50 Best Unschooling/Self-Directed Learning Posts of 2013

by ChristinaPilkington on February 21, 2014 · 22 comments

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I’m a little late getting this to you, but here is my annual 50 Best Unschooling/Self-Directed Learning Posts of 2013!


Throughout the year while I’m on social media, browsing favorite blogs, or just searching for the latest unschooling news, I keep a list of those posts that inspire, encourage and excite me the most. I’ve read a lot of great things and watched several outstanding videos this past year, and it’s my pleasure to share those with you.

Happy reading/watching!


 50 best Unschooling/Self-Directed Learning Posts of 2013


1. Open Ended Unschooling Resources – by Sara McGrath – I love me a good resource list! Sara always gives wonderful resource suggestions.

2.Video Game Businessman – by Peter Kowalke on The Unschooler Experiment

3. “But I want to Learn, Mom” An Unschooling Adventure Continues –on The Educators Room

4. Homeschooling is about Creating Good Habits by Penelope Trunk

5. What I Think Unschooling is All About by Sue Elvis at Stories of an Unschooling Family

6. What to Do When Strewing is rejected by Sue Elvis at Stories of an Unschooling Family

7. Why So Many Schools Remain Penitentiaries of Boredom – on The Huffington Post

8. 2 Long Term Traveling Moms Talk about Unschooling & Education VIDEO by Lainie from Raising Miro

9. TEDxTeen Jacob Barnett: Forget What You Know- Stop Learning & Start Thinking- VIDEO

10. If Students Designed Their Own Schools…..It Would Look Like This – Post & Video – Washington Post

11. A $1 Million Dollar Bet on Students without Teachers – cnn.com

12. What Would You Do if You Were Not Afraid? – VIDEO- Nancy Sathre-Vogel at TEDx

13. Write it All Down? By Susan at Learning ALL the time!

14. EdTalks: Kerry Muse VIDEO – some great messages here

15. Five Free Ways to Improve a Child’s Education by Linda Dobson

16. What if We Trusted You: Jerry Michalski – A TED talk VIDEO – this technically is from Oct of 2012

17. How to Mentor a Child with Big (Possible Unrealistic Dreams) – by Lori Pickert – This is an incredible article- a must read!!!

18. Delight-Directed 7th Grade by Aadel at These Temporary Tents

19. In Defense of Skipping College and Enrolling in the Real World an article in Forbes magazine

20.Why Quantity Should be Your Priority – on the medium.com – A really great article!

21. Skipping School by Lua Martin Wells – a TEXx Video

22.Genuine Passion for Learning – Alpine Valley School

23. What Do You Do? By Jodi Hollis

24. The Play Deficit by Peter Gray – a well researched, insightful article

25. Taking a Different Approach to Higher Education- from the online magazine MindShift- this approach sounds amazing for teens, too.

26.Don’t Go Back to School: How to Fuel the Internal Engine of Learning- by Maria Popova – a review of the book with the same title by Kio Stark- really wonderful quotes by lots of independent learners

27. How Does Your Child Like to Learn by Pam Laricchia

28. Teaching With YouTube: 197 Digital Channels for Learning – what an awesome resource!

29. Unschooling: Unleashing Freedom by Amy Harrington- Just found Amy’s blog this year about unschooling gifted kids- go check it out!

30. Why Learning through Social Networks is the Future- on TeachThought website- a really interesting list of skills you learn through keeping up with your social networks

31. How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses – from Wired magazine – really enjoyed reading this.

32. Unschooling: The Secret to Being a Great Leader? – from OpenForum website

33. Combination Curriculum: Unschooling and Classical- by Melissa Flagg- I really enjoyed reading this story of organic learning.

34. Paris was my Middle School Classroom – by Tara Isabella Burton in the Atlantic magazine- Loved this! I’m a sucker for anything that showcases the benefits of combing homeschooling with extensive travel.

35. The Importance of Questions by Wendy Priesnitz – a good reminder

36. Unschooling is the Open Source Way – from Open Source website

37.Methods and Materials vs. “Natural Learning” by Laurette Lynn at Learning Curves- I love her explanation of how instead of viewing some workbooks, textbooks or other more “school” styles of learning as somehow not viable ways of learning for unschoolers, to instead use them as tools that work for your own needs and goals in whatever way that works best for you.

38. Three Years: How I Know It’s Working by Jessica at Teachable Moments– One of my favorite bloggers, Jessica always provides inspiration, wonderfully creative ideas and encouragement.

39. Reflections of a Homeschool Mom… by Karen at Homeschool Girls – Once again, Karen has managed to make me cry! A gorgeous post about the joys of an interest-led learning life.

40. No Curriculum, No Problem- by Jennifer at Little Homeschool on the Prairie – LOVE THIS! My favorite things post to read on homeschooling/unschooling blogs are lists and ideas of resources. Jennifer’s channel is PACKED with wonderful ideas and resources. And she’s an endless source of encouragement, too J

41.  Thoughts on Back to School Time by Monica at Family Trek- One of my favorite travelling/life-learning families around J Always inspiring.

42. Project Based Homeschooling: Steps I Took to Support My Son’s Interest in Carnivorous Plants by Shelli at MammaofLetters. This is a very detailed look at how one family approached a project study. I loved it!

43. Back to School- Homeschool or Worldschool Style by Jeanne at soultravelers3 – I’m always excited to read what this wonderfully gifted girl is up to!

44. To Ease the Panic, Think of a River by Amy Milstein at Unschooling NYC – So true!

45. The Coolest Scientist in America Has Some Terrific Advice for Parents – VIDEO- Go watch this!

46. The Good Things in Life Come Free….but Not Always by Beatrice Ekoko at Natural Born Learners – I’ve learned the truth in this post.

47. It Really Does Take a Village by Laura Grace Weldon- on the importance of community

48. Why All High School Courses Should be Elective – from the Washington Post

49. Unschooling: Am I Ruining My Kid’s Life? By Leo Babauta at Unschoolery

50. School is Optional – VIDEO – Ken Danford at TEDxAmherstCollege


What inspiring/encouraging/exciting things have you read/watched about interest-led learning in 2013?

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  • Just

    Hey everyone. check out this new blog i found its sooo sweet and original. It’s called —-learningturnedinsideout.

  • Nokilissa

    I had been so indoctrinated into the myth that children must have a mandatory, structured school setting, that at times I actually cry because I feel so frightened and helpless about the choice we are making to homeschool our oldest son, Tate (2 more boys coming down the pike, one is in 1st grade, the other is 2 and starting a Waldorf-like pre-school in the fall). He was in the 3rd grade, at a highly regarded Manhattan private school, when things for him and for us started to fall apart. His confidence was shot. He hated school. He felt stupid. He was getting into trouble for “not listening”, or for not following instructions. In short, we were paying a devastating price to have him miserable and learning very little. So we pulled him.

    It’s been an interesting year, but I STILL question my decision every day. I worry, I nag, he balks and procrastinates. If I were to let him, he would play minecraft and watch M-rated trailers for other games he’s not yet allowed to play, all day. We have him in karate, he plays with other homeschoolers at Wayfinders in Central Park. He has two hours of OT and 2 hours of speech every week. He has a private tutor for math and reading comprehension every week. He takes a Civics class and a Lego Robotics class at a homeschooling place every week… and yet, and yet… I worry every single day. He hates to read. I have to set a timer for twenty minutes every day and still it isn’t consistent. I simply cannot make myself let go and simply believe in the process — trust that he will learn what he needs to learn as a process. I fear I have simply become that which he so feared at school… replaced his teachers with his nagging, disappointed mom. We fight sometimes too, particularly when I am feeling the anxiety and “failure” as a homeschooling parent.

    Thank you for this. I will read every one. I needed an injection of unschooling goodness.

  • Mel Hollis

    Once again, thank you so much Christina for taking the time to compile a list like this to help and inspire others. I love your posts – you have such great ideas and list such great resources. Now it is wonderful to also have access to those posts that you in turn find useful. Thanks again.

    • christinapilkington

      You’re so welcome! I love sharing, and it makes me feel so good to get so many positive comments :)

  • Laura Weldon

    What a wealth of resources. I’ve pretty much just spent the morning appreciating these links one at a time (your fault entirely that I’ve gotten nothing else done!). I’m honored to be included.

    • christinapilkington

      I’m feeling just a little bad for distracting you from your other work….na, not really! I’m really glad you’ve found this collection helpful. And I’m so glad you’ve given me such great material to include in this list!

