The “Unschooling” Homeschooling Movement with guest Ashley Logsdon

Are you thinking about homeschooling for your children? Are you already homeschooling but still wondering if it’s the best fit for your family? On this episode of Brainy Moms, Dr. Amy Moore and Teri Miller, MS Psy interview Ashley Logsdon, host of the Mama Says Namaste podcast and an expert in the unschooling movement. Ashley breaks it all down for us and even answers some tough questions about unschooling as an alternative to homeschooling as we know it. Tune in to this eye-opening episode on educational choice. 

Transcript and show notes for this episode:

The “Unschooling” Homeschooling Movement
with guest Ashley Logsdon

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore here with my lovely co-host Teri Miller, coming to you today from an unseasonably warm Colorado Springs, Colorado. We are talking to Teri’s sister-in-law Ashley Logsdon today. So Teri, I’m going to let you tell us about her.

Teri Miller:

All right. Well, I’m so excited to have you with us, Ashley, and listeners we have brought Ashley in to talk to us about unschooling. And this episode will be aired in January when we’re going to be talking about school choice, National School Choice month, and the opportunity people to really look at different educational aspects and different things we can do with our kids. And so this is one of those that not many people know about. It’s not just a homeschooling perspective, but even a little bit different. And so Ashley, I’m so excited to dig into this. You are an expert in this field, with lots of experience, but before we get into that, tell us little bit about your story, your personal experience and how you got into this as something you’re passionate about.

Ashley Logsdon:

All right. Well, thank you very much. I am honored to be on. Actually, my first and foremost focus with kids was not my own kids, but my nieces and nephews that Teri had. I remember my first obsession with this baby that I cared so much about was when I was 14 years old, and I had pictures of my nephew, Caleb, up in my locker. Because I was so excited about these little children that I could be involved in their lives in.

Ashley Logsdon:

So my personal history is, yes, when it comes to kids, I have always loved children. And so I was a babysitter and a nanny. I was a preschool teacher. I was a camp counselor. I knew everything about parenting, right? So I had this idea that I was going to come into parenting and know it all. And, obviously, as both of you laugh, that’s not the truth. There is so much more about being a parent. And it’s scary when all of a sudden now, okay, it’s not just be the entertainment for our kids. It’s not just even finding the fun education, but as a parent, I now need to just figure out my discipline, figure out what school options there are, what health options there are, and everything else.

Ashley Logsdon:

So there’s that aspect of me always loving kids. And then there also is aspect of my background for education, personally, was I did public school, private school, homeschool group classes, I’ve run the gamut. So my own upbringing was a variety of every variation of schooling options that they had. And my mom definitely incorporated some unschooling at certain times of our learning, not knowing what it was.

Ashley Logsdon:

So I came with a lot of history for what to do and where to go and kind of ideas for what to do. And so when my husband and I started having our own children and him coming from a super traditional home, public school all the way, government jobs for parents, very opposite of me, we had to look for what was a good fit for our family. And as we started to look and explore and uncover where we want to go, what type of family we want to create. In my blogging and writing as I was doing, just kind of as a new mama and just figuring these things out, I started blogging and writing under the name of Mama says Namaste.

Ashley Logsdon:

And in that process of me blogging and doing this, I was sharing these insights that I was learning about parenting, about what choices I was making, and how I was making them. Not as, this is the only way, but just me being honest and real about my personal journey, and others were getting inspired along the way or asking for questions, asking for help.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so it developed into a business now, where I am a relationships coach and I work with families to create the home environment and beyond that they thrive in. So it looks different for everyone. And in explaining the gamut of these, I’ve met a variety of children, I’ve experienced a variety of education, and I cannot, in all of that, tell you the perfect model of a child or the perfect model of an education. Because it’s not about that, it’s so individualized.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so that’s been, my biggest heart with Mama Says Namaste, my tagline is, the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. And so the whole focus of what I have done in my business and in my home is create my business as my own personal accountability to continue to step into being the best parent I can be with what I know at the time, and encouraging others to do the same.

Teri Miller:

I love that line.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I do too. Say it again.

Ashley Logsdon:

This is the best advice I give new parents, is be the best parent you can at the time with what you know, and be willing to course correct as you grow and gain new insights.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Wonderful.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so that’s really my big goal is to give some support and encouragement to parents, with all of these options and, and explore and share these options and then say, “Okay, but does this work for you, for your family? Does this resonate for you? And is this going to really be a good fit?” And so, yeah, a lot has come from that. And yeah, the quick CliffsNotes version is, because of this, our own adventures have resulted in us having a very individualized approach of knowing our family, knowing what things we’re really passionate about. And that set us on a trajectory of unschooling our children and hitting the road to RV the state’s full-time five years ago.

Ashley Logsdon:

And we’ve still been on that adventure, so I have a lot of unschooling stories about our specific adventure and what all we’ve done, and kind of how that’s inspired others to do their own variations along the way.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right, so-

Teri Miller:

So RVing, I want to just reiterate that, if listeners didn’t hear, RVing the state, so, literally, living full-time in a trailer home-

Ashley Logsdon:

Under 250 square foot of space with five people and a multitude of animals, and, yes, full time.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. And that was how many years have you been at that?

Ashley Logsdon:

So we started in October of 2016, so when our children had just turned four, six, and nine, and then we have done it, and we hit all of the lower 48 states in our first two years and then kind of slowed our pace and we’ve still done it. And we actually, right now, we bought a house in Venice last year, in Venice, Florida, and we are stationary for five months right now, which is the longest time that we have lived in a house or been stationary in five years.

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Ashley Logsdon:

We are hitting the road again after that, but that’s the big question, and that’s actually a beautiful aspect of something that I think is so important for all us as parents to recognize, especially as we’re looking at what you guys are doing right now with exploring our options for education, is that life has seasons. And so recognizing that what works right now, it may shift, obviously, things like that worked. What worked pre 2020 may have shifted a little bit for what works after to 2020. So recognizing that life has seasons is also an opportunity to give us grace in this process of learn and educate yourself and see what are the best resources, what are things that we can do with our children, and recognize that that will change.

