Think unschooling is another term for not schooling? I had that same notion until one day, unschooling happened for us.

Better defined, unschooling is: “Student directed learning, which means the child or teen learns whatever they want, whenever they want. Learning is entirely interest driven, not dictated or directed by an external curriculum, by teachers, or by parents.” or “An educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.”

By definition, we are not what most would consider unschoolers. We have a set structure to our day, but also have plenty of room to chase rabbit trails that crop up in our learning.

One day, my 4 year old decided that he wasn’t into ABC’s and 123’s. No coloring or cutting. No playing ball or being read to. He just wasn’t into formal sit and do “school”. (Notice that school is in quotations!)

Having this resolve firmly in his head, he brought out his older brother’s K’nex set and declared he was going to build.

My normal response would have been to encourage him to finish the little bit of “seat work” we do and then move on to the active learning. But, this time I gave in. I really thought that since he’s no K’nex expert, this activity would not keep his interest for more than the usual 5 minutes.

Boy was I wrong! He took to building these models all by himself like a champ! He was focused, intent and undeterred!

In the end, he was so excited to show everyone that he had followed directions and created his very own “scissors” and “wheel barrow”. Best of all, he built them all by himself and they actually functioned.

That day, he learned patient, self-control, focus, physics, mechanics, measurement, communications and ingenuity.

And that’s the benefit of allowing your child to take those detours in learning!

What do you think of unschooling?