What is Unschooling?

Jul 02, 2022

Today I’m going to share with you a simple unschool definition.  

Stick around until the end of this post for special invitations that I have for you and your family that will help your homeschool or unschool replace standardized math and science education drudgery for learning fun. 

Watch my video about what unschooling is below.

A Simple Unschool Definition

Unschooling, is child self-directed learning according to their interests, with parents and adults as mentors, resource providers, and facilitators for the unschooled child.

Let's break this definition down for a deeper and more thorough understanding.

What's the Parent's Roll in Unschooling Their Child? 

homeschool unschool math

Unschool parents facilitate their child’s learning by answering their child’s questions as they come up.

What Unschool Isn't

Unschool parents don't use compulsory school methods such as divided subjects, forced teaching (unless the child asks to be taught), schedules, grades, or tests. Some states require imposed standardized testing during the school year. This would be the exception for an unschool family to implement imposed testing NOT chosen by the child.

Do Unschoolers Use A Curriculum?

Is there such a thing as an unschool curriculum? Parents help their child gather resources to create a rich, engaging, and stimulating home learning environment. The child chooses what resources or curriculum, if any, that they want to use for their learning. Interacting in the real world and life experiences all become the unschool child's curriculum along with whatever curriculum, in-person, or online courses they may choose.

What Resources, Experiences, Mentors, and Apprenticeships Do Unschoolers Use?

Mamas and Papas connect their children with the outside world using: 

  1. Learning resources such as the local library
  2. Experiences, such as outdoor nature adventure
  3. Mentors, such as musicians for any music lessons a child wants
  4. Apprenticeships, such as with pottery making

YET, all these are chosen by the child if they want to use or participate in any of them.

Where Did Unschooling Come From?

The term unschooling was first coined by John Holt, known as the father of unschooling, in the 1970’s. 

John Holt

John Holt, known as the father of homeschooling and unschooling. (1923 - 1985)

However, unschooling has been implemented by many indigenous cultures since the dawn of humanity. 

Many indigenous tribes have unschooled their children since the dawn of humanity

Hopi children free playing in a giant rain puddle. Oraibi, Arizona, ca.1900

Here’s a quote from John Holt: 

John Holt Quote on Unschooling

Please share this post with other homeschoolers whom you think would benefit from it.

Listen to the audio clip from one of John Holt's essay's entitled, The Right To Control One's Learning.

If you’re interested in learning to unschool your family, any books by John Holt can help you.

Popular Unschooling Books List

DISCLAIMERAll links below are my Amazon affiliate links, of which I get a small commission that does not add any additional cost to your purchase.

  1. How Children Learn by John Holt - https://amzn.to/3ReRVX2
  2. Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling by John Holt - https://amzn.to/3nJZvvl
  3.  Free to Learn by Dr. Peter Gray - https://amzn.to/3an2sio
  4.  Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World by Ben Hewitt - https://amzn.to/3yjN6TS
  5.  Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom by Kerry McDonald - https://amzn.to/3NNFTRB

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If you’re interested in learning about the comparisons and contrasts between homeschool and unschooling, check out my video, Homeschool VS Unschool post with accompanying video.

Check out my video, What is Unschooling below.


Today we learned a basic definition of unschooling.

As a recap, here is the most basic definition of unschooling:

Unschooling, is child self-directed learning according to their interests, with parents and adults as mentors, resource providers, and facilitators for the unschooled child.

Unschooling breaks the mold of the modern day global compulsory education movement that took off with great speed during the industrial age in the mid 1800's. If anything is truly back to the basics, it would be unschooling. Why? Unschooling has been utilized by indigenous cultures, our hunter-gatherer anscestors, globally since the dawn of humanity.

Unschooling taps into the innate wisdom that all humans are born with - the inner drive to learn about the world around them. Punch fear in the face, resist the education herd mentality, and don't be afraid to follow your child's lead in their own education experience.

Is your family unschooled? Are you considering unschooling? Share about that in the comments below! 

Talk soon,

Gloria aka NatureGlo

NatureGlo founder of NatureGlo's eScience