Unlike other homeschooling approaches, unschooling is not a setmethodof educating children. It is trusting children to learn naturally - through life experiences as opposed to school curriculum. Unschooling may be referred to as interest driven, child-led, experience-based, self-directed or natural learning, although many parents would resist calling it a method at all. They would define it as a way of looking at children and life – living and learning together with children.
Unschoolers believe that children are natural learners who possess innate curiosity and want to learn. They learn through natural life experiences, such as everyday incidents, conversations, books, play, household responsibilities, social interaction and work experiences. They feel knowledge is not divided into fragmented subjects and value hands-on and community based learning, which are rarely available for students confined to school buildings. However, an unschooling family may make use of textbooks or send their children for some classes, if they choose to do so and see it as suitable for achieving their learning goals.
The role of parents in unschooling is less of a teacher and more of an active facilitator, alert to what the children are interested in and building upon it. Parents do not pour knowledge into their children on a scheduled basis; rather, they help the children to find answers to their questions as and when they arise. It takes great trust on the part of parents to allow the children to lead the learning process – letting them be in the pursuit of knowledge, not the other way around. Children learn at their natural pace, not because they have reached a certain age. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find a seven-year-old unschooler studying history or a ten-year-old learning how to read.
Muslims, who unschool, modify the approach according to Islamic guidance. They teach their children the Deen, since learning the Deen is obligatory, not something to be left to children.
Many unschoolers believe that it is more important to equip children with the skills of how to learn, instead of covering a specific body of knowledge – this would turn them into life-long learners, acquiring knowledge whenever the need would arise.
Often, it is difficult to see actual ‘traditional’ learning happening in unschooling families. It is like watching a seed grow – no matter how closely we observe it, we cannot see anything particular happening at a specific moment. However, as the time passes, the seed quietly and naturally develops into a fruit-bearing plant. Unschooling maintains that children naturally pursue life and in doing so, they pursue knowledge. They need by their side parents, who trust in this inevitable process and offer help when needed.