Why Your Kids Need to Quit School

Because who wants to go to school? No one. Really. Well, me…but I’m weird that way.

A long time ago, I read a book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom. Some of my response is still here: http://audsandens.blogspot.com/2011/02/all-above-average.html

I’ve always loved the idea of school. I wanted to go to a school like Anne of Green Gables did. I wanted my teacher to be Miss Stacey. And I did have a few Miss Stacey’s in my life – just not enough of them. When I first started homeschooling my kids, I wanted their homeschool to be like what I thought school should be like.

I stood at the head of the dining room table. We said pledge. We pulled out our books. I taught lessons. It felt like playing school. And it felt kind of dumb and posed. After a while, we all started to dread “doing” school as much as well used to dread going there. If you’re home, why pretend you’re in a school? What’s the fun of being home then?

So I read a little. I met Sandra Dodd and other great unschool advocates (online – not in person). I started to ask the kids what they wanted to learn. We went to the library and found books on those things. Then we went to the store and bought supplies to make those things.

I didn’t help much. I’m a great guide. I would make a great guidance counselor. I excel at helping people find and use resources. As the mother of unschoolers, this is my greatest strength. Well, that and I like to do crazy things like drive around the country in a school bus, run dogsleds, and take flying lessons.

In this article, a teacher asked students if they thought their school was like a prison.


Alfie Kohn said: “One is repeatedly struck by the absurd spectacle of adults insisting that children need to become self-disciplined or lamenting that ‘kids just don’t take responsibility for their own behavior’—while spending their days ordering children around. The truth is that, if we want children to take responsibility for their own behavior, we must first give them responsibility, and plenty of it. The way a child learns how to make decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions.”

We unschool not because I don’t think children should be educated. I unschool because I don’t think education is something you can force on a person. How much of your high school history do you remember? I loved history and reading and literature, but I only remember well the things I learned by snagging interesting looking books off the bookshelf at school and then hiding them under my desk to read while the actual class was going on.


I remember distinctly, though, the feeling of being locked up for days at a time. I know my kids will be bored sometimes. And they should be – we all get bored and have to sort ourselves out. But I don’t want them to be forced to be bored with no way to unbored themselves. I LOVE that my kids search YouTube for projects to do – or come up with all sorts of things completely on their own. Like forts and puzzles and games. I frequently come home from work and see that they’ve made up their own board game or have invented a new device for something or another.

Sometimes, they just spend all day hanging out and reading books from the library. We recently saw dolphins on a trip and Kiara is now marine animal obsessed – learning biology and animal behavior while Seamus loves to build with Legos and create everything from tablet holders to robots or whatever.

And yes – we do math. I also email the kids writing prompts and come home to wonderful stories and drawings. Their dad takes them on field trips and to homeschool group and let’s them bake or earn money by working in the yard.

I want them to learn responsibility by being responsible for things, not being told what responsibility is and then getting ordered to be responsible. I want them to take charge of their learning not inform them of what they should learn. But I also help. My kids aren’t just left to their own devices, floundering around, directionless. We suggest. We share. We buy books and show them things. We buy telescopes and robotics kits and snap circuits and art supplies and say “Here. Try this.” Or don’t.

We drive around. We go to new places. We ask a lot of questions. We watch TV. We watch movies. Then we ask more questions.

We hang out together.

We learn to resolve conflict by hanging out together.

We play games.

We sit.

We gripe.

We fight.

We argue.

We laugh.

We eat – a lot.

And we are almost always together. And when we’re not, we can’t wait to hear about the adventures of those who were away.

We unschool because we want to live our lives not constantly be looking forward to them.

How to Move to Hawaii (or anywhere you want)

Beautiful Mauna Lani Hotel beach.

Beautiful Mauna Lani Hotel beach.

You can do it! You can move or travel to anywhere no matter how much or how little money you have. You can.

As a life long lover of winter, my friends and family were quite surprised when we moved to Hawaii. Other friends, couldn’t believe we could do it. Most people who ask me about it wonder, “how do you just move to Hawaii?” “Isn’t it expensive?” or “Isn’t it hard to do?”

Believe it or not…not really. The hardest part is generally figuring out where to go once you get here. In our case, after figuring out the cheapest flights here (out of San Jose, CA; one way; on New Year’s Day), it was a matter of making hotel reservations and then finding piece of land we both liked and could afford. We stayed in a hotel for 10 days while we found the land we liked and then lived in a tent — in Hawaii — while building our house (we ended up selling the house and getting the one across the street, but that’s a whole other story!).

