Perhaps the most misunderstood of all homeschooling methods is Unschooling. Though the name seems to suggest that no learning is taking place at all, in fact, unschooling is thought to be a valid educational model in its own right, practiced by an estimated 10% of the homeschooling population.
Alternative names, which more accurately describe the unschooling model, are Interest-Led, Delight–Directed, Child-Centered or Natural Learning.
There are different degrees of unschooling, ranging from families who use some formal curriculum products and unschool the others, to radical approaches involving only learning that is child-directed with little or no parental direction at all. Like other homeschooling methods, interpretations of the philosophy vary somewhat, and families practice unschooling each in their own unique way.
Unschooling theory suggests that children learn naturally through life and from experiences and resources all around them. Unschoolers operate on the belief that learning cannot be separated from the world, as it occurs all the time, with little need for any kind of coaxing or intervention. Thus, the belief is that natural curiosity results in learning, and assumes that children will acquire the knowledge and skills they need through life experiences anyway, whether specific teaching or organized instruction takes place or not. It is assumed that learning will be based on the interests, readiness, necessity, and personal abilities of the unschooled students.
Unlike traditional homeschooling households, in unschooling families, children are given the freedom and responsibility for their own learning. Parents, on the other hand, trust that learning will occur exactly as it should, without dictating specific activities or instruction.
The result that unschoolers hope to achieve is a child that learns what he needs over time, at his own rate.
For further reading about unschooling, begin with some of the web sites shown below. Then find others on your own.