Unschooling
Unschooling is more than just not going to school. It is following your child's interests to get the most out of learning through living.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling or Homeschooling: What's the Difference?
Ask around at your next homeschool conference to compare what people answer when this question pops up: "What does it mean to unschool?" Some will answer that unschooling is homeschooling without using a pre-packaged curriculum. Others will say it's simply the degree of freedom that the parents allow the child in his learning. Still others will say that unschooling defies definition because each child is unique and will go at learning in his own way, in his own time. So what's the big difference between homeschooling and unschooling? In homeschooling the parents make decisions on how to best educate the child, while in unschooling the child somehow makes those decisions for herself.
Unschooling Undefined
Unschooling is a word coined by negating the idea of schooling; it starts off with a negative definition. What, specifically, is it about schools that unschoolers want to do without?
Learning Is Child's Play
Traditional schooling operates on a set of beliefs whose errors have long been exposed. Its teaching is based on outmoded and ineffective concepts of the teaching-learning process. The reason for the failure of the traditional education system is, ironically, that uses "schooling." Children learn, not from schooling, but from living. And for them, living means playing.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling has many, many definitions - probably a different one for each family that calls themselves unschoolers. To the author, unschooling means interest-led or child-led learning. There are also many different levels of unschooling. Some families require a set amount of Math and English done each day, and then their child is free to explore whatever subjects he would like. Others unschool totally until their child reaches a certain grade level, and then start requiring some structure. And then there are the dyed-in-the-wool, radical unschoolers, who require nothing from their child. They totally trust their child to learn what he needs to know on his own timetable.
A Few Words About Unschooling Math
A wonderful list of things that can lead to math learning.
Child-Led Learning
The term "unschooling" was coined by John Holt to mean not sending children to school. The term has been stretched and changed since then, and those of us who refuse the entire school model have taken the word "unschooling" for our own. Other terms associated with unschooling are natural learning, child-led learning, discovery learning, and child-directed learning. We don't divide our day into "school" parts and "non-school" parts, because there are no school parts. We live; we learn; we try new things; we go back to things we've loved a long time.
Beware the Curriculum Mentality
One of the most important duties of parents is to help their children to discover and pursue new interests, retaining the love of learning that is almost universal in young children and almost universally extinct in conventionally educated adults. Standardised curricula, and the stultifying educational hoops that schoolchildren have to jump through, sabotage this aim. This can cause trouble for parents who have to satisfy other people ... that they are educating their children properly. Under pressure, they may slide into a "homeschooling" mentality that distorts and damages their children's education.
Ten Signs that You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child
Because our public school system has now considerably deteriorated, many parents, teachers, and individuals have taken it upon themselves to create public and private alternatives to that traditional system which is definitely failing. It is important for parents to know that they now have choices, alternatives to the neighborhood school. How do you know that it is time to look for another educational approach for your child? Here are some of the signs.
Unchores
A look at an unschooling family's approach to managing chores around the house. Although this approach may not work for everyone, the emphasis on flexibility and respect for each others needs and inclinations is enlightening.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling isn't a recipe or a method. It is a way of looking at children and at life, based on trust that parents and children will find the paths that work best for them--without depending on educational institutions, publishing companies, or experts to tell them what to do. Unschooling does not mean that parents can never teach anything to their children, or that children should learn about life entirely on their own without the help and guidance of their parents. Unschooling does not mean that parents give up active participation in the education and development of their children and simply hope that something good will happen. Then what is unschooling? Unschooling is following your interests, all the things that have interested people before anybody thought of them as "subjects". A large component of unschooling is grounded in doing real things, not because we hope they will be good for us, but because they are intrinsically fascinating. There is an energy that comes from this that you can't buy with a curriculum. Children do real things all day long, and in a trusting and supportive home environment, "doing real things" invariably brings about healthy mental development and valuable knowledge.
Is it OK for Christians to Unschool?
It has been argued that since John Holt was not a Christian, Christians cannot be unschoolers. A Christian mother discusses her perspective on unschooling.
Unschooling or Homeschooling?
What is the difference between unschooling and homeschooling? At one time they were just two terms for the same thing, so the question was like asking what the difference is between a car and an automobile. Today, homeschooling has remained a generic term while unschooling has come to refer to a specific type of homeschooling. So now the question is like asking what the difference is between a Ferrari and a car. Just what is it about unschooling that differentiates it from other types of homeschooling enough to warrant its own term?
What is Natural Learning?
So what on earth is natural learning? Isn't all learning natural? What would you do different if you were following a natural learning approach? How can I pursue natural learning?
A Comparison of Traditional and Natural Learning
This is a chart that explores the differences between traditional and natural learning. It compares how the child and parent are viewed, how learning occurs, the role of textbooks and curriculum, how learning disabilities fit in, and how various school subjects are viewed.
I Am What I Am
A mother of an exceptional child discusses why homeschooling is the right choice for their family. A personal look at the joys of learning and growing together through an unschooling philosophy of life.
Unschoolers and a "Christian World View"
Do Christian "natural learners" ("unschoolers") have a world view the same as other Christians? Some of them will, but not all.
Why Unschooling Isn't Just Another Method of Homeschooling

