on the African American Unschooling list: She’s an awesome speaker who will be at many conferences including the Northeast Unschooling Conference near Boston in less than two weeks (!) where I’ll be speaking too!

I just added the new UWWG webiste and an inclusive homeschooling conference in Illinois (it includes unschoolers and all other homeschoolers) that’s happening in March, 2010.

All are welcome: these conferences are great for parents, kids, grandparents, people starting unschooling, looking for more unschoolers to connect with, curious about the philosophy, and unschoolers looking for support, encouragement, and inspiration.

Unschooling conference can be a great (re)inspiration when you’re surrounded by a “schooled” society to be reminded you are doing the right thing!

Please comment or contact me directly ( if you know of any others, anywhere in the world!

Aug 27 – 30, 2009
Wakefield, MA (north of Boston)
Northeast Unschooling Conference

Sept. 4 – 8, 2009
Westlake, TX (west of Dallas)
Rethinking Education Conference

Sept. 10 – 13, 2009
San Diego, CA
Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference

Sept 21 – 22, 2009
Frederick, MD
Enjoy Life Unschooling Conference

Oct 2 – 4, 2009
Caledon, Ontario
Toronto Unschooling Conference

October 8-11, 2009
Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta, Georgia
The School’s Out Forever Homeschool Getaway

NJ to Bermuda
Oct 24 – 29, 2009
Unschooling Adventure Cruise

Jan 7 – 9, 2010
Santa Fe, NM
Sandra’s Unschooling Symposium in Santa Fe

Feb 8 – 12, 2010
Sanduskey, OH
Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering

Mar 12 – 14, 2010
Columbia, SC
Autodidactic Symposium

Mar 18-20th, 2010
St. Charles, IL
InHome Conference

May 27-30, 2010
Vancouver, WA
LIFE is Good Conference



Filed under homeschooling, starting unschooling, unschooling, unschooling conferences

My Unschooling and Trust Journey

In my last post I talked about how trust is key in unschooling. To learn to be free we need to trust ourselves even if things start out rough, and they certainly did when I started unschooling!

Decompression” is what unschoolers call it when you start unschooling and “do nothing” for awhile. My first several months homeschooling I hardly left the house (following that stereotype about homeschoolers!) and had only ultimate frisbee and cross country running as organized activities: nothing resembling school or academics! But honestly, more than that, I was just an angry and unhappy guy.

It’s kind of like cleaning up a big mess: often things get messier before they get nice. There’s a lot that comes to the surface and needs to be sorted out: things to decide to keep or throw away. Sometimes it’s very hard to throw things away! And it takes a lot of trust in the process when things look pretty bad on the surface.

Many people thought I was making a bad choice when I left school. Sometimes my reaction was very strong against this, but ultimately I thought, “I’m just going to try doing this myself and see how it goes. If I need to, I’ll go back to school, but I’m gonna try relying on myself.”

Underneath my initial anger and defensiveness about homeschooling and unschooling, I had doubts, fears, and insecurities all along the way; still do. I’ve been humbled from the beginning with the mistakes I’ve made after I left school and even more while I travelled the world!

But by the end of that first year of unschooling things were getting a lot better: I was working on an organic farm, going to a wilderness survival school, then even taking great courses at a community college and going  to homeschooler classes that people organized. But my real education came from all the healing work I did sorting through things and healing wounds that were stopping me from doing what I really wanted to do.

Through unschooling and exploring the world around me, worldschooling, I’ve come to honestly understand what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’ve learned to accept the wise and caring guidance from others when I need it, reject the false fear based pressure from some, and follow my bliss and inner knowing and learn from my mistakes.

Despite my insecurities, in the end, with my actions, I put my trust in myself. Looking back, I am so thankful for that journey I started a decade ago. Again, when I wanted to run my own business and I was reluctant to go to college, some people weren’t sure it was a good idea: I decided I’d see how it went. Including some ups and downs, it continued to go well, so I continue to put my trust in myself.

I still have more worries and fears but they don’t stop me from continuing to learn and grow. They don’t stop me from shining my light and loving my life.


Filed under adult unschoolers, grown unschoolers, homeschooling, starting unschooling, trust, unschooling, worldschooling