I think what amazes people the most, aside from the pictures I post of fresh avocados the size of your head and tropical beaches in January, is that we just decided to go. And then we did. Therein lies the biggest hurdle of all. People write to me all of the time and are truly flummoxed that we have done some of things we have done. We have lived in Alaska. We have traveled around the country in a renovated school bus and then an RV. We moved to Hawaii. We owned restaurants – including one on our favorite lake in Wisconsin until we decided we didn’t really want a bar in our basement.

We are not millionaires (yet, I’m working on it). And somehow we keep doing all of the things we dream about. HOW? My friends want to know. Well, it’s really simple. You have to decide to do them. I know a lot of people who think they want to move to a tropical island or think they want more money or think they want to travel a lot, but when it comes to giving up some of the other things — the trappings, if you will, of their comfortable lives — they won’t do it. They don’t really want to drive around and sleep in unfamiliar places. They don’t want to potentially be stuck on the side of the road in the Yukon Territory while their husband changes the fuel pump in their school bus and then drive the 50-odd miles to the nearest gas station to retrieve more gas for the school bus because it leaked all over the place and then drive back again and then head out — again.

They don’t want to be cold, like I have been dragging behind a sled dog team through the snow trying to upright my sled while it was moving so that I could slow my team down a big hill.

Because while these sound like great adventures (and sometimes they are, although I could do without snow and ice in my bra), they require a little planning, and a desire to get off the couch. Really, isn’t it just much easier to watch the travel channel and go to work on Monday than it is to actually go do things? For some people it is. My father is a great example. I love my dad and have begged him, over the years, to get on a plane and come visit us wherever we are. I have offered to pay. My father said, unremarkably, that he didn’t need to go to Alaska (or Hawaii) because he could see it on TV — and doesn’t like to fly.

Well, OK. There’s no arguing with that. For him, it’s not even about the money or the cost of it. For him, it’s about being unwilling to get out of his comfort zone. He’s happy with that and that’s great for him. To his credit, he doesn’t lament about not having adventures – he truly doesn’t want them. And that’s OK! It’s like people who don’t want children. I am so glad that there are people who just know they don’t want them — instead of all of the people who think they should have them, and then neglect them — or worse. I, obviously, am not one of those people! I wanted lots of kids and had them (I have 8), and I wanted lots of adventures and keep on having them.

So, how do you move to Hawaii? Or Alaska? Or Canada? Or Australia? It’s really simple once you DECIDE TO DO IT. Just decide. Picture it in your head. Picture packing up your stuff, saying goodbye to friends and family, promise to post a lot on Facebook or Instagram, and then figure out the steps you need to take in your life. There is no one path. Some people get jobs first and then relocate. I have always worked from home on the computer, so that’s not been an obstacle for me. Figure out, through your research, where in this new place you want to live. In Alaska, we picked the Kenai Peninsula because the weather is a little more mild and it’s near the ocean. In Hawaii, we picked the Big Island because it has more rural land available.

Your biggest task, though, is to decide. Make the decision and follow through. Remember, you can always go back to where you were – but if you get to the end of your life and you didn’t try, you can’t unregret something.

Go Forth! Kill it. Be Brave. You can!


Hawaii Con Fun

We spent some time on the Kohala Coast last weekend playing at Hawaii Con! What a fun event. If you are geeky like us and into Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or anime or anything similar – check it out. We really had a fun time and were sad we could only spend one day there. We hope to volunteer next year – or come for the whole thing. Also, the Mauna Lani resort is AMAZING. Definitely worth the trip!

Beautiful Mauna Lani Hotel beach.

Beautiful Mauna Lani Hotel beach.


The Trouble with Tribbles

The Trouble with Tribbles


Seamus enjoying a Hawaii Five-O hot dog - Portuguese sausage, wrapped in bacon, covered in pineapple salsa and cole slaw. Mega-yum!

Seamus enjoying a Hawaii Five-O hot dog – Portuguese sausage, wrapped in bacon, covered in pineapple salsa and cole slaw. Mega-yum!


Commander Riker at HawaiiCon 2016. Such a funny man!

Commander Riker at HawaiiCon 2016. Such a funny man!


Cylons attacked Seamus!

Cylons attacked Seamus!


Beautiful Mauna Lani Hotel beach.

Beautiful Mauna Lani Hotel beach.