What makes for a good education? It turns out that sometimes the best education comes from simply allowing a child to follow his or her interests and passions. A rich and interesting life lead to a child learning in a way that's important to them. 

A Letter to Concerned Relatives
An explanation of natural learning and the reasons for pursuing this in a family.
Unschoolers Online
Unschoolers Online is a website dedicated to providing detailed and helpful information on everything related to unschooling and homeschooling. You'll find local support group listings, news, articles, book recommendations, links, and more.
Rise of the Home "Unschoolers" -- Where Children Learn Only What They Want To

Take a look at some unschooling families as this articles examines what unschooling looks like. Although some "experts" worry about how to measure the success of unschooling, those who have embraced this lifestyle know that it is a joyful and successful path to a full and rich education. 

Why Unschool?
Why the Future of Education is Unschooling

According to John Holt, unschooling allows children the freedom to learn in the world on their own terms. He saw no distinction between learning and living a meaningful life. Learning is a natural process and works best when integrated into the spaces and activities of everyday life. This article takes a look at some of John Holt's philosophy of education and explains why unschooling is often the very best choice of educational model. 

What is Unschooling and Why Do Parents Consider It?

Unschooling is fueled by curiosity-driven experiences. It is estimated that about 13 percent of homeschooled children learn through unschooling. Unschooling will look different for every family, but it is founded on the idea of following the child's interests and giving the space and freedom to explore those interests. 

Why Unschool?

This website is presented by two unschooled siblings who have since grown up and are happy to share their experiences with this educational model. Unschooling provides so many opportunities for children to learn about the world without the constraints of a classroom by celebrating a natural love of learning. Families and children can benefit from this wonderful way of learning. 

Why Unschool?

Unschooling can seem impossible to understand for many people, but in fact, it is well-reasoned, tested, and has been successfully implemented by families around the world. The evidence shows that unschooling leads to life-long learning, happy successful individuals, better family connections, and a true and joyful love of learning. 

101 Reasons to Unschool

Wondering why anyone would unschool their children? Well, here are lots of reasons why unschooling is a good choice. From the fun aspect, to the superior learning, to the avoidance of the unpleasant parts of school, this list gives you lots to think about if you are considering the unschooling approach to the education of your children. 

Why Unschool?
The choice to unschool can sometimes be hard for parents to explain to others. This is because it seems so natural, that simple explanations don't always cut it. The basis of this choice is freedom -- freedom to play, take risks, explore interest, and learn on their own terms. Because unschooling most often influences the entire family's lifestyle, it is not a simple explanation of how education works. It is more of a way of life. 
8 Powerful Reasons Why I Unschool My Kids

Nina Palmo explains the benefits of unschooling by looking at the benefits this model offers. These benefits include better learning, innovative thinking, passion about learning, good preparation for college and the workforce, and even more what the exact point of learning is (hint: it's not just to go to college or enter the workforce). Unschoolers don't have all the answers, but they do dig deep to find the best way to help their children find joy and power in learning. 

Why Unschooling?

Does unschooling mean that your children just hate school? Not at all! Some children learn best in a classroom, but not all do. For those who don't, unschooling might just be the best approach. Children who are unschooled grow to be independent learners and thinkers and enjoy the perspective of being their own best teacher. Rather than asking, "Why unschool?" perhaps the better question is, "Why school?"

Why Unschoolers Grow Up to Be Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are creative thinkers and experimental innovators. Unschoolers learn in these same ways, so it's no surprise that lots of unschoolers end up as entrepreneurs. Without the constraints of a classroom, unschoolers nurture their own interests and passions and many figure out how to make a living from these interests and passions. Fueled by their lifetime of curiosity and self-learning, many unschoolers end up very successful in their adult endeavors of self-starting business ownership. 

