The Scripture That Got Me Unschooling.

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These sort of posts are difficult to write. It can be a dangerous thing to share something from the Bible that has guided a person because it can imply that that verse must be a blanket rule of guidance for all people. This is not the case for me.

Today I want to write this post simply to share my story and how God has encouraged, comforted, and guided me through His Word toward unschooling.

Seeking Wisdom

One night, past the time I ought to have been asleep, my mind and heart were in a right whirl. My inner distress as I had been wrestling with this pull of unschooling and my fears and insecurities seem to have come to a head.

I thought I knew what God was showing me, what He had been impressing upon me all along. But I had been fighting Him. Yet, here I was on the edge of accepting this task of unschooling. I was almost letting go and embracing what a big part of me had been wanting to do all along: let the children be and watch what God wanted to teach them.

It was a big step though, and I wanted to be sure that it wasn’t just me. I wanted to know as much as I was able to that it was God’s direction we were heading in. But how could I be sure?

In my heart I cried out, “Father, please give me something from Your Word for me to know this is what You want for us. Please give me something solid to stand on. I know I will try and run away in fear. I will try to regain control because I can’t see the future. People won’t agree and I need to be confident in Your will for us. Please, speak to me through Your Word.”

I continued to pray and wrestle in my thoughts. My mind wandered a little bit. I thought about my quiet times and how I had been going through Galations. And then, this came to my mind:

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Before I go any further, I just want to be as clear as I can. I believe we can never be 100% sure that God has spoken to us. I’m not going to go and say, “God told me to unschool”. I can and will say that after prayer for wisdom and guidance, this verse in the Bible gave me a deep sense of relief, comfort, encouragement, and strength. From that moment, I stepped out in faith with the support of my husband.

There are two ways God has encouraged me through Galations 5:1.

Freedom to Choose

Firstly, I was struck by this verse that I am free. In Christ, I am free from sin. I am free from slavery to the Law. I am free to approach God. And I am free to follow Jesus. 

That is incredible.

Furthermore, I was struck by the fact that, in this freedom given to me through Jesus’ sacrifice, I am called to – no, commanded to – live in that freedom.

Paul, contextually, is speaking of Christians that were burdening people back under the  yoke of the Law of the Old Testament by requiring that they obey the Law in order to be saved. We are saved by grace alone!

In the context of my distress and prayers, I believe the Spirit showed me that a “yoke of slavery” could mean anything that could cause us to step out of the freedom that Christ has given us and which produces the same results as the Law: condemnation, guilt, fear, and slavery.

Friends, I believe very firmly that all Christian parents are free – in Christ – to choose how to educate our children. Whether public school, private school, homeschool – even unschool – if we believe God is leading us in a particular direction, we are free to follow.

For me, as I felt the weight of my own educational life, my fears and insecurities over unschooling – this revelation was truly liberating. We could unschool!

Even though being an unschooler is weird, and different, and many people won’t agree or understand – we could follow the leading of God because we are free.

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Freedom to Be

Now the application of the verse narrows down to be more personal for our family and unschooling.

As I have mulled over this beautiful word from the Lord, a new layer of understanding came to me: our children are free, too. 

Because it is the status quo, when our children reach the ripe age of five, we send them off to school to be educated…But what if we didn’t follow the status quo?

What if, even if we homeschool, we didn’t follow a curriculum (basically, school-at-home/parent-led)?

What if we dared to step back and let the children be free? Is it only adults who get that choice?

Jesus once said,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

Children are people. They are not blank slates to be written on or a possession to be owned. They are God’s. And He has His plan for them all laid out before them – this means that He knows exactly what they need to learn for what He has in store for them. It could be that, by following a more traditional style of homeschooling, I could potentially be blocking God’s will for the children (…at least until I sense His leading to follow that pathway).

So the question we asked ourselves was this: Is how we are educating our children freeing them to know Christ, or is it hindering God’s work in their lives?

I am so thankful for unschooling in these early years and the way God has led us to this freeing way of living as a Christian family.

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Thank you for hearing our story!

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Weekly Wonder #1

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, Unschooling By Faith will receive a small fee at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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Welcome to Weekly Wonder – posts where I share with you the things that have been giving the children wonder this week. Activities, ideas, events, books, stories – anything that God is using to inspire, grow, and develop their learning life. I hope you’re encouraged!

Robin Hood

This book we got from the library has been requested for reading several times. It has introduced the legend of Robin Hood, as well as  other historical people and events: Richard the Lionheart, the Crusades, and King John.

Buddy Boy has really loved it and has sparked the desire to read more about this legendary man.

Numbers, Numbers

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Buddy Boy is very interested in numbers at the moment, and has been for awhile now. In particular, he is asking addition questions all the time (as well as working them out in his mind very well). He asks to do “math” with his exercise book. And he’s been trying to figure out how to count to 1000 (!) so I found a video tutorial on YouTube, which was really helpful.