Ashley Logsdon:

As your children grow, they are going to change. And as you grow and your insights grow, that’s going to change. And so much that hasn’t even been created yet.

Teri Miller:

Yes.

Ashley Logsdon:

So we have a lot of opportunities still out there.

Teri Miller:

So unschooling was obviously a great fit for where you were.

Ashley Logsdon:

Yes.

Teri Miller:

So, Amy-

Dr. Amy Moore:

So let’s educate our listeners a little bit about what we’re talking about. So tell us what unschooling is and is it different from homeschool? If so, how? Just give us the big picture on what unschooling is.

Ashley Logsdon:

All right. And I will tell you that if you go into all of the logistics, if you want to take, there’s homeschool and then homeschool would be your big umbrella, basically, saying anything that’s outside of the traditional school environment, I’m going somewhere. So homeschool, I’m as the parent, I’m taking initiative to dictate what my child’s education will look like. But under that, you don’t just have homeschooler, you have the unschooler, you have the radical unschooler, the world schooler, the road schooler. I named it functional education. Honestly, all of those are very similar.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so I’m going to give you, the overview version of unschooling is that unschooling is not curriculum based and grade based and test based. So a true radical unschooler, which is the most extreme of this, means everything is directed by children kind of on their own time, and it’s more working around them. The radical unschooling is very, very child focused, and that is going to be your most extreme, extreme aspect of it. And there are a few proponents to advocate for that.

Ashley Logsdon:

But it really goes along a spectrum of what it is. And so my best way to explain it is how I’ve kind of coined it with functional education. And so I know you guys are familiar with functional medicine and that mind, body, soul approach. When I think of functional education, what I think about that is that my learning is not confined by the walls of the classroom, by the grades that I have, or by my age, it is a lifelong process. And the world is our school, and everyone is our teacher, and we have the opportunity to learn from everyone.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so, we don’t say, “We unschool our kids. We say, “We’re an unschooling family.” Because I’m unschooling right along with my children, I’m growing along with my children, and I’m doing it. And where a true, radical unschooling approach may allow a child to completely lead, I am choosing to modify it to what fits to my family. And I know that with my children, with their first personalities and with their ages, sometimes a little extra encouragement, sometimes a, “Hey, let’s set a goal. What’s a goal that you have? Okay, how can I support you in this?” It looks very different than the traditional education model, and the biggest shift, I mean, the biggest thing that distinguishes it is that saying, “The no curriculum, no grades,” that’s the way that we can say it.

Ashley Logsdon:

But the bigger aspect of it is it’s a mindset shift. Because when you go to unschooling, when I look at traditional education, I can quantify what it is that they have accomplished because of their GPA or their test scores, or what grade they have accomplished, but as an unschooler, I don’t have all of those, how in the world do I know that my child is thriving. It’s a great opportunity to really freak out and to second guess yourself and everything else. And I’m speaking from experience. Okay, I’ve had those nervous moments.

Ashley Logsdon:

The biggest thing with unschooling is reframing your mind that my goal for my children is not to get them to memorize every president or to have a 4.0, my goal for them is to understand how to learn anything they want. That is my biggest desire is that my children know how to learn and that they love learning. And those are my biggest areas of focus, because I also recognize that there are a lot of things out there to learn that haven’t yet been created yet. And so I’ve been challenged before on, how can you do unschooling and expect your child to thrive as an adult. And I look at, okay, I’m a coach and a podcaster, never learned anything about either one of those in a traditional school setting, but I’m very grateful for my desire to learn and how to learn that I figured out, so that I could figure out how to be the coach and be the podcaster, and get the research and learn what I needed.

Ashley Logsdon:

So that’s kind of a big overarching view, your easy answer is, no grades, no assignments, no curriculum, but your overarching answer is, it’s switching from, what do they learn? To, I want them to know how to learn and love that process. And that’s a lot of times the big driving goal for the unschooling community.

Teri Miller:

That’s great.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, okay, this is a big question and you can make it a narrower answer, but why? Why would we want to do this?

Ashley Logsdon:

Why? Because I’m not going to be there for my children all the time. And there is a saying that, actually, it’s not here, it’s actually in my RV, I have a framed embroidered print that my mother embroidered the year that I was born, and it says, “There are two lasting gifts we can give our-

Teri Miller:

Yes.

Ashley Logsdon:

… children. One is roots-

Teri Miller:

Roots.

Ashley Logsdon:

… the other is wings.” And what this does, and my why and my desire is that this is wings. Because when I talk about the fact that now I am in the decade where all of my children are going to turn into adulthood, what I’m saying in that is, not all my kids are going to be out of the house, I’m done with my kids or anything else. What I’m saying is, this is the decade I’m launching my children into their own independence. And so I’m passionate about what I’m doing in unschooling as my process of helping them to be able to be independent and critically think on their own, to get the answers that they need moving forward.

Dr. Amy Moore:

But was the end schooling movement a response to dissatisfaction with traditional schooling?

Teri Miller:

Yeah. I wanted to jump into that knowing history and having memory of some of the things that y’all started with Clara, so tell a little bit about that. I mean, if you’re comfortable with that, and if we don’t need to use her name, we can edit that out. But just-

Ashley Logsdon:

No, no, no, a okay.

Teri Miller:

… yeah, share that.

Ashley Logsdon:

Well, I mean the process. Yeah. I mean, the reason I came into it, now, obviously, I was coming into it, knowing that I had multiple options. And so when I looked at it, I wasn’t just looking at well public, school’s the only way to go, and now I’m mad at public school and I’m reacting in this way. And yes, to your point, there are a lot of people that are coming to unschooling because they’ve been burned by the public school system. They’re mad about it, they’re frustrated or anything else. I actually, in my own experience, I came to it from, with young children as, what was my first step? And where was I going to go?

