Category Archives: Resources

Why are they watching YouTube all day?

This is a pretty common question, not only among Unschoolers, but parents in general.  There are a lot of reasons our children watch YouTube or Twitch.  For something like watching other kids play with toys, unboxing, or game play ~ it’s often about better understanding the product. Sometimes that doesn’t directly translate to the same product in your home, but they still “file away” that information for later.

I kind of equate it to something like Pinterest. I may “pin” or save ideas or pictures.  Am I going to turn my under-the-stairs-closet into a home library/reading nook? Probably not. However it spurred ideas about creating a nesting spot elsewhere in my house. OR I love what someone did and I can appreciate the aesthetic while simultaneously acknowledging that I’m never going to spend $50K on a “she shed”.

Our kids have been regularly perusing YouTube for 10 years now. Especially when they were younger ~ I sat down with them. I’d ask them, “Why are you watching this?” Not in a judgy way, but to learn what *they* were getting out of it. “What do you think about this product?”  “Why do you like this reviewer?” Sometimes they were seeing something completely different than I was. We talk a lot about marketing, commercials, paid endorsements, etc. Both kids (15yo & 16yo at the time of this post) are actually fairly savvy consumers, thoroughly check ratings/reviews, shop the best deals, etc.

Also, even if a YouTuber or a product don’t interest me ~ I appreciate it for *their* interest. Sort of like how I watch Tennis or Football or Car Shows with my husband. Are those things that I’d prioritize to watch on my own? No. But I love him so I enjoy getting to know the things he loves better.

Now that they are older and I’m not always right by their side, it’s interesting to see the amazing things they discover merely browsing on YouTube.  Just the other day our son (16yo) brought up an art restorer he’s been following.  So we, along with his sister, spent an hour watching Baumgartner Restoration.

We had a lot of great conversations about art, history, colors, chemicals, and patience.  (Because WOW, does restoration require a lot of patience and meticulous detail work.)

Any time you don’t see the value in something that your children spend a lot of their time engaged in, I encourage you to find a way to truly observe what it brings to their life.


Meet Rachel & our other contributors here. 


Receive Art Via Text from SFMOMA

Text 572-51 with the words “send me” followed by a keyword, a color, or even an emoji and you’ll receive a related artwork image and caption via text message from the SFMOMA San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Image is of two pieces of art received when I texted, “send me Texas”.
Alec Soth, ‘Del Río, Texas’, 2011
Steven Holl, ‘Edge of a City: Spiroid Sectors, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas’, 1991

More info can be found on SFMOMA’s website:

Meet Rachel & our other contributors here. 


Class Dismissed & Self-Taught are coming to TexUns2020

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be screening TWO documentaries about life outside of classrooms at the 2020 Texas Unschoolers Conference.

Class Dismissed: Frustrated with the traditional school system, a family in L.A. pulls their two kids out of school and takes their education into their own hands. Class Dismissed takes a fresh look at what it means to be educated in the 21st century and explores the rapidly growing movement of parents providing an education outside a classroom setting.
View Trailer for Class Dismissed
Class Dismissed Website

Self-Taught: Through the stories of six extraordinary individuals, Self-Taught explores what self-directed education means to them and the impact it has had on their lives, ambitions, work, and beliefs.
Whether Artist, Scientist, or Entrepreneur, they all have one thing in common: their belief that true education is the capacity to author your own life instead of merely accepting the one you’ve been handed.
View Trailer for Self-Taught
Self-Taught Website

Click here for more information or to register for the 2020 Texans Unschooling Conference.


MY Link Gives All Texas Residents a Library Card

Did you know that any adult who is a resident of Texas can get a My Link card through the Houston Public Library?

This card gives you access to more than six million books, e-books, DVDs, magazines and research materials that make up the HPL collection. It also provides access to more than 130 electronic resources which include streaming music, videos, images, audiobooks, and countless other subject-based websites and databases.

You can use your card to borrow via OverDrive for LibrariesHoopla Digital, RB Digital, Comics Plus, and more.

