What is Unschooling?

Transcript at the bottom of this page

um2m mom & kids

Unschooling is simply living a full rich life, offering opportunities to your child to learn and grow. For unschooling to work at its optimal level, the parent must be engaged with the child, probably more than if they chose another learning modality. Children are natural learners. They want information. But they do not necessarily know what’s out there in the world.

That’s the parent’s role in unschooling. The unschooling parent keeps one ear to the child listening for their interests and questions, and the other to the community, and now with the internet, the world, searching for creative opportunities that feed that desire to learn more about a topic.

Before you say, “Hey, that’s just good parenting!” I would agree that many good parents do this… on Saturdays, or in the summer, or during the school breaks.

The difference is that unschooling parents recognize the benefits of doing this full time. Learning only happens when the learner is engaged. If the learner is not engaged, an incredible amount of time is wasted – wasted time on lesson preparation as well as wasted time on trying to impart knowledge to someone only halfway listening. I’ve heard people say, you cannot just pour knowledge into a child’s head and expect it to stick. That’s the truth.

For New Unschoolers!

I've created a course that's specific for the new unschooling family - if you're ready to dive in, here's the link!

Jumping Into Unschooling Course

So instead, unschoolers have broken free from the notion that curriculum and scope and sequences are necessary. They’ve realized that quizzing, grading, and artificially dividing life up into “subjects” are props that schools use. It’s familiar to us, because most of us went to school. But that's about the mechanics of “school”, not the essentials of learning.

Opportunities abound in everyday life for parents and children to interact on a variety of topics. It’s very clear to parents whether the child grasps what they are talking about. A real conversation allows for the topic to be explored and expanded upon – certainly this is a richer assessment than a 10 question quiz.

One could even ask the necessity of quizzing at all.

When we, as adults, want to learn something, we simply explore the resources, reading and practicing. We don’t set up quizzes for ourselves to see what we learned. We simply learn. Quizzes were set up to replace conversations that would find out how much a child knows. And they are poor substitutions.

Setting up the learning plan is an aspect of teaching not learning. Teachers need lesson plans to be able to show their principal that they are “keeping on track” with the predetermined curriculum plan. These are contraptions that the teaching profession needs in schools, not in home schools. And because in unschooling, the focus is on the child’s learning, and not the teacher’s teaching – they’re completely unnecessary.

Unschooling is trusting yourself and trusting your child; and that takes a good amount of nerve. When a parent sends a child to a school or even decides to go with a particular curriculum, they are handing over their trust and their child to the school/curriculum. A “leaving it to them!” mentality sets in and for many families, this is a relief.

Unschooling families don’t want to go that route. They are willing to shoulder the responsibility for the education of their child, because they have faith that learning is something that humans naturally want to do – and their children are no exception to this rule.

You've Got Options!

I know this can feel exciting. But along with that feeling, I realize that many parents begin to feel bit overwhelmed. And maybe confused about what the next steps should be.

That's where Unschooling Mom2Mom can help!

As unschoolers, we talk a lot about how children learn differently. But that applies to you too!

You may learn best with a course - checking off boxes and feeling more informed.

Or maybe you have a lot of concern about certain topics - so you'd like to deep dive on each of these before you get into the rest of it.

Maybe you do better with talking to someone who's been there - or a other unschooling parents who are finding their way just like you are!

Unschooling Mom2Mom can help!

Getting Started Unschooling
You don't have to figure this all out by yourself.
Unschooling Manifesto

Podcast Transcript:

Let’s start with the facts.

What IS Unschooling?

Unschooling isn’t always an easy thing to define. Families are unique and they apply some aspects of unschooling but not others… it’s really ok, because everyone should do what’s best for their families.

I want to share what I’ve seen work in unschooling homes and how unschooling is interpreted. It always helps for everyone to be on the same page to start with, and then they can adjust whatever they need to adjust.

  • Unschooling is simply living a full rich life, offering opportunities to your child to learn and grow.
  • Children are natural learners. They want information. But they do not necessarily know what’s out there in the world.

So for unschooling to work at its best, the parent must be engaged with the child, probably more than if they chose another learning modality. And connecting with them is the priority.

That’s the parent’s role in unschooling. The unschooling parent keeps one ear to the child listening for their interests and questions, and the other to the community, and now with the internet, the world, searching for creative opportunities that feed that desire to learn more about a topic.

Before you say, “Hey, that’s just good parenting!” I would agree that many good parents do this… on Saturdays, or in the summer, or during the school breaks.

The difference is that unschooling parents recognize the benefits of doing this full time.

Learning only happens when the learner is engaged. If the learner is not engaged, an incredible amount of time is wasted – wasted time on lesson preparation as well as wasted time on trying to impart knowledge to someone only halfway listening.

I’ve heard people say, you cannot just pour knowledge into a child’s head and expect it to stick. That’s the truth.

Here are the key points that everyone agrees on when we say the word “unschooling.”

🔷  Unschoolers have broken free from the notion that curriculum and scope and sequences are necessary. They’ve realized that quizzing, grading, and artificially dividing life up into “subjects” are props that schools use. It’s familiar to us, because most of us went to school. But that's about the mechanics of “school”, not the essentials of learning.

🔷  Opportunities abound in everyday life for parents and children to interact on a variety of topics. It’s very clear to parents whether the child grasps what they are talking about. A real conversation allows for the topic to be explored and expanded upon – certainly this is a richer assessment than a 10 question quiz.

One could even ask the necessity of quizzing at all.

When we, as adults, want to learn something, we simply explore the resources, reading and practicing. We don’t set up quizzes for ourselves to see what we learned. We simply learn. Quizzes were set up to replace conversations that would find out how much a child knows. And they are poor substitutions.

🔷  Setting up the learning plan is an aspect of teaching not learning. Teachers need lesson plans to be able to show the powers-that-be how they're “keeping on track” with the predetermined curriculum plan. These are contraptions that the teaching profession needs in schools, not in home schools. And because in unschooling, the focus is on the child’s learning, and not the teacher’s teaching – they’re completely unnecessary.

🔷  Unschooling focuses more on fueling curiosities and partnering with your child.

Knowing when to nudge and when to let them figure out the next steps - this comes from being a good listener and observer. The more you’re around your child, and not just rushing them from activity to activity, the easier this becomes.

Helping them navigate through their world...

because it really is THEIR path. Not ours.

Helping them find resources for their interests (because we have more life experience)

🔷  Creating an environment that makes learning and life all woven together  - there’s no reason to separate it. This was school’s idea to separate kids from their families and from Real Life. It hasn’t been that great of an experiment!

2 big take aways:

Learner Driven.

Unschooling puts the emphasis on the learner - not the teacher

Trust.

Unschooling is trusting yourself and trusting your child; and that takes a good amount of nerve. When a parent sends a child to a school or even decides to go with a particular curriculum, they are handing over their trust and their child to the school/curriculum. A “leaving it to them!” mentality sets in and for many families, this is a relief.

Unschooling families don’t want to go that route. They are willing to shoulder the responsibility for the education of their child, because they have faith that learning is something that humans naturally want to do – and their children are no exception to this rule.