Unschooling can sound very scary to parents when starting out and I really think it should be renamed child directed learning.
Child directed learning is learning that is determined by your students interests. Units can then be developed around those interests or simple research can be done that investigates the interest at a more in depth level. There is no formal curriculum and no tests.
This method of homeschooling is generally not viewed well by the non-homeschooling society. Since there are no set school hours and no mapped out curriculum many see this method as neglecting a child’s education which we know to be highly untrue.
Since unschoolers are studying in areas of interest they usually have a great wealth of knowledge in that area. Most people pursue degrees and jobs in areas of interest so they may just be one step ahead of everyone else!
Record keeping is required in some format in almost every state (watch for a later post in this series about state requirements). Since there is no formal curriculum to follow, simple notebooks with journal entries or scrapbook type albums work well for Unschooling Homeschoolers.
Unit studies are sometimes considered the product of the Unschooling movement. A unit study begins with a topic. Activities in various subject areas are built around your main focus. Many homeschoolers do unit studies during the lighter summer months. We will be starting a unit on the Olympics in July.
Unit studies can be purchased through many different websites as well as being offered free by many. I bought our Olympics study here.
Unit studies are wonderful for spanning multiply grade levels and go as in depth into a topic as the facilitator/teacher would like.
Writing your own unit studies can be great fun as well. At Donna Young, there is a six page planning guide that will help you when writing a study especially when writing a multi-grade level unit. At Entrusted To Us, they have a much easier set of forms that would also be great in planning your studies.
In recent years it seems like Montessori classrooms and teaching has become very popular. Montessori classrooms allow children to learn through various preset activities which stimulate growth through play.
Sensory bins are very common in Montessori classrooms. These can be made easily and at the youngest of ages. Many parents enjoy a Montessori style at younger ages.
At A Purpose Driven Home, there is a wonderful article on why we use sensory bins in the classroom!