Exploring Unschooling, Together
The Living Joyfully Network is a safe, inclusive community where parents come together to engage in candid conversations about living and learning through the lens of unschooling. Our shared goals are to embrace lifelong learning, develop strong and connected relationships with our children, and cultivate a thriving unschooling lifestyle in our families.
What Unschooling Looks Like
Here’s the vision of unschooling that we’re walking toward in the Network:
- Learning happens all the time, everywhere, in all sorts of ways. Actively supporting our kids as they follow their curiosity and explore their interests and passions cultivates a lifelong love of learning alongside building a strong and personal web of knowledge.
- We don’t separate learning about academic topics from learning about life topics: it’s all learning. Sometimes this is described as “radical unschooling” or “life learning.”
- We are moving away from control as a parenting tool and toward connection. Developing strong relationships with our children is at the heart of our work here. Understanding consent and letting go of power struggles opens up new ways to be in relationship with our kids that bring a blossoming sense of joy, safety, and connection to our days. Not to mention, a whole lot of learning.
The Living Joyfully Network community has members at all points on their unschooling journey and is an amazing mix of parents with a wide range of life and unschooling experience. This diversity of perspective adds a beautiful richness to our conversations.
If you choose to join us, there’s no expectation of where you are on your journey, only that you’re interested in walking in this direction—conversations in the Network unfold with this destination in mind.
Your Living Joyfully Network Team
Founder, Pam Laricchia
Pam is a long-time unschooling mom who loves exploring unschooling and sharing the fascinating things she’s discovered about learning and parenting along the way. She hosts the weekly Exploring Unschooling podcast and her writing has been published in various magazines including Toronto Life, Natural Parent Magazine, Life Learning Magazine, and the Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning.
She’s also written five books about unschooling, most recently, The Unschooling Journey: A Field Guide. Her first book, Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life, has been translated into French, Spanish, Hungarian, and Portuguese.
My three unschooled children are now adults, but that hasn’t dampened my love for exploring the unschooling lifestyle. For me, that looks like embracing lifelong learning with the knowledge that we are always learning and growing, approaching my days with openness and curiosity, cultivating connected relationships with my family, and thinking critically and creatively as I continue to deepen my understanding of the world.
I love the information about unschooling I’ve shared in the books I’ve written, but walking with parents as they bring those ideas into their day-to-day lives is where the real work happens. It’s hard, it’s messy, but it’s so worth the effort. The Network community inspires me every day!Pam
Community Advocate, Anna Brown
Anna’s two children were always unschooled and she has been an outspoken advocate for children and families for more than 20 years.
While my always unschooled children are grown, I’m here because I believe this is sacred work and that it ripples out into our communities and the world at large. Society often marginalizes and misunderstands children. I am passionate about helping parents truly connect with their children as the whole, amazing people they are today. The Network has proven to be a supportive, uplifting environment to peel back the layers of weight and expectations we carry into parenthood. As we peel back and focus on connecting with our children, everything changes. We see the world through a new lens and I love being a part of that! I love seeing relationships and families transform!Anna
Community Moderator, Erika Ellis
Erika is an unschooling mom of two and she’s a scanner—interested in everything! She has organized parenting, unschooling, and wellness groups in person and online, and she loves exploring the world, learning together with her family.
This network has been what was missing in my life! I find that being a parent can be very isolating, especially since we’re unschooling and making different choices than most of the families around us. For me, the Network has become a place where I can be inspired, ask questions, get suggestions, share my ideas, and meet other like-minded parents from all over the world. Every month, we have a different topic to consider which provides a new way to examine our lives and brings different tools and ideas to try. The Living Joyfully Network is a social network that leaves me feeling uplifted, encouraged, and refreshed. I only wish that I had joined in sooner. I give so much love and thanks to Pam and Anna and all of the amazing people I’ve met on the Network for being so welcoming and making life feel more fun!Erika
Our Core Community Values
Everything we do in the Network, and beyond, is guided by our core values.
We share experience, not advice. Advice often creates the impression that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do something, shutting down conversation. Advice also has a way of creating a teacher-student relationship: it transfers power to the person who gives advice and takes power away from the person receiving it. Sharing our experiences and observations reminds everyone that we’re in this together—sometimes it’s most helpful to hear from someone who is closer to where you are on your path and sometimes from someone a bit further down the road.
Non-Dogmatic (No One Right Way)
Our collaborative approach grows out of our belief that there is no one “right answer” that applies to all families, especially when it comes to learning and parenting. Our families are unique. Each of our children is unique! We share our experiences and insights as more information to help you find what works for you and your family.
The Network’s strength is its members. Together, we contribute to—and celebrate—each other’s learning. By sharing our experiences and the resources we have found valuable, we help each other on our journeys to cultivate a safe and engaging unschooling environment in which each family member can thrive.
We welcome members from different communities, different backgrounds, and different experiences. The families in the Network are unique and beautiful in their differences.
Our Guiding Principles
Assume Positive Intent
When we approach situations and members assuming positive intent, we leave space to understand different perspectives, realizing that behaviors stem from underlying needs. Remaining open and curious, even in heightened times, allows us to understand ourselves and others more deeply and move to repair and resolution.
Meet People Where They Are
We know that everyone is on their own personal journey and that where they are and how they move through that journey is individual to them. If we can meet people where they are with understanding and compassion, we can offer possibilities for moving forward. In that safe space, people are often more willing and able to question long held beliefs and find ways to move beyond old baggage, dogma, and trauma.
