Have you ever heard of that term? It is not a new one but it seems to be gaining momentum. I have already mentioned the pet peeve I have about using the term unschooling for a preschooler but I thought I would go into it more.
Unschooling is educational choice, an ideological shift that yes, may look, and feel like a continuation from toddlerhood and the preschool years for many, but is at the same time, very different.
Children are only required to go to school or have an alternative educational model once they reach school age, and once they reach that age, unschooling is not a choice that is not taken lightly as it requires a complete paradigm shift on how children learn and trust that children will learn what they need without any imposed curriculum.
Preschool is not a requirement just as daycare is not a requirement. Many parents that choose to use public school or homeschool using a strict curriculum will not choose to send their preschool, yet it doesn’t mean that they are that they are unschooling or “unpreschooling” just like not sending a baby to daycare is not “undaycaring” it is simply called all just part of parenting, it is simply letting pre-school aged children be themselves and learn organically. Then, when they reach school age, unschooling demonstrates that there is no schooling involved and when we reach adulthood, the term is left behind again. There is already so much confusion around the term unschooling that adding another term, especially for an age that is not school aged, just makes it more confusing. Essentially, I think that this is why the term “life-learning” is gaining momentum over the term unschooling in many circles.
Another thing is that in my experience over the years, what happens when applying an educational term to this age group is that parents start looking for and applying educational value on activities, and pages and websites that talk about unschooling in the toddler years often paradoxically focus on educational activities, things to do and educational websites. They focus on tricks and games for learning letters, numbers and colours that are fun etc… There is a focus on it being “child-led” yet it is often still parent directed. Basically, it is often about homeschooling based on a child’s interests (which is not unschooling at all).
In many cases that I have seen, parents that don’t agree with unschooling, or child-led learning, but don’t send their kids to pre-school, or don’t start homeschooling curriculum before a certain age, are often less preoccupied by what their pre-school age child is learning then parents that are “unschooling” a pre-schooler or “unpreschooling”.
Until a child is school age, educational terms should be set aside.
All children that are left to their own devices are learning organically. (In essence until children are expected to learn, they are all being unschooled) Once a child hits school age, unschoolers simply let that organic learning continue and the educational term comes into play as a way to explain the educational style chosen.
But until then, letting a child be a child should be awesome enough!
I’ve only heard the term once or twice, and it seemed totally bizarre to me!
Oh my goodness! Unpreschooling??? No, it’s just parenting, isn’t it?!
What next? Un-gestation?
Does it really matter what we call it? I think not. Also, does this really bother you this much? Invest your time in a positive approach. 🙂
It matters for me as it seems to matter for you.
As unschoolers (and we have always been unschoolers, so I have been in the same situation as many that use this term) I know that there is already so much confusion surrounding the term and in many circles it is a constant battle. Adding terms for children not even old enough to be schooled just makes it even harder.
Just starting to learn about unschooling. My son is 6.5 mo. and I’ve just started thinking about our route since I used to work at a childcare center with an educational bent from 6 weeks on. I don’t like distraction, shaking toys in my son’s face, trying to guide his interests in any way. I do like providing him with things that seem to go along with his interests. ie. He is interested in the bathroom mirror, so I bought a mirror to put at his level so that he can explore this any time he wants. He seemed to want to crawl OVER anything that was on the floor, so I tried to put things on the floor that were safe for him to crawl over (pillows of different shapes or sizes) and then let him choose how he wants to interact with these things. I’m trying to get clear on whether or not this is the type of thing unschooling parents would do at school age or if this would be viewed as too much parent involvement. Also, it seems to be the antithesis of what most parents I know do, and it has taken thought and intention on my part to NOT guide him too much, especially at this age. Thanks for this thought provoking post!
Asha, do what feels right for you and your child and ignore the labels and terms and expectations of others. Let your child and your heart guide you.
When we do what feels right, we will seldom have regret.