When thinking of alternatives for traditional schooling, unschooling is one of the options that comes to mind. However, unschooling is often misunderstood by many people. Unschooling can be quite beneficial to your child, depending on their preferred learning style and pace.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling means “not school,” but it also does not mean “not learning.”
Instead, unschooling breaks down the barriers of traditional schooling which includes lesson plans and structured curriculum. Unschooling is child-led learning, a homeschooling approach which allows learning to happen naturally, through curiosity rather than textbooks.
This means that unschooling can involve activities such as cooking or building a desk. Earl Stevens, an unschooler, notes that children follow their interests in homeschooling, and those interests inevitably lead to areas such as science, art, literature, history – what we today would define as “subjects.”
A common misunderstanding about unschooling is that parents let their children run amok and free, but in reality, parents are highly engaged with their child’s learning as they provide opportunities and guidance to their young students. And yes, unschooling is legal in all 50 states!
What Are The Benefits of Unschooling?
Unschooling allows students and parents to create their own schedules and choose the degree of structure they want in their learning. Each child has a different learning style and pace. Students are not bound by grade levels, and this allows your child to learn at a faster or slower pace than they would at school.
Often times, kids can feel embarrassed if they are held back a grade, and if given the opportunity to learn at their own pace in unschooling, they can be saved from such embarrassment.
Studies have shown that unschooled children also grow up to be in successful careers. Many actually choose creative careers, not only those in the arts but also those in STEM fields.
Some unschooled students report that they are more self-motivated to learn and more effective at time management than many of their peers when they went to college because they had cultivated these habits since childhood as a result of unschooling. When both parents and children are fully invested and happy with unschooling, it can have great benefits.
How Can I Start Unschooling and What Activities Can I Do?
The first stage of unschooling is called “deschooling,” which is a transition period from traditional school to homeschool. In this phase, parents and students should come together to decide what they want to learn and get out of the mindset of traditional school.
Ask your child what their goals are and what they want to do – after all, unschooling is about self-guided learning.
As a parent, you can still offer enriching activities to your children such as taking them to the library, to music lessons, or sports clubs. You can follow and supplement your child’s interests, but remember not to “overplay” learning moments.
It is important not to force your child’s hand into learning something. Pursue answers for your child’s questions, play games together, and do projects together.
Learning IS fun, and there is no reason to disguise this natural human activity as so.
Unschooling and STEM Education
If you and your child are interested in STEM, then you might want to check out some of Boon-Dah’s learning tools, which include engaging storybooks, DIY kits, and interactive games!
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