Unschooling – A New Approach to Teaching and Learning


Unschooling, a new approach to teaching and learning

Unschooling is an interesting term that has a tendency to defy a precise definition. Like “unchaining” or “unleashing,” unschooling is an “un” with a positive connotation.

Essentially, unschooling is an unconventional approach to educating kids that does not follow the institutional school model. Unschoolers do not use a traditional curriculum like homeschoolers do. The core belief of this philosophy is that the child has a natural curiosity and drive to learn – they are always learning and the unschooler’s job is to encourage them.

To understand better what this philosophy entails, here are some things that unschooling is, and some things it is not.

What Unschooling Is Not

* Neglectful – The one who unschools his kids is in frequent interaction with them. He is well aware of laws and requirements that his children will have to answer to, and unschools accordingly.

* Passive – Unschooling is actually even more active than the traditional school model. The unschooler is engaged with her kids, constantly teaching and listening to her students. The unschooler must know her child, because this philosophy is primarily led by the children’s natural readiness to learn.

* Lazy – It’s impossible to be lazy and truly unschool! In fact, this philosophy requires more work in some ways because you have to get up and do things with your kids. You have to participate. You have to get to know them, what makes them tick, what their passions are, and bring in resources to further their learning in those passions.

* Lacking – But will unschooled children learn everything they are supposed to learn? Won’t they lack something, or miss out on an important subject? On the contrary, children who are unschooled often learn more than the conventionally schooled child.
In this philosophy, subject matter is not withheld from a curious child because it is not “in the right order” or the “right time” to be taught that. Nor is subject matter foisted on children before they are ready. By following a child’s readiness cues, and tapping into a child’s natural love of learning, unschooled kids often learn a great deal more due to the lack of struggle involved in learning.

Of course, the child learns more than just his or her passionate interests. But the unschooler recognizes that the child will learn best if it is done through the child’s natural interests. For example, if a child loves mechanics, other subjects can be taught and explored through the topic of mechanics.

What It Is

* Proactive – Parents who unschool are actively involved in their students’ lives. When their child shows an interest in something, they take the initiative to gather information and resources to help their child learn. They are probably well acquainted with the local library and online tutorials!

* A Philosophy – Unschooling trusts children’s instincts. It is a life philosophy that embraces learning as part of daily life rather than a formal, regimented routine separate from real life.

Why More Parents Are Choosing to Unschool

As public schools continue to disappoint parents and students socially and academically, more are choosing to unschool. After the great wave of institutionalized care that was “the thing” in the 80s and 90s, parents now are beginning to desire more direct contact with their children. Ultimately,this philosophy is a means of learning that promotes a close relationship between parents and children. Perhaps unschoolers are motivated by a desire to interact with and be close to their children.

We hope that Unschooling – What is it? helps you to better understand this new concept!

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