I Learn Better by Teaching Myself/Still Teaching Ourselves
Take a look at how a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children-and herself-to learn in new ways. Tag along on the journey from the elementary years through high school as this book explore the success and freedom of unstructured learning. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure should there be in a homeschool?"
Resources
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling
The classic work on teaching children at home, updated for today's new laws, new lifestyles, and a new generation of homeschooling parents. Today more than one and a half million children are being taught at home by their own parents. In this expanded edition of the book that helped launch the whole movement, Pat Farenga has distilled John Holt's timeless understanding of the ways children come to understand the world and added up-to-the-moment practical advice. Rather than proposing that parents turn their homes into miniature schools, Holt and Farenga demonstrate how ordinary parents can help children grow as social, active learners. Chapters on living with children, "serious play," children and work, and learning difficulties will be of interest to all parents, whether homeschooling or not, as well as to teachers. This new edition is supplemented with legal advice as well as a guide to cooperating with schools and facing the common objections to homeschooling. Teach Your Own not only has all the vital information necessary to be the definitive reference for parents teaching their own children, it also conveys John Holt's wise and passionate belief in every child's ability to learn from the world that has made his wonderful books into enduring classics.
In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child's Multiple Intelligences
Children learn in differing ways. Thomas Armstrong specializes in helping parents identify the unique areas in each of our children that enhance their special way of learning and expressing creativity. This work on multiple intelligences talks about the eight different kinds of multiple intelligences, showing you how to discover your child's particular areas of strength. 
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
This classic homeschool resource is intended for teens who are ready to take charge of their own education. Written by Grace Llewellyn in the '90s, it is still relevant today. Teens will be empowered by claiming their natural ability to teach themselves and to fully personalize their education. Covers the decision to leave school, as well as many of the learning opportunities available to teens. 
Freedom and Beyond (Innovators in Education)
John Holt looks at the role that schooling in society plays in education.
Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School
Grace Llewellyn, author of the The Teenage Liberation Handbook, offers the stories of 11 teens who made the decision to reject traditional schooling methodologies and take their education into their own hands. The essays highlight offer a day-in-the-life look at teen homeschooling and unschooling, as the teens embraced self-education and increased in their self-confidence and motivation. 
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.
Unschooling Success
Rise of the Home "Unschoolers" -- Where Children Learn Only What They Want To

Take a look at some unschooling families as this articles examines what unschooling looks like. Although some "experts" worry about how to measure the success of unschooling, those who have embraced this lifestyle know that it is a joyful and successful path to a full and rich education. 

Meet the Unschoolers

Unschooling has gained in popularity in recent years. This look into the lives of unschoolers is a celebration of the unschooling way of life, where children live and learn on their own terms and at their own pace. Offers a look into how unschooling works, and then details some of the successful educations and careers that unschoolers go onto pursue. 

How do Unschoolers Turn Out?

As more and more families take up unschooling, self-directed education, researchers have pondered whether it is a successful learning model or not. Peter Gray and Gina Riley offer the results of a survey of 232 parents who unschooled their children. The results were overwhelmingly positive about the unschooling experience. In a follow-up survey, Gray asked children who had been unschooled for their feedback. They recounted their experiences and how it affected their lives as adults, with most saying that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages of unschooling. 

Why Unschoolers Grow Up to Be Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are creative thinkers and experimental innovators. Unschoolers learn in these same ways, so it's no surprise that lots of unschoolers end up as entrepreneurs. Without the constraints of a classroom, unschoolers nurture their own interests and passions and many figure out how to make a living from these interests and passions. Fueled by their lifetime of curiosity and self-learning, many unschoolers end up very successful in their adult endeavors of self-starting business ownership. 

I Learn Better by Teaching Myself/Still Teaching Ourselves
Take a look at how a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children-and herself-to learn in new ways. Tag along on the journey from the elementary years through high school as this book explore the success and freedom of unstructured learning. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure should there be in a homeschool?"
Christian Unschooling : Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ

Is unschooling incompatible with Christianity? Elissa Wahl and Teri Brown argue that they are not incompatible, but complementary. Unschooling offers a different path to learning. This book explains what unschooling is (and isn't) and offers support for your unschooling journey. Includes information and support, along with essays on how they unschool guided by the Lord. 

