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What is unschooling?

What is Unschooling?


Unschooling is a learning philosophy with freedom at its heart!


The main idea is to give your child control over their education, allowing their natural curiosity to flow and giving them the opportunity to explore their interests and develop their passions.


For younger children this often looks like ‘Just Playing’, with parents allowing their child to spend long hours exploring, and creating, and *shock horror* spending lots of time on screens... basically just doing whatever it is that brings them joy.

... You’re far more likely to find these feral (in the best way!) kids halfway up a tree, rolling in mud, building things, gaming, watching YouTube, painting, making art, reading in the sun, and running wild, than sitting at a desk!


Of course, this is not the only view of Unschooling... Unschoolers are a varied bunch and other families may be more reserved, they may be a tad gentler, have a natural rhythm to their day and take a calmer route.

There is no right or wrong!


The key of Unschooling is to allow the children to take the reins, to follow their interests, and for the parent to take a part in the child's education, rather than to lead it.

It’s a pretty beautiful concept!


Societal norms can lead us to believe that phonics and early writing, maths skills and reading need to be pushed at an early age, because what child would possibly choose to do these things otherwise???

Yet, Unschooled children DO choose to!... maybe a little later than their peers, who likely haven’t learned in detail about diatoms, sky rivers and the importance of Africa when it comes to Oxygen (Yes, I’m talking from experience here ) either,

... But they all get there in the end.


As children grow it can sometimes look like the family has stepped away from Unschooling... But, actually it’s often just that the child is ready for more formal learning... they are eager to learn since it’s never been forced upon them and come to us raring to go!


Many of our students enjoy learning maths or have a passion for science.

Others are with us because they WANT to take their GCSE’s and know we can help them pass... which is pretty amazing when you think about it, Children CHOOSING to do GCSE’s and taking charge of them!


As Home Educators ourselves (And Teacher Frankie was Home Educated as a child!) we know that students, whether Unschooled or formal, learn best when they are interested in what is being taught.

... When they WANT to learn, they DO learn!

So, we always advice giving children at least some control over their learning journey... We want them to want to come to class, not to spend the time miserable and bored because they’re being MADE to be here.

We believe that it’s our job to make our classes interesting, engaging and enjoyable, so in their freedom, even the unschooliest unschooler is keen to learn with us.


Some families take the Unschooling Philosophy further and apply it to other/all aspects of their life... Giving their children the freedom to choose when to eat, when to sleep and what to do each day.

... And it’s amazing how even very young children will often recognise and meet their own needs, and with a little support from their parents thrown in, and some learning from mistakes, they often thrive!


Essentially, Unschooling is about trust... Trusting the child to do everything they need, trusting yourself to facilitate rather than control, and trusting that it will all come together to form something amazing. It’s about mutual respect, respecting your child as an autonomous individual and respecting yourself as a human being!


NOTE... all Home Ed families are different and there is no right or wrong way, there are so many amazing learning philosophies and nobody needs to pick just one!


Join us in future posts where we will look at some other ways of learning; from using curriculums to Charlotte Mason; from Montessori to eclectic and “flying by the seat of your pants” style. Forest Schools and World Schooling... There’s a whole lot of education out there for us to explore!


Want to learn more about Unschooling?

We recommend...


The Brave Learner By Julie Bogart


Anything (at all!!!) by John Holt


Free to Learn By Peter Gray


And, Life Through the Lens of Unschooling by Pam Larricchia


What do you think of Unschooling?

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