Unschooling (Autonomous Education)

So I’ve been looking into Radical Unschooling or Autonomous Education as it’s known in the UK.  My eldest son is only 23 months old but already I want to explore my options!

I always liked the idea of Homeschooling but didnt think I’d have the resources or energy levels to be able to do it being a full time stay at home single mum.  Especially as I’m still dealing with night wakings with both and a newborn!

But unschooling sounds not only like an nicer job for the parent, but it also makes complete sense to me.  Although from what I’ve learnt its still fully time consuming with the child, it just means you’re not having to play ‘teacher’ but instead ‘partner’ in helping them explore the world.

“It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”

Unschooling is when learning is child-led instead of adult led.  In other words the children decide when, what and how they will learn.  The theory is that children will teach themselves what they are interested in and what they ‘need’ in life rather than it being dictated by the mainstream schooling model.  However, it doesnt mean the adult sits back and doesnt get involved.  On the contrary, its very much being part of a team with your kids helping them learn about life.   I’ve heard it called ‘whole life learning’, in the sense that kids will learn so much more by just living life in a connected family environment.

A couple of other articles I’ve wrote that go along with the unschooling life philosophy are ‘How To Turn Your No into Yes’ and ‘How Much Are you Controlling Your Kids Unnecessarily?’.

There are a lot of sites out there with explanations of what it is and how to do it.  I’ve included a couple below that I have found and found useful.



There are also a good amount of yahoo groups and forums dedicated to Unscooling and Radical Unschooling.

“Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don’t always know what it is. ” John Holt

However, unschooling or Autonomous Education also doesnt mean no rules, or letting your children run riot as they wish.  As in NVC (Non Violent Communication), it’s about having a relationship with your child rather than over them, or in the case of permissive parenting, no relationship at all.  This is where Unschooling as a philosophy crosses over into a complete lifestyle choice with your kids also known as Radical unschooling.  I love the harmony it creates with bringing children up in an environment of connection in the home.  By recognising the  needs that are behind the child’s stratagy to meet that need, and also being aware of our own and everyone elses needs, we are able to meet those needs in a loving and respectful way.

What are your thoughts on Unschooling?  Do you do it?  Does it work for you?  Are you a radical unschooler?  Would you like to tell me what unschooling means to you?  Or where you think I’ve got it wrong?  :)

Would love to hear your thoughts below!


Emma Combes

Emma helps parents overcome the automatic negative reactions that are stopping them from parenting consciously and with love through her coaching practice. She also helps parents live the most awesome life in all areas, so they can know they were the best role model they could be for their children.

  • Mabel

    It seems like what we do before we send our children to school anyway. interesting read. my children are all grown up now anyway and i didnt even know about this is my day.

    • http://www.consciousmama.com Emma Combes @ Consciousmama

      Yes, it is.  Its childrens natural ability to learn……  and then we put then in school to make them learn subjects that most of the time they dont like :)