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Need a good response for unschoolers

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    This series is a good beginning, as it explains the three types of stress:

    And the American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement that goes on more in depth to talk about how positive stress is beneficial when experienced in the context of loving, supportive relationship. I do not know how to attach it, as it is a pdf...but the title is: "Early Childhood Adversity, Toxic Stress, and the Role of the Pediatrician."

    I don't know if this is a direction that will help give you the data you wanted, but it might be a start...
    16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
    DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
    DS, 17
    DD, 15
    DD, 13
    DD, 11
    DD, 9
    DD, 7
    DS, 2


      There seem to be a lot of unschoolers in my area. However that could be because they are the most vocal. I know some personally and not so personally. We have a Facebook group of homeschoolers in our area and when moms write asking for help with reading(usually) most of the answers come back, stop what you are doing and let them play. Some are happy that their kids know how to write words on Minecraft and count that as reading. I am usually the oddball out saying that the child is most likely trying to avoid work, which is what we all want to do.

      I went to a homeschool event at an urban farming center and most of the other moms were unschoolers. It was quite evident by how distracted and scattered their kids were. And it was a little dangerous with all the tools laying around. Not something I would like to repeat!

      John Holt is the pioneer of unschooling and his book "Learning all the Time" from 1989 (but he started in the 60s of course) is most referenced with unschoolers. I've read a little of it. The burden really is on the parent like you were thinking Sarah because you have to constantly come up with ideas of fun things for your kids to do and learn at the same time. The parent should have learning opportunities available for when the child wants to do something - and then the parent must drop everything and teach because the child is ready right at that time!

      I find the hardest barrier to cross when talking with unschoolers is that many of them don't believe in placing their own standards on their children. The child creates those standards for himself whenever he feels like he is ready, if it ever happens at all. I would imagine that has to be emotionally stressful for the child. We all know how Lord of the Flies turned out.
      Mom to 5 boys-14,13,10,8,5 and the girls- 3 and 1


        If a child wakes up at 7 am and goes to bed at 8 pm that is 13 hours. So, if Memoria Press kindergarten takes at most 1.5 hours. I think that leaves plenty of hours to play, explore and be kids.

        Now, if they think this sort of education is actually harmful to the child than they are misinformed because many children who follow this curriculum or do some other sort of curriculum type thing for Kindergarten end up being very healthy adults.

        I guess for me I wouldn't even engage in this sort of debate because I believe in the freedom for parents to choose what education is best. I think it's wrong to think just because a person chooses a different path it's because they are ill informed. This is a huge undertaking and a huge journey and we all do the best we can. Also, it's not just about the children but also the parent who is responsible for doing the day in and day out education. Some parents may really struggle with becoming unschoolers and maybe they need a bit more of a structured environment. If anyone says a mother needs to do what she has to do than I think they are forgetting what St. Paul writes in Romans Chapter 7 where he is lamenting how he knows what he should do but can't, and how he struggles to do what is right. We all do the best we can. I think the main point I would want to make with this homeschool group would not be to argue what is the best way to educate a child because to be honest that is quite pretentious. But I would want to make a point that homeschooling families need to come together and support each other, not judge each other. They need to take everyone where they are at and support and encourage and allow people to have different methods of educating their children. That for me is the real issue.


          This has been a great conversation and have enjoyed reading everyones input. Thank you!


            I have a fourth grader and a seventh grader and we attend a co-op with a lot of unschoolers. We still get this push for unschooling, even at my kids' ages (ages 10 and 12). Some of the comments were down right contemptuous of my more formal methods; one woman curled her lip and asked "Latin?!?" when she saw DD doing her FFL workbook. My response was "Thank you so much for your suggestions; I'll take them into consideration." As long as you are confident of your methods, I would just smile and say thanks for the ideas, and leave it at that. Don't engage her; you won't convince her of anything.
            Last edited by reefgazer1963; 01-25-2015, 04:41 PM.


              I have been wanting to respond to this thread for a week now and because I am so late to the party it has become the joke in the office!

              There are two things that I would like to point out about the underlying philosophies and questions in play here.

              A false dichotomy has been set up. The question "Which is better: learning naturally (led by interests) or learning from books?" should never be asked. It is like asking, "Should I only teach my kids orally or should I only teach them through pictures?" Obviously both are valuable. And if the first question is asked, the answer should neither be the former nor the latter, but both. This question is even more fundamental than studies conducted--after all, how can you research something if you don't know the right question to ask? For those that are worried that their children may be harmed by learning things too early, research clearly shows that the earlier the child learns, the better (I have only skimmed this: I am trying to get my hands on good research in this regard and I will post it here if I can get it.

              The second point is that the underlying view of human nature in the unschooling movement is the Romantic ideal. They seem to think that if you were to leave children alone on a desert island, they would create a utopia. Try reading "Lord of the Flies." Actually, E.D. Hirsch points out why this is so ridiculous in his book "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them." As Christians we believe that we are fallen and left to our own, we will just sin (to be blunt). So structure and discipline are needed. Romanticism says that discipline and structure are unnecessary and actually constricting. This sounds like unschooling to me. Those that have gone through a rigorous training in discipline (whether in the military or other group) will often tell you that they came out much better for it. While Romanticism created beautiful works of art and literature, its view of the human person is inconsistent with Christianity, the ancient view of human nature, and what we see around us today.

              I hope this gives you some points to think about regarding the foundational principles of unschooling. I apologize if any of this is confusing--I've been struggling to voice this ideas for the past week. I have more thoughts floating around in my head, and if I can get them to congeal, I will post them.

              Paul Schaeffer
              Academy Director
              Memoria Press Online Academy


                Paul, thank you so much for this. I really appreciate you finding the time and the words because you have helped me put my finger on it: the Romantic ideal, yes! I raised and homeschooled my eldest (now aged 25) in the unschooling milieu .... Lots of lessons learnt, for my part! There is much good there, and in the end, much I chose to leave behind, needing a different path.

                My younger ones, to put it simply, are not being unschooled :-) The structure and discipline, the academic rigor of the classical education, the gentle but firm parental guidance and support, these are essential, I feel. My children sometimes joke, lovingly, that they are being raised by an Edwardian governess. They don't mind, they assure me :-)

                To the original query, how to respond to being told it is better to unschool, or being offered unsolicited advice to unschool? I would agree with others who have replied that it is best to say thank you with a smile and move on. Homeschooling our children is such an important task, there is more than one path, and we may all find ourselves traversing roads we could not have foreseen, once upon a time.
                homeschooling mother to a 16yo boy & 18yo girl, both learning at the high school level, and an adult son whom I homeschooled all the way through. You are welcome to read more about our homeschooling life at my blog: link via my username. Please forgive any typos in my comments here! I'm disabled and can't always type clearly.