Radical Unschooling and how it works for our family

To understand Radical Unschooling you need to do a lot of research and a lot reading and rereading and thinking and evaluating and re-evaulating. So if you are interested in this form of schooling and lifestyle I would recommend checking out my post on Unschooling Resources.

We are by no means experts at it and still have to pull ourselves back over to the Radical side of it almost every day – but we keep trying – and we are hoping we can continue to learn and grow as parents so we can provide this environment for our kids.

**We wrote this post back in 2014. Our kids are now older and we continued with a similar style of parenting and schooling but added in a few formalized math and reading things. For younger kids all of this here still holds true!**

For us this time in our kids life and our life is all about:

  • Building a strong relationship and bond with our kids
  • Our kids building a strong relationship and bond with each other
  • Exposing our kids to as many opportunities as we can
  • Sharing experiences with them that we enjoy and that we think they would enjoy. And them sharing their experiences with us.
  • Letting them become the people they are meant to be
  • Letting them build their self-confidence and self-awareness by having control of their day
  • Enjoying watching them explore, learn, grow, discover, fail, and try again, and just be who they are each and every day
  • Having trust in our kids that they will make the right decision and in turn teaching them to trust us.
  • Believing that all human beings have an innate need and desire to learn.


So here is our typical day:

  • The kids usually wake up between 8am and 9am (no alarm is set).
  • We then snuggle and sit on the couch together and sometimes watch tv or sometimes start playing as we get breakfast ready.
  • After this we will normally head outside where the kids just kind of “tool” around – this means there are no set activities or guidelines – they just have open time to do what they want to do. Sometimes that means they play with their toys, go to the park, play with the sand table or water table, really whatever it is they want to do. We do that for most of the morning.
  • After that we go in to eat lunch and usually watch a movie – this is a good time for everyone to just relax for a little bit – especially if it was hot outside!
  • After that we either go somewhere – the park, the pool, the beach, the zoo, to meet friends, the store, whatever it is we have planned for that day. Or else we just stay around the RV and the kids find things to do. Sometimes that means they get out paper and we do arts and crafts, or else play with pay doh, play dress up, play “Mom and Dad”, play with the dolls, play on minecraft, or just play with their toys.

By this time our “school” day is done and Craig is home from work.  However our day doesn’t stop there. The kids keep on playing, learning and exploring all the way until they go to bed at night.

No you did not miss part of it – there is no formal education time throughout our day. We don’t do worksheets or tests or lesson plans. We let the day unfold and grab on to any learning opportunities that arise. As we hit the road traveling we know there will be even more awesome opportunities!

There are a LOT of questions that get asked during the day. About all different kinds of things: what does that word mean? how do you spell that? why does that work that way? where is that from? (a couple of examples from today: Are there other planets with humans on them in space? When were the planets made? What does NYC spell? and many more – those are just the ones I remember) etc.

If I know the answer I answer it – if I don’t we look it up (google is awesome!).

What we have seen is if it is a question that they are asking – they truly and genuinely want to know the answer. So when they are given an answer they remember it and it makes sense to them because they learned it when they were intrigued by it.

They are also encouraged to ask questions and to question things – what a great way to learn!

There is learning in every aspect of our day and it seems like when you are going to school that gets over looked so that everyone can follow the lesson plan and stay on the same page. Which I know needs to happen in order for a classroom to work. I get that! And I think what schools do for kids that don’t have any other options is great!

However we have a choice to give this amazing opportunity to our kids and we are willing to sacrifice cable tv, the best phones, the best clothes, the best stuff, etc, for that opportunity!

