Homeschooling – Unschooling

Unschooling header


The Traditional Curriculum and Fear

Many of the things we do in life, are because of fear.  The traditional public school system is based on the assumption that knowledge must be forced upon children because they will never pursue it for themselves (The Natural Child Project).  We send our children to school because we are afraid we are inadequate and cannot teach.  We are afraid that due to our inadequacies as parents, our children will not measure up.  We are afraid that our children will not be smart enough.  We are afraid that our children will be behind.  We are afraid that they will not learn what they are supposed to learn when they are supposed to learn.  We are afraid that they won’t be able to get into college.  We are afraid that our children will be doomed to a life of mediocrity.

We are afraid that people will thing we are weird.



  • In my opinion, this is the most misunderstood homeschooling method – or non-method.  Unschooling is simply – learning that happens naturally.  When one unschools – they don’t care about arbitrary stages of development that somebody created a century ago – by studying , who?  What was the socioeconomic status and the ethnicity’s of the study subjects?  Children are inately curious, and are driven to understand and master the world around them (Yes, I Can Write).   Unschooling is a different perspective all together.  Unschoolers believe that true learning happens best when it arises from the experiences and interests of the learner (The Path Less Taken).  Unschoolers live their lives – and they learn from it.


Traditional Unschoolers

  • Don’t have labels
  • Don’t have an authority
  • Parents are not teachers but guides the child along their way
  • They don’t have subjects, texbooks and formal curriculum
  • Don’t have the day divided up in time
  • Don’t have time out chairs, regular bed times, or chore charts.

Unschoolers live cohesively has a family, working and growing together.


Shift in thinking – What do Unschoolers do all day?

  • Read
  • Play games
  • Watch movies
  • Play outside
  • Explore
  • Conduct experiements
  • Complete Projects
  • Invent things
  • Build things
  • Watch TV
  • Talk

Well, what if they decide to play video games all day?  Well, learning is everywhere.  Even video games can be a valuable learning tool that will peak interests and promote creativity.  If the child does in fact play video games all day – if he has the freedom to choose there are a few things that can happen.

  1. He/she gets his/her fill and moves on to something else
  2. It develops into a real passion that then transfers into a possible interest and career path
  3. It leads to other areas of exploration

When someone is free to choose their path – it leads to further growth and learning.

Nature Explore

A Free School

I had previously mentioned that we tried the Sudbury school for a few months.  The typical day went – you would arrive anywhere between 9-11  AM – and you would have to stay a period of 4-5 hours and come at least 3 days a week.  It didn’t matter what you did during the day – but you would have to adhere to those restrictions.

Because of the lack of authority figures, the kids had to be responsible – as no one was watching over them.  This was a very important part of the program.

Everyone in the community had equal say.  They had a democratic environment – where there was a judicial committee made up of the community members.  They would have hearings if there was a problem.  All decisions would be made via a democratic process.

  • Could the students read?  Yes.  They learned to read when they were ready.
  • Could the students reason?  Yes
  • Could the students write?  Yes.  They learned to write when they were ready.
  • Were the students good citizens?  Yes

I firmly believe that everything we do with our kids can be turned into a learning experience – the trips we take, the books we read, the art projects that we do – the things we cook and bake.  I bet if we were to keep track of everything – we could cover an entire year school curriculum – just having fun with – spending time with – and experiencing every day life with our children.  What are your thoughts?  Would you be comfortable teaching your children in this way?


Visit our other posts in the series – addressing addresses different homeschool methodologies


About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile


  1. I find Unschooling an interesting concept, which I probably wouldn’t be able to fully accept due to the fear that you mention – that somehow my child would be “left behind”. Sadly, in public school she is mostly marching in place, but with my full time job homeschooling is not an option for us. I go for what many parents do – “supplement” at home trying to follow her interests.
    Natalie recently posted…Experiments with Light–Science Wiz Kit.My Profile

    • Hey Natalie,

      I hear you. We were terrible unschoolers. I really tried. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t totally accept the fact that my son might not read until he is 7-8-or 9 years old. I couldn’t even imagine. We weren’t comfortable with it, which is why we changed and did something else. I know the fear, and that’s the main reason why we can’t be unschoolers.

