Unschooling
Unschooling is more than just not going to school. It is following your child's interests to get the most out of learning through living.
What is Unschooling?
Child-Led Learning
The term "unschooling" was coined by John Holt to mean not sending children to school. The term has been stretched and changed since then, and those of us who refuse the entire school model have taken the word "unschooling" for our own. Other terms associated with unschooling are natural learning, child-led learning, discovery learning, and child-directed learning. We don't divide our day into "school" parts and "non-school" parts, because there are no school parts. We live; we learn; we try new things; we go back to things we've loved a long time.
What is Unschooling?
There are as many different ways of defining unschooling as there are people doing it. Reading through what various people have to say about it may help you to a better understanding, or at least be interesting and make you think.
A Paradigm Shift
Abandoning the institution of school and taking a natural learning approach is really a paradigm shift. Most people will not understand that natural learning does not involve children following a curriculum, taking exams, being socialised (through peers), using textbooks, etc. At best they will think that you are a bit daring, slightly unusual, experimenters.... at worst they will think that you are dangerous, putting your kids at risk or should be reported.... How can you show them that natural learning is OK?
Language Arts and Unschooling
A former high school English teacher shares some of the ways that reading, writing, and grammar are learned naturally through living.
Unschooling or Homeschooling?
What is the difference between unschooling and homeschooling? At one time they were just two terms for the same thing, so the question was like asking what the difference is between a car and an automobile. Today, homeschooling has remained a generic term while unschooling has come to refer to a specific type of homeschooling. So now the question is like asking what the difference is between a Ferrari and a car. Just what is it about unschooling that differentiates it from other types of homeschooling enough to warrant its own term?
Unschooling or Homeschooling: What's the Difference?
Ask around at your next homeschool conference to compare what people answer when this question pops up: "What does it mean to unschool?" Some will answer that unschooling is homeschooling without using a pre-packaged curriculum. Others will say it's simply the degree of freedom that the parents allow the child in his learning. Still others will say that unschooling defies definition because each child is unique and will go at learning in his own way, in his own time. So what's the big difference between homeschooling and unschooling? In homeschooling the parents make decisions on how to best educate the child, while in unschooling the child somehow makes those decisions for herself.
A Conversation with John Holt
In 1980, Marlene Bumgarner, a homeschooling parent, hosted author John Holt in her home while he was in California for a lecture tour. While he played in the garden with her two children, John and Dona Ana, she interviewed him for the bimonthly magazine Mothering. In this article, Holt answered such questions as, "What is your philosophy of learning?", "Why homeschool?", and "What about the child's social life?"
The Unschooling List FAQ
This was compiled from many of the wise voices of a great internet list called The Unschooling List. A great basic primer on the concept of unschooling.
A Comparison of Traditional and Natural Learning
This is a chart that explores the differences between traditional and natural learning. It compares how the child and parent are viewed, how learning occurs, the role of textbooks and curriculum, how learning disabilities fit in, and how various school subjects are viewed.
Ten Signs that You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child
Because our public school system has now considerably deteriorated, many parents, teachers, and individuals have taken it upon themselves to create public and private alternatives to that traditional system which is definitely failing. It is important for parents to know that they now have choices, alternatives to the neighborhood school. How do you know that it is time to look for another educational approach for your child? Here are some of the signs.
Why Natural Learning – Does It Make Sense?
Many experts claim to know how to teach a child, but do they know how to educate him? Perhaps professionalism is a form of religion too. It takes a lot of faith to believe that removing children from their parents and making them serve time under an authoritarian regimen in a formal institution is somehow going to prepare them to love and serve their fellow man and live a peaceful and prosperous life. But mothers know.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling isn't a recipe or a method. It is a way of looking at children and at life, based on trust that parents and children will find the paths that work best for them--without depending on educational institutions, publishing companies, or experts to tell them what to do. Unschooling does not mean that parents can never teach anything to their children, or that children should learn about life entirely on their own without the help and guidance of their parents. Unschooling does not mean that parents give up active participation in the education and development of their children and simply hope that something good will happen. Then what is unschooling? Unschooling is following your interests, all the things that have interested people before anybody thought of them as "subjects". A large component of unschooling is grounded in doing real things, not because we hope they will be good for us, but because they are intrinsically fascinating. There is an energy that comes from this that you can't buy with a curriculum. Children do real things all day long, and in a trusting and supportive home environment, "doing real things" invariably brings about healthy mental development and valuable knowledge.
Can a Single Parent Unschool?
These days, many parents find themselves alone, whether by choice or by circumstances. Many of these parents assume that homeschooling is not an option for them, but like many other assumptions, this can be self-fulfilling. Happily, homeschooling in single parent families is easier now than it has ever been. With commitment, creativity and support, single parent homeschooling can be not only possible, but very rewarding. Unschooling addresses the needs of both the homeschooling parent and the child in a single parent household.
Is it OK for Christians to Unschool?
It has been argued that since John Holt was not a Christian, Christians cannot be unschoolers. A Christian mother discusses her perspective on unschooling.
Structured homeschooling gets an A+
A new study from Concordia University and Mount Allison University has found that homeschooling -- as long as it's structured or follows a curriculum -- can provide kids with an academic edge. "Structured homeschooling may offer opportunities for academic performance beyond those typically experienced in public schools," says first author Sandra Martin-Chang, a professor in the Concordia Department of Education, noting this is among the first nonpartisan studies to investigate home education versus public schooling.
You Might Be An Unschooler If…
A short list of some of the ways unschoolers learn through living.
Unschoolers Online
Unschoolers Online is a website dedicated to providing detailed and helpful information on everything related to unschooling and homeschooling. You'll find local support group listings, news, articles, book recommendations, links, and more.
Unschooling Undefined
Unschooling is a word coined by negating the idea of schooling; it starts off with a negative definition. What, specifically, is it about schools that unschoolers want to do without?
Deschooling on the Road
A homeschooling mom travelled 3500 miles cross-country with her son and found educational experiences in some unexpected places. Drives home the point that learning can happen in many different ways and that we cannot always plan how our children will learn.
Rise of the Home "Unschoolers" -- Where Children Learn Only What They Want To

