Welcome to my compilation of the best of the best in Unschooling Resources! Unschooling is an undefined adventure, which can be both exciting and intimidating. Reading what others have experienced (and worried about) can be helpful as we as parents guide our children along their learning path. If there is a resource you would like added to this list, please comment below!
Books on Unschooling
Free to Learn by Peter Gray is my favorite book on the subject of Unschooling. If you are unhappy with the current traditional schooling system and agree that it is failing our kids, this book will satisfy the need for more information on why schools don’t work and why unschooling does work.
Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich is a very short read (an hour) that bullet points some of the biggest concerns with traditional schooling and why home education that is project based works. It is a great first introduction book, especially given that the kindle price is under $3.
The Unschooling Handbook offers ideas for those who are sure that unschooling is for their family. It is a practical guide with testimonials from parents and kids. A great read if you would like to unschool, but are unsure what that looks like in practice.
The Homeschooling Handbook by Lorilee Lippincott is a thorough exploration through all different types of home education. The author gave positive voice to the Unschooling movement, and through much of her writing about personal experience, it seemed that she recognized that her children learn better when they take a break from their curriculum. If you are not sure what style of home education fits your family best, this is a great read.
Learning Idea Books
Let’s Play Math by Denise Gaskins is my ultimate guide for Unschooling math concepts. Denise explains how to keep the wonder and excitement in math. She gives many examples of how to create word problems and math games that teach concepts without officially “doing math”. Math is all around us, and when we use it to accomplish a project the math makes more sense and is both usable and enjoyable. Most importantly Denise explains how to lead your child to an “ah-ha” moment where they can feel the enjoyment of suddenly understanding a concept. This is what math should be about; not the drills and memorization and repetition of math problems. As my children grow I will be referring to this book often.
Children too often are asked to make art that looks like something or fits the mold of a holiday decoration. A child’s creativity is often squashed and their experimentation with art materials is set aside so that they can take home something that the teacher has decided “looks good.” Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art explains the creative process that is age appropriate for children from ages 1 and up. (Read my full review here)
This book has been a nice guidebook for our kids. It covers science concepts from K-2rd Grade in this volume (K-8th in the full series). We mostly use it as inspiration to do science experiments, but because our kids enjoy science and experimenting, this book was an obvious choice for us to add to our collection of science books.
Give Your Child the World is a book about books, global books to be exact. For ages 4-12, this book gives lists of books that are global in reach, and can introduce children to the world and other perspectives. What a great way to streamline your library visit and check out some books that might have never crossed your mind!
Spell to Write and Read may be stepping just outside of the Unschooling bounds, but I do think that some families may seek some direction to help children learn to read and write. There is generally two camps of thought on how to teach reading: the “phonics method” and the “whole language” method. Because we read to our children an average of an hour or more a day, plus the audiobooks they listen to in the car, we feel this satisfies the “whole language” approach for their ages. We also offer some direction in phonics because we are not sure which method will work best for them. Perhaps a combination of learning word sounds and learning sight words, along with a strong interest in reading as a family will be a fine mix of exposure. Spell to Write and Read is my favorite phonics program.
Articles of Interest
“..As a parent and musician, I believe children show their readiness, regardless of age, when their interest and attention span are in alignment. And even at this age of readiness, I believe children should be given only a very gentle, gradual formal education in music that highlights the enjoyment and sharing of music. The practicing, memorization, and longer formal lessons can wait until the child is truly ready, at age 7-9.
During the years of about 3-6, all parents can assist their child in musical literacy and enjoyment, regardless of musical ability. Before I show you my approach to music learning, I will go over a few signs of music readiness in a young child…” (continue reading)
“..With the same interest and enthusiasm that our children use to learn to walk and talk, they use to discover the world around them. I’ve been learning more about Unschooling and how natural and liberating the learning process really is. Unschooling is NOT traditional homeschooling. It is a philosophy of learning that every child should follow their interests and learn what excites them, what they love, and what they want to know more about. Many of us whose love of learning has been squashed by conventional school methods of memorization, test taking and learning what was put in front of us, tend to recoil at the idea of child-led learning. Won’t our kids just play and get into trouble all day if they don’t have the authority of school to tell them what they need to learn?..” (continue reading)
“I have been asked many times throughout my adult years to recount my experience as a homeschooler. My opinions of my own home education has changed over time. At first I felt immensely thankful that I didn’t suffer through the stress of public school. Then I felt doubt about what I may have missed by not attending traditional school. And later, as I became aware of how public schools are failing our kids, my opinion of home education soared. Along with that, my confidence in my ability to guide my children through self-education at home was strengthened, as a realized that my husband and I want what is best for our kids beyond anyone else in this world…” (continue reading)