Panels & Discussions

The full 2017 conference schedule can be found here.


The Big Six

What Are The Big Six?

The Big Six are the parenting issues that historically have come up most often on unschooling e-lists, groups, and discussion boards. Most folks trying to understand the parenting aspects of unschooling will be concerned by at least one; some by several. If you are worried about any of these areas, know that you are not alone.

In no particular order The Big Six are:

Sleep (“what, no bedtimes?!”)
Chores (especially tied to consequences)
Food (“but I want them to be healthy”)
Electronic Gaming (yes, this is different from TV concerns)
Personal Hygiene/Appearance/Self Care

The Big Six Panel Discussion is designed primarily for newer unschoolers, to address these most basic issues. The Panelists have been unschooling for many years, repeatedly reassuring new unschoolers about these very fears. In the course of answering questions and discussing typical concerns, we will show how these issues are generally approached, based on our real living experiences with our own long-time unschooled children. Ultimately how you come to handle these basic issues becomes the foundation of your whole unschooling life. They are paths to understanding the tentpoles of unschooling – Trust, Partnership, Living By Principles, and creating an enriched environment where natural learning can flourish. Moderated by Carolyn Winkler & Shannon Loucks.

Teen/Parent Panel: Unschooling the Teen Years

Are you a teen with questions? Are you a parent of a teen wondering how you’ll get through? Are you raising tweens and wondering what’s to come? Join us as a panel of teens and parents answer your questions. Hear the good, the difficult, and the ever-inspiring lives of unschooling teens. Moderated by Jocelyn Cooper..

Dads’ Panel

Do you have a burning question for the dads among us? Do you wonder what goes on in the male psyche when the subject of unschooling is the topic under discussion? Have you been curious about what goes on in those SSUDs meetings?

Well, we won’t divulge *that*; but here’s your chance to visit that undiscovered country called What Goes On in Dads’ Heads. Join a panel of unschooling dads for a Q&A session. Discover their challenges and inspirations as they answer your questions and share a glimpse into their perspective on unschooling life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

EVERYONE is welcome. That’s the point of it. We know you have questions. Come ask them. Anonymously! So you can let it all out. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself. Moderated by Dan Lake..



Spirited Kids Chat

In this casual discussion circle, we will explore ways to respectfully parent our more spirited/sparkly unschoolers with collaborative problem solving (rather than bribes, threats, or consequences). We will look at challenging behaviors in a new way, and learn some practical skills while maintaining a connected relationship with kids who are MORE (anxious, explosive, inflexible, sensitive, etc.). Let’s offer each other some support for the often exhausting (and highly rewarding) journey of unschooling spirited kids. Co-moderated by Emily Troper, Lyla Wolfenstein & Genna Gebheim McLeod.

The Big D

Been through or going through a divorce while unschooling? Come share your stories, questions and insights. This is not a “sit around and bash your ex” session; but rather a place where we can learn from one another the best way to support our kids and ourselves during this challenging time. Moderated by Carolyn Winkler.

Unschoolers’ Mental Health Talk: Guided Discussion and Support

Join Rachelle as she facilitates a discussion about mental health concerns, diagnoses, treatment, and support relevant to you. You’ll have the opportunity to meet other unschoolers who have had mental health challenges as well as those who love and support someone with a mental health challenge. You’ll get to ask questions and hear responses from Rachelle and other participants in the group as we share our experiences, challenges, triumphs, what has worked and what has not. Moderated by Rachelle McCloud.

Helping Friends Through Hard Times

A discussion of  how to approach and help friends going through situations that seem toxic/harmful to themselves (self imposed or from an outside cause), and ways you, as a friend, can prevent the situations they are in from getting worse. Including information on how to recognize drug and alcohol addiction, self-medicating and harm reduction. Hosted by Rachelle McCloud & Cyndy Connolly.

Gender Identity, Understanding, Acceptance and the LGBTQ Spectrum

Our understanding of gender, sexuality, and personal identity and expression is evolving! And with that comes new awareness of our long-standing need for more inclusive language and acceptance. Let’s talk and learn more about the LGBTQ spectrum, its issues, and how we can foster a safer world for marginalized identities.
FYI: We will be (non-graphically) talking about the dynamics and politics of sexuality, so be aware of this when deciding whether to bring younger children. Hosted by Teo Cinaed, Leif Schmidt & Chloë Asher Crane.

Teen Sex Talk

Teens only
A sex-positive, nuts and bolts discussion covering a wide range of sexual health topics including consent, safer sex, birth control, and more. Participate as much or as little as you feel comfortable. Get your burning questions answered anonymously, practice putting a condom on a cucumber, or just watch, listen and learn. Hosted by the LiG Teen Scene.


The Secret Society of Unschooling Dads is guaranteed to host a round of lively discussion. This is a ‘dads only’ session to allow the menfolk extra freedom to talk, share and get those questions out in the open. Beverages, support and honest discussion will be provided. Moderated by Mark McLeod & Dan Lake.


Moms-only gathering for conversation, questions and friendship in a casual setting. Don’t miss this opportunity to get to know other unschooling moms and what they’ve learned on this incredible adventure. If you can’t come to the evening Moms-only get together or have more to discuss, there will be a lunch time meeting as well (SSUMs More). Moderated by Erika Davis-Pitre.

GNC Parent Club

An informal opportunity for discussion and fellowship with other parents who don’t neatly fit into or feel comfortable in the Mom/Dad box. All gender non-conforming, transgender, nonbinary, agender, gender outlaws, or questioning parents or guardians are welcome. Moderated by Jenny Caronna & Riley Abrahams..