The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School
This book shows how school is not necessary for a child to gain learning, socialization, or motivation. It offers a look at radical unschooling, a way of educating children without coercion, curriculum, or control. This look at a child who grows from childhood to adulthood with the experience of self-direction is a celebration of the success of unschooling. Covers topics such as parenting, self-discipline and self-motivation, socialization, and more. 
How to Unschool
I Learn Better by Teaching Myself/Still Teaching Ourselves
Take a look at how a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children-and herself-to learn in new ways. Tag along on the journey from the elementary years through high school as this book explore the success and freedom of unstructured learning. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure should there be in a homeschool?"
Christian Unschooling : Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ

Is unschooling incompatible with Christianity? Elissa Wahl and Teri Brown argue that they are not incompatible, but complementary. Unschooling offers a different path to learning. This book explains what unschooling is (and isn't) and offers support for your unschooling journey. Includes information and support, along with essays on how they unschool guided by the Lord. 

The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School
This book shows how school is not necessary for a child to gain learning, socialization, or motivation. It offers a look at radical unschooling, a way of educating children without coercion, curriculum, or control. This look at a child who grows from childhood to adulthood with the experience of self-direction is a celebration of the success of unschooling. Covers topics such as parenting, self-discipline and self-motivation, socialization, and more. 
Support for Unschooling Families
Unschoolers Online Community
This is a companion list to the website UnSchoolers Online. It is a safe place to openly discuss anything related to unschooling and our children.
Unschooling Highlights
This list consists of a selection of posts from the UnschoolingDiscussion list.
Homeschooling Creatively
This list is a place where parents can come to understand and give value to our creative children as we home/unschool with them. The focus will be on discussing alternative ways (versus public school methods) to help our creative children learn which best suits their learning style and respects their complex personality traits, taking a look at creating a success-based learning environment that draws on the strengths of our creative learners while providing support-based opportunities to gently guide their intense natures.
Child-Led Christian Unschooling
This child-led learning group is for those unschoolers who are also Christians.
Secret Society of Unschooling Dads (SSUD)
This group is for Unschooling Dads, Granddads, and Dads-to-be who have attended one of the past 3 Live and Learn Conferences OR who have spouses who attended one of these conferences. Other unschooling fathers (et al.) can also join the group through invitation. Our intention is to keep a running dialog and passion for unschooling our children between conferences.
Unschooling.com Email List
This discussion list is the companion communications forum for the Unschooling.com website.
Shining Children with Radical Unschooling
This list is a forum for those either radically unschooling or learning how to radically unschool to discuss our "shining" children (Highly Sensitive, Out of Sync, Asperger’s traits, Explosive) and all the issues that accompany life with them--how we grow and learn ourselves thanks to our non-typical children and how unschooling frees their spirits and allows them to truly "shine."
Unschoolers Online
Unschoolers Online is a website dedicated to providing detailed and helpful information on everything related to unschooling and homeschooling. You'll find local support group listings, news, articles, book recommendations, links, and more.
Family Unschoolers Network
The Family Unschoolers Network provides support for unschooling, homeschooling, and self-directed learning. Includes newsletter articles, reviews, resources, web sites, books and lots of other information to help your homeschooling or unschooling efforts.
Crunchy Unschoolers
A list for unschoolers who are interested in moving towards a sustainable lifestyle. Topics for discussion may include how sustainability and unschooling complement each other, and how we resolve conflicting values.
Indiana Unschoolers
This is a list for all homeschoolers living in Indiana who consider themselves unschoolers by nature.
Sonlight Unschoolers
This email group is for those who use Sonlight curricula but also like the unschooling approach (and other compatable methods). Working out how to mix the two, curricula exchange/sales, and connecting with other eclectic Christian unschoolers is the object.
Always Learning
Discussion for homeschooling fans of John Holt, whose books Learning All the Time, Never Too Late, and Teach your Own have made unschooling an option for thousands of families.
Live Free Learn Free Email Group
This group is an announcement list for the print magazine Live Free Learn Free, a forum for unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers in which to share ideas and experiences.
Unschoolers' Circle
The Unschoolers' Circle is an inclusive list for anyone interested in home education with unschooling leanings.
Unschooling Basics
A list designed for those new to the philosophy of unschooling. Ask experienced unschoolers all those niggling questions, and find out how unschooling works in real families. If you're familiar with John Holt's work, but unsure of how to begin or what an unschooling day really looks like, this is a place for you to discuss, question, ponder, and become deeply familiar with natural learning and how it affects our entire lives. From parenting issues to learning from the whole wide world and beyond, come explore the issues that unschooling families have dealt with in the past and how to get beyond "school-think" to a joyful unschooling lifestyle.!
Radical Unschoolers List
This is the "Radical Unschoolers List". It is for all families, regardless of religious affiliation, choosing to unschool. Unschooling is learning as a part of life. It allows the child to learn naturally, without adult-imposed "lessons", schedules, or timelines. This list is to offer support, information, perspective, and enlightenment to anyone already unschooling or interested in unschooling.
Radical Christian Unschoolers
Feeling like you must be the only radical unschooler in the Christian faith? Tired of hearing those who claim to be Christian unschoolers discuss curriculum or how to make their kids do chores? Tired of hearing secular unschoolers say that you couldn't possibly exist? Look no farther! On this list there will be no talk of curriculum, spanking, chore charts, coercive limitations, forced respect, or anything else that doesn't jive with radical unschooling. This list is for discussing radical unschooling by people who already "get it" and want to connect with other radically unschooling Christian families.
African-American Unschooling
African-American Unschooling is the resource for African-American homeschoolers with an Africentric approach to learning all the time. African-American Unschoolers encounter math, science, reading, writing, art and history in the real world because real living leads to real learning.
Unschoolers Coffee Talk
A place for unschoolers to come together to discuss our adventures and experiences,share resources and information.
Unschooling Dads
This list is a place for unschooling dads. Whether you're an advocate, long-time unschooler, novice, or somewhere in the middle, you're welcome here. This list is for dads only.
Unschooling Resources
Fun Books
To produce life-long learners, we need to show our children that learning is not just something that they get graded on or that only happens during certain hours of the day or certain times of the year. We need to help them hang on to the natural joy of learning that every child is born with, to help them see that learning new things is fun, and to help them realize that learning can take place anywhere and at anytime. Fun Books has put together a catalog of books, games, and other materials to help you in your efforts to produce life-long learners.
A Little Way of Homeschooling

