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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Unschooling / Self-Directed learning

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Unschooling, sometimes called "natural learning" is the ultimate in self-
directed learning -- where learning is child-initiated and child-directed.   
The philosophy maintains that most basic skills will be required by and
learned thru life experiences, and that children learn better when they
truly want to learn and are self-motivated to learn about a particular
topic.  Ideally this means that parents should act only as a facilitator --
providing opportunities for learning, but never trying to coerce a child into
learning something they have not chosen to learn.  

It is basic Unschooling philosophy that parents do not require children to
do anything that most parents think of as "school work".  Unschoolers
believe in natural ways of learning and do not use traditional curriculum
products.  All learning stems from a child's expressed interests, often
discovered by pursuing typical daily activities, and only if the child so
desires, with Life as their curriculum and the World as their classroom.  

When their children show an interest in a new topic unschooling parents
may make available a variety of resources to help their child explore the
subject, such as  "real" books (rather than textbooks), hands-on
experiences (learning by "doing" and helping), games and fun activities,
TV, movies, computer resources, art projects, etc.  They may also seek
out opportunities to learn within the community or from experts.  But, even
though they may offer such resources to the child, they do not insist that
the child explore the topic further, the choice is the child's to make.  

Many unschooling parents follow the philosophies and recommendations  
found in essays written by several homeschooling "pioneers".  These
John Holt, author of "Teach Your Own" (1981); Mary Griffith,
author of "The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole
World as Your Child's Classroom"
(1998); Grace Llewellyn, author of
"The Teenage Liberation Handbook:  How to Quit School and Get a
Real Life and Education"
; and Sandra Dodd, author of "Moving a
(a collection of essays and articles).  These books are available
from libraries, major book sellers, and many online merchants.

Unschooling is a popular choice for homeschooling children in pre-school
and K - 3rd grade.  Some families ultimately decide that more structure
and deliberate learning is desirable beginning in the upper elementary
grades and increasing thru high school.   Other families continue to
unschool thru high school, only providing formal, structured learning when
the child requests it  (if, for example, the child's interests lead him or her
to pursue college or technical school).  

Unschooling is also a good temporary option for "reluctant learners" and
for children who are recovering from a difficult school experience.  The
chance to learn and explore on their own, following pursuits that truly
interest them, may re-ignite a joy of learning.  

The following resources may be helpful to those considering Unschooling
or those looking for support, events, and networking opportunities.  
Unschoolers who enjoy independent research of their favorite topics may
find good ideas in the "
Independent Research section and the "Computer-
Based Instruction" section of the Homeschool Diner.  The Homeschooling
by Subject
section includes many non-traditional resources and links to
websites that may inspire your children in their areas of interest.

Why Unschooling? - John Holt and Growing Without Schooling website,
articles by and about John Holt and his views on schooling

Radical Unschooling - the website of Sandra Dodd, author of many
unschooling essays, lots of article and advice - the website of Mary Griffith, author of "The
Unschooling handbook", advice and essays

The Defeat of the Schools by James L. Mursell, 1939 -- a look at why
children don't retain much of what they learned in school

Practical Advice

Five Steps to Unschooling by Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll

Strewing: Definition and Suggestions by Sandra Dodd

On Unschooling by Mary Griffith

"Unschooling: You'll See it When You Believe It" by Sandra Dodd

But what if a child wants to grow up to be an engineer or
something that needs a lot of formal education? by Amy Childs

"Waiting for Unschooling to Work" by Shay Seaborne

Homeschooling and the Type A Dad by Brad Beckerman

College Considerations for Unschoolers -- an discussion thread from
Sandra Dodd (scroll down to read)

A New Chapter in Education: Unschooling by Victoria Clayton for, unschooling in the news, 10-02-06

Joyfully Rejoycing -- a website with a wonderful question and answer
series for those considering unschooling

FAQ's about Unschooling High School by Alison Mckee

African-American Unschooling - Africentric resources, support,
networking - articles, e-groups and support for unschooling

Your Child Wants to Attend School – Now What? a thoughtful reply
from Karen at Leaping from the Box

For Teens:

"The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a
Reallife and Education" by Grace Llewellyn - aimed at preteens and
teens interested in homeschooling and how it works

"Real Lives" by Grace Llewellyn -  eleven Teenagers who don't go to
school tell their own stories

"Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With
or Without School" by Grace Llewellyn - shows parents and kids how to
work within the school system, great for students who choose "part-time"
homeschooling -- website of a grown unschooler
Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always
like being taught." -- Winston Churchill

"The most instructive experiences are those of everyday life."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Education, therefore, is a process of living and not
a preparation for future living." ~~ John Dewey (1859 - 1952

"Learning can only happen when a child is interested.
If he's not interested it's like throwing marshmallows at his head
and calling it eating." -- unknown
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