Unschooling is a child-led method of homeschooling that is strongly influenced by the work of John Holt. This style of homeschooling is also referred to as natural learning, experience-based learning, interest-led learning, deschooling, or independent learning. Unschoolers tend to avoid typical school schedules, textbooks, tests, or formal lessons and prefer to have children learn by following their interests and curiosities. There is also a respect and trust in the natural ability of children to direct their own learning. Unschooling parents see their role as facilitators rather than teachers.
An unschooler’s day might include: time outdoors, building projects, helping in a home-based business, reading historical fiction, playing board games, watching videos, drawing, or creating their own books. They will often focus on one activity passionately before moving onto another area of interest.
- Interest-led learning allows children the opportunity to become experts in their areas of interest;
- Research skills are developed in children through this approach;
- Supportive of the development of a love for learning;
- Highly adaptable to the learning style and needs of the child;
- Incorporating experiences, projects, field trips and activities that follow their interests can facilitate a richer, more memorable learning experience;
- Unique personality and gifts of each individual child is respected in unschooling.
Points to consider
- Careful attention is necessary in unschooling so that parents aren’t discarding valuable methods of learning and simply reacting against the limitations and failings of institution-based education;
- More orderly structure could be necessary for some students than this method provides;
- Systematic coverage of subject areas will not happen in unschooling, so students may miss some core competencies or have difficulty re-entering school if the parents decide to discontinue home education;
- Good recordkeeping is essential when unschooling for a quality education;
- Good temporary option for children who are recovering from a difficult school experience; following pursuits that truly interest them may re-ignite a joy of learning.
- John Holt, How Children Learn , Revised edition, (Da Capo Press, 1983)
- John Holt, Learning all the Time, Revised ed. edition, (Da Capo Press, 1990)
- John Holt & Pat Farenga, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, 1st Paperback Ed. (De Capo Press, 2003)
- Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education (Greenleaf Book Group, 2011)
- Mary Griffith, The Unschooling Handbook: How To Use The Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom, 2d ed. (Three Rivers Press, 1998)
* The Resources on this page are examples of resource options that many homeschooling parents have found helpful. Note that they are not created or distributed by HOMESCHOOL.TODAY. For your convenience we occasionally add links to helpful websites, books, etc. but these will open in a separate tab.