Take a look at some unschooling families as this articles examines what unschooling looks like. Although some "experts" worry about how to measure the success of unschooling, those who have embraced this lifestyle know that it is a joyful and successful path to a full and rich education. 

Why Unschool?
101 Reasons to Unschool

Wondering why anyone would unschool their children? Well, here are lots of reasons why unschooling is a good choice. From the fun aspect, to the superior learning, to the avoidance of the unpleasant parts of school, this list gives you lots to think about if you are considering the unschooling approach to the education of your children. 

Why Unschool?
The choice to unschool can sometimes be hard for parents to explain to others. This is because it seems so natural, that simple explanations don't always cut it. The basis of this choice is freedom -- freedom to play, take risks, explore interest, and learn on their own terms. Because unschooling most often influences the entire family's lifestyle, it is not a simple explanation of how education works. It is more of a way of life. 
Why the Future of Education is Unschooling

According to John Holt, unschooling allows children the freedom to learn in the world on their own terms. He saw no distinction between learning and living a meaningful life. Learning is a natural process and works best when integrated into the spaces and activities of everyday life. This article takes a look at some of John Holt's philosophy of education and explains why unschooling is often the very best choice of educational model. 

Why Unschoolers Grow Up to Be Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are creative thinkers and experimental innovators. Unschoolers learn in these same ways, so it's no surprise that lots of unschoolers end up as entrepreneurs. Without the constraints of a classroom, unschoolers nurture their own interests and passions and many figure out how to make a living from these interests and passions. Fueled by their lifetime of curiosity and self-learning, many unschoolers end up very successful in their adult endeavors of self-starting business ownership. 

Why Unschool?

This website is presented by two unschooled siblings who have since grown up and are happy to share their experiences with this educational model. Unschooling provides so many opportunities for children to learn about the world without the constraints of a classroom by celebrating a natural love of learning. Families and children can benefit from this wonderful way of learning. 

Why Unschooling?

Does unschooling mean that your children just hate school? Not at all! Some children learn best in a classroom, but not all do. For those who don't, unschooling might just be the best approach. Children who are unschooled grow to be independent learners and thinkers and enjoy the perspective of being their own best teacher. Rather than asking, "Why unschool?" perhaps the better question is, "Why school?"

