Unschooling: Interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic and self-directed learning. Unschooling expands from the child’s natural curiosity as an extension of their interests, concerns, goals and plans with their parents to guide and support them.
Children are curious about the world they live in. They want to explore and investigate what’s around them. They want to know why, what and how things work. Why are there boy people and girl people? What is jelly made from? Where does the sun go at night? Why is chocolate brown? What happens if your nose falls off? Can I pat a lion? Why not?
But most importantly children play. Playing is a serious business. Through play children learn. Just think building blocks, story books, play dough, pretend play, dress ups, painting and drawing, kicking ball and going to the beach. And because children play all the time, they are constantly learning. The world is so big and there is so much to explore, children would never stop learning unless learning stops being fun.
Unschooling encourages and embraces this natural curiosity and lets the child explore the world at their own pace and interest. Instead of sitting in a classroom, they are out and about in the real world experiencing and exploring. And through their discoveries, they learn the skills they need for life. By helping out with shopping, they learn about planning, buying and selling and the mathematical skills they need for this. By caring for a pet, they learn about the biology and physiology of the animal, about taking responsibility and looking after an animal. Keeping a garden teaches all about nature, plants, bugs, seasons, but also nutrition, cooking, planning and maths. Instead of being tested for right and wrong answers, they are encouraged to find their own solutions or to try their own ways and ideas. Instead of being in a classroom with children their own age, they interact with people from all ages, cultures and places. Volunteering at a rest home or a hospital (for older children) teaches empathy and socialising skills that cannot be learned in a classroom.
‘We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying attention to what they do, answering their questions and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.’ Learning All the Time - John Holt