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“Un-Schooling” Approach

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Prior to the early 1900s, most Americans received their formal education at home. Home-based education became rarer as public schools became the norm and compulsory attendance laws were enacted nationwide. Not everyone believed that public schools were doing a good job of educating our citizenry. There has been a growing frustration with public education as the literacy rate continues to decline. Various educational reformers have voiced their concerns and presented ideas that they believe will result in improved education.

In late the 1960s education reformer, John Holt, presented ideas that some believe were the beginning of the modern homeschooling movement. Holt viewed learning as a natural process. He proposed that what goes on in a traditional classroom destroys a student's innate desire and drive to learn. After frustration with attempts to reform the education system, Holt began encouraging parents to keep their children out of school and to "unschool" them at home. The growth in the number of homeschoolers in the last several decades shows that many have considered and followed Holt's advice.

Families choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. Homeschoolers represent many different educational philosophies, life styles, and worldviews. One style of homeschooling is commonly referred to as "unschooling". Some also refer to it as relaxed, natural, or flexible homeschooling. Unschooling is a less structured learning approach that allows children to pursue their own interests with guidance and support from their parents/guardians.

Although it is difficult to define unschooling, there are certain tendencies among unschoolers that include:

- Trusting children to be responsible to learn what they need to know and encouraging them to pursue such knowledge.

- Taking advantage of unexpected educational opportunities and "teachable moments" since everyday experiences become a base for education.

- Allowing children to pursue learning in their own way; at their own pace.

- Providing adequate amounts of time and space so children are able to actively participate in in-depth study of their areas of interests.

- Recognizing that learning is an interactive, intrinsically rewarding process that occurs most effectively when chosen and directed by the learner.

- Viewing the parent/teacher as a nurturing, positive role model who interacts freely with the child and facilitates the learning process, rather than being a "teacher".

- Providing children with an enriched environment that invites invention, experimentation, exploration, discovery, and research.

- Providing children with exposure to the real world since the world is considered the classroom.

- Surrounding children with books, educational resources, interesting materials, the arts, a wide variety of people and life experiences, etc.

- Honoring and respecting individual learning styles, interests, talents, gifts, and rates of growth and development.

- Allowing children to be children; not hurrying them through childhood.

- Recognizing that learning is an incremental, lifelong process that occurs everywhere, all the time.

- Believing that knowing how and where to obtain information is more important than memorizing facts.

- Believing a personalized approach is far superior to any one-size-fits-all curriculum educational model or set curriculum. Students choose, plan, and carry out their own learning activities.

- Believing children learn academics best when they see the personal need for them.

- Actively participating in meaningful, "real-life" learning activities that include: volunteerism, field trips, mentorships, apprenticeships, classes, correspondence courses, private lessons, library/internet research, hands-on activities, practical and creative arts, gardening, home projects, etc.