Ashley Logsdon:

And I did a mother’s day out program with my children, and it was very clear from the get-go that my oldest was very introverted, was a voracious learner, and loved to learn, but was very particular with how it was going. And it was a lot easier, and I could see her come alive in more of that individual setting. So, I mean, I saw this as a great opportunity for me to grow with her and to work with her. And I do see that unschooling and homeschooling, especially unschooling, this is something that I see as a privilege. I mean, this is an opportunity that we can do, and I recognize not everyone can.

Ashley Logsdon:

That’s why I still want to advocate for and still do everything I can to help all education options, to be a positive. And I don’t want to just have this as a way to negate another way. I want to say, “The point here and my desire with education is to help every child learn in a way that helps them to want to continue learning, not say, ‘Oh God, I’m over with it now,’ and then move forward with a fixed mindset for the rest of their path.”

Ashley Logsdon:

So, yes, I will say, I mean, unschooling and so many other things have been created out of reaction, out of frustration, out of anger, and wanting to have the exact opposite. And that’s not the blanket statement for it all, because there also, now, is, I’m just looking at the beautiful variety of schooling options we have. That at this point, we have so many options, and with the virtual world, we have so much support that I want it to be an encouragement for parents that, “Hey, you’re not alone in this, and you can get the support that you need in a lot of different ways here.” So finding some ways to, again, look at this not just being all the pressure on one person or blaming the school systems failed us and now it’s all on me or anything else.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. I think it was, my memory is that, I mean, Clara is so bright, your oldest for listeners. Clara is 14 or 15 now? Is she 15?

Ashley Logsdon:

14.

Teri Miller:

14.

Ashley Logsdon:

14.

Teri Miller:

I was like, she’s not 15 yet, is she? Okay? Yeah. Year older than Serene, and then Ellie a year younger. Okay. Yeah. So yeah, I just recall that she so bright at a really, really young age, so bright, so innovative, and yet, my memory is that she didn’t fit into the little boxes, the little cubicles that would have been a normal classroom setting. And so you guys educated yourselves, set yourself up to do something different for her was my memory. That you didn’t just have this, like in college, this perspective, like, this is the way to go, and we’re going to pursue this route. No, it happened experientially. Is that true?

Ashley Logsdon:

Some of my model… I will say that I never fully went into parenting expecting that my kids were going to go to a public school, because I kind of figured I’d be nontraditional in this. And honestly, my biggest hesitation with putting her into a school system was more my desire… I had created a whole life of location independence, and I was more averted to being tied down than it was anything else. I think if I was really adamant and passionate and believed in the educational choice of going with a more traditional route, and I had pushed that from the beginning with Clara, she probably would’ve had a different interaction from the get-go with it, because I would’ve been more involved with the different things.

Ashley Logsdon:

But to your point, I was very sensitive to what do I want from my specific child? I mean, I had the privilege of being picky. I had the privilege being able to choose what really fits my child. And I knew I could do a lot more with her, but even to that point, let me use her as an example. So I thought I could do a whole lot more with her. And what happened is I was a voracious reader when I was, or still am, but I was a huge bookworm, early reader, I mean, by second grade, I was reading a fifth grade level, by fourth grade, I was reading adult books with my mom. I was a huge bookworm. Teri knows this. They would all tease me, because my nose is always in a book. I had no sense of direction. And so I just assumed my children would be the same way.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so here I have a child that now is my responsibility for teaching and come five years old, she can’t really read. Six years old, still struggling. Seven, still struggling. Eight, have I failed as a parent? I am completely screwing my kid up forever. Nine, still struggling. 10, this was the hardest than schooling lesson I could ever have right here. Not having being a reader. When I lived by books by four on, and that was my whole world. And here I have not one, not two but three struggling readers, three kids that did not have the same desire that I did. Yes, I did a different model. And even now it may be, again, I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. And so that’s what I have to keep saying. Because I did the best I could with what I knew at that time.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so I tried 5,000 different learning techniques on poor Clara, she got the gamut, to the point though that I also looked at, okay, I want to be realistic about this. I’m not trying to box myself into a label of unschooling or homeschooling or radical unschooling or anything else. I am not trying to do that. What I’m trying to do is figure out my kid and what works the best for her. And at the point of reading for her and for me, we were having a point of just not really understanding it. And I hired a tutor. I hired somebody else to come in. And she worked with her and really helped her with some basics and some core foundational things. And it was wonderful.

Ashley Logsdon:

I don’t discount adding or getting support if it’s needed, and if somebody is struggling, and I definitely am an advocate for changing up the energy, if you kind of are hitting the same thing over and over again. What has happened as far as the reading has gone, though, is that we have had a click that happens, where a child who is delayed, they’ve taken a long time, they just haven’t gotten it, they’ve struggled. I mean, I looked up everything. I looked at resources for dyslexic, for dyscalculia, for ADHD, for anxiety, I’ve looked up all kinds of resources. I’ve looked for all these ways to support.

Ashley Logsdon:

Ultimately, when it clicked, it clicked. And what happened is they clicked with the maturity of a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old as opposed to a five-year-old. And so what happened is they didn’t start on board books. They clicked, and the first book that my daughter read was on the law of attraction as an adult book. And my middle child has been our biggest struggle with reading, and it clicked about a month ago, and we have to set a timer for books, so that we can see her again, because she’s reading a whole series and she’s loving it.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so, yeah, there is a lot of mindset shift that has to change, because we are coming into it, and especially if you come at it from an education standpoint where we’ve had these checkpoints and parameters, I mean, we’re taking away all of our security blankets to go over into unschooling. And so it is a constant checking in red light, green light. Are we flowing well? Is this working well? And are we learning and growing? Or are we getting stagnant? Are we heading a dead end? Are we heading a brick wall? What can we do to course correct? How can we reevaluate?

