I love the unschooling philosophy. Also known as child-led learning or natural learning, unschooling basically means putting your child in the “driver’s seat” of their education, while accompanying them from the “passenger seat”. In a nutshell, unschooling is self-directed learning. The student chooses the subject matter and the parent is more of a facilitator than a teacher.
I was drawn to unschooling because I love the idea of following my son’s passions and seeing where they take him. I have found that when a child studies something that truly interests them, in the learning style they prefer, they are more likely to retain what they learn and keep the skills they acquire in the process, thus developing a life-long love for learning.
Unschooling is trusting nature to work its course. For example, for all of my son’s early elementary years, I never gave him spelling lists and spelling tests (which I personally think are overrated). I have never regretted this because over the years he has naturally become a good speller as he’s become a strong reader. When he reads, he sees many familiar words over again.
Here is one example of unschooling from my son’s Kindergarten year-
While on a nature walk in our neighborhood in Canada, my boy spotted a frog in its natural habitat. He was fascinated by the frog, so we decided to study frogs. This led us to the library, which happened to be a block away, where we browsed the children’s section for stories such as Frog and Toad, and The Frog Prince. We also searched in my son’s favorite section of the library, the non-fiction section, for books containing frog facts.
Back at home, I searched the internet for a printable version of a frog life cycle. (The internet is full of free resources, such as this frog activities page.) I found one that my boy could color, cut out and assemble into a wheel. Once that was done, we read from the treasures we’d brought home from the library. And to this day, my son can remember certain facts about frogs.
I like this example because we used three ready resources available to us- nature, the library/books, and the internet, to spontaneously follow a spark of interest.