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The Unschooling Life

What is unschooling?

How does unschooling work?

How can I be an unschooling parent – or a better unschooling parent?

This podcast is for people who want to be peaceful and respectful parents.

It is for people who think learning is a natural byproduct of being alive and being human.

It is for people who […]

Birthing Our Selves, Our Children, and Our World

Growing into unschooling can be a bumpy, painful and lonely journey. It might surprise those new to the concept of unschooling, to hear that developing a life wholly based in freedom, trust and fun, often includes times of deep angst, shame and fear. Yet a majority of new unschoolers do describe their transition into unschooling […]

Learn Nothing Day

Learn Nothing Day art

Several years ago Sandra Dodd started a “holiday for unschoolers” on July 24. This special day is called Learn Nothing Day.

Unschooling families live in a way such that learning can happen all day every day. Because of this, there are no school vacations and no days off from learning. But now, unschoolers have their […]

Emotional Challenges of Unschooling


I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at this year’s AERO Conference in New York. The workshop was attended by a great group of unschoolers, educators and others interested in alternative education. We had a fun, interesting, lively discussion – and hardly had a moment to get to the handout that I had prepared […]

Why Unschool?

play think learn grow laugh jump learn breathe play sleep eat dance

play think learn grow laugh jump learn breathe play sleep eat dance

Transcript Tradução em Português

What is unschooling? How does it work? Why does it work?

Since all the unschooling parents were busy playing games, doing experiments, climbing volcanoes, doing yoga, going to horseback riding lessons and baking – I talked to people […]

Who Can Unschool?

natural learning


Just about any child will learn and flourish in a truly loving and educationally-conducive environment. So every child has the potential to be a successful unschooler.

The question is, what qualities and skills must a parent have, in order to be able to provide this environment?

Is unschooling for everyone?

Who shouldn’t unschool?

Thanks […]


relaxing into unschooling

relaxing into unschooling


Before unschooling can truly flourish, parents and children need to undo old ideas about learning. This process is called deschooling.

This isn’t always easy, and it usually takes longer than we wish it would. But it is a critical part of launching a successful unschooling life.

While learning to relax […]

Going to College

my unschooled graduate sort of randomly ended up standing next to the mayor

my unschooled graduate Kayla sort of randomly ended up standing next to the mayor

Question: If children don’t go to school or follow a set curriculum for elementary or high school, how can they get into college or earn a college degree?

Answer: Lots of ways!


Here’s where you can find Blake’s book […]

College Alternatives

My son Jonathan's performance collective: Bodyfields

Jonathan and friends making music

Sometimes college is a good idea… and sometimes it isn’t.

Unschoolers are well situated to do other interesting, educational, strategically savvy things, rather than going to college. They have years of experience seeking out good opportunities, being self-motivated resourceful and creative, and finding alternative ways of learning the things […]

Peter Gray on Learning

Peter Gray

Peter Gray has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education

Transcription Peter Gray is a developmental psychologist, research professor and author. In his latest book Free to Learn, Mr. Gray writes about how all people are born to be self-directed learners.

It was a real honor to talk with Peter […]

Peter Gray on Play

me and siblings 1974

Amy and siblings, 1974. “Free to Be You and Me” is probably playing in the background.


Today we hear from Peter Gray about the importance of play in a child’s development, education, and general wellbeing.

In Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and […]

Family Bonding

Sandra Dodd and two of her cuddly cubs

Sandra Dodd and two of her cuddly cubs

Transcription What do families gain from unschooling that goes beyond providing a natural learning environment?

Today I asked Sandra Dodd about the differences between unschooling and other education alternatives. In her answer she touched on the parent-child bond, the parents’ learning, honoring human instincts, respecting the […]

Learning from Screens

learning from screens

learning from screens

Many people worry that unlimited access to screens will harm their child.

But natural learning occurs best when children follow their interests and are trusted to direct their own play and learning… even when they’re interested in something on a screen.

Thanks to Sandra Dodd, Rose Sorooshian, Michelle Loucas, Idzie Desmarais […]

Is Unschooling Legal?

pillow fight at the capitol

Some people wonder if unschooling is legal. Every country is different, and in the US every state is different. But the answer is pretty much Yes.

