When did you unschool?
In what state did you "graduate?"
Describe your childhood education (through age 12).
My older brother and I were both unschooled, and we were pretty much hard core unschoolers up until I was about 12. My early education mostly consisted of being read to (I was a late independent reader), arts and crafts, cooking, and playing outside. Everything was child-led and there was very little formal academic work.
Describe how you interacted with other kids around your age in your childhood.
In my younger years, we always belonged to homeschool co-ops. We usually attended park days once a week and met up for play dates and field trips with other homeschoolers. I took art classes and participated in sports with public and private school kids as well. Most of my social opportunities contained a broad range of age groups.
Who made the decision to unschool you?
My mother instigated our unschooling but she always gave me the choice to go to school. I had a great experience unschooling and I chose to continue until college.
Describe your education in your teen years (ages 13-18).
When I entered my teen years my mother met with me to discuss my goals and I decided I wanted to attend college. We talked about what I would need to study to get into college and I let that be my guide for the following years. I still considered myself unschooled because I chose to pursue the goal of college and I chose how I would learn the things I would need to get there. I used more textbooks and curriculum during these years, but it was still self directed education.
Describe how you interacted with other people around your age in your teen years.
When I was teenager I volunteered and had internships to explore my interests. I also continued with team sports and art classes. I socialized with both homeschoolers and school kids in a variety of settings.
Describe how you interacted with people much older or younger than you during your teen years.
As a teenager I started working at a summer camp, and there I got to interact with much younger kids. I also coached synchronized swimming and worked with younger kids in that setting. I had a few internships and I always got along well with my adult co-workers.
Did you receive a high school diploma or equivalent?
No, but I did graduate from our home study program. I just don’t have a piece of paper that says so.
During your teen years, what did you end up focusing on, working on, or learning?
I mostly pursued my art studies with the plan to go to art college after high school. I also had internships at the zoo and at Cartoon Network, and I learned a lot about working in a professional environment.
How did you make the decision to go to college?
By the time I was a teenager I knew I wanted the college experience. I had toured the Savannah College of Art and Design and I loved the idea of being immersed in a creative community.
What did you study?
In my undergraduate program I studied illustration, and I hold a BFA. Later, I obtained my masters degree in art education.
What was the hardest part of the transition to college? What was the easiest part?
I didn’t find it hard to transition to college life at all. By the time I was 17 I felt ready for formal education, and I got straight As throughout my college career. I enjoyed being able to build my skill set and work with other artists, but by the time I finished my masters, I felt burnt out with school and ready to be done.
Do you feel like your unconventional upbringing made getting into college more easy, more difficult, or both?
I feel like my nontraditional background helped my chances of getting into college because it made me stand out. The college I went to also required in-person interviews for homeschooled applicants and I feel like that gave me a chance to make a good impression.
Did you feel pressure to attend college?
I didn’t feel pressured to attend college. My parents always let me know that it was my choice and they talked to me about a variety of options.
Describe the kinds of jobs you’ve had in life so far.
I have mainly worked teaching art at a variety of art studios. I have also worked as a wedding and newborn photographer.
What is your current job?
I work at the homeschool co-op that my children attend and I unschool my two daughters.
Why did you choose your current job?
I love my homeschool co-op and I find it very fulfilling to work with kids in a self-directed learning environment.
Did your unconventional upbringing make it easier or more difficult to find paid work?
I don’t think it made a difference in finding paid work, but I do think it made it harder for me to be satisfied with a more traditional job, because I was used to having so much freedom.
What advice would you give to someone beginning their unschooling/alternative schooling journey?
Trust yourself. You are smart and capable and you will learn what you need to be successful.
What advice would you give to their parents?
Trust your children and believe in their greatness. Read as much as you can about unschooling and reach out to other unschoolers for support.
If you choose to have children, what school/unschool experience would you want for them?
I am currently unschooling my two children. I love experiencing unschooling with them.
Published: September 2020