Unschooling is a type of homeschooling, even though it looks very different from all of the other types of homeschooling that you may have seen before. This is because unschooling is based upon the philosophy of child-led learning as presented by John Holt.
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With this type of homeschooling, there is usually no curriculum or textbooks used. Instead, the child decides what they want to learn, when they want to learn it, and how they want to learn it too.
Some people tend to look down upon unschoolers thinking that a traditional school environment would better suit these children. However, these parents don’t think so. In fact, they are probably a lot more involved in their children’s education than you would imagine.
They also have some very good reasons for choosing this educational philosophy. So, it is worth it to at least understand what unschooling is, how it works and why it works for some families.
What is Unschooling? – Unschooled Questions And Answers
What is unschooling? What exactly is an unschooler? What is being unschooled? How does unschooling work? We are going to help demystify what unschooling is exactly and how unschooling can actually be an option for you and your child. You must first learn the basics of unschooling.
A lot of people feel as though unschooling is a little too radical. In fact, many people even question whether or not these children are actually learning enough.
Understanding Autonomous Learning
Unschooling is oftentimes referred to as autonomous or child-led learning. Regardless of what it is called, the entire idea of traditional education is put aside. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any education taking place.
Education doesn’t occur in a formal setting though. Instead, it is integrated into everyday life as parents trust that their child’s natural curiosity makes them want to learn even though they aren’t forced to do so.
Characteristics Of Unschooling
Whenever a family chooses to unschool they won’t have a pre-set curriculum that they follow. They also will not make any clear distinctions between school and free time.
This is because there are no school hours or holidays. Instead, learning happens all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As such, an unschooler’s adage is, “the world is our classroom.”
With this in mind, unschooled children are free to choose what they want to learn, when they want to learn it and how they will learn it too. Parents are not teachers in this type of homeschooling. Instead, they act as coaches or facilitators.
Their job is to make sure that their children grow up in a learning-rich environment that has plenty of educational materials and opportunities available to spark their curiosity. They are also there to help their children find answers to their questions.
Clearly, unschoolers think outside of the box. Depending upon what their children want, they may or may not work with a curriculum. If they do choose to use textbooks, they are not used in conventional ways.
Most of the time unschoolers will choose to use a lot of different books on a wide variety of subjects instead. They will also use everyday items such as tools, kitchen utensils and whatever else they may find around the house.
Pros And Cons To Unschooling
As with anything else in life, there are both advantages and disadvantages to unschooling. The advantages include:
- Children are allowed to explore their own interest therefore most unschooled children don’t have a lack of enthusiasm for learning.
- Most unschooled children are very highly motivated, resourceful and independent whenever it comes to learning.
- There is no limit to the environment, curriculum or the materials that are used in unschooling.
- Both parents and children really enjoy the freedom that comes from this type of learning.
On the other hand, the disadvantages of unschooling include:
- There may be some anxiety on the part of parents as to whether or not their children are actually learning enough.
- Parents may also have some concern over the fact that there may be some gaps in their child’s learning.
- There is a lot more criticism and disapproval of unschooling than of the more traditional types of homeschooling.
Wouldn’t These Children Be Better Off In School?
This is a question that a lot of people oftentimes ask in regard to unschooling. Parents who choose to unschool their children will answer “no” unless the child decides that they want someone else to assign the curriculum for them and tell them what to do with it.
If you have a child whom you are unschooling that prefers structure, you can just as easily assemble your own curriculum for them to use by picking and choosing from all of the different types of commercial curriculum programs and educational products that are available on the market today.
Unschoolers who choose to put together their own curriculum will oftentimes not use it in the same way as a student who attends a traditional public school will use it.
They feel that using them only as intended will become a hindrance to the child because it interferes with learning. Oftentimes other materials are also used in unschooling as well. Some of the most popular ones include video games, television programs, classes, tutors and volunteer positions.
The goal is to help the child move towards the goal they have set for themselves. This goal is something that is important to the child and not something they are told that they must learn. Herein lies the heart of homeschooling.