My favorite quote of the day:

“Learning isn’t illegal.” – Sandra (Touche.)

Thank you Ann Zeise, Carrie Hetu and Sandra Dodd for contributions to this podcast.

And thanks […]

“Bored” and “Lazy”

lazy is good

living the good life

Sometimes people say unschooling wouldn’t work (or isn’t working) because their kids are “too lazy” or because they are “always bored.”

But not only are boredom and laziness NOT reasons nor proof that unschooling doesn’t work – they offer great opportunities to learn new things and to have more bonding […]


learning happens

learning happens

Unschoolers don’t segment life into categories, don’t follow a prescribed curriculum and don’t see “academic” learning as different or better than all kinds of learning.

People who still have a school mindset worry that this means unschooled children are not learning the “Important Things.”

But today you’ll hear Sandra Dodd, Robin Grille, […]




Unschooling won’t work when children feel scared, shamed, coerced, or under attack.

So an important part of an unschooling parent’s job is to create a non-violent, peaceful place where children feel happy safe and content, so that learning can happen.

Sandra Dodd says unschooling parents should make choices to be “like the kind […]


Noor makes soup

Noor makes soup

Can even mealtimes be time of joy and harmony – and learning?

Unschoolers say, absolutely YES!

Thank you Sandra, Alex and Brie!





Can’t get enough of that alphabet soup!





A rich natural learning environment is not likely to be a spotless one.

Click on these links to find out more about joyful “lived-in” living from today’s unschooling superstars:

Alex Polikowsky Brie Jontry Nina Haley Sandra Dodd




The Best Day Ever

The Best Day Ever

Some people are afraid that if children don’t have rules, if they aren’t restricted, and if parents care too much about helping them get the things that they want- that the child will be “spoiled.”

But imagine this: What if a child could have 365 days a year of “best […]


family bed 1994

  Today we hear new thoughts about bed and sleep from the unschooling universe, where parents and children are in it together, and the older people don’t assume that they’re supposed to be bossing around the younger people.



me and my kids, 1994





Adam, on bedtime: “It’s […]

A Typical Day

a typical unschooling superhero

typical unschooling superheroes

Q: Is there such a thing as a typical unschooling day?

A: Not even a little tiny bit.


So instead today you can hear about one of Janine’s typically atypical unschooling days.



Music credit goes to Philly superhero Jake Snyder.




If a child doesn’t go to school, won’t she or he miss out on “socialization?”


(Whatever that is.)


Thanks today go to:

Ben Hewitt – unschooling dad and author of a new book about unschooling, Home Grown

Renee Cabatic – unschooling mom living and playing in rainy and wonderful Portland

Sandra Dodd […]

Special Needs

special unschooling beach yoga

Austin and Alissa, unschooling twins

Can unschooling work for a child with learning problems? What about gifted children? Or children with health issues?

Today we hear from….

Ami Fountain – Awesomism Ambassador, autism advocate, and unschooling mother of two boys.

Nina Haley – yoga teacher, paddleboarder and mother of three.

Sandra Dodd – “teacher” […]



If you don’t MAKE them, how will unschooled kids ever learn [scary music] math?

I asked some pretty smart unschoolers this question and got some pretty great answers.

Thanks go out to:

Pam Sorooshian – economics professor Alex Polikowsky- dairy farmer Veronica Lacerda Arao – artist and world traveler Janine – dancer and math-phobia-survivor […]


henny reading

Today’s topic: reading without coercion.

Abigail Larrison has a PhD in brain systems and neuroscience.

Ben Hewitt authored the recently published book Home Grown.

Janine‘s eldest started out in school, hating anything to do with books.

Renee and XuMei talk about the process of learning to read and spell.

Rippy tells a story about how […]



Today Rippy, Adam and Rose talk about learning to write for reasons that are FUN.

Here’s more information about National Novel Writing Month (going on now!) for those of you who might want to play along.

And here is Adam’s cocktail menu – in case you’re thinking of paying him a visit….



science is  e v e r y w h e r e

“I see science.. I see it _ _ _ e v e r y w h e r e_ _ _ “

Learning science, not in order to get a good grade, because it has everything to do with REAL LIFE!

