WHY Did You Start Unschooling?

Families choose to unschool for soo many reasons! Here are a few that I've heard over the last couple of decades:

  1. Children have much more time to spend pursuing their interests.
  2. Children won't have to shelve their interests and believe they are "less than" so they can complete the work that someone else says matters more.
  3. Children can learn more quickly when it comes to them easily.
  4. Children can take longer or dive in deeper if they're interested in the topic.
  5. Children can choose their own pace for learning... anything.
  6. Children have time to daydream and ponder. No bells, no disruptions to thoughts because there's a schedule to keep
  7. Children can learn topics that are not on the "plan" for this particular school year. They don't have to wait until it's scheduled into the scope and sequence for a particular grade.
  8. Children will continue to grow with internal motivations instead of doing tasks for a grade, gold star, or teacher approval.
  9. Children will see that there are a multitude of ways to learn anything.
  10. Children will see adults in their world as people who can help them as opposed to adults being the enemy that they have to work around.
  11. Children can avoid mindless busywork.
  12. Shame and humiliation will not be used to motivate children as they are in schools.
  13. Children will not have to wastes years of their lives doing "test prep."
  14. Children will see failures as simply data to use for making adjustments. It won't have the humiliating effect that it does in a classroom.
  15. Children will avoid the compete and compare attitude that is so prevalent in schools.
  16. Families have more time together.
  17. Families have time to share real life skills.
  18. Families control their calendar - they can take trips at "non-peak" times of the year.
  19. Families can go out into their community as often as they like to pursue interests or explore. "Field trips" can happen multiple times every week!
  20. Families can create traditions and special days to celebrate.
  21. Families don't have to take the leftovers of kids' time after school is out. By then, they're worn out - yet still need to do homework, relax, and have any little bit for family time.
  22. Children can concentrate without constant distractions.
  23. Peer pressure will be reduced. There will be less pressure to grow up as quickly in terms of clothing styles, music, language, interest in opposite sex, etc.
  24. Social interactions with others will be by choice and based on having common interests. Social interactions will be more varied, not just with the child's chronological age peer group.
  25. Field trips can be taken on a much more frequent basis and can be more productive when not taken with such large school groups. For example, on a trip to a nature center, the children can choose to spend several hours identifying birds or plants. On a school field trip, this would be impossible. Field trips can be more connected to the child's own curriculum.
  26. Volunteer service activities can be included in the family's regular schedule. Community service is of tremendous importance in a child's overall development as well as a learning experience.
  27. Scheduling can be flexible, allowing travel during less expensive and less crowded off peak times. This can allow for more travel which is wonderful experience.
  28. Children will be less likely to constantly compare their knowledge or intelligence with other children and will be less tempted to become conceited about their abilities.
  29. Religious and family special days can be planned and celebrated.
  30. Children will bond more with their siblings since they will spend more time together when they are not stressed and tired out from school. They will discover that they can work together and help each other.
  31. The children can get immediate and appropriate feedback on their work. They do not have to wait for the teacher (or a parent classroom volunteer or even another student) to grade and return their work to find out if they understood it correctly. Feedback can be much more useful; specific and child-appropriate comments rather than a letter grade or the generic super or great work, etc.
  32. Time does not have to be spent on test taking at all unless it is something the child wants to do. In a classroom, testing is the way the teacher finds out how much the students have learned. Observation and discussion are ongoing at home, tests are unnecessary. Tests can be used by the child to see how much she recalls and to determine what to study next. Grades are unnecessary and there is no comparison of test results.
  33. Grades become of no importance and learning is motivating in and of itself. Understanding and knowledge are the rewards for studying, rather than grades (or stickers, or teachers praise or. . .)
  34. Children can be consistently guided in our family's values and can learn from seeing and participating in parents' daily life.
  35. Skills and concepts can be introduced when the child is ready for them. She does not have to wait until a certain grade level for learning something which she is interested in and ready for right now.
  36. Children will learn how to devote their energies and time to activities they think are worth it.
  37. The children can have long, uninterrupted blocks of time to write, read, think or work on a activity. Creativity and serious in-depth study are discouraged in a classroom where there is a lot of noise, a schedule designed for keeping every child busy and continuous interruptions.
  38. Children can spend a lot more time out-out-doors (even reading, writing, or studying) which is more healthy physically and mentally than spending most of their weekdays indoors in a crowded (often overheated) classroom. The child can be more in touch with the changes of the seasons and with the small and usually overlooked miracles of nature if more time is spent outside.
  39. Children will help more with household chores, learning skills (cooking, cleaning, etc.) as well as becoming more responsible.
  40. More household responsibility develops a stronger family bond because working for the family is an investment in the family. People become committed to things in which they invest.
  41. Children will have time to pursue more non-academic interests such as music or art.
  42. Children will become more responsible for their own education. They will not be passive recipients of subject matter selected by their teachers (actually administrators or government committees), but will at least have input into designing their own education and eventually take over full responsibility.
  43. Children will realize that learning can take place in a large variety of ways. They will learn to seek out assistance when needed from many alternative sources; not just rely on a classroom teacher to provide all the answers.
  44. More relaxed, less hectic lifestyle can be followed because we will stop trying to supplement school during after-school and week-end hours. No after-school homework.
  45. Learning will be at more appropriate levels - more challenging, less busywork.
  46. Learning can be more efficient because the children can learn using best methods for their own learning styles.They do not need each piece of information to be taught through various methods that are needed by children who have other learning styles.
  47. The children will experience much less frustration by not having to constantly work in groups with other children who do not learn as easily or quickly, do not share their enthusiasm and love of learning, have uncooperative attitudes and do not willingly do their share of group work.
  48. Children will work and learn for internal self satisfaction more than for external reward.
  49. Children will not be as tempted to take the easy way out by doing just enough to satisfy their teacher. They will be the judge of the quality of their work.
  50. Children will be more willing to take risks and be creative since they do not have to worry about being critiqued.

