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Unschooling vs. Homeschooling: What's the Difference?

Sep 6, 2007
You've done it! You've made the choice to homeschool your children. But now what? There are different methods of homeschooling: school-at-home, Charlotte Mason, classical, and unschooling, to name a few. If you unschool are you really homeschooling, or is it something else entirely?

Unschooling, as it's often called, is one alternative to public school and even homeschooling. Also known as natural learning, independent learning, or child-led learning, unschooling is an approach that flies in the face of traditional thought when it comes to educating your child. So what exactly is unschooling, and how does it differ from homeschooling?

The biggest difference between unschooling and homeschooling is in the mindset. Where homeschooling is basically concerned with your child learning what it normally taught in public schools, unschoolers have a completely different way of looking at their children and at life. Unschooling is based on mutual trust between parent and child and in finding what works best for them.

Homeschoolers might choose to use a specific curriculum as a base for their teaching. Unschoolers, however, may not even use a pre-planned curriculum at all. Unschoolers believe that children learn at all times, and that what they need to learn doesn't necessarily have to come out of a set curriculum.

Another term for unschooling is delight-driven. It's not that a child is given complete freedom from learning; it means that the child is allowed to learn the things that interest them instead of what an institution says they should know. Most often those who unschool learn those things that they will be using in life rather than just what is in a book.

It may seem to an outsider looking in that an unschooler isn't actually doing school work at all. In fact, unschoolers believe that living life is the best education a child can get, so they aren't quite as concerned about what others think. Of course, if you live in a state that has more requirements for homeschoolers, it might seem a little daunting to prove that actual learning is taking place.

Since homeschooling can take on so many faces, it seems that unschooling fits right in after all. All homeschooling parents want the opportunity for their children to learn in an environment where they are encouraged to grow, develop, and flourish. What better way than to allow your child to learn the things that interest them? In doing so, they'll pick up the things that traditional education believes they need to know.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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