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Unschooling Outcomes with Gina Riley


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“The thing that we most see is the increase in intrinsic motivation just all over the place.”

Gina Riley

This is episode 89 and today I’m here with Gina Riley talking about Unschooling Outcomes.


Gina Riley, Ph.D. is an educational psychologist, Clinical Professor, and Program Leader of Adolescent Special Education Programs at CUNY-Hunter College. Dr. Riley has extensive experience working with teens diagnosed with learning, intellectual, and emotional/behavioral disabilities. In addition, Dr. Riley has over 25 years of experience in online, hybrid, and HyFlex education at the college/university level. She is known internationally for her work in the fields of intrinsic motivation, homeschooling, unschooling, and self-directed learning. For the past 7 years, Dr. Riley has been a faculty associate at Supported Decision Making New York, and has recently been awarded a New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council Grant to develop a statewide decision making curriculum for students with disabilities in Grades K – 12. Dr. Riley is the President-Elect of the New York State Association of Teacher Educators. She is the author of numerous articles and three books: Unschooling: Exploring Learning Beyond the Classroom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021); The Homeschooling Starter Guide (Simon & Schuster, 2022); and The Joys of Self Determined Learning (Ricci Publishing, 2023).


Advantages: We go over the advantages of unschooling according to grown unschoolers.

Disadvantages: We cover the disadvantages of unschooling according to grown unschoolers.

Higher Education: We walk through how unschoolers have been able to access higher education.

Career: We share what kinds of careers grown unschoolers are engaging in.

Personal Story: She shares her own experience unschooling her now grown son as a single mother going through college and working. 

Motivation: We offer advice for facilitating intrinsic motivation with our kids.

Disability: We address special education in unschooling and inclusivity in our homeschool spaces.

Help with Unschooling

I mention in this episode that just a few days ago was Sky’s graduation! In honor of her graduating with her associate degree and high school diploma and being accepted at her university of choice I just updated the Unschooling to College post with a lot more details about how she got there, which I’ll link to in the show notes.

If you would like a little soft structure to help set your child and family up for success with unschooling, take the Bucket System course. Stephanie says, “I had children coming to me this morning begging to take their vitamins, teeth brushed, and beds made before 9am, smiling and giggling as they plopped their pins into their buckets. While I know the novelty will wear off as I know we’re only just beginning, the course addresses this too. I have more confidence for a game plan and feel like we finally found the soft structure I’ve been pining for! The why behind the bucket system—collaboration as a family, and emphasis on trust, respect, boundaries, and autonomy is simply amazing! Being a family who has individuals with neurodivergence, including myself, the Bucket System meets so many needs.”

Thank you for leaving that review Stephanie and if you want to foster intrinsic motivation in your kids too, head to

Dive Deeper

Disclosure: When I recommend a product that I believe will add value for you, it may contain an affiliate link, and when you click the link to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Gina’s website

Gina on IG

Gina’s research

The Homeschooling Starter Guide: How to Create and Adapt the Best Education Action Plan for Your Needs

Unschooling: Exploring Learning Beyond the Classroom

Sage Family Podcast 27: Play with Peter Gray

Sage Family Podcast 72: Unschooling Teens with Robyn Robertson

Hackschool Leadership course

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

Gentle parenting, natural homeschooling, & simple living mentor

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