Get schooled on homeschooling and unschooling

  • Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recently, the Mount Pleasant library held an information session on homeschooling and unschooling. Although it’s still an option chosen by only a small percentage of families, most people have heard of homeschooling. Fewer people have heard about unschooling, though, which is the most radical form of homeschooling.

It is often true that parents may begin homeschooling with the idea of doing “school at home,” and some families may find that this works for them. Others may find that the curriculum gets in their way, and they may get more relaxed about their approach as time goes on. There are some families who come to believe that their children learn best when following their own interests and these families are called unschoolers.

Unschooling parents tend to make efforts to ensure their children get out in the world and explore, exposing their kids to lots of new and different people and experiences, so that the kids can figure out what sorts of things they want to learn about. Libraries are often very important as a resource to homeschoolers and unschoolers alike.

The Charleston County Public Library has a lot of very good books about homeschooling, and a few of those also address unschooling. One of the most important writers on the subject is John Holt. I especially recommend his book “Teach Your Own” as well as “Learning All the Time” – but really, they’re all good. David Albert is another favorite – his book “Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery” is excellent.

To get an idea of the wide variety of ways to go about homeschooling, check out “Real Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Make It Work” by Rhonda Barfield, or the similar books by Nancy Lande and Lisa Whelchel.

If you’re wondering how these kids get into college, read “And What About College? How Homeschooling Leads to Admission to the Best Colleges and Universities” by Cafi Cohen.

Many homeschoolers and unschoolers start taking community college classes while they are still high school age because they find a subject which they are passionate about, and are eager to explore it in depth – whether that is film, or math or emergency medicine – you just never know.

David Colfax has an interesting book called “Hard Times in Paradise” which tells the story of his three sons’ unusual educations and eventual acceptance into Harvard.

If you or your teen is interested in some young adult fiction titles that have homeschoolers as part of the story, try “The Homeschool Liberation League” by Lucy Frank, “Alice, I Think” by Susan Juby, “Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli and “Surviving the Applewhites” by Stephanie Tolan.

There are a couple of new books which the library recently acquired that have lots of great ideas about alternative education. I highly recommend “Free to Learn” by Peter Gray, which tells the fascinating story of the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts that for 40 years has had no traditional classes, no grades, no homework and no tests.

The kids there are free to follow their interests, and play all day if they so choose. Nonetheless, studies have shown that the graduates tend to go on to colleges, and successful careers, because they’ve had the time and freedom to figure out what matters to them.

“The One World Schoolhouse,” by Salman Khan, also has some radical ideas about how we can make our schools more vibrant and relevant to the changing world we live in.

Library programs

Teen Summer Movie: (grades 6-12)

Wednesday, July 10 at 2 p.m.

“Wreck-It Ralph.” Rated PG; 101 minutes.

The Great Fettucini: (ages 6 – 11)

Thursday, July 11 at 4 p.m.

Experience an interactive juggling performance with lots of laughs. Tickets given out 30 minutes before program.

Second Saturday Writing Critique Group: (adults and teens ages 16+)

Saturday, July 13 from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Open to all writers. For more information, call the Reference Desk at 843-849-6161 or email MtpReference@ccpl.org.

Monday Matinée: (all ages)

Monday, July 15 at 2:30 p.m.

“The Rookie.” Rated G; 127 minutes.

Teen Summer Movie: (grades 6-12)

Wednesday, July 17 at 2 p.m.

“Rise of the Guardians.” Rated PG; 97 minutes.

Van Doren Magic Show: (ages 6 – 11)

Thursday, July 18 at 4 p.m.

Dig into the world of magic through this interactive performance. Tickets given out 30 minutes before program.

STAR Therapy Dogs: (all ages)

Saturday, July 20 from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Dig into reading, and share books with a furry friend.

Monday Matinée: (all ages)

Monday, July 22 at 2:30 p.m.

“The Princess and the Frog.” Rated G; 97 minutes.


Lua Wells is an unschooling advocate, and recently gave a TEDx talk called “Skipping School” which can be found on the internet. Lua can be found most days helping people at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library, 1133 Mathis Ferry Road, 843-849-6161.

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