Over the next two months, Kiwi Families is featuring posts on education and technology.  We are talking to some more great kiwi families about their experiences. In this post, we meet the AitkenRead family – an especially creative crew, who largely live screen-free lives and are unschoolers.  What is unschooling you ask?  Read on and find out what mum, Lucy AitkenRead had to say!

What do you do and what are your interests?

I am the family breadwinner at the moment – I get to write for a living, which considering it just used to be my hobby, is pretty exciting for me! I write two blogs, Lulastic (http://lulastic.co.uk) and Wonderthrift (wonderthrift.com) and write for a few mags and sites- including a natural beauty column for Cosmo.  I wrote a book this year too, Happy Hair – about giving up shampoo!

For fun these days, I’m normally bouncing on trampoline, face painting or making ice cream with my daughters. Whenever I can I lounge about with a novel. Such a luxury. I joined my local library for the first time since first getting pregnant 4 years ago and I am eating up all those books.

Tell us a bit about what makes your family great

We try really hard to live a life of freedom. We sold our little brick house with its big mortgage and moved to the Coromandel to live in a yurt. We want to embrace a little of the wild in our lives. To question things. To do new things. It is fun being free.

What your family’s favourite thing to do?

I mentioned the ice cream. Seriously, we make ice cream everyday. We found an ice cream making machine at the op shop- you have to hold the lid on by sitting on it, other wise it careers around the kitchen like a Frankenstein kitchen gadget. We make ice cream nearly everyday, with fruit we pick and tins of things. I try and sneak honey in instead of sugar, and the odd bit of probiotics to make it healthy. I stuck some kale in there unnoticed one time.

Our feature at the moment is ‘education and technology’. Tell us about some of the interesting things you’re doing in these areas.

My whole work is based on technology, I guess! I want my blogs to be innovative and creative. I love being part of this new workforce based in the ethereal office of the internet! It is interesting though, as we don’t have the internet in our yurt. I have to work from the library or the neighbour’s house. It was so hard getting used to it, but the boundaries are actually incredibly healthy. We are learning to love having a largely screen-free home.

How does the way your dealing with education and technology affect you and your family?

Having some very practical reasons why technology doesn’t invade our home too much – such as being off-grid and no internet – means we aren’t second guessing ourselves quite so much about how much screen time the girls should have. We are unschoolers- we believe that kids learn in their own time, motivated by their own curiosity, and that they can learn from ANYTHING. Soon they will be keen to learn from the internet – I hope to be ready for it!

What advice would you give anyone who wants to do education in a different way from mainstream?

Surround yourself with people who believe there is another way! There are lots of kiwi families who are home educating and unschooling. We have camps across the country in every season. We just totally booked out the Coromandel camp this week! It is so important to have a tribe, to feel the confidence associated with being a part of a community who have the same faith in something. Also, read the book Natural Born Learners – it is a killer.

Finally, we’ve just had this year’s election – what changes could the government make that would make a difference to your family?

They could start acting like climate change is real! Our pacific neighbours are dealing with rising sea levels right now yet our government is persisting with antiquated methods of sourcing energy. There is a whole new world of clean, green energy and industry around helping us and poorer countries more resilient- NZ should be leading the way! Not lagging behind as we are now. Our children are going to be facing the consequences of this governments inaction on this.

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Hello! We love living in yurt- with a good fire it is warm even in the middle of winter. IN fact, we are hoping to buy another to make a larger living space! Our girls love the yurt too – especially the outdoors life it supports.


Hi there, please can we have more insight on your yurt living and how you do this with two babies..thank you very cool

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