Monday, January 5, 2015

Why You Should Start Unschooling

I'm seeing a tag going around, proclaiming today to be National Start Homeschooling Day. In honour of that, I figured I'd share my top reasons to start unschooling. I understand that, for any number of reasons, unschooling just might not to be doable in your life. If that's the case, I hope you can still glean inspiration for doing your best to devalue standardized assessments and instead place value on passion lead, self directed learning, no matter where it takes place. If, however, you are considering leaving school or taking your kids out of school, I hope these reasons will prove so inspiring that you actually do it!

Building a self-directed education

Forget teachers and standardized curriculum dictating what and how and when you should learn. Instead, learn about whatever really interests you, what you feel is truly important and relevant. Your learning then becomes truly personalized, unique to you and based on what you want and need. You get to spend as much time as you want doing whatever it is that you wished you could be doing instead of sitting in a classroom, bored by the current lecture.

Learning and growing without externally imposed timelines

When you control your own learning, timelines of when certain things "should" be learned become irrelevant. Your child isn't a "late" reader, and you're not "behind" in math when you're no longer comparing yourself or your kids to others, based on what the school system thinks you should be learning. Instead, you can learn and grow at your own pace, and in your own way. We all learn differently, and unschooling allows us to truly embrace that.

Recognizing that we all have knowledge and skills to both learn and share

In school, there are teachers there to impart knowledge, and students attending in order to have knowledge imparted to them. Outside of school, you start to recognize that everyone can fill both of those roles at different times, and that the relationship between those who are teaching and those who are learning can be a cooperative, collaborative, and respectful one.

Improving relationships between parents and children

Parent-child relationships, especially parent-teen relationships, can often be contentious. Fights often revolve around issues of homework, bed time (early school days seem to require one), and other school-related things. When you remove school from the equation, and when parents start striving to trust, respect, and truly listen to their children, relationships can change dramatically, and "teenage rebellion" can become a thing of the past.

Socializing on your own terms

The forced socialization of schools, complete with bullies (both other children and sometimes even teachers), a lack of freedom of choice and movement, and an inability to choose more or less socializing based on each individual's needs, does not exactly promote the development of a healthy social life. As an unschooler, socializing can be based on the emotional needs of each child, and you can build a social life that truly feels good to you.

Learning in the real world

Instead of learning in a single, age segregated building, unschoolers learn in the real world. You can learn at home, in nature, at the library, at museums and community centers and yes, in classes. The world opens up, and you start to see all the myriad opportunities that are all around you for learning that feels relevant and important in your life.

Growing in an environment that feels supportive and safe

For many students--including LGBTQ people, disabled students, and students with mental illnesses--schools can feel anything but safe or supportive. People learn best and are most creative in their learning when they're not stressed and afraid, so if family life is nurturing and loving, home can make a much better base for learning.

Having time to daydream

Instead of being pushed to focus constantly, school-free learning leaves plenty of time for relaxing, processing, daydreaming, playing, and quiet introspection. As an unschooler you can reject ideas of "laziness" and choose to value the whole learning process, including boredom, not only the parts that look most active and productive.

Doing real work

When you're not simply studying for a test or producing a project or paper that will never be seen outside of a single classroom, you can instead focus on work and creation that actually feels real. You can volunteer doing important work in your community, get a job or apprentice in a field that fascinates you, write blog posts and articles for an actual audience, create visual art for a community exhibition, and otherwise share yourself with the world. You have the time to do things that feel genuinely meaningful, and that make a real impact on the lives of others.

All of these are compelling reasons why many of us have chosen unschooling for ourselves or our families. I hope that they encourage you to choose a freer, more personalized, more exciting way of approaching learning in your own lives, as well.


  1. Love, love, love this article!!!! As someone who was forced into the public education system and severely suffered through it, I would never want my own children to have to experience what I did. I love that through unschooling they'd be able to experience and learn whatever they wanted to and really discover their skills and abilities. They'd know themselves better and be able to benefit the world with their talents. They'd reach their highest potential and overall be amazing people. I'm really considering unschooling...or maybe homeschooling...or maybe a mix of both, just not school, never again. :)

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  5. Homeschooling has always been considered as an opportunity for physically or mentally different people, but the article above surprises by a great number of advantages it's got for all the students with various kinds of skills and sundry emotional types. Being raised in an extremely traditional family, I finished years ago. The educational process clearly had its pros and cons. Bu having read this extraordinary point of view I started wondering about the way I'm going to raise my children and if conventional school system is ready to educate a new generation, provide them with knowledge of the world and prepare them to face its reality. Having visited and read some articles with the help of British Essay Writer online serviceI thank the author for the given chance to think.

  6. Hi Idzie,
    Your blog posts have been so incredibly helpful in my research thus far!
    I know I'm about 3 years late to this party but I'm a new mom (seriously) considering unschooling. In fact I've pretty much already made my decision; however, my baby is only 5 months old - I'm trying to stuff my brain with as much information about this as possible so I can prepare (mostly mentally haha). I know play is the most important aspect of "education" before they turn 5/6; however, I'm wondering if putting her in preschool and then unschooling her after a couple years in preschool would be beneficial in any way. I've seen conflicting studies about preschool: kids who went to preschool have higher IQs than those who don't VS sending kids to preschool leads to more sensory/cognitive issues, etc. I'm wondering if, as an unschooled adult, you would have any advice on that front. Thanks in advance!

  7. I am so utterly grateful to have found your blog. Your writing is clear, strong, helpful for other unschooling families! Our daughter is 6 and it is such a rich journey already. A way different lifestyle, and one I am completely convinced about! Your writing gives me something I can share with my husband who is from a different culture (Sweden) and isn't convinced about unschooling. Much appreciated, keep it up!