Originally Posted by UUMom
I don't feel comfortable imposng my will on them, however.
See, I think that this is important. A lot of people will assume that if you're not unschooling, you are automatically imposing your own will on your children. I really don't see it that way-- I don't think that child-led learning must automatically lead to unschooling. Many children will be most comfortable when left to their own devices, but others (even others who have never been to school) will be bored or frustrated without a schedule. When I started homeschooling my niece last year, I used a very relaxed system. It didn't work at all-- she was too tense, she needed to know in advance what was expected of her so that she could get it done and relax. I set up a weekly calendar and marked pages in workboooks with the date I wanted to see them completed, and she was so much happier. Granted, she had been in school before, but I've heard similar stories from people who have never sent their children to school, or who have unschooled for their children's entire lives.
I've read the unschooling books too, and I think that there's balance to be struck here as with anything. While the program that I'm using describes itself as being "antithetical to unschooling," (TWTM) I don't think that the two are necessarily incompatible; rather, I think that there is a fair amount of leading for the child to do. Left to my own devices, I probably would have fallen into one of the first traps that homeschooling families fall into-- I would have started when my child reached "school age," instead of when he was ready. My son has been dragging on me to start a formal education program for over a year now, but it was only this summer that I finally realized that there's no need for us to wait.
If he's ready and willing and asking to work on these things now, who am I to make him wait until he's the "right" age? That would be just as unfair as expecting him to start doing schoolwork before he was ready! Since we've started working, he's been much happier. He likes the structure that it lends to his day, and he likes telling the family about the new things that he's learned this week. He's having the time of his life with it.
The biggest reason that I'm not an unschooler is this: If I wanted my children to be fully responsible for their own educations, I'd send them to public school. I don't want them going to school because I feel like their educations are my responsibility.