Unschooling or Homeschooling: What’s the Difference? Ask around at your next homeschool conference to compare features of child rearing in the family 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. Unschooling means learning what one wants, when one wants, in the way one wants, for one’s own reasons. She may find outside help in the form of parents, mentors, books, or formal lessons, but SHE is the one making the decisions about how best to proceed. Unschooling is trusting that your children are at least as clever and capable as you are yourself. It’s true that learning belongs to the person who is doing it. You can’t force someone to learn something.
They have to think for themselves to make the knowledge their own. 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. Or, is it better for the parents to take the lead and teach their children, i.
Can parents, who know more about the world and who also love their children, teach their kids without squashing their interest and desire to learn? The answer is a resounding “Yes, they most certainly can. The best way to achieve that knowledge and the independent learning it will eventually lead to, is by a reasonably structured method of teaching. No-one is in a better position to teach a child than the parents. Not only do parents have a genuine interest in providing the best possible education for their child, parents can also take into account their child’s unique interests, ability, learning style, and daily experiences to build or adapt a curriculum tailored to suit them. Both the child’s and the parent’s goals for education are met.
Who is in control in this team effort scenario? With homeschooling the ultimate control and responsibility for education rests with the parents, not with the child. There is a big difference in orientation between what’s commonly called “relaxed homeschooling” and unschooling, yet many don’t make a distinction between the two. Parents who plan and teach without being asked to by the child are homeschoolers, regardless of how school-ish they look or don’t look to outsiders. Some of the confusion in terminology arises because there are times during the course of homeschooling when it is appropriate to let the child lead. Just because it makes sense for the child to lead at different stages of learning, it doesn’t mean that the parent is unschooling.