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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learning Is Child's Play
Traditional schooling operates on a set of beliefs whose errors have long been exposed. Its teaching is based on outmoded and ineffective concepts of the teaching-learning process. The reason for the failure of the traditional education system is, ironically, that uses "schooling." Children learn, not from schooling, but from living. And for them, living means playing.
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.
You Might Be An Unschooler If…
A short list of some of the ways unschoolers learn through living.
A Few Words About Unschooling Math
A wonderful list of things that can lead to math learning.
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.
Beware the Curriculum Mentality
One of the most important duties of parents is to help their children to discover and pursue new interests, retaining the love of learning that is almost universal in young children and almost universally extinct in conventionally educated adults. Standardised curricula, and the stultifying educational hoops that schoolchildren have to jump through, sabotage this aim. This can cause trouble for parents who have to satisfy other people ... that they are educating their children properly. Under pressure, they may slide into a "homeschooling" mentality that distorts and damages their children's education.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Unschoolers and a "Christian World View"
Do Christian "natural learners" ("unschoolers") have a world view the same as other Christians? Some of them will, but not all.
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.
I Am What I Am
A mother of an exceptional child discusses why homeschooling is the right choice for their family. A personal look at the joys of learning and growing together through an unschooling philosophy of life.
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.
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?

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 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?"

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. 
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. 

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. 

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. 

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?"
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. 

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. 

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

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?"
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. 

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. 

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. 
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?"
Support for Unschooling Families
Unschooling in IL
Email list for Illinois families who are unschooling. This is for parents for have chosen the method of unschooling as the means to teach their children. Join the list of Illinois families who are 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.
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.Info Forum
This message board is designed for unschooling parents to connect, ask questions, share information and ideas, and get support.
Northside Unschoolers of Chicago
The Northside Unschoolers is a support group for homeschooling families that practice child-led learning.
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.
Secret Society of Unschooling Dads (SSUD)
This group is for Unschooling Dads, Granddads, and Dads-to-be who have attended one of the past 3 Live and Learn Conferences OR who have spouses who attended one of these conferences. Other unschooling fathers (et al.) can also join the group through invitation. Our intention is to keep a running dialog and passion for unschooling our children between conferences.
Off The Beaten Path
Off the Beaten Path is an inclusive support network of unschooling families based in Lake County, Illinois. OTBP’s mission is to provide a means for local unschoolers, and those wanting to learn more about interest-led learning, to connect and support one another.
Christian Unschooling
Christians can and do unschool. Here you'll find support and more.
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.
Child-Led Christian Unschooling
This child-led learning group is for those unschoolers who are also Christians.
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.
Unschoolers' Circle
The Unschoolers' Circle is an inclusive list for anyone interested in home education with unschooling leanings.
Unschooling Forum at vegsource.com
Unschoolers meet to talk and share ideas at this vegsource.com message board.
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.
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.
Unschoolers Coffee Talk
A place for unschoolers to come together to discuss our adventures and experiences,share resources and information.
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.
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."
Will County Unschoolers
This is an inclusive homeschooling group for Will, DuPage, and surrounding counties in Illinois. They meet every Wednesday, alternating each week between the Joliet area and Aurora/Naperville area.
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 in the Midwest
This group is for unschoolers in the midwest to offer support to other life learning families and to organize activities.
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 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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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 pare...
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. 
Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child
Understanding your child's learning style can help with challenges in learning, improving outcomes in reading, writing, and behavior. This book offers strategies for understanding your child's learning style and presents tools that you can use to become more successful in your homeschooling. 
Shurley English
Shurley English maintains that effective instruction in English must be founded upon an understanding of how the parts of speech work together in a sentence. A good grammar foundation gives students the skills to improve writing. Grammar is the structure of sentence composition. Through grammar, students learn how to write, improve, and expand sentences. After they have an understanding of sentence structure, students are then able to combine sentences successfully into paragraphs, essays, and r...
Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with Confidence
It's time to change your perspective to transform the way you plan, teach, and homeschool. This book helps you to see homeschooling as a calling. With this mindset, you'll be able to dismiss the stress of impossible expectations. Find strategies to help you juggle the logistics of homeschooling with different ages, be a good support for a struggling learner, set realistic goals, dismiss the guilt, and weather any criticism. You can be a hopeful homeschooler! God uses all for good and can transfo...