Ashley Logsdon:

Viewing life as seasons gives a lot of grace in this, and it allows for parents to have a little bit more confidence for how to do it. Recognizing, okay, let’s try this for a season. It’s okay. I don’t have to commit to this for 30 years. Let’s just try it and see what works and then keep moving forward.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I’m going to play advocate here. I love that you brought up reading, because the flow that you mentioned is typically that we learn to read so that we can then read to learn. And we know from research that the whole language approach that we took as an education system in ’80s and ’90s, where we just said, “Hey, if we immerse kids in a print rich environment, when we read to them that they will naturally learn to read,” and the brain doesn’t work that way. So we know that you have to have direct instruction in order to be able to assign the correct codes to the correct sounds, to learn to read. Will there be kids who defy that process? Sure. It happens, but globally, that is how we have to learn to read. So if you had to do it over again, would you have brought in a professional or a tutor earlier than 11? Was it 11 that you said that you did that with Clara?

Ashley Logsdon:

Oh no, no, no. The tutoring for Clara with the reading was when she was around six or seven. It was before we left. So no, we did not bring in help for them at the later ages, any help and support they got was before we hit the road. So for the past five years, it has been completely organic, and us working with the kids, just on our own and talking with them and everything else. So, yeah, this has been them learning it on their own without it.

Ashley Logsdon:

But as far as, if I would’ve done the early intervention sooner with them, because of the lifestyle that we live, no. Because we… Well, I say that, with the virtual world, I mean, I do believe that there are so many resources that are out there, if there is a point of struggle and a desire for it that there’s no excuse for not being able to get that help, for sure.

Ashley Logsdon:

Yet, we had five years of learning so much. And my number one goal with my kids, first and foremost, is to raise a good human. And I don’t mean that as good and bad people, but someone who’s seeking the good in life and seeing how they can be a positive impact. We’ve spent five years enforcing and working with our children on how to be a positive impact. And they’ve had hands on experiences of banding saw-whet owls on their migration with an ornithologist, or building a whole litter thing and educating people in plastics and litter down in the Keys.

Ashley Logsdon:

And they’ve had such great enriching opportunities and experiences that a lot of their learning has not been reading. It has been live interaction with people and really soaking up, in real time, what all is going on. So the model has shifted, for us, I mean, our approach shifted, and, yes, still, I am a huge advocate for reading and all of my children, as they have gotten older, they’ve gotten less and less support from us on helping them in that.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so they basically have gotten to that point of this is inconvenient enough, my motivation is there, because I’m tired of having to wait on everybody else to tell me what everything is written. So that was kind of where their biggest pull came, was when they hit that internal motivation. Because my biggest thing was, if I were going to just try to drill and force, I was going to create more resentment than what I cared to do. And I wanted to really instill a love of learning as opposed to, you have to muscle through this. And I experienced, especially with two of my girls who are a little bit more fighters, I experienced a lot of fight. And so I had to choose at that point, is this task or thing more important than the relationship or the person. And I chose to take a break from reading and enforce the relationship, and then come back to it with a different perspective and a different approach.

Ashley Logsdon:

And with unschooling, that is a big reframing aspect of it. Especially, if you are coming from yourself being an educator or your child having been in a traditional system, before you ever jump into unschooling, I highly, highly advocate for deschooling. And that is a very well known term in the unschooling world.

Ashley Logsdon:

Deschooling, you have got to let go of the expectations and the agenda of what that school was. It’s like I said, letting go of those checkpoints, because if you go to the checkpoints and all of those parameters that you don’t have in the unschooling world, it’s very overwhelming, and it’s a recipe for conflict and struggle for both parent and child. So deschooling is getting to know your child and getting to know, how do they learn? How are they motivated? What’s really fueling them?

Ashley Logsdon:

Because that’s what I was able to do. And so in my process, I found out, Clara is really motivated when I can give her some clear guidelines for what it is that needs to happen. And if she can identify her why, so she understands the purpose behind it, and she’s clear on the expectation, she can go off independently. For my middle daughter, if I can help her to understand fun, the fun in it, even the hard work that needs to happen for the fun to happen. But as long as I can identify the fun aspect of it, she’s going to have more motivation, she’s more willing to push herself further. And for my youngest, it has to be a challenge. Sometimes it’s flat, “I bet you can’t read that.” “Oh, yes, I can.”And then all of a sudden she’s done it.

Ashley Logsdon:

So just real recognizing those things. And if I can focus on the motivation, the motivation for me is way more important than the actual application for it. I’m going to show them those motivating tools, so that they can apply it in any aspect that they want.

Teri Miller:

Okay. I want to look forward a little bit for listeners that are thinking, gosh, okay, this sounds pretty great. I want to pursue this avenue, and yet I have these concerns. So reading, of course, that was a big concern that we’ve just talked about. How early do you introduce that? What about really getting into the nitty gritty of teaching those reading concepts? I mean, that’s going to be something that each person pursuing unschooling or deschooling is going to really have to process and dig into is reading. The second thing that I think is important, a lot of listeners might be considering is, where does this go down the road?

Teri Miller:

Okay. So Claire is 14, so she’s heading into high school age, my experience as a homeschooler, and Ashley, you know, we homeschooled the three oldest kids all the way through. They started doing some part-time in high school, had to bring tutors in, in high school, but we homeschooled them out of necessity. And I often referred to myself as the reluctant homeschooler, because Caleb, because our first born, had major medical problems and brick and mortar school did not work for him, medically, physically for his health, so we made those choices. Once they got to high school age, I pretty quickly discovered I was not capable, particularly in math, of helping them. I didn’t remember. I wasn’t able to pursue those things. And so all three of my older kids, my first three kids hate math. They talk about math is stupid. They didn’t get it. They and do well in math, because I wasn’t skilled enough to help them.

Teri Miller:

Even then, when I did begin to put them… I got them a tutor, they were able to take some part-time classes at the high school to give them some of that foundation that I had not been able to give them, in a sense, I had have this feeling like it was too late. And so where do you go with that, things that there are concerns? A parent might say, “Well, what if I miss it? What if I miss some foundational things? And then they’re in high school or they want to pursue something in college and it’s too late.” What do you think?

