How would you describe "unschooling"?

"Unschooling" means that we will be homeschooling without a curriculum. Instead we'll be following the children's interests. They will also learn from everyday life, so things as simple as pressing the right buttons on the dishwasher or baking a cake become ways of learning numbers etc. There are many opportunities in everyday life to learn.

Unschooling is an approach to education which nurtures the natural learning already underway in a child's life. It is an organic process directed by the individual learner, taking her wherever her interests and questions lead. Through their natural interests and passions unschooled children pick up necessary parts of formal schooling such as reading, writing, science, math, PE, home economics etc.

What does unschooling mean to your family?

Unschooling means freedom for the whole family. We can be flexible with so many things because we aren’t tied down by school times or rules. I can be flexible with bedtimes because I know we can have a quiet day the next... day if needed. I can be flexible with food and mealtimes because I don’t have to pack lunches or restrict foods because of school rules. I can go out with friends and not feel guilty about leaving my kids behind because we spend lots of time together every day. We get to go on lots of outings with family and friends because we are able to take advantage of when people have time off of work during the week. We have the freedom to follow our interests, whatever they might be and whenever the new interest takes hold.

The most important thing unschooling has to offer our children is autonomy. We want to raise free-thinking, confident, and self-motivated individuals. With those goals in mind, unschooling makes the most sense.

An added bonus of avoiding the system includes continuing to build upon our family's connectedness. The attachment between us grew from birthing at home to breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing and then on to gentle discipline. For us, remaining attached throughout the week by sharing our learning journeys flows beautifully from earlier parenting choices we made.

What do you think of the term "unschooling"?

I think child-led learning, natural learning or that we are life long learners better describes what we do. People go "huh" when use any of those terms though.

Given that "schooling" has very little to do with this approach to education, I'm not a fan of a label that contains that words in it! I use it mostly because it is well-known and is as close as a label gets to defining what it is our family does regarding education. For more on my thoughts, see here.

How did you come to the decision to unschool?

For Sarah Jane's response see here.

Sarah Patricia's response is forthcoming.