Home education is a growing field within many countries of the world, particularly in the United Kingdom. Through one reason or another, parents are choosing to follow an alternative path to conventional education. When it comes to home education there are many different forms, and we all do what is right for our own families. Many, however, fall into two categories. Homeschooling and Unschooling. Both are equally valid methods of home education, but what are the differences and which is right for you?
Similar to conventional education, homeschooling often follows a fairly rigid structure. The parent responsible becomes “teacher” and will follow a curriculum a kin to that of educational institutions. Assignments can be set and tests may be incorporated to assess performance and knowledge.
The homeschooling family is also likely to make use of conventional learning materials, such a textbooks, work sheets and set activities. Day trips may also be organised as part of a well-enriched curriculum.
Unlike any other form of home education, unschooling is formed off the principle of having no structure. The children choose what they want to learn in accordance with their interests. This means that the “curriculum” doesn’t really exist and can be as flexible as desired. The key emphasis here is that it is child led learning. They aren’t completing tasks set for them, rather they are setting themselves tasks that interest them and as a result learning along the way.
Unschoolers are also less likely to make use of a classroom environment. The children learn on the go, whether this is at a castle, in the local woods or at home on the kitchen table. Whatever works goes when it comes to homeschooling.
Best Of Both Worlds
Perhaps the most fantastic part of home education is the freedom to choose what is right for your child. Homeschooling may work in some households whereas in others unschooling may rein supreme. Or, as in our house we use a mix of both home-schooling and unschooling. How is this possible? Surely with the two being complete contrasts, there is no way that it can work? Wrong. The two can work very well together!
Being from an academic and structured background, I plan to have a loose curriculum for the girls to follow. So we will have set subjects, that I feel are crucial for their education, mainly English, maths, and science. However, in addition to these, the girls will also have less conventional subjects, such as meditation, gardening, animal care and other important life skills, that are often neglected from traditional home-school curriculum.
However, this is where the home-school part ends. Within these subjects the girls will be able to follow their own interests, Aria may want to study whales whilst Ryver may prefer gorillas in our ecology modules. The whole idea is to provide a loose framework as guidance for which they have the freedom to work within according to their unique personalities. Not only does this give a much more flexible curriculum, but also fosters the importance of choice. A value we hold very highly in this house (Read The Importance Of Choice Here).
How will this work whilst the girls are so young? You may ask. Quite simply, we set up an environment within our home for the girls to explore and learn in until they are a bit older. We follow a Montessori & Charlotte Mason approach, where everything is child-led and we provide all the resources they need to learn, they simply do as they wish. If you follow us on social media, you will also see that we provide the girls with ample opportunity to get out and explore nature, making up a large portion of our home-school pre-school.
Whether you choose to home-school., unschool, or send your child to an educational establishment, there is no right way. You have to choose what is right for your family. Whilst there are those of us who couldn’t imagine doing anything else than home educating, this simply doesn’t work for others and their children may thrive in school. What is important, is to be flexible, supportive of others choices and remember that as long as the child is happy and learning that is all that matters.
Within the western world there is a current increase in the number of children being taken out of schools to receive home education, could this show a trend towards more flexible learning? Perhaps! It is certainly great to meet more like minded parents and share our experiences. They say it takes a village to raise a child, thankfully we now have virtual villages full of support and advice, to help us on our adventures!
How do you school your child? If you educate at home, do you unschool, home-school or follow a mix of both like us? Comment below!