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The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom Paperback – April 29, 1998
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Unschooling, a homeschooling method based on the belief that kids learn best when allowed to pursue their natural curiosities and interests, is practiced by 10 to 15 percent of the estimated 1.5 million homeschoolers in the United States. There is no curriculum or master plan for allowing children to decide when, what, and how they will learn, but veteran homeschooler Mary Griffith comes as close as you can get in this slim manual. Written in a conversational, salon-style manner, The Unschooling Handbook is liberally peppered with anecdotes and practical advice from unschoolers, identified by their first names and home states. The book also includes resources such as one teenager's sample "transcript," a typical weekly log of a third-grader's activities, and helpful lists of magazines, online mailing lists, Web sites, and catalogs. Griffith, a board member of the Homeschool Association of California (and the author of The Homeschooling Handbook), names Margaret Mead and Thomas Edison as two examples of those who have profited from unschooled childhoods, and further claims that research validates support for this controversial form of education. The "evidence" she cites, however, is predominantly theoretical writings from noted educators about the benefits of child-centered learning. The handbook suffers from a mild case of the Lake Wobegone syndrome--every unschooled children is seen as an above-average self-starter on the verge of genius--yet despite this overly rosy approach, the book is a well-organized guide for homeschoolers and other families contemplating the "un" life. --Jodi Mailander Farrell
To Unschoolers, Learning Is As Natural As Breathing
Top Customer Reviews
There are chapters on math, science, reading and writing, and how to use the world around your children to foster these skills without "doing school". Using the unschooling concept has made the boys' curiosity and wonder of the world around them just explode and has made learning exciting for them. The unschooling philosophy has made learning a 24/7 event at our house, thanks to this wonderful book.
Any family considering homeschooling, or "doing school" at home, or using a curriculum needs to read this unique and fabulous book.
After having read a few overview books of homeschooling, that mentioned different methods, I thought that unschooling sounded interesting, so I wanted to look into it more. I believe that it works for some children, yet I feel that some subjects simply require more structure. And some children actually prefer to have more structure. I was actually appalled at some of the stories in this book and decided that the unschooling method definitely wasn't for me, although I think aspects of it can be included.
On the positive side, it was helpful to see how families homeschooled using this method and it did have useful information, especially if you decide to choose unschooling.
I would recommend this book only if you believe that unschooling is the method for you and your family. Otherwise I would recommend Griffith's other book (which contained all the useful information in this book plus much more) or numerous other overview homeschooling books out there.
The Unschooling Handbook is really not a handbook at all. It's a pat on the back for those families that are already unschooling and an encouraging read for those considering it. The back cover states, "successful unschooling parents know how to stimulate and direct their children's learning impulse. Once you read this book, so will you!" but I did not find this to be true. There is lots of encouragement, but very little instruction. The Unschooling Handbook is a good introduction and an easy read, but it quickly becomes repetitive and frequently fails to delve below the surface of each broad topic.
I was hoping to see information about how to determine if unschooling is right for your family and how to determine your child's personality and learning type and whether or not it is likely to be conducive to unschooling. I was hoping to see some guidance about knowing when to lead and when to follow. I was hoping for lists of materials to have on hand for several age groups, and lists of topics to expose children to at different ages. I was hoping for some factual reassurance that a child left to her own devices would come out 18 years later with a well-rounded education. All of this was lacking. What was equally lacking was stories about unschooling gone wrong, pitfalls to avoid, and knowing when to rethink the system if it seems to not be working out.
One thing that the Unschooling Handbook does well, though, is challenge traditional assumptions. It has helped me to identify and reconsider several of my own assumptions, and has given me much to think about as I design my own homeschool system.
I will continue unschooling my preschooler--although I will have to look elsewhere for the specific information I need and I will likely continue introducing weekly themed interdisciplinary lesson units (which never involve worksheets or flashcards and are never pushed on her). But this book alone is not enough to convince me that unschooling is the way to go beyond the preschool years. It seems a very valid component of a homeschooling program, but I will need to do a lot more research before I am convinced that it is useful as a stand-alone system of education.