I am not there yet of course, but it is a question that has come up often and came up in one of the presentations last weekend also… so when I saw the following comment on my last post I thought it would be better to respond in a new post.

Bethany wrote:

I am getting ready to start homeschooling my daughter in the fall so I have been reading a lot about different methods of homeschooling and unschooling and all of that. I was interested to read your comments about unschooling but I admit I still have many hangups about the concept.

I expect my kids to go to college someday. How does unschooling prepare them for college? What is the transition like between free learning and the classroom learning that college requires? What about things that are required for them to know to get into college? I know when I was in traditional school I had subjects that I loved and subjects that I hated. All were necessary for me to get into college though (based on requirements of the college). I loved school and loved learning but given the option, I would have been more than happy to sit in my French and Music classes all day long and forget about Biology! I guess I’m still not “getting it” on how kids will be motivated to learn things they honestly have no interest in if it is left up to them?

And a second question. With the expectation of college in mind – standardized testing is unfortunately a necessary evil whether I agree with it or not. How does the unschooler prepare for that situation? Example: A person can learn about physics in action by watching a roller coaster, but can they sit down and do the calculations on the standardized test?

I really want to do some child-led learning with my daughter but I also want to make sure she is learning what she is “supposed” to be learning so she can achieve long-term educational goals.

Thank you for answering my questions (if you have the time!)

I think it is important to step away from the misconception that unschooling never has anything to do with school.

It is true that for a young child or even an adolescent, unschooling does look quite different and is very different. But, it does not mean that unschoolers never see a school setting or ever follow a curriculum. The difference is that they are the ones that choose it, and they do so because they are either interested or have a goal and use those resources as tools to achieve that further goal.

As an unschooling parent, our job is not to only teach our children, but it is to guide them to learn how to teach themselves. Instead of simply giving answers, we give more questions and we show them to figure things out. Books, tutors, curriculum and many other sources of information can all be part of an unschoolers life if that is what they wish or need.

So when/if  a child decides that they want to go to University, they will figure out what they need to achieve that goal and they will pursue what they will need in order to attain that goal even if they have to do it just to do it, and not only because they’re interested in it…  That is just part of the path sometimes.

As children grow up to become self-sufficient, they are able to follow their goals, and from what I have read and been told by university faculty and homeschooling families alike, is that children who come from homeschooling environments are more goal oriented, have a clearer view of what they want and how to attain it and waste less time than their formerly schooled peers when they are in the university setting.

As for being able to function in a class setting, you have to remember that these are teenagers or young adults, and they are there for a reason, to attend university or college. I can’t see how they would have trouble transitioning. I honestly think that it would be harder for high school students who often need to go through the transition of the teacher no longer reminding them to the to do their homework, having the freedom of going to class or not, or having full classes instead of classes in which discipline takes up half the time.

All of that being said, on a personal level, I don’t have any expectations of my children going to University, not that I don’t want them to be successful, whatever that may mean, but I believe that it is their choice and only their choice. I want my children to follow their dreams and be happy and if that means getting a degree then I’ll be there if they need me and help them reach their goals, but I also wouldn’t be upset if they wanted to do a trade that did not require a degree.

I graduated from University and in many ways regret it… yes,  it was interesting and I met some cool people, but it left me with debt,  a degree that I can’t do anything with and knowledge that I could have attained on my own. I went because it was expected of me and I wasted time , and saw many others waste their time because I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do… (being a cooking/picture taking/sewing/stay-at-home homeschooling mom wasn’t on the guidance counsellors list…

Going back to my last post, I have confidence that whatever goal…whatever path is chosen, they will find the way to accomplish what they set out for.