Unschooling is a foreign concept to many and has recently had some press released making it appear to be nothing more than chaos. With anything, there are extremes in carrying out unschooling. But, the basic idea of unschooling is not run out of disorganization and chaos bu rather an attempt to inspire learning in a non-traditional manner.
Unschooling is a method of schooling based on the idea that children will learn what they need to learn at the proper time naturally. This concept is rooted in observing babies develop. They learn to roll over, crawl, walk and talk without the use of a curriculum or text book. This same drive that motivates them to to these developmental tasks is the same drive that will motivate them to learn in every other aspect of their lives. It is a natural, non-traditional form of learning.
While unschooling is usually done at home, not all homeschoolers are unschoolers. In a recent unfavorable unschooling report by Good Morning America, they reported that “out of an estimated 56 million school age children, about 1.5 million are homeschooled. Of that number, at least 100,000 are believed to be “unschooled.”
Unschooling is not anti-school. It is, rather, a different style of learning. The “un” part comes about from the desire to implement learning in a manner other than the traditional use of formal education which uses textbooks, a strict daily schedule and testing. This type of learning is not desirable to an unschooler because an unschooler is not anti learning, but rather anti-rote, put in/spit out type of “learning.”
Unschooling is not haphazard, willy nilly, anything goes with no rules. While, it may appear on the surface to be unstructured and out of control, the truth is that unschooling parents typically put more effort into their children’s education than many other parents, even their homeschooling parental peers.
Unschooling is implemented in various different ways depending upon the interests of your child and your individual parenting style. But, an example of how unschooling may take place is to find out what the child’s interests are and placing books related to that subject “accidentally” in their path. Or, the parent may purchase a computer game related to a child’s learning interest. The family may go to the library and check out movies related to whatever subject is being learned, or go on a field trip to a business that is related to a chosen topic. Some parents may even take a trip to Europe or another country to give their child a first-hand learning experience. Many have home-based businesses in which they involve their children, and their children in turn learn math skills, customer service skills and so much more.
While unschoolers don’t typically use textbooks to teach a subject, they do usually read books. They typically devour books on subjects in which they are interested. They choose, instead, to read what is commonly referred to as “Living Books.” In other words, they are real books, not a textbook that has handpicked and chosen what to include and what to leave out about a subject.
In the end, the hope is that when unschooling is done well, the children will learn how to learn not just how to spit back answers for a test. The desire to do this is developed from a drive that comes from within. This type of learning is called intrinsic and is the ultimate goal in anything we do starting with rolling over and continuing through the school years and into functioning, contributing members of adulthood. The idea of unschooling is to ignite our inborn developmental skills when they’re ready.