We understand as parents that by going this route we have a huge responsibility to make sure that we have an atmosphere that is going to lead to them growing and learning as people and individuals. This includes:

  • Having fun toys for them to play with (ropes, sand, water, hammers, markers, crayons, etc.)
  • Taking them to cool places (Renaissance Faire, Rock Climbing, Farm’s, Beach, New States and Cities, etc)
  • Letting our kids play with and experience all types of toys and things – and not limiting them by age (using scissors, knifes, paint, play doh, computers, etc)
  • Letting them experience situations without us dictating to them what the rules are and how something is supposed to be done – but instead letting them experiment and figure it out on their own or with our help if they ask for it.
  • Trusting our kids and knowing that they understand what is in their best interest. And if we know they aren’t ready instead of saying they can’t do it we do it with them so we can work together so they are ready to do it on their own in the near future. (An example of this would be swimming – all of our kids have learned how to swim on their own by the time they were 3 – without any formal teaching – because we gave them lots of opportunities to be in the water without water wings on. If they weren’t ready to swim on their own we made sure we were there to help them – but if we felt like they could do it then we stood back and watched and let them try on their own.)
  • Strewing – This is an unschooling term which refers to leaving items out that our kids may find interesting and/or taking them to new places to experience new things. (Examples: Putting out Magna Tiles, a New Picture book, new kinds of Food, a Whole table of random items, Driving a new route to see horses in a field, Visiting a farm, going to see waterfalls, etc.)
  • If any of the kids take a strong interest in something we have to help them pursue it to the fullest and allow them as much unlimited time on it as we can! (For example if they are into Reptiles we take them to as many reptile shows as we can so they can learn more about them, touch them, and feel them. Even if this means just going to the pet store.).

This style of schooling is a Partnership between us and our kids. When they share excitement for something we all enjoy it together. Their joy becomes our joy and vice versa! It is so rewarding to experience this with our kids!

Part of our responsibility of being Unschooling Parents is that we have to be present with our kids – as much as possible! This isn’t always easy and we have to consistently remind ourselves through out the day to slow down and focus in on our kids and to truly be present in the moment.

We are immersed in our children’s life – which is an amazing thing! We are so aware and in tune with what our kids are into and what they like and what they don’t like. Since we are with them 24/7 they are also able to see how us as parents react and handle situations and thus are learning how real life works.

One of the challenges of taking this approach is making sure that we are not comparing our kids or our family to other people. We are taking a different approach to schooling so our kids are most likely going to be at a different place than kids that are in school – and this is ok – so there is no need to compare or to make sure our kids are doing what they are supposed to do for this grade or for this age. We strongly feel that they will learn what they need to learn when they are ready to learn it.

We are excited about where we have gotten to and where we are going! Each day we learn so much about ourselves our kids and our family and we are excited to see what the future holds!

What do you think? Do you have any questions? I would love to hear your comments!


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24 thoughts on “Radical Unschooling and how it works for our family”

  1. Just curious, but how does something like learning to read happen when you’re unschooling?

    • Hi Allyson,

      Sorry for the delay, we’ve been on the road quite a bit lately and trying to catch up with things. Basically learning to read happens by reading our kids a lot of books, helping them spell things when they ask, and things like that. The most important thing for the actual reading part is to do it when they are ready. Our oldest asks what things say and wants to read things he sees on Minecraft and other games he’s into.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi! I love finding blogs of other families who are living a similar lifestyle. 🙂 We are also a family of 6 who travels. We don’t radically unschool, but are eclectic homeschoolers. Cheers to happy adventuring as a family!

  3. Hi! I have a question! 😊 How does this work with the state that you use as residency? Because here in Maryland that is not an option, but when we full time we will be changing our residency. So just curious how that works and what state you chose to use as your resident state. Also, since there is no diploma will they have to get a GED? Thanks!!

    • Hi Judy. Our residency is Wisconsin, so we only have to submit paperwork saying they are homeschooled. There are no testing, etc. requirements like other states. Yes, they’d have to get their GED if they choose to stay unschooled.

  4. I have done very basic homeschool with one of my kids and he seems bored so we have looked into this form. I’m wondering will you do a more structured learning style for teaching things especially math related such as algebra and geometry?