Even if your local library supports access to these digit lending programs the titles available through Houston Public Library may be different.  Harris County Public Library has a pretty extensive collection and after a few minutes I found several things through MY Link/HPL that HCPL doesn’t have.

The Overdrive app lets you load more than one library in. So you can switch between cards.

You do not have to physically visit the library to get your card. I wanted to be sure how it worked. So I tried two methods: I reactivated an old HPL card I had from when we lived within Houston city limits and I signed my husband up for a brand new card. I did it all online with our Driver’s License numbers as proof of residency. (note: The new card was available for immediate use. Reactivating my old card required a response from the library. They responded the next day.)


Houston Area starts an Unschooling Parent Support Group


We have started a support group in the Houston area focused on empowering and inspiring parents on the unschooling journey. This group will focus it’s attention on real life parent meet-ups in addition to online support. Those currently unschooling or wishing to learn more about this method of education are invited to join us at some or all of our events.

Monthly meet ups will include the following:

First Monday of each month:

icon_speakersMonthly featured speakers covering an array of topics that concern unschoolers. Topics such as unschooling teens, Gaming, Discussing Sex and Bodily autonomy at a young age, Peaceful Parenting, Deschooling, Being Present with your kids and more.



Third Monday of each month:

UnschoolingPics3Parent Q & A and discussion group. Parents have lots of questions on the life learning path. Join us in discussing the topics that concern all of us as we walk the unschooling walk alongside our kids.



Book Clubs:


Periodically, we will explore books that inspire and encourage us on the unschooling journey. Check our Facebook group for upcoming book clubs.





Occasionally, we’ll invite guest speakers, arrange private viewings of uplifting movies and host parent’s night out and family night out meet ups. Check our Facebook Group for new events being added.


Currently, we will be meeting at the Fort Bend County Library – Cinco Ranch branch – in Katy, Texas. Be sure to check the Facebook group for updates about locations. Parent’s night out, family night out and movies may be held in different locations.

We are hoping to support parents and empower them to walk alongside their kids  on this amazing journey called unschooling. If you are in the Houston area or know someone who would benefit from this type of support, please share this post with them.


Class Dismissed Comes to Texas!


Texas Unschoolers is happy to announce that the movie, Class Dismissed  will be hitting the big screens in Texas this April 2015. The filmmakers have chosen 4 major Texas cities to present the movie. See below for details.

Class Dismissed is a film that explores educational options outside of the traditional classroom. The film spotlights the growing frustration with the public system of education and highlights one family’s decision to take the education of their children into their own hands.

Synopsis (as written on the Class Dismissed website):

Frustrated with the traditional school system, a family in L.A. pulls their two kids out of school and takes their education into their own hands. Class Dismissed takes a fresh look at what it means to be educated in the 21st century and explores the rapidly growing movement of parents providing an education outside a classroom setting.

See Class Dismissed on these dates in these Texas cities:

Dallas, Texas  April 6

Austin, Texas April 7

San Antonio, Texas April 8

Houston, Texas  April 9

Please feel free to share this with friends and family who are interested in alternative educational options.



Texas Homeschool Project – A Call for Study Participants

I recently received a request to post this from a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. Basically, she is creating a study to discover what motivates parents to homeschool or unschool their children in Texas.

Here is information from the website:

Texas Homeschool Project

The Texas Homeschool Project is a sociological study of homeschooling families in Texas. While research has shown that homeschooling has grown in recent decades, little research has been done about the diversity of motivations, approaches, and experiences of homeschooling families. With growing public debate about the Common Core and school choice, we think that it’s a more important time than ever to learn more about how and why parents make important decisions about their children’s education. Whether you are new to homeschooling or are a homeschool veteran, whether you homeschool all your kids or just one, whether you use a grade level curriculum, are unschooling, or anything in between, your voice is important to this project. If you’re a parent who homeschools in Texas, we want to hear from you!

