So far we’ve taken the term “education” out of the traditional box, and opened up to the fact that learning can not be defined in one simple format, but is an opportunity we have within every life experience. Everything we’ve explored so far can apply to anyone – regardless of what school model you choose for your children.
Many of you are exploring what unschooling is, and that is what has drawn you in to this series, and why you are in my Unschooling Families group on FaceBook. I want to give a quick debrief on all the terminology that is out there….and then…tell you to let it go.
Growing up, I did it all – public school, private school, homeschool, co-ops and group classes, and lots of travel. At that point there weren’t a gazillion titles for non-traditional school. You either did public, private, or homeschool. Since the early 90s, homeschooling has been legal in every state in the US (If you want to dive into the legalities of homeschooling, this site covers a lot). There are over 1.5 million “homeschoolers” in the US, and we have a wide variety of labels for them. Here are just a few:
- Homeschooling – here is a great infographic and layout of homeschooling. I don’t agree with all of the “facts” in it, but you get an overview.
- Unschooling – this is closest to what we do, yet it’s so broad, anyone who doesn’t follow a specific curriculum could fall in this category.
- Radical Unschooling – welcome to an incredible extreme -lots of controversy around this woman.
- UNunschooling – yes, this has two “un”s in it – for those that felt even “unschooling” boxed them in too much!
- Leadership education – I pulled this article from the LE philosophy – great suggestions, even if we don’t adopt this model: 7 Keys of Great Teaching
- World-schooling – this is a love of mine – I was first exposed by this link here, and now am a part of a Worldschooler FB group that is excellent! “Road-Schooling” is another one you’ll here – especially in the full-time RVing world!
- Satellite Campuses like THIS – not exactly an “umbrella school”, but a way to connect with resources and be legally legit for non-traditional schooling. This is what I am registered under and highly recommend if it fulfills your state requirements for registering as a homeschooler (it does for TN).
- There are many, many more names, and this article really encompasses many of them, and the obnoxiousness of it all: The Words We Use: Livings As If Schools Don’t Exist.
In my opinion, a lot of these labels boil down to our natural left-brain need to label/identify what we are doing…yet so often the reason we are going the non-traditional route to begin with is to get away from the labels!! So as soon as a label is attached, then it becomes more concrete, and if we stray from its definition, we feel the need to create a new label – thus the growing terminology continues. This, my friends, is why I want you to learn about the styles here, and then lose the lingo.
Think about what makes sense for your family. Generally speaking, if you don’t send your children to a traditional school setting, saying “homeschool” is pretty well understood by everyone. If you want to identify with another label to lay it out more, go for it.
Your schooling label does not have to be the definition of education.
It simply opens the door for discussion on what learning means for your family.
Lose the lingo. When is it you actually need to use it anyway? We are boxed in to thinking “school” is from ages 5-18. Seriously – when is there a moment where our kids do not have an opportunity to learn? Learning coordination, eating, walking, talking, holding a crayon, dressing themselves, learning letters, reading, counting how many jellybeans each kid gets and how many are left, tying shoes, knots for imaginary dog leashes, baking with Mommy and serious science and anatomy talks with Daddy…geesh – these kids are not only learning, they are challenging us to learn more every day. (I swear I’m going to start a page on this site that is simply “Google of the week” that is the most outrageous thing we’ve had to look up and research that week!)
There we go. Let’s just say they don’t go to school. Period. Everyone is a life learner. My children happen to not sit in a classroom. The closest label would be “unschooler” – but we all – we all – have the opportunity to be life-long learners. That is my goal.
What schooling model is most resonates with you?
Ultimately it boils down to our own family choices – so what is the best way you frame your schooling decisions when explaining it to others?