Pam Sorooshian is the mom of three grown-up unschooled kids. By conference time, their ages will be: Roya (30), Roxana (26), and Rose (23). Pam is also an economics and statistics professor and she runs a college theater box office. She sometimes runs games workshops for kids. Her family lives in Southern California and she is on the Board of Directors of the HomeSchool Association of California. Pam, and her husband, Cyrus, pulled Roya out of 4th grade, Roxana out of 1st grade, and never sent Rose to school at all. That was 20 years ago and they spent about a month thinking “unit studies” were a good idea before jumping fully into unschooling. Pam has been a frequent participant in online unschooling discussions and has spoken at unschooling conferences all over the country. She thinks it is interesting that her children are making surprisingly conventional adult choices considering their very unconventional upbringing. Roya is married and has a son, Wyatt, who will have just turned 1 by conference time. She has a BA in Recreation and Leisure Studies and an MS in Counseling. She’s a family therapist intern and a university professor in the Recreation Department. She also offers private homeschooling coaching by email. Roxana is in graduate school studying theater arts and has a lot of interest in dramaturgy and also doing social media work. She has BAs in both history and drama. She is doing an internship at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Rose has a certificate in interpreting American sign language and a BA in Deaf Studies. She teaches a college computer skills course and is a Kung Fu instructor. She is also a certified Signing Times instructor. In spite of, or maybe because of, their unschooling backgrounds, they have excelled as college students and have received many academic honors, awards, and scholarships.
To Pam, unschooling means creating a peaceful, safe, and loving home life with many opportunities for exploration, invention, investigation, and conversation. It means very involved parents who pay close attention to supporting their children’s interests. It means joy and closeness and a very special, and very sweet, parent/child relationship.
Reneé Cabatic is a happy mom to always unschooled twins Xander and XuMei (14 yrs old). She is married to and always learning from engineer and gamer, Chris.
She spends her time facilitating Xander’s pursuit of coding, Minecraft, DOTA2, Dungeons & Dragons, and more computing power. In spite of an irrational fear of horses, she drives XuMei to horseback lessons, watches her in Drill Team and Vaulting performances and generally tries not to squeak or suck in her breath at inopportune moments. She walks Lola the dog, pets the cats, shops for and cooks yummy food, does laundry, reads about unschooling, watches lots of television, gives young people sexual health information so they can make informed choices, and for money she bakes at night for a local café and cleans a vacation rental home on the weekends.
photo credit: XuMei Cabatic
Roya Dedeaux, now 30, was pulled out of school when she was 10 years old, and was unschooled, along with her two younger sisters. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and baby Wyatt, where she has been enjoying hiking, exploring Hollywood and keeping up her blog, Little House in the Big Park.
Roya has an M.S. in Counseling and a B.A. in Recreation and Leisure Studies. She is a Marriage and Family Therapist intern, with a private practice in Los Alamitos, and offers email coaching for homeschoolers. Her therapy website is www.royadedeaux.com. She is also a professor in the Recreation and Leisure Department at California State University, Long Beach, and loves getting to share her unschooling philosophies with her college students.
Roya specializes in art therapy, and has spent most of her life crocheting, knitting, making journals, collaging, and following other artistic pursuits. She is a regular columnist in The Homeschooler magazine, where she writes about creativity and children. Roya sells her hand-crocheted jewelry at www.showyourcolorz.etsy.com and the fabulous “jewelry habitats” she makes with her (also unschooled) sisters at www.jewelryhabitat.etsy.com.
Chris Cabatic is a father of 14 year old twins, a gamer, and a mechanical engineer. He helps his twins Xander and XuMei to learn in their everyday life.
Chris got into unschooling in 2007 when he attended the first LIFE is Good Conference in Corvallis, Oregon with his family. He and his wife Reneé had been attachment parenting up until that point and had looked into different forms of homeschooling but had not heard of unschooling. After meeting those wonderful families and seeing the amazing relationships they had they realized that unschooling would be the next step to their relationships with their children.
Chris is an avid gamer and has been playing since he got his first Atari 2600. Since then he has enjoyed playing on multiple generations of Nintendo, Sony, and Xbox consoles. The game franchises he enjoys the most are Halo, Little Big Planet, Assassins Creed, and Tomb Raider. He has logged over 1,100 verifiable hours gaming while still being an attentive father and provider for his family.
Shannon Loucks is a mom to two always unschooled boys, ages 12 and 10. Before meeting her boys she obtained a Bachelor of Education, certain that her calling was to be a teacher. Quickly disillusioned by the system, she sought out situations that allowed her to delight in the wonder of learning as it naturally unfolded for children. This found her in preschools, recreation centers and traipsing overseas to open an international school in Tokyo. All of this confirmed what she suspected, children truly do learn from their own desires and passion and her role was simply to bear witness from the sidelines leading so naturally into a life of living and learning alongside her own children. You can read more about their unschooling life at breakingdaylight.org.
Colleen Paeff is a former preschool teacher turned unschooling parent. In her family’s pursuit of educational freedom, she has evolved from a Waldorf school parent who eschewed video games to a passionate advocate for game play. Colleen teaches online research skills to homeschoolers and their families and has led teen clubs focused on crafting, film appreciation, and video games for her local homeschool group. She lives in Los Angeles, CA where she and her husband, Warren, radically unschooled their son Jerry (19) from the time he was 11.
Marina is a lifelong unschooler, including attending school of her own choice for three months in third grade, six months in seventh grade, about five years in community college, and three years getting her BA in The Psychology of Society and Culture. Her husband Zack has even less time clocked in school, with one year of massage school and three years of nursing school under his belt. They have two children, Rosa (3) and Ezra (almost 1) who are happily unschooling their way through basic understanding of psychology (what does my sibling do when I take their toys? how about when I give them toys?), liquid dynamics (what happens when I kick really hard in the bath?), architectural engineering (how many blocks can I stack on top of each other?), film and media studies (Frozen), literature (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), and entropy.
Marina works as the National Volunteer Program Coordinator for the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, which works to expand care and choices at the end of life. Her most difficult adjustment to the working world was realizing that not everyone thinks “Why?” is an appropriate question. Her favorite things about living in Portland, OR, include rainy days being the perfect excuse to curl up with tea and a book, high standards for good coffee, and the country’s first nonprofit brewpub.