Homeschooling Methods: Unschooling

Is this Method Right for Your Family?

Unschooling is a method of homeschooling that allows children to explore and learn in their way. Unschoolers are free from the constraints of a school curriculum and instead go about learning through their curiosity. 

What makes this form of education so different? This blog post will discuss what Unschooling is, how it differs from traditional schooling methods, and more!

To learn even more about various homeschooling approaches, check out 10 Different Homeschooling Methods You Need to Know.

What is the Unschooling homeschool approach?

Unschooling is a homeschooling method that puts all control in the hands of children.

The belief behind this approach stems from the theory of natural curiosity, which suggests children are born with an innate desire to learn and understand their surroundings.

Unschooler’s homeschool method focuses on building an environment where children can explore freely and then use this exploration as a tool for learning new things. This means there is no curriculum or test to be taken.

Unschooling is not a “hands-off” approach where kids are given free rein of the house with no guidance or support. It’s an active learning style that requires commitment from both parents and children to create a supportive environment for exploration and discovery.

Instead, unschoolers learn through the interest of their children. For example, if a child is interested in animals and biology, they might research different animals at home with their parent’s guidance. This type of learning has been shown to encourage deeper engagement than traditional schooling methods because it occurs outside of a formal setting.

Parents who unschool their children are in an active, positive role as a facilitator. They provide access to resources and tools which help their child navigate through life.

Unschooled children become confident learners with this approach by being allowed opportunities to explore whatever interests them most.

This method may be right for your family if you want a self-directed learning experience based on your child’s unique interests.

What is Unschooling like?

The best way to understand what it’s like to be an unschooler is by observing it in action! As mentioned earlier, this form of homeschooling puts all control into children’s hands and allows them to follow their interests as they discover their passions. Unschoolers have a lot of time to spend on activities that they find most interesting, which often results in an eclectic mix of hobbies!

Unschoolers are allowed to spend time on what they choose, with little interference from parents. This means spending hours playing the piano one day and then learning how to juggle another!

Education is often self-driven so that unschoolers can move at their own pace through different subjects of interest.

While it may seem like this form of learning is entirely chaotic and free-form, Unschooling does have some structure. Parents often provide resources that help children learn about different topics. This might be through videos on YouTube or books from the library to guide their studies.

Parents also facilitate meetings between their children and people they might be interested in. For example, an unschooler who is passionate about horses would have the opportunity to meet with a horse trainer or veterinarian. This helps children develop relationships outside of their immediate family, which also contributes to healthy social development.

In essence, Unschooling parents allow education to happen naturally without forcing their child to learn a specific set of skills or information. This will enable children to explore their interests and develop in ways that feel natural for them.

Yes, Unschooling is legal in all 50 states!

Many people fear that a lack of structure or control over education will result in ignorant and irresponsible children. However, the opposite is true with this approach because it allows for self-directed learning within an open environment where curiosity can thrive.

Unschoolers have been shown to outperform their traditionally educated peers on standardized tests and are more often accepted into competitive universities.

Unschooling is legal in all states because it falls under the umbrella of homeschooling. Families who choose this form of schooling must follow state guidelines about homeschooling.

Each state has different regulations, so it’s crucial to investigate the laws in your home state.

What Are the Pros?

  • Freedom and flexibility: Unschooling allows children to explore their passions and develop at a natural pace. They also have more space within the structure of homeschooling, which can benefit those who thrive with autonomy!
  • Interest-driven learning: Unschoolers can spend as much time as they’d like on activities related to interest areas. They are not forced to spend time on subjects they have no interest in, which can help them be more engaged with their learning.
  • Less stress: Unschoolers don’t feel pressured to perform academically to approach each day with a sense of calm and ease.
  • More time for play: Unschooled kids can spend more hours playing outside or on hobbies rather than completing schoolwork! This is beneficial for their physical development as well as mental health.
  • Real-world learning: Unschoolers are allowed to develop relationships with professionals in their interests, which can help them gain invaluable insight into potential careers.
  • Strong relationships: Unschoolers develop closer relationships with their parents and other family members because they spend more time together.
  • Higher self-esteem: Unschoolers tend to have a lot of autonomy in their lives, leading to higher levels of confidence and independence!

What Are the Cons?

  • Lack of structure: Unschoolers may not be well-prepared for college or the workforce if they aren’t taught how to follow set schedules, study independently, and develop practical time management skills.
  • Innacurate measurable learning: Unschoolers are often measured by standardized tests compared to their traditionally educated peers. This means that some families who use this form of knowledge may not have their children’s education assessed by an objective third party.
  • Learning gaps: Unschooling can result in gaps in learning subjects unrelated to the child’s interests. For example, if an Unschooler has no interest in math or science, they may not develop strong skills in those areas.
  • State requirements: Unschoolers must follow the homeschooling guidelines set forth by their state. This means they need to spend a certain amount of time each day instructing their children, even if it doesn’t take place in traditional settings. Meeting the standards may be challenging with this relaxed approach to homeschooling.
  • External pressures: Unschoolers are often pressured by peers, family members, and partners who feel that Unschooling isn’t the best option. This can be very stressful for families trying to make decisions that will benefit their children’s learning!
  • Intense deschooling: Unschooling takes a lot of practice and effort to get used to, so it’s not for everyone. This method is also very different from traditional education models; therefore, both parents AND children may need to adjust before they find success.

Books

The following books are not unschooling-specific but are great resources if you decide to take this path.

Websites

Podcasts

Youtube

  • Library
  • Museums
  • Historical sites
  • Documentaries
  • Podcasts
  • Mentors & professionals
  • Online and in-person classes/college courses
  • Art supplies
  • Spielgaben or wooden blocks
  • The outdoors
  • You, the parent!

Homeschool Groups

Final Thoughts

Unschooling is an education method that has tremendously grown in popularity over the past few years, especially with BIPOC homeschoolers.

It differs from traditional schooling methods because it allows children to explore and learn through their curiosity instead of a school curriculum.

The lack of constraints makes this form of education so different- not only for your child but also for you! It can be challenging to let go of the control you may have had in your child’s earlier years, but once you do, this method will truly transform how your family learns together.

If you’re considering adopting Unschooling as a way to homeschool your kids, I recommend doing additional research to determine whether it’s a suitable method for your family. Unschooling can be a fantastic way to learn, but not all children (or parents!) are ready or able to take on this approach.

While many people still think that learning only happens in a classroom setting, there are so many ways for us to explore and discover knowledge – both inside and outside the classroom!


And if you’re interested in learning about other homeschooling approaches, don’t forget to check out my blog post, 10 Different Homeschooling Methods You Need to Know.

What homeschooling method do you think would be best for your child? Let me know!


Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w7, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.


Hey there, friend!

I'm Xuan and I'm a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. At this site I offer notes of encouragement, share my favorite homeschool ideas & resources, and document our homeschooling adventures. I’m so glad you’re here.

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