Thinking About Unschooling?

Have you ever considered unschooling? Unschooling is a child-led form of homeschooling in which much of learning takes place through child interests or everyday life. A homeschooling parent’s role in unschooling is to provide opportunities for learning (sometimes referred to as “strewing”), support and encourage children in their interests, and keep track of what children are learning.

Sue Elvis is a Catholic unschooling homeschooler from Australia whose children have all reached adulthood. She has previously written about unschooling in Curious Unschoolers and Radical Unschool Love. The Unschool Challenge is her newest book about living the unschool life.

I am not an unschooler, but learning about unschooling over the years helped develop my own outlook on homeschooling. It taught me to value the learning that was happening in unexpected places and to respect my children’s interests even when they were not what I might have chosen for them. It got me away from the mindset that education is only what happens when we are sitting with our schoolbooks or engaged in some form of “educational” activity.

In The Unschool Challenge, Elvis provides short essays on various topics related to unschooling and then she provides challenges for readers to do. This is a pick and choose sort of book. You don’t need to read it in order. You can select which topics interest you and learn more about them, pursue some of the challenges, and incorporate what you feel is valuable into your homeschooling life. Elvis invites us to consider these crucial questions:

Are your kids learning the most important things in life? Are they becoming the people God created them to be?

Elvis is all-in when it comes to unschooling and that is wonderful! It has worked great for her family. The beauty of homeschooling is the freedom of choice to figure out what works best for you and your children. For those who might be interested in pursuing this way of life, I highly recommend all of Elvis’ books. But unschooling doesn’t need to be an all or nothing proposition. It is possible to incorporate some of the aspects of unschooling into your homeschool life regardless of what form of curriculum you might choose. In some of the chapters, Elvis does a wonderful job of showing how to make life learning meet academic standards, an important resource for those who live in areas with more strict homeschooling regulations.  

The Unschool Challenge may cause you to rethink some of your parenting and homeschooling attitudes. It may encourage you to make some changes in how you approach your own learning and personal development. It may also give you the strength to stand up to naysayers who question your educational choices. Regardless of whether you are thinking of embracing unschooling totally or simply want to broaden your homeschool horizons, I highly recommend this book!

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Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her fifteenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary". She blogs at