After reading, I realize that while many things remain true, some have changed, so I'm here to give you an update. Here's the new and the old about how I feel about school.
1. I've fallen squarely into the "Better late than early" crowd. This means that we don't start really schooling until the kids are older, like around age six or seven. There are a million reasons why, but I can sum it up for you with this analogy that was told to me many years ago.
A farmer can plant a field in the middle of winter, with snow and ice on the ground, but it will be tough. Really tough. It will cause him, and the ground, and maybe the seed, much frustration and sometimes even harm. The work will be very, very time consuming and difficult. How much better then, for a farmer to wait until spring, when the ground has thawed and the rains have come, and the ground is READY for the planting? Won't it be easier, less frustrating and reap a better harvest than trying to plant in the winter?
So it is with school. Waiting until the child is ready to learn is so much better than forcing something.2. I'm also in the "Less is more" crowd. I realize that this may appear to you that I'm in the "lazy mom" crowd, but I assure you, that is not the case. It's just that my kids don't need to read every book just because it's a "classic," play an instrument, speak Latin (Sorry classical friends! I love you, but I just don't love Latin!) or diagram hundreds of sentences.
We've chosen to focus on what we think is most important. Plus, the kids and I all need some dead time in our days. Because all of us are involved in many evening activities, we need an hour or two in the afternoons to just chill. Keeping things simple at school helps allow for that.
Please don't take that to mean that we don't do anything all day long. That couldn't' be further from the truth. We do plenty. We just try not to over-do. The kids read and study Scripture, but if I'm honest, probably not as much as we could. They do read a ton of books. A ton. So far, I have two voracious readers, one who can read but doesn't love it, and one who is not yet a reader. Hopefully, in a few more years, I can say that I have four voracious readers. Even if I can't, I know I'll be able to say that I have four young people who CAN read. We also do math, writing, history and science at home or in co-ops. We throw in some other stuff occasionally, like art/music appreciation, coding, Spanish and logic. But I don't panic if they're not doing everything that someone else is.
3. Unschooling, for me at least, is much, much harder when the kids get older. We've moved to a lot of textbooks. I know! I know! How boring and mainstream and blah, blah, blah. But listen, friends. The right textbooks aren't necessarily so boring. It may have taken many, many years to get here, but I think we've finally arrived at a place where we like most of our curriculum choices and they are working for everyone.
Here's what we've settled on (for now) in the areas that we do buy books or use apps for:
Math: Teaching Textbooks
Science: Apologia Exploring Creation Series. We've done astronomy, botany, anatomy and chemistry & physics so far. Lots of experiments involved in all of these. We mostly use the book as a guide and add a lot of our own. We also always do these as a part of a co-op. It really helps me to actually do the assignments when there are more kids than just mine in the class.
History and Geography: Notgrass History, America the Beautiful, Stack the States app
Spelling: All About Spelling
Foreign Language: Duo Lingo app
4. College may not be the way I want to steer my kids. This one can be a little tough for some but I'm thinking more and more that I won't be encouraging my kids to spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to college just so they can say they "went to college." Don't get me wrong, college is certainly not off the table. If they decide to pursue a career path that requires a higher ed diploma, I'll be happy to support that. But if they're unsure and just want to go because it's the thing people their age do, I'm probably not going to encourage that. Maybe a trade school or an internship or busting their butt in a full time job is the way to go. Or to travel.