Ashley Logsdon:

I am a big advocate of not living by looking in the past and regrets, on what has happened in the past or how I might have failed. If we are approaching life with a growth mindset, a growth mindset says that I can always build on and create, and I can walk toward where I want to go. Versus a fixed mindset saying, it is what it is and I have to deal with it. So if I have this idea of a growth mindset, then any limitation that my child is struggling through, it’s okay, not yet. Let’s get there. The older they have, the more maturity they have to do it. And so the deal is this, when you were going and doing your research or your certification, you looked at your checklist, what you needed to cover, and you did that.

Ashley Logsdon:

So right now, I mean, really a lot of times what happens for unschoolers is you basically have your IEP, you have your individualized education plan. I’m telling Clara, “Okay, let’s look at what our umbrella school is for our state. So what we have for our protocol, what are the legal requirements for you to graduate? We need to have that list.” We have that list. Then we have, okay, these are the things that are required to graduate. How are we going to make these happen? What resources are we going to pull in order to do this? Especially for her being in high school, oftentimes, unschoolers, very consistently are doing dual enrollment in college. They’re taking college classes. A lot of times they are already working or building their own businesses, or just launching straight into entrepreneurship. I mean, entrepreneurial mindset people and children tend to fit really well in an unschooling environment.

Ashley Logsdon:

That right there is a key, because if you think entrepreneur, I’m not going for what my children… There is a shifted focus from what my children know versus what my children can create. Can you create and innovate? If you can create and innovate, then I don’t see any kind of delay back here, because I can look at Clara, for example, as of great example of this, of writing words backwards, showing signs of dyslexia, knowing my brother did that. And I’m not discounting the fact that there are times you need legitimate help, a 100%. And pay attention, if your child is continuously hitting and you’re just not getting it, get help, get support, get the resources that you need. But what I saw is there was some, but it was not to the point of needing anything extra.

Ashley Logsdon:

And over time she corrected herself. She is an amazing writer. I’m shocked at her spelling, because she was a horrible speller, and I’m really big on spelling. And it wasn’t from me doing it, it was her own desire because of the type of personality that she is. She wanted to get it right. And so she is the child who will practice the same five keys on the piano for three weeks until it’s perfect, and then go forward. I have to have trust in her. I trust her enough to know that if she has a big desire to get to it, she’s going to use the tools that we’ve worked with her on to check the points, to do it, to cross off what needs to happen. Whether that’s taking a course, working with somebody, apprenticing, shadowing, or anything else to get what she needs in order to check the requirements for graduation.

Ashley Logsdon:

And that’s what we’re at right now. And that’s kind of what we do our goal as the young children is to get them equipped with the tools to know how to learn, so that then we can work with them to create their own learning plan and support them in that. So that then by the time they actually are launched in the independence, they had all of the tools and they know how to even create their own learning, so that they can continue. Because learning doesn’t stop when you graduate, it does continue. And this is their opportunity to continue and build for those creative and innovative businesses and companies and ideas that we don’t know yet.

Teri Miller:

So Clara-

Dr. Amy Moore:

So I think it’s-

Teri Miller:

Oh, go ahead.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, I think it’s super important that you brought up having an individualized learning plan for each child, that this isn’t about just letting them play all day and they’ll figure it all out.

Teri Miller:

No. No.

Dr. Amy Moore:

That you are looking at, what are the graduation requirements? What are the legal issues in your state? You have to meet those. I do have a question about grades. So while I understand the motivational aspect of mastery experiences without grades, love the idea, you have to document a grade somehow if your child is going to go to college. So what does that look like? What systems have to be in place for things like that?

Ashley Logsdon:

And that’s something that tends to be very individualized, because it’s state by state, and not only state by state, but you’re looking at who are you using as your umbrella or anything else. And so each state is going to handle things a little bit differently for how you’re submitting and reporting things and what they will okay. A lot of times up until high school, you can get away with putting like an excellent, satisfactory, or needs improvement, that sort of thing, but then, yeah, you go into doing grades. But, I mean, it can be a bit arbitrary. I mean, obviously, grading in general, we kind of are doing that anyway. And so, for me, I mean, it’s me going through, and when I’m writing out my report, because I personally am working with, I’m actually, well, in Tennessee, I’m working with The Farm School, which is an organization in Tennessee and they are huge advocates for unschooling.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so I’m reporting and they can help, because, again, teaming up with an organization that is an umbrella school for unschooling, anything like that, that’s your best bet, because they’re going to help you to legally determine, okay, what do I need to do to cover my bases to do this? Because, yeah, we’ve got to do that. And, also, I just want to say to your point about, yeah, just letting them play all day. That is this misconception that unschooling is giving up like, oh, I don’t have to do it. I’m not teaching and you just let your kid do their own thing.

Ashley Logsdon:

And it’s funny, because like my podcast episode for next week is going to be kind of a PSA about, have you forgotten you’re a parent? Just because you’re sending your kid to school, doesn’t mean you give up on parenting. Because I read an article that was, these teachers, basically, begging parents to just, “Hey, just teach them life skills. Teach them how to be a kind human being. We’ll teach them math, if you can teach them those.”

Ashley Logsdon:

So first off, you’re still stepping up as a parent. You’re still required to be there and be responsible. And, yes, you are stepping up for their education. That means you are being attentive and aware. That means that you are taking every opportunity as it comes. I mean, we happen to be very opportunistic and our lifestyle supports that. So that means if in the middle of the day Clara goes and finds a bird and rescues a bird, we go down a whole path of research and we’re doing bird recovery and research, and we’re learning all about anatomy and all about animals and everything else. And we take that moment and we jump on it.