8 Powerful Reasons Why I Unschool My Kids

Nina Palmo explains the benefits of unschooling by looking at the benefits this model offers. These benefits include better learning, innovative thinking, passion about learning, good preparation for college and the workforce, and even more what the exact point of learning is (hint: it's not just to go to college or enter the workforce). Unschoolers don't have all the answers, but they do dig deep to find the best way to help their children find joy and power in learning. 

What is Unschooling and Why Do Parents Consider It?

Unschooling is fueled by curiosity-driven experiences. It is estimated that about 13 percent of homeschooled children learn through unschooling. Unschooling will look different for every family, but it is founded on the idea of following the child's interests and giving the space and freedom to explore those interests. 

An Unschooling Experiment

What does unschooling look like? Why do people unschool? This seasoned unschooler offers the encouragement to simply give unschooling a try, especially if your homeschooling attempts have proven to be unsuccessful or stressful. 

I Learn Better by Teaching Myself/Still Teaching Ourselves
Take a look at how a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children-and herself-to learn in new ways. Tag along on the journey from the elementary years through high school as this book explore the success and freedom of unstructured learning. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure should there be in a homeschool?"
Resources
Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School
Grace Llewellyn, author of the The Teenage Liberation Handbook, offers the stories of 11 teens who made the decision to reject traditional schooling methodologies and take their education into their own hands. The essays highlight offer a day-in-the-life look at teen homeschooling and unschooling, as the teens embraced self-education and increased in their self-confidence and motivation. 
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
This classic homeschool resource is intended for teens who are ready to take charge of their own education. Written by Grace Llewellyn in the '90s, it is still relevant today. Teens will be empowered by claiming their natural ability to teach themselves and to fully personalize their education. Covers the decision to leave school, as well as many of the learning opportunities available to teens. 
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling
The classic work on teaching children at home, updated for today's new laws, new lifestyles, and a new generation of homeschooling parents. Today more than one and a half million children are being taught at home by their own parents. In this expanded edition of the book that helped launch the whole movement, Pat Farenga has distilled John Holt's timeless understanding of the ways children come to understand the world and added up-to-the-moment practical advice. Rather than proposing that parents turn their homes into miniature schools, Holt and Farenga demonstrate how ordinary parents can help children grow as social, active learners. Chapters on living with children, "serious play," children and work, and learning difficulties will be of interest to all parents, whether homeschooling or not, as well as to teachers. This new edition is supplemented with legal advice as well as a guide to cooperating with schools and facing the common objections to homeschooling. Teach Your Own not only has all the vital information necessary to be the definitive reference for parents teaching their own children, it also conveys John Holt's wise and passionate belief in every child's ability to learn from the world that has made his wonderful books into enduring classics.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.
In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child's Multiple Intelligences
Children learn in differing ways. Thomas Armstrong specializes in helping parents identify the unique areas in each of our children that enhance their special way of learning and expressing creativity. This work on multiple intelligences talks about the eight different kinds of multiple intelligences, showing you how to discover your child's particular areas of strength. 
Freedom and Beyond (Innovators in Education)
John Holt looks at the role that schooling in society plays in education.
Unschooling Success
Why Unschoolers Grow Up to Be Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are creative thinkers and experimental innovators. Unschoolers learn in these same ways, so it's no surprise that lots of unschoolers end up as entrepreneurs. Without the constraints of a classroom, unschoolers nurture their own interests and passions and many figure out how to make a living from these interests and passions. Fueled by their lifetime of curiosity and self-learning, many unschoolers end up very successful in their adult endeavors of self-starting business ownership. 

I Learn Better by Teaching Myself/Still Teaching Ourselves
Take a look at how a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children-and herself-to learn in new ways. Tag along on the journey from the elementary years through high school as this book explore the success and freedom of unstructured learning. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure should there be in a homeschool?"
Rise of the Home "Unschoolers" -- Where Children Learn Only What They Want To

Take a look at some unschooling families as this articles examines what unschooling looks like. Although some "experts" worry about how to measure the success of unschooling, those who have embraced this lifestyle know that it is a joyful and successful path to a full and rich education. 

Christian Unschooling : Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ

Is unschooling incompatible with Christianity? Elissa Wahl and Teri Brown argue that they are not incompatible, but complementary. Unschooling offers a different path to learning. This book explains what unschooling is (and isn't) and offers support for your unschooling journey. Includes information and support, along with essays on how they unschool guided by the Lord. 

