Why we Hackschool and don’t bring traditional schooling in to our home

Chaos in the kitchen

I want to explain that I won’t cry my eyes out and become very cross and upset if my son cannot read well yet, or even if he can’t get there in the next year, he is 10. Or if my daughters at the age of 12 can’t do long division, I will not be pulling my hair out and beating my brow at the ‘I am not good enough ness’ of myself as a homeschooling parent and at the fact that the children are not where they ‘should’ be. I will not worry that they will be failures. I will not get in to that space. I will relax and remember why we are doing this. It is because we wanted them to fly, have fun and be self motivated learners.

We chose another route and the route we chose was completely different to bringing school in to our kitchen. There are no piles of exercise books that they have to get through by a certain date. I do not pace up and down behind them with my metaphorical hair in a bun and a long stick in my hand.

So how do they learn if they are not being taught around the table like at school? We unschool and they learn, they hack their education, they are hackschoolers. What they learn could be the question? Who will ever know? Who ever knows really what a child learns, ever? Or an adult for that fact. Of course if our kids want to become heart surgeons, they can’t just be creative about it. Or if they want to be pilots of passenger planes they can’t just make it up on the spot. They will get to their various destinations I have no worries about that. Our main aim is to keep them alive, curious and open.

Life is long but childhood is so terribly short, I can see it speeding away in front of me like run away marbles. The way that pimples are replacing that soft baby skin and the way the girls collapse in to giggles and say ‘Eeeeuw’ when Ant and I kiss in the kitchen. Or the way when I say to my son, ‘can I read you a story?’ he says ‘Er no thanks’ and hops off and does something more interesting. Time is moving fast. Childhood will be gone in a flash. click on that link and you will see that very beautifully shown is a series of photographs called ‘A Portrait of Lotte.’

I really believe the world is out there for them to step in to when they are ready to be specific as to what they actually want to do. When it has landed in them in a deep place and when they feel they want to make a clear choice to study what they are passionate about or not study, maybe they will just get in to what they want to do and never fully study, it is possible. I think that passion comes first and the rest follows.

Here is our kids alternative non curriculum…

They cook and create chaos in the kitchen

They read

They make things

They dance a lot

They sing out loud

They talk non stop

They run through the trees

They chase the cats

They cry and get cross

They sort it out again

They wash up

They play computer games

They do adhoc science projects on the kitchen table, when they feel like it

They research their own projects, or projects they ask people to set for them

They look things up on youtube and wikipedia

They write letters

They play with friends

They sit on a pile of stones and stare at them for ages looking for the shiny ones with crystals in

They flick elastic bands

They do their hair, in various styles, then they do their hair some more

The play on The Khan Academy

They do Mystery Skype’s

They are involved in doing SOLE’s with School in the Cloud

The go to circus classes

They do maths by doing the shopping, or baking, or by trying to remember their times table for fun

They get me to paraphrase what ever novel I am reading and they listen to the story

They laugh a lot

And they talk a lot

They live


But we don’t bring school in to our house. We bring the world in, as best as we can.

I wrote this post a few years ago and it is lovely to reread it and realsie that where I was in my mind then, is pretty much where I am now! And the kids have been flying with their learning, our son taught himself to read, our girls are sitting IGCSE Italian exams because they decided they want to and so for any of you worrying about the speed of learning have faith in your children they love to learn and often the learning goes on and it is not even noticeable till you look back and realise ‘Wow!’ 



If you like my writing you can buy our book ‘Jump, Fall, Fly from schooling, to homeschooling to unschooling’ here.


  • creekrose says:

    i love this post, it carries echoes from my heart 🙂

  • Darcel says:

    Your days sound similar to ours.
    I’m going to check out the School in the Cloud. It looks very interesting. We recently started on Khan Academy two weeks ago and my older girls are enjoying it.

    • Hi Darcel, yes School in the Cloud is great, the Big Questions are lovely. It is mainly aimed at schools but anyone can use it. I also really like Skype in the Classroom, or Mystery Skypes they are fun, are your kids up for doing a Mystery Skype with us? Do you know about Mystery Skypes, they are quite fun!

  • Olivia says:

    Lovely. I just love finding people ‘like us’. Of course that means we are not superficially alike at all. But philosophically- spot on. I have all my hair

  • Really needed to come across this today. It isn’t a race. Thank you.

  • april says:

    love this! we did the same, and it was wonderful! my sons are now 23 and 18, motivated and driven. we just celebrated my younger son’s graduation (our style) yesterday. bittersweet that our time together has come to an end (my husband and i are moving to italy in september, the boys are staying in the u.s.), but the freedom to learn will never end (for any of us).

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