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Unconventional Mom Who 'Unschooled' All Of Her Kids Puts Her Expertise To Use With Helpful Homeschooling Kits For Parents

Dayna (PA Real Life/Collect)

With schools shut by the global pandemic, a mother – whose unconventional take on parenting sees her children shun exams, pick their bedtimes and decide what to eat – is providing free "emergency kits" for home education to moms and dads across the world.


A champion of "unschooling" – where children learn only what they want to – Dayna Martin, 46, of Miami, Florida, never punishes her offspring, Devin, 20, Tiffany, 18, Ivy, 15 and Orion, 12, and lets them schedule their own days and make their own decisions.

Now, with the mass school closures, she wants to do her bit for humanity and help fellow families by putting together free step-by-step guides showing them how to cope.

Dayna (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said:

"Homeschooling is an unknown world to lots of people, with lots of misconceptions, so I am excited to help empower parents and give them the confidence to know they can do it."
"Children are natural learners, but mainstream education makes us believe the only way they'll succeed is in an institution with trained teachers."
"Now that a lot of parents don't have a choice, and schools are closing, I think they will surprise themselves with how much they love home education."

(L-R) Orion, Dayna's sister Amy, Tiffany and Ivy (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

"We all, as humans, have a primitive craving for connection, but there is a lot of separateness in our societies."
"With all that's going on in the world, we're going to be forced together with our families, and the outside world will feel much further away."
"Our children will look back at this time of history in the same way adults remember the 9/11 terror attacks – knowing exactly where they were and how they felt – so we need to try and manage that fear and make it as positive as possible."

Dayna, Orion and Ivy (PA Real Life/Collect)

Unlike her kids, Dayna attended mainstream school as a youngster.

Although she did well academically, she found the rules and regulations extremely restricting.

She explained:

"I felt as if teachers always assumed negative intent with my classmates and I, like we were bound to be up to no good."

Devin showing Dayna different ways of starting fires (PA Real Life/Collect)

So, when she had her eldest child, Devin, in 1999, she considered the benefits to be had from an alternative education and decided to let the her children choose for themselves whether they would like to go to school.

Since then, they have all been "unschooled," using the world around them as a learning resource.

With none of her children ever having set foot in a classroom, they decide on the best way to structure their day – getting up when they want to and deciding what and how they would like to learn.

Dayna explained:

"It's all based around what they are interested in. They have taught themselves so many skills."
"Devin is a self-taught blacksmith. He really loves science, too, whereas Tiffany is very into music. Ivy runs a small animal rescue center and is hugely into animal rights. Not going to school means she has the time to get involved in causes like that."
"Orion loves hiking, as well as computers and gaming."

Dayna is creating free homeschooling kits for worried parents (PA Real Life/Collect)

Dayna added:

"I see their interests as an extension of their learning. While school places much more emphasis on learning certain topics, I wouldn't want to tell them any of their hobbies are less important than what's on the school curriculum."

Dayna believes that giving her children this autonomy has made them more motivated and engaged.

She continued:

"The way children learn to read and write naturally looks very different to how they do it in school."

Devin has an interest in weaving and looming (PA Real Life/Collect)

"School is all about set targets, and having to be at a certain level by a set age – when actually, I believe there is a huge window when you can learn," she explained. "Homeschooled children can learn to read anywhere from the age of three to 12."

"My kids learned by immersing themselves in the written word. I see their interests as the nucleus to their learning and get all the educational resources I can around that."

"For example, if they say they're interested in astronomy, I'll get books and other resources to encourage them. Humans want to learn – and basing it all around something they are actively interested in helps incentivize them."

Ivy and Orion wood chopping (PA Real Life/Collect)

Though Dayna's lifestyle has drawn its fair share of critics, her unusual skillset is proving a lifeline to worried parents across the globe, who are now facing home-educating their children indefinitely, as schools close to combat the spread of the disease.

Last week, she began putting together "emergency home-schooling kits", which will teach parents to "take charge of their children's education and find peace of mind during these uncertain times."

Usually, the materials – which are all available online so people can get them immediately, and include a copy of Dayna's book, Radical Unschooling, and access to digital courses and support groups – would be worth around $300.

Ivy, Tiffany, Orion and Devin in 2009 (PA Real Life/Collect)

But, aware that the virus outbreak may cause financial uncertainty for many, she is waiving all costs and making them free.

She said:

"In the first hour, I'd had 50 downloaded. By the end of the day, it was 200, and now that figure doubles again every few hours."
"I've helped people in every corner of the globe and it feels awesome. Every child learns differently, and I want to help parents tap into their instinct and overcome this misconception that it has to be a power-struggle, full of punishments and discipline."

She added:

"Learning can happen every day – not just in a classroom."

With the future currently looking so uncertain, as millions of people struggle to adjust to the impact the outbreak is having on their normal lives, Dayna believes that the pandemic may trigger a shift in attitudes around homeschooling.

She explained:

"Life will change for everyone. I believe there will be a kind of life before and life after."

Ivy and Orion berry picking (PA Real Life/Collect)

"But, self-isolating can have some positives. Those with complicated or difficult family relationships will have no choice but to open up discussions and, hopefully, find a place of peace," Dayna continued.

"We will find out how to work as a team and discover that parenting isn't all about rules and authority. While we cannot physically all be together, we will get through this as a global community and rebuild from that foundation of togetherness."

And Dayna is convinced that the world will benefit from homeschooling.

Tiffany is now a model and YouTuber (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said:

"Let go of that fear and do what feels good. Allow your children to lead the way with their learning."
"It isn't all about tests and exams. Watch documentaries, movies, and TV. Get outside into the garden, have a discussion. These are all ways of learning too."
"People are afraid of the unknown, but this can be a real turning point."

For information, visit daynamartin.com