The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School
This book shows how school is not necessary for a child to gain learning, socialization, or motivation. It offers a look at radical unschooling, a way of educating children without coercion, curriculum, or control. This look at a child who grows from childhood to adulthood with the experience of self-direction is a celebration of the success of unschooling. Covers topics such as parenting, self-discipline and self-motivation, socialization, and more. 
Meet the Unschoolers

Unschooling has gained in popularity in recent years. This look into the lives of unschoolers is a celebration of the unschooling way of life, where children live and learn on their own terms and at their own pace. Offers a look into how unschooling works, and then details some of the successful educations and careers that unschoolers go onto pursue. 

How do Unschoolers Turn Out?

As more and more families take up unschooling, self-directed education, researchers have pondered whether it is a successful learning model or not. Peter Gray and Gina Riley offer the results of a survey of 232 parents who unschooled their children. The results were overwhelmingly positive about the unschooling experience. In a follow-up survey, Gray asked children who had been unschooled for their feedback. They recounted their experiences and how it affected their lives as adults, with most saying that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages of unschooling. 

How to Unschool
I Learn Better by Teaching Myself/Still Teaching Ourselves
Take a look at how a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children-and herself-to learn in new ways. Tag along on the journey from the elementary years through high school as this book explore the success and freedom of unstructured learning. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure should there be in a homeschool?"
Christian Unschooling : Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ

Is unschooling incompatible with Christianity? Elissa Wahl and Teri Brown argue that they are not incompatible, but complementary. Unschooling offers a different path to learning. This book explains what unschooling is (and isn't) and offers support for your unschooling journey. Includes information and support, along with essays on how they unschool guided by the Lord. 

The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School
This book shows how school is not necessary for a child to gain learning, socialization, or motivation. It offers a look at radical unschooling, a way of educating children without coercion, curriculum, or control. This look at a child who grows from childhood to adulthood with the experience of self-direction is a celebration of the success of unschooling. Covers topics such as parenting, self-discipline and self-motivation, socialization, and more. 
Support for Unschooling Families
Unschoolers Online
Unschoolers Online is a website dedicated to providing detailed and helpful information on everything related to unschooling and homeschooling. You'll find local support group listings, news, articles, book recommendations, links, and more.
Christian Unschooling
Christians can and do unschool. Here you'll find support and more.
African American Unschoolers (AfAmUnschool) Email Group
African American Unschoolers email group is for African-American homeschoolers who use the whole world as their child(ren)'s classroom.
Unschooling Discussion
Large traffic email list whose stated purpose is to move out of comfort zones and critically examine beliefs, ideas, and viewpoints about learning, and seek a deeper understanding of unschooling and more respectful relationships with one's children.
Unschool Sharing for Parents
Share successes and ideas and build a helpful, welcoming archive for the new unschoolers, the newly-unschooling, and the nicely unschooling.
Live Free Learn Free Email Group
This group is an announcement list for the print magazine Live Free Learn Free, a forum for unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers in which to share ideas and experiences.
Always Unschooled
This is a list dedicated to achieving a deeper understanding of a Radical Unschooling lifestyle with young children. It is geared towards thoughtful discussion and exploration of what Radical Unschooling looks like in the early years, from toddlerhood to around age 8 or so. Experienced and new Unschoolers can discuss how they made the transition from peaceful parenting to Unschooling in daily practice, when that transition occurred and what benefits children gain by Unschooling from the beginning.
Unschooling Dads
This list is a place for unschooling dads. Whether you're an advocate, long-time unschooler, novice, or somewhere in the middle, you're welcome here. This list is for dads only.
Child-Led Christian Unschooling
This child-led learning group is for those unschoolers who are also Christians.
Unschooling Basics
A list designed for those new to the philosophy of unschooling. Ask experienced unschoolers all those niggling questions, and find out how unschooling works in real families. If you're familiar with John Holt's work, but unsure of how to begin or what an unschooling day really looks like, this is a place for you to discuss, question, ponder, and become deeply familiar with natural learning and how it affects our entire lives. From parenting issues to learning from the whole wide world and beyond, come explore the issues that unschooling families have dealt with in the past and how to get beyond "school-think" to a joyful unschooling lifestyle.!
Unschooling Highlights
This list consists of a selection of posts from the UnschoolingDiscussion list.
Unschoolers' Circle
The Unschoolers' Circle is an inclusive list for anyone interested in home education with unschooling leanings.
Family Unschoolers Network
The Family Unschoolers Network provides support for unschooling, homeschooling, and self-directed learning. Includes newsletter articles, reviews, resources, web sites, books and lots of other information to help your homeschooling or unschooling efforts.
Unschooling Families
This list is a friendly place for all to chat about anything you wish to explore. Parenting issues, schooling issues, political issues . . . as unschoolers, we know that nothing is off topic.
Unschooling.com Email List
This discussion list is the companion communications forum for the Unschooling.com website.
Always Learning
Discussion for homeschooling fans of John Holt, whose books Learning All the Time, Never Too Late, and Teach your Own have made unschooling an option for thousands of families.
Unschoolers Online Community
This is a companion list to the website UnSchoolers Online. It is a safe place to openly discuss anything related to unschooling and our children.
Unschooling.Info Forum
This message board is designed for unschooling parents to connect, ask questions, share information and ideas, and get support.
Radical Christian Unschoolers
Feeling like you must be the only radical unschooler in the Christian faith? Tired of hearing those who claim to be Christian unschoolers discuss curriculum or how to make their kids do chores? Tired of hearing secular unschoolers say that you couldn't possibly exist? Look no farther! On this list there will be no talk of curriculum, spanking, chore charts, coercive limitations, forced respect, or anything else that doesn't jive with radical unschooling. This list is for discussing radical unschooling by people who already "get it" and want to connect with other radically unschooling Christian families.
Catholic Unschoolers
The Catholic Unschoolers List has been created to provide a forum for those who consider themselves ‘Catholic unschoolers,’ and who wish to make connections with other like-minded individuals for discussion and encouragement.
Unschooling Resources
Fun Books
To produce life-long learners, we need to show our children that learning is not just something that they get graded on or that only happens during certain hours of the day or certain times of the year. We need to help them hang on to the natural joy of learning that every child is born with, to help them see that learning new things is fun, and to help them realize that learning can take place anywhere and at anytime. Fun Books has put together a catalog of books, games, and other materials to help you in your efforts to produce life-long learners.
A Little Way of Homeschooling

