It was research on how kids learn that led me to unschooling in the first place: intrinsic motivation, self-determination… I was looking for the “best” early education philosophy and found unschooling.

“Speaking broadly, American public education, especially in the early grades, has become dominated by a bizarre orthodoxy that is almost completely unsupported by rigorous research, or for that matter by teachers, education professