Skip to content

Follow us!

Free Shipping on Orders $50+ (N. America and UK)

Get in touch with us

Deschool vs Unschool – What's The Difference?

Deschool vs Unschool – What's The Difference?

Homeschooling can be a new and exciting experience, especially if no one in your family has gone through homeschooling. However, the journey and the unfamiliar terms and ideas can be a bit challenging. One of the most common confusions surrounding homeschooling is when people mistake unschooling for deschooling. Though these words may sound similar, they are very different!

If you are considering either of the two or want to understand what deschooling and unschooling mean, read on!

What is Deschooling?

Last week, we wrote a post on what deschooling is and why it is crucial. Let's do a quick refresher on what deschooling is. Deschooling is the transition period when a child moves from traditional school into homeschooling. 

It is a necessary part of homeschooling because it helps children unlearn behaviours learnt from traditional schools. These behaviours can range from asking for permission to go to the bathroom to the school-set start times. Whether private, public or even charter, all schools have routines and practices. Therefore, deschooling is a recommended first step in beginning your homeschool journey because it eases children and parents into homeschooling. 

Deschooling gives children some time to decompress and transition into homeschooling. It also helps in getting rid of societal expectations regarding education.

What is Unschooling?

Unschooling, on the other hand, is one method of homeschooling. There are various methods of homeschooling. Some methods or approaches of homeschooling include charlotte mason, classical, unit studies, multiple intelligences, school at home, unschooling and many more. Unschooling is a method used by families in their homeschooling journey. 

Unschooling is a homeschool style that focuses on children learning without a formal structure. Unschoolers (parents who employ the unschooling approach) do not use a specific curriculum. Parents follow their children's curiosities and interests in subjects and teach them through that. Unschooling is also known as natural or experience-based or inde­pendent learning.  

The goal of unschooling is to let children direct their learning experiences and make choices about their education. Unschooled students explore topics they are curious about, learn at their own pace, and decide which areas of study they want to pursue further. Through this approach, children gain confidence in their abilities by being able to create something new on their own or solve problems without guidance from adults.

In the 1970s, John Holt, a homeschooling pioneer, advocated for unschooling. He argued that children learn best when they are interested and motivated to learn. He proposed that children learn through their own experiences and interests instead of being forced to learn based on a rigid curriculum. 

Unschooling can take many forms and include many different styles, but it all centres around letting kids direct their education. Parents provide them with opportunities for hands-on learning rather than following a strict curriculum or employing worksheets.

What is the Difference Between Unschooling and Deschooling?

Unschooling is an approach to learning that focuses on children's interests and curiosities. It encourages children to explore their world and learn by doing. Unschoolers usually rely on the natural curiosity of a child to guide them through their education. Parents are responsible for guiding their children in their learning process and providing opportunities for them to learn through play, exploration, or other activities. Because unschooling does not have a set curriculum, a child is exposed to many different subjects or topics throughout their time at home.

Deschooling is another educational method that focuses on developing children's self-directed learning skills by removing traditional school systems from their lives entirely. During deschooling, parents remove all formal learning materials from their homes so that their children can only access the resources they want themselves. Unlike unschooling, deschooling doesn't focus on exploring outside influences—instead it focuses on getting kids away from those influences altogether.

Now that we've differentiated between unschooling and deschooling, it's time to explore the advantages of each.

Benefits of Unschooling

  • Unschooling celebrates the power of learning through play, exploration, and curiosity. 
  • Unschooling allows children to learn at their own pace, in their way. 
  • Unschooling gives children the opportunity to be able to explore their passions in an environment that encourages learning through exploration.

Benefits of Deschooling

  • Deschooling eases children into homeschooling. 
  • Deschooling allows children to unlearn behaviours learnt from traditional school environments. 
  • Deschooling is a great way to dismantle societal expectations regarding education.

One thing to keep in mind is deschooling is a recommended first step to starting your homeschooling journey. Once it is done, parents may opt for one method of homeschooling from the many available. They may decide to adopt the unschooling approach and become full-time unschoolers or opt for another style of homeschooling. Deschooling lays a strong foundation for adopting the unschooling approach, but it is not required. 

Hopefully, by reading this article, you have learnt the difference between deschooling and unschooling. The two terms sound similar, but; there are some differences in their concepts. They both share a common aim which is to live a happy, productive life without following a traditional school routine.

What are your thoughts on both deschooling and unschooling? Which one would you choose for your child and why? We would adore knowing your comments below. 

You might also enjoy reading about why homeschooling is on the rise in the black community and understanding co-ops!



African History Workbook


Idia of the Benin Kingdom - Lesson Plan


Imhotep of Ancient Kemet - Lesson Plan


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba - Lesson Plan


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba - Unit of Study


Idia of the Benin Kingdom - Unit of Study


Sunjata of Ancient Kemet - Lesson Plan


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published