When we think about unschooling, we naturally conjure up a specific image in our minds. We might imagine children sassing their parents and playing video games all day.
Or, perhaps we envision a successful teen entrepreneur running an online business. Naturally, the word unschooling may excite us or make us uncomfortable.
Maybe the idea of self-directed, passion-driven learning inspires you, but you think, I couldn’t do that. I like structure too much. Or, maybe you’re the opposite and your stomach churns at the mention of unschooling because you’ve been around folks unschooling poorly. Read this post, A Complete Guide to Christian Unschooling, to find out how to unschool well.
A lot of homeschoolers, however, embrace some level of unschooling without even knowing it.
5 Signs You Might Be an Unschooler
Do your preschool and early elementary-aged children spend most of the day playing? Does your early academic program consist of crafts, read-alouds, and outdoor adventures? When your child suddenly becomes obsessed with snakes, do you indulge him? You might just be an unschooler! Developmentally, you follow what your preschooler or young child needs.
Interest-Based Unit Studies
Unschooling doesn’t necessarily mean unstructured or unglued. It simply means the freedom to pursue one’s interests or passions at one’s own pace and in one’s own preferred way. Some children thrive with some level of structure and get more out of their own pursuits if they’re organized. If you’re incorporating some interest-based unit studies into your homeschool, you might just be an unschooler!
Field Trips and Community Learning
Unschoolers often incorporate a lot of real-life experiences into their learning. Do you take your children on a lot of field trips, especially impromptu ones? Are you involved in your community, taking advantage of community classes, volunteer opportunities, and events? Whether these are enrichment activities or the focus of your studies, your intentional attempts to “make it real” are similar to what unschoolers regularly do.
Some have very full days, but many unschooling families tend to take a more relaxed approach to scheduling and routine. Maybe you have no problem spending several hours on a robotics project instead of moving through every subject area in the same amount of time. Perhaps you’re the mom curled up in bed reading picture books with her kids for half the day. Don’t feel guilty that you didn’t do academics. You may be an unschooler at heart.
Character & Critical Thinking Over Classes
Initiative. Creativity. Problem-solving. Independence. Do you try to foster these traits? These cannot be taught through a textbook. Do you encourage your children to start businesses? Embark on independent projects? Develop novel solutions to household challenges? You may just be an unschooler! Unschoolers value character and critical thinking over academics. Academics can be learned at any age, while these important traits must be fostered in childhood.
What do you think? Do you think you could be an unschooler?
If you embrace any or all of these signs, why not go all in? Check out the Complete Guide to Christian Unschooling mentioned at the beginning. It might be just the right fit for this school year.
Julie is a veteran homeschool mom of 4 all of whom have special needs and has a degree from the School of Natural Healing! She also teaches middle school science workshops for a homeschool co-op. Her faith in Jesus leads everything she does including worship for the Women’s ministry at her church! You can read more about her in her new book called God Schooling or her blog, julienaturally.com!