Learning with Unschooling


We don’t just homeschool; we unschool - with some structure.  Purist in both camps will find these statements mutually exclusive, however, unschooling is merely following your interest wherever they may lead and my interests include order and structure on the subjects that require order. 

Math is the primary example of a structural subject. How can you effectively unschool math?  Essentially math is a constructive language that requires a foundation just as a building would.  Now you could build a structurally sound building without a plan but inevitably something vital will be missed causing a cascade failure at some point. But on most other topics unschooling is easily done if you have an inquisitive mind and a patient nature, science and literature are especially easy.

Take for example chemistry.  I have found that my children always want to know how something happens or why is that the result?  Then we happily go about unschooling the answer.  As soon as they think that I am going to launch into a detailed nit-picky analysis about the chemical nature of this or that, their eyes glaze over, their brains shut down and their interest fizzles.  But as long as we just answer each question as it comes up, the questions tend to keep coming.  That is the beauty of unschooling. Questions are the fuel of learning whether you are 3, 33 or 83. 

One of the problems with unschooling is finding the resources to keep the questions coming.  The internet is a great resource but not always practical. The internet is like a flood vs. a garden hose.  We need our information manageable, controllable, and clean.  That is why I advocate that unschooling homeschoolers look into a curriculum or two to have on hand that might be a jumping off point.  Heck, for that matter even public schoolers should look into the options out there.

My parents didn’t homeschool (not many did in the 70s).  But they did unschool. Of course it wasn’t called unschooling but learning was encouraged wherever it could be found.  I know that when I was a kid we had a set of really old encyclopedias that fuelled my curiosity.  I loved to read them, but since they were so old the information was out of date.  It made me want to know more.   Isn’t that the goal of learning and life?  I unschooled then; I unschool now and I won’t ever stop.