How Unschooled Children Learn

People often ask me how unschooled kids learn, if they are not actively being taught. This is a foreign concept to many people who have gone through the traditional education system. If you are a parent who has gone through traditional schooling, but you are interested in the concept of unschooling, learning more about deschooling (not to be confused with unschooling) is really important. Deschooling is basically unlearning the myths you have learned about how learning happens. 

The best way I can explain in a nutshell what unschooling looks like in my family is that my children’s learning is based on their interests, and my husband and I provide the resources they need to further their knowledge and understanding. We also introduce subsequent and similar topics as well to broaden and further their understanding. They are free to take or leave these suggestions, nothing is pushed onto them, they are simply an invitation to learn. Unschooling recognizes and values the importance of interest-based learning, learning about things in context to our lives, and learning when ready. When people of all ages learn through living, in ways that are interesting and relevant to their lives, learning happens organically and that information is retained in a way that memorization and regurgitation of information is not. 

The application I had to send to the NZ Ministry of Education required an explanation of what my son’s learning areas would be and how I expected that he would learn in these areas. For each learning area, I included examples of learning that happen organically as he wants to do these things: nothing is pushed and there are no timeframes he has to adhere to. I answer his questions and provide resources for him to further his understanding, but it is always something that he initiates, not something I make him do. 

Please click on each learning area for some examples on how each of these can be learned organically just through living life. 

LITERACY  

MATHEMATICS  

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY  

HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY  

HEALTH AND WELLBEING 

THE ARTS

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