Unschooling - how we do it in our family

People nowadays are familiar with homeschooling and what that may entail but when it comes to unschooling they may not know exactly what it is. The term unschooling was originally coined by John Holt in 1970s. Generally, unschooling means following your child's interests in regards to learning, abandoning typical school model based on grades and curricula. Unschoolers usually learn through play or play based activities and life itself...

Now, there are as many types of unschoolers as there are people who follow that philosophy. I believe that each family chooses what works for them and their children and adopts some of the principles of one or another homeschooling strategy. While there are many types of homeschooling options available to choose from, among them Montessori, Waldorf, classical, Charlotte Mason and unschooling, parents seldom stick with only one of them and create an eclectic way to school their children.

Art is child's self-expression

How did we start?

When my firstborn was a toddler, I wasn't really much interested in all that but instead I did what most mothers do. I answered millions of questions on daily basis to satisfy my daughter's natural curiosity. When she was three we were spending hours on our sofa paging through various books. She was interested in many things and consequently we were exploring more of this world's secrets. As she was getting older, her questions were becoming more detail oriented and specific. It led me to a place where we are now. We decided that there was no good reason to put her in a regular school, instead we enrolled her in a public charter school that allows us a lot of freedom to choose what we are going to study.

Free play is the best learning at an early age

Our experience is unique and so will be yours.

Our unschooling experience is not typical and most likely not similar to other unschooling families. In general, I would classify it as unschooling simply because we don't follow any curriculum. I often joke that our curriculum is our local library, we check out tons of books on various subjects ranging from volcanoes, dinosaurs, history, geography to art appreciation. I personally have very wide interests and encourage my daughter to read with me anything that sparks her interest or mine. Last year, when she was in kindergarten we studied, for example: natural disasters, tectonic plates, climates, geography of the world, cultures. That plus we did a ton of reading just for the pure fun of it. As I am particular about selecting books that have at the same time beautiful illustrations, meaningful content and rich vocabulary we enjoyed many splendid books . This year we are exploring famous composers, painters, universe, world mythology, some of religions. She is a good reader, has an enthusiasm for math and science and is an outspoken confident young lady. We are meeting and exceeding the standards for her grade but we have so much more fun and lots of time to pursue other hobbies. We are not limited to learning at home. As I am driving her to a swimming pool we often have the greatest conversations in the car. Learning can be done ALL THE TIME, it doesn't end at 3PM when the class is dismissed. Our unschooling is really driven by my passion for sharing my knowledge with her and her enthusiasm to absorb it, just because she is not forced into it and has a lot of choices. If she feels like drawing instead of studying something more serious, I let her because I know that sooner or later she will come back to talk about stars and the origins of the Universe. I learnt to be flexible and allow her a lot of autonomy in her studies. On another hand, I feel I need sometimes to push her a little to direct her into something she wouldn't be comfortable with at first.

Not for everyone, perhaps.

 My model of homeschooling may not be for everyone. Some parents prefer to have a good outline of what they are going to teach their children. They like to see what is coming next and what they will be doing next week. Curriculum offers preplanned lessons, all it takes is to follow it. On another hand, what I am doing is very random and curiosity driven. We don't have any preset schedules. It all depends on me and my enthusiasm to select materials that are exciting enough to attract her. It fits our needs and works great. I am sharing it here to give my readers a food for thought, hoping that someone may choose to try my approach. Maybe that someone will come to a conclusion that homeschooling is not that hard as it may look like. To homeschool you don't really need to make school at home with rigid rules and school mindset. It is actually very liberating to design your own learning experience.

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Comments 18 comments

marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC

Thanks for the interesting article.


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

Thank you, marshacanada.


Beverly Stevens profile image

Beverly Stevens 5 years ago from College Station

Your daughter is lucky to have you as a Mom.


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

Thank you Beverly, this is sweet of you to say that. I read your hub on discipline and spanking and I liked it very much. How often we just copy our parents without even thinking. Unless we stop to reflect and break the pattern that was repeated by generations. I think we live in time where Internet allows us to obtain information with ease and that is our chance to learn new and start changing world.


Answersinwriting 5 years ago

I loved your article. My sister uses un-schooling with her son! It does work very well. Learning can happen at every moment. If you allow learning to become something a child desires rather than forcing it on them, then of course they will excel. Thank you for talking about such an amazing concept.


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

Thank you Answersinwriting! Yes, when we allow natural child's curiosity lead her we pretty much give her a life's love of learning.


eneva profile image

eneva 5 years ago

If you're around Boston, let me know, my son was a homeschooler for 10 years


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

Eneva, no, we are on the other side of US. Thanks!


eneva profile image

eneva 5 years ago

o.k., you can read my hub" Are we good parents?"


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

I will do it.


Gemma Sidney profile image

Gemma Sidney 5 years ago from Co Clare, Ireland

Very interesting hub Monisajda. Does your child take the same exams that children in standard schools would take? Also, how does she meet other children to make friends with?


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

Depending on state you live in there are different rules. In mine mandatory STAR testing starts in second grade. If you use any charter school which is basically a public school catering to needs of homeschooling families you will be encouraged to take tests but parents may choose to opt out. We are under an umberela of a charter school but have a big autonomy to choose our schooling ways.

As for the social aspect of it, we have many friends in homeschool circles and regular public school kids, too. My children get to see them often, they also have a benefit of talking to adults around them since they go with me everywhere. We go to museums, swimming pool, parks, post office, shopping, dancing, anywhere we need to. They are not shy or intimidated of starting a conversation with older kids or grown ups. They can communicate with their peers as well. There are some hubs that talk about social aspects of homeschooling, too.


BizGenGirl profile image

BizGenGirl 5 years ago from Seattle

I love reading about unschooling experiences, thank you for sharing what you and your daughter have learned =)


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

Thank you. I liked your hub on unschooling, too.


BizGenGirl profile image

BizGenGirl 5 years ago from Seattle

Thank you so much Monisajda! I am still new to the world of unschooling as far as what others are doing and what precedents have been "sort of" set, but I feel like my mind has been in the world of unschooling since I was in school. It makes way more sense to me than the now "traditional" method of schooling. =)


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart Author

I agree with you BizGenGirl. I have tried recently to learn to the test and while I passed with flying colors, six months later I forgot nearly everything I studied. Sad, isn't it? On another hand, the things I want to know because of pure interest I have in them seem to be ingrained in my brain and I don't need to repeat, practice, it is there. That's what unschooling philosophy is about, when you learn because you love the subject, it is not forgotten.

Another important thing, unschoolers are usually very skilled at finding the information.


The Real Tomato profile image

The Real Tomato 4 years ago

Hi Monisajda, We are an Unschooling family as well and I was glad to see you sharing your experience. One of the many benefits I have seen with Unschooling is that children are not afraid to make mistakes. The fear of a grade or red mark on their efforts is non existent. They keep plugging along and learn as they grow.

Kudos on your Hub.


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 4 years ago from my heart Author

The Real Tomato, yes, they are not afraid to make mistakes. They are not afraid to ask questions and challenge us, parents or other grown-ups. They can have a conversation with anyone without feeling shy or too young. Thanks for your comment and good luck to you!

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