Unschooling Canada Association
Our Vision: To gain recognition and acceptance that self-directed education and free learning is a valid educational choice for learners.
Our Mission: To provide support, advocacy and inclusive sharing of information and resources for those interested in unschooling (SDE at home) and Self-directed education (SDE) in a school.
We are a registered non-profit association of people interested in unschooling in Canada. We are pro-education and believe that academic learning occurs outside the four "B"s of school systems: buildings, buses, budgets and bottoms-in-seats. School is only one way to acquire an education. There are many others ways to learn and unschooling is a valid method which enhances children's innate love of learning and never-ending curiosity.
UCA is funded through annual membership fees, donations from interested individuals, and an occasional online Conference. We are not a charity yet so unfortunately can't issue tax receipts for donations, but we do welcome any amount donated.
Home Education Benefits Chart
Discover the Benefits of Unschooling and Learner Centred Education
Get Your Complimentary Book!
The book, Unschooling To University, outlines everything you need to know about unschooling in Canada. There is no charge for the book!
Unfortunately, shipping costs are skyrocketing and authors/publishers do not get the Canada Post Library Book Rate to ship. We are asking you to cover the $25 shipping fee if you live in Ontario to Newfoundland, and $20 fee if you live in BC to Manitoba.
To purchase - just e-transfer the fee to the author at jarnall-at-shaw.ca with your mailing address in the message box. No password needed. You can also order via paypal from here:
Have a book club? Order a minimum of 8 copies for $10 each copy and we will send to your address free of shipping and GST. Lets get the world educated on self-directed education!
UCA Monthly Unschooling 101 Information Sessions for Members and Guests 2023
Every month we hold zoom sessions for you to find out more about unschooling and self-directed education. Seats are available to the public, but go to our members first. Don't miss out!
Join Us for $11 per Year
UCA Unschooling Info Session
Wednesday February 28, 2024, 6 PM MST 8 PM EST
Come join us for a quick overview of "Unschooling" in Canada and an extensive "learner-centred" Q and A session over zoom!
Unschooling is where children direct their learning and curiosity becomes the curriculum. No motivation problems ever! Parents and children love learning when it is consensual and personalized.
Presented by Judy Arnall, homeschooling parent of 5 unschooled university students/grads.
Parenting Tip Webinar: Gentle Discipline
Monday Feb 26, 2024, 6 PM MST, 8 PM EST No Fee, Zoom Presentation
Discover when children learn self-control and begin listening. Learn 3 easy steps to remain calm and help our children get calm through times of chaos and conflict. Distinguish between discipline and punishment, and be able to use 10 age-appropriate tools for gentle and respectful discipline that teaches kids rather than punishes kids. Q and A included
Presented by Judy Arnall, Parenting Consultant with Professional Parenting Canada
Resource of the Year
Need School for Employment Support? You can Still Unschool While Your Children are in School!
Unschooling School is a concept of using the public education system how we want, when we want and if we want. We pay for it - it exists to support learning.
Do you have a child that is unmotivated in school? (It's not your child or the teacher's fault!)
Are you worried that the school curriculum is not relevant in today's society? (We still do not have mandatory coding lessons)
Do you think your child would thrive if you pulled them out, but don't wish to homeschool? (Not everybody wants to!)
Now there is an alternative. Learners can and do lead their learning!
Learning Revolution Conference - Unschooling and Self-Directed Education
Unschooling/Self-Directed Education in the News
CTV Newsclip on Unschooling
What is Unschooling?
In short, unschooling is the educational philosophy of consensual learning, and self-directed education, usually practiced under the legal education category of homeschooling. Students choose what they want to learn (content), when they want to learn it (age 6, 16, or 60), and how they want to learn it (by teacher-taught classroom, online, textbook, or self-taught), instead of the government dictating what they have to learn.
All human beings learn. Every minute. Every day. The question is; who decides what the human learns? Who is in control of the information, attitudes, and skill acquisition? We believe that it is always the learner themselves.
There are basically three ways to acquire an education: school (government/teacher-directed), home-education (parent-directed), and unschooling (self-directed education).
The long definition of unschooling is that it is a philosophy and a lifestyle of educational freedom, on the basis that the natural curiosity of a healthy child, given access to a rich and stimulating environment, will lead the child to learn what he or she needs to know, in the time frame that he or she needs it, with the resources/curriculum he or she chooses to use.
