Welcome to Unschooling to University!
Many unschoolers often get asked the second most common question (after the one about socialisation) which is “What about university? Aren’t you messing up your child’s chances of eligibility?” This blog’s sole purpose is to assure you that unschooled children can go to college, universities and trade schools (or any post-secondary schools) if they choose to go. When the time is right for them, they will often choose self-directed learning to help themselves earn the requirements for admission acceptance. Parents do not have to be the teacher and “catch them up” unless they really want to. (Not possible in my case – my “math skills” end at grade 8!) Parents do not need high school subject matter expertise. They just need to hang around and help the child find the resources if asked. Most unschooled children reach an age that they wish to learn more and seek out tutors, online courses or simply teach themselves from the internet, Kahn Academy, and their jurisdiction’s textbooks. Whether they learn the entire high school program, or just the final year courses to prove previously acquired learning, or even challenge the leaving or entrance exams, children that are motivated are serious, focused learners and nothing will stop them.
As Peter Gray outlines in his 2013 study of 75 grown homeschoolers, those children with the least number of formal schooling years (either in a classroom or homeschooled), were more likely to go on to post-secondary learning. That has been our experience in the homeschooling community as well. The more time children had for play and self-directed learning, the more likely they were to continue learning and became motivated for greater stimulation outside the family.
The other myth is that unschoolers tend to choose more arts and humanities fields when applying to post-secondary institutions. STEM options are also available to unschoolers. Many unschoolers find that the years of experiential learning from play, projects and travel help round out a solid background of understanding that numbers and formulas can build on when the child reaches their teens and acquires their abstract thinking skills from the development of the brain’s pre-frontal cortex. They have real world applications for problem-solving with math and science tools.
We know that not everyone aspires to go to post-secondary schools, and that is fine. We know that some families do wish to plan for that type of education and we aim to help them navigate the waters from unschooling and self-determining their learning during the “school-age” years to a more formal learning environment during the adult years.
Many of these insights come from our family of 5 children, in which we unschooled the children anywhere from 8 to 12 years that they would have been in school. We live in the most homeschool-regulated place on earth and have managed to secure adequate credentials for university acceptance. All three older children (the two youngest are not of age yet) were accepted into 7 different universities and programs across Canada. We hope you enjoy our experiences, thoughts and insights to help you make informed education choices. We also welcome your questions. Yes, unschooled children can go on to post-secondary education and they are excellent learners. #anyonecanhomeeducate
Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE, DTM