This book is a compilation of the experiences of 13 different homeschoolers and how they incorporated an unschooling style of teaching in their homes. This book addresses the question of whether a Catholic can happily and successfully unschool. This home education approach is presented as a sensible way to access the mystery of learning, in which it operates not as an ideology in competition with the Catholic faith, but rather a flexible and individual homeschooling path. 

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Featured Resources

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Discover Your Child's Learning Style : Children Learn in Unique Ways - Here's the Key to Every Child's Learning Success
When, where, and how does your child learn best? Because children process information in many different ways, what works for one child might not work for another. This book shows you how to assess and nurture your child's learning style based on his or her interests, talents, disposition, environment, and more. The self-awareness tests included will help guide you to a better understanding of your child's unique strengths and weaknesses, leading you to better homeschooling success and more inner...
For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
Shows parents and teachers how children's learning experiences can be extended to every aspect of life, giving them a new richness, stability, and joy for living. Every parent and teacher wants to give his or her children the best education possible. We hope that the education we provide is a joyful adventure, a celebration of life, and preparation for living. But sadly, most education today falls short of this goal. For the Children's Sake is a book about what education can be, based on a Chris...
The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason believed that children need to be trained to see, to have their eyes opened, in order to find joy in life. This work explains the value of using the method of writing in journals or notebooks, as derived from the expansive work of Charlotte Mason. You'll find tips to help your children practice putting their knowledge, thoughts, and pictures down on paper, helping them to retain information better, create something beautiful, and strive for retention.
The Story of the World
This book series by Susan Wise Bauer is another that is best enjoyed as a read aloud rather than seen as a history textbook. It is full of engaging stories, mixing facts and historical legends. The companion study guides offer questions, narration exercises, activities, crafts, and reproducible pages. There are also lists for each chapter of supplemental books that are easily found at your local library. Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 1: Ancient Times (From the Ear...
More Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual
After providing an important work in explaining the Charlotte Mason method for homeschoolers, Catherine Levison goes deeper into the use of this method in the home with her subsequent work. This book expands the information from the first book and offers ideas to incorporate the rich and uplifting philosophy into your home education. There are specific tips for high school, schooling through challenges, and more.