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?
Homeschool Parents Don't Need to Be Teachers
Instead of needing parents to be teachers, kids need teachers to get out of the way of their learning. Homeschooling is not about a teacher-student relationship. There are people who are trying to recreate school at home. For the rest of us, though, we an see the school model is broken, and we are not recreating it at home. For us, homeschooling is about the parent-child relationship.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling is trusting the learner to be in charge of his or her own learning. It is not a method of instruction we use on our children, but a process we adults go through to unlearn the lessons and undo the effects of our years of schooling.
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.
What is Natural Learning?
So what on earth is natural learning? Isn't all learning natural? What would you do different if you were following a natural learning approach? How can I pursue natural learning?
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?
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling has many, many definitions - probably a different one for each family that calls themselves unschoolers. To the author, unschooling means interest-led or child-led learning. There are also many different levels of unschooling. Some families require a set amount of Math and English done each day, and then their child is free to explore whatever subjects he would like. Others unschool totally until their child reaches a certain grade level, and then start requiring some structure. And then there are the dyed-in-the-wool, radical unschoolers, who require nothing from their child. They totally trust their child to learn what he needs to know on his own timetable.
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.
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.
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.
Unchores
A look at an unschooling family's approach to managing chores around the house. Although this approach may not work for everyone, the emphasis on flexibility and respect for each others needs and inclinations is enlightening.
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.
You Might Be An Unschooler If…
A short list of some of the ways unschoolers learn through living.
Unschooling from an African-American Perspective
A look at unschooling as a philosophy of life from an African-American perspective.
John Holt: Teach Your Own Children...at Home
An interview with John Holt from 1980 from The Mother Earth News. Holt discussed his own schooling experiences, how he discovered the key to real learning, and how the idea of homeschooling developed. He also discussed some concerns that parents new to the idea of homeschooling have. There is a short description of some of the legal issues that homeschoolers have faced and where the homeschooling movement is headed.
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?
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?
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.
Against School
This essay was written for the Harper's Magazine forum, "School on a Hill." John Taylor Gatto discusses how public education cripples our kids and why.
John Holt and the Origins of Comtemporary Homeschooling
Patrick Farenga's discussion of the role John Holt played in the evolution of the homeschooling movement.
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?
Why Unschool?

Unschooling can seem impossible to understand for many people, but in fact, it is well-reasoned, tested, and has been successfully implemented by families around the world. The evidence shows that unschooling leads to life-long learning, happy successful individuals, better family connections, and a true and joyful love of learning. 

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?
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. 

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. 

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. 

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?"

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
Freedom and Beyond (Innovators in Education)
John Holt looks at the role that schooling in society plays in education.
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. 
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. 
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.
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. 
Unschooling Success
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. 

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. 

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 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. 

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. 

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?"
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. 
How to Unschool
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. 

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?"
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
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.
Crunchy Unschoolers
A list for unschoolers who are interested in moving towards a sustainable lifestyle. Topics for discussion may include how sustainability and unschooling complement each other, and how we resolve conflicting values.
Unschooling Highlights
This list consists of a selection of posts from the UnschoolingDiscussion list.
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 Forum at vegsource.com
Unschoolers meet to talk and share ideas at this vegsource.com message board.
Unschoolers Coffee Talk
A place for unschoolers to come together to discuss our adventures and experiences,share resources and information.
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.
TriCities Family Unschooling Network
TriCities Family Unschooling Network welcomes unschoolers, unschool-learning, and unschool-curious in the Tri-Cities area of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Shining Children with Radical Unschooling
This list is a forum for those either radically unschooling or learning how to radically unschool to discuss our "shining" children (Highly Sensitive, Out of Sync, Asperger’s traits, Explosive) and all the issues that accompany life with them--how we grow and learn ourselves thanks to our non-typical children and how unschooling frees their spirits and allows them to truly "shine."
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.!
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.
Homeschooling Creatively
This list is a place where parents can come to understand and give value to our creative children as we home/unschool with them. The focus will be on discussing alternative ways (versus public school methods) to help our creative children learn which best suits their learning style and respects their complex personality traits, taking a look at creating a success-based learning environment that draws on the strengths of our creative learners while providing support-based opportunities to gently guide their intense natures.
African-American Unschooling
African-American Unschooling is the resource for African-American homeschoolers with an Africentric approach to learning all the time. African-American Unschoolers encounter math, science, reading, writing, art and history in the real world because real living leads to real learning.
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.
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.
Homeschoolers of Memphis Eclectic (HOMe)
Homeschoolers of Memphis eclectic’s mission is to connect homeschooling families through an inclusive local group that encourages members to share resources, learn together and build a diverse community. Homeschoolers of Memphis eclectic is inclusive. The network’s membership includes various ethnicities and cultures, divergent spiritual and religious worldviews, assorted political and social philosophies, and a broad range of educational approaches involving children from all levels of ability in families of different shapes and sizes. Homeschoolers of Memphis eclectic is member-led. All members are encouraged to plan activities they want for their own families and would like to share with the HOMe. The range of activities offered by each local group depends on the interests of the participating families and their willingness to plan HOMe events. Homeschoolers of Memphis eclectic maintains an online community for its members. The HOMe forum provides private message boards for planning activities and gatherings, as well as boards for sharing experiences and ideas with other HOMe members.
Unschooling.com Email List
This discussion list is the companion communications forum for the Unschooling.com website.
Tennessee Unschooling
Email group designed to facilitate conversations between unschoolers in Tennessee.
HEM-Unschooling
This list is for the broad-ranging discussion of unschooling. It is sponsored by Home Education Magazine.
Sonlight Unschoolers
This email group is for those who use Sonlight curricula but also like the unschooling approach (and other compatable methods). Working out how to mix the two, curricula exchange/sales, and connecting with other eclectic Christian unschoolers is the object.
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.
Radical Unschoolers List
This is the "Radical Unschoolers List". It is for all families, regardless of religious affiliation, choosing to unschool. Unschooling is learning as a part of life. It allows the child to learn naturally, without adult-imposed "lessons", schedules, or timelines. This list is to offer support, information, perspective, and enlightenment to anyone already unschooling or interested in 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.
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. 

Featured Resources

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Pattern Blocks and Boards
This set of 10 simply designed colorful wooden blocks and pattern boards includes 100 blocks in six different shapes and colors. They help develop shape recognition and spatial relationship skills. The contents store neatly in a durable wooden case. This games was awarded the Scholastic Parent & Child's 2004 "Top 22 Toys that Make Kids Think" award.
A Reason For® Spelling
A Reason For® Spelling combines the latest research on how children learn to spell with all the strengths of traditional programs. It teaches highfrequency base words, plus hundreds of other word forms. Values-based stories set the theme each week and help make spelling fun. You'll find product information about A Reason For® Spelling here.
Choosing & Using Curriculum: For Your Special Child
Homeschooling a child with special needs can be challenging. This book lays out a discussion of different reading and math programs, how to adapt materials for special situations, resources for blind, deaf and speech/language, and curriculum types and styles. It will help you find the resource you need to make your homeschooling successful. 
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.
Considering God's Creation
Life science truly comes alive with this 270-page lap-book style notebook for 2nd-7th graders. A Charlotte Mason type discovery approach is easily implemented with creative activities, music and topical Bible studies, making this program a perfect choice for a homeschool family or a classroom. It may be used as a stand-alone science course or as an invaluable supplemental resource for any other program.