Unschooling: A Denver mom shares a glimpse at this growing movement
posted by: Amber Johnson
A recent article in Outside magazine “We don’t need no education” touted the virtues of unschooling as a growing movement. These parents believe a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ‘em free.
What is it about unschooling that appealed to you and what is the difference between unschooling and homeschooling?
Unschooling is based on children’s natural curiosity. I like that my kids are able to explore their interests in their own time. I like that they discover where they need to turn to find out the information they need — whether that’s asking a parent, looking things up on a computer, reading a book, etc. I like that through unschooling they learn how to teach and motivate themselves. If there is something they want to do or learn, we make it happen.
The difference between unschooling and homeschooling is that there is usually no curriculum involved in unschooling. Other terms for unschooling are child-led learning or life learning. Children learn organically through their day-to-day lives with their parents there to support them as needed. Whereas with homeschooling, curriculum is usually involved and it’s more a case of sitting down and doing school at home.
Do you sometimes worry an untraditional education would limit your children’s chances of getting into colleges? How do college registrars feel about kids who are unschooled?
The thought has crossed my mind, but I feel pretty secure that whatever my children desire to do, they will make happen. If they want to go to college, we will find a way to make that happen. I also don’t feel that college is necessarily the answer for all kids. Many older unschooled kids tend to lean towards entrepreneurial pursuits.
Are you open to your children returning to a traditional school when they get older if that is what they want?
Yes, if that is what they desire, then I would support them in it. I’d first examine the reasons they are choosing that route and make sure there isn’t another way to meet those needs that they hadn’t yet explored. However, if traditional school was the answer, then yes, I would support them. I know unschooling families whose kids have moved in and out of school over the years. Some go a day, some go for years. It just depends on the child and his/her motivation.
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