  • Lula B @ navigatingbyjoy.com

    Christina, this is the highest quality list like this I have ever come across! I’ve been reading from your list for several days and I’m only a fraction through. I especially liked (24) (the Play Deficit) – so far.
    Thank you so much!

    • christinapilkington

      You’re welcome! That really means a lot to me. I try to put a lot of thought into this list and only choose those posts that were very meaningful to me and that I believe would have a lot of value to others, too.

  • Regina Wilkinson

    Thanks for all your post, this one especially. Great list of links. You’ve inspired me to save my favorite links. Here are some posts that I’ve referred to repeatedly and shared MANY times this year.

    5 Ways to Transcend the School Mindset http://lauragraceweldon.com/2014/01/02/five-ways-to-transcend-the-school-mindset/

    How To Destroy a Child’s Love of Learning in 15 Steps http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog/how-destroy-child-s-love-learning-15-easy-steps

    6 Homeschooling Misconceptions, Erased http://simplehomeschool.net/homeschooling-misconceptions/

    Unschooling Lets Kids Control Their Own Brains http://lifelearningmagazine.com/blog/unschooling-lets-kids-control-their-own-minds-and-activities/

    In Pursuit of a Slow Education http://simplehomeschool.net/slow-education/

    25 Ways to Make History Relevant http://lauragraceweldon.com/2011/08/10/making-history-relevant/

    Curriculum Isn’t Something You Buy http://simplehomeschool.net/paradigm-shift-curriculum/

    40 Ways Kids Can Volunteer: Toddler to Teen http://lauragraceweldon.com/2013/06/27/40-ways-kids-can-volunteer-toddler-to-teen/

    • christinapilkington

      Thanks so much for sharing these with me! I’ve read quite a few already (I love Laura’s website and I subscribe to Life Learning mag) but you introduced me to a few new posts, too! And I can imagine that it will take quite a while to get through my list :) When I put up my first 50 best posts of the year three years ago, I was considering making it a top 100, but then I figured that would just be too much!

  • Jody Hollis

    Thanks Chris. You made my day. I have been beaming like a Cheshire Cat. High praise indeed. :)

    • christinapilkington

      You’re welcome! I had the privilege of coming across quite a few inspiring blogs, like yours, this year. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and encouragement, too :)

  • Karen Terry

    I love this Christina! So many of these I have read and loved and now I have several new ones to peruse. I always love this list!! And I am so honored to be listed. I have said so often I wish Keilee was your kids age because you have the coolest resources and ideas!!! :)

    • christinapilkington

      Thanks! This is one of my most favorite posts to compile! I love having all of my favorite posts in one document. And I feel like I’m a little selfish because I read so many awesome blogs, like yours, focusing on older kids, and I can take down notes and jot down resources so they’re all ready for when my kids get that age one day! I hope that my blog can do that for moms of younger kids. I look forward to stealing lots of great ideas and resources from you this year, too!!!!

  • Susan

    This list is great…so much reading/viewing material here! Thanks for compiling and sharing :)

    • christinapilkington

      You’re welcome :) I’ve found so many great resources through your site! Speaking of your site, are you still keeping it up? I haven’t been that regular with reading blog post these past few months, and I can’t seem to find yours anymore.

      • Susan

        No, I am not blogging any more. I simply don’t have the time or the interest to do it, now that I’m working more.

        • christinapilkington

          I understand where you’re coming for. That’s a big reason I was absent here for 5 months. Even now I feel like I’m struggling to keep up with one post a week when I have two really big projects I’m working on right now. Still, I do miss reading your posts :(

  • http://www.teachablemoments-jessica.blogspot.com Jessica

    Thank you! I am honored. I had forgotten about this post until I reread it here. It actually gave me a little much needed boost. I needed to remember to honor the days not the results.

    • christinapilkington

      You’re welcome :) I’ve really enjoyed watching your girls grow up over the past few years that I’ve been reading your blog. I almost always leave your site feeling encouraged or inspired!

  • Sue Elvis


    There are two of my posts on your list!! Thank you. That’s very exciting for me. It was kind of you to take the time to read my blog and then share with others. I’m looking forward to reading your other favourite posts. What a great sounding collection of articles! I must make some coffee and then start reading!

    • christinapilkington

      You’re very welcome! I hope you enjoy reading/watching the rest of the articles/videos as much as I did. I was so glad to come across your site this year. You share such great stories and resources. I look forward to reading more this year, too!

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