Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Story Behind NEXT STEP

In early 2010, Deena and her family attended Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering (UWWG) and learned that what she had been doing for the previous five years had a name.  She wasn't "homeschooling wrong" as she had labeled it, she was "unschooling".  She was inspired by what she heard and saw, her children were thrilled to be in a place where they weren't being questioned about schoolish things, and their father was settling in to the idea that maybe she hadn't completely lost her mind.  The family left that event craving more!

A couple months later, Cameron Lovejoy organized and hosted The Autodidact Symposium in South Carolina.  Again, the family attended and saw that this model they were using was actually successful for others and these wonderful, vibrant, young people were talking and mentoring and planning and were outright joyful with their never-ending search for happiness and knowledge.  She left that weekend with the intention of creating a melding of these two wonderful experiences.

Two more months passed and Deena took her children out to the Life is Good Conference in Vancouver, Washington where her oldest met the girl who instantly became her best friend and the four of them left feeling peaceful and inspired!

Life threw in some bumps and the family withdrew unto themselves for a bit, but that intention was ever-present and after finally getting back to the conference circuit by attending UWG in 2013, Deena wondered if it was possible to gather some of her personal heroes and move forward with creating, organizing, and hosting an unschool conference in the southeast.

No sooner did she return home from UWG (literally midnight; four hours after they returned) then she sent her first line into the water and got a bite.  Yes, Wes Beach was curious and wanted to know more!  Hmm, try the next one.  Yes, Laura Flynn Endres was also interested!  Then she took a deep breath and dove in.  YES!  Her hero of heroes, James Marcus Bach, wasn't only interested, but encouraging!  In under 24 hours, she had gone from dreaming to planning.  Erika Davis-Pitre jumped in the water, Cameron Lovejoy (the catalyst) said he might be available, Blake Boles (the little brother she would've loved to have) responded positively and offered up some initial advice, Brenna McBroom (who doesn't love her???) asked more about the conference plans, and the conference began taking on its own life!  The ideas and support continue to grow and the panels are practically creating themselves.  It's a beautiful thing and clearly meant to be!

We have been creating this dream for three years in our minds and our conversations, but it has only been spoken of and acted upon for TWELVE days!

So, who is Deena?  Well, she's a mom who loves her children more than life itself and who has seen first hand the difference between traditional parenting and relationship parenting and who remembers thinking she was "homeschooling wrong" then discovering this whole world of unschoolers and who sees her children become passionate about learning more in areas she herself isn't knowledgeable and who is trying to help her oldest decide what the right Next Step for her will be and who wants to share that journey, fulfill her intention, grow her tribe, make new friends, and inspire other families!

Who she isn't.... She isn't an "expert" and doesn't claim to be "doing it right".  She doesn't really blog about or even talk much about unschooling.  She hasn't written any books or articles.  She doesn't host any groups.  Conference goers who have seen her may not remember her because she watches, she listens, she learns, and above all she loves.  She takes in as much of the wisdom and love that is offered and tries to find ways to use it to help her be a better partner with her children and provide them an even richer experience in their lives.

If you want to know more about Deena on a personal level, look for her at Next Step and she will be happy to chat anytime, especially over a cup of tea or a game of Bananagrams!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Mamas Are Coming!!!

Laura Flynn Endres




Erika Davis-Pitre

We affectionately refer to Laura Flynn Endres and Erika Davis-Pitre as the mamas because in our eyes they have been the mamas to not only their own children, but also to many, many unschoolers (adults and children alike).  We admire these women and are delighted to announce that they will be presenting and speaking and "mama-ing" at Next Step Unschool Conference in February, 2014!  

We are talking with other mamas to join them and create some wonderful panel discussions and we'll keep posting as we get more confirmations.

Mark your calendar...

~ Next Step Unschool Conference ~
~ ~ February 2014 ~ ~ Atlanta, GA ~ ~

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Buccaneers & Trailblazers: Forging Paths

We are excited to have so many people interested in the conference that was only originated in thought a mere EIGHT days ago!!!  
Thank you for your interest and support!

Next Step is for...
James Marcus Bach*

Next Step is about...
presented by
Wes Beach*

Next Step is like...
(but smaller in scope and family inclusive)
inspired by
Blake Boles^

~ Next Step Unschool Conference ~
~ ~ February 2014 ~ ~ Atlanta, GA ~ ~

* confirmed
^ likely, but unconfirmed 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why "Next Step"?

The traditional path starts with pre-school which prepares you for kindergarten which prepares you for elementary school which prepares you for middle school which prepares you for high school which prepares you for undergrad which prepares you for grad school which prepares you for .... nothing (but if you're lucky MIGHT result in a job).

Autodidacts (fancy word for unschoolers) aren't given that playbook.  Many come to unschooling because it feels natural and "right", but they don't know what to DO when they get there.  What is the Next Step?

When the natural and "right" feeling is attacked by friends, family, and society it is possible to question what you feel is "right" and to ask yourself: "What is the Next Step?"

When an unschooler reaches their personal readiness to spread their wings; where do they go?  They may be ready to leave home, but may not know what the Next Step could be. (Please note that I said "could be" instead of "is" because there are as many paths as there are people.)

This conference seeks to provide answers, suggestions, possibilities, mentors, and more to help YOU learn the Next Step that feels natural and "right" for YOUR path.

The conference is open to ALL families and individuals who want a bit of affirmation or inspiration.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Huh? What is Unschooling?

You found this blog, heard about the Next Step Conference, but have no idea what "unschooling" is?  Welcome!

What Is Unschooling? is a blog post I wrote over two years ago.

There are MANY links on the internet to explain unschooling from an academic viewpoint and from a lifestyle viewpoint (often referred to as radical unschooling).

Not all unschool families carry the same beliefs about unschooling or parenting or life, but you will find a variety of ideas from which to get a feel about "What Unschooling Is".

Check out the writings of John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Peter Gray!

Check out Tedx videos like this one about Hackschooling.

Consider life as a Buccaneer Scholar.

Are you intrigued?  Want to take that Next Step?  We'll see you at the conference in February 2014!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Next Step Unschool Conference

February 2014!  

We are very excited and will post details as they come available.  

Mark your calendars! 

Save the Date! 
(Well, exact dates coming soon, but make a note to be in Georgia sometime in February 2014 for Next Step!)