To Unschool or Homeschool? Find the Right Fit for Your Student


Have you heard of the hashtag #unschool? You might be suspicious of the term at first glance, but, don’t worry, it’s not what you think it means.

Unschooling is a child-led learning model, and it was a term first coined in 1977 by American educator John Holt. Today, unschooling is more popular than ever, and as we've continued to live through the pandemic, many parents have considered the health, safety, and well-being of their young scholars. So, they un-schooled.

What is unschooling?

The definition of unschooling has changed over time, and people often consider the term differently. Some call it natural learning, others refer to it as self-directed or personalized learning, but to unschool is to break away from the traditional brick-and-mortar education model and have children learn at home (or on the road) without a strict curriculum. Essentially, it's a different form of homeschool

It's important to note this education model isn't deschooling—it’s an expansion of the world of education as we know it. Unschooling is unique, and as long as your student is given the proper tools and skills they need to succeed in the real world, this child-centered learning model is pretty great.

Unschooling vs. Homeschooling

Unschooling is unlike traditional homeschooling. Usually, homeschooling requires parents to take on the role of the teacher, implementing a set curriculum, creating a class schedule, and making lessons as there would be in traditional schools.

On the other hand, there's no set recipe for unschooling--unschooling helps children become engaged learners by utilizing individualized learning. Instead of following a traditional public school curriculum, unschooled children get to learn and explore subjects they're interested in. Students can use books they're interested in, real-life activities and interactions, and guidance from mentors or their parents to learn.

Oftentimes, unschooling provides students with more freedom, moving away from the classic eight-hour school day. The classroom can be anywhere they please—no textbook required.

If homeschooling or unschooling isn't a right fit, explore a homeschooling alternative.

Unschooling vs. school-at-home

Unschooling as a form of home education that allows students to learn on their own terms. However, it can come with additional responsibilities for parents.

For example, if your child needs foundational math skills for their future career as an engineer, you'll have to provide them with the resources to reach that goal. Making sure your student has the right tools to explore and engage with their surroundings is your key to unschooling.

On the other hand, a school at home model can provide your child with the foundational knowledge to succeed—academically and as an individual. Students who school at home have an academic support system outside of their parents while still engaging in topics of their interest.

Previously homeschooled students succeed in school at home as they receive support from teachers, interact with their peers, and engage with academics they're interested in. Learn more about school at home versus homeschool when weighing your options.

Is unschooling the right fit? It’s your choice

Unschooling, homeschooling, and school at home allow parents to provide a safe, tailored learning environment for their kids. All differ from the traditional classroom, but these options can be suitable for scholars with distinctive learning styles or families who travel frequently, have busy schedules, or need more flexibility.

It may take some trial and error, but you know your child best. If you’re interested in school at home, learn more about Laurel Springs School’s self-paced, mastery-based approach to education in an upcoming Open House.