Why We Chose Unschooling

Unschooling.

It sounds like some “fancy” way of saying

We are too lazy to teach our children or send them to school. In fact, we are anti-school!!”

Right? 

Wrong.

First, let me begin by providing you with the proper definition of unschooling.

Unschooling: a home-school education with the child taking the primary responsibility instead of a parent or teacher; also called child-directed learningself-learning

To put it simply, unschooling is providing a child with the necessary resources to learn, but allowing and granting them the freedom to learn as they see fit. 

It is to provide children the most hands-on, experience-based ways to gain an education without the constructed schedule and timeline of their peers.

Why would you ever chose that? Your children won’t learn a thing!

Au contraire.

Unschooling does not in any way mean that my children won’t be learning. As it stands right now, my four year old daughter is far ahead of her age group intellectually and socially. Studies over the years have also shown that children who practice unschooling go on to lead a very fulfilling adult life. And what did the children themselves think about their parent’s choices to unschool them?

Boston College research professor, Peter Gray, actually asked 75 unschooled adults, ages ranging from 18-49. According to his article posted on kqed.com:

“All but three of the 75 respondents felt the advantages of unschooling clearly outweighed the disadvantages. Almost all said they benefited from having had the time and freedom to discover and pursue their personal interests, giving them a head start on figuring out their career preferences and developing expertise in relevant areas. Seventy percent also said “the experience enabled them to develop as highly self-motivated, self-directed individuals,” Gray notes on his blog. Other commonly cited benefits included having a broader range of learning opportunities; a richer, age-mixed social life; and a relatively seamless transition to adult life. “In many ways I started as an adult, responsible for my own thinking and doing,” said one woman who responded to Gray’s survey.

“Very few had any serious complaints against unschooling,” Gray says, and more than a third of the respondents said they could think of no disadvantages at all. For the remainder, the most significant disadvantages were: dealing with others’ judgments; some degree of social isolation; and the challenges they experienced adjusting to the social styles and values of their schooled peers.”

Unschooling offers so many benefits. But its not just the benefits of unschooling that nudged me in its direction. It was also my own issues with America’s current curriculum.

America’s curriculum is very underdeveloped and outdated compared to other developed countries today. It offers only the basic textbook knowledge, and essentially only teaches us memorization of those blandly worded pages that very few of us use later on in life. The constant memorization techniques cause emotional harm to those who struggle with reading comprehension as well. It is so focused around standardized test taking that it offers absolutely no time for a student to focus on their ideal career choice for the future. They no longer have the ability to work as an apprentice, hold a steady job to make a decent income, or plan out their futures. America’s curriculum also offers no courses in situations that may pop up in a student’s life, such as filing taxes, paying bills, finding a job, home repairs, car repairs, living with/without technology, and polite, mature conversation. It avoids any worldviews on nearly every topic, and my least favorite, it avoids teaching students various viewpoints on complex ethical questions.

It does not allow a student to think outside of the ready-made, pre-contructed box that they are given in the early days of public/private schooling.

With that being said, some of you have requested how I unschool my children.traditional-vs-unschooling-1

But to be completely honest, they only way I can explain it is by saying that I may teach my children myself, but I learn right along with them.

I like to learn with my children, and not be afraid to make games and exploration out of learning. Because learning is fun, and children will welcome learning on a much deeper, open level when it is engaging and enjoyable and not forced.

They learn by experience. As an example, they learn about their environment not from a diagram in a textbook or a slideshow, but from taking a walk in a woods and pointing out all of the wildlife that surround us. By connecting on a much deeper level to the world that surrounds them. By experiencing it physically, they capture that knowledge mentally.

I try to create a stimulating environment. By exploring new areas, playing educational bored games, striking up conversations with new people and discussing their important role in society, reading, visiting museums and historical areas, and researching.

My four year old has no real schedule for learning, as she learns all throughout the day, every single day. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays we have a set hour where I wear the hat as her teacher. We sit down together and work in several workbooks for her age group (actually she is already working at a 1st grade level!) because she really enjoys them. They are interaction based worksheets that really assist her with writing words, and practicing her math. Although we usually have more fun working on math with pieces of food, or flowers! So far, Lily enjoys exploration, and book-based learning.

I wish to give my children the life experience that they deserve. The worldly knowledge that humans are meant to contain. And unschooling is the correct path to reach both goals. If my children ever decide to go to college (which is ultimately up to them and will never be forced) with their education they are receiving from home, they will be able to study and take the SAT’s to be able to apply to any school they wish.

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I will be updating this blog with more of our unschooling journey as we travel on its path, so if you’re interested in learning more, feel free to check back or follow my blog at your convenience.

Happy (un)schooling!

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I am an overly-passionate, Earth-obsessed woman who spends her time raising three beautiful flowers, and growing with the other half of my soul.

4 thoughts on “Why We Chose Unschooling

  1. I know you said you don’t really do lesson plans. I don’t home school or do unschooling. I’m just trying to teach them a little bit, I do lesson plans myself because I feel it makes the day go smoother if I plan ahead. I too, have two different learners. One who would love to read books and do work sheets all day long and then one who really grasps math, animals, color by using objects or going on field trips. Today for instance Math, Letter tracing, Play Dough, and we read two books (Click Clack 123 and Moo Baa Lalala) and then went to a farm to see pigs, chickens, and cows. How do you balance different learners? Do you find going on field trips helps them really absorb material? Where do you suggest going?

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    1. It is definitely hard balancing two different learners. It took me a while to find some common ground between my children. With my daughters, I find that they both learn well and absorb material if I turn whatever we are learning into a game. Any sort of game!

      Also, field trips help them both learn the most. I take them to our local children’s museum (which happens to be the largest in the world, so we have that advantage) and I let them go crazy. They learn SO much from attending speeches and demonstrations there. Another place I enjoy taking them is our local living history museum. It has different areas set back in times ranging from the 1600’s to the 1800’s, with all living building and characters. They interact and learn so much!

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