For some, the term "unschooling" may paint a picture of children left to their own devices to do whatever they want whenever they want with no actual learning happening, but this couldn't be further from the truth. John Holt, a homeschool pioneer for unschooling, said, "What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all." Unschoolers typically do not use a formal curriculum but the education is directed by the student's interests with parents often learning right beside their child, helping then to discover the ability and skills it takes to learn. Knowledge is gained through meaningful activities, following after a child's natural curiosities and experiences through everyday life. Often there is no distinction from "school-time" and daily life. Unschooling can be seamlessly woven into the normal rhythms of the day.
Some reasons this method is chosen:
Flexibility – Because there are no set schedules to follow or set in stone curriculum to work through, this method may work well for a family that has a lot going on during the day.
Student-led education – Kids are allowed to follow their passions and learn all they can about those interests with the parent providing necessary avenues for further exploration.
Learning through experience – While some methods focus on learning through what is presented in books, written work and curriculum, this method is driven by hands-on interaction and lifestyle activities.
Encourages out-of-the box education – Some students do very well when they can pursue knowledge through unconventional methods, gleaming other academic skills through a variety of resources beyond the traditional ones.
Little to no prep time – Most unschoolers do not plan out their days but provide their children with ample opportunities and materials to follow their passions and build upon their interest bases.
Some reasons this method may not be for you:
Missing structure – Some children and parents do not do well without having a plan for what will be learned for the day and prefer to have everything laid out in a curriculum.
Lack of self-motivation – In this method, students study the things that interest them and are expected to pursue those interests. However, some children may not have the drive or ability to seek out information about those interests on their own.
No formal assessment records – It may be difficult to determine the progress your child is making academically as there is typically no tests or grading methods followed to measure this. This may also pose a problem if your state requires documentation of progress.
Gaps in learning – Because children essentially learn what they want and do not follow a set path of education, important core knowledge and skills could be missing that they may need later on in life.
Negative connotation of "unschooling" – While homeschooling families of all kinds are questioned all the time about homeschooling, unschooling families seem to receive a lot more criticism and scrutiny due to a lack of understanding of the method and the misconception that the student is allowed to skip schooling altogether.