What on Earth Is Unschooling?

It is absolutely my personal belief and opinion that unschooling is the very best way for children to reach their maximum educational potential.

So… what is unschooling?

  • Unschooling is how we learn from the second we’re born to the second we die.
  • It is the natural learning process of first observing, gaining interest, experimenting, and self-educating.
  • It is having respect for children as human beings with the intelligence to pick up and learn anything and everything on their own time.
  • It is knowing that each person is a unique individual, and deserves the right to follow their own passions. It is knowing that people should be allowed to excel in certain areas of their choice, and should never be punished for not liking something enough to excel in it.
  • It is the wisdom that an expert level of knowledge in some areas is better than a mediocre knowledge in many areas.
  • It is not pushing knowledge upon an unwilling mind. (Which is why I scraped by with a C in chemistry)
  • It is rejecting the belief that a child has to “be taught something” in order to learn it.

For example, a baby (No matter what culture in the world) observes walking.

They gain an interest in walking.
The experiment in walking.
They educate themselves on walking.
They walk.
It is the same with talking. In my house it is the same with potty training. That’s right, I do not potty train my children! My children potty train themselves between ages two and three. Do you know why so many other potty training children regress and reject potty training? It is because potty training is the very first lesson we take away from our children as soon as they gain the natural interest in it, and we make it our own personal project. That is a natural automatic turnoff. You don’t believe me? Well then, let me elaborate…
Have you ever liked learning about something, and become very interested? …reading, looking it up, almost to the point of obsession? Imagine now if someone had taken that information under their control, breaking it into pieces, telling you to learn it in a specific order.  You’re no longer allowed unlimited access to knowledge. You are not allowed to skip the boring parts; you must memorize these seemingly useless points before you can discover if it will get more interesting. You’re also not allowed to stop if you suddenly become weary of this knowledge. No, you must swallow *these* facts daily, at *these* specified times, for *this* long each day, you will recite it, and you will be graded and your grade compared to your peers’.
-Now, do you feel you’d still be as eager to learn? Hmm. Perhaps all the excitement and sense of discovery were taken out? The thrill is gone. Do you feel like zoning out in front of the TV for a couple hours? Yeah… been there.
 It’s the sense of excitement and discovery that motivates learning; unfortunately, once that’s gone you can memorize all day long, but never truly learn it until the excitement comes back.All people go through the natural cycle of having piques of interest in various subjects.
Unschooling is using that interest to the advantage of the learner.

Unschooling is exposing your children to real life, and being excited to discover their own natural personalities and interests that develop on thier own so beautifully.

Unschooling was my 10-year-old daughter (the horse) telling me she wants to learn to crochet. Me, showing her how to do it step-by-step. Her, working for five hours straight on her first project with zero push from me. It is letting her do it as much or as little as she wants. It is finding out a week later she is now better at it than I am!

Unschooling was my eight-year-old daughter (the monkey), who has never expressed very much interest in reading, but wants to play a game that requires it. She observes how important and convenient reading is. It is watching her try to sound out every word in the house, and patiently answer her when she asks (for the 4th time) what sound “ch” makes. It is watching her go from a kindergarten to fourth grade reading level within 4 weeks.

Unschooling was my six-year-old son (the dog) watching me give birth and immediately devouring all knowledge of life cycles in every species. (It is priceless to hear a six-year-old correct an adult on the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon).

Unschooling was my two-year-old son (the ox) being interested in letters and numbers.  We all played with him about it.  By the time he was three he could draw every letter, and tell us the sounds they made. This was a very big deal to us since his condition prohibits much arm and hand movement! He is now four, and easily reads some words. He surprises us everyday!

If I could only express how much self confidence my kids have… It’s a daily source of pride for me.Unschooling is so easy and efficient because it comes naturally to everyone.   In short, unschooling is trusting your child’s natural ability to become interested in their world, and loving the people they develop into.

If you have reached the end of this post, you may consider yourself interested in unschooling!  To learn more about unschooling and it’s fascinating results, pick up a book by John T. Gatto or John Holt.  Both of those authors are fabulous!

~Shanna
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One thought on “What on Earth Is Unschooling?

  1. Pingback: Naturally Good Parents

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