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What Is "Unschooling"?

Posted by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM
  • 36 Replies
1 mom liked this
There always seems to be a few homeschooling vs. public/private schooling posts floating around CafeMom (especially since a certain recent tragic event).  Among them have been a few discussions about the homeschooling method commonly referred to as "unschooling".  I much prefer the term "child-led schooling", as "unschooling" is a bit semantically misleading (makes me think of "deprogramming").  Anyway, while my four year old and I were having a little learning session this morning, I realized that it was the perfect example of what unschooling/child-led schooling is:

On our walk this morning, my daughter was carefully scanning the edge of the path for the large snails we have here. When she found one, we discussed how it moved and the purpose of its shell. She asked what snails eat.  I thought they just ate leaves and such, but I told her I was not entirely sure. So, when we came home we researched snails, and looked at pictures to find out what species ours was (Hawaiian Tree Snail). It turns out they eat mostly vegetation (with a tongue-thing covered in thousands of teeth!), but they also eat the outer layer of rocks for the calcium they need for their shells. This led to her asking about other animals with shells, which led to a lot of research and discussion on these animals, their habitats, etc. Along the way, she found opportunities to practice her counting, spell out the names of the animals, tell me their colors and shapes...

Child-led homeschooling. :)
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM
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Replies (1-10):
SLMitchell
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Oh, and on an added note:

I do not condemn anyone who does not homeschool, and I do not condemn homeschoolers who follow a set curriculum.

jen2150
by Platinum Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 9:56 PM
1 mom liked this

I am really close to being an unschooler.   My boys are in 3rd and 5th grade.  There are many degrees.  The trick is to find the perfect balance.  I completely agree.  Child led doesn't mean the parent doesn't do anything.  We are merely the facilitator or learning coach.

MommynMonster
by Silver Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 9:57 PM

How do you get them to keep their interest that long?

SLMitchell
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:16 PM
1 mom liked this

I don't.  She studies subjects that interest her for as long as she is naturally interested in them.  I simply facilitate her by providing the necessary resources.

Quoting MommynMonster:

How do you get them to keep their interest that long?


Litlmama87
by Platinum Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM


Yeah, later for that shit.
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Litlmama87
by Platinum Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM
So if she says "I just don't feel like learning today...or tomorrow." then what?
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Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Obviously you have no other children nor anything else that needs to be done on a daily basis if you have that much time.
SLMitchell
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:33 PM
1 mom liked this

The theory is that, if you let your child maintain and develop the natural curiousity and desire to explore the world around them that they all have, they will continue to enjoy learning.  Of course, every child is different, and some need more structure than others.  A friend of mine also homeschools, and she really wanted to "unschool", but it turned out her eldest really enjoys sitting at a table doing worksheets and such.  So that is what she does.  That is the beauty of homeschooling; you get to help each child learn in the way that best suits them. :)

Quoting Litlmama87:

So if she says "I just don't feel like learning today...or tomorrow." then what?


SLMitchell
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:36 PM
1 mom liked this

Yes, I only have one child at the moment.  I tend to all of the housework, cooking, grocery shopping, gardening, pet care, vehicle maintainence, etc.  I am not sure I understand why how many children I have or how much I have to do on a daily basis should dictate which method of homeschooling I follow.

Quoting Anonymous:

Obviously you have no other children nor anything else that needs to be done on a daily basis if you have that much time.


Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM
4 moms liked this
The problem I have with "unschooling" is that I do all of what you described, and my kids go to school! That's just parenting. Good parenting. And once they get older its hard to teach complex mathmatical equations by taking a walk.
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