Unparenting and Unschooling
by Beverley Paine, Sep 2019
I've actually said it myself, that unschooling isn't unparenting, and it has bothered me every time I have said it because it's usually in defence of unschooling, reacting to a comment made by someone that hasn't taken that leap of faith to let go of fear and insecurities and really truly trust that their child are natural learners, can and will learn what they need to learn, and not to judge the value of how that happens.
When I am in that defensive mode it is because I am not confident to set forth explanations that will be heard and understand - I am instead in a placating mode.
I feel unhappy that I've confirmed in the person's mind that some families 'unparent'. And that sits uncomfortably with me. Who am I to say or suggest that - and why would I want to? I want to support parents, and that means supporting parents that are struggling, or parents that are operating outside of my comfort zone. Where do I draw the line? Safety: safety of the children. If I am unable to help directly, I try to help indirectly.
We all make mistakes as parents, we all do things we later regret. We all wish we'd done more, done things differently, took those missed opportunities and avoided other stuff.
What looks like unparenting in an unschooling scenario to me might actually be working for that family. Children are amazingly resilient: if love and nurturing are present then growth and learning will follow.
As a somewhat helicopter parent (and now there is lawnmover parenting too - I'll put my hand up for that) I took my toddler to a doctor, in despair because she was a very fussy eater. He checked her over and then asked, "Does she smile and laugh lots?" I nodded. He said I had nothing to worry about. That made sense to me.
So when I meet families that are so outside my sense of normal that my inner critic reaches for those unparenting descriptors, I observe the children: are they smiling, happy, laughing, at ease, confident? If they aren't then I know the family needs help, not criticism.
Freya Dawson, author of Joyful Parenting wrote:
"The reality is that many folks who are unschooling their children also want to free themselves from the traditiona l role of a parent-authority-figure and adopt a more co-operative, peaceful and respectful approach. In my experience this complements a child-led and respectful approach to learning.
Finding an approach to parenting that suits your family isn't about just getting rid of the old-fashioned ways of doing things. Its about putting something else in place that is going to support new ways of communicating, solving problems and living together harmoniously."
Freya operates a Facebook group for parents exploring a connected, respected and trusting parenting approach:
Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you?
Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating
and reassurance to families
better outcomes for their children.
Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people." Vanessa
"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!" Davina
"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others." Lesley
"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
in the morning, I 've been encouraged!" Louisa
"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful." Gythaa
Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's
individual learning needs?
Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips ?
Over 1000 reassuring and
informative articles to help
build your confidence as an Educating Parent
Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!
We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.
The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.
Over 30 presentations!
For $29 you get
lifetime access to recordings
of all the workshops, all associated resource guides, dDownload all video and mp3 files
Amazing homeschooling help!
"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie
"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since
my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo
Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.
Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!