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Katherine

How do other unschoolers answer questions that assume you’re conventionally schooled?

How do other unschoolers answer questions that assume you’re conventionally schooled? A person, who knows I’m homeschooled but doesn’t know I’m unschooled, asked me if I still get summers off from assignments and I didn’t really know how to respond. I ended up explaining unschooling in a way I thought would be palatable to them, but I would love to know how others handle this.

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3 responses to “How do other unschoolers answer questions that assume you’re conventionally schooled?”

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    I am homeschooled but I have unschool leanings. I usually just say that I have a relaxed schedule all year. For instance I can take a few weeks off of the normal school year to go on vacation but I can also get school work in the summer.

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    There are a few responses from parents as well through reddit (they deal with this issue too):

    I have a little script I reply with to those that ask what grade they’re in! “Our oldest is in 1st grade, but we actually home school. Not for weird religious or government reasons or anything. My wife’s an El Ed major and I work in IT, so we had the tools to make a quality education!”

    “We don’t do grade levels, but if she was in a regular school she’d be in x grade.”

    As for the “do you get summers off” question, you can just say that your schedule is flexible so you can work school around holidays and vacations with no problem. We have had a hard time convincing employers that our kids can work during the day on “school days” but I guess there’s just no insta-fixing established concepts.

    I say my kids are educated based on their interests and passions. I am a facilitator and the kids learn to find information on their own and learn to educate themselves with our help (my wife included), help from the community, books, online’s resources, etc… Reading, writing, math, etc. are all included in our free learning process.

    I’m not the best at explaining this to others, but when people get critical of our kids’ education, I tell them to read the book “Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life” by Pam Laricchia for them to be informed about Unschooling since I’m well informed about traditional schools as a former elementary school teacher. Then, once they are informed, we can have a discussion about pros and cons. That deters almost everyone since they know nothing about Unschooling. Just keep calm. My go to response after seeing skepticism is “this is working for my family and that’s a decision we made based on what we know is best for our kids.”

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    A few more responses via reddit, though most seem to be from parents… maybe they didn’t understand the question as I posed it:

    I classify myself (parent) as a facilitator, not a teacher, and I tell my kids to say the same. “I learn through living life” is another simple phrase. And in the end, when you find yourself talking to someone who just can’t seem to get it, smile and say “yep” lol

    ‘yep- pass the tacos please’ moving on….
    meaning its none of anyones business, just like you wouldnt grill any other kid about their school achievements or lack thereof, do NOT grill mine.

    My daughter just answers the question like people would expect her to answer the question “I’m in X grade.”

    People ask “What grade are you in?” to kids because they are trying to relate to the kid in a way they know how to relate (maybe their grandchild seems around the same age). 99.99% of the time the person isn’t trying to start something or make a political statement, they’re just making small talk.

    “I’m in 8th grade and my favorite subject is science.” is a perfectly acceptable small talk conversation. No need to tell somebody your life story.

    Just say you are educated in the tradition of Benjamin Franklin.

    in regard to grade levels, we just use them. we have several friends in the public school system and we have, since they were in kindergarten, put them in the same “grade” as their same-age friends. when mine were little we needed to do that because otherwise they were confused and they themselves couldn’t answer the questions.

    until this year my kids always had summers off and the exact same schedule as our local school system.

    if anyone asks now, my kids are in the 6th grade and doing reduced-hour year round school.

    If my education were being scheduled according to my birth date and not my abilities and accomplishments I would be in the X grade.

    One of my children says my birth peers are in 9th grade. (She is amused by catering to the stereotype that homeschoolers are weird and socially awkward.)

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