What is Unschooling?

According to the 2021 federal data, about 3.7 million homeschoolers in the United States. This makes up about 6% of the country’s school-going population. In 2017, only about 3% of the country’s school-going population were unschooling – This tells you that more families are turning to homeschooling. So, what is unschooling, and how does it work? This article guides everything you need to know about unschooling and homeschooling your kids.

What is Unschooling?

The term “Unschooling” was initially coined by the late John Holt, a former teacher and education reformer, to mean “not school.” a former teacher, and education reformer, to mean “not school.” Unschooling is a less formal approach to your kids’ learning and development that allows kids to learn based on their interests and curiosity rather than through a confined curriculum. I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world as their parents can comfortably bear – John Holt.

Many parents frown at the term “unschooling” because they believe it means giving up on education – this is not the case. Unschooling is not giving up on education but a method of teaching that allows your kids to learn from home. It means you get the double job of being your kids’ teacher and mom/dad simultaneously.

It sounds like a lot of work, so why do people unschool? Here is why.

two children sharing their artwork with each other

Why Is Unschooling Good?

Here are some reasons for unschooling:

1. Unschooling Helps Kids To Develop Skill Set

Unschooling creates an opportunity for your child to get creative and pick up additional skills. Research shows that unschooled kids grow up to become more confident and independent in their approach. Unschooled kids also show signs of improved problem-solving skills since they have had to depend on their efforts and solve their problems independently.

2. To Change A Child’s Learning Environment

Many parents unschool their children when they notice that the child is having difficulty adapting to school life. Believe it or not, the four corners of a school compound are not ideal for every child. 40% of parents who homeschool their kids report that they decided to do so because school wasn’t working.  

3. Unschooling Gives A Flexible Learning Environment

Unschooling allows your kid to learn based on his or her interest. At school, kids are taught under the restriction of a curriculum. While homeschooling, your child gets a flexible learning curriculum that allows them to read ahead of their peers or know things that other kids have not or will not be taught in school.

4. Unschooling Gives A More Practical Learning Experience

Kids who unschool gain a more practical learning experience because they are more actively involved in the learning process. In general, homeschooled kids also get to go on more trips, visit more places, and have a suitable learning environment. We choose to do a lot of educational adventures, like our trip to Washington DC. Some reports claim that kids learn better when taught by a familiar face like their parents. 

What Are The Types Of Unschoolers?

1. Radical Unschoolers 

Radical unschoolers believe in a completely hands-off approach to life and learning and focus on trusting a child’s innate ability to learn without direction or coercion, inviting children to explore their passions.

Many radical unschoolers do not follow “arbitrary rules” such as bedtimes and chores. Even rules concerning hygiene are considered no-nos. These children go to bed when they are tired, only clean if they choose to, eat whatever they want, and spend their time doing whatever they desire.

2. Interest-lead

Interest-lead unschoolers have strong feelings that children should have the freedom to pursue their interests while their parents support them in any way they can. If you think of what a typical weekend looks like in your home, you’ve got a good idea of unschooling – It’s natural learning.

When following this methodology, you are also open to the idea that your children might opt to take a class or use workbooks to pursue their interests.

You are also available to strew content for inspiration. Many who unschool in this way also have family rules, expectations, boundaries, manners, and obligations as a family.

Two girls playing chess together at home

3. Almost Unschoolers 

Almost unschoolers are a newer and more hybrid form of unschooling that hard-core unschoolers would probably scoff at. Many Almost unschoolers often use traditional homeschooling math, phonics, or reading/writing programs to alleviate their fears of “not learning” these core subjects.

These subjects get covered on a loose timeframe, maybe 1-3 times a week. My family chose to follow this mindset because our girls have some learning disabilities. They want to take advantage of this short window of time where their little minds are growing.

We are fortunate to have learned about these challenges early on in their lives. To see what homeschool curriculum we are using check that out here. We opt for this homeschooling style because we travel a lot. So, anything more laborious would not fit into our travel life. Minimal bookwork allows for more life experiences and learning as we go and to focus on roadschooling.

Is Unschooling A Good Method For Your Kids?

Here are a few factors to think about before deciding to unschool your child:

1. How much time do you have?

This is perhaps the most significant determining factor of unschooling or not. If you have a tight schedule or work multiple jobs, unschooling isn’t for you because you won’t have enough time to tutor your kids. I am a photographer, but after deciding to homeschool my daughters, I had to forgo my photography for my kids. I still take gigs but only during our spare time.

2. Can you take on unschooling?

Ask any parent that homeschools their child, and they’ll tell you that it was challenging at first and still has its up and down moments. So. if you fancy a challenge, you can unschool your kids.

3. What’s your partner’s take on unschooling?

Unschooling is way more fun and more effective if you and your partner are on the same page and involved. If your partner isn’t on board, you’ll need to convince them first or consider another alternative to unschooling.

4. Can you disregard people’s opinions?

Many people, including colleagues and other parents, might not understand unschooling, and many of them will be ready to give you an earful about why it is not good enough. If you let people’s opinions get to you, unschooling will be very challenging in the early stages; power through and do what feels suitable for you and your family!.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can unschooled kids go to college?
Unschooled or homeschooled kids can and do go to college and succeed there. It might be necessary for them to take any required exams and/or tests to gain admission into a college, but many unschooled children go on to successful college careers.

2. Is unschooling legal?
Unschooling is legal in all states in the US.

3. How does unschooling work?
For many, unschooling involves researching a topic of your child’s interest and creating an outline, guiding and supporting your kids to follow and learn.

4. Is unschooling better than formal schooling?
Homeschooling in general is an excellent way to give your kids a unique educational experience, and unschooling CAN take that to another level if you put in the effort to be part of the process. I’m by no means saying formal schooling is not good, I have a lot of respect for teachers, it just wasn’t “meant to be” for us. In general, it depends on the child, parent, and situation.

Final Words

Unschooling is an effective, educational, wonderful, and rewarding way to school your children. Children learn in their own time and at their own pace, learning more about what they are interested in. As the parent, you will need to be able to put in the effort and time to make it work, and it will. I know how challenging unschooling can be at first, so if you have questions or want to know more about unschooling, leave a comment under this post or check out other homeschool articles on this website.

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