      I think supplementing at home is great! I don’t think most parents do that, at least not in my circles. The people that I know – the kids come home from school – and then they are off to sports or whatever. Come home, eat dinner, do homework and go to bed.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Lisa recently posted…Homeschooling – UnschoolingMy Profile

  2. I have a three year old that we are thinking about homeschooling. I’ve been reading about the unschooling method. I totally get the fear. People think we are weird for even considering homeschooling and say our daughter won’t be social or learn much at home. My husband and I were both bored in public school growing up and feel that many public schools squash creativity and take all of the fun out of learning. Plus, we live in a small, rural town and the schools aren’t that great here. We are still trying to decide what to do. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Lily from It’s A Dome Life recently posted…The Cat Came Back The Very Next DayMy Profile

    • Hey Lily,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story.

      Yeah, the fear is real. I could write honestly about it, because I know it personally. I felt it. It’s really hard to trust your inner woman wisdom and know what’s right for your own child. Nobody knows your children better than you do. I am sure you know that you are more than capable. Your child has learned to walk, eat, talk, yes? That’s how your child will learn to read and write. It’s the inner yearnings that will allow your child to not only understand – but enjoy subjects like science, math, history, etc.

      Unschooling is not the only option. I have discussed a few more possibilities – all equally good and all equally effective. Also, there is your own method. What do you think will bring out the best in your little one? That’s the best way to teach.

      I hope I see you around more! I hope you had a great 4th and have a fabulous weekend!
      Lisa recently posted…Homeschooling – UnschoolingMy Profile

  3. You know, I think I am a bit of an unschooler! My kids go to public school so I guess it doesn’t really count. We are not signing up for the summer reading program this summer because I really dislike rules. I feel like we read so much more when we are just doing it because we want to. Again love the series. I am realizing I am a little bit of a education junky.
    Ann recently posted…Big Words for BabiesMy Profile

    • I totally hear what you are saying Ann. I feel the same way. Our library has a summer reading program as well – but I feel that there is no reason to sign up for it. My kids do not need an incentive to read. The certificates, etc – just don’t work – because we read anyway. We don’t need a certificate to entice us.

      You put it so beautifully!

      For me, unschooling is scary. Personally, I didn’t like the Montessori or the Waldorf because of the structure and arbitrary phases. It was too much structure. If I wanted that much structure, we would do regular school. I didn’t want to set up a traditional classroom in my home, you know? However, unschooling lacks any structure.


      I need a workbook – at least one, you know? Unschoolings sounds really good. It really does. The kids that are produced are absolutely amazing. If you t talk with them – their level of thinking will blow your mind. It’s insane. But in reality – it’s the fear that creeps in. For me, it’s mostly about college. I want my kids to have the best possibilities in life. I don’t want to limit them. If I could just get over that.
      Lisa recently posted…A Day In The Life of a Homeschooling Family – A New SeriesMy Profile

  4. Lisa you are so right on track with this. FEAR. That is the reason I played with unschooling, taking weeks or months off at a time, and then something would make me afraid. Are the kids learning enough? He still doesn’t know how to write an essay and he is such and such years old. When we did unschool I was afraid, a closet unschooler, and then this year I had had enough and when I fully accepted Unschooling it was like accepting who we were and the kids have grown so much from the experience. This is so dead on, I love it!

    • I am shocked to see your comment actually. I see you as the poster child for unschooling. It seems to be so natural. You are so confident about your choices. I can’t imagine that you would have been a closet unschooler. You are so good at it.

      I know the FEAR because I experience it – almost daily. My husband experiences it almost hourly. He is constantly doubting our homeschooling choice -where as i know it’s exactly the thing we must do.

      Unschooling was really hard for him. He didn’t like the lack of structure. It made him very uncomfortable. He was thrilled when we changed and I bought him a workbook. He breathed a sigh of relief, and so did I. I must admit though, unschooling is top on my list of things I have wanted to do. I don’t think going to the sudbury school was the right thing for us though.

      You are so good at teaching your kids. They seem so mature in their decision making process.
      Lisa recently posted…Giveaway – Call Me Clarice, I Don’t Care – A Message In DiversityMy Profile

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