Childrearing

Back To School Week: We’re A Family Of Unschoolers

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Zoe and Teagan, now 15 and 11 respectively, have chosen to take classes at various recreational centers and community colleges in recent years. Three years ago, Zoe took a college admisssions test — the first standardized test that she had ever taken in her life. The then 12-year-old scored perfectly on the reading and writing sections and scored high enough on the math section to be placed in college-level math. Following the exam, Zoe was interviewed by the dean and has since been  taking college classes “on and off,” her mother says.

Despite investing years into refraining from conventional curriculums and classrooms, Lisa and her husband are saving for both their girls to attend college. She believes that unschooling her daughters has given them an edge with admissions.

“Getting into college as an unschooler is much simpler than most people realize. We have hundreds of unschooling friends who are having an equally easy experience as us in regards to college. Universities are seeking out unschoolers because they actually want to be there, unlike their public-schooled counterparts.”

At present, Zoe aspires to work for NASA as an exogeologist and on “Jeopardy!” a part of the Clue Crew.  In addition to co-authoring a novel, the teenager already has established a relationship with NASA, blogging for them on occasion and securing NASA employee interviews for her own Internet quiz show, “Zoe’s Geo Party!”

“As we travel around the country, Zoe films clues about the things we do and the places we visit,” her mother explains. “She does this just like a member of the Clue Crew would. She feels this is great practice for her, plus it is a lot of fun.”

Zoe is also learning how to edit audio books.

Lisa’s younger daughter Teagan wants to pursue a career as a model as well as a fashion boutique owner. She plans to design original clothes as well and runs her own small home business making favicons for websites. Both girls have already held paying jobs.

At this point in her daughter’s lives, Lisa says that whenever she hears criticisms of unschooling, she just laughs. One myth that pervades about the practice, she says, is that unschooling is essentially all hands off “unparenting.”

“This couldn’t be further from the truth. Unschooling is the most intensive type of education there is. It requires the parents to be willing to answer their children’s questions 24 hours a day, or find a resource that can. It requires a commitment unlike any other type of education. There are no ‘off’ hours in an unschooler’s life,” she says. “My daughters are so busy living their lives to the fullest and doing such amazing things already that any negative comments from strangers usually means that have no idea what unschooling actually is.”

(photo: hkeita/ Shutterstock)

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