with a set of links below (not yet finished), for further exploration
These were gathered and answered, originally, for the Lisbon and Leiden conferences, in 2013. The Portuguese version is here: Perguntas mais frequentes sobre o "Unschooling". Rippy Dusseldorp, Marta Pires and Sandra Dodd worked up the list, Marta translated to Portuguese, and the responses are Sandra's.
Links to more information for each question are at the bottom of the page, for those who really want to delve.
In school or out, every child learns to read in his own way, as he figures it out. Different people read different ways. Some are more visual, and some are sounding out letters, and some are reading groups of words.2. What about algebra? People always ask that. Many people who take algebra in school never understand it. Some who did understand it never figure out how to use it in their normal lives.
Algebra can help with logic, and it helps with programming, or html, in a way (some of the "language" of algebra) but kids often learn online formatting tricks with their blogs or games, and that makes learning algebra easier, if they get to a point in life where they need it.
There is an article here (in German and English with some ideas about the kinds of math people worry about: /math/unerzogen 3. Can they go to college/university?
I've never heard of anyone being turned away from higher education because they were homeschooled in any manner. If tests are required, the kids can take the test cold and then prepare if they didn't do as well as they had wanted to, or they could study in advance of taking the test. Some universities will let people in on a trial basis, and if they do well they're in. Some will accept a portfolio in place of a school transcript.4. What about socialization?
Schools "teach" children to get along in school. Children who live in the real world learn to get along with real people of all ages, in all kinds of situations.5. How will you know if they're learning?
Teachers need to measure and document because they need to show progress so they can get paid, and keep their jobs. They test and measure because they don't always know each child well.6. How will you know if they can read?
How did you know they could ride a bike?7. How will they learn how to spell?
Gradually and naturally. Each child figures it out. Some do better than others, but that's true in school, too. For some kids, school tells them when they're little that they're bad spellers, that others spell better, that if they don't work, study, practice that they will NEVER spell well. Unschoolers should never hear any such thing, and when they figure it out, they will feel successful.8. If they decide to go to school, will they be able to catch up?
Some are already ahead. Maybe their handwriting won't have as much use, or they might need to learn mathematical notation and practice writing numbers by hand if they've been using computers and calculators and phones to to do calculations and to communicate. So in a way they can be way ahead, but give the appearance of "being behind," because kids at school are using paper and pencil, rather than computers.9. How will they learn to work in a team?
My kids participated in small theatrical projects, party organization, gaming shop activities and tournaments, sports they organized themselves, volunteer projects run by others—they weren't pretending to do things, they were actually doing real things, for real purposes and real people.10. How will they learn to write cursive?
If they want to, they will copy other people's writing, or get a workbook. My grandmother was born around 1902. She said in the 1960s that she was worried that I didn't know how to use a fountain pen, but nobody my age knew how. In the 1970's, though, I learned to do calligraphy with dip pens, and made pens from feathers. It wasn't important. It was art, and fun.11. How will they learn the times table if I don't ask them to memorize it?
Memorizing answers isn't the same as understanding multiplication. My kids played with filling in tables, and discovered the patterns themselves that way, but never memorized them. For small calculations, they do them in their heads. For larger things, they use calculators. They have calculators on their phones. Understanding how it works, and knowing there are patterns, is more important than memorization. In the 19th century before there were mechanical adding machines and all business math was done by hand, it was important for clerks to memorize sums. We're up to the 21st century now, and business is data entry.12. How will they learn how to deal with bullies?
Why should people practice for years dealing with bullies? There wouldn't be so many bullies if children weren't forced to be where they didn't want to be. There are bullies in schools and in prisons. Anywhere else? The military, maybe. Fraternities.13. How will they learn to learn?
Some links to go with these questions, for those still in the mood to read:
1. How will they learn to read?The Nature of Real Reading2. What about algebra?