Unschooling is really just another way to educate children at home, within the family context. Some home schools seek to reproduce public school at the kitchen table. Others may be less structured but still adhering to a daily routine, with attention paid to specific subjects. Both of these methods “look” like school. Unschooling, on the other hand, does not ‘look’ like school . . . and that is why it is so misunderstood, even within the home schooling world.
Wikipedia defines unschooling –
“Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, game play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.”
Dictionary.com defines unschooling this way –
“A home-school education with the child taking the primary responsibility instead of a parent or teacher; also called child-directed learning, self-learning. Under unschooling education, parents may act as “facilitators” and may provide a wide-range of resources to their children.”
From Boxed Schooling to Unschooling
My own home schooling journey began with foster children. For two reasons, I had home schooled out of a box. #1 – I had never done anything else before and had know idea what it would look like, so I assumed I needed to order a bunch of books and workbooks from a professional “home school store.” #2 – Because the children were wards of the state, it was extremely important that I have excellent documentation. I purchased curriculum from Christian Liberty Academy and selected the option for the Academy to grade the work and maintain records. That prevented any trouble with The State.
I was happy with that company. It was easy and affordable.
I soon realized, however, that a five-year-old is easily overwhelmed by: a science book, a math book, a writing book, a reading book, a phonics book, a science book, a religion book, a health book . . . seriously – that is what came in the box!
As I progressed through my home school journey and had adopted children so I could teach them as I wished, I became much less structured. By the time I finished, I would consider myself an unschooler. If I had it to do over again, I would start this way from the beginning!
Throughout this series, I will explore each of the following criticisms of unschooling and will undoubtedly shed some light on “regular” homeschooling as well. Some of these criticisms relate to –
-Preparing Children for Adulthood
-Keeping up with Peers
-Making Friends without a School Environment
-Motivating Children to Learn
-Being Qualified to Lead in Unschooling
If you are considering educating your children at home, or are currently homeschooling but feel like it’s time for a change, keep an eye out for this series. If I accomplish nothing else, I want to stress this point: Home education can look any way that you want.
How does education look in your family, and how has it changed??