Delight-Driven Education: What a Thrill to Learn the Dictionary Approves of Our Homeschool Method!

Homeschooling vocabulary is of particular interest to me, as both a writer and a former homeschooler. If you’ve been reading me for some time, you’ll know that I enjoy a well-written text that is free from spelling, grammar or other errors. I pride myself in producing such texts, and I dislike seeing that ugly red squiggle under a word in one of my posts.

But frequently when it comes to homeschooling, the dictionary simply hasn’t caught up with the vocabulary being used by people who homeschool their children or who study the homeschooling phenomenon. So whenever I write a post aimed at homeschoolers, I have to add the vocabulary to my word processor’s dictionary. And when I later input the post into a blog or writing site submission form, I also need to update the vocabulary in my browser’s dictionary.

So it was with great pleasure that I learned today that the Cambridge dictionary has added the word “unschooling” to its lexicon.

What is Homeschooling?

Homeschooling is pretty much what it sounds like: it’s a parent taking primary responsibility for a child’s education at home. There are many different approaches to homeschooling. They range from what is often called “school at home,” which is completing the state curriculum in a home setting, to unschooling at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Most homeschoolers will choose a homeschooling approach that matches their philosophy of education. They might lean towards a classical approach or a child-centered approach like Waldorf or Montessori. Homeschoolers often take a mixed approach that combines elements from several different methods. When we homeschooled, we combined two approaches that were heavily focused on learning from reading and great literature. We also used some workbooks, some unit study, and a few lapbooks.

What is Unschooling?

Unschooling is a homeschool approach that is completely child-centered. There is no structured curriculum, as the child decides what he wants to learn on any given day. There are no textbooks and there is no assigned work or testing.

In unschooling, the child’s learning is driven completely by delight – this is, by the things he loves and is curious about. This method is often doubted by teachers and school administrators, who worry that children will focus too much in a single area and will neglect their development in other areas. But there have been a large number of children educated this way, and their parents believe that children will naturally cover all the important facets of their education over the course of time.

Gaining Legitimacy for an Unconventional Approach to Education

I personally know several very intelligent and successful young people who were unschooled. I can’t see where they are “missing” anything because they were educated without a formal structure. I relate very well to them, in fact, and spent some time unschooling my own kids. I find that both my kids and I learned quite well when we followed our delight rather than sticking to a fixed curriculum.

Seeing the word “unschooling” in a dictionary is a sign of hope for me. First, I can hope that one day my virtual dictionaries will recognize “unschooling” among a full range of homeschool vocabulary. But more importantly, I can hope that this very effective approach to homeschooling will gain the legitimacy it deserves.


Homeschool Approaches: An unconventional homeschooling method makes it into the dictionary | #homeschooling #unschooling

Unschooling allows the child to direct his own education, to follow his delight and his dreams!
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  1. Profile photo of artislee

    Learning comes in every way, form, structure, and even shapes and sizes, every kind. We learn in our pace and time. Learning is an unending process.

    You sound like a perfectionist to me,. Are you? 😀

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Learning is a lifelong process that rarely happens when or how we would expect it to. That’s why unschooling was something I enjoyed so much! We loved to get lost along the “rabbit trails,” as many homeschoolers like to call the tangents we tend to go off on when we are following an organic learning process.

  2. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
    Pat Z Anthony

    We have helped many unschool and homeschool. It is the right thing to do for some-and certainly not for others. Finding the words in the dictionary are a bonus for me too!

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Much agreed, Pat. Both homeschooling and unschooling more specifically are unique learning methods. They can work for anyone who feels drawn to them, with a little effort. But not everyone will be drawn to these educational choices.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Welcome to the beginning of an exciting adventure! My six years of homeschooling were some of the best times I ever had with my kids. We all learned a lot 🙂

    2. Profile photo of Barbara Radisavljevic
      Barbara Radisavljevic

      I was also a homeschooling mom for three years. I am grateful every day that we made that choice. My son died in an accident suddenly just before he was to start high school. Otherwise we would have continued to keep him home. He loved being able to get through his academic studies quickly and then have time to pursue his own interests. He was an active child who found sitting all day in a classroom and being quiet hard. We didn’t start homeschooling until he was in the fifth grade. After that he started to blossom. He loved learning, just not classroom instruction.

