Heart Prep – An Unschooler’s Back-to-School Guide

My challenge this month is to write on “Back to School,” and I have to be honest. I have been staring at my screen for a few minutes, not really knowing how to start. By now, if you’ve been reading my articles, you know I am an eclectic unschooler. I don’t use curriculum for every subject, I don’t lesson plan, I don’t give letter grades, and I don’t teach my children according to grade level (and to those of you who *haven’t* read my articles, I now sound like a crazy woman!). After years and years of mulling through homeschool options, I finally arrived at my “happy place” and this is where we thrive. I know other families would crash and burn homeschooling this way, but us…we seem to really dig it.

But what that means for us is that there is no “last day of school” and no “back to school.” School for us just…is. I do admit, though, that I love back-to-school supplies. I love new pencils and notebooks. I don’t even need them (we have more than I care to admit!), but I buy them anyway. (Because who doesn’t love freshly sharpened pencils?!)

Unschooling Back to SchoolWhat I do try to accomplish every few months is a reevaluation of where we are and the state of my heart. Am I experiencing joy in the way we are homeschooling? Am I thriving? Am I achieving my own personal goals and visions?

I truly believe that as mothers, if we aren’t having the times of our lives, then we will soon begin to resent the role that we have chosen to take on as mothers and homeschoolers. I don’t mean to insinuate that each and every moment will be rainbows and unicorns, because come on, we are tired mothers who are doing hard work! What I mean is, at the end of the day, can you truly say you’re happy that you’ve chosen to homeschool?

For this back-to-school season, that means for me, making the decision to have more deep personal connection time with the Lord. More date nights with my husband. More reading, less TV. More crafts and less Facebook. It means that when I make a mental note of something the kids are interested in and want to learn about, I actually make the learning a reality instead of forgetting about it on my never-ending list of things to do.

Each new school year I push myself to be a little more creative, to be a little more organized, and to press into Jesus more than before. I know my children will be happy, they will learn, they will grow, and they will be molded into the smart, inquisitive children that I know them to be. Why do I know this, without a shadow of a doubt? Because The Lord has told me so, and why has The Lord chosen to speak to me? Because I have made time for Him during my “back to school” preparations. Not more curriculum, not more field trips, and not more shame and guilt over what my kids have and have not learned yet. Just Him. So during your back-to-school prep, make sure listening to HIS heart for your school year is at the top of your priority list (even before the freshly sharpened pencils and notebooks!).

Back-to-school Encouragement For Moms

This post is a part of the Back-to-school Encouragement For Moms series. Be sure to check out the others posts to be encouraged!

back to school encouragement



  1. Mandy Barnes says

    Hi Amy!

    I have been considering un-schooling for my children. I have come to a loss, though, about college. If your children want to go to college, how will they get in if they’ve never met any school requirements or had a transcript? Even if you aren’t pushing them to go to college, if they do want to go, isn’t unfair to them. I mean, sometimes I feel that unschooling is unfair to the children. What if they want to be a doctor or an engineer? You can’t get into college without grades. What are your thoughts on this?
    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Mandy! :)

  2. Amy Schuff says

    @Mandy Barnes and @Chantell I’m so sorry I missed your comments! My notifications weren’t working! I think you raise such wonderful questions. I’m really not a true traditional unschooler. When I say I don’t give grades, I mean I don’t grade daily work. For my state I have to keep grades on record (right now I just use S for Satisfactory in all the subjects.) I still have to make sure they complete the learning requirements, but I don’t have to do it in any order (like 5th graders learn about the CA missions, we skipped that and learned about something else.) I also don’t make them do any STAR testing and they will only do SAT’s if they want to go to a university. A good thing to note too, is in CA if kids want to go into law enforcement and they were homeschooled or went to a private school, they have to take the GED. Anyway, I have three kids who are in 1st, 4th and 6th, but really, those aren’t their grade levels. They are above grade level in some areas and below in others, and I love it that way.

    When we get to high school, we may need to do things differently only because they will have, by then, established more of what they are interested in. To me, unschooling means that I don’t spend the same amount of time on each subject either. What if they want to become doctors or engineers? I won’t pummel them with literature or extensive classes on history. I want to encourage what they are interested in, and by high school, we should know that. I’m hoping that my kids will take college courses while in high school and maybe some of them will graduate early. I think I just trust that as their mom, I will get them to where they need to go.

    Also, at any time, if this way of schooling isn’t working for me, I will change it. I was a slave once to how things “should” be and now I just want to have fun and learn along side my kids. It’s exciting!

    • chantell says

      Thank you so much. I have been praying for the courage to go thru this journey and your words really hit me- simply put, ” I think I just trust that as their mom, I will get them to where they need to go.” and that is what I feel as well. I am a bit afraid and do not know exactly where to start but it has to get done.. Thank you again.

      • says

        I completely understand the fear that would come with starting something new, but it sounds in your “voice” like you are confident and know it needs to happen. That’s half the battle, arriving at that pivotal place. I’m around if you ever want to talk! aeschuff@gmail.com :)