Unschooling or Delight-Directed

This article is part of a series for new home educators. In this, and several other articles, we cover What style of education is right for our family? And where do I get our curriculum?

Unschooling or delight directed learning is “child led” education, focusing on the interests of the child. Usually the real books and resources utilized in this type of education are whatever the child finds in the library or on the internet or perhaps his family’s library that is of interest to him, in addition to activities and projects he chooses. Obviously, there is no written curriculum or book list for this. It flows as the child’s interests come and go, in whatever the topic may be–not just recognized school subjects. Some parents help guide the child into turning these interests into a type of Unit Study.

John Holt defined this approach, believing that people have an innate curiosity and desire to learn, unless it is destroyed by the usual ways of teaching; that when given a good environment in which to learn, he will love to learn. This educational belief stems from his foundational belief that people are good and will choose what is best and right for themselves.

Although there are parents that truly leave their children to themselves without that rich learning environment, to just play video games and watch TV all day, that is not the intent behind this approach. Still we see that unschooling even in its intent, although it has some good components, is not a Biblical approach. A child cannot appropriately direct his own education. He is not a pure, blank slate but rather has sinful, selfish tendencies. Proverbs tells us that a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. And Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Ephesians instruct us to diligently teach our children, guiding and directing their education. In addition, the “go your own way” approach can promote selfish individualism rather than family unity. In general, most Christians recognize the faulty foundation of pure unschooling, and choose rather an adapted version that is more Biblical. In The Relaxed Home School Mary Hood presents an adaptation of this approach to education for Christian homes.

Sometimes Delayed Academics is considered unschooling. We believe that is more of a Discipleship approach. Parents are still guiding learning; it is just not focused on “book learning” in the early years.

Although accused many times of being “unschoolers”, Lifestyle Education through Discipleship is not a child-led approach. But we do believe a child’s interests and learning styles/abilities should be taken into consideration when planning his curriculum, as those interests and abilities are God-given and indicators of God’s design for his future. We also believe he needs to grow in learning how to direct his own education, under our guidance, through his teen years. Including children in the real world of life and providing rich learning and play opportunities and resources, as well as lifestyle natural methods of learning, are foundations of L.E.D. (and views proposed by Raymond Moore that we agree with) that would also be espoused by most unschoolers.


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