      After Jason died, I was very thankful we’d had him home so we could be a bigger part of each other’s lives than would have happened if he’d spent most of his day at school and then doing homework, while trying to fit in playing with his friends and participating in church and scouting activities. Homeschooling is a bonding as well as an educational experience for both student and teacher.

    3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      @barbrad I had no idea you’d lost a son! Yes, I imagine that having him home with you for those few years made a huge difference for you. I know it doesn’t diminish the loss but there are so many moments that you’d probably have missed if he’d been in school. The bonding and the opportunity to spend time with my kids when they were younger were some of the best parts of homeschooling my kids.

  3. Profile photo of John

    Delightfully packaged! (It’s like I’m watching a 4 thumbs up movie like Chinatown, Revenant, Obra Maestra, Bram Stoker’s-Dracula, Raise the Red Lantern (by Zhang Yimou), etc. )

    1. Profile photo of John

      A dictionary in the 70s is like a gold to us who are in our poor state not like now that you can access an information everywhere via Google, Bing, Yahoo or Baidu.

    2. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      The internet is an amazing force for equality, isn’t it? I think a lot of families have been able to choose homeschooling because of the internet. I know it gave us the legal and educational information we needed when we pulled our girls out of public school. It also made it possible for us to get a lot of our educational materials free or at greatly reduced prices, and it taught us about all the different homeschooling options like unschooling 🙂

  4. Profile photo of GL Brown
    GL Brown

    Love to learn something new, interesting re: unschooling (red squiggle). Will be curious to see if any of my friends who homeschool use that approach.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Hopefully, one day that red squiggle will be no more! I’m curious to see if any of your homeschooling friends unschool, too. Let me know, will you?

  5. Profile photo of

    I think homeschooling will make kids antisocial. IN normal schols they will interact with peers, in homeschool they are alone or just with theri siblings.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      You think homeschooled kids are not socialized, but I KNOW what the research says. It says that kids who homeschool are much more involved in their communities than kids who sit in a factory-style classroom all day. They have more free time because they can finish their studies more quickly. And they tend to meet with other homeschoolers for cooperative learning activities. The “lack of socialization” criticism has been thrown out the window a long time ago.

      Even when we homeschooled in an environment where few others homeschooled and most of the neighbour children didn’t speak the same language as my kids, my children were more active than kids who went to the local elementary school. My children had a better vocabulary, better manners, more natural speech, and more ease with both adults and children of all ages than their peers who went to school. We had many people remark on these things. And when they went to public school years later, even my youngest who had never been to school before, excelled. My kids always got along with everybody (as opposed to their peers, who ran in cliques and frequently gossiped or quarrelled) and were always well loved by their teachers as well as their peers.

      And they are just three of the children I know who were homeschooled and who have been singled out by peers, teachers, and youth leaders for their excellence. In fact, several including my oldest have received citizenship awards and awards for their deep concern with the morale of their peers.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I think in the UK, they called “home-based learning,” which I suppose is more accurate than “homeschooling.” I agree that every parent teaches their children at home. In fact, one year my daughter’s well-meaning teacher distributed a poem in which the parents were made to seem like uneducated morons whose only contribution to a child’s education was loving them and teaching them self-care. I was very annoyed because my daughter was learning more at home than she and her peers did in school that year!

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      How old is she, Donna? My older two girls were starting grades 1 and 4 when we started to homeschool. They were so excited! They are all in public school now, but they’ve never lost their love of learning and their understanding that learning is a lifelong activity that can happen anywhere and anytime. There were a lot of challenges for us when we homeschooled, but I am so glad we made the choice to do it when we did.

    1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      @nana What kind of learner is she? What sort of an education do you want for her? There are a lot of options, but it depends a lot on her strengths and interests, as well as on your priorities.

      We did a modified Charlotte Mason curriculum. It’s based heavily in reading great literature and learning things like science or social studies that way, instead of reading a textbook.

  6. Profile photo of Ruth Cox
    Ruth Cox

    I often wish I had homeschooled my son (decades ago). He did attend a private Montessori school for his early years and I was happy with that educational method of teaching.

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