Thursday, August 9, 2018

How We Transitioned from Unschooling to Structured Homeschooling

Now and then I enjoy participating in some homeschooling Facebook groups. Yesterday I was asked a question about our family's transition from unschooling to structured homeschooling. I thought I would share my response here, since some of my readers might be interested in how we changed our homeschool six years ago.


How did you transition [from unschooling to a structured homeschool] and do you feel like your kids are thriving? Do you feel like they still love learning?

My Answer:

Looking back, it happened gradually. First we added a set time where we gathered together for a short learning time. We held a Charlotte Mason-type meeting where we did copy-work, worked on memorizing a short scripture, listened to a scripture story while doing some crafts or coloring, sang a song together, read something about the subject of the day (history, art study, music study, geography, or Shakespeare), and then I read aloud from a classic novel. The short lessons that Charlotte mason espoused REALLY helped us, and I tried to keep it light and fun.

My kids LOVED it, and my older kids watching me told me that they wished I had done homeschool with them life that. I was SHOCKED, to say the least! I thought they loved being in charge of what they studied, but they made it clear that they wished they had had more guidance during their homeschool years. As they became adults, their self-esteem plummeted when they discovered all that they had never learned.  That helped me keep going and working hard to TEACH the kids still at home.
 After a short time, we added an online math program, and I learned how to keep transcripts. We are still not yet strong in science, but so far we have made a good start with Nature Study (Botany!) and Astronomy. We plan to start some online science classes in the Fall. 
My kids do still love learning, but they now feel more strongly about setting goals and feeling confident in what they know and are learning. My older kids (3 "graduated" as unschoolers, two graduated with more structure and completed transcripts) still tell me that they love how I homeschool now, as opposed to how things used to be.
As a side note, my younger kids still have a more relaxed learning structure, but we are no longer unschoolers. They read a LOT, and do some writing and math every day. We watch science videos, and they do chores and science experiments. Then as they become teenagers, we add more academics and more structure. They take classes outside our home here and there. Their self-esteems are thriving because they KNOW where they stand academically.

Some may take the ACT/SAT and go to college, and some might not. But now they have OPTIONS, where my older kids feel they are "too dumb" to go to college. They are charting a different course, and I don't actually CARE if they go to college or not, but it makes me sad to know that they do not feel they are capable of thriving there, if they wanted to go.
I feel a great deal of peace with how things have worked out, in the end. I have regrets, but my older kids hold no grudges. When we know better, we do better, right? We are moving forward and utilizing all the wonderful resources that are out there. 

I am happy to answer any questions my readers may have about our journey in homeschooling. I want to be open and honest about our failures as well as our successes because I am so grateful for all that I have learned through this process!

Below are some of our favorite resources that have helped us along our way.

Favorite Resources:

I wish you all the very best in your family's homeschool journey!

Mama Rachel


  1. Have your graduated children checked out the program Pathways? It could be a help to their confidence and increase their chance for college if they wanted.
    I sure appreciate your posts and your realness!

  2. This is so interesting as we lean toward unschooling, but I also love Charlotte Mason. Could you explain a little more what it was that your olders kids loved about the changes you made and what they wish you had done? Being on the beginning of this journey, I am interested to hear all experiences of unschoolers/homeschoolers.

  3. We have only recently started homeschooling my 8 year old son, and we have never done unschooling. As we have always favoured a more structured approach to schooling. It is going well so far!


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