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Unschooling- What It Is And How To Know If It’s Right For Your Homeschool

Updated: 10 hours ago

Whether you’re a seasoned homeschooler or brand new to homeschooling, you’ve probably heard the term unschooling at least a few times. It’s become a bit of a buzzword in homeschool circles in recent years. While the term may be new to you, unschooling is not a new concept at all. In fact, you’ve already done it without even realizing it. It’s how your child learned to walk, talk, eat, and dress themselves. So, what exactly is unschooling?


Unschooling is child-led learning. There is no rigid curriculum with tests and worksheets, no detailed lesson plans, and no report cards. Children are born with a natural curiosity about the world around them and a love for learning. Unschooling allows the child to pursue their interests and learn necessary skills and concepts in a natural way and as they are needed. It tosses right out the window the notion that you have to make your child sit at a desk with a textbook and learn for a certain number of hours per week in favor of creating an environment where learning is simply a part of everyday life.


This does not mean that your child is left totally without guidance or instruction. It simply means that it comes in different forms. For example, let’s say that your child is interested in the weather. Go to the library and get interesting books about the weather and have them lying around the house for your child to explore. Discussing the weather can lead to informal learning about many science concepts like the water cycle, cloud formation, weather patterns, seasonal changes, and different climates. Your child asks for a cookie? Baking cookies with your child can turn into a math lesson learning about weights and measures, fractions, and multiplication and division to double or halve a recipe. As with all other types of home education, there are various philosophies when it comes to unschooling. Some families choose to have more structured studies in reading and math while following the unschooling approach for everything else. Others allow all learning to happen as they live alongside their child with no formal school structure. Still, others guide their child’s learning by intentionally and strategically placing items and materials throughout their home to pique their child’s interest and curiosity on a topic they want them to learn about. All of these approaches aim to encourage a lifelong love of learning and make learning a natural part of everyday life.  


So how do you know if unschooling is right for your homeschool? Nearly every child can thrive in an unschooling environment, but research has shown that the unschooling approach to education is especially beneficial for certain groups of children, such as those with special needs. Children who struggle in a traditional school environment due to issues with attention or learning challenges, those with complex medical issues that make traditional schooling difficult, and those who are often bored and feel unchallenged by curriculum may also benefit greatly from an unschooling approach to education. 


There are many benefits to unschooling. Unschooling allows children to learn at their own pace through hands-on, real-world experiences that promote better retention. It allows children time to pursue their interests and spend more time with their family; which develops strong and healthy bonds. It allows children to keep their natural curiosity and love of learning and teaches children that learning never stops. While your child might not meet grade-level standards with every skill at any given time, they will possess the confidence and ability to acquire those skills when needed.


Unschooling may not be right for every family or every child, but if you or your child are struggling with your current schooling approach, perhaps unschooling might be right for you.

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