Unschooling Restores Curiosity

When their child is eagerly learning and pursuing knowledge, parents simply shine in delight. “Unschooling” is an educational method that is intended to harness a child’s nature, that of excitement for learning and curiosity about the world around them.

Tapping into this nature allow the child to continue learning with a sense of wonder and adventure, rather than being forced to learn what is on the school agenda for the day.

After their first few years, most children are shuffled off to public classrooms where a child’s natural curiosity and spark for learning all they can takes a secondary role to the curriculum and lesson plans for the day.

While it is true that schools also want to have students in the pursuit of knowledge, it is also simply part of the institutional structure that by nature focuses and forces children to learn what the school has outlined and in the way that has been approved.

Unfortunately, this is counterproductive for most students and does not serve them well or bring out their best energies for learning. Unschooling is an attempt to turn around that educational model and free student to learn in more natural and effortless way.

Traditional school curriculums are based on the idea that children have to be pursued by knowledge because they are not trusted to ever pursue knowledge for themselves. And, because in a school setting, learning is defined by schoolwork, it is easy for teachers to conclude that children are not eager to learn since most tend to avoid the schoolwork.

As a result, sending a child to school became a way to control children and force them into the learning path decided for them by professional educators. While there are some students who are able to thrive in such settings, many more children become discouraged and unmotivated. Unschooling can help children to regain that spark, curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.

One of the primary ways that unschooling is being implemented is through homeschooling children rather than sending them to primary educational institutions. Homeschooling is a growing trend that promises to continue, not only in the United States, but around the world, wherever institutional education is impinging on children’s natural inclinations to learn.

In a school setting, teachers must use and stick to a standard curriculum that is set out, not by the teachers who have direct interaction with students, by committees that are generally staffed by people who have not set foot in a classroom or interacted with students in years.

However, a homeschool curriculum that is following the principles of the unschool, will be considerably different from what is found in the public schools.

There are some homeschooling resources that advocate following very similar curricula as what is considered standard to schools. However, this means homeschoolers simple experience and change in setting by being taught at home, but not a change in the approach to learning.

The major emphasis of unschooling is to re-ignite a child’s curiosity of the world around them, which is a natural state that is too often squelched by the formal school system. Using a child’s nature to help drive his learning helps him be motivated and feel empowered in their educational pursuits.

How to Start Homeschooling – Here Are Some Practical Steps to Take

Feeling overwhelmed now that you have decided to teach your child at home? Here are some practical steps on how to start homeschooling which if taken can help you and your children to succeed.

The first step is to select a homeschooling school to provide your educational materials. These institutions provide a full range of services to parents who home school their children. Such schools provide a core set of courses to meet state requirements, electives to round out your child’s education. They also provide a lot of the worksheets, forms, and other administrative tools you will need to document your child’s learning and progress as well as comply with State requirements.

Next, join a homeschooling association composed of parents like you as well as professionals in education and others. Associations are very helpful in alerting you to changes in state laws and regulations. They can also help guide you in complying with state mandates. And of course, the primary task of these not-for-profit groups is to be your advocate and represent your interests before governmental agencies, committees, and commissions. The value and service provided to you by associations can not be over emphasized.

You should also take out a subscription to a magazine designed especially for parents who teach their children at home. These publications provide lots of resources for the home school as well as practical articles on how to have a successful educational experience and keeps you abreast of latest developments and trends in homeschooling.

A necessary fourth step is to join a parents online forum. These are forums especially for parents who teach their children at home – they provide a unique opportunity for you to interact with other parents and share your wisdom with them as well as seek their advice. Your home school undertaking is made simpler and less overwhelming when you follow the simple steps outlined in this article.

Dissatisfied With Public Schools?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in its The Condition of Education, 2009 Report, 38% of the homeschoolers in this country are homeschooling for reasons related to public school safety concerns, environmental concerns, or failure of their local public schools to provide quality academic instruction. Compare that to 36% who homeschool for reasons of a religious or moral nature, according to the same report. In other words, dissatisfaction with the public school system has surpassed religious motivations for leading families into choosing homeschooling. What that should be saying to educators of all types in this country, is that homeschooling is no longer an isolated portion of the population, but a growing movement that is affecting all families, all school districts, and all future citizens of this country.

As an advocate of homeschooling, and author of numerous methods, tips and strategies on how to homeschool effectively, these statistics do not alarm me, however they should alarm non-homeschooling families. They should alarm public school educators. Yet, while I advocate homeschooling as a viable, high quality, richly rewarding, and profoundly fitting way to prepare students for higher education, I am also a product of a quality public school education myself. So, I cannot deny that there are good public schools out there, good public school teachers, and systems that are working. But they are fewer in number than they used to be according to the perception of the public as evidenced in this report.

I also cannot deny that homeschooling will not work for everyone. Personally, I would not advocate someone taking on the high calling of homeschooling without being confident of their purpose and their commitment. Homeschooling is too near to my heart to wish that everyone would follow this path and then find that many did not end up doing it well. But the fact remains that many public schools are not doing their jobs well, and this is leading many families, a majority of those who homeschool, in fact, into an alternate choice for their children’s education.

If this is you, and if you are considering leaving the public school system in favor of homeschooling, be sure to do your due diligence. That is where the major paradigm shift comes in homeschooling. When your child goes to a public school, as a parent, your job is to get them to and from the school and occasionally attend a conference with their teacher. There is a blind trust that the school is doing their job and doing it well. You don’t have to think about curricula or “quality” or learning tools – you assume those are being taught. However, if you are considering making a change to homeschooling, you must take ownership of these foundational elements yourself. You cannot defer this responsibility to someone else, and therein is the major difference.

Curricula choices abound for homeschoolers, and most of them have teaching helps, lesson plans or instructions, etc., so the issue of how to teach is not the issue. The issue of how to put it all together and stay on track is the issue. Speak with other homeschoolers in your area before you make the shift from public school to homeschool. Get help from a homeschool coach who can help to direct you to appropriate curricula, provide diagnostics to assess your child’s academic weaknesses and strengths, and show you how to track and chart your child’s progress towards college.

It is clear that dissatisfaction with the public schools is on the rise, and many, like you, may be turning to homeschooling as an option. You are not alone. But if you are willing to look into an incredible method of seeing your children grow in academic wisdom, skill, and confidence, be sure to also take the time to consult those who will help you succeed, regardless of what draws you into the path of homeschooling.