Most people have heard the term ‘homeschooling’ but are a bit confused about ‘unschooling.’ The concept of unschooling is a new one. Both are forms of alternative education, but are based on different philosophies.
Generally speaking, unschoolers believe a child’s natural curiosity will lead him to discover when and where to learn. With some parental encouragement and no curriculum, the child will learn best when he’s interested in the subject matter.
Here are some of the differences and similarities between the two:
If a family makes the decision to homeschool, they normally go through a set of steps to prepare. This may include:
becoming familiar with the local laws and regulations
organizing a specific area of the home for education
settling on a curriculum
Determining their student’s reading level
Determining their student’s learning style (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.)
When a family decides to unschool, the same preparation may or may not occur. Some initial steps are the same. For example, unschoolers also need to become familiar with their local laws and regulations regarding education. However, they may or may not do the following:
- Determine their student’s learning style
- Gather books and materials that further their student’s interests
- Familiarize themselves with their local library and other resources so they can have these available when their child has a learning “moment” and expresses interest in a subject or subjects
The core difference between home schoolers and unschoolers is that unschooling is child led, whereas home schooling may or may not be child led, or may be partially child led. Unschoolers do not choose a specific curriculum, nor do they have their student do worksheets regularly and take tests.
There are some myths and misconceptions about home schooling and unschooling. Here are some of the myths, followed by the facts.
Myth: Unschoolers neglect their children’s education.
Truth: On the contrary – unschooling is participatory and active. It requires the parent/teacher to be a keen observer of his or her child, and always be available for seizing a learning moment. An unschooling parent cannot “tune out”! Unschooled children still learn the essential core subjects such as reading, handwriting, social studies, and so forth.
Myth: Home schoolers are un-socialized
Truth: Home schooled children may avoid the social dynamics of an educational institution, but that does not make them “un-socialized.” In fact, home schooled kids are out in the world, interacting with a variety of people, while institutionally educated kids see the same teacher and fellow students every day in the same room. Home schooled kids still participate in community activities such as church groups and Scouts.
Myth: Unschooling parents are lazy
Truth: As noted above, unschooling is anything but lazy. Unschooling requires a lot of active observation and participation, and a willingness to go the extra mile to help the student learn a subject thoroughly.
Myth: Home schooled kids do not succeed in higher education
Truth: Home schooled kids are actually sought after as recipients of scholarships to various universities and colleges. High educational institutions recognize the discipline and character that is usually a component of home schooling, and graduates of a home school actually have an edge.