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What do homeschoolers do all day? Unschoolers, a fictionalized portrayal of the lives of families educating their kids outside of school, answers that question with the power of story. Through day-in-the-life vignettes featuring mothers, fathers, children, and teens, readers are introduced to members of Home Learning Together, the support group that serves as the glue for a motley crew boldly opting out of the education system. Solid as a rock Teresa, outspoken Pina, and busybody Carmen grease the wheels and put out fires, all the while welcoming newbies into the fold. Jewel practices yoga but can’t get herself to unwind, Priscilla yearns for a solution to her son’s struggles in school, Alice gives her dog and her kids free rein. Meanwhile, children play, teens percolate, and the group gears up for the biggest potluck of the year. The connected stories reveal scenes from a typical homeschooling day for a variety of families, offering illuminating examples of self-directed and child-led learning, and bringing to life the human dynamics that arise when a diverse bunch of people come together on an unconventional path. Readers will encounter social standoffs, the vagaries of email, the headiness of adolescence, and the ups and downs of life with kids. While the book depicts children learning to read and digging into math and other subjects, and addresses the age-old question of socialization, it transcends the practical aspects covered by most books about homeschooling. Unschoolers delivers a charming volume unique in the canon of pages about homeschooling, unschooling, self-directed learning, and alternative education.
“Unschoolers is a lively, spirited novel, filled with authentic characters whose lives depict the natural flow of unschooling. Dynamic examples of child-led learning are littered throughout the book, as characters of all ages pursue their interests, and realistic parents try to balance everyday life with facilitating a passion for education in their children.
This book is a must-read for anyone who has questions about what unschooling really looks like, how unschoolers learn, and what happens when kids are trusted to pursue their own interests and become excellent at them.” ~ Kristen Tea, Mothering.com: Ask the Expert: What is ‘Unschooling’ and What’s so Great About it?
“…a dynamic, upbeat novel…vivid characters…In addition to being a fun read, it is also a wonderful portrait of how a community can self-organize and grow through mutual and individual efforts.” ~ Pat Farenga, writer and education activist: New Fiction Inspired by John Holt’s Writing about Learning
“McDonald and Sayigh do a wonderful job of capturing the love, desires, fears, questions, and commitment that can lead to enduring and deep relationships between kids, families and friends that choose to create community along with taking ownership of their learning.” ~ Lisa Nalbone
“A complement of diverse characters and their realistic life challenges makes “Unschoolers” a touching, inspiring read for all considering homeschooling, and for those of us who are already in the zany thick of it.” ~ Michelle Ristuccia, Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine
A Glimpse of Unschooling through Fiction ~ Kerry McDonald
Living Joyfully with Unschooling: The Gift of Time with Milva McDonald
Women Inspired TV: Co-Authoring a Book and Unschooling
For the Love of Learning: Episode #101 - Slow Living and Homeschooling
Milva McDonald is the mother of four amazing adult children, all of whom homeschooled for all or most of their child and teenage years. She started homeschooling in 1991, after reading an essay by John Taylor Gatto and realizing school and the PTA weren’t for her. For three decades she worked for The Boston Globe and boston.com writing and reporting about arts and cultural events in Boston. Other pursuits over the years included running a folk music coffeehouse, organizing countless field trips, facilitating creative writing groups for kids, passing hors d’oeuvres at fancy parties on weekends, and performing in several editions of The Christmas Revels. She sings in The Halalisa Singers and blogs at apotlucklife.com.