ZOMG! Studies show that unschoolers – children with no curriculum or set subjects tend to be “below grade level” compared to traditionally homeschooled kids and their public school peers.
This “problem” is often trotted out by those afraid that unschooling is next to child neglect. The study used 5-10 year olds and used a standardized test to rank kids. Are you surprised that unschooled kids did not excel at this?
Of course they didn’t and here are some of the reasons why:
- Unschooled kids have little to no experience with “academics” – learning broken up into discreet subjects with abstract assignments and then tests of knowledge regurgitation. Why would they suddenly excel at taking a LONG, BORING standardized test?
- Unschooled kids learn to read when it is right for them. Sometimes that may be 9 or 10 years old. If any of the kids taking the test were not able to read then they wouldn’t do very well. That doesn’t mean they won’t learn to read – unschooled kids read “late” by public school standards (and homeschool curricula) but often jump from non-reader to voracious, advanced reader in a short period of time because they were ready.
- Unschooled kids learn math when the time is right and in real world situations. Being asked to do something purely arithmetic with no application doesn’t make any sense to them. Maybe they should test the kids on their ability to build something, budget something, or solve a problem instead?
- Unschooling families are not raising 5-10 year olds that compare well to other 5-10 year olds. They are raising adults with curiosity, learning passion, and critical thinking skills. Where they are on an arbitrary level of “grades” compared to their same-age peers is of no consequence at all and NOT indicative of future success. E.g. a 10 year old unschooler who isn’t reading yet isn’t doomed to be a poor reader. He may be the next Hemmingway by the time he’s 20.
Unschoolers aren’t on the same track as public schooled kids or traditionally homeschooled kids and this can be scary. For teachers, critics, homeschoolers, and for YOU. As an unschooling mom it is hard not to notice when your child doesn’t know something that a kindergartener “should”.
Take a deep breath. They will learn when they need to.
Homeschoolers and public school folks – you take a deep breath too. My child is not neglected and will not end up “stupid” because he isn’t on your same time line. We aren’t apathetic about education. We disagree with the method and timeline. Education is VERY important to unschoolers. So important that we take our kids out of a system that we feel could stunt their learning passion.
You don’t have to agree and discussions are welcome but calling unschooling neglectful because my second grader isn’t writing cursive is missing the point.