Our Unschooling Perspective
Homeschooling has as many methodologies as there are people doing it!
Some people purchase a curriculum and “do school” at home. On the other side of the continuum is “unschooling”, which reverses the top-down program of traditional school so that the program is driven by the interests and passions of the learner. Many homeschoolers use some structure, while choosing their
own materials and allowing time for free discovery.
West River Academy fully supports you and the homeschooling style you choose.
We applaud you for honoring your children and their reason for being on Earth by including them in the discussion.
What is “Unschooling”?
“Unschooling” is a word that was coined by John Holt, who was a pioneer in school reform in the US. He was a Yale University graduate and spent time as a teacher. He started wondering why toddlers and pre-school children had so much fun exercising their curiosity and loved learning and then, as 10-year-olds, acted up in class and appeared bored with learning. He came to realize that when the element of coercion is added to the learning model, it turns off love of learning and students just try to get by with the least effort. John Holt’s solution to this was to do the opposite of what is done in school. Instead of being required to participate, let it be voluntary. Instead of changing subjects every hour, let the child continue learning in an area of interest as long as his interest continues. Let him stop when he loses interest. Let his interests lead his learning. Isn’t that how adults learn things?
Unschooling has come to mean interest-based learning, child-led learning and relaxed homeschooling, among other terms. Think of it as putting the child in the driver’s seat of the car. The parent is in the passenger’s seat, making sure the car is not driven off a cliff, being the navigator with map in hand, letting the driver know what appears to be up ahead, etc. The child is then free to take
the interstate or go off on a scenic byway, explore different places along the way or get to the destination as fast as he can. It’s letting the child drive the car while the parent offers guidance and assures safety.
Unschooling is usually eased into, as there is a lot of programming that both parents and children have received while being in the system. West River Academy will support you as you move comfortably into a learning style that is right for your family.
To learn more about unschooling, please visit these websites:
1. John Holt’s Growing Without Schooling at http://www.johnholtgws.com
2. The Christian Science Monitor’s Feature Article on February 14, 2016: “Free-range education: Why the unschooling movement is growing” at http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2016/0214/Free-range-education-Why-the-unschooling-movement-is-growing
3. Homeschooling Why and How at http://www.homeschoolingwhyandhow.com
In the United States, education is controlled by each state. The US Constitution does not give this power to the federal government. Each state has its own laws that govern education in the state. In order to assure that public and private schools have uniform standards, accreditation organizations were created. They are supposed to be independent from the government and independent from the schools. They assure that the schools meet their standards so that students in every state will receive a similar education.
The federal government established a Department of Education, which gives money to schools
that offer certain programs and comply with their standards.
The desire for federal government funding is what tempts the states to include the federal programs in their schools and comply with standards.
Accreditation is not related to a school’s legal status in the state where it has offices. West River Academy started in Colorado as a Colorado corporation. In California, it operates as a foreign corporation. Each year, West River Academy files an affidavit with the California Department of Education and is listed on their website as a private school. You can find this list here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ps/index.asp
West River Academy is accredited by the National Association for the Legal Support of Alternative Schools.This organization assures the student who is considering this school that it has done an on-site visit to the school and can assure the public that
the school complies with all legal requirements and performs the services that it offers. NALSAS does not have curriculum requirements for member schools. It honors the right of the family to choose the program that will work best for their children. This is the reason that West River Academy chose to seek accreditation by NALSAS and not by other accreditation organizations.
Most US colleges and universities that West River Academy seniors have applied to have recognized our diploma and transcript as valid. Our documents have also been accepted in other countries and by universities in other countries. For students in countries that are members of The Hague Convention, the documents are usually sent to the Secretary of State of Colorado to receive an Apostille and then presented to the Ministry of Education or a university in that country.