Unschooling became popular in the 1970’s and John Holt’s belief in growing without schooling. Unschooling may be the hardest homeschooling method to define. Why is this? If you ask fifty different unschoolers what unschooling is, they will give fifty different answers. How can this be? Everyone has his or her own version of unschooling. There is no set curricula, no set “follow this format”, no set rules for this approach. The only rule is there are no rules. It is very important to remember that unschooling does not mean you don’t have to be a parent. Child-led learning is a great approach to education, but as a parent, we must remember to instill values, morals, and common sense in our children. (Unschooling)

So what do unschoolers do? They love life. They read, they play, they dance, they pretend, they explore. If it interests them, they learn it. They write about it, they study it; they live it if they can. This is how children learn naturally, by doing what they love to do. Do you expect an infant to read about learning how to walk, or talk? No! They learn by watching and trying to do it themselves.

How can you tell if they are learning? You ask questions, and listen to them talk about all they are doing. Children love to tell you what they are interested in. It is up to you, the parent to listen to them.

I know, I know, you are all wondering “what about math?” You can’t teach math while unschooling! But you can! The world is your classroom. Going to the grocery store? Add up the prices of items you are purchasing. Are you buying produce? Say it is $0.69/lb for grapes, how much would ten pounds cost? What about 20? If we bought 20 pounds of apples, and ate one pound a day, how many days would it take to eat all the apples?  Math is learned best in practical applications, and what is more practical than living? Fractions can be learned while cooking and baking, which also covers some basic home economics, and fun in the kitchen too.

The next question most people as is: “Is it legal?” Yes! Some states are harder to unschool in than others, but there are unschoolers in every state of the union. Check your local state laws (right here on the directory) to see the requirements and how unschooling would work for you. There are many groups dedicated to unschooling, look up your state resources here on the directory and see if there are any in your area.

As you can tell, unschooling is a great way for children to take responsibility for their own education while educating their parents as well. As with every other method of homeschooling, unschooling is not right for every child or family. Some students do need direction, and that is okay too.

Further Reading:

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Holt, John. (1997). Growing Without Schooling: A Record of a Grassroots Movement.

Home Educators Resource Directory (HERD) is owned, managed, and maintained by parents passionate about giving their children the best education. The Directory’s mission is to provide resources, support, and information helpful to the diverse community of educators around the globe. Along with offering a rich store of varied resources, the Directory maintains a catalog of local and global support groups and calendars highlighting local events.

The HERD monthly newsletter keeps educators apprised of current homeschool events and supplies informational articles for both the new and experienced.
We invite you to stay informed with your own newsletter subscription http://www.homeeddirectory.com/newsletter/subscribe, explore our many resources by visiting the Directory http://www.homeeddirectory.com/ and check out all the information to be found on our blog http://www.homeeddirectory.com/blog.

Permission to reproduce this article granted only with the entire article, bio and all links included.