Unschooling is a term coined in the 1970’s by John Holt, an early homeschool proponent. Today, it’s also known as delight-directed learning, real-life learning, and similar terms.
Holt believed that children learn best when free to explore. During his teaching years, Holt observed that traditional school was detrimental to learning. He exhorted parents to trust their children to learn as they grew and explored, and eventually published his philosophy in the well-known book, How Children Learn.
The unschooling method promises homeschoolers freedom for their children to deeply and thoroughly explore their interests at an early age; thus, this method is very helpful to instill a lifelong love of learning – the holy grail of homeschoolers!
Nagged by fears of my children leaving home illiterate, I never quite had the courage to embrace this liberating approach whole-heartedly. But I have learned from it and encouraged my children to explore freely alongside their regular schoolwork. You can see from the photo how much we learned while unschooling at Legoland! And our wonderful birding years probably stemmed directly from my exposure to this philosophy; I allowed one child to lead us relentlessly through countless birding expeditions, books, and quality DVDs on birds.
For More Information
John Holt’s in-depth treatments of unschooling:
An Unschooling Life has some wonderful articles about unschooling.