Unschooling in the Early Years

Unschooling in the Early Years

Unschooling is all about learning through natural life experiences.  During the early years I have found unschooling to be an effective way to teach a young child.  I am currently unschooling my toddler.  To unschool her I follow her lead and place things in her environment that she can interact with and learn.  For instance, I have a cabinet full of books for her to access at any time.  She will often grab a book and want to read on the couch.  I have magnetic letters on the fridge that she can place in the little LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Holder.  She likes to dance to the alphabet songs once or twice a day.  The LeapFrog alphabet system plays a different song for each letter so the child not only learns the letter names, but the sounds the letter makes.  So for I it says “I says ih and I says I.  Every letter makes a sound and I says ih and I.”  So through play she is learning her letter names and sounds.

Playing with Play Doh and scribbling on paper will help her develop fine motor skills necessary for handwriting.  But learning academics through play is a small part of a day.  Play is wrapped up in the world of pretend.  Pretending to feed a doll, pretending to pack a bag and leave, pretending to cook or eat, and playing dress-up all build-up a child’s cognitive skills.  Sitting down for structured learning during the early years is unnecessary.  For play is the work of the child.


  1. I transition at age 5. My younger son did a few structured things at age 4, but it was mostly activities with his brother. Although I transition to more structured studies, unschooling continues. Learning through natural situations is just a way of life. I just add some structure to it around the age of 5.

  2. Great post and a lovely picture! How did you decide when to move the boys on to a more structured program? I’ve read a lot of what you’ve written and am curious about how you made the transition with them, or how you anticipate making it with this little Princess anyway, if you have a different approach now.

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