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The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom
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The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,214 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
Unschooling, a by-product of the widespread homeschooling movement, is a unique approach to education--one that uses children's natural curiosity to propel them into a world of learning. This practical guides reveals the secrets of unschooling success even as it addresses the misconceptions and criticism unschoolers may encounter.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 29th 1998 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published 1998)
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Nov 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
I found this in the anemic "parenting" section of my new library. It's a lean little volume, mostly of extended quotes from self-titled "unschooling" parents. The technology is excruciatingly outdated (just go to AOL Member home to join a list!) circa 1997, and even though it calls itself a "handbook" there's nothing very handy or step-by-step about it.
With those criticisms out of the way, though, this was a very interesting book.
I'd never heard of "unschooling" before but the more I read the mo
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. Like all homeschooling books, I cannot simply follow one philosophy, but it significantly contributed to my personal definition of what "education" and "learning" look like. At our house, learning can take place with a class, a field trip, a project, a book, a workbook, a discussion, a debate, an accident, a movie, a household task, a meditation, a friendship, a visit, or any of the multitude of activities a human completes in a week. Sure, I may advocate for more structure in ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, education
I tried to keep an open mind as I read this book, but as a Classical homeschooler, there was a lot that I disagreed with. First, while children are naturally curious and desirous to learn, they lack WISDOM to know what might be more or less valuable as adults. Yes, the children will learn a lot that they are interested in, but if they aren't interested, unschooling proponents would let them alone, imagining that they'll either learn x one day or find that x isn't necessary and so will never lear ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A fabulous book for the beginning unschooler or anyone who wants to know more about this lifestyle. The only way to learn or understand what unschooling is (how do you understand the absence of something) is to read about other families' experiences while unschooling. A large part of the book is quoted passages but not in a confusing or haphazard way. Nicely organized and touches on the most common questions a new unschooler might have.

I found this book positive and encouraging and it is a handb
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschool
Unschooling IS using the world as your child's "classroom," even though classroom is not the best word! If you happen to need some ideas to get you started, this is a good book.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even as someone who knows a great deal about unschooling, I got a lot out of reading this book. It's jam-packed with information and personal narratives on the many aspects of unschooling. The author divides the book largely by school subjects, which she acknowledges isn't a perfect fit for the topic of homeschooling, but I think that the format is pretty successful. This is a great resource for those new to homeschooling or those who are curious about unschooling, and provides a lot of inspirat ...more
J.D. Knutson
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
It had a few useful things to offer, especially the models on transcripts. I did not have time to read it back to back before returning it to the library, but might find it beneficial to check it back out in a few years.
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: homeschooling
The beginning of this book started out with some good testimonials and experiences from unschoolers, but it also started out with too many complicated words and ideas that made me re-read a number of passages to grasp their meaning. That got annoying really fast. In that way this book is a little too textbook-like. The stories state an idea and the author restates it.

It may be because I just finished "How Children Learn", and loved it, but a lot of the content of this book seemed intuitive and
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
ไดทังคอนเซปตและรูปธรรมในหลายเรือง แตอยางไรกคงตองพิจารณารวมกับสังคมของเรา ในแงสถานภาพทางเศรษฐกิจ กฎหมาย โครงสรางสาธารณะ เชนหองสมุดสาธารณะทีมีบทบาทสำคัญมาก และความรวมมือของชุมชน นาจะมีหนังสือของไทยทีรวมรวบแบบไทยๆไวเยอะ อยากเหนบทสัมภาษณเดกเพิมเติมจนถึงวัยผูใหญและการสงตอความรูผานการเรียนแบบนี รวมทัง นาจะมีภาพของประวัติศาสตรของพอแมในการศึกษากอนทีจะมาใหลูกเรียน เพราะเพือจะไดเหนความแตกตางเฉพาะ เนืองจากวาทังหมดแลวการศึกษาแบบ Unschooling นันเปนเรืองเฉพาะ จากหนังสือเลมนีเปนเลมหนึงทีนาสนใจสำหรับบางครอบครัว ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Overall, I did not agree with the message of this book. I think "Have Kids Will Travel" sends a better message to homeschooling parents, and I think you can adopt the message of learning about your own community as well. The overall message that I attained from the book is that less is more and just let your kids do what they want. I think that message is a little scary and can prove to be disasterous. One page (I returned the book to the library) had a calendar of what they did for the month fo ...more
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I think this is a great barebones book for beginning unschoolers - of all early stages. At the time I read it, I felt it was too bare bones, but as time goes by and I forget all I know, I am glad that this book is here to remind me of what I've forgotten. Maybe "barebones" is the wrong word? It's probably the way she keeps things "simple" in this book that makes it work for me.
A few of the sections written by the author had interesting ideas, but I think I rather of heard more of the stories of the people who responded to her survey in a more detailed, less disjointed fashion than the way this book was organized. I think it'd have been more useful. I love the resources, though, given at the end of each chapter.
Angela Wade
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: homeschooling
I think by this point I've read so many books on homeschooling in general and unschooling in particular that this book really didn't grab my interest. I did a lot of skimming and can't say I learned anything new. Maybe better as a reference throughout the years ahead?
Ozy Frantz
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Probably the best unschooling book I've read so far. Instead of endlessly discussing the principles of unschooling and children's natural desire to learn, the unschooling handbook focuses on what it's like to unschool, including three chapters that describe weeks in the life of three different unschooling families and an extensive list of resources.

