Quick Start Guide: What is Unschooling?

First let me be clear; when it comes to “what is unschooling?” there is no quick start. These guides are a collection of topical articles I initially put together for my husband. He is not a big reader. He appreciates having a few articles that I have hand picked to read about a topic that is important to our family. The great thing about these guides is that the linked articles will lead you to other works by the same authors. This is especially true of this “Quick Start Guide”.

What is Unschooling?
What is Unschooling? OurMuddyBoots.com

Unschooling is vastly misunderstood. As I have shared before, this breaks my heart because while some families just want to jump on the “cool train” (though I can assure you my family and the families I know do not self identify as “cool”) others are really looking for the deep connection and beauty that comes from real Unschooling. In my opinion, the authors listed here are the only way to start. They will link to other authors and before you know it you have a group of reliable and spot on mentors who are willing to share how Unschooling works.

Whether or not you heed their words and follow the articles is up to you, of course. If you are seeking the unconditional relationship and authenticity that comes with Unschooling, there is no better place to start than here:

1. “Read a little, try a little, wait a little, watch.” are the words Sandra Dodd reminds us of over and over again. In my experience this way of learning Unschooling is a gift. Sandra’s site is chock full of useful thoughts and it takes time to work your way through. It is useful too, because you can type a word into the search function and see what comes up. Click here to get started with Sandra this article from Sandra. 

2. Pam Larrichia is an excellent resource for those getting started and those who want to go deeper. With podcasts, conference talks, books, a newsletter, and more, there is something for all learning styles. Click here to start with the page Pam recommends. 

What is unschooling
What is Unschooling?

3. “The goal of unschooling is not education. It is to help a child be who she is and blossom into who she will become. Learning happens as a side effect.” This is taken from Joyce Fetteroll’s Unschooling Q&A page. I think this is a terrific page for people to start with! Click here to access it. 

4. “Real life isn’t compartmentalized into subjects and lesson plans, test scores or letter grades. Learning is EVERYWHERE, it’s all interwined, and it’s all there for the taking. Unschooling is much less about the absence of textbooks or tests or curriculum, and much more about the presence of everything else.” This quote is one of the many reasons Jen McGrail was one of my mentors long before she knew me. I chose this particular article as a starter because it dispels a lot of the beliefs people (even people who think they are Unschooling well) hold like;

  • Unschooling means children are left alone
  • Unschooling “except for” (math, etc.) is still Unschooling
  • Unschooling is letting your child make all the decisions
  • Unschooling is a method of homeschooling (though I still mostly say I homeschool for personal convenience).

You can start with Jennifer McGrail by clicking here to read the article I quoted from.

5. Jennifer McGrail and I have held a series of Unschooling chats. I LOVE these chats! You can join us for upcoming chats or access the recorded ones by clicking here. 

The articles are intended as a starting point for those who are looking to truly understand and live an Unschooling life. You won’t get it in a quick- you probably won’t even get it in a year. Follow the authors. Read who they suggest you read. Heed their wisdom and in time, you might be able to find the beauty of Unschooling happening in your family, too.