    • Not necessarily. It will all depend on what our kids interests are. My husband is really good at math so when it comes to more complicated math like that I see us having conversations with the kids and showing them the concept and helping them through it that way vs. doing a formal worksheet or lesson. If one of them takes a big interest in it we may look into online classes or college classes if they want to take it to the next level.

  5. I used to think unschooling was for us but started reading about it and thought that I couldn’t do it because of the way books described it. However, your explanation seems to make it more tangible. We are moving into an rv in a few months so I feel like unschooling might be our way after all. It sounds similar to the danish way of life and teaching. I do have a question about school supplies in the rv. It is so easy to accrue items for school. How do you limit school items and toys, while providing enough variety?

    • We typically keep a bin or two for school related stuff. That includes art supplies, science kits, etc. We also have a basket that has just paper, markers, pens and pencils for when they just want to draw or scribble. It usually doesn’t take up too much space in the RV.

  6. What about laws for your children to be in school or in a home school curriculum? To my knowledge, children can be taken out of a home for not being schooled. How do you handle this and is that a problem?

    • We do educate them. There’s a big difference. The laws are state by state, and we follow Wisconsin law which works for us.

  7. How were you able to find a state that aligned with your schooling? Is there a list of states where unschooling is easier to do?

    • Wisconsin (our home state) has good homeschooling requirements, so it fit for us. However, quite a few families on the road establish domicile in Florida, which as homeschool friendly laws as well.

  8. We too have led our children into unschooling due to discovery learning benefits. I have noticed though that parents really have to stay on top of this method to develop learning through child interests. It might be worth your while to establish a curriculum that works.with the building blocks for reading and math. I for one did not push our oldest to read until she was of a developmentally appropriate age. Reading and math goals for set times would keep you as the parent on track. ABC mouse for instance would be ideal.for a young family. For 10 bucks a month you would be able to teach all of your young children. Set a time everyday to learn and you will be amazed by all of the progress your little ones will make. That would give them the skill sets to go out and learn that much more…
    I am a curriculum specialist by the way who hates modern schools. Socrates had it right

    • Thanks for the suggestion and now that our kids are a bit older and are at the appropriate age, we are doing the basics – math, reading, writing. We’ve established a little routine to get all that in before noon so we can explore and play in the afternoon. All the while keeping up with their interests. It’s a full time job! 🙂 Thank you for your suggestions!

  9. I admire and am inspired by your lifestyle! Our two girls are perhaps younger than yours (?) at 5.5 & 3, so while they haven’t started school yet, I feel like we also transitioned from attachment parenting to what you call radical unschooling in quite a natural fashion – we’ve always had them at home with us, working remotely and alternating care between parents so we can get things done while also prioritizing entertaining and educational experiences for the kids. I love the idea of all of this. So now I want to know how you manage work balance with looking after the kids, making sure they’re safe and entertained, and also that you are able to put in the hours to earn the income you need. Do you swap out work time between parents and have desk time in the RV on your own?, do you go elsewhere to work like libraries..?, do you squeeze in random emails and work tasks during movies…? How do you manage it all with what I imagine are four kids used to having your attention when they need it! It must be (as it has been for us) so challenging and at the same time so rewarding. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    • We try to do all of those things. I don’t work that much anymore, so I primarily focus on the kids. Meals, playtime, etc. is what I focus on during the day. Bryanna tries hard to work only about 20 hrs a week so she is also very involved. We both do school stuff with the kids and make a priority of snuggling in the morning and at night with them. It is definitely challenging and rewarding at the same time and we are constantly changing things up and reprioritizing so it’s an ongoing process. Hope that helps!

  10. There seems to be more an more families converting to the nomadic lifestyle and homeschooling or unschooling. We are thinking about it to, but one of my worries is that my kids won’t have friends their age (6&1) In the area we are in, there are homeschooling families and they get together frequently to help each other out. Is this something you can find on the road? Do families ever meet up?

    • Check out Fulltime Families. There are a ton of other families doing this with all different schooling approaches. You’ll find friends and meetups/rallies/etc.

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