8th September 2015

Have you heard of unschooling?

It’s the process of removing a child from formal education, instead allowing them to follow their own, self-directed learning path. It might sound radical, but some believe it has benefits similar to those that we associate with attending an independent school.

Here, we take a look at exactly what unschooling is and how private schools can offer a similar style of learning for a child.

What is unschooling?

With the new school year getting underway, it can be a bit of a shock to the system after six weeks off from getting the packed lunches, rucksacks and uniforms ready each morning before the traffic-filled school run. It might even lead you to consider giving it all up and living an idyllic life in the countryside with your children running free and learning as they go, rather than in a formal classroom setting.

That’s exactly what some parents choose to do. Dayna Martin is one of the main minds behind so-called radical unschooling, believing that parents should focus on ensuring their children are principled, moral human beings, rather than making them abide by rules that limit their freedom and learning potential.


The term unschooling was first coined in the 1970s by John Holt, a US educator, who believed that it was vital for learning to happen as a part of everyday life, rather than in a confined, formal setting.

Speaking to the BBC in 1983, he said: “It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.”

As part of unschooling, young people get the chance to choose which books they want to read, where they want to go on field trips, which areas of certain subjects they would like to explore in greater depth and how to apply what they’ve learnt to real-life situations.

But there’s no need to plunge straight into unschooling if you don’t feel that state education is working for your child – consider sending them to an independent school, where they’ll be able to experience many of the same benefits.

Reaching learning potential at an independent school

Thanks to the constant influx of money from parents, independent schools are able to offer a much wider range of extracurricular activities and trips to enrich children’s learning, providing students with the chance to enhance their education in a range of settings, both at home and abroad.

What’s more, with significantly smaller class sizes at private institutions, teachers are more likely to spot a child’s talent in a particular area and can advise the

Fewer classmates also allows students to feel more comfortable in talking about their interests and finding ways to further them through both educational and extracurricular activities, meaning they can still self-direct their learning, just in a more structured environment than if they were taken out of formal education altogether.

Traditionally, children thrive in independent schools, with these institutions’ exam results typically much better than state-run schools.

Some independent institutions also offer boarding for their pupils, enabling your child to experience freedom away from their family while gaining an education both in and out of the classroom.

What’s best for your child?

There’ll always be an element of risk associated with removing a student from their current school, but your child is guaranteed a high-quality level of education by moving to an independent situation, while they’ll also be given the opportunity to become a more well-rounded individual thanks to all the extra activities on offer.

A traditional learning environment helps the majority of kids to thrive – they wouldn’t still be in use otherwise!

Taking your child out of state education for unschooling will bring with it additional costs. For instance, you’ll be required to pay for their educational resources and any trips out you have together.

But by saving for your child’s education with SFIA, you could save up to £80,000 over the course of their schooling. That’s a huge amount that you could put towards a future house deposit or a car for your child when they’re responsible enough to take control of their own freedom.

Categories: All, Education