Homeschooling, or ‘unschooling’

In a break from tradition, today’s post is triggered by a guest on Daybreak this morning. It sparked some interest and has already caused a stream of differing opinions on Twitter.

In Scotland, one woman chooses to let her children stay at home rather than go to school, and they ‘learn’ the necessary subjects at home, such as maths, reading, or whatever they choose for that particular day. They don’t have any routine or schedule, the children wake up and go to bed when their parents do, then in the morning, the family get up, and choose what they want to do for the day. This is not an option in England – where children must by educated full-time by law, either at home or in school – the choice is only possible in Scotland; parents must provide suitable education by school or ‘other means’.

In order to learn mathematical skills, her daughter will go outside and ‘count stones’, or they play scrabble to build vocabulary. The mother doesn’t teach at home, or follow a set curriculum, they have a natural flow to their day. As a result, the children get to experience good, quality time with their parents, yet miss out on play time with many children. According to the daughter interviewed on Daybreak, they do interact with other children, mainly those they have met through the ‘unschooling’ community. Although she did add that there aren’t that many in their area.

Some may argue that by not sending these children to school, they will be lacking the necessary skills to prepare them for life, such as building confidence in dealing with other people, and interacting on many levels. Throughout life, we encounter many people, and school is perhaps the best place to start this. Some people are born confident, some have to build on that skill. What better place to do that than by social interaction in a school environment?

I’d love to know what you think – are these children missing out on important life-skills, or are the parents right to give their children the freedom of choice, and will this prepare them for the ‘real world’?

Unschooling – YouTube video by DailyMail News.


7 thoughts on “Homeschooling, or ‘unschooling’

  1. That school vs home-schooling argument is raging here in Australia was well. My sisters-in-law both home-schooled their children (I’m a teacher, and at the time was head of an academic dept. in the school where I taught), so naturally I was concerned. But here in Australia it’s regulated, and as long as the parents meet academic and social requirements, it’s one of the educational options families can pursue. It’s particularly popular among families whose children have been severely bullied in school; religious or personal reasons.
    There is a huge, well-organised home-schooling community here who support each other by arranging excursions and even sporting activities so that the children’s social interactions are met. Home-schooled kids often choose to study a subject a day, for as long as they want; and since they’re at home, there’s no need to adhere to the rigid timetable necessary in a regular school situation. As long as they complete the minimum requirements each year (the Dept.of Education sends out inspectors), they’re free to pursue their own interests. In this way, many have completed their education early, and specialised in subjects not often covered in the school curriculum (I ought to know!)
    I’ve been impressed.
    My nieces have all been home-schooled – two have completed university courses to a high standard; two are still completing their university courses; one has just been accepted into the best Fine Arts College in the country, and one has just completed her schooling and is deciding which university to enter.
    As a teacher, I now have a more open mind!

  2. It’s a very interesting debate for sure. Though I think it depends on the child. One of my boy’s is painfully shy and I think without the interaction with others he would be more so.
    It also depends on the parent. Could I support my children with the sciences and maths? No. I would be yelling for the professionals before they picked up a pen!

  3. It is not an easy discussion to begin with.
    But mentioned above about kids who had been bullied to keep them home would be wrong. Bullying is a social issue that should not be rewarded by keeping the bullied kids away. It means the bully won. It should be addressed at the source the bully. As for religious reasons you just start emphasizing the differences
    As for home schooling I think having it regulated would be okay. But bigger question, is are the parents able to teach. Should they not also be working (not the cheapest economy right now) and thus have to leave the kids.. I rather see parents take care of their children till lets say age 4-6 where children usually start school. And parents taking responsibility and not put a child in a daycare or after school centre. A day or two does not harm if that means they can socialize with more kids. But we need to be there for them other wise. Not just to tuck them in and wake them up.
    it is a big issue to say the least where everyone does it different. Great post food for thought.

  4. I love the differing opinions here, and this debate is a sure sign that things are changing, especially – as Rantingcrow mentioned – more and more parents (including myself) are choosing to stay at home with their children in their younger years. Like Tracey, neither the ‘unschooling’ or homeschooling options would work for me, as I firmly believe in structure in a social environment. I also wouldn’t like to be responsible for teaching a full, set curriculum. As a mother, it’s my role to teach right from wrong, and love and respect, but there are professionals to teach the subjects of the curriculum. However, I do think the idea or arranging field trips as Tima suggested is a great idea to bring these children together.

    It’s clear that there are many differing opinions on this matter, which are very interesting to hear.

    Similarly, being a stay-at-home mum and trying to build a writing career is a very different choice to following society expectations by working full-time, while struggling to pay childcare costs.

    Thanks for all your comments πŸ™‚

  5. Happy New Year πŸ™‚ I would like To share my thoughts β™‘ The option or choice to home educate & live Autonomously (Unschooling) is very much a full time Education and is perfectly legal both in Scotland & England.

    Our Children Rio & Bryden Both Our very Active In Our large Community of friend from all walks of life. There friendships are connected through Interests and not age segregation. The have friends around the house more days than not. They have schooled & Unschooled friends to them its “freinds”. They are very much living in the “Real world” out and about in society loving life creating real experiences. Children are born pure. ADULTS define them. Living is learning & Learning is living β™‘ when Rio said “no friends live local” shes right we recently moved out of Edinburgh and living outside….so we need to travel to see them…bit like traveling to school. Our life is Amazing and We Enjoy every moment living a life most people dream of β™‘

    1. Hi Maryanne

      Happy New Year to you too! Thank you so much for your conment. It really is an interesting concept and there will be plenty of people envious of your position. Personally I hate rules and regulations too – one of the reasons I left my day job in favour of bringing up my family and choosing my own working hours around that for my writing career, although there are still certain parameters we have in place – for mealtimes and bedtimes etc.

      Everyone has a different way of doing things and it’s great that you’ve taken control to live your lives the way you prefer.

      Thank you so much for visiting and giving us your input, wishing you all a fabulous 2014. πŸ™‚

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