In A Nutshell
Hi, I’m Katie. Welcome. You are enough. There is no such thing as “falling behind” when you’re exactly where you need to be. You are brave for seeking a way to help your kid learn best. In most unschooling communities, I rarely hear the voice of parents with kids who have complex developmental trauma (or are amazing, outside-the-box kiddos in other ways). So I’m hoping to create a community here… so that all of our kids may thrive.
Unschooling Bravely: Although I may be afraid, I make a mindful choice for my child to help them feel safe, connect and learn in ways that they need most.
I’m Katie. I love cooking, snuggling my daughter, being outside with my husband, baths and black tea. I’m a list-maker, a deeply empathetic nurturer, and can be very silly.
I’m honored to mom to 8yo Sweetpea. She loves pink sequins, science experiments, Descendants 2, braids, and jumping on the trampoline. She is insightful, strong in every way, loves word puns, and has the kindest heart.
Together, we’re figuring out how unschooling works for our family as we grow together.
Our family has it’s roots in the foster care system, adoption and complex developmental trauma. So our parenting is rooted in connection, felt safety & healthy attachment, and learning healthy social/emotional skills. And all of this informs how we unschool.
Unschooling in a Nutshell
The guiding principle of unschooling, as I see it embodied in online unschool spaces, is this: All kids are naturally curious learners. Kids learn best when they’re learning about what they want/choose, in their own time and in their own way, without a curriculum (unless they want one). There are typically no textbooks, workbooks, subjects or grades. Parents are not “teachers”, but are supporters, opportunity-creators, question-answerers, and guardrails.
In contrast, traditional homeschoolers recreate school learning at home. Many fall on a spectrum of rigid, fixed daily schedules to loosely structured days but with work that still gets done. This learning commonly includes textbooks or workbooks, subjects, grades, and explicit teaching by the parent(s).
What Unschooling Communities Assume
But unschooling principles, and the leading voices in unschooling communities, often make one big assumption which is why I have felt confused and on-the-fringes.
They assume that my child already has the emotional foundation needed to flourish as a passionate, self-directed learner.
We hope to be at this stage, one day. Right now our days and our goals are on building the core emotional skills needed to get there. It’s not their fault for assuming this; most neurotypical kids with healthy attachment to their birth family do have these emotional skills and “character traits” by the time they are school aged.
A Unique Space for Families Like Ours
Our family’s journey is beautiful and meaningful. And it can also be lonely and confusing as a parent. Most families around us have school kids or they homeschool traditionally. Even if we knew “typical unschoolers” in real life, our goals would likely be quite different. It’s not just that I want something different for my child, my child needs something different to feel safe and connected.
Is Your Family is Similar to Ours?
I envision our shared journey being helpful for parents considering unschooling their amazing children who happen to have: trauma history, ADHD, learning differences, sensory needs, special/extra needs, mental health differences, or people who are just outside the box in their own beautiful way! Does this sound like your family? Are you also considering the cliff-jump into the world of unschooling, to help your kiddo feel safe, calm and open to learning? If so: WELCOME. May this space bring you hope, inspiration and community!
My Guiding Principles for This Blog
- To share our journey in “unschooling with connection” (a riff on the relationship-based, trauma-informed “Parenting with Connection” approach).
- To shine a light and share ideas with other families who may be struggling. To write the words I wish I could have read when we were deciding to stop public school. To create community.
- To be positive but truthful.
- To share my delight in my daughter’s growth without: violating her privacy, losing her trust or respect by oversharing, embarrassing her.