As a homeschooling parent, I’ve always been curiously drawn to the idea of unschooling, but have mostly stuck to conventional methods of teaching. I think I am scared that I will fail my kids if I drop the basics of “school,” so I was glad to get the opportunity to read Canadian unschooling mom, Lael Whitehead’s book – A Path of Their Own.
Ms. Whitehead shares the story of her journey through education with her daughters – from the early days of public school through the start of home education to the freedom of unschooling and beyond.
Unschooling seems to have a bad reputation or, at the very least, a lot of misunderstanding among the main thrust of society. It appears to often just be a good example of lazy, uninvolved parenting or teaching – when in reality it’s a lot more complex and deeply involved. I love that Ms. Whitehead was able to share why her family moved to an unschooling model, the research and information that she read as they made that jump. It wasn’t just a decision that she made on a whim, but on serious thought and observations of her children’s needs.
I really enjoyed the interjections between chapters that are written by her now-grown daughters and her husband, too. Hearing the voice of the ones who have completed their unschooled childhood and have become successful and happy adults was a great addition to the book. I found it very interesting how they each pursued a life following their passions.
There were only a few things that made me raise an eyebrow – one being that there were occassional curse words and also a few sections that seemed a bit disjointed to the overall book – like a complete chapter about her children’s discovery about sex. Admittedly, unschooling is more than just math, language, and science, but a full life education, so sexuality is a part of that, so I suppose it does fit the theme.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. It challenged my ideas of education: how children learn and how to trust their interests. It got me looking at my kids from outside of the “school” box and questioning how I can encourage them to build upon their passions. I might not be ready to make a full dive into the unschooling approach but it has definitely given me an idea to add a new element to our school days – letting the kids learn things on their own that they love instead of just having workbooks and lesson plans.
I will share that I read an early publisher’s edition of the book, so it’s possible that there were changes from the version I read and the finalized book edition that is now available in the Kindle Book Store.
A great read that will likely challenge and encourage you on your homeschooling journey.