Maybe you’ve read about unschooling, talked to some unschooling parents online, asked questions, or read stories. Maybe you don’t know any other unschoolers nearby, and you’d like to meet some unschoolers, or you have a partner who has more questions than you can answer; practical questions like “how do unschooled kids learn math?” or “how do unschooled kids learn to get along with others?” Maybe you wonder how some of what you’ve read plays out in real time, and you’d like an opportunity to get to know other unschooling families in person.
If that sounds like you and your family, an unschooling conference might be just what you need and this is the season for it. There are several in the upcoming months. Some are big gatherings with a full schedule of speakers, panels, funshops, and more; others are smaller, casual and more free-flowing. Sometimes, there’s a talent show, and maybe a dance or concert. Reading at conference websites can help you to learn a bit about the personality of each one and how it might fit your family’s interests and style. Often, too, there are yahoo groups or facebooks pages for a conference, which can give you an opportunity to ask questions of people who have attended that conference.
We had a lot of fun at the two conferences we’ve attended. There was a funshop where the boys built rainmakers (cardboard tubes with beans inside to make a sound like falling rain) which I still find around the house every so often. I attended a funshop where we learned to paint with henna. I shopped handmade crafts from kids at the entrepreneurial tables. I listened to several talks from unschooling Moms, heard from a panel of Dads sharing their take on unschooling, participated in a round-table discussion about peaceful parenting, and heard a panel of teenagers answer questions about what unschooling means to them. In addition to the scheduled activities there were spontaneous conversations, happy reunions, hugs, laughter, and happy children everywhere it seemed. The talent shows are always fun; everything from simple jokes told by kids to some amazing singing or dancing performances.
We have plans to attend a conference later this year. Now that our boys are older (10 & 15 by then) they’re anticipating spending their days either in the gaming room or swimming, and are looking forward to making new friends they can keep up with online, as well as seeing old friends who live in other parts of the country. I’m looking forward to catching up with friends I talk to online regularly but haven’t seen in person in some time.
Here’s a quick listing of some unschooling conferences. With each, I’ve included the opening paragraph from the conference website, and an online address for more info.
Unschoolers’ Waterpark Gathering:
Our UWG gatherings are for unschooling families around the country to simply have fun, relax and share time with other unschoolers – ie. families homeschooling in a non-traditional, child-led, interest based, life learning approach. Those new or looking into unschooling are welcomed to come with the understanding they have researched unschooling, come with an open mind and are respectful to those at various stages of unschooling. More info at http://ugoevent.com
LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference:
The LIFE is Good Conference invites you to join us and experience an unschooling community first hand. You’ll have an opportunity to make new friends, deepen existing friendships, form connections and find the piece that just may be missing from your unschooling journey– a strong, supportive and vibrant group of families to share it with. More info at http://lifeisgoodconference.com
Northeast Unschooling Conference:
It’s hard to explain what the Northeast Unschooling Conference is like. There’s joy and there’s chaos, laughter and tears, lots of silliness, hugs all over the place, play, learning, fun, and struggle. There are wise speakers and explorers all over the place. There are fun things to do. There are unschooled teens and young adults who will take your breath away. More info at http://www.northeastunschoolingconference.com
Rethinking Everything, :
- your freedom to set the course for your own life
- supporting you in creating a freedom-based life for your children & teens
- gentle & profoundly respectful parenting
- unschooling & self design
- eliminating psychological roadblocks to self-empowerment
- real history & experiential learning
- strategies for vibrant, alive wellness
- spiritual oneness & the law of attraction
- enlightened aging & empowered dying
More info at http://www.rethinkingeverything.net
Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference:
For four full days, we’ll inspire, discuss, play and spread lots of bubbly energy as only unschoolers can. As an inclusive conference children will be embraced and welcomed at every event. Friendships will be created or deepened. Questions will be answered In Real Life. Families will be strengthened. You will feel renewed. This is an opportunity to enrich your unschooling journey: get new ideas, stretch your mind, enjoy your family and friends. Leave invigorated and whole and maybe a little sandy! More info at http://goodvibrationsconference.com
Toronto Unschooling Conference:
At the Toronto Unschooling Conference I strive to create a rich and stimulating environment where you can learn about unschooling in depth. Since it’s inception in 2006, TUC has brought together wonderful unschooling families to enjoy a fantastic weekend each year. All the speakers are unschoolers. The talks are followed by group discussions, where everyone is free to share and question. The combination of talk followed by discussion creates a terrific learning environment for the participants. The talks engage and challenge them with unschooling ideas, churning up thoughts and questions which are then addressed and expanded upon in the open discussion. Whether your family is considering a move to unschooling, has begun this amazing journey and is discovering just how all-encompassing it can be, or has years of experience, you will learn something new, understand an idea more deeply, and come away more inspired to live the unschooling lifestyle with your family each day. More info at http://www.livingjoyfully.ca/conference
Secular in nature, ARGH (Autodidactic Radical Gathering of Homeschoolers) is a gathering by and for unschoolers of all ages which takes place in beautiful Roan Mountain, TN. This organic event relies on the participants to create the activities, making every event completely unique. Connecting with others interested in unschooling and the whole-wide-world helps build community, enrich our learning experiences, develops new friendships and encourages a lot of FUN! More info at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=219190288092562
Life Rocks Unschooling Conference
We are on the cusp of change. Children are finally being recognized as the whole, perfect people that they are. Tides are turning, and a new chapter in humanity is beginning.
