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?
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.
Can a Christian Be an Unschooler?
Unschooling is an educational approach, an attitude towards learning. It refers to the ways in which we use books, materials, and experiences to learn and grow. The type of underlying structure you have inside yourself, your goals, value system, discipline, whether you watch TV or call parents by their first names, whether you use a patriarchal, democratic, or any other type of family structure, are not unschooling issues; they are parenting issues. Whether unschoolers or not, every parent must deal with these issues. Homeschoolers can agree on matters of how children learn and can even share a similar homeschooling style without agreeing on all of those personal issues; Christians can be unschoolers.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Deschooling on the Road
A homeschooling mom travelled 3500 miles cross-country with her son and found educational experiences in some unexpected places. Drives home the point that learning can happen in many different ways and that we cannot always plan how our children will learn.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Why Natural Learning – Does It Make Sense?
Many experts claim to know how to teach a child, but do they know how to educate him? Perhaps professionalism is a form of religion too. It takes a lot of faith to believe that removing children from their parents and making them serve time under an authoritarian regimen in a formal institution is somehow going to prepare them to love and serve their fellow man and live a peaceful and prosperous life. But mothers know.
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.
A Letter to Concerned Relatives
An explanation of natural learning and the reasons for pursuing this in a family.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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. 
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. 

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?

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. 

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 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 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. 

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
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.
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. 
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. 
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.
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.
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
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.!
Unschooling Forum at vegsource.com
Unschoolers meet to talk and share ideas at this vegsource.com message board.
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.
Western Region Unschoolers
The Western Region Unschoolers is a group for unschoolers who live in the Western U.S. covering: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California. This is a forum to announce and organize conferences, travel, camping, and other places to get together.
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.
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.
Child-Led Christian Unschooling
This child-led learning group is for those unschoolers who are also Christians.
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.
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.
Christian Unschooling
Christians can and do unschool. Here you'll find support and more.
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.
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.
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.
CRU92 · Unschoolers, Tri-Cities, WA
CRU92's purpose is to provide a forum for unschoolers in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state to find and meet each other, and to share information, support and inspiration about unschooling. Ideas shared here will be discussed in order to help members gain a better understanding of 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.
Unschooling Highlights
This list consists of a selection of posts from the UnschoolingDiscussion list.
Family Unschoolers Network
The Family Unschoolers Network provides support for unschooling, homeschooling, and self-directed learning. Includes newsletter articles, reviews, resources, web sites, books and lots of other information to help your homeschooling or unschooling efforts.
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.
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."
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.
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. 

Looking for Another State?
Featured Resources

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this site.

Minds More Awake: The Vison of Charlotte Mason
Anne E. White explores what is known as the Charlotte Mason, based on the educational philosophy of the 19th century British educator. The goal is to set a child on the path to an intentional, purposeful life. White explores both the practical and philosophical understanding the Mason's practices. White includes lots of examples of how to use these ideas in your own homeschooling. 
Don't Waste Your Time Homeschooling: 72 Things I Wish I'd Known
Traci Matt, a veteran homeschool mom helps you make the most of your homeschooling efforts. She takes a look back at 20 years of successes and challenges, offering tested strategies to assist you on your home education journey. This book will help you learn ways to keep a peaceful home, stay out of the isolation trap, practice self-care, learn how to live with teens, and respond to the questions of others.
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 Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric
Opening the door for beginners who seek a thorough grounding in the first arts of human understanding, this book explains the nature of logic, grammar, and rhetoric-the three of the seven liberal arts-and how they relate to one another. In Renaissance universities, the trivium (literally, the crossing of three part way) formed the essence of the liberal arts curriculum. Examined are topics such as the nature and function of language, distinguishing general grammar from special grammar, the study...
Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving
Most driving literature for parents focuses on how to teach a teen to drive, without explaining why teen driving is so dangerous in the first place or giving parents a plan to preempt the hazards teens face. By contrast, Not So Fast empowers and guides parents to understand the causes and situations that most often lead to teen crashes and to take specific, proactive steps—before and each time a teen driver gets behind the wheel—to counteract them. This authoritative guide tackles hot button iss...