Is Unschooling Right for Your Family?

You may have heard of unschooling and are thinking that it might work for your family. Or, maybe you are vaguely familiar with the term but want to know more. Unschooling is one of those intriguing topics that a lot of parents want to learn more about, but are often intimidated by.  

For years, unschooling has been a taboo way of homeschooling. Thanks to social media and the internet, as well as some well-done research, unschooling is becoming more widespread.  

You might be wondering if unschooling would be right for your family. Could you make it work? Would your kids learn? So many thoughts cross your mind when you explore the possibility of unschooling.  

Is Unschooling Right for Your Family

Let’s take a look at how to know if unschooling is right for your family:  

1. You Want and Trust Your Kids to Lead the Way in Their Learning

Unschooling is all about your kids finding their passions and interests and pursuing them in depth. This takes a lot of trust on the part of the parents.

It can be difficult for parents to let go of their own expectations, in order to allow their children to lead the way in their education.  

A lot of parents are used to the top-down method of education (found in public school, and sometimes traditional homeschooling), and it is a challenge to think that your kids don’t need formal instruction to learn something.  

If you really want your kids to learn in their own ways, then unschooling is right for you!

2 .  You Already Practice (or are Willing to) Respectful and Positive Parenting  

One thing I’ve learned about unschooling is that its success is very dependent on your style of parenting. Unschooling absolutely doesn’t mean that you DO NOT parent. Quite the opposite, actually.

Unschooling requires parents to be very hands-on in their parenting. Not in a helicopter, hovering type of way, but rather a respectful way that recognizes that kids deserve to be treated kindly, positively, and respectfully.

This type of parenting is essential to unschooling because you have to build a strong and respectful relationship with your kids.

If you feel like you need to control or have a say in everything your child does, then unschooling may be a struggle for your family.

To learn more about respectful and positive parenting, check out this booklist for some excellent resources and advice.  

3 . You are Willing to and Able to Provide Learning Resources That Fit Your Child’s Interests and Learning Styles 

When you are unschooling, you still use learning resources (even some mainstream resources), based on what your child is interested in. For example, you can use online math and reading games when your child is ready to embark on learning more in those areas.

You can use handwriting workbooks when your child wants to learn cursive, or an online Spanish program if he/she wants to learn another language. The options are endless.

Of course, real-life learning is always the best, but depending on your child’s learning style, paper-to-pencil practice is what they desire and what suits them best.

As the parent, you are the resource provider and guide. You can make suggestions, or strew items around the house to spark interest (to find out more about strewing, check out my course UNSCHOOLING WITH CONFIDENCE, where I dive even deeper into unschooling).

For more on what your role is, as an unschooling parent, check out this article for more great tips.  

4 .  You Model a Love for Learning for Your Kids to be Inspired

The key factor in successful unschooling is that the parents are enthusiastic about learning new things.  

Unschooling is a lifestyle that involves the entire family. When your children see that you are learning new things and enjoying them, they naturally follow suit. 

What are YOU passionate about?  What can you involve your kids in, so that they are exposed to new things?  

For example, my husband is an avid tarantula lover. I am not. 😉 But, if it wasn’t for his deep interest in these furry little creatures, my kids would never have been interested in tarantulas themselves. It is through my husband’s interest that my kids have really become intrigued by tarantulas as well.

Not only should you share your passions with your kids, but they should be able to share theirs with you. When your kids are excitedly sharing about a bird’s nest they found, share in their excitement! Have them show you what they have been exploring and have a discussion about it.  

This is VITAL to unschooling success!

5. You are Intentional and Don’t Let Chaos Creep Through the Door of Your Home 

Unschooling gets a bad rap because it seems to be a very chaotic and unintentional way of life. But, this is not the case.

As an unschooling parent, you will have to be intentional. You will need to keep track of your child’s interests, plan for outings and experiences, and be involved.  

A great tool to keep track of your kids’ interests and learning, as well as a place to organize your unschooling journey, is the UNSCHOOLING WITH PURPOSE PRINTABLE BINDER SET.  You will find pages upon pages of useful planning and organizational tools, as well as goals and reflections pages for you and your kids.

It does not have to be a chaotic situation. You still keep your good leadership and parenting skills when you choose to unschool. You DO NOT, in the name of unschooling, allow chaos into your household.

Final Thoughts on Whether or Not Unschooling is Right for Your Family 

Unschooling is an amazing way to homeschool your kids. If you have considered trying it, but aren’t completely sold on the idea, don’t let intimidation stop you. While it is not the easiest method of homeschooling, it is well worth it.

The most important thing is to do your research and assess what your kids and family need. You can mold unschooling to make it work for your family, just don’t lose the underlying philosophy, which is academic freedom for your child.  

Katrina Oldham

About the author

Katrina is a chaotically organized unschooling mom of 3 kids--- ages 8, 5 and 10 months. She is a former teacher and instructional coach and loves the flexibility of homeschooling. Her biggest passion is child-focused learning and helping parents to create a love for learning in their kids.

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