Typical Day As Unschooling Teen in High School

When people hear that unschoolers choose their own schedule and decide what to study, it’s often hard to imagine. A typical day with unschooling is different for each person and changes over the months but here’s one of mine while unschooling high school:

I wake up around 8:30 am. I have breakfast and then leave for the public bus to the subway around 9:15 am. I go a few stops and walk to Literature Group with a bunch of other teen unschoolers. The group is run by Maureen Carey who used to be a school teacher and has two unschooled kids, one who is in the group (she gets to sleep in a more and attend class in her pajamas).

We each take turns reading aloud books by Anton Chekhov, Jane Austen, J. D. Salinger, Jules Verne, Moliere, etc. Halfway through we break for snack including some of Maureen’s homemade challah or other delicious bread and black tea she buys when the family visits Ireland every year.

When we finish a book we watch a movie of it. We always say,”The book was better.” But it’s fun anyway.

I was of the last generation to take these classes for free. Now Maureen charges about $10/person/class. It’s worth it for the challah. Let alone the good books and the chance to hang-out with other homeschoolers your age.

I go home, make myself lunch, check e-mail, and then go to cross-country after school. Some towns let homeschoolers take high school classes, even get a diploma. Mine didn’t but they let me continue to run cross-country and track.

In the evening I take a bus into Harvard Square and attend a class at Harvard Extension School on calculus, linguistics, or anthropology. I’ve always been interested in these subjects and I really enjoy the classes and learn a ton.

The classes meet only once a week in the evenings. Like at college, many unschoolers and homeschoolers take only a few classes at a time, at community colleges (like Harvard Extension) and classes organized by homeschoolers (like the literature group). And those classes often meet only once or twice a week.

Some unschoolers don’t take any college classes, others have a full college workload once they get into their teens. My first year as a sophomore I had no college classes and after that just one or two per semester.

It was important for me to have some scheduled activities during the week. But some days I had nothing at all scheduled. Reading on my own, talking with people, writing, and walking in the woods were major parts of my education.

In my last year of unschooling high school I spent a lot of time running my own odd job business and planning for my solo travels around Europe. And that started my unschooling college and worldschooling!

This post was in response to a question someone asked in a comment to my last post (thanks Miriam!). So please feel free to ask more questions!


8 Responses to “Typical Day As Unschooling Teen in High School”

  1. Thanks, Eli, for a picture of an unschooler’s day. It sounds wonderful, so much better than the dull time I spent in high school.

  2. Ren says:

    I met the Carey’s at the NE Unschooling conference a few years ago. Love them! They were featured in the People magazine article with us back in…’06 (I think?).
    People love hearing about “typical days” but it’s so hard to explain how very different that will look for every person, family and season. Nice to read about yours.:)

  3. Valerie Richey says:


    I would like to learn more about unschooling college. We have considered this idea for my two daughters, but the big hang-up involves the whole college accreditation issue. Would any employers hire an unschooled colleged young adult?


    • Eli Gerzon says:

      Hi Valerie thanks for the comment and questions! Basically unschooling college can mean many different things. But it’s definitely possible to get hired to work for someone else without a degree and be a very valued employee. Or my real passion: to create your own businesses based on your passions and strengths. I wrote some very practical tips about getting started with this in my post “Earning your own money for travel”:

      But you’ve inspired me to write a whole post about it! So keep your eye for an “Unschooling College” post soon!

  4. Diana says:

    what is maureen’s email address? I would love to be apart of the classes.

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