I am new to unschooling but know this is where God is leading us. How do I start?
You will want to start here: Begin at the Beginning.
From the Wikipedia page: “While there is significant variation in what is meant by “unschooling”, generally speaking, unschoolers believe that the use of standard curriculaand conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child. Instead, unschoolers typically allow children to learn through their natural life experiences, including game play, household responsibilities, and social interaction.”
In general “unschooling” could be considered the process of learning by living, life schooling, or interest led schooling, where the child learns as adults learn–by pursuing their interests, and seeing where those lead them, side by side with parents who facilitate and guide and learn together rather than coerce.
You will find many more answers by veteran unschoolers to “What is unschooling?” here:http://www.christianunschooling.com/faq/what-is-unschooling/
Radical unschooling most often is used to mean an intentional full life unschooling- instead of just education; including character, emotional, social development. Parents gently guide in the direction that they see God leading their child instead of dictating all aspects of a child’s life. Radical unschooling is NOT unparenting and Christian parents can and do do it– most of the writers here are radical unschoolers, though not all.
You will find more answers from veteran Christian unschoolers here: http://www.christianunschooling.com/faq/radical-unschooling/
As Christians, we are called to: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6.
Because of this we look to God to show us the way to train our children, and allow them the freedom in Christ to find the way that He has laid out for them.
In other words, we train (gently guide – not train like a dog) them about Him and His ways, help them develop Godly characters, and trust God to show us and them what they will need in order to do His will in this life. In order to do this we look to what He is doing in their lives and the interest and passions He has given them, and we gently guide them and follow their lead in the directions, knowing that HIS plan for them is better than anything we could come up with.
You could say that Christian unschooling is God-led instead of child-led, as we watch and help the children grow towards His best for them, using what He has placed in them as a guide. It is definitely trusting Him to show us the right way, whether it includes book work or not, whether it seems “traditional” or not.
The best part of being a Christian unschooler is not being bound by other’s opinions of what home education should be but being free in Christ to grow together with our children into what God has called for us as individuals and as families. We can adjust to where He has us, keep our eyes on Him, and go where He leads.
An excellent response to the question of whether Christians CAN unschool can be found here: Can Christians Unschool?
What is relaxed home schooling? What is eclectic home schooling?
Relaxed home schoolers range anywhere from nearly traditional home schoolers to nearly radical unschoolers. Wherever on the spectrum they fall they tend to not fit in with scheduled, curriculum focused home educators, preferring to choose according to need what is taught and learned and when it is taught and learned. Many Christian unschoolers find themselves at some point or another in this category, not sure what to call themselves.
What is interest led education?
Whether relaxed, eclectic, or unschooled, most of us (those who do not fall in the scheduled school at home category) deal in interest led education. We follow our own interests and our children’s interests and see where they lead us, recognizing that God has provided those interests and passions that we may grow closer to Him. Sometimes that looks like a traditional text book and sometimes that looks like a day playing out of doors or pretend. As Christians we have the freedom to go in the way we should go without being forced into the standards of this world.
What is Strewing?
It’s sharing or making available things that you think might interest one or more of your kids. ~Mariellen Menix
A full explanation of strewing and how it works can be found here: http://www.christianunschooling.com/faq/what-is-strewing/
Does this really work?
Leaning on God completely for all things takes great faith. If we expect Him, Jehovah Jireh, to provide then why not trust Him to provide the very best for our children.
Consider Matthew 7: 9-10
9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
In fact, if you are looking for the way to go in home educating your child then may I suggest that praying for wisdom, both for yourself AND for them is the very first step.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:4-6
Changing your way of thinking- the paradigm shift:
One of the biggest challenges to understanding unschooling has to do with that pre-unschooling separation of EVERYTHING. It puts things in opposition, that should be connected, cooperating, sharing.
Forget, or eliminate, the “kids vs parents” separation. Be a family. Forget, or eliminate, the separation between different subjects, like “math” or “science.” Instead of trying to learn those things in isolation, DO THINGS. The things that you do will involve all those “subjects” without any need to force them.
Live “intentionally.” Pay attention. Observe. Explore. Touch. Describe. Discuss.
THAT is what unschooling is. Not some set of rules, or “philosophy” or “teaching method” or even “learning method” (for those who are trying to get rid of the word “teach”). It isn’t what the kids do, or what the parents help the kids do, because life is something we all are living together, sharing space and time. It is ongoing and all-encompassing.
Do that. Share space and time with your family and friends. Be together, physically at times, mentally at times, emotionally all the time.Share your joys, your sorrows, your interests. Give to each other freely and enthusiastically. Accept from each other in the same spirit. Move through the world with interest, with wonder, with fascination. Fill yourselves up with life. Expand your being.
It’s that simple. Really.
Some questions answered by a grown unschooler:
Is it legal?
Yes, it is legal in all 50 states and most countries. You still have to follow state/country law but it can be done.
What about teens?
What if they don’t seem to want to learn?