The learner is self-determined and often (but not always) self-taught. Unschooling is also called child-led learning. There is no planned curriculum unless the learner decides to use one. It is learning with total freedom of methods, resources, goals, and assessment.
How Many People in Canada Unschool?
There are about 100,000 homeschooled children in Canada, or about 1% of the school-aged population. Of those home-schoolers, approximately 10% (10,000 learners) take the free-learning approach called unschooling according to Patrick Farenga of the John Holt Foundation.
How do I Unschool?
Self-directed education requires 3 components like the 3 legs of a stool: adult, resources, and unstructured free time.
Let your child explore, play and initiate his own projects. Everything in our world is educational. Assist him when he asks for help or items to use. Be his facilitator rather than his teacher, and you will experience how much children love to learn. You can't force a child to learn, and you can't stop him from learning. Record his projects with a diary, camera or video, and enjoy watching his creativity, initiative, problem-solving and critical thinking.
Unschooling and Brain Development/Learning Stages
AERO Conference Recording
10 Things to know about Unschooling
Unschoolers don’t need a diploma to enter post-secondary education. Students need to consult the website of the program they desire to enter to check the application requirements. For most post-secondary education choices in Canada, demonstration of mastery of five core courses, (Math, English, Science, and Social Studies and one other) at the grade 12 level is required, or a transfer from a post-secondary institution.
The minimum resources for unschooling include a library card, an internet connection, unstructured time and an adult available to assist the learner in accessing resources.
Unschooled does not mean uneducated. Unschooling has to meet the individual provincial governments' outcomes for home education, but it can be done in different ways and within a time period suited to the learner. Even without using curriculum, most outcomes will be reached by the age of 18.
Unschooling is very different from homeschooling. Homeschooling is a school format replicated in the home. Unschooling is consensual education. Unschooling is learner-determined and is often self-taught. If the learner chooses direct instruction, a teacher is helpful. A structured program is also an option, but is not mandatory, and the learner (rather than the government institution), can most effectively determine if the learner thrives better in a structured or unstructured learning environment.
Unschooling is not the same as "inquiry-based", or "self-paced” courses offered by schools, that let the learner decide the pace of the course, but not the content. Because most schools receive government funding, they are mandated to follow a government curriculum. In many schools, the only flexible part is the pace of the course. Every other aspect is mandated. Unschooling allows the learner to choose the content, pace, sequence, method, resources and agenda; not those of the government, and is best done in a traditional home education program where the parent or learner has total control of the education philosophy.
Unschoolers may choose any resource, including video games, toys, board games, puzzles, videos, books, curriculum, classes, textbooks and teachers, as long as the learning is desired and motivated by the student. Learners who desire explicit instruction will seek it out, while other learners prefer self-teaching. Learning is never forced, coerced or bribed. If there are any motivation problems existing, then the learning environment is not self-directed unschooling education.
Unschooling is legal, and is accepted in all Canada provinces by the supervising school boards and authorities. Parents have the highest authority to make decisions about their child's education (See #3 below). Currently, there is little evidence-based research about the outcomes of unschooling in the home, mainly because many unschoolers are philosophically opposed to standardized testing. Thus, most expert-opinion about the effectiveness of unschooling is not based on evidence, but upon opinion, some enlightened and some not. Two schools (see research) based on unschooling principles have been educating learners since 1921, and are excellent examples of the effectiveness of the self-directed education philosophy.
Unschooling is not neglectful nor is it permissive parenting. Unschooling is overseen by an adult who supports learning by providing desired resources and unlimited time. Peter Gray, PhD in Psychology, and Professor at Boston College, has research that suggests the more years that children are in structured, imposed, coerced learning environments such as preschool, school and homeschooling, the less likely they will choose to go on to post-secondary education. See Articles and Research for the source.
Unschooling is a valid self-directed educational option for any learner. Learners should consent to their education. Any other imposition is unethical.
Parents Know Best
Article 26 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
US Supreme Court 1979
That some parents "may at times be acting against the interests of their children" … creates a basis for caution, but it is hardly a reason to discard wholesale those pages of human experience that teach that parents generally do act in the child's best interest. … The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.