I've been thinking, and unless I'm much mistaken, I've never actually told the story of how I came to be an an unschooler... I simply popped up with a blog at age 17 saying "hey, I'm unschooled!". :-P So this is the story of how I came to be an unschooler! Some of it is taken from what my parents have said, since I was pretty young when some of this went down, but I'll do my best to tell it accurately!
Before I was born, neither of my parents had ever even considered homeschooling. It just never entered their minds. But my mom was, and still is, a hippie, so she did plan to breastfeed. Because of that, she joined the Le Leche Leauge when I was born (or possibly before I was born... I don't know how those things works! :-P). Now, my mom had plenty of gentle discipline, unconditional parenting, type books, I was never let to cry, lived in a sling for ages, and all those other attachment parenting practices (she never used that term, though I don't know why she didn't... She must have seen it used in all those books she read!) so she was the type who liked to keep her kids close, and be involved in their life.
At the Le Leche Lauge, she was exposed to an idea she'd never been exposed to before: homeschooling. And she liked it! Being the type of parent she was, she didn't like the idea of sending her precious little girl off to spend her days with strangers. ;-) So she started reading and researching, and decided that she really did want to homeschool! My dad, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. He's the most traditional minded of my immediate family, and he thought school was best, so my mom agreed that they would at least try it out. So off I went to half-day kindergarten at age five! I didn't really mind it. Neither did I love it. I had fun sometimes, but I was always happy to head home afterwards, as well (and I find it surprising that I actually remember that!). However, partway through the year, we started getting strange phone calls. Obscene phone calls, actually, and when they were traced (yeah, my parents actually had the police trace them) it was discovered that it was a kid in grade 2 making them. Sad, eh? So that about convinced my dad, and halfway through my first, and only, year of school, I was pulled out.
Our homeschooling started out in a way that many unschoolers will be familiar with: school-at-home! Well, sort of. Since this is my mom we're talking about, we never had a schedule of any sort. But she did buy a reading program (Sing, Spell, Read & Write! *Shudders*), and sort of tried to get me to do it regularly. Through that, I learned how to sound out words and stuff, though I didn't really read, per-say, and we never ended up finishing the program.
For years our "schooling" is a bit of a blur, I'm afraid. I was pretty young! I know that we had various school books and programs and stuff, but the only thing I can ever remember my mom actually trying to force was math. We did lots of fun science experiments, as well as watching Nova and Nature and similar shows avidly (I say we, because my sister reached school age with no one ever suggesting she go to school, so we just continued to learn together!). My mom always read aloud to us, poetry, stories, the newspaper, and I started actually reading at age 8 or 9 when she was reading Harry Potter too slowly for my taste! We never did book reports, though I'd enthusiastically tell my mom about whatever book I was reading. None of us considered that "schooling". We considered it life! I memorized poetry, and wrote both poetry and stories before I could even read (I'd narrate them to mom ;-)). My sister ad I would play spelling games for fun, and we relished our regular trips to the library, where we'd get whatever books we wanted (Emi would always max out her card, ending up with huge piles of books that my mom and I would then end up carrying, since she was too little!). Throughout this time period, my mom would tell everyone that we were doing "child-led" homeschooling.
Throughout that time, the only thing that she ever attempted (I say attempted because she'd often fail) to force was math. I was somewhere around 10 or 11 when I started completely refusing to do math workbooks, and, well, I guess that's when we moved over to full fledged unschooling!
We didn't really know it, though, and I always felt, because my mom always felt, since she was surrounded only by public schoolers and homeschoolers, that we "should be doing schoolwork!". We didn't, but I guess unschooling wasn't fully embraced in our house until a mere couple of years ago. When we fully, truly, embraced and accepted that what we were doing was *right*, it felt so much better! I started reading and thinking and talking about it, and was just like wow, this really is a wonderful thing we're doing! I think that made my mom very happy. She'd *known* what we were doing felt right, but there had always been that fear, that "what if", until I said gee mom, I like what we've been doing! :-P
And the rest is history.
Oh, and I invite my mom to make any corrections to my story if she so wishes. :-P