Unschooling is the 8th and final homeschool method in our What do Homeschool Methods Look Like in Real Life? series. It is probably the most unique and hard to define method of them all. In this installment we will take a look at what unschooling is, tackle the question of its legality, and I will offer up resources for helping you to create an unschooling life for your family.
What exactly is the Unschooling Homeschool Method?
It can be difficult to define exactly what unschooling is because people outline it in different terms.
In general unschooling is an approach to homeschooling that often means learning without prescribed lessons, textbooks, or the school-like methods many other homeschoolers use.
In my own personal life as I struggled to figure out what unschooling was all about (being a very strict school-at-homer in the beginning years). I had a friend tell me it was whatever we made it, that if my kids chose to learn through textbooks or workbooks, that was unschooling. I thought unschooling meant no textbooks at all, but she said if that was what my kid(s) chose then I was following their natural inclination and letting them lead.
Sometimes unschooling is referred to as delight-directed learning, child-led learning, life learning, autonomous learning, or interest-led learning, but people disagree on the words.
In unschooling, life itself is learning. There is no “doing school.” Instead it is viewed as learning all the time. Even though we don’t unschool in our house currently, I still view life and the things that come with it as learning. Whether that be doing the dishes, helping clean the house, using the library, playing with other kids, etc.
With unschooling, kids learn how to learn and how to teach themselves. I always used to tell people that my main focus was to help my kids learn how to learn. If they can read and do basic math, and have solid comprehension skills, they can learn anything. Teaching them where to look for information, who to ask, how to determine if sources are credible, etc. is all part of that. If you know how to learn and how to teach yourself, then you are prepared for anything that comes along.
In the words of an unschooler
I asked a fellow homeschool mom, June D. to share her thoughts and a little about why she chose unschooling. Here is what she had to say:
“It’s taken me seven years to baby step my way to unschooling. Ultimately, I’ve embraced it because unschooling allows me to honor my children’s innate curiosity and unique personalities, to partner with them to craft an individualized education. The freedom to choose what, when and how they want to learn makes all the difference. There is so much peace, connection and growth happening in our home that was missing when we tried other homeschool styles. I am so thankful for other unschoolers who have paved the way and shared their wisdom! It truly is the path less traveled, and it takes a lot of courage to follow it.”
Here she shares some Unschooling Books that she has read and loves: 12 Best Unschooling Books
Is Unschooling Legal?
This is a question I hear often, especially because I live in NYS where the New York State homeschooling regulations are one of the most stringent in the country.
And the answer is, just as homeschooling is legal in all 50 of the United States, YES Unschooling is legal. Unschoolers are not uneducated, they simply learn through different methods than the traditional view of schooling. So while documenting learning and progress for the states that require it may take a little more thought, it is definitely legal and doable. Here is just one example of how to complete an unschooling transcript.
More on Unschooling
To delve deeper into unschooling here are a couple of sites that offer suggestions and information for unschooling:
- Unschool Rules – favorite resources
- Homeschool Super Freak – unschooling high school
- Happiness is Here – Unschooling Fears – I’m worried they wont learn
One of the ways we saw unschooling come to life was through unit studies. When my youngest was in the preK and elementary years, she would get interested in a topic and the two of us would start finding all things of that topic. Books to read. Videos to watch. Crafts to do. Places to explore. She loved being able to feed her need for information about that topic.
In the end, any homeschool method is what you make it. Unschooling is no different. So if you are interested in this type of homeschooling I highly suggested you do a little reading up and get started!
HOMESCHOOL METHODS SERIES
Be sure to bookmark or Pin this What do Homeschool Methods Look Like in Real Life Series?