Unschooling is a child-led method of homeschooling that is strongly influenced by the work of John Holt. This style of homeschooling is also referred to as “natural learning”, “experience-based learning”, “interest-led learning”, “deschooling”, or “independent learning”. Unschoolers tend to avoid typical school schedules, textbooks, tests or formal lessons; and, prefer to have children learn by following their interests and curiosities. There is also a respect and trust in the natural ability of children to direct their own learning. Unschooling parents see their role as facilitators rather than teachers. An unschooler’s day might include: time outdoors; building projects; helping in a home-based business; reading historical fiction; playing board games; watching videos; drawing; or, creating their own books. They will often focus on one activity passionately before moving onto another area of interest.

STRENGTHS

  • children are allowed the opportunity to become experts in their areas of interest
  • children develop their research skills
  • it supports the development of a love for learning
  • it is highly adaptable to the learning style and needs of the child
  • incorporating experiences, projects, field trips and activities that follow their interests can facilitate a richer, more memorable learning experience
  • unschooling respects the unique personality and gifts of each individual child

POINTS TO CONSIDER

  • unschooling tends to react against the limitations and failings of other school models. When avoiding anything that looks like ‘school’, parents need to be careful they aren’t discarding valuable methods of learning
  • some students might need more order or structure than this method provides
  • unschooling does not cover content in a systematic way. Students may miss some core competencies or have difficulty re-entering school if the parents decide to discontinue home education
  • Unschooling may be a good temporary option for children who are recovering from a difficult school experience. Following pursuits that truly interest them may re-ignite a joy of learning.

RESOURCES

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