In 2005 I created An Unschooling Life, a blog detailing our unschooling experience after adopting our three children. Over time, An Unschooling Life became a hub for unschooling support and advice. The blog has been featured in print and digital media and was home to the popular Unschooling Carnival. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog where they will be housed under the An Unschooling Life section. This post was originally published on May 12, 2011.
Quite a few years ago on the unschooling.com forums, someone looking for unschooling ideas asked this question –
“What things have you found yourself explaining to others that unschooling is NOT? What commonly accepted notions does unschooling preclude or expose as nonsense?”
Related: Unschooling Encouragement
Here are some of the many answers that were posted;
It’s not school.
It’s not school-at-home.
It’s not “unit studies” because it’s not “studies.”
It’s not child neglect.
It’s not child-led curriculum.
It’s not “project-based” learning.
It’s not a method of schooling
It’s not leaving the child to figure out everything on their own.
It’s not required math and reading and “unschooling” everything else.
It’s not a cult.
It’s not a fad.
It’s not hiding your kids from the real world.
It’s not something you *do* Monday-Friday.
It’s not something you take a break from during the summer.
It’s not about curriculum or child-led learning, or unit studies, or expectations.
It’s not about changing my children, it’s about changing me.
It’s not about control.
It’s not about expectations.
It’s not living someone else’s idea of life.
It’s not traveling a previously trodden path.
It’s not conforming to the ways and why’s of what everyone else is doing, how they are living.
It’s living an authentic life according to your own unique Spirit.
It’s not for everybody – meaning those that can’t understand it.
It’s not ‘easy’.
It’s not parents sheltering or controlling kids
It’s not denying children normal experiences
It’s not making learning happen.
It’s not school, but it’s learning.
It’s not easy, but it’s fun.
It’s not about “deciding what’s best” for our kids, but pursuing the best of life *with* our kids.
It’s not designing your children’s life based on your own ideal.
It’s not living by someone else’s standards, values, and timetables.
Unschooling is not a twelve-year program that I have completed. It is a way of life. I didn’t merely do unschooling; I was and am an unschooler.
It’s not “making learning fun!”
It isn’t turning every event into a “lesson” – sometimes mud pies are just mud pies.
Unschooling isn’t failing my children.
Related: Interviewed about unschooling
The conversation also included what unschooling IS and other members sharing their thoughts:
— “To me unschooling is the FREEDOM to live at PEACE, JOYfully, because you know, “Everything counts.” I love being able to bless my children with that knowledge, by confirming the value of their feelings, their thoughts, their accomplishments… their value of just being”.
— “Unschooling is a child not having to choose to become something or someone . . . he/she already is exactly who they are. In order to do this, the adults in his/her life have to live consciously in order not to make that child feel they are “supposed to” live up to something or “be” a certain way or “do” a certain thing in order to be “acceptable”. It is exploring this world together, and enjoying the discoveries, and honoring how those discoveries shape how you think and feel. It is experiencing life’s opportunities, and sharing insights with each other on how those experiences stretch your understanding in becoming more aware of the divine nature within us all. It is providing opportunities to reach, to learn, to understand, to ponder, to reflect, to grow into the greatness we each possess within ourselves, for ourselves, whatever that may be”.
— “Very powerful, wonderful and amazing to someone like me to finally realize that, as I stand on this threshold, with my children that I am not alone with these thoughts and that I CAN choose this path for my family. Quite a revelation”!
— “It’s having respect for each other and It’s retracing ourselves and showing that respect in every action we take. It’s living a rich and happy life. It’s hearing your heart and creating your life accordingly! It’s keeping yourself (children and adults) intact and Whole. Unschooling is authentic. It’s finding one’s own path. It’s allowing a child’s identity to unfold naturally. It’s about family. It’s about living in the moment. It’s about becoming. It’s about joyful and honest relationships with those around you. It’s about knowing yourself. It’s about getting to know your children”.
I want to understand, I come from an educational background, former preschool teacher here! My daughter is unschooling her children. I really want to understand stand! My grandson is six and 1/2 and doesn’t know all his letter is this something that is advocated by the unschooling community! He, from my understanding of children from past experience is ready to read! He asks what signs say and says he wants to read but can’t.
Can you help me understand? My daughter thinks I’m just totally against it, I am not!
Joanne Greco says
Hello Kate and thank you for your comment. If your grandson has an interest in learing to read your daughter there’s a lot your daughter can do to encourage him like reading to him and helping him to understand letter sounds. Unschooling doesn’t mean hands off and wait until they learn on their own. It means creating an environment where learning happens and encouraging the interests they have. Good luck to you! You sound like a great grandmother!