Graphic Photos of Unschooling Home

You may be shocked by what you’re about to see. Or, if you unschool, as we do, then this may all be very familiar to you. There is some amount of ‘mess’ that you’ll need to be comfortable with (or try to be) in order to allow your child the time and space to fully delve into an interest. As someone who needs order and neatness to have peace of mind, I understand how difficult this can be. Bear with me.


This mess demonstrates a new found affinity for art and body building. Many bags of various drawings, art supplies, projects, dumbbells and hockey gloves filling in as boxing gloves. On the floor you may even notice a bin of Lego that had spent an afternoon outside, on a tarp,  with a friend. Yes, this lay here for days being added to and subtracted from. No one sat on the couch but no one died.


This lovely piece is still a part of our kitchen, weeks later. This is what’s left of a soap carving, liquid soap making, multi part project. As you can see there are leftover pieces of two different types of soap that were used, as well as a tiny carved heart soap in the foreground. B shows his love for me with these heart shaped offerings. The baggies are my attempt at containing chaos to suit my needs.


These are the gutted remains of a computer take apart program that we did at our library. After they came home, they spent a week or more on the living room floor, being further explored and shown to neighbor friends. Some pieces were used to make craft projects. Some were tucked away into our basement workshop for future use. Not to be outdone, the cat also likes to leave his mark on our home by scratching the rug to shreds.



Finally, this grainy gem shows the aftermath of some exciting cooking projects. Just a few dishes for me to hand wash and put away, just in time for the next cooking session/ kitchen science experiment. As you can see, it was dark outside, which means it was nighttime and I was too tired to do those dishes so they sat there until the next day. Again, no one died. The duct tape and electrical cord running out the window are a bonus look that you can achieve by trying to keep your pet chickens from freezing to death during Wisconsin winter.

So, if you’re new to unschooling, this is what you have to look forward to. If you’re a seasoned unschooling veteran then here’s a high five. Keeping house this way is not for the faint of heart. It is for the fully invested parent of a child who gets to thoroughly explore topics as they become interesting and/or fade from interest. This is real life.

I Won’t Discipline My Child

Not the way most people mean that anyway.

This past weekend I had an irate parent show up at my door. The outcome was that she forbade her son from playing with mine and screamed at me to “discipline your f@#%ing kid!”

I felt all of the emotions at once; doubt, sadness, anger, embarrassment, hurt, and heartbreak. It was hard to take in the situation without becoming reactive. I did my best. I talked with my son, I cried, I fumed and I called a friend whose parenting style is most like mine.

Once I was calmer, my brain could begin to break down the situation. I questioned my own parenting because of one angry person. But only for a while. What is hard about doing things differently than collective society is that you will be challenged. Ultimately, I’m at the point where I know that’s a good thing!

If my beliefs about how I’m raising my son were done with no more thought than following herd mentality, then maybe I should be swayed. But I’m not. I’m confident, even if that confidence was momentarily shaken, that what I’m doing is what’s best for my family.

The kind of discipline she would have me use requires physical punishments with a belt, grounding my son from play and instilling fear. Her goal is compliance. So no, I won’t “discipline” my son that way.

What I will do is spend time with him, listening to him and speaking to him as an equal. This is how respect and trust are gained, through relationship. If I see him doing something “wrong,” then I’ll talk to him and help him make it right. This is how he’ll learn consequences for his actions. If I see him acting out, I’ll find ways to build him up. This is how he’ll learn to better himself. This. Is. Discipline! Time consuming, thoughtful and often exhausting discipline.

Reflection after shaken faith led me to be even more steadfast in my goal of raising a good person. I have no doubt that he’ll turn out to be a good person. You know why? He already is!.