There is some confusion and even controversy around what unschooling is. Unschool? Is it cool? Is it something that I should or should not be doing? There are so many aspects to it and each family will tend to do it their way. The best way to describe unschooling is that you don’t send your children to school and you don’t try to create a more traditional school environment at home. Some others will define it as student led learning without the constraints or structure of a set curriculum. Ultimately it is a style of home education that allows the student’s interests and curiosities to drive the path of learning.
Especially since Covid stuff and virtual learning, many families thought that unschooling would be right for them. There was suddenly a lot of interest in it, particularly thinking it could be the solution to educational woes. It honestly isn’t. I personally don’t think that unschooling is for every family. It takes a lot more work than most people realize. If you are not aware of your children and the skills they need and when, then it can be a dismal failure.
As an educator, I know that instruction is a good thing. I don’t think that we just let a child say “I want to learn about marsupials today” and let them go on their merry way to “learn”. They need to know how to research, how to synthesize information, how to look for facts and truth, and how to present what they are learning. Parents must be involved, guide and direct. The skills of learning must be taught, practiced and implemented in variety of ways.
WHAT IT IS:
- An educational lifestyle choice
- Trusting that children will learn when they are ready and motivated
- Letting children control their education in regards to choosing what they are learning
- Learning from life
- Moving away from a classroom setting
- An active learning process
- Learning self-direction and motivation
WHAT IT IS NOT:
- Disconnected parents (they need to be involved in preparing, staying on top of skills, providing resources, etc. Parents MUST be involved.)
- A classroom at home
- Following a set curriculum
- Having no set structure (structure can be good, the content is student led)
- An opportunity to do no schooling at all (no unschooling parent is going to say that children don’t need to learn at all)
- For everyone. Not everyone will want this style of education.
Of course there is radical unschooling, and then various shades of it. Your level of it, as to whether you want your children to complete assignments or not, or if you want to supplement with some sort of formal curriculum is completely up to you.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO UNSCHOOL?
- Learning how to learn is what you want your children to do
- You want to raise leaders, thinkers, innovators, and entrepreneurs
- Having your children find their passion is paramount
- Traditional school settings are not working for your children
- Freedom from constant testing and formal assessment
- You want to tailor according to your child’s learning style
Is the unschool approach for everyone? NO
Can it be a wonderful experience for you? YES
Can you do unschooling through high school? YES
Can you change your mind and approach to education throughout your child’s school ages? Yes!
If you are interested in unschooling, I would advise you to do your research and talk to unschoolers who have been doing it for a while! Don’t rush into it. Unschooling can be so rewarding – as well as hair pulling, frustrating and work – but it is worth it when you see your children learning and thriving in their passions.
Here is my blog/vlog on why an educator would choose to unschool.