Thousands of parents across the world opt out of mainstream schooling for their children every year. They prefer to teach their kids at home rather than sending them to a formal school. This concept is known as homeschooling or unschooling. A few common reasons to homeschool or unschool the kids are:
- The child is actively pursuing talent or passion in sports, arts, music or any other field. They have demanding practice or travel schedules due to which it becomes difficult to cope with regular school.
- The child has some kind of disability or special learning needs.
- Parents feel that conventional schooling hampers the natural learning and curiosity of children.
- Parents’ career or lifestyle is such that they often have to travel or move cities/countries.
Now, while homeschooling and unschooling are terms used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between both due to their learning strategies. Let’s understand how.
Homeschooling requires the children to follow a proper learning structure just like the school, albeit at home. Though, unlike the school, there is some flexibility in the structure instead of a rigorous schedule.
Unschooling is free-flowing, it doesn’t follow any particular structure. It lets the children drive the learning and choose subjects/lessons as and when they want. They can choose to learn Math. They can choose to learn farming.
The homeschooled kids usually follows the curriculum of education board or homeschooling guidelines of the state or country they are based in.
Unschooled kids follow no curriculum. The learning is solely based on their interest, curiosity, aptitude and strength. They are open to exploring anything, naturally and spontaneously. Learning is more fun because it doesn’t put the child in any boundaries.
Both homeschooled and unschooled kids require to appear for academic tests and entrance exams or submit project assignments for college admissions.
However, unschooled kids are usually brought up with an aim of ‘no exam’ pressure. This can work against them if or as and when they enter the mainstream education.
If you are expecting the child to achieve a specific educational milestone or get admission in a particular college/university, it is advisable to find out their policy on homeschooled and unschooled kids.
Parents may opt to teach their kids themselves in homeschooling or outsource it to the caregiver or a qualified tutor.
Since unschooling follows no structured curriculum, parents remain to be invested or present all the time for their development.
The homeschooled children mostly refer the textbooks and study material depending on the education board they are following.
Parents have the liberty to pick up the resources that they feel is the best for their child in the case of unschooling.
Homeschooled and unschooled children may also become a part of a larger group or community to feel connected socially and share resources with other homeschooled or unschooled peers.
Both homeschooling and unschooling concepts tend to overlap each other, depending on what growth and development parents have for the child in their mind or what kind of aptitude and potential the child has. Either way, homeschooling and unschooling are a big responsibility for parents. So, you must do proper research and prepare yourself mentally and physically to embrace this. You also need to be ready to answer the child’s question as to why s/he is not being sent to the regular school like other kids.
Here are some useful resources for Indian parents interested to homeschool or unschool their kids:
- Swashikshan – Indian Association of Homeschoolers
- India Group for Homeschoolers and Alternative Education
- Homeschool India
Have you been homeschooling or unschooling your child? Our parenting community would love to hear experiences and views here.