Antarctic Centre

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Our local city homeschooling organisation took a trip to the Antarctic Centre. The kids loved seeing the little New Zealand penguins, especially when we could see them swimming from below the water line. We got to go in a snow room and (the best part!) we got to be in an Antarctic summer storm! The room turned dark, the wind picked up to about 39kmph and the temperature dropped to about -18 (celsius). That was the favourite part by Buddy Boy and his best friend!

Other Things They’re Loving At The Moment

  • Monopoly – so many games of this recently!
  • Gymnastics class
  • Nature Walks
  • Good friends
  • Puzzles
  • Star Wars game they created
  • Reading Eggs

What about your children? What is filling their lives with wonder at the moment?

John Holt, Unschooling + Being a Christian

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through the link, Unschooling By Faith will receive a small fee at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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When I first started seeing the term ‘unschooling’ pop up in my research for homeschooling, I kept getting directed to one guy: John Holt.

John is the founder of the modern unschooling movement. As I read a little about unschooling here and there, I quickly learned that he wasn’t a Christian, rather, he was a humanist. I discovered too, that many of the leading voices of the unschooling world are not Christians.

This personally raised red flags for me. How could I embark on something that was steeped in world-based ideologies? Could I trust a humanist’s view on children and learning? I didn’t think so… Yet, for some reason, I was so drawn to this way of learning.

And, no matter how hard I tried to run away, I sensed the Lord’s leading to head in that direction.

So, despite my hesitations, I bought the book How Children Learn and dived in. I then found How Children Fail randomly at a thrift store (totally a divine appointment!), and quickly read devoured that, too.

And, do you know what? My concerns and uncertainties have been completely unfounded.

John Holt’s ideas and wisdom (yes, wisdom!) are very trustworthy to follow as a Christian.

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Why I Can Trust John Holt’s Thoughts on Learning

Secular Isn’t Necessarily Bad

It is very natural in many ways, for a Christian to avoid secular books and ideologies. We know that God’s ways are not our ways and the most trustworthy way to know His thoughts is to read, trust, and follow in the Bible, God’s Word (Isaiah 55:8-9).

But, as I have learned, we can potentially miss out on God’s wisdom when we rule out the secular. Even Charlotte Mason, the 19th Century educationalist, agrees. She said (and please read the whole quote):

[W]e percieve that the great work of education is to inspire children with vitalising ideas as to every relation of life, every department of knowledge, every subject of thought; and to give deliberate care to the formation of those habits of the good life which are the outcome of vitalising ideas. 

In this great work we seek and assuredly find the co-operation of the Divine Spirit, whom we recognise, in a sense rather new to modern thought, as the supreme Educator of mankind in things that have been called secular, fully as much as in those things that have been called sacred.” ~ Toward a Philosophy of Education, p.173

God is the Divine Educator and we can find His wisdom about all things in both secular and sacred resources. This is a challenging and enlightening truth. Yet, it is freeing also.

Understanding this enables us to read secular resources with discernment and trust. If we lean on His understanding and guidance, we know that He will help us sift through the wheat from the chaff. 

And trust me, John Holt’s books are full of nutritious wheat!

John Holt Really Loved Children

As you read his works, it is strikingly clear that he had a genuine love and deep respect for children. From observing little babies in How Children Learn to seeing how school is failing children in How Children Fail, Holt’s drive is going one way: what is the best way for children to grow, learn, and thrive?

Despite being a humanist, I personally believe that Holt’s tremendous passion and drive can only have been God-given. Holt’s work has been such a light to so many people and light is from the Father. Unschooling has been a saving gift for thousands of families and every good gift comes from above (James 1:16-18).

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If you have been drawn to unschooling but have felt that, because of the secularism of many of it’s leaders, you can’t trust it or that it isn’t “safe” – just read one work of unschooling. Of course, start with John Holt – his books really are wonderfully beautiful. But there are many others, too.

However, if you just can’t get to that point, may I direct you to two Christian women who have written books on unschooling? The first I have read (and loved it) and the second I am waiting for Christmas (but I have read the excerpts on Amazon and trust Sue Elvis’s suggestions).

Christian Unschooling Books

 

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Please Pin So Others Can Be Encouraged!

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Have you read any of John Holt’s books? Have you had any concerns about unschooling as a Christian family?

 

What Unschooling Means To Us.

Any kind of post on educational philoshophy can be explosive, so it is a scary thing to write on what unschooling means to us. I, therefore, want to make it really clear: our definition of unschooling will be different to others. I am really, really comfortable with that – and most other homeschoolers are, too. I love engaging in discussion, but I won’t allow unkindness on this space, so if what I write does not sit well with you, please feel free to click out. This place is to encourage others who might be like us. Thank you x

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“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” ~ Galations 5:25

 

We are at this place of embracing the unschooling life simply because we believe that the Spirit has led us to this place.

Even though we have known we would homeschool for about three years, it has only been in this last year that unschooling as a way of homeschooling has taken shape in our lives.