This is a very exciting time to be alive! Join us and be part of the Revolution!
More info at http://www.liferocksconference.com/#1
Always Learning Live Unschoolers Symposium
Sandra Dodd is hosting this gathering. Time to wind down slowly, and clarify, to laugh and to smile is missing from big conferences. Here, those things are scheduled. After many years of attending and presenting at conferences, I’ve heard many times that someone came just to hear me, or just to hear the unschooling speakers. At least half the time, too, the room I’m assigned is busy until just before time, and we have to get out quickly, or parents have to leave to get their children. We will have two three adjoining rooms—one for toys and play, one for gaming tables and games, and one for the presentations and meetings. Down the hall is one more smaller room that can be used for noisier games, perhaps. More info at http://alwayslearninglive.blogspot.com/
Australian Unschooling Conference
Who is this retreat for?
Attachment parents who are interested in extending this philosophy into the older years
Families with children in school who are looking at other options of education
Homeschooling and Steiner/Waldorf families who would like to explore natural learning/unschooling/ whole life unschooling
Unschoolers wishing to extend this philosophy to other areas of their life
Any style of homeschoolers/families considering homeschooling who wish to network and hang out with other like-minded families
Everyone who attended the 2010 Unschooling Conference
More info at http://www.unschoolingretreat.com/
Unschool Adventures designs and leads multi-week international adventures and domestic leadership programs for teenage unschoolers. Our international adventures are lightly structured and exploratory, while our leadership programs are more structured and build specific skill sets. All of our trips share the mission of fostering independence and self-knowledge in self-directed teens.
More info at http://www.unschooladventures.com/
In addition to unschoolers’ conferences there are also summer camps for unschoolers. Not Back To School Camp has two sessions each in Oregon and in Vermont. East Tennessee Unschooled Summer Camp will be held this Aug 14-21 in Buffalo Mountain, Tenn. If your child is interested in a camp experience, you might want to explore these opportunities.
Not Back to School Camp:
The NBTSC aspires to create a sanctuary that affirms, inspires, and mentors unschoolers…where campers and staff transform spiritually, emotionally, physically, creatively, intellectually…where profound friendships begin and grow…and where adventure, mystery, music, wild spontaneous fun, and magic prevail. More info at http://www.nbtsc.org/home.htm
East Tennessee Unschooled Summer Camp:
ETUSC is a 7 night summer camp for approximately 80 unschoolers ages 13-18. There will be many activities, camper run workshops, jam sessions, bonfires, swimming, kayaking, zipline and climbing tower, mentoring, dancing, and much more. More info at http://www.etusc.com
Unschoolers’ Waterpark Gathering. May 16-20, 2011. Sandusky, Ohio.
LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference. May 26-29, 2011. Vancouver, Washington.
Northeast Unschooling Conference. August 25-28, 2011. Wakefield, Massachusetts.
Rethinking Everything. September 2-5, 2011. Dallas, Texas
Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference. September 8-11, 2011. San Diego, California
Toronto Unschooling Conference, Friday, September 9-11, 2011, Ecology Retreat Centre, Ontario
East Tennessee Unschooled Summer Camp. Aug 14-21, 2011. Buffalo Mountain, Tenn.
ARGH, Oct 30 – Nov 2, Roan Mt, TN This gathering is held twice a year, with another date in April 2012.
NBTSC. August 12-19 Camp Latgawa, Eagle Point, Oregon – August 23-September 6
Camp Myrtlewood, Bridge, Oregon – September 19-26 or September 30-October 7
Farm and Wilderness Tamarack Farm Camp, Plymouth, Vermont
Always Learning Live Unschoolers Symposium. Dec 28-Jan 1 – Albuquerque, NM
Australian Unschooling Conference 2011, Friday, Oct 28th – Tuesday, Nov 1st 2011 in Queensland, Australia
Written by Sylvia Toyama© 2011 An Unschooling Life