What is Free Range Learning?
Free Range Learning is just a cute term for whats more commonly known as Unschooling or Natural Learning.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling refers to a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child. The term "unschooling" was coined in the 1970s and used by educator John Holt, widely regarded as the "father" of unschooling. While often considered to be a subset of homeschooling, unschoolers may be as philosophically estranged from homeschoolers as they are from advocates of conventional schooling. While homeschooling has been subject to widespread public debate, little media attention has been given to unschooling in particular. Popular critics of unschooling tend to view it as an extreme educational philosophy, with concerns that unschooled children will lack the social skills, structure, and motivation of their peers, especially in the job market.
What do you do all day?
Parents who believe in self-directed learning allow children of all ages to continue learning naturally and at their own pace. For example, the parent of a child who is interested in birds might buy him a new pair of binoculars and a bird-watching guide. The parent may help the child construct a birdfeeder so there will be more opportunities to observe birds in the backyard. With help, the child may do research online about birds they’ve encountered in addition to picking up additional books on the topic at the local library. These activities may serve as a springboard for creating a book or project about what they’ve learned, and the parent will once again be there to support, encourage, and yes, teach. Traditionally schooled children typically play a more passive role in the learning process while unschoolers are actively engaged throughout the day.
How do you know they are learning?
You will know by listening to them speak, by watching them play, just by being with them. You will know they are leaning at 8 the same way you knew they were learning at 18 months. You will see them use their skills and knowledge. This does take some effort on the part of the parent. The information is not contained on a worksheet or within a report. It is not all nice and neat and tied up with a grade. It's spread out over the course of the day while the children are living their lives. You have to be observant and tuned into your child, in order to know. The nice thing about this is that it's great fun to observe your children so closely, to be so in tune with their lives. It brings contentment to both parent and child to know each other so well.
What about discipline?
Free Range Learning is not about freedom to do whatever one wants regardless of how it impacts others, nor is it about arbitrary limits and boundaries for the sake of teaching a lesson. Life is filled with natural limits and boundaries, which people naturally learn from every day. Autonomous children are empowered children—empowered to make choices and to evaluate the consequences of their choices within real contexts rather than going through life believing that they have no choices.
If you don't do school, why are there subjects listed on your website?As parents of Free Range Learners it is our job to take on the role of facilitator as our child becomes inquisitive about the world he is living in. The internet provides an endless amount of information to help us with this role. Ive chosen to organize various articles and websites based on subject matter that I have found helpful with many projects that my children have explored.
Is it legal?
Yes, unschooling is a kind of homeschooling, which is legal in all 50 States. Most important is to know your state's laws and to talk to other unschoolers about how they have successfully met the state requirements. Most unschooling parents have developed successful strategies for protecting their child's Free Range Learning while fulfilling state requirements.