Most of the time I feel pretty good about this unschooling path we're taking. But that voice of doubt still often creeps up-- is this really ok? Am I just being lazy by not using a curriculum? When we first decided to try homeschooling we looked at it as an experiment for D's first grade year, a trial of sorts... but embracing unschooling means needing to have more of a long-term viewpoint. If I am truly going to trust D and his path to learning, it means he will likely learn some things earlier than other kids, but also may very well learn a lot of things later (even much later) than others. There are many truths that are easy to believe intellectually, but it's the every day lived experience of them that can be much harder to stomach, and in a world that assesses kids (and everyone, really) by whether or not we meet certain arbitrary benchmarks, it can feel like a constant challenge to shake off those expectations and form new ones for yourselves.
It helps to read articles and stories of other people's experiences, examples of unschooling "working." And it helps to notice that it's not just one or two, but when you look deeply there are many of these stories, enough to suggest that these are not mere random lucky instances but an example of what many kids' lives can be like if given the chance. I recently came across these two, on math and reading (two of the Big Topics for kids D's age). I need to compile a small library of these articles to read and re-read as necessary when I need that reassurance).
On Unschooling and Math
A Thousand Rivers (this one is a long read and I could do without the fetishizing and over-generalizing of indigenous cultures, but aside from that is worth the read)
That second link talks about how most kids who are allowed to learn to read on their own (in an environment rich with language and books, and conducive to reading) will do so spontaneously sometime between ages 4 and 9, or even older. It is both reassuring, and also scary-- I won't lie, I get a bit of a knot in my throat thinking of D not really picking up reading till he is 8 or 9 or older. Do I really have the patience and resolve to give him that freedom? To not let the comparisons to every-other-kid-who-is-his-age-and-reading-tons get to me and stress me out? I don't know. I guess we'll see. I do know that my own insecurity or anxiety isn't a very good reason to push things on him. I want to make decisions about how we live our lives based on trust and what feels right for us, not fears over "What If's."