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Do People Know The Difference Between Homeschooling And Unschooling?

Readers Forum:

I was home schooled and believe me I did not get away with not studying. My mom would make me do all of my work, and if I didn't do it, I would have double to do the next day. Either that or I could work all night. What are our views on homeschooling and unschooling?

8 comments to Do People Know The Difference Between Homeschooling And Unschooling?

  • i_come_f

    The difference, for anyone who doesn’t know, is this. Unschooling is not so much a completely different method of schooling as it is a type of homeschooling method. When you unschool, you are still bound by your state’s homeschool laws, but unschooling in general means student/child directed learning, or natural learning. The extent that families take this to (moderate to extreme) varies from one family to the next, so unschooling could really mean different things to different people, but this is what it is in the most general sense.
    I was an unschooler all through my high school.years. In my family’s household, this means that I made all my own decisions when it came to academics and educational goals. I still used curriculum materials, though, like any other homeschooler might, and my mother was still actively involved in my education, offering help or advice when I showed that it was needed and giving a push in the right direction if she observed that I was really making a big mistake with something important. (i.e. scheduling my SAT test for a time of year that would be especially busy for us, making it harder to ensure that I’d be ready)
    Basically, at the start of each year, my mom would give me a set budget for materials. It would then be my responsibility to go and research different home schooling curriculum materials and decide what courses I’d be studying that year. This also meant deciding whether or not I’d be participating in any co-op classes, community-run classes or college duel enrollment classes. I chose what I wanted to do based on my long-term goal of getting into the university of my choice. I had researched what my top university choices required in terms of subjects studied in high school and what they wanted to see from home schoolers (SAT scores, course descriptions, etc). Once all the materials were purchased, I spent the year working at my own pace, working on a topic in a course either until I had mastered it (determined by tests, projects I chose to complete, and my general ability to communicate intelligently about the topic) or until my interest ran out, which ever took the longest to occur.
    This worked really well for me. I was able to do a lot of hands-on, relevant work throughout high school. I built and programmed robots, planted a garden, experimented freely (but safely) in science courses, found ways to make high level math into a hands-on, fun experience, discovered artistic and musical talents I didn’t know I had, participated in tons of extracurricular and community activities, got a 15-credit head start on college, and a lot more. Now I am at that university I was hoping to get in to, and I feel unschooling made a world of difference in getting me here and helping me learn to love to learn.
    It isn’t for everyone though. It’s the responsibility of the parent to know their child well and be willing to find the method of home schooling that will fit the child best, even if it means several trial and error periods throughout the years.

  • hsmomlov

    Many people don’t…that’s why many unschooling questions get such laughable answers.
    Unschooling doesn’t mean that you don’t educate your child, it means that you don’t try to shove them into a curriculum that doesn’t fit them. You don’t mold their education into a little box that allows you to feel all accomplished because the checklist boxes are all checked off…even though they didn’t retain a thing.
    Unschooling can cover a whole range of activities – it can include textbooks when they match the child’s needs, it can include unit studies, and it can include a child sitting in a hammock reading a biography of Thomas Jefferson or Albert Einstein for hours on end, simply because it fascinates them. It’s built on the premise that children (young and old) will naturally gravitate toward what causes them to learn, given half the chance…and that once they know how to truly learn, there’s really no stopping them.

  • Hannah M

    As an unschooled 16 yr old, I reckon I know the difference between homeschooling and unschooling (rightly called Natural Learning here).
    As unschoolers my siblings and I decide for ourselves what we want to study and when and how we’re going to study it. Our mum helps, encourages, supports, gives advice, makes suggestions, and generally cheers (and chivvies) us on from the sidelines but she does not attempt to direct nor control our education.
    Here, in Australia, it is believed to be easily the most frequently used method of home education. I’ve heard that said about the UK too; that unschooling is the most common type of home education happening there too.
    Yep, what annoys me about other people’s ignorance of unschooling is when someone asks a question about unschooling and a responder tries to tell them they mean homeschooling. Either that or the ‘being unschooled means you don’t learn anything’ myth. All babies and small kids learn, by default, through the exact same methods as used by unschoolers; and, by doing so, they learn heaps more in those first few years than they’ll ever learn at any other time of their lives; and yet people still persist in the lie that unschooling somehow means a person can not possibly be learning anything worthwhile!!!

  • firebird

    Most people definitely don’t. Part of the problem is that the majority of people think that schooling and education are the same thing, so they read unschooling as un-education, no education. In the UK we call it autonomous education which I personally think is a lot clearer. It’s an education but one in which the learner has autonomy.
    My daughter is being educated in a fairly autonomous way. I do encourage some areas of study, like doing daily piano practice, otherwise there’s no point in me paying for the lessons, but if for example she doesn’t want to do maths then she just doesn’t do maths, for months at a time. To anyone who has never tried this method that sounds like it couldn’t possibly work but at only 5 years old she’s already working 2 years ahead of her grade level.
    The school model of forcing facts into an unwilling child is so ingrained that it’s hard to accept that there is a better way. As a parent you just have to take a leap of faith and trust that your child will learn what they need to when they’re ready. It works. What else is there to say?


    My questions are as follow: Where are the parents throughout the day, as there child is learning? Are there any qualifications that a parent must have to home school there children? Also, upon graduation, how is the child recognized for there studies? Is there a diploma, or a certification of completion from a high school?
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Layne

    I believe most people don’t…considering I’ve never even heard of “unschooling”, so I’m guessing it’s not that widely known or popular x.x
    Generally, people do make assumptions about something they don’t know much about or the only basis they have is false material…

  • ozboz48

    Unschooling (also called “interest led learning””) is one of the many types of homeschooling styles.
    You can learn more about it here:http://www.unschooling.org/
    All the best.

  • no

    Most people DON’T know the difference. They think that unschooling means that you don’t educate your children at all. That is completely untrue.

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