Ashley Logsdon:

That also means, yeah, I mean, course correction constantly, what’s working? What’s not? And it’s up to us to expose our kids to what they don’t know. They don’t know what they don’t know. So I can’t get mad at my child for not pursuing further education and reading, if they don’t recognize there’s any books outside of what I have in my house. And so it is a responsibility as a parent to step and say, “I’m willing to do this.” And your best way to do it is, if you want your easiest hack, be willing to do it with them. Learn alongside them and step in as an unschooler with your child and continue to learn and grow. So that you’re not just, again telling them, “You need to know this,” you are modeling how to learn and a love of learning. And that’s the best inspiration you can give your children, is if they’re seeing you do it.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. I want to just give a snapshot for listeners of Clara. And, obviously, I’m looking at what I’ve seen in Clara objectively. So I may get some details wrong, Ashley, but what I’ve seen through this process, so Claire’s 14, she is turning into a very thoughtful, she’s cautious, introspective, young woman. And she has developed this mind for science, and I don’t know where that’s going to go, but what I see is she has really, really dug into information about snakes, birds, animals, wild animals, animal rescue, like you talked about. And it’s been based on, from what I can see, these incredible life experiences where, yes, so much of what I see she has gleaned has been hands on life experience that then she goes to do the research. She digs in further, so that I could see her going down this very, very scientific path, biology.

Teri Miller:

I don’t know where it will turn out. But I want the listeners to hear, but Clara is not as a young woman, as a teenager, and I’m saying young woman, only 14, that’s a child, but she is very mature. There is a very young woman quality about Clara, and that she is not flighty and play all day.

Ashley Logsdon:

No.

Teri Miller:

Yeah, she is very much-

Ashley Logsdon:

Those would be my other two.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Well, okay, well, they’re younger, but she is very much, it seems, like a student of life and she is digging and learning and growing all the time. So I think that’s a good thing for parents who are considering this to see that, like Amy said this, isn’t saying, “Your kid’s going to play all day. And by the time they’re a teenager, they’re going to want to be on their phone all day and be in social media.” If they’re on their phone all day, I don’t care if they’re in public school, homeschool, unschool, that’s a problem, anyway.

Ashley Logsdon:

And Clara, on the flip side, she has a phone, the reason we got her a phone, honestly, was for Duolingo. This child, I did not even ask her to do Duolingo, she wanted to learn Spanish. Now she’s learning Latin, and she is on day 600 something of every day. She’s over two years of consistently doing Duolingo every single day. Now her phone, other than that, only gets spam calls. She doesn’t know where it is half the time. She’s using it for research, for Duolingo, and that’s about it. And the irony is, yeah, her books, her Christmas request last year was a $50 textbook on zoology. This year, she’s got an encyclopedia underneath the tree, and she’s got night scopes and game cameras and all these different things.

Ashley Logsdon:

But the thing is, this really is such a great fit for her though, because it also has really supported her entrepreneurial endeavors. She has come from an entrepreneurial family, I mean, so since age four was when she first started her entrepreneurial business. We are in the midst of her next entrepreneurial business, and this is again, I mean, at this point, she already has got quite a nest egg from what she has been able to do as she has incorporated business as her learning. And done all of these different business models. And so right now she is working with, I mean, she works with snakes and she’s doing snake breeding.

Ashley Logsdon:

I mean, this girl is, you want to know what her specialty is, her sweet spot’s genetics, Teri. She loves all things genetics. And she got so into it with breeding and everything else, she’s gone way down the paths of understanding genetics and breeding when it comes to fish and reptiles and birds, those are her biggies, reptiles and birds is her main focus.

Ashley Logsdon:

But, yeah, so she’s seeing all these different things. Now, we’ve worked on financial literacy and working on that with our children and understanding that. And so now she’s looking at it and she’s saying, “Okay, my passion is snakes. I know how I can make an income to feed my hobby by breeding the snakes, and what I know I can make with the snakes and everything else.” And she’s learning a ton with that. She’s also looking at things like real estate investing and what she wants to do to simply have residual income coming in, to pay for her playing and doing whatever she wants. And she’s doing a lot of looking outside of the box at these other entrepreneurial things, and not just even looking at, okay, I love snakes. So I have to follow this model to get there.

Ashley Logsdon:

No, okay, I’m going to leave this wide open, and I can even look at other ways of generating income. So it’s been very fun to go into this with our girls and to see how each one approaches it very differently. And it is a different model. And we have seen for Clara, pretty hands off works pretty well.

Ashley Logsdon:

And now I’m zoning back in and I’m coming in very hands on, hiring her to work for me as a virtual assistant, she’s getting and I’m getting whole new insights on what things I’ve missed. Okay. What do we need to do on working on email etiquette? Communicating what it is you’re doing. Understanding, if you don’t understand, what’s asked of you and how to convey that to somebody else. I mean, These are life skills that are going to get her way far beyond this, for people that she’s going to be working and interacting with beyond.

Teri Miller:

Yeah, all right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So I’m going to share something personal, which I don’t usually do.

Teri Miller:

Yay, Amy.

Dr. Amy Moore:

But we have talked about my son, Evan, who is my youngest, so Evan is almost 17. At the end of eighth grade, he thought he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He wanted to get a PhD in neuroscience. And so he said, “I want to do dual enrollment high school, college starting in ninth grade.” And he tested into college level English and math, and was able to do that in a program that Teri’s son is in as well. And so he spent two years dually enrolled and then decided, wait a minute, I don’t want to be a neuroscientist, but I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. And so he has spent the last couple of semesters just really struggling.

Dr. Amy Moore:

He’s still enrolled, still taking those classes, hating every minute of it. And so we made the decision to take an unschooling approach for the last couple of semesters, using our state standards for graduation, but letting him decide how he would meet those. What we know about Evan, even though he doesn’t know what he wants to do with the rest of his life, we know that he has to touch things to learn. And so we said, “How can you meet these requirements, knowing how you love to learn?” And so he plays the flute and piccolo in the city’s youth symphony. He’s a competitive rock climber. He’s a barista. He did sign language instead of a foreign language. All of this is using his hands to learn. He’s a baker. So I’m like, “Let’s look at this.”

Ashley Logsdon:

Beautiful.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So culinary science, physical education, music, foreign language, he’s learning everything through these real life experiences that we can then in turn, give him credit for. And he’s on the youth leadership team at church, where he writes devotionals. So he’s getting all of these requirements through how he’s living his life anyway. And he’s taking-

Ashley Logsdon:

And that’s… Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, he’s taking financial math at the college to finish that math requirement, because everybody should take financial math. You just talked about financial literacy, right?