5 thoughts on “WHY Did You Start Unschooling?

  1. Linda Rota says:

    We started homeschooling 3 years ago when my oldest turned 6 (Kindergarten age). I started out thinking I would be one of those moms who would use a curriculum and follow it everyday. I quickly realized that was impossible for us and not in any way free. Ultimately, we homeschooled for the freedom. So, we have taken full advantage of freedom and have let go of all traditional expectations of teaching, learning and ultimately what education means. I have made a strong effort to surround myself with like minded people who view our lives as our learning . Having people around who trust this process has made our life journey far more rich than any curriculum could have. We feel so fortunate to have found our way to unschooling that we think of it as the “best kept secret”, except that we tell everyone how wonderfully brilliant it is!

  2. Jaq says:

    We started unschooling as a renaming for chronic illness. I had to bring my youngest home from school due to his developing OCD. As I researched more and more I discovered what a great fit unschooling is for those with chronic illness. It allows flexibility for the day to day changing needs and it brings so much light into our lives both on an activity level and also in a way of looking as we overcome anxious thoughts. In fact we looked like we were having so much fun, my eldest decided he wanted to leave school and join us! We have now been happily unschooling for nearly two years and as so many people discover, it has migrated into all areas of our lives, where we live with respect for each other and flexibility and light. As strange as it sounds, we are thankful in one way that my son became ill because our lives have changed completely for the better!

  3. Megan says:

    By the end of Kindergarten the pressure, judgment and stress of the traditional education system had sent our family into a complete tailspin. My son was depressed and angry and our relationship was in shambles. We both felt judged and overwhelmed. My son was adopted at birth with prenatal trauma and struggles with anxiety and issues of sensitivity, self-worth and attachment. I resisted my son’s request to homeschool him because I couldn’t imagine spending the whole day with him or being responsible for teaching him anything. I was so exhausted by what I had to go through every day to get him out the door to school and then after dealing with aggression and meltdowns upon his return. On the 3rd week of First Grade I had no choice but to listen and we began school at home.

    Within days I discovered Deschooling which led to Unschooling. Over the next year our life began stabilizing and we both became happier. It was not always easy. I still had to learn how to partner him in a respectful way. I had to grow and begin to trust that we are all intrinsically motivated to learn. We are now in our 6th year. In Unschooling I work at understanding and supporting him right where he is at. We can take the time we need to breathe and work together through challenges. I have the space and support to focus on our relationship and on seeing what lights him up. My mission is to let go of my fears and trust him on his healing journey.

    Without the stress of fitting into the school environment shutting him down he can learn what he needs to learn for his unique path. He has room to discover his interests and passions and what brings him joy. He taught himself to read and write through gaming and youtube. He is growing into the passionate, self-aware, kind and, curious person he was meant to be.

  4. Kaitlin says:

    I started thinking about unschooling before I had kids because of philosophy and educational theory. I was in grad school and saw that even at the highest levels, in a grad seminar or teaching college students who had been admitted to a university and gotten As their whole lives, being a teacher put people in a position to condescend to and demean students. This didn’t make any sense to me. If the students were “not getting it” “not reading the syllabus” “not discussing” “not interested,” how could it be their fault, for such large numbers of students who in fact had in other situations done so well? I ran into the work of Astra Taylor on philosophy, and then found her discussion of growing up unschooling.
    https://youtu.be/LwIyy1Fi-4Q
    From the moment I saw that video unschooling made sense. People want to learn, but sitting down and being forced through the motions to learn what someone else tells you stifles curiosity.
    Of course I didn’t start unschooling till I had kids, and even then I’d look at schools longingly. There was a preschool near our house, and I used to walk by it and wonder if I was denying my daughter something since they had all these great toys and other kids to play with. Then one day I walked by on my way to the bus and realized that I could choose to take her on adventures with me to the library and the rose garden and museums, or I could put her behind a fence for several hours a day. There were many other decisive moments, especially watching how much she learned on her own. But I unschool because school is a prison and it would crush her passionate research into chosen areas of interests. Instead we just have fun all the time and she’s learning soooo much.

  5. Sue says:

    I love the idea of unschooling! My sister does it (not RU) and her children are growing up (2 are adults) to be emotionally healthy and academically successful. I am not as fortunate to be able to unschool, however we have found an IB magnet school that embraces some of the same philosophies and we are happy with it so far!

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