The Unschooling Unmanual – Official Review of The Natural Child Project’s Cumulative Work

The Unschooling Unmanual first came out right about the same time that we began our journey of home education and although I have heard of it several times, have met one of the contributors and had online discussions with some of the others, I had never actually read the book. We are far from “homeschoolers”, but I tend to shy away from the term unschooling and all things related to it because of the negative connotations that often follows it in the mainstream media and more radical groups, but when I was asked to review this book, I felt confident enough in my own educational philosophies to see what they had to say and I am glad that I did.

The title is perfectly clear because as an “unmanual” you will not find any “this is how YOU NEED to do this”, but plenty of variations of “this is how WE have done this”. Within its pages I found an incredible collection of well thought out and clearly stated points of view that came from many different walks of life as families share their perspectives of how they came to unschooling, how it has changed their lives and how beneficial it has been for them. I especially liked that there were stories included that shared the children’s perspectives, giving insight on things ranging from the art of play to boredom.

Unschooling is a unique opportunity for each family to do whatever makes sense for the growth and development of their children. If we have a reason for using a curriculum and traditional school materials, we are free to use them. ~ p. 67 – Earl Stevens

I have always felt that Pat Ferenga’s definition of unschooling as “allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. “ was one of the best descriptions of what the term meant when Holt first coined it and this book brings to light the quintessential executions of unschooling in an approachable and nonthreatening manner. It includes varying answers to many of the common questions about unschooling such as , “What about college?”, “How do I know they are learning?” and “Why choose unschooling?” as well as many admittance of trepidation when stepping away from the mainstream.

All and all I would say that regardless of what title you feel most comfortable with – unschooler, home educator, independent learner, or whatever – you will be sure to find a story within this book that you connect with, gain confidence from and maybe even one that will bring some enlightenment!


For more information on this book and The Natural Child Project please visit their site!

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Filed Under: Book ReviewsUM Blog

avatar About the Author: Gina is a home educating mom since 2007, when her daughter was in 5th grade and could no longer deal with the ridiculous public school system. You can find out more about their journey on their blog – Home Learning Family Going Sane - .

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  1. avatar momofeight says:

    Pat Farenga’s definition is the one I share with people and one that makes the most sense to me.