No homeschooling manifesto would be complete without some explanation of “Unschooling”.
Within the homeschool movement, there are subdivisions. First of all, and comprising the majority, are the Christian homeschoolers. The Christian homeschoolers can be subdivided into two basic camps: Catholic homeschoolers and all other Christian homeschoolers. In general, Christian homeschoolers tend to have a very school-like structured approach to education.
Besides Christian, there are ‘non-denominational’ homeschoolers. Comprising the non-denominational division, you find every kind of family experimenting with every kind of homeschooling approach from super-structured style homeschooling to Unschooling, which is super-unstructured homeschooling.
In traditional school, a group of children sit still in audience to one adult who is hopefully, more or less, an authority on information that is being transferred to the children. Generally from age 5 or 6 to age 18, children sit still in audience approximately 6-1/2 hours/day, 5 days/week. The purpose of the childhood passed in school, is to transfer a particular body of information (curriculum) from the authorities (teachers and textbooks) to the children. The method of determining whether or not the information has been successfully transferred, is testing. Children are essentially either rewarded by A’s for retaining the information, or punished by F’s for either not retaining the information, or for not caring whether they retain the information.
Unschooling is in many ways, the complete opposite of schooling. Maybe unschooling should be called ‘counter-schooling’, because you aren’t undoing something that’s been done, you simply aren’t doing it at all in the first place.
The child isn’t asked to sit still and pay attention to an adult. Instead, the child is allowed to do and be whatever he or she naturally is or does. The homeschooling parent then supports and encourages the child with time, space, resources, supplies, places, people, games, activities, enhancements, background, histories, classes, etc. etc. etc., whatever might benefit the child concerning his/her individual natural interests and inclinations. The passion itself is organic and is nurtured and it grows just Beautifully!!
For example, say your little child shows great enthusiasm when it comes to airplanes. Go to the airplane musem! Go to a smalll airport! or a big airport! Talk to a pilot! Let him/her ride in a small plane! or a big plane! Go to the library and get lots of good children’s books (and they are legion!!) about planes! Read about the history of planes! Look into war planes! Make model airplanes! It’s endless! It’s fun! Your child is happy and your child is learning all kinds of things which he/she doesn’t need to be tested on, because his/her interest guarantees learning.
Believe it or not, through unschooling, the child naturally picks up reading, writing and arithmetic, and what’s even more important, the foundation for real, passionate life-long learning is set. By this process, the child will, in the future, be able to read a textbook in school, and understand how the abstract subject matter, given in random bits and pieces, fits into the big picture. I guarantee you there will be no problem with the child’s attention or comprehension, in fact he/she will excel, when placed in school eventually.