My kids are 4 and 2, I know I want to homeschool if possible, and have been thinking about unschool since a great friend of mine introduced the idea. But, I do feel like children, especially as they get into their teens, need structured learning as well. Of course my kids are not that age yet so my views on this may change, but I am curious to know how many unschoolers use or have used curriculums, to what extent they used them, and how they introduced them.
Like for instance, if my child obviously is not enjoying a curriculum I think that he would, I would stop using it. At the same time, a friend of mine is using a curriculum with her 6 year old who LOVES it, can't get enough of it, but she wouldn't be considered unschooling, right?
Some kids like workbooks or curriculums or even going to school. To me unschooling means allowing your child to use the materials and learning methods that they want to use. So, if your friend is using that curriculum because her child likes it, she can still be unschooling.
I believe in strewing. I buy many of the secular books off the www.sonlight.com booklist. I don't get the instructor's guides. I share the books with my kids. Those they enjoy are read over and over. Others just sit on the shelf. Maybe they'll be read someday, maybe they won't. Just like the other books I buy.
My kids are still young, 2.5 and 5. We let our 5 year old have screen time while his sister naps. We have a collection of children's documentaries or he can watch youtube. He has totally free access to www.starfall.com and a couple other phonics sites. I don't want him spending a lot of time on the computer at this age. However, around 6 or 7 we may get www.time4learning.com. He will have free access to that. One friend has it and there are days her daughter will play with it for 8 straight hours then she may go days or weeks without using it. That is how we will use a curriculum.
We'll see what happens as the kids get older. We are so far away from then that I'm not worried about it. I don't know who my kids will be or what their interests will be. There was a time when I wanted my kids to have a rigorous classical education. Then it occurred to me, "What if they're not interested?" If they want to go to college, they will do what they need to in order to get into college.
I had a reasonable public education. I remember very little of what I learned. And what I learned was fairly arbitrary. I remember learning about weather in 8th grade and I remember very little of what we learned. Really, for me to understand anything about weather I need to look at the internet. We have a preschool book about weather and talk about it from time to time. My guess is the subject will come up again when they are 8th grade age. When they are adults if weather is important to them they will learn about it. If it's not, they won't.
About the only thing I figure kids HAVE to learn is reading, writing, and basic math. Beyond that, they will learn more about what they are interested in than they could ever learn in school and the rest of it just won't be that necessary to them. If it's necessary, they'll learn it on their own.
Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it. See me at
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I consider my family to be unschooling and my kids use some curriculum. And I've noticed that by the tween/teen years there is a natural tendency for many unschooled kids to seek out structured learning materials in areas where they wish to develop a more systematic knowledge base or set of skills. My kids have all done some coursework by the time they were 14 or so, by their own request. They've all dabbled in curriculum-like materials on and off from age 6 or 8. More off than on, but they've always had that option.
I've still considered us to be unschoolers throughout this because the person requesting the curriculum and driving its use on a day-to-day basis has always been the child. It also clearly makes up only a small minority of their learning. I don't think there's any rule that says that unschooling and structure can't go hand in hand; it's just that most people would say that the structure should be child-driven if it's still to be considered unschooling.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
My DD likes workbooks so I've bought them from time to time at her request or with her approval. If she wanted a curriculum at any time I would not hesitate to get one for her, but would not attach any pressure in terms of time to completion (or even completing it at all) just as we do with any other things we have at home for the kids to do.
I don't think unschooling is incompatible with curricula if it's done with the input and consent of the learner.
Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)