Hi there. My name is Khadeeja. I am 13 years old and I live with my four siblings and parents. My siblings and I are all unschooled. I would like to tell you about my journey so far, how my life has been, and where it’s going.
Unschooling. Well what is it?
Unschooling is a different way of learning, and for me, that’s learning by going out, by experiencing different things, and by asking questions.
Whenever I tell a someone that I don’t go to school, they ask, are you homeschooled, and I say no, I do this something called unschooling. If they ask what it is, I’d say it’s a way of learning where I choose what I want to learn, and I learn by doing. I get asked, how do I learn? Well, I learn in different ways; by experiencing things, by asking or talking to others, or off the internet.
My Thoughts on School
School itself, I can’t judge or say it’s right or wrong. I’ve never been to school for long enough. I went to grade zero or something for not even a term, so I don’t remember much. What I’ve heard from my friends who do go to school, is that they don’t like school or hate school. I personally can’t say that. I know that schools are meant for learning, but when you go to school because you have to, you don’t remember what you learn because you’re forced to learn it. When I learn something that I want to, I remember it, but if for example my mum said learn this and I don’t want to, I won’t remember it, because I don’t believe it’s important in my mind.
I ask myself many times If I want to go to school. Do I need to go to school? I’ve considered going to school many times. I considered going to school because I thought I’d have more friends. I’ve also considered going to school for a goal at some point. So if I needed to go to school for a job or something. So yes, I have considered it, and even wanted to at points, but now I think I wouldn’t want to change anything about my unschooled life.
Do I ever want to go to school? Maybe one day I’ll likely need to, but that depends on what career or path I choose. And if I want and need to, I will study and commit myself to doing what needs to be done so that I can get into a university or college. If I need to, I’m willing to commit.
What does Unschooling give me?
Unschooling gives me choices. I am not restricted to what someone else wants for me. If I want to go to school or if I don’t, if I want to do sports or art or anything. I have a choice.
Unschooling gave me opportunities and freedom with my time that schooling never would. For example, when my older sister was in school, we could never go on holiday or go somewhere we wanted to because she had school, and in the holidays my dad was busy because he has a petrol station. Those are his busy times. Now, we can do things and go places based on our own needs or choices.
What my days look like
I still have some sort of a schedule. A weekly schedule. On Tuesdays I have pottery, which I’ve been doing for five years I think, and I really love it. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do karate, which I have been doing for about two years. I love karate and it means a lot to me; I work really hard and I am even going for an extra class with the more experienced belts because I want to. I am really enjoying it and I don’t think I’m stopping anytime soon. I have recently started archery with my older sister and three other homeschooling girls. We are not doing it competitively though. And that’s every Thursday morning.
None of my days are the same and I often get asked what I do everyday. I find it hard to answer, because I don’t ever do the same things. So to help you understand, I will give you an example of three days. A Monday, a Tuesday, and a Thursday, of a random week.
So Monday was just another day for me. Nothing was planned. I got up at my normal time, which is around twelve, and skipped breakfast. I waited until lunch. In that time I checked what everyone was doing. I checked to see if my mum was at home, or gone for an appointment, which she wasn’t. Most Mondays my older sister and my brother go for tennis training and I would stay at home. I was drawing a lot and also creating fictional characters for a book that I am planning to write. I talked to a few my friends online, one of whom was my best friend, and we wrote a part of our book that we’re writing together. I spent the day doing small things like writing or going on amino (a social media hub), looking at fanart, and reading the cool stories that people have written online. But yeah, Monday had no plan and I just did some writing and drawing really.
Tuesday was a bit different. I woke up and had to get ready to go to pottery, which is for about an hour. After that, I wrote more on my characters and practiced my karate a bit. I was also talking to friends online. I went to karate at 6:15, got home around 8, and rested for the evening.
Thursday was also different. I got up early to go to archery with my older sister; the archery session lasts for about two hours. Thereafter, we went home and I spent the afternoon writing and roleplaying with my best friend. At 6:15 I went to karate and came home at 8. Later, I talked to a few of my friends online.
So I don’t know if those were good examples, but those were three random days that I wrote about, to explain how my days are and how they’re never the same.
How do I make friends and socialize? Many different ways. I’ve made lots of friends over time, and almost none of them are my age, which is actually the one thing I don’t understand about school friendships. Why are your friends only your age, because it’s not like when you grow up it’s going to be like that. It’s actually funny that most of my friends are younger than I am, even my best friend. But that doesn’t matter to me, and why should it? I’ve met a lot of my friends at unschoolers’ camp that we have once a year in November. There are other unschooling camps, but the one in November has been the highlight of my year for many years because all my friends are usually there. It wasn’t always easy for me to make friends because I used to be quite a shy person. I found it easy to stand by my older sister and let her do the talking. I am still shy, but not as much as before, and I’m trying not to be.
Right now I don’t see my close friends that often because they live hours away and I can’t really visit them easily, but I still talk to them online a lot. I also have some friends at karate and one that I am closer to than the others. I talk to her quite a lot and we get along really well. A little while ago, I made a friend through YouTube. He lives in Germany. It started when I replied to a comment he had posted on a video, and we got into a really long, interesting conversation. After a little while we decided to talk in private and on Instagram. The more we talked, the better we got along, and after a few days we decided to talk on WhatsApp. He then added me to a WhatsApp group with three of his close friends and we all got along. Now I am friends with three young German folks who are pretty amazing. I made new friends with three girls at archery recently, who are pretty awesome too. I might not live close to my friends and I don’t see them everyday, but I talk to a lot of them online and I am happy with the way everything is.
One thing I like most about unschooling is meeting new people and getting to see how their journey has been, and where it’s going. As unschoolers we all choose our own paths and we all go in the direction we want, and that makes us all unique. We may not have many things in common, but we get to share our experiences and learn about a lot of things from each other. Even If I could choose to fit in with everyone, I wouldn’t. I want to be myself and be unique.
Reading and Learning to Read
I never wanted to read and I thought books were boring even though I never tried reading. I assumed it wasn’t fun and didn’t pick up the right books. Unlike my older sister who’s a bookworm, I didn’t want to read. I said my parents could read to me and I didn’t need to read. Although my mum did teach me the basics of reading and I could read small words, I just didn’t want to read. When I got my phone, that changed, because I could finally talk to everyone. But I needed to read to understand them on WhatsApp, since I wanted to have conversations, even if they were very basic ones. I guess I learned to read from messaging. I got used to the words and how the letters worked. Every now and then when I couldn’t understand a word, I would try really hard to figure it out, and if I couldn’t, I’d put it in the sentence. Most of the time, that worked. If it didn’t, I just carried on. I also learnt to spell and read at the same time. I didn’t know how to read that well or spell; in order to use messaging, I needed to be able to do both. Sometimes when I thought of a sentence, I would have to think my way around the longer words that I didn’t know how to spell. I only got my phone at around age 9 or 10. I can’t really remember exactly when. Before that, I just didn’t read and found ways around it. By asking others to read to and for me, I was able to get along without reading.
Looking to the future
Going forward, I have no plan. I have been asked many times what I want to do when I grow up and going forward, but my plan is to just carry on doing what I’m doing and see what happens. I don’t want to have a plan because I feel like I could choose something or make a decision that I don’t end up liking later, and it might be too late to change then. It could restrict my opportunities, and I still want to explore and discover new things. Maybe later I’ll find out what I want to do, but for now, I don’t want to plan ahead. I want to stay right here where I am and live and enjoy the present.