Thanks to science-lovers Rippy Dusseldorp, Ben Hewitt, Veronica Lacerda, the Daniel family, and […]


time for an adventure!

time for an adventure!

What is geography? And how do unschoolers learn about it?

Today we hear from:

Cameron Lovejoy who loves exploring, traveling and having new experiences.

Idzie Desmarais who has friends and readers from all over the world.

Lainie and Miro who have been traveling through South and Central America for five […]


Idzie is still learning history!


Idzie is still learning history!

History is all about stories. And who doesn’t love a good story!?

Rippy tells stories from the Netherlands and beyond,

Adam tells stories from England and beyond,

Idzie tells stories from Canada and beyond,

and Gillian tells stories from Trinidad and beyond!

Gillian and team on stage […]


alice with money

Today’s featured guests:

Sandra Dodd – on scrawny vs fat healthy unschooling and how to save on therapy costs.

Rose Sorooshian – on whether buying things for children spoils them.

Renee and XuMei Cabatic – on the details of their family’s finances.

Gillian Goddard – on running a business while unschooling.

Ben Hewitt – […]



Principles and priorities (rather than rules) create the framework by which unschooling can work.

When you’re saying Yes or No or Maybe – the big gigantic question is WHY. This can help with decisions about how to be with your kids and probably with decisions about everything else too.

And there is lots more […]

Saying Yes

the wonderful world of yes


the wonderful world of yes

Today our unschooling friends talk about how saying Yes to your child can foster a rich and joyful environment for learning.

Pam Lariccha on how to say yes intentionally, with learning in mind.

Scott Noelle on finding the “high-quality” Yes.

Sandra Dodd “If there’s no good reason to […]


When Kayla was an unschooled teen

unschooled teen cuteness

If you’ve never met an unschooled teen – you should really fix that. I think they are some of the very best type of humans on the planet.

Today’s episode covers a couple tips of the iceberg of the enormous wide world of self-directed teens.

Sandra Dodd raised three unschooled teens […]


strewing their paths with interesting things

Back in ancient times (before aol!) someone asked Sandra Dodd how her kids learned things without a curriculum.

She answered: “I just strew their paths with interesting things.”

And the term “strewing” was born.

Today we hear more about this idea from Sandra, and also from expert strewers Deb Rossing, Katie O’Connor and Pam […]



Today we hear how unschoolers find and build community from veteran unschoolers Rose Sorooshian, Sandra Dodd and Sue Patterson.




Sometimes people say “Unschooling isn’t working for my child” or they say, “We tried unschooling but it didn’t work.”

I asked Sandra Dodd, Nina Haley and Sue Patterson: When, why and how does unschooling fail?


Unschooling as Personal Growth

unschooling as personal growth

One of the hidden benefits to unschooling is that it can help parents learn, heal and grow.

Ben Hewitt (a “high school dropout” and author of many books including Home Grown) is gaining self-confidence and growing his patience.

Katie O’Connor (director of Talking Stick Learning Center) is unlearning old beliefs and expanding her curiosity […]

Unschooling as Global Change


Can unschooling make the world a better place?

Gillian Goddard says the way we treat children is the training ground for victim behavior and perpetrator behavior.

Teresa Graham Brett says “the children in my life have challenged me to live according to the values of liberation, freedom and respect as a parent and human […]



photo by Penny Hewitt

Today we hear about danger and safety from Ben Hewitt, Sandra Dodd, Renee Cabatic, Gever Tulley and Lenore Skenazy.

For a longer version of the interview with Gever Tulley click here.



MIro in the Amazon

Nina’s family on top of the tallest building in the world

Miro in the Amazon

The flexibility of a homeschooling lifestyle makes it possible for families to travel and learn all over the place.

Maybe these travelers can inspire us to realize the whole world is our classroom and that wherever we go […]

Sex Ed

Me, Rachel and our lovely  teenage (at the time) daughters

Me, Rachel and our lovely teenage (at the time) daughters

How do unschoolers do “sex education?”

Lainie Liberti “Sexuality is a huge part of our experience as human beings on this planet… there’s no reason to deny or be embarrassed or have shame around it…”

Robyn Coburn “It’s not one conversation that you have…”



amychilds upsidedown

Quitting and learning; learning and quitting.

