Humans are born to learn. So why are we so determined to get in our children’s way?
Leaving the traditional education system behind is definitely unconventional and sometimes scary, but it enables us to preserve our children’s curiosity, creativity, and enthusiasm for learning. And that means more learning, not less.
With more than a dozen years of unschooling experience, Pam Laricchia explains the five paradigm-shifting ideas about learning and living that freed her family from the school system’s compulsory schedule and typical teaching methods. Her practical examples and stories may make all the difference in your life and the life of your child.
In Free to Learn, you’ll discover:
- Why you want to look for learning, not teaching
- How to see the learning that is happening everywhere, all the time
- How judgement and shame short circuit learning, and what to do instead
- How saying yes more encourages our children’s learning and cultivates their confidence
- How to give your children a voice in your family, and much, much more!
Through its concise, easy-to-understand language, Free to Learn explores the depth and potential of unschooling and how it can strengthen your family’s learning and relationships. If you like thoughtful educational ideas, step-by-step guides, and complex concepts explained in simple ways, then you’ll love Pam’s robust, user-friendly book.
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“If school is about manipulative, power-based relationships between children and adults, life learning is about a team-based approach where everyone is heard and supported, and where children learn to make good choices and meet their own needs (and become “well educated” along the way). Free to Learn is an excellent guide to that goal.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine
“Free to Learn is an elegant presentation of ideas that can help a family move from frustration to joy. For a family already involved in unschooling, the book can be a refresher and an inspiration to move ever nearer to the principles of parenting in this expansive way. It could be a great gift or loaner book for friends and relatives whose understandable fears and prejudices are keeping them from seeing the value of unschooling.” ~ Sandra Dodd, author of Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling, Amazon review
“Thanks to Pam Laricchia’s book, Free to Learn, an exciting, crystal clear roadmap is now available to everyone who wants to understand unschooling. Her logical, concise and graceful writing is illuminating, as she walks you through the five ideas that will, no doubt, have you saying, “Yes! It just makes so much sense!” Be forewarned, however: fantastic things are waiting to happen when you shift away from the standard society-held paradigms!” ~ Anne Ohman, unschooling Mom, writer, and founder of Shine with Unschooling
“An excellent new book from Canadian unschooler Pam Laricchia for anyone thinking about homeschooling or unschooling. Pam has been writing on the subject of unschooling for many years and here she shares the five “paradigm-changing ideas” about learning and living that freed her family from the limitations of school. This book also contains substantial amounts of parenting wisdom!” ~ Bob Collier, creator of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter
Great unschooling foundation-builder!
“After being unable to put this book down, I finished it in one evening. It is very well written, easy to read, and so concise. We are new to unschooling, and I had built my own foundation of information in my mind by going from website to website, putting the pieces together slowly to build the “bigger picture”. This book does it for you…or for others who are curious about unschooling (i.e. spouses, grandparents, friends, etc.).
After mentioning the book to my husband (who has not been so enthusiastic about unschooling), he read through 1/3 of it in one sitting (which is a lot for him!). I noticed him asking more questions and making more observations about our unschooling ways over the next couple of weeks. He kept reading. Shortly after finishing, he came to me and said, “I get it. I want in.” Thank you Pam!! You put into words that he understood what I’ve been trying to do for months!!” ~ Amazon review
Love This Little Book
“A quick read, but packed with ideas that challenge the dominant paradigm of our failing approach to learning, this little gem makes an excellent argument for unschooling and carves a pathway for doing so against the common questions and concerns anyone newly coming to this idea (like myself) might have. I came away challenged, thinking, and seeking more information…indeed, already experiencing the notion of unschooling for myself. Definite recommend.” ~ Amazon review
Excellent book on Unschooling
“I was rather doubtful about this book, as I had never heard of the author, but after reading it, I wish that I had read it years ago. It really is good. I have found it much more down-to-earth than other unschooling books. It really sorted out for me what unschooling is and the huge benefits of unschooling. I just never got it before. Not only has it changed the way that I feel about learning, it has also altered the way I parent. I had never realised how disrespecting I was to my children. Sure, I want obedient children, but this book has helped me put the grace and understanding back into my parenting. Do read it. I plan to reread it, as some of the gems take a while to sink in.” ~ Amazon review
Table of Contents
Hi, I’m Pam Laricchia, nice to meet you.
What Is Unschooling?
Welcome to the wonderful world of unschooling.
Learning About Learning
This book will discuss the ideas behind unschooling and extend them into day-to-day living. Don’t just skim through the ideas, as logical as they may seem. Really live with them. Let your mind ruminate on them as you go about your day.
IDEA ONE: REAL LEARNING
Paradigm Shift: Instead of looking at learning from a teacher’s point of view, look at it from the learner’s point of view. Real learning is best defined by the learner precisely because it can only take place in the learner, regardless of any teaching being done around him or her.
At first it may seem like a small shift of focus, looking through the learner’s eyes instead of the teacher’s—almost semantics—but this shift is the key to observing real learning. How do we get there?
Learning versus Teaching
What Is Learning?
Building a View of the World
IDEA TWO: FOLLOWING THEIR INTERESTS
Paradigm Shift: Learning need not be defined as exclusively occurring in classrooms, during school hours, with those of school age. It can be found everywhere, at anytime, and can happen at any age.
People—and children are people—enjoy learning things that are useful to them now, and they learn best when they are interested and engaged.
Where Is Learning Found?
Connections Create the Web of Learning
IDEA THREE: CHOICES
Paradigm Shift: Instead of learning what choices to make, it’s better to learn how to make informed choices.
Unschooling children are picking up skills and gathering information all the time, but at the same time they are learning how to navigate the world. How to make choices and decisions in both unique and everyday situations is a key life skill. How do we help them gain experience with this?
Learning from Living
IDEA FOUR: INSTEAD OF NO
Paradigm Shift: Saying no can make life seem easier in the moment but saying yes encourages children to explore their world and cultivates their ability to live confidently in it.
The reflex, almost automatic, no accomplishes so much: it reminds the child where the power in the relationship sits; it discourages messes and hassles; and eventually it deters the child from bothering the parent in the first place. But what if those aren’t your goals?
Rules versus Principles
Moving to Principles
IDEA FIVE: LIVING TOGETHER
Paradigm Shift: It can seem that parents have, by virtue of age and childbirth, earned a position of power, but everyone in the family has important needs and wants and can have a voice.
Children are often the second-class citizens of the mainstream family. Does giving them a voice in the family lead to chaos?
Learning to Live with Others
Learning about Themselves
Moving on Out
PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER