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What is Unschooling?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm just curious about this term, and I figured this is the place to get the info.

post #2 of 6
Hi! We're new unschoolers and it's fantastic so far. Unschooling for us means that my dd8 learns what she wants when she wants and how she wants. I believe children are always learning no matter what they do. She shops and cooks with me. She measures detergent and loves organizing our many bookshelves. She asks tons of questions and when I don't know the answer we look it up together. Since she initiates her learning she retains all the information.

Our days are made up of many fun, interesting outings, visits with friends and other homeschoolers, shopping, errands, and just lounging around enjoying each other. She hooks onto an interest and will want to learn all she can about it. Her favorite thing lately is arts and crafts. We try and do some every day. She also loves science and nature. She finds cool science projects online that she's curious about and we do them together.

I am mainly a facilitator and provide her many resources. Our home is filled with stuff to do. Since I took her out of school a few months ago, I have seen her love of learning coming back. I tried "doing work" with her but she started withdrawing and I saw the same indifference she showed in school. Since we have been unschooling, I feel she has come alive again.

Unschooling does not mean unparenting. I remember how she learned to walk and to talk. I didn't have to send her to school for that or sit with her and give her formal lessons. Believe it or not, the same thing goes for academics. Children are naturally programmed for learning and the only way to kill that is to force learning upon them.

She knows she has a standardized test to take next year (NY requires them). She has the maturity to want to do well and will pick up her test prep book and go over what she needs to know. I do not have to threaten or bribe. I give her freedom and she will usually make the right choices. I have lots of fiction and non-fiction books lying around for her to choose from. We have workbooks, puzzle books, and board games for anytime.

Unschoolers and structured homeschoolers do equally well on any test - both still outperforming schooled kids. The phrase that's yelled the loudest in the unschooling world is "Trust Your Children". I had a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone and giving my child this unbridled freedom to learn. It has been amazing what I have learned myself.
post #3 of 6
Unschooling is the child being in control of his own learning life. He decides what, when, and why. The student is in charge of education as opposed to the adult directing it. Unschooling is free of mandatory assignments, lessons, grades, and tests (well, except when complying with state law).

Unschoolers often see everyday life as learning. My family feels that reading, watching TV, coloring, playing outside, or playing the computer are all educational. For my family unschooling basically means that my children wake up each morning (or afternoon :LOL) and spend their day as they wish.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Wow Citymom! You sound like you really love it! Those kind of stories are inspiring.

How old is your daughter? I'm guessing she already knows basics like reading and writing. Sounds like a fun and exciting way to go.

Thanks for the info!
post #5 of 6
My dd is 8 now. The thing is, she actually learned reading, writing, math, and lots of other things before preschool! I wish I had known about homeschooling (unschooling) then. I believe that if you demonstrate your own love of learning and DO stuff, kids can't help wanting to do stuff too! She taught herself the basics because she always had a very curious personality. Being in school for 4 years practically destroyed her love of learning - she was in a gifted school and ultimately became totally indifferent to any assigned work. She hated to read and write by this time and was shutting down. It broke my heart and I wanted my exuberant, curious, enthusiastic child back.

When I learned about homeschooling, I felt this was what she needed. When I learned about unschooling, I KNEW this was what she needed. I did (and am still doing) tons of research, including reading other people's blogs (like UnschoolnMa's and Dar's!!) . I bought books by John Holt and other unschooling authors. I keep a blog myself, which helps me a lot. I bookmarked dozens of unschooling websites and visit many of them daily. It's nice to not feel alone in this and see that other people have unschooled very successfully for many years. I joined a hs'ing group and was pleased to befriend a couple of unschoolers who have kids my dd's age.

I can't say enough about it.
post #6 of 6

unschooling and homeschooling

we do a combo of the two. If it rains, we do some workbooks (we like the eps series), if it's nice out, we spend the day outside. We started as structured homeschoolers, however it didn't work for me or the kids, they are 8 and 6. Sometimes they just aren't in the mood to learn structured stuff and sometimes I'm not in the mood to teach it. Yesterday was a beautiful day and we spent 6 hours outside, I read my book, and my 8 year old read his comic books, lounging next to me in our side by side lounge chairs. Our 6 year old pretty much spends his days playing with his friends or himself and I let our 8 year old dictate what we do as far as learning. He is very interested in slavery, wwII, and helen keller right now so we go to the library, stock up on books about each and read about them whenever the mood strikes us. I've also found that it is unrealistic for us to have a set learning time each day; errands must be done, piano and guitar lessons, housework, etc.. What I have found is that the boys love to be in charge of their "destiny" and are learning how a healthy family and home function on a day to day basis. They appreciate me and their father so much more seeing us taking care of them daily, vs. coming home from school exhausted, doing homework, eating dinner, and going to bed early to face yet another day of people telling them what to do. It's been wonderful for us and we wouldn't change it for the world.
good luck,
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