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Unschooling is child-led learning where the parents are facilitators not teachers. Unschoolers believe that because children naturally want to learn, they should be able to direct their own education. Parents are in a supportive role and provide materials or opportunities for the child to learn their topic of choice.
John Holt, author of Teach Your Own and many other unschooling books, first used the term in the 1970’s, he believed that children would learn naturally when they were ready to do so. As long as a supportive environment was in place, learning would take place according to the child’s interest. He felt that the school environment was unnatural and that children should not be pushed to learn things they didn’t wish to.
Unschooling parents believe that the child will learn things at their own pace. In the beginning, it may appear as though unschooling students are behind since they do not teach formal reading or math but the child learns through more natural means when they are ready to do so.
There is no teaching on the parent’s part, no curriculum, or classes unless the child requests them. The parent’s role is to provide learning opportunities, it does not mean designing a unit study on butterflies for a child interested in butterflies, but you may take a trip to a butterfly conservatory, raise caterpillars, leave out books or videos, but it is up to the child to delve into the material.
The parent spends time with the child and recognizes her interests and provides opportunities to enrich their knowledge. A child who is interested in computers could take one apart, spend their time using the computer liberally, and may speak to a computer engineer or programmer to learn more about it.
How would they learn math if you don’t use a curriculum? They would learn math through daily living, baking and cooking with recipes, calculating and spending their allowance, and perhaps helping run a home based business.
Learning is life, it does not take place during specific hours in specific places, it is a part your daily life.
Favorite unschooling books
- Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling
- How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development)
- How Children Fail (Classics in Child Development)
Favorite unschooling blogs
This post is a part of my 31 day series – Ultimate List of Homeschooling Questions.