UK Unschooling Article

From The TimesSeptember 6, 2007
"Home education serves her better than school would’

Sara Sengenberger lives in Oxford but was brought up and schooled in the US. She delayed formal education for her daughter Catryn, 7, but has found home education suits Catryn so well that she has no plans to send her to school.

“I came across a book published in the 1970s by Raymond Moore called Better Late than Early, which claims that many biological and psychological factors make 8 to 10 the best age to begin structured learning. Young children learn a great deal through play. I don’t require Catryn to do any formal academic work at all. At the age of 6 she decided that she wanted to read; she had been resistant to the idea before then. Because she started on her own initiative she learned very quickly.

“We follow an approach called Autonomous Education, or ‘Unschooling’, pioneered by John Holt in the US. The idea is that children are given the freedom to follow their interests, on the principle that they learn better that way. Just as I didn’t teach my daughter to walk and talk when she was a toddler, she doesn’t need me to direct her learning now. We make materials available to Catryn and she decides what she wants to do. She does an astonishing amount of arithmetic every day without us having to make her sit down and do worksheets. It is a very relaxing approach. Because we never force Catryn to do anything we live a very harmonious existence.

“At some point she may decide that she wants to go to school, and that’s fine by us, but for now home education is serving her far better than school would.”