What's the Difference between Relaxed Homeschooling and Unschooling?

Lisa W. responded to this question:
"....How are relaxed homeschoolers different from unschoolers? In my brief searches, they seem to be very similar. ..."
Here's what I've actually seen—and some of these call themselves unschoolers—which is why some people started the term "Radical Unschoolers" At least that is how it is in my local group of diverse homeschoolers. Think of it in terms of a sliding scale from homeschooling, relaxed homeschooling, unschooling, (and some might even say radical unschooling).

These are "They might do's" for relaxed homeschoolers.

- a curriculum that follows the child's interest - such as a unit on dinosaurs because that is what the child loves/has an interest in. So they might do math using a dinosaur theme, read and write about dinosaurs and do work books about dinosaurs, etc. But they might not actually finish the work book as the child loses interest - or they might skip around in the work book.

- have a set reading time every day because reading is the one most important thing to them - child chooses what to read.

- has math time at breakfast every day - some problem solving of one type or another chosen by parent.

- purchase a curriculum or part of a curriculum and then skip around in it with a loose schedule of when they do it - with an expectation that it will get finished.

- Some of it is the parenting mind set. The parent is more of the "boss" in all things: control over TV, music, games, etc. how much they do or what they are allowed to do/play. How late they stay up.

- some feel that whatever they do is unschooling as long as they are not following a curriculum at a table.

- there are on-line programs that the child pretty much works their way through - where they get to choose their projects and interests.

- open to disruptions and spontaneous other activities as long as they eventually get back to "real" school work.

- They definitely do at least some school at home, just in a less strict kitchen table 5 days a week, this is our chosen curriculum, way that homeschoolers do. Relaxed in that it is OK if we do this today or tomorrow as long as it gets done.

Lisa W.

Ren Allen's response:
"....How are relaxed homeschoolers different from unschoolers? In my brief searches, they seem to be very similar. ..."
They are and they aren't.
I've been both so I feel qualified to answer this.:)

When I was the eclectic/relaxed homeschooler my focus was still about making sure we were doing "educational" types of activities. Yes, we did mostly hands-on fun stuff the kids liked, but I was still seeing it as a way to touch on "science" or "history". We DID have a lot of fun but sometimes we'd hit walls where the kids didn't get all excited about something I planned and it made me all grumpy.

Not the best atmosphere for learning. I couldn't see that the video games they were fascinated with were more valuable than the homemade solar cooker I had planned.;)

I was always the most hands-on, relaxed parent of EVERY group we ever belonged to. I really wish we'd run into some real unschoolers earlier in the journey because I think it would have been a fairly easy transition from an academic standpoint.

The part that is missing with the relaxed/eclectic approach is still trust. It's just being more creative with how you get information into children,that's all. Better....but not quite the complete trust that unschoolers have in the human ability to learn.

We may still raise butterflies or garden or go to museums, so to an outsider we're doing some of the same activities. The difference is my kids can show zero interest and that is just fine. The difference is that I'm not trying to check of some subject box or define their learning experiences for them. The difference is that we do these things to have fun and trust that learning happens when we're alive and breathing.:)


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