We ask Network members to pay attention to their language. Using inclusive language allows everyone to feel welcome and comfortable participating. For example, it’s important not to assume that every family is made up of two parents, male/female, mom/dad. That assumption can leave those who don’t match that convention feeling excluded. Taking the time to be intentional and inclusive in our language creates a safe, welcoming environment for all.
We also welcome members to share their pronouns. This is a choice. Sharing or not sharing pronouns is equally accepted and valued in the Network.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Pam and Anna are on their own personal anti-racist and anti-oppression journeys. And while we know that we cannot lead another on their journey, the Network is a place for all of us to share experiences and resources to support each other as we do our work.
The work we do in the Network exploring adult-child power structures and how they oppress children gives us a running start in understanding how power dynamics play out in other areas of systemic oppression. We believe the adult-child power structure is one of the roots that keeps these different forms of oppressive structures in place over generations.
As a community with members who span the globe, we are also learning about decolonization issues that countries all over the world are facing and supporting one another on our journeys to improve the lives of marginalized communities.
Address Issues When They Arise
We take a hands-on approach to moderation and will not tolerate hate speech of any kind. Incidents that cause harm will be addressed immediately. We’re committed to addressing racism, ableism, ageism, and all forms of gender and sex discrimination with the goal of cultivating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space from which we can all stretch and grow.
We are supportive of LGBTQ+ rights. We trust that parents are walking the path around sexual and gender identity with their children with thoughtfulness and love. We honor and support individuals on this journey.
What’s Included With Your Membership
A private, dedicated online community platform that supports the deep, focused reflection that our unschooling journey asks of us, without the distractions of social media.
Curated monthly themes to help you dive deeper into important aspects of your unschooling journey.
Weekly focus topics and conversations to guide your exploration of the theme.
Weekly Q&A group calls in Zoom to ask questions and engage face-to-face with other unschooling parents. If you can’t make it live, no worries, they are recorded for you to listen to at your convenience.
And a wonderful group of unschooling parents from around the world with a wide range of life and unschooling experiences who are happy to share their insights and perspectives with you!
What Our Members Say
The past year on this network has been an incredible and life changing gift for me on a deeply personal level and for my family as a whole. For that, I would like to thank Pam and Anna and every member who has so generously shared of themselves on this forum. From the moment I stumbled across Pam’s “open and curious” approach a number of years ago, I was hooked. I found myself here because I was seeking a community in which to explore and consolidate my family’s unschooling journey in a supportive and nurturing place rather than the more prescriptive and judgmental approach I had found being dished up on some of the other unschooling groups.
Through the lens of this network, unschooling has become so much more than a mere alternative schooling path. Despite previously having a theoretical understanding of the journey to the summit and a half-lived experience of it, since joining my eyes have been completely opened to the ongoing, profound and personal work that goes along with wholeheartedly embracing this alternative pathway of living. I think the reason my journey on this network has been so profound is because I’ve experienced the members who contribute here in this space to be incredibly supportive, generous, mindful and inquisitive. There has been much laughter, intimacy, vulnerability and many tears shed both in sadness and happiness. The full gamut has been a delight.Emma, Network member
I joined the Living Joyfully Network back in March/ April just when COVID-19 was starting to take over the world. While the lockdown was meant to be socially isolating, having this network has been anything but this. What I most love is the diversity of the topics that are discussed. Every month, Pam and Anna bring up a theme and within that we have weekly topics. What follows is a weekly zoom call where we get to touch base with what’s happening in our lives and discuss the theme of the month. Besides the weekly topics, members are also welcome to share their living joyfully moments or challenges they might be going through. Members respond not with advice, but with similar experiences in their lives.
For an introvert like myself, it has been incredibly enriching, connecting, joyful and uplifting in so many ways. Because of this network I have found my tribe. I can bring up any challenges I might be experiencing in my world and I know it will be received with no judgement. I have been able to connect with so many like minded Mummas which has transformed into real life friendships. One can see the love, joy and magic that has gone in creating this vibrant community and for this I will forever be grateful to Pam and Anna.Susan, Network member
I cannot recommend the Network enough. I joined when I wanted to really give radical unschooling a go but had many specific questions. The podcast always got me very motivated, but I then often fell short in practice. So, I took the plunge and joined. I posted my first question and was blown away by all the heartfelt responses, but even more so by the super simple suggestions people gave me. With that, we saw a complete transformation. What was a daily power struggle before turned into one of the best memories we have now. All we did was a minor adjustment to our rough and tumble room. Instead of dreading daily struggles and praying for bedtime to come around, I’m now looking forward to our days and am almost excited to see how we handle things today. I soon ran into another problem and was wondering how I would post that in the Network. That alone made the whole situation so much clearer for me and I was able to handle it much better before getting more help from the Network.
On top of being able to post and joining other discussion, there is a weekly and monthly topic that gives me the chance to think about our relationships and our lives. Things have really changed at our house, we’re doing things that I’ve never dreamed of before and I’m so glad we made these changes. I always had the Network members there to “hold my hand” through it and I’m so surprised by their kindness and love.
What I love so much about the Network is hearing that others have similar problems and questions, which makes everything feel much less daunting, but also hearing how others have dealt with it. Most of the time it’s the simplest little change that goes such a long way. It strikes me again and again how simple things really are. Hearing from others gave me a complete new perspective and way of looking at things. Reading other discussions and the feedback to my posts has sparked so many interesting conversations with my husband as well. We’ve worked through so many things together and it feels amazing to be pulling on the same string. I often say it is like having lived in a black and white world and suddenly seeing in colour. The Network really opened my eyes and I can’t imagine a life without it now!Eva, Network member