So, you’ve heard about this crazy homeschooling philosophy known as unschooling. Maybe you’re thinking, Sounds interesting. I might like to try it. But, why choose that over other methods? I mean, are there any benefits of unschooling? There are indeed! Now, I will say that unschooling doesn’t have a monopoly on these benefits, but it does foster them more than some other homeschooling styles. Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Unschooling
It promotes critical thinking skills.
Unschoolers generally don’t do worksheets or other activities that only engage lower level thinking skills. They tend to focus on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Critical Thinking. That’s because they don’t do memorizing just for the sake of memorizing. Unschoolers aren’t interested in passing tests or meeting grade level expectations. So, they are free to go deep with what really makes their hearts sing. Immersing oneself in a subject deeply encourages understanding, analysis, application, and creativity. In that way, they become experts, which leads to my next three benefits.
Unschooling can develop life long learning.
God made us curious and that means that we are natural-born learners. Watching any small child confirms this. In fact, unschooling is the way that every little girl and boy naturally learns. Choosing to unschool during the elementary and teen years just allows them to continue in this way. They love learning because they were born for it and it never gets a chance to be schooled out of them. And, who wouldn’t love learning what you want, when you want, in the manner that you want?
Engages your child’s strengths and gifts.
One of my favorite benefits of unschooling is that it develops and engages children’s God-given gifts and strengths. Of course, this can also be a downside because children will likely avoid working on improving their weak areas. But, I know from my own children that allowing children to operate mostly in their strengths nurtures confidence, competence, and self-worth. It also helps them learn to compensate for their weaknesses in the best ways they know how.
One of the great benefits of unschooling is that it allows kids to pursue their own interests.
Other homeschool styles can incorporate children’s interests, too. But, it’s often an afterthought. One of the benefits of unschooling is that it allows your children to go deep with their interests and spend as much time as they like with them. This deep knowledge allows them to become experts at something at a young age. Ever hear the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” That’s the result of most education. Unschooling offers an alternative–mastery.
Respects different developmental timelines.
As you probably know, children develop at different rates and so do their skills. Not everyone reads at age five and not all children understand algebra at age 14. Unschooling allows greater flexibility and respects developmental differences. Just remember that learning disabilities do exist. So, if your late reader also reverses letters and has trouble sequencing events, consider having him evaluated for dyslexia.
My favorite benefits of unschooling is that it builds margin into your life.
Whether or not unschooling builds margin totally depends on you, though. Some unschoolers fill up their days with driving around to classes all day. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Unschooling allows you to do life your way and that means to do less. You are free to spend your days slowly and deeply doing what brings you and your children joy and satisfaction. You are not ruled by a curriculum or a school schedule.
Encourages family pursuits and sharing.
My all-time favorite benefit of unschooling is the encouragement of family pursuits, bonding, and sharing of interests. Unlike some other homeschooling methods, unschooling allows for parents’ passions, too. Every person is seen as a whole individual with interests of their own that they can pursue to some degree. Of course, parents can only pursue their own passions to the degree that children are able to work independently. In the meantime, parents can invite their children along for the ride as they sew quilts, paint, garden, complete woodworking projects, etc. This familial sharing develops relationships and exposes children to new possible passions as they not only work with their parents, but with their siblings as well.
Unschooling is how children learned before the advent of schools as we know them today. They worked with their parents, read books together, and enjoyed their own pursuits. It is relational and aren’t relationships with loved ones the best way to educate?