Unschooling and the art of letting go of fear.

Witch and house

It is so easy to be gripped by fear. Fear is like a witch casting spells over everything. I can excel in hooking on to her skirt of anxious thoughts, I can fly with her but, in the land of unschooling or homeschooling, she is not welcome as she is so destructive. She is the angry teacher in the room who is handing out bad marks. She is the law that is going to close us down. She is the voice that tells me the kids are going nowhere (she knows the woodman) and she says in her witchy, crispy, sharp voice

‘At this rate, and who are you kidding, how on earth are they ever going to learn anything?’

I see her crop up on internet forums in the form of anxieties about whether a child learning enough, is eating properly, is integrated, is going to get to college. Fear can be all over the alternative scene around unschooling. Fear is juicy. It is like a bad habit.

It makes sense as perhaps fear could be there to guide us, to warn us when we are not taking the right road, to help us stay on track. Also, if I have been controlled by fear for most of my life, through the controls that society has imposed on me, why would I expect it to take a back seat now?

This is where the bigger me has to step in and have a word with myself. I have to stop the witch hanging around and lurking in corners. Fear riding on anxiety, which is nibbling on a bit of tension.

My aim is to take the fear out of unschooling, to just step into what is and not get overwhelmed by the fact that I am not doing what is considered normal or necessarily right. It is such a relief to just accept that the kids are navigating their way through their lives and doing a great job of it. I am there to help them and my aim is to not to bombard them with my anxieties and insecurities, the likes of which are not theirs. We have chosen this path, they love it, they are thriving and learning and the world is up and open for them and they are busy stepping into it.

So my thought is this: When the fear witch grabs me and holds me by the neck against the wall, I wink at her, kiss her smack on the lips and tell her ‘You have no place here, as you my dear friend have nothing to do with learning.’


My daughter just read this piece and said ‘Surely Mum, the whole point is this – you just need to trust that your kids can learn.’


Did you hear that, witch? It is so simple. Out of the mouths of babes…

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About the Author

Lehla is an illustrator and an author of books, she has written for The Guardian. She trained as an actress at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She wrote The South African Illustrated Cookbook, The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women and she illustrated a kid’s book by M.J. Amani called ‘Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read’ and also ‘I am Me, You, Us and We’ by Caroline Trowbridge. Above all she is a mother to three fast growing kids, she juggles her time between them and working on new books and projects. She has recently co authored with Anthony ‘Jump’, Fall, Fly – from schooling, to homeschooling, to unschooling’ Her art work can be seen at http://lehlaeldridge.wix.com/lehla-

9 Enlightened Replies

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  1. ellenrowland says:

    Love this Lehla! You have so accurately personified fear as the cackling, naggy alter ego! Throw å bucket of trust on her and “poof”! She’s lost her power! I Love your illustration too!

  2. Ha, yes a bucket of trust, I like that, have you met this witch then Ellen? Thanks for the lovely comment.

  3. nourishingmyscholar says:

    Great post! I’m still learning to let go of that witches spell whenever it is cast on me 😉

  4. Thank you, yes she is a crafty witch but as Ellen said a bucket of trust and poof she is gone…

  5. Angharad Edwards says:

    Thank you! She visits me often. I must be braver and more assertive and tell her she’s just not welcome here anymore! xx

  6. A pleasure. May she fly off and leave you alone!! x

  7. Hannelie says:

    Brilliant! Once again!