028: What Will They LEARN? with Unschooling Expert Sue Patterson

Published by This Indulgent Life on

Parents are stressing about their kids “falling behind” if they spend their newly acquired “at home time” goofing off and ignoring structure! Unschooling Expert Sue Patterson has some unconventional solutions that not only work but will bring down everyone’s stress levels!

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Who is Unschooling Expert Sue Patterson?

Sue Patterson an Unschooling Expert

 Sue Patterson began her homeschooling adventures with her three now-grown children back in 1996. She has a coaching practice now, sharing her 20+ years of experience with parents who are looking for information, support, and confidence on their homeschooling journey. You can find Sue in the Unschooling Mom2Mom social media platforms or work with her through group and 1:1 coaching, an online course, and a variety of helpful guides.

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How will they LEARN?! An unschooling approach to teaching your kids during self-isolation with expert Sue Patterson.  From the Calm & Centered Parenting and Education Summit. | This Indulgent Life | #unschooling #suepatterson #unschoolingmom2mom #crisisschooling #teachingathome #lifelearning #homeschooling #quarantineactivities

What is Unschooling?

Unschooling is a non-traditional approach to education. There are no pre-defined paths to learning. You learn from life experiences and pursue your own educational interests.

Instead of putting the content and teaching as the priority, you put the student and learning as the priority and the content falls into place as needed.

"Learning isn't really only in school. How many things have we learned to do after we got out of school... tons. In the same way the internet has come into our life, something bigger and better will come into their lives, and they'll adapt." Sue Patterson from the Calm & Centered Summit | This Indulgent Life | #unschooling #suepatterson #unschoolingmom2mom #crisisschooling #teachingathome #lifelearning #homeschooling #quarantineactivities

Opportunities of Unschooling

While the idea of not having set schedules and lesson plans can be scary, there are actually many benefits to making learning a part of your life versus fitting learning in where you can.

Family Values

Instead of basing your schedule around school and activities, you can make it around your family values. If you’ve always wanted to slow down and eat together as a family. You can.

When you unschool, you’re not beholden to a predetermined schedule and can instead build your routines based on what’s important to you.


Many think of unschooling and think the parent is completely uninvolved in the child’s education. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Conversations are one of the pillars of unschooling. Parents who unschool are actually usually more aware of where a child is at in their education because of the conversations they have.


When we allow our kids to voice their interests, to say no, and be allowed to disagree we create a culture of honesty. A child learns that you, their teacher and parent, really do care about what they want and think.

They learn to embrace their strengths and follow their interests. This allows them to be decisive and confident. And it shows them they don’t have to change who they are for someone else’s approval.

"To those people who are afraid of screens. I really want you to consider the idea... that people were afraid of books when they first came, that people were afraid of writing when it first came, that people were afraid of letting women learn when it first came.. and now we have this, and people are afraid of it. And in fact, it's just a mode of bringing information to you." Sue Patterson during Calm & Centered Summit | #unschooling #suepatterson #screentime #screensandkids #fear #homeschooling

The Fears of Falling Behind

The fear of falling behind if you try and unschool versus following a specific curriculum is common. But the truth is Unschoolers often excel. They can see the learning in everyday situations, follow their passions which holds their attention, and are not left behind for the sake of needing to move on whether they understand something or not.

The truth also is that everyone is in the same boat. Teachers know what’s happening, they will adapt. They’re used to kids coming to them at all different levels. They would catch up even if you did nothing at all.

"There's no finish line, learning doesn't have to stop at 18" Sue Patterson from the Calm & Centered Summit on How will they learn an unschooling approach. | #unschoolingmom2mom #unschooling #learningmilestones #neverstoplearning #homeschool #crisisschooling

Don’t forget to check out my interview with Ellyse Colson on Creating a Schedule That Works for Your Family.

Finding All the Subjects Through Your Child’s Interests

One of the great ironies to me as a certified teacher was how segmented learning was in the classroom. When I got my masters to teach Elementary Education we were actually taught to teach through integration and student interests. So we could choose a theme like Penguins and learn science, math, geography, reading, writing and so much more just by delving deep into learning about penguins.

So Sue and I took this concept and quickly brainstormed all the different topics you could learn just by studying Sharks. And here’s what we came up with:

  • Animal science- What species are sharks, what is their body make-up, how do they breathe? What do they eat?
  • Geography- Where do sharks live? Why do they migrate?
  • Art- Drawing them and where they live, making them out of clay…
  • Cultural- What are the importance of sharks to different cultures?
  • Language arts- Research, reading about sharks, maybe writing a letter to governments to stop the shark fin trade…
  • Math- How fast do they swim, rate of extinction, how much do they eat…

All the subjects are found in our everyday life. All it takes is a little brainstorming to realize how integrated math, science, art, language, pe, music, and more are into everything we do!

"The more playful you can make it the more engaged they're going to be." Sue Patterson during the Calm & Centered Summit | #unschooling #learningthroughplay #playbasedlearning #crisisschooling #homeschooling #teachingathome #quarantineactivities #educationquotes
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You can find unschooling expert Sue Patterson here:


Unschooling Expert Sue Patterson on How Will They Learn?! Helping parents relax and see the learning potential in everyday activities. From the Calm & Centered Parenting and Education Summit. | This Indulgent Life | #unschooling #suepatterson #unschoolingmom2mom #crisisschooling #teachingathome #lifelearning #homeschooling #quarantineactivities


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