Teri Miller:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Ashley Logsdon:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

He doesn’t need to take college algebra to meet the requirements to graduate from high school.

Teri Miller:

Nice.

Ashley Logsdon:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

He can take financial math and learn about amortization and about balancing a checkbook and about investment-

Ashley Logsdon:

Might learn real life applications, right?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Real life applications. And he is so at peace with this new plan. My husband had deer caught in the headlights, “What do you mean we’re going to do this?” And I-

Ashley Logsdon:

Especially so close to graduation-

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Ashley Logsdon:

… it’s completely valid, why you have hesitation for that, for sure.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes. And I-

Ashley Logsdon:

And props to you though, for recognizing when your child’s thriving and when they aren’t.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. And I said, “Look, I was a teacher before I was a psychologist. I was a curriculum coordinator. My masters is in education. You just need to trust me on this.” That’s what I said to my husband. I just remind him, “I’m an expert in this area,” expert in quotes, right? Because-

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. Yes. But you just need to trust me. And he said, “Okay, I’m going to just let this play out.” And so I really grilled you on a lot of things, but I want to tell you, and I want to tell listeners that I’ve been a proponent of the unschooling movement since it started. Is it right for everybody? Absolutely not. But can it meet the needs of some families, many families, many kids? Absolutely. And so I’m super excited that we’ve had our first expert now about that movement on our show, so that we can really bring awareness to those options.

Dr. Amy Moore:

That’s what we’re talking about. You’re not slamming public at school. You’re not slamming private school. You’re not slamming traditional schooling. You’re saying this is a viable option-

Ashley Logsdon:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

… for families, for kids. So we need to take a break, let Teri read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, we want to hear about your podcast, about your courses, about your services. How can parents connect with you to learn more?

Teri Miller: reading sponsor ad from LearningRx

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Dr. Amy Moore:

For those of you who are considering unschooling or are homeschoolers and are looking for some reading remediation, LearningRx is absolutely a great option. Teri and I are also clinical researchers. We’ve done more than a dozen studies on the LearningRx brain training programs. And so the ReadRx program would be a great place to start, if you have a child who is struggling with reading.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. That’s such a great point. Ashley, like you said, bringing in a specialist, whether it’s homeschooling or whatever.

Ashley Logsdon:

Yeah. I’m going to hop over to LearningRx myself after this, actually.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Good.

Teri Miller:

Good.

Ashley Logsdon:

I have heard about it and I haven’t explored it more. And, yeah, I want to say, I am all for jumping into that and looking for what resources there are to help and support. So yeah, that sounds like a great program for being able to be move forward.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And it’s actually available virtually as well. So our latest published research study was comparing the results from remote LearningRx delivery to in-person delivery, and there were no statistically significant differences. And so LearningRx is available anywhere in the world through Zoom. So if you don’t live near a center, it’s a fantastic option. Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Super exciting, and they have a math program too. That’s what I wished-

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yep. Reading and math.

Teri Miller:

… I could have had. Yeah. The money I spent on a tutor for my kids, shoot, I wish I had a note about the math program LearningRx back then, but I didn’t know. So-

Ashley Logsdon:

Absolutely.

Teri Miller:

… math as well, if you need math help for your kiddos.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right. So Ashley, we’d love to hear more about what you’re doing, your podcast, your coaching services, all of that.

Ashley Logsdon:

Yes. Well, first and foremost, obviously, since this is a podcast, the Mama Says Namaste podcast is my podcast. And I actually started it kind of as an audio blog, because I had so much blog content and was looking for another avenue, and I was scared of what I was going to say on a podcast. So I read my blog, but that’s how it started. And I started with seasons, and so I have season one, and the reason I say the seasons is because it kind of covers the overarching themes that I cover when I do coaching with people, and that is understanding personality styles.

Ashley Logsdon:

So as a relationships coach, I do coach individuals and families. I’ve actually had a lot of fun coaching families where I even have done sessions with the kids that have been really fun. So I work on understanding personality styles, not as the label, but simply to open the door to self-awareness. Because that’s my biggie here, is to open the door to self-awareness and to take personal initiative for what works for you and how you thrive best. So we do that.

Ashley Logsdon:

And then the second season of the podcast was on marriage and intimacy. And so I brought my husband in for that, and he never left after that. So my husband, Nathan, is my co-host and the next few seasons, we cover marriage and intimacy.

Ashley Logsdon:

We cover parenting, alternative education options, minimalism and decluttering, clearing the clutter from your head, your heart, and your home, and also family travel, so clearly with our travels. So we did them all in season. So there’s some great combo episodes, but then we moved into just hitting those topics generally from then on. And so at this point, we’re what 229 episodes in, and we have a lot of fun. It has changed a lot, and our kids are sometimes interviews on there as well as other guests interviews that we bring in as well.

Ashley Logsdon:

So Mama Says Namaste podcast is a biggie. And then on the Mama Says Namaste website, I actually want to share three resources for those of you that are listening. One of them is just a free resource that I want to give to everyone. And that is just a download that is five tips to get your child to love learning again. And so thinking about those parents that are frustrated that their kids… And it doesn’t have to just be for unschooling, this is for anybody. Because regardless of what you’re putting your kids into, you still have the opportunity to step up as an unschooling parent and continue to be learning yourself throughout your life.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so this is something where everything that we’ve talked about today, you still can do, even if you’re putting your child into public school. You can still be proactive in showing up and helping them to fuel their learning and get excited about it. So this is a free download. If you go to mamasaysnamaste.com/lovelearning, that’s a free one.

Ashley Logsdon:

And then I have two courses that I have done. And one of them is completely for those that are very specifically looking for RVing the states full-time, and it’s called 90-day family road trip. And I want to say that in here for two reasons, one, because some people, especially if you’re looking at alternative learning, especially like unschooling, a lot of people do it for the opportunity to do location independent learning, to be able to travel. And this is a great way of doing it from a relationship coach perspective that says, “Hey, it’s not just about the road trip. If y’all are at each other’s throats, you’re going to be miserable. So let’s look at how you guys can do this in a way where you really thrive.” And I also love the fact that it’s a 90-day deal, because, again, recognizing our life as seasons approaching anything that you’re doing with, okay, let’s see how this works and how we thrive as a family is so valuable.

