What to do when You’re Afraid to Unschool

Unschooling is scary! Its damn near terrifying.

Especially if you have gone through the public school system and you have an idea ingrained in your mind of what school should look like.

What to do when You're Afraid to Unschool - Suzy Homeschooler

I believe in unschooling.

110% believe with all my heart that unschooling is the method that works best for my child.
I have seen him thrive, I have seen him excel, when I back off and let him learn naturally.

But I am still afraid. 

I found ways to let go of the fear, to succeed despite the fear, but occasionally, I am still afraid.

It is so hard to let go and trust that unschooling is “working” for us.

It is so hard to quiet those little voices in the back of your mind that say, “Is he learning enough?”

“Is she falling behind?”

“Will they be able to succeed in the real world some day?”

“Am I screwing up my child for life?”


I have been unschooling my child for 3 years now and I still occasionally catch myself veering away from unschooling from time to time.
Every time I catch myself getting off track, I assess what it was that pulled me away from unschooling.
And every time I find that the reason is fear.


It starts off small and innocent enough.
My son will develop an interest in something new to him and I will encourage him to be more academic in the way he pursues his interest.
I’ll start off supporting his interests in a healthy way. But slowly, over time, I’ll start to assign him work to do.

I’ll go from unschooling to an eclectic form of homeschooling, so gradually, without even realizing that I’ve done it.
Until one day I realize what I’m doing and wonder,
“When did start taking over his project? When did I start directing his interests?”


What frustrates me most about this is that I really believe in unschooling.
Since we started unschooling, I have seen my son develop and thrive in ways I never thought possible.
His dedication to his own education is immense.
And the best part is that we really love spending time learning together.

Unschooling has been amazing not just for my child, but for my entire family.
And I know that my experiences are not uncommon because I have interviewed and spoke with a number of other unschooling parents, many of whom have grown children who are succeeding in their adult lives as a direct result of the benefits they got through unschooling as children.


And if I, someone who has been unschooling for three years and who really believes in unschooling, can fall away from unschooling, then I know it must be a lot harder for those who are on the fence about unschooling.


If you are an uncertain unschooler, if you are considering giving up, STOP. WAIT.
Learn from my mistakes.

First, think about what made you come to unschooling in the first place.
Were you and your child fighting over boxed curriculum assignments?
Did you want to support your child’s independence and personal responsibility?
Did you just feel like there must be a better, a more natural way to learn?

Whatever brought you to unschooling in the first place, it didn’t stop, go away, or change.
Your reason for wanting to unschool is still valid.
So maybe instead of going back to what wasn’t working for you before, you might find yourself better suited by working through your issues with unschooling.


Now, soothe your fears a bit, talk to someone who has been unschooling for awhile about the experience.
Ask them the hard questions.
Let someone who has been where you are tell you why its worth giving up the fear and trusting your kids.

Don’t know anyone who successfully unschools?
Read this interview with Frank Maier, the father of two successful young women whom he and his wife unschooled for the bulk of their education.
At the time of the interview, Frank’s daughters are 20 and 21, and retain 4.0 and 3.9 GPA’s at the community college which they attend while preparing to transfer to larger universities in the coming year.


Safeguard your unschooling experience from your fears.

  • Educate yourself on unschooling methods- read blogs, read books, read everything you can get your hands on.
    If you aren’t sure where to start, Google “unschooling methods” and let yourself fall down the rabbit hole.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people.
    Look for local unschooling groups to join. If there are none, join a Facebook group for unschooling parents.
  • Take time to notice progress.
    Your fear won’t have a foothold if you are too busy celebrating your child’s growth to be afraid.
  • Support your child in their passion and their interests.
    Whatever they are interested in, make sure they have the tools to pursue that interest. Books, documentaries, tools, etc..
  • Consider taking the 30 Day Unschool Challenge
    If you need specific ideas, a game plan, and a lot of encouragement, the 30 Day Unschool Challenge is the book for you.


The following is a quote from another mom, just like you, who read the 30 Day Unschool Challenge:

“Sometimes you just *know* that your child can benefit from an unschool approach, but the thought of abandoning “school” feels scary. If you have ever flirted with the idea of unschooling- for whatever reason- but didn’t know how to get started, this is the perfect guide for you and it will help you dabble in the world of unschooling over the course of thirty days.
This guide features 3 phases to get you started, in addition to moitvational tips. The first phase is purely observation and learning about your child. The second phase is more self-reflection and examination of long-held views on education and traditional schooling. It helps you make a subtle shift toward unschooling. In the third phase, you will observe changes and set-up long term goals.
I love how this guide helps readers to separate the “school” from education and to put the focus on the child’s unique passions, strengths, and learning style. I would highly recommend this challenge to anyone thinking about taking the plunge!”  – Caitlin


We all have good days and bad days. We all struggle sometimes.
Even the most confident mom you know makes mistakes.
Even the successful unschool blogger occasionally needs to overcome her fear of unschooling.

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2 Comments to What to do when You’re Afraid to Unschool

  1. Nancy Andrews says:

    Is the book still available? When I click “buy now” nothing much happens. And I don’t have a PayPal account. Thanks

    • suzyhomeschooler says:

      The book is still available for purchase.
      For your protection, the only payment we accept is through PayPal.
      You should be able to purchase via PayPal even if you do not have a PayPal account.
      It sounds like there might have been a glitch in the system when you clicked “buy now,” I will look into things on my end.
      Feel free to try again.

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