We’re Christian Unschoolers so we often get strange looks when asked which homeschool “style” we tend to use. Well, we use many of of them. We use none of them. It kind of depends on the day! So I thought I’d set out and (instead of reinvent the wheel), share a collection of my favorite eight myths and truths about Unschooling:
MYTH #1: UNSCHOOLERS DON’T PUT ENOUGH EFFORT TOWARDS THEIR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION
“The whole thought process behind our relaxed learning is allowing our children the freedom to be the person God has created them to be, and that doesn’t come from a prepackaged mentality. Nor does sitting at a desk and following a strict schedule make you educated. The one-room schoolhouse was a pretty good idea. There were multi-level, multi-age interactions. School only happened when more important things were finished at home. It did not ever replace real life. It was a tool and therefore kept in its proper place. But somewhere along the way, families got busy, and it was easier to send the children off for someone else to deal with.”
MYTH #2: YOU NEED TO BE A TEACHER
“No! In fact you do not need any teaching qualifications whatsoever to home school. Having been present in the classrooms of some teachers it’s possible to argue that even teachers don’t need teaching degrees! What gives parents the edge on teachers is that no one is as dedicated to seeing their children succeed as a parent.”
MYTH #4: UNSCHOOLERS DO WHATEVER THEY WANT
“The role of the unschooling parent in their childʼs learning is different than the parent of a schooled child. Different, and I would contend, much more involved. For schooled children the parent acts, in regards to “education”, as an extention of the teacher, enforcing a curriculum and making sure the child does their homework & assignments. In this scenario, it is the child who is passive. They are a vessel to be filled with someone elseʼs idea of an education. Their only job is to do as they are told and get good grades; to score high on standardized tests and get into a good school. Their own desires are secondary, at best.
An unschooling parent is a keen observer of their child, and acts as a facilitator to their interests, whatever those interests may be. The parent does not impose a curriculum or particular path of learning or subject on the child, which is the main difference between parents of unschoolers and any other type of homeschooling or schooling. Instead the parents provide guidance as necessary and help when asked. Unschooling parents are not “enforcers” but partners in their childʼs learning. Unschooling parents can and do suggest activities they think their child might enjoy, they “strew” information which they think might be of interest, but they do not insist or force. Unschoolers have the freedom to follow their passions with the help and support of their parents and families, but unschooling is not a license to disregard the rules of society.”
MYTH #5: UNSCHOOLED KIDS AREN’T PROPERLY “SOCIALIZED”
“This one always makes me laugh now. “Socialized” — what does it mean? Really, it means getting along with others. Unschooled children are frequently on the go. They participate in art classes, sports teams, homeschooling groups, church groups, scouting, and so on. They go to museums, the grocery store, the library, etc. They’re constantly out in public. They’re constantly meeting people of all ages, races, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and so on. They have to learn to get along with all of these different people. They have to learn how to ask for help finding a book in a library, or chat with the cashier at the grocery store. They have to learn to deal with teammates and friends in classes and groups. Believe me — they’re well socialized! (They just don’t spend 7 hours a day in a homogenous classroom with the same 30 kids, and some people dislike that.)”
MYTH #6: THEY WON’T LEARN THE SAME THINGS AS ALL THE OTHER KIDS
No. They won’t! And the children in other countries, other states, and even just another school in the next suburb won’t learn exactly the same stuff. Unschooling is an advantage because children don’t fill their head with useless stuff that they forget as soon as the end of year testing is over, they learn things they are really interested in and retain most of the information. If all the children left school and all entered the same occupation then it would be important for them to all learn the same stuff, but school leavers will do everything, from entering university to study more, to traveling, working in a factory, starting a family and so many other things. What children need to learn is life skills, not trivial facts.
Myth #7: UNSCHOOLED KIDS AREN’T PREPARED FOR AND WON’T SUCCEED IN COLLEGE
“As unschoolers get older, they choose their own paths in life. They can begin apprenticeships, internships, or even college courses at age 14 – 16. Once they find areas of strong interest (for some kids, this happens around ages 7 – 10, once they are capable of abstract/higher order thinking), they can begin to study those intensely. This prepares them for college, should they choose to go. (And studies show homeschoolers in general are highly successful in higher education.) But remember, kids don’t *have* to go to college to be successful. And with unschooling, a child who knows that college isn’t for him/her can pursue other educational or training opportunities at a younger age and be starting a job/career by age 18, instead of just starting to search.”
My personal favorite: MYTH #7: IT’S HARD FOR UNSCHOOLERS TO FIT INTO THE “REAL WORLD”
“Fitting in has not been a goal in our home. We prefer standing out. It takes much more flexibility in this ever-changing world, and it’s better for my children to learn to thrive under any circumstance. Besides, I want them to dream big. The best chefs don’t copy McDonalds. These are amazing times. Just about anything is possible with technology. Jobs and opportunities we never thought possible are here.”
– Melissa Kipe, Wild + Free
Myth #8: WE COULD NEVER UNSCHOOL OUR KIDS
“We are all born unschoolers. We learn to walk and talk in our own fashion and at our own pace. As toddlers we are master scientists and explorers, expanding our knowledge of our world tirelessly and at lightning speed. All of that ends when we are sent to school. Creativity and independent exploration is discouraged if not forbidden outright. The light of exploration dims, and we learn only that we must be taught; that our intelligence is given to us and not innate.
Unschooling, then, is a rejection of that philosophy, and an embracing of the natural path of learning children so eagerly and capably follow from birth. It is trusting that each childʼs path is unique and right for them. It is allowing them to learn the way they were born to learn.”
What are your favorite myths about Unschooling?
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