Unschooling, eh?

I am the oldest of four children. In my early years, my mother was a stay-at-home mother, and I can definitely credit the combination of alphabet tiles on the refrigerator and my mother reading to my sister and me every night with my easy and early start in the world of literature.

We did the usual school start: Kindergarten, early elementary. It was during the fourth and fifth years of my school that my mother took an interest in homeschooling and in unschooling. My sister and I always did well in school — our report cards always came back marked simply "Doing fine". School was no challenge, though my sister struggled a bit with spelling. That was the small sign that something wasn't right for us in the system.

The August before I would have entered the fifth grade, my mother pulled the two of us aside and asked us if we'd like to not go back to school. We were a bit baffled, and mom explained what she had in mind. We were academically advanced, and she said she'd happily gamble our 'headstart' on trying unschooling. We didn't go back. We realized in that next year that we did most of our learning at home anyway. We had a huge world map as wallpaper on the big blank wall in the kitchen. We took a few classes at the school — things like music and P. E. — though now, looking back, I can see what poor socialization those were. In our daily life, we spent hours out and about, visiting libraries, parks, talking to people, young and old. In school, it was kids born within a year of each other, fighting for a pecking order and for the teacher's attention.

Along with the opportunities brought with unschooling came the surprising opportunities of living in a tiny rural town. When I was thirteen, we packed up our house in Denver and moved to Ridgway, Colorado, a town of then 450 people. We continued unschooling, and shortly after I settled in, I started working part-time, first in a restaurant, and then not long after at a local internet service provider. I started as technical support, then began helping do system administration.

Now, ten years after I started working for them, I've owned the company for three years, and at age twenty-four, own a profitable though small business. I spend my spare time at work doing computer science and engineering research and implementation.