What is Unschooling?

This is the sixth in my Getting Started Homeschooling Series. Check out the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Why Should I Homeschool?
  3. What Do I Do First?
  4. Homeschooling Laws
  5. The Different Homeschooling Methods
  6. What is Deschooling?
  7. What is Unschooling?
  8. What is the Charlotte Mason Method?
  9. Homeschool Distance Learning
  10. Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
  11. Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum
  12. Abeka Homeschool Curriculum
  13. Creating Your Own Curriculum
  14. Homeschool Planning
  15. Homeschool Support
  16. Homeschool Socialization

Unschooling is a difficult thing to define in one sentence. One family’s definition of unschooling may be different than that of another family. In essence, all agree that unschooling is education through life experience as opposed to learning from textbooks.

Advantages of Unschooling

Children can learn from a variety of different activities, and it is this that the unschooling homeschooling method builds upon. Families that choose unschooling as their homeschooling method of choice focus more on learning, rather than what worksheets should be done or if they read the required chapter in their history textbooks.

Unschooling families focus on what interests them, and learn by doing. If an unschooling child enjoys gardening, he or she may end up learning a lot about gardening. Unschooling allows for a more relaxed home school environment, and children learn to enjoy learning. Unschooling also teaches children that there is something to learn from every activity they may engage in.

Disadvantages of Unschooling

Unschooling can encourage children to explore their world around them, and learn from everything they do. However, it can also limit their exposure. Unfortunately, by having such a relaxed home school environment, unschooling families may not be exposing their children to everything they should be.

If an unschooled child goes to college, they may be intimidated by the more structured environment in college life, which could be detrimental to their overall education.

Another downside of unschooling is the lack of structure. Everyone needs some type of structure in their life in order to succeed; jobs have set hours and strict rules, and so does college. It is my personal belief that, while I understand that unschooling families do not let their children run wild, that it is important to have some type of structure in a child’s learning.

Now, I know you may be thinking: isn’t the entire point of homeschooling to be able to get your child OUT of the overly-structured public school system? Well, yes and no. We don’t want our children to be in a mold, with everyone else. We want them to expand their horizons, and be successful at anything they want to do.

Unschoolers, in my personal opinion, are ready for life in whatever capacity they are currently live in. I do not feel that unschooling gives children the exposure to the world that they need. But, for some families, unschooling is a great choice.
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