Alex Polikowsky has quit lots of things and doesn’t consider herself a quitter. (Sidenote: even though her kids are always allowed to quit, her daughter Gigi has loved doing chores ever since she was one year old.)

Ben Lovejoy quit the military three times, which made it possible […]


James and Jyayne Coburn

James and Jayne Coburn

Words of wisdom from unschooling dads.


Ben Hewitt loves spending time with his sons.

Chris Cabatic started his journey with attachment parenting.

Rick Rossing reveals the Secret Society of Unschooling Dads.

James Daniel gives mums a crash-course on dadspeak.

James Coburn and Ben Lovejoy say that most of all […]



Just to be clear, THIS is a picture of a SUPPORTIVE grandpa

What can unschoolers do about less-than-supportive friends, neighbors and relatives?


Alex Polikowsky gives Grandma something to brag about.

Pam Laricchia offers ways to prepare for family gatherings.

Sandra Dodd always has lots of tips and tricks for living more joyfully.

Sue […]

Single Parents

Miro and Lainie

Miro and Lainie

For many people, unschooling as a single parent would be way too hard.

But today we hear from some “solo mums” who are unschooling successfully with lots of joy, learning and partnership.


Katie O’Connor is co-director of the Talking Stick Learning Center.

Danielle Owens is on the board of DrMomma.org […]

Hard Times

north pacific ocean

What do unschoolers do when their lives are challenged in unforeseen ways? Are kids better off in school during times of hardship or crisis?


Today we hear from some families who kept unschooling through hard times.

April’s family dealt with mental health challenges and then the death of a son.

Marietta’s family unschooled […]

Gaps and Behind


If children don’t follow a set curriculum, won’t they have “gaps” in their education and fall “behind?”

Let’s ask some unschoolers what they think.


Colleen has many degrees AND many gaps in her knowledge.

Jessica’s 15 yo son is enrolled in UC Berkeley in spite of his education “gaps.”

Robin is glad her “late […]

The Word Unschooling


The word unschooling: where did it come from and where is it going?

Today we hear thoughts about the words unschooling and radical, and as well as some alternate terms for this educational path, from unschooling enthusiasts Ben Hewitt, Rick Rossing, Robyn Coburn, Sandra Dodd and Sue Patterson.


And thanks go out to Jonny […]



How does unschooling affect sibling dynamics?

Daniele says unschooling helps her different children to get the different things that they want and need.

Sandra didn’t want to make a rule against hitting, and encourages parents to help siblings work things out.

Rose and her two sisters fought when they were little and now they’re […]


the childs family at mount rainier

yet again, Kayla says something funny…..

One of the biggest differences between my pre- and post-deschooling days was the amount of laughter I shared with my kids. While my kids were in school, we could easily go several days without laughing together. When we were unschooling, hardly an hour would go by without a […]



Unschooling can repair the damage done by traditional parenting and schooling approaches.

Today we hear stories of healing from Kayla Childs, Tanya Marinelli, Teresa Graham Brett, Sandra Dodd, Leah Rose and Janine D.


Extra Bits


Today’s show is made up of random bits and pieces that didn’t go anywhere else.


Abigail Larrison talks about her neuroscience research about emotional learning systems, dopamine, about the importance of daydreaming, and of making mistakes.

Ama Mazama talks about the challenges that homeschoolers (and black homeschoolers in particular) face.

Ben Lovejoy says […]

Extras with Sandra Dodd

Sandra Dodd

Clips from interviews with Sandra Dodd that didn’t get put elsewhere.

Sandra Dodd

unschooling support

For many people, unschooling doesn’t come naturally.

This is because most of us were raised in ways that are in direct opposition to the principles of unschooling. Starting in infancy, we absorb beliefs like “my wants and needs are wrong,” “I don’t know what’s best for me,” and “people cannot be trusted.”

After assimilating these […]

Introduction to Unschooling

introduction to unschooling by amy childs

I’ve been plastering the word “unschooling” around Philadelphia and having a fun time doing it. Starting in January 2016, I’ve been leading discussions about “What is Unschooling” in bookshops, baby stores, living rooms, cafes and libraries. The audiences have included curious parents and teachers, people of all ages, homeschoolers and unschoolers, eavesdroppers and passers by. […]