5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Give Unschooling a Try

On this 8-year journey that we call homeschooling, we’ve been all over the “methods spectrum.” We started out strictly (and mindlessly) replicating school at home with disastrous results. After learning from our (my) mistakes, we moved onto unit studies which were so much more pleasant for us. More time passed, and after spending quite a bit of time reading some life-changing books, I decided to take a leap of faith and try out unschooling for awhile. 

And that’s what prompted this post.

Although unschooling didn’t fit our needs as a family, I learned more from that time than I could have learned from any book. In fact, my homeschool philosophy focusing on utter simplicity in learning was derived from our experiences during that time.

It is my firm belief that every homeschooling family should consider these:

5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Give Unschooling a Try

1. It opens your eyes to seeing learning everywhere.



In our culture, school is considered as normal as the sun rising. No matter how faulty the system is, most people tend to overlook that fact because this is the way it’s “always been done.” Our time spent not following a curriculum allowed us to rid ourselves of this potentially disabling mindset.

Learning can and does happen everywhere.

It happens when your kids are in the yard digging for worms. It happens when they’re jumping on the trampoline at a friend’s house. It even happens while they’re watching TV. I’m serious. The other day my kids knew the name of some weird fish because they saw it on a cartoon.

Keep an open mind. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you see.


2. It gives children (and parents) time to deschool.



Deschooling is usually mentioned in reference to kids being withdrawn from school in order to be homeschooled, but a period of deschooling can be refreshing for any family. Whether you’re feeling burned out, the curriculum isn’t working, or you simply need to change things up for a bit, deschooling can be a great way to sit back, relax, and just let your kids be kids.

The most exciting time to witness learning is when you weren’t looking for it in the first place.


3. It allows children time to find out what they’re interested in.



While homeschooled children have much more time to explore their interests than those in school, all too often even we homeschoolers get swept up in the “My kids have to do it all!” frame of mind. I don’t think it’s something that happens consciously. It’s just our reaction to the fast-paced world we live in.

Those activities and extracurriculars may look great on your child’s college applications, but are they really worth it if they come at the expense of your son or daughter having some precious free time? I don’t know how many times I’ve asked kids what they were interested in, only for them to reply that they didn’t know.

How sad is that?

Unschooling- even for a little while- provides an excellent opportunity for your children to get to know themselves a little better. I think even we adults could benefit from doing this for ourselves from time to time.


4. It encourages self-directed learning.



Kids who are repeatedly told over and over again what they need to learn often become kids who can’t occupy themselves or figure things out on their own without step-by-step directions. Unschooling allows children to be the little scientists that they are. It enables them to use their innate curiosity to find out how things work, why things work, and how to go about creating something of their own.

No curriculum can compare with the critical thinking skills that arise from self-directed learning.


5. It makes parents aware of how much kids DO learn on their own.



So many times- so. many. times.- frantic homeschooling parents come to me for advice, thinking that they’ve failed their kids, when if they just took a step back, gave their kids some room, and observed them, they’d see that their kids are learning in ways they never thought of before. To be honest, I think learning that comes from textbooks is the least effective learning method there is.

Unschooling can be such a confidence booster because it allows parents the chance to see their kids in action. Watching your children do what kids do best- explore- can be a huge relief to parents who are unsure of their ability to properly homeschool their kids.

They are learning. Everyday. All the time.


Final Thoughts:

Unschooling isn’t the right choice for every family. In our case, the lack of structure caused a bit of chaos for a family our size, but the benefits of trying it far outweigh any of the problems we may have been up against in the midst of it.

So, am I urging everyone to unschool?

Yes and no.

I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone drop their homeschooling style if it’s working for them. What I am suggesting is that there is enough to be learned from the process that it’s certainly worth trying it for a bit- even if it’s only for a few weeks.

And this is especially a good idea for those of you who may be suffering from some burnout, need a “change of scenery,” are struggling with leaving behind a schoolish way of thinking, or whose curriculum just isn’t cutting it.

Kids are awesome. They are amazing. And a child left to discover is a force to be reckoned with.





Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

32 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Give Unschooling a Try”

  1. I love this post!
    I wish I could homeschool my kids, even if it was just for a year. I just don’t think I have the patience to do it, and I would have no idea where to start. Your posts are very inspiring though, and are definitely food for thought…!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can seem overwhelming but if it’s something that you really feel would benefit your children you should give it a try. My daughter is 6 years old and we’ve been homeschooling from day one. I’ve done a lot of research and was completely overwhelmed at first but then I started connecting with other families in the area through Facebook groups and a local homeschool group and realized that I could make it work.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Believe me, my patience runs very thin at times, but, I promise you, the more you’re with your kids, the more your patience grows. By the way, you’ve inspired my next post. I’ll be writing about how to start homeschooling. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I think you feel the way a lot of people do. My son is in first grade (just finishing up this year), and we are unschooling next year. I am terrified, but I think unschooling is a good way to learn to let go and trust that your kids are learning. Also, you can stop homeschooling at any time, and enroll them into school again if it’s not working out for you. So, you always have that! Best wishes, and if it’s something you think you’d really like to do, research a lot! The more you research the more confident you’ll feel.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I completely agree with you! Lately, I have been tossing the idea around of maybe trying to just follow my kids’ interests instead of a curriculum plan. After all, that’s the reason we’re homeschooling in the first place. We’re not there yet, but I’m slowly working my way there. Thank you for sharing this post! I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have a very relaxed eclectic style of homeschooling, I don’t know if it would be considered unschooling but we do a lot of field trips and hands-on learning as well as some book work. I include educational TV shows, video games for the computer and iPad Apps in our everyday learning. It always surprises me when my daughter talks about something totally unexpected that she saw on TV or in one of her apps like Black Holes or recognizing the Mona Lisa. And if she asks to study something, then I will find a unit study or something age appropriate (she’s only 6 years old) and then we spend a few days learning about the topic. We also do a lot of craft projects and artistic things related to whatever we happen to be studying at the time. Everyone that talks to my daughter can not believe she’s only 6 because of how well spoken she is and what a large vocabulary she has. So I guess it’s working for us… if in the future it stops working then I’ll find a style that does. That’s the beauty of homeschooling… we can be as flexible as we need to in order to best fit our child’s educational needs.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fabulous post! I am drifting into unschooling, though I still have a few things I elect to do with him each day that I get a chance….some very basics… maybe I’m there more than I realize though. He’s outside just playing in this awesome February sunshine and I can calmly relax and think, yep, he’s having school! LOL


  5. I love this post. My new philosophy is: unschool when you can, educate when you need to. Homeschooling is like a dance; sometimes you lead, and sometimes your child leads. In order for that to happen though, parents need to be able to let go of the control once in awhile. Unschooling really helps make that happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I totally agree! We tried unschooling quite a few times off and on our first few years of homeschooling. I was so drawn to that method but ultimately we found it did not work for our family either but I am so glad we kept dabbling in it. It really did teach me to look for learning everywhere and allowed me to relax a lot more in what subjects I felt I needed to teach.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We are newer to homeschooling. My son had a bad schooling experience, so We pulled him to homeschool & were advised to try deschooling. But I feel like he only watch TV or be on iPad but not really investigating. My son has Adhd and we are learning that he may be on the autistic spectrum. It is more of a difficult adjustment for me, because I grew up in such a strict traditional style. However, I’m trying to figure out how balance how to help him since he has such challenges with very basics like writing (his hand writing is like that of a child half his age) & numbers (I just feel like I need to help him understand $ in the least).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My kids went through a phase like that, too, and I actually did put limits on how much time they could spend doing those things. I also made sure we did lots of outdoors activities together, like going to the creek, for walks, to the playground, etc. Learning about money is absolutely crucial, and the real world environment of homeschooling is the perfect way to do that because it’s so much simpler to learn in real life experiences than just from worksheets. I hope everything goes well for you!


  8. It’s so exciting to read all these things and let myself reach back and give myself a little pat. I thought I was the chaotic maestro of a big [maybe] productive mess, but turns out I was following a method so many are raving about and I didn’t even know! I put my oldest in public school, saw what a joke it was and what a bad influence it was having on her and we pulled her. I had no idea what I was doing. I grew up in a military community and as a child played with, then later babysat, a lot of home schooled kids. All of these straight laced army wives had home classrooms, text books, teacher’s guides and five year olds learning Latin(!!!). I’m just hand writing addition work sheets going, “This is never going to work.” Things have gotten smoother, I write out weeks in advance and find easy resources (grabbed up a load of 50 cent National Geographic mags at the used book store, and lots of hands on nature learning) and, a year later, my 6 year old daughter is going head to head with the ten year old across the street about what they each can do. She led herself through 52 chapter books and all the way into division and it led to my newly 5 year old starting school early because he wanted to have fun like his sister!
    Occam’s Razor, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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