Theodore Agranat is a serial entrepreneur that dropped out of high school at 15 in Austria and started his first company at 21. He has built over half a dozen different companies over the last twenty years and lives with his wife and three kids in western Massachusetts. He continues to enjoy building companies as well as playing tennis and soccer.
What was the catalyst that lead you to choose unschooling for your family’s learning and educational needs?
I dropped out of high school at 15 in Austria and learned more within one year out of school then in the previous years of school. So when I had kids and found out that homeschooling is an option in the US it seemed like a no-brainer to follow a child-led/child-centric, partially self-guided approach.
Prior to your venture into unschooling, did you have any preconceived ideas, beliefs, or notions about what unschooling entailed (positive or negative)? If so, have any of those beliefs or ideas shifted?
I have positive ones mostly due to my background. Some shifting did occur; one needs to take into account different learning styles and some kids seem to do better with more structure and guidance while some do better with less.
What have been some of your favorite strategies, tools, or resources that you’ve employed to make unschooling a successful fit for your family?
A lot of online learning tools such as duo lingo, khan academy, math apps, Palomar K12, and more.
How has your family’s experience with unschooling been so far? Have you encountered any obstacles or challenges? What milestones and successes have stood out to you?
It has been a fantastic experience for my oldest son, who just finished his first year as a freshman in public highschool. He chose to attend this after 10 years of un-schooling at home and while traveling extensively. Our middle son also decided at the same time to try public school (all his friends are at public school) – and ended up enjoying that structure much more than homeschooling. We do continue having various learning experiences outside of their public school experience, which they enjoy.
What questions do you receive most often about unschooling your family and how do you address those questions?
The usual ones are “How will the socialize?”. I remind them they learn that through a variety of ways including sports, playgroups, and other activities. The other question is “How will they learn social norms?”. If by that they mean “how to be a cog in a machine”, I say “no thanks”.
What have been some of the most rewarding moments of your unschooling journey?
Ability to spend a lot of quality time together as a family and all learn and grow through that together.
What advice would you give to someone considering unschooling or just beginning their unschooling adventure?
Pay close attention to your child’s learning style, adjust as needed, and do not get stuck in any specific belief system around this if it doesn’t suit the situation any longer. Also to keep an open mind and change if it’s warranted.
What key skills and traits do you feel unschooling has instilled in your child/children/family?
Trust in their own ability to figure things out and make things happen.
What has been one of the most powerful insights you’ve gained from unschooling?
That with schooling there is really no “right” or “wrong” way. Just continuously apply a lot of effort into whatever direction you and/or your children have chosen to go educationally, look at results, adjust as needed – and things will probably work out just fine.
What do you feel is one of the biggest myths about unschooling?
That unschooling means either doing nothing all day or hiding your kids in the “basement”.