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Unschooling – What's The Real Story

OK, readers.  I really need your input here.  I saw this video from Good Morning America the other day about two unschooling families.  As you might expect, GMA took a fairly critical angle to the subject.  The experts warned about the risks of this approach, yet the parents and kids seemed to feel pretty comfortable with it.

I’ll admit, I have most likely fallen into the skeptical camp from my first impressions.  However, I have a few questions that linger about this unschooling thing.  The way these two families are doing it, it sure looks a lot like unparenting as well.  As in almost-no-parenting.

I can appreciate the value of taking off the traditional restraints of the classroom and allowing kids to explore where their minds take them.  I think I know what each of my kids would do all day if given that freedom, and in many cases that wouldn’t be too bad.  However…

Biggest Question About Unschooling

Here’s where my biggest questions lies: what about all the freedom to have no hygiene or health standards? Eating doughnuts and not brushing teeth?  I really don’t get that.  Is that a true part of unschooling where you don’t insist that your four year old brush their teeth?  No hierarchy, no discipline, no punishment?  I don’t know, that sounds just a little too loosey goosey to me.  Trust me, I have a six year old who seems to believe that brushing her teeth is akin to torture.  When she’s in the mood, she does it well and has no complaints.

Another daughter has some health concerns that require some vigilance with dental care.  If she never got the idea from me and her dad that she absolutely had to do some things no matter what, what are the chances she’d actually do them? How would that put her health in jeopardy? How does that contribute to raising a healthy child when they are allowed to do or not do whatever they choose?

Maybe some of you out there are more familiar with the unschooling movement, and you can help me separate out the things I saw in the video. 

Is the un/non-parenting thing usually connected to the unschooling approach to education?  Or are these two families not the typical example?

Unschooling – What's The Real Story

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Unschooling – What's The Real Story. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Apr 2010
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