Unschooling is not leaving kids to their own devices until they show an
interest in learning a given subject.
Unschoolers do not expect interests to arise out of nothing.
As an unschooling parent I offer ideas,
information, activities, starting points, and material to my
children as opportune moments arise, not out of nothing, but out of the
experiences that are created by mindful living in the world—walking
in the woods, visiting museums, watching movies, reading books, going
to the theater, swimming in the ocean. Every moment in life offers
opportunities for learning and investigation.
We went to the Rose Parade and my 12 yo daughter wondered aloud why it
doesn't smell like roses even when you're right up close to the floats.
There was a great opportunity to talk about plants being grown for
various purposes—and how that is done—tomatoes raised for
transportability rather than taste, flowers for longlastingness rather
Unschooling families live in a learning world—no division
of life into school time and not-school time.
We had an earthquake here last week (California) and we spent
considerable time watching the news about it and reading and
understanding what causes earthquakes and how their magnitude is
measured and also how buildings are constructed to be more safe in
earthquakes. Then the earthquake in Bam, Iran, struck. It was the same
magnitude as the one we'd just experienced. My husband is Iranian, so
this adds to our focused interest there. We read about Bam itself, a
city whose buildings were thousands of years old and absolutely
gorgeous—all gone now. We found a website with fantastic pictures of
it taken just a few months ago. This whole last week we've been
immersed in ancient history, geography, geology, and architecture. We
wanted to make a donation to the Red Cross for helping the people of
Bam, and that brought up the question of why there is the Red Crescent
in Iran, not a Red Cross. A little cultural geography thrown into the
mix. We also, by chance, watched a movie, called "Cup Final," the other
night, which was about an Israeli soldier being held captive by a PLO
guerrilla group. Again, that tied in with us spending time talking
about the middle east and religions there and the long history.
Unschoolers do not preplan a curriculum and we don't have predetermined
lesson plans. What we have instead is an extremely rich environment for
learning in which, for example, the globe sits on the living room
coffee table and is regularly handled and part of our everyday life
(not pulled out for a specific lesson). Learning is valued and
constant. Connections are looked for everywhere and the whole family is
involved and loves to explore ideas and gain new information and
knowledge. Learning happens inside the learner's own head and is not
always apparent to outside observers, but the proof, for me, is in the
pudding. My kids think learning is what life is for. And I agree
Pam Sorooshian, January 2004