This book is a compilation of the experiences of 13 different homeschoolers and how they incorporated an unschooling style of teaching in their homes. This book addresses the question of whether a Catholic can happily and successfully unschool. This home education approach is presented as a sensible way to access the mystery of learning, in which it operates not as an ideology in competition with the Catholic faith, but rather a flexible and individual homeschooling path. 

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Featured Resources

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Discover Your Children's Gifts
This comprehensive work on children's learning styles and creativity expression is a tremendous help to parents as they begin homeschooling. The authors discuss how God gifts children in different ways with different ways of learning and expression. This guide will help you identify your child's personality gifts and help them reach their full potential. 
A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual
The immensely popular ideas of Charlotte Mason have inspired educators for many decades. Her unique methodology as written about in her six-volume series established the necessary protocols for an education above and beyond that which can be found in traditional classroom settings. In A Charlotte Mason Education, Catherine Levison has collected the key points of Charlotte Mason's methods and presents them in a simple, straightforward way that will allow families to quickly maximize the opportuni...
Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo
Only children don’t have to share bedrooms, toys, or the backseat of a car. They don’t have to share allowances, inheritances, or their parents’ attention. But when they get into trouble, they can’t just blame their imaginary friends. In Only Child, twenty-one acclaimed writers tell the truth about life without siblings—the bliss of solitude, the ache of loneliness, and everything in between.In this unprecedented collection, writers like Judith Thurman, Kathryn Harrison, John Hodgman, and Peter ...
And What About College?: How Homeschooling Can Lead to Admissions to the Best Colleges & Universities
Get all your questions about helping your homeschooled student apply and get accepted to college answered with this resource. It discusses transcripts, diplomas, education choices, online colleges, and more. If you are worried about whether your homeschooled student can have a successful college search, then this book will help allay those fears and offers good support and information. 
The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12
Fun and Effective Home Learning Activities for Every SubjectAs a homeschooling parent, you're always looking for new and creative ways to teach your child the basics. Look no longer! Inside this innovative helper, you'll find kid-tested and parent-approved techniques for learning math, science, writing, history, manners, and more that you can easily adapt to your family's homeschooling needs. And even if you don't homeschool, you'll find this book a great teaching tool outside the classroom. You...