Unschooling is a great form of education, but it’s not for everyone. So how do you know if unschooling is right for you?
If you’re a parent wondering if you should unschool your children, or a young student thinking of giving unschooling a try, this blog post will help you figure out if unschooling is for you.
Before I begin, I would like to provide a brief description of what unschooling is:
Unschooling is a form of home education in which the student decides what they will learn and how they will learn it.
Students who are unschooled are provided with access to the resources needed to learn, but it is their choice to use said resources.
Now that I have clarified what unschooling is, here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t unschool.
1. Not Valuing Learning
In order to be successful with unschooling you must value learning.
The reason why you’ll need to value learning as a parent is to set a good example with your children, and to encourage them to value learning as well.
The reason why you’ll need to value learning as a student is to keep yourself curious about the world around you and create encouragement to further your education.
Too many times I hear teenagers wishing they were unschooled and complaining about the education they’re getting. In most cases, the problem isn’t their education, it’s their attitude.
When presented with an opportunity to learn whatever they want, those who don’t value learning will pass it up in favor of more entertaining activities, such as playing video games or watching TV.
How can you learn to value learning?
If you don’t value the education process, but you want to know how to do so, I would suggest exploring a subject that you’re curious about. It could be anything, from how to cook well to marine biology to Norse mythology.
Spend some time getting to know that subject in detail.
Some ways to do that are:
- Read books on the subject
- Watch explanatory Youtube videos
- Find out if a local university or college teaches that subject. If they do, find out when and where the lectures are, and then go and attend them
- Contact experts and ask them how they got their experience with that subject
- Do online courses
Spend one to two months learning as much as you possibly can about the subject you choose. Even when it gets difficult or you get bored, keep exploring it.
Satisfying that curiosity will teach you to value learning and to value the effort it takes to get to know something.
2. Not Having Motivation
It’s difficult to do things without motivation.
Even the mundane tasks of everyday life, like doing the dishes, require motivation to complete. For most people, the motivation for doing the dishes comes from the fact that you need clean dishes to eat food, and you need to eat food to survive.
Why would you need motivation to unschool? The answer to this question may be more difficult for parents than it is for children, as parents may think that only their children need the motivation to unschool.
As a parent, you’ll have to have the motivation to help your children find the answers to their questions, and to nurture their curiosity. You’ll also need motivation to learn things on your own so that you can inspire your children to do the same.
As a student, you’ll need the motivation to complete the work that’s necessary to learn different subjects.
How can you gain motivation?
For the most part, motivation comes from rewards. Learn to give yourself and/or your children rewards after accomplishing tasks, and learn to identify the rewards that come naturally through education.
When I was younger, my parents used to take me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant once I had finished writing the first draft of a novel.
I got a few natural rewards from writing too, which were:
- Improved typing speed
- Becoming more imaginative
- Improved writing and story telling skills
After you complete a big project, write down what rewards you naturally get from completing it.
If you keep doing that, then after some time you will begin to easily recognize the rewards you’ll get from completing tasks before you do them, which will spark the motivation within you.
3. Can’t Be Held Accountable
It may seem kind of strange that I have this one on the list. After all, who is an unschooler supposed to be accountable to?
Accountability can come in many forms, and I feel that it is something that is often overlooked.
As a parent, you should be accountable to your child by providing them with the resources they need, finding answers to their questions, and making sure they keep records about what they learn and how they learn it.
As a student, you should be accountable to both yourself and your parents by keeping records of what you learn and how you learn it, as well as records of large projects you complete.
These records are quite useful, as they can provide reminders of accomplishments and can be examples for other unschooled students to use.
How can you become accountable?
Here are some ways to become accountable:
- Keep a notebook and mark down what you studied at the end of each day
- (If you’re a parent) Talk to your children about what you accomplished over the week
- (If you’re a student) Talk to your parents about what you accomplished over the week
- Find someone to exchange your small goals with at the beginning of each week. At the end of the week, tell each other which of your goals you’ve completed
4. Think It Will All Be Play
This is something that comes up a lot when it comes to unschooling regrets. Children aren’t encouraged to focus their attention, and so they end up playing most or all of the day.
When they’re no longer children, but young adults that are heading off to university, they learn that they’re actually years behind on subjects that they need to know.
They end up resenting their unschooling background as they have to work extra hard to catch up with the other students.
While those stories are just extreme cases, you can’t expect to play all day, every day, and ignore the stuff that needs to be learned.
As a parent, make sure that you know what your children are learning. Have them explain to you the concepts and problems of whatever they’re studying. Even if what they tell you goes over your head, it’s your responsibility to make sure that they are putting in an effort to learn.
If they aren’t putting in the effort, nudge them on the right path by studying with them or break away from pure unschooling and giving them required tasks.
As a student, make sure that you understand what will be required of you from whatever profession you want to have as an adult. Even if that profession changes from month to month, be prepared to put in the effort to study what is needed.
If you find that you don’t value learning, aren’t motivated, aren’t accountable, or think it will all be play, I encourage you to try and change that before you start unschooling.
Every Monday I post about homeschooling, unschooling, and self-directed learning, so if you find that you are cut out for home education, you might find my blog posts useful.