My third child has been homeschooled her entire life. When she was in Pre-K she was following along with her older brothers. As her brothers are now in high school, she is taking some of the same courses right along with them. The biggest problem with this is that when she gets to high school I’m not sure what high school courses will be left for her to study. My options are to make her repeat the courses or to purchase more in depth materials or the same subjects but with a different curriculum. I’m not crazy about those options. I want her to keep her love of learning. So I am considering unschooling as an option that might work for her.
Therefore, I approached a friend who has unschooled since her daughter was born in 2002 and asked if she would agree to an interview. Her answers were inspiring. Join me as I explore unschooling.
Q. Why do you Unschool?
A. Why do we unschool? The answer is tied up, of course, in our reasons to homeschool. I believe that a Christian worldview is a very important part of every aspect of education, and there is no Christian school within a reasonable distance that we can afford. Beyond that, I honestly think that we can offer a wider variety of learning experiences for our children than they would have access to in school. Unschooling allows my kids to move at their own pace in every subject, so that they never feel like they are smarter or dumber than other people– in their experience, other people are learning other things and there is no basis for unprofitable comparisons. I guess in the end it just fits our lifestyle and life philosophy.
My husband says, “We unschool because we don’t want to limit our kids’ learning. We don’t want to impose topics or areas of study on them that we think are important, when really it might not be the best time for them to learn that subject. We want to have the kids have the ability to pursue different areas and topics when they are ready and interested.”
Q. How do you define Unschooling? or “What is Unschooling?”
A. I believe the term came from John Holt, a school reformer, in the 1960’s who eventually gave up on schools as hopeless and advocated that people teach their own children. I think of unschooling as free learning, in which the students choose what to learn based on what interests them. The parent’s role is to encourage and enable that learning by following up on the child’s interests and providing expanded opportunities for the child to follow those interests, as well as continually introducing the child to new ideas and potential interests.
In part two of the interview we continued to define unschooling in comparison to homeschooling and traditional methods.
Personal Interview with permission to print