Truthfully, the children have been unschooling since their very first breath – it is I, myself, that has been struggling, wrestling, and ruminating over what kind of learning style would best suit us. 

It has only been since I gave it all up to the Lord and asked what He wanted – and not what I wanted – that we have arrived here.

I have started and stopped with unschooling, started and stopped. In other words, I have relinquished control and followed the Spirit, tried to regain control once more, over and over again. All year.

Durenda Wilson says,

“Listen to that still, small voice of the LORD – what does He want you to do? The right thing to do [will be] walking in obedience to Him.”

Over all this time, the still small voice has whispered: Let the control go. Let the children live. Watch how they learn. See how I guide them. See how they grow vibrantly – just because they are Mine and I made them.

We move and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28). We cannot live a moment without His direct involvement in our being. Therefore, our very life – the direction in which it will go, the knowledge that we will absorb and forget, the passions that will fill us, the purpose we have before us – it is all in His hands.

So, I relinquish my agenda, my control, my ‘what if’s’, my insecurities – and I lay it all down at His feet.

Every single day of our lives are written in His book (Psalm 139:16). Not one thing will I learn – or have gaps on – are without His knowledge, His will, His desire. If I ask, each day, that He would guide us to learn, explore, grow, find, enjoy, and understand – He will do it. And I can rest in that truth.

Essentially, this is what unschooling means to us. We are living each day, learning each day, unschooling each day – by faith.

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Friends, this is a deeply scary place to be. This is why I grappled with the Spirit’s leading for so long.

Yet, I have finally realised that He has never been asking us to be radical unschoolers, rather, He has been asking us to be radically different.

And He asks all Christians to be radically different, doesn’t He?

When He asks us to follow Him and be radically different in the way He wants us to be, He is asking us to step out on that water like Peter, and trust Him. We are not to look at the waves, or the people who disagree with us, or the set curriculum that would give us a sense of safety. Rather, we keep our eyes ahead at our Saviour, walking in step with the Spirit.

He also is asking me to trust my children. They are image-bearers of Him – therefore, creators, seekers of knowledge, hungry for Truth. Christians are often taught not to trust children because they are little and are sinful. And they are, no question. But they are still people, born exactly who God made them to be. And there is no doubt that we can trust them to learn – if we let them.

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Keeping in step with the Spirit takes a lot of prayer and faith, but it also brings so much freedom and peace. And, so far, this way of unschooling brings both of those fruits plentifully in our daily life.

How this looks practically, I am still figuring out. We’re so new and fresh to this. I am only just coming to grips with it all. Having your mind completely transformed is a rough process, and I feel like I am only just coming out of the stormy swell.

But, I promised bringing you along on this journey. So this is me. This is what unschooling looks like to us – an evangelical Christian family from New Zealand. I don’t expect that your implementation to look like us, or your reasons to. But that is the beauty of the Church, isn’t it?

A helpful post from blogger, Sue Elvis:

Are You a Proper Unschooler?

And Please Pin So Others Can Be Encouraged!

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If you are a homeschooler or unschooler, what does it mean to you? How has keeping in step with the Spirit led you to where you are?

A New Journey, A New Blog

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Hey there, I am Sarah.

I am a New Zealand wife and mama – and we are Christians beginning the journey of unschooling.

Setting up this blog to document our life without school is a scary thing for me. I am putting it out there that we are unschooling. To even tell people that we are homeschoolers is a big deal – but, unschoolers? It is a massive step of faith for me.

Unschooling as followers of Jesus is a big step in faith. It is…

  • letting go of all the rules about learning that society believes and follows.
  • letting go of a particular idea of what a Christian family looks like – especially evangelicals, like ourselves.
  • letting go of an enormous amount of control over our children and their future.

But a big reason that we are right here is because, well, God.

Even though I fought so hard not to get to this place – “I mean, homeschooling is radical enough, God! Come on!” – He has brought me here, so gently, so patiently. Though I can never say with 100% authority that I know He wants us to do this, there are so many ways in which He has confirmed that unschooling is right for our family in this season.

As of this week – in August 2018 – I have stopped fighting and have embraced an unforced way of learning with our children here at home, or unschooling.

I never thought, when I first heard about unschooling, that Christians could do it.

Aren’t unschooling parents lazy and, well, don’t they just un-parent?

Won’t unschooling kids be all wild and unruly and not learn anything?

How could a Christian “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) if unschooling parents aren’t allowed to interfere with a child’s autonomy?

Well.

As God led me along this path, brought me to other Christian unschooling mothers (both online and in real life), He just proved my judgements and prejudices wrong.

I am no expert on unschooling. Around the blog I will link to people who are experts and who I have learned so much from. Go to them to learn from their wisdom, knowledge, and grasp on this incredible way of living.

Rather, this blog is my way of sharing with you all the amazing insights, encouragements, and life experiences God has done and is doing in our life.

So, welcome! Subscribe to emails and follow me along daily on Instagram.

 

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