Ashley Logsdon:

So that course, and then the other course is the discovering you course. And this is a course that is brand new this year. And that’s on the personality styles. That is the basis for everything I do. And that is, if you want to create that life you thrive in, you’ve got to start by looking inward first. And this is a way of looking inward to understand how you tick, how you are motivated, and then go beyond at you, how is your family motivated? How do they tick? And how can we work to really get the best out of everyone?

Ashley Logsdon:

So I’m excited about those two courses. The discovering you course was my baby this year that I finally got out, and I’m so thrilled about. And so I’m definitely singing that one from the rooftops and letting people know, because it’s a culmination of all of my coaching I’ve been to with families. That is a great resource that you can sit down with your whole family and go through to learn about how people process that maybe think a little different or react in a different way and how we can see how the uniqueness and each of us strengthens all of us.

Teri Miller:

I want to throw something out before we’re done. I know we have gone so long, because it’s just been such a great topic. I just want to throw out the idea, and Ashley you can talk about this, Amy give voice to whatever you think. But I’m sitting here thinking about my own family, and listeners you know that I have nine kids, they are all very, very different. I did something specific with the first three based on necessity. Like I said, medical necessity of my oldest child and that just simply shaped, it was necessary, it shaped what we did as a family. And then other kiddos came along and they are very, very different.

Teri Miller:

My son Canyon, you’ve heard me talk about on this podcast that he is very, very academic. He is in that early colleges program here in Colorado, and so, shoot, what’s the word? Concurrent enrollment that you… So he is getting college credit, so at the end of his sophomore year in high school, he’s actually going to be a sophomore in college, which is very exciting for him.

Teri Miller:

And then you’ve heard me talk about Ian, who’s my socialite. He is in high school, not for the academics, he’s in it for all the programs he participates in, all the clubs and the running and the madrigal singing and all that. And he loves it, but we have to be okay with him not being as academic.

Teri Miller:

And then I’ve got Serene and Nakota, and I’m sitting here thinking, listening to this. Nakota is very academic, he’s a self-starter. Right now, they are currently homeschooling. And what I’m seeing in Serene is she is not doing well with homeschooling. It’s not that she’s not incredibly bright, but that model does not seem to fit her. And I am thinking, what if we could do the unschooling approach with Serene, let Nakota pursue his academic bent, and then our youngest [Shadaria 00:59:37], she is a 100% in a classroom kind of girl. She has to have that constant, constant accountability with a teacher that in our lifestyle, I am not able to provide. And it did not work well for us relationally. It works better for us relationally for her to be in a classroom.

Teri Miller:

So I just want listeners to think about that maybe you don’t have to be an unschooling family, maybe you could have an unschooling child. Maybe you could have one kid in public school, one kid in private school, one kid unschooling, one kid homeschooling. I know it sounds a little crazy and all over the place, but it could be possible. What do you think?

Ashley Logsdon:

I think it’s very greatly possible. And not only do I affirm that and think that that’s great, because what you’re doing right there is you’re looking at each one of your children as an individual person. Well, that’s what we want to do. Oftentimes, that’s our frustration with the school systems, right?

Teri Miller:

Right.

Ashley Logsdon:

Is that you’re lumping my child in with a group and he’s getting left behind or she’s getting left behind or bored or anything else. And so, yes, if we’re bringing it into our home, we get to see our children individually. And we cannot assume that, yeah, one size fits all for sure. I absolutely love that. And another thing is don’t hesitate to collaborate with others.

Ashley Logsdon:

I have a friend in New York who decided to go the unschooling route after having conversations and everything, she wanted to do it. She also is a working mama. She’s super busy with things she has. And she was a 100% confident and neither was her sister, so they collaborated. And they alternate unschooling days and dropping kids off and letting them have unschooling opportunities where one parent is a little bit more involved and able to be there to create a science experiment or something. And other times they get a break.

Ashley Logsdon:

So also thinking about the fact of that, I mean, when we look at unschooling and homeschooling and all these other alternatives, sometimes we think, oh my gosh, I just can’t be that hands on with my child. Okay. Who can be? Because I want to have other people speak into my children’s life other than just me anyway. And so this is an opportunity and with things like LearningRx with things like Outschool, Varsity Tutors, MasterClass, there are so many online courses you can plug in and your kids can learn from anywhere and learn anything that they want. Yes, use any and every opportunity there is. And, yes, a 100% make it down to the individual child as opposed to everybody as a whole. Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Nice.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Beautifully said. Ashley, is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with that you haven’t gotten to say?

Ashley Logsdon:

Just the two reminders, do the best you can with what you know at the time, and be willing to course correct. Life is full of seasons, even the bad ones will pass. The good ones, recognize and appreciate when you’re in it, and value that and cherish that. But recognize there are seasons and there’s beauty in having grace for that. And that we do change our minds. We do grow with new insights. We do have a child who wanted to go into neuroscience and then doesn’t, and it doesn’t in any way negate that passion. That passion opened a door of learning. And it is a first step that helps to solidify things that maybe your children don’t want, that helps to narrow down what they do want.

Ashley Logsdon:

And so these are seasons of life. We are growing and learning together. And the more we have more grace for each other in the process, both adults and children, the more we can all thrive.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Love that.

Teri Miller:

So good.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So we’d like to thank our guest, Ashley Logsdon, today for just really opening our eyes to possibilities. We hope that you are excited about all of the things that she shared today. If you would like to connect with Ashley, you can visit her website at mamasaysnamaste.com. You can follow her on social media @mamasaysnamaste. We’ll put all of that in the show notes, including the links to her courses, and the links to your free download on the tips to get your child to love learning.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So thank you so much for listening today. If you loved our podcast, we would like you to leave a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcast for us. If you would rather watch us, we are on YouTube. You can follow us on social media @thebrainymoms. So, look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms, so we’re out.

Teri Miller:

See ya!

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