She wants to be sure that the Unschooling Voice is represented in her study. The online survey is anonymous and can be viewed here. At the end, there is an option to do an in person interview if you like.

Here is the information that she sent to me. She has a website explaining the study here.


Hello! My name is Kate Averett and I am a graduate student in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. I am currently working on my dissertation project, which is called the Texas Homeschool Project. Homeschooling in the state of Texas has grown in recent decades, but little research has been done about the diversity of motivations, approaches, and experiences of homeschoolers and unschoolers in our state – this study aims to fill that gap. More generally, I think that this project can help us learn more about how and why parents make important decisions about their children’s education.

The primary method I’m using for this project is in-person interviews with homeschoolers and unschoolers across Texas. To supplement these interviews, I am also conducting a brief online survey of homeschooling and unschooling parents in Texas. The survey isn’t a comprehensive questionnaire about homeschooling – instead, it asks a series of basic questions that will help to contextualize the things that I learn from the interviews. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete, and any parent who resides in Texas and is currently homeschooling or unschooling one or more of their children is eligible to participate. The survey is anonymous, and asks questions about your motivations for homeschooling, your homeschooling experiences, and your political, religious, and social beliefs. There is also a space on the survey where you can let us know if you’d like to be interviewed.

If you are interested in participating, you can click the link here to begin the survey:
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected], or visit the study’s website at And of course, please pass this information on to any other homeschool families you know! Thank you.

 I participated in the study and want to invite you to consider participating as well. I find it encouraging that major Universities are interested in studying the reasons why we have chosen an alternative way to assist our children with the learning process.

~ Michelle Conaway


Texas Unschoolers has a FREE Newsletter – Subscribe to the TexUns News

We’re so pleased to announce that Texas Unschoolers will be publishing a free monthly newsletter called the TexUns News starting September 1, 2014.

It has been a goal of mine for quite some time to publish a newsletter dedicated to Unschoolers in Texas. We hope that you will subscribe and share this newsletter with all of your Unschooling groups and friends.

A little bit about the name. . .

At our first annual Texas Unschoolers Conference this year, Sue Patterson came up with the  brilliant nickname, (the TexUns) and made little flags for each of the registrants at the conference. The shortened name caught on quick and soon everyone was introducing themselves as the TexUns rather than the  Texas Unschoolers.

We thought our Newsletter title should reflect our spunky new nickname.  Thanks Sue Patterson, for your innovative thinking and for providing us with a title for our newsletter!

A little bit about the TexUns News. . .

We’re not sure where we will ultimately go with the newsletter but we sure know where we’re going to start.

We want to inspire anyone who is interested in or currently living the unschooling lifestyle. We will start with a theme for the month and provide interesting tidbits and food for thought around each theme.

We will provide information about Texas laws and strategies for beginning the unschooling journey.

We will give suggestions for activities, crafts and projects that might spark creativity and fun in your home.

We will be researching free and low cost family activities in and around Texas and giving you links and suggestions about what’s going on in Texas each month.

You will get information about Unschooling conferences that are scheduled in Texas and nearby states.

Each month we will have suggestions for guest bloggers to submit their writing for the Texas Unschoolers website based on the upcoming theme.

I’m sure the TexUns News will evolve over time. With your help and suggestions, it should be a fun and exciting way to keep up with what’s happening for Unschoolers in Texas.  It’s sure to be an inspirational and helpful tool as you walk the unschooling path.

You can subscribe to the TexUns News by going to our Newsletter Registration Page here. Feel free to share the link with anyone who is interested in learning more about alternative educational avenues.

~ Michelle Conaway




The Homeschooler Magazine

The Homeschooler magazine is a great tool for homeschoolers of all backgrounds and methods. The practical tips and inspirational flare will support you at every phase of your homeschooling journey.

Until now, it has been a print only publication. Recently, however, The Homeschooler  has made issues available as pdf files for only $5 per issue.

Well-respected homeschooling advocates including Sandra Dodd, Michelle Barone and Pam Sorooshian contribute thought-provoking and inspirational wisdoms in The Homeschooler. I also have had the honor of contributing my thoughts in a column entitled, “Getting Tech Savvy,” where I have shared my ideas about the popular game called Minecraft.

Following are excerpts of my articles in The Homeschooler. I hope that you will check it out and consider either a 1- year subscription to the magazine or the purchase of one issue as a pdf to read on your smart phone, iPad or computer.

Excerpt of my article published in the Winter 2013 Issue of The Homeschooler:

Minecraft and the Three R’s

The first full version of Minecraft was released in November 2011 and since then has taken the world by storm. In less than two years, this game has grown by leaps and bounds. Currently, Minecraft has upwards of thirty three million users and is growing at a rate of about 17, 000 new ones every day. Chances are, if you have a child, he’s been exposed to Minecraft.

Despite the popularity of the game, many parents express concern over the amount of time and energy their children spend on Minecraft. Much like the parents of old, who were appalled at the youthful fascination with Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Rock and Roll, they are resisting the hold that Minecraft has on their kids, to no avail. Minecraft is changing the way kids interact in the world, how they learn and how they communicate. Minecraft is a springboard for a change that wants to happen. Like a tidal wave, there’s no holding it back.

With that in mind, perhaps we can investigate what the attraction is and how Minecraft might actually be the tool that your child needs to learn and grow in these ever changing times.

Many of us are so concerned with our child “learning” something that we lose sight of what they already know and are building upon through play. I have observed my own children and countless other children (myself included) as they play Minecraft and have come to the conclusion that the spectrum of learning opportunities is vast. Let’s start with the basics – the 3 R’s, something we all want our children to be proficient in.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing the The Homeschooler Magazine’s Winter 2013 PDF here.

Excerpt of my article published in the Spring 2014 Issue of The Homeschooler:

Minecraft and Social Skills

As homeschoolers we are inevitably asked the question, “What about socialization? How will they learn to socialize in the world if they’re homeschooled?”

We as parents have learned to laugh it off and find comfort in knowing that our children have numerous opportunities for socialization, perhaps more than those of their schooled counterparts. We’ve come to realize that socialization is much broader than what happens in a classroom and we take full advantage of it.

But what about when a child is playing Minecraft, seemingly all of the time? Are they getting those socialization skills? Or are they turning into glazed eyed recluses who don’t know how to communicate with real people? Are we doing them a disservice if we allow them to play Minecraft as much as they like? What about park days and homeschool events? What if they’d rather play Minecraft than go to those social building activities?

At first glance it may seem as if our children are falling prey to a fad; a fixation that not only limits practice of social skills, but also inhibits their ability to interact in the real world. Mass media and many educators would have us believe that we are doing our children a grave disservice if we give our children freedom to explore Minecraft or any other media fully. But is that viewpoint an absolute fact?

Perhaps not. How might Minecraft actually be improving your child’s ability to maneuver in the real world of people, groups and conflict? How might creating on Minecraft actually stimulate self-confidence, problem solving and communication skills?

Read the rest of this article by purchasing the The Homeschooler Magazine’s Spring 2014 PDF here.

Here’s an excerpt of my final Minecraft article found in the Summer 2014 edition of The Homeschooler.


In the past two articles we’ve explored the many ways that children learn as they play the blockbuster hit, Minecraft. We’ve examined how the game can enhance reading, writing and arithmetic aptitudes as well as how it builds self-confidence, problem solving and communication skills.

There is no end to the learning opportunities playing Minecraft affords. And if the game itself is not enough, the addition of modifications has filled in the gaps. Just about every subject can be explored with the addition of mods. Plus, they are free for download from the Internet.

Let’s take a look at a few categories and see what Minecraft Mods have to offer and how they might expose your child to ideas and subjects they might not otherwise consider interesting.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing the The Homeschooler Magazine’s Summer 2014 PDF here.

If you would like to write for The Homeschooler, please find their submission guidelines here.