-Let’s bust this myth-
Child-led learning is a common and easy description to use and one that is easy to understand. It is easy to see why unschooling could be described as child-led learning. The difficulty is that is also paints a false picture as it is not entirely true.
Unschooling is not child-led learning.
Unschooling is more complex than that.
There are aspects of unschooling in which children lead. There are moments when a child is entirely in charge of their activity and adults are by standers, observers or fellow travellers in their children’s learning. There are times when our children out rightly exert their independence and want to pursue an interest on their own or in their own way. There are opportunities for children to undertake projects of their own devising and work on it independently over days, weeks, or even months, without significant adult input. But this is not how unschooling works in its entirety.
There are aspects in unschooling in which adults lead. Adults are fully involved in the expansion of children’s horizons. Care givers offer alternative suggestions, interesting ideas, and place objects of potential curiosity in their paths. We also invite our children to see, hear, watch, or participate in the things that we think might catch their interest in the world around them. I wrote about this idea in ‘Run with sparkle.’
There are many more moments in unschooling where adults and children dance. There are aspects of our lives where children need to do things that they would not choose not. They are, admittedly, fewer and further between than in other families because we evaluate these events alongside unschooling principles and assess carefully how essential those things actually are. However, when difficult situations arise, adults take responsibility to make those things as enjoyable as possible. Adults and children work together to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement about how best to proceed. It is a process of respecting our children and taking their needs into consideration as we work together towards a common goal. I have written more thoughts on this here.
There are aspects of unschooling which are child-led.
But, there are aspects of unschooling which are adult led.
And, there are many aspects of unschooling where children and adults work together to achieve success.