The Unschooling Handbook is fairly old, so its discussion of the Internet is hilariously out of date. ("We have the Internet at our library, but we o
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
What does it mean to educate a child? In the United States, schooling is dominated by standards, by regular exams that force educators to teach the test. But is forced memorization a means of teaching our children well? Mary Griffith thinks not. A practitioner and advocate of "Unschooling", she believes children ought to be free to learn the way adults do: autonomously, pursuing their own interests with the support of their family. In The Unschooling Handbook, she explains the unschooling philos ...more
Kristin (Life Between the Pages)
Being published in 1998, some of what's mentioned in this book is now out-of-date, but the basic sentiments and suggestions are timeless. I found this book insightful and encouraging as a homeschool parent and am glad to have it as part of my library so I can refer back to it again and again. My favorite parts of this book were the contributions from unschooling families. It's comforting to read about other people experiencing the ups and downs of this journey.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Many of the specific resources are outdated, but the overall gist of the book is still excellent today. As a homeschooling mom, this was a great book to get general ideas for how to adapt our practices to more 'life as education' and less 'school at home'.
Aimee Ortega
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book on unschooling. It really filled in some major blanks that I had on whether this was a good fit for our family. I'm still looking to do something a bit more structured and not child-led. But there were some very good points in here for families new to homeschooling like us.
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great, inspiring overview of unschooling. The talk around the internet and computers is outdated, but doesn't change the relevance of the discussion; it just sounds funny.
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
What an interesting idea-unschooling! I hadn't really heard of it, until I started researching homeschooling. This book basically explains what it is, and some practical ideas of how to do it, and what it might look like (although the whole point of it, is that there's no 'standard', since you're learning is at your children's pace and according to their interests). I love the idea of it, learning at your own level, in your own interest, at your own pace. Kids are born naturally wanting to learn ...more
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mandis-shelf
Okay - so after finishing this book and doing a lot of thinking about what I read, I needed to write a new review. ( : So here it is:
I find some definite merrit to the idea of unschooling, to a degree. While it is in agreement with the Biblical principle of individuality, it is off track, Biblically, when we give complete responsibility of their education over to our kiddos before they are ready. There are too many things that God tells us to teach our children; things I don't believe that they
Avonlea Rose
Aug 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book focuses on the strong points of unschooling, making it less a handbook than a plea for acceptance of unschooling to its skeptics and an encouragement to try out its ideas. Indeed, the author not only assumes the reader is not yet an unschooler, she often writes with the assumption that the reader is very doubtful about it and in need of reassurance.

"Sounds impossible, doesn't it? [...] Surely there must be more to the idea than that. Listen to a few more parents [...]", pg. 3.

So much
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Note: now that we have some homeschooling experience under our belt, I will reread this one and come back to update. It is highly possible (probably even likely) that this review will change at that point.

I first bought this book when my son was just a baby. I was struggling with a lot of 'cultural norms' at the time- from cry-it-out to vaccines- and this book was another attempt for me to put it all in context. At the time, I did not know anything about homeschooling at all- and this was the fi
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebooks, 2011
An interesting book that seeks to explain the concept of unschooling and how it is actually practiced, by using the anecdotes of families who are, or have, homeschooled. As well as interviews with parents, there are also excerpts from children who are being unschooled.
While I liked the positive 'vibe' of this book, and the fact it discussed how families actually go about unschooling, I found that there was very little information to support the fact that unschooling works (a short chapter, which
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, 2012
Read 88 pages fully, then skimmed and read bits & pieces of the rest.

My family doesn't unschool, but I do have quite a bit of knowledge on the topic. For someone new to unschooling, this book will be quite an informative (though obviously bias) overview that primarily looks into how individuals approach the method and each school subject. For someone already experienced, much will be redundant, other parts perhaps encouraging or sparking something. For me, someone who enjoys learning more a
Appel Aja
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the bloggers I follow () recently posted about her method of educating her children, called "unschooling" ( The way she described unschooling was fascinating to me because it sounded like a similar philosophy to my teaching philosophy. The philosophy basically entails throwing scripted curriculum (a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching) out the window, and instead follows student interests. I had never heard of unschooling so I decided to read t ...more
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Presents a philosophy of learning that structures learning opportunities around a particular child's passions and intersts.

"The categories of knowledge are simply artificial; they exist for reasons that have nothing to do with learning, nor with the advancements of knowledge. Chemistry blends seamlessly into physics and math and biology and sociology…rather than create artificial boundaries, it's fun to see where something leads". Pg15, Patrick

"Institutional learning's set curricula were
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am so glad the local library had this book! My oldest child is just entering pre-school age, and I had heard that there was something called "unschooling" from several friends, but wasn't quite sure what it entailed. This book explained it, explained why it is indeed the ideal way for children to learn, and gave stories about how families implement the practice in their own lives.
It is not a step-by-step guide, of course, because unschooling is different for everyone; it is specific to the chi
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit outdated with copyright of 1998: AOL, not having internet in the home, etc. Still provided insights into unschooling. Makes me sad I am just hearing about such a thing as unschooling when it has been around long enough to have a book about it published in '98!

Mostly responses of unschooling families to questions asked by the author. I felt the highlighted small grey boxes of text to be redundant.

Similar themes to Free to Learn, but not as enjoyable to read.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really loved reading this book about unschoolers. I made the decision a few years ago that I was going to homeschool my kids, but I had no idea where to start, what my options were, etc. I also had no idea that there were so many different " types" of homeschooling that you could do/be. I have been doing research and trying to educate myself on all of these types so that I can determine what will work best for my family.
I am so intrigued by unschoolers, and really just wanted to get a basic ov
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Mary Griffith is a longtime nonfiction writer who is stepping less and less gingerly into fiction. After pondering and discarding mystery plots and characters for the past two decades, she finally swallowed hard and tackled her first novel for the 2009 National Novel Writing Month. During her seemingly endless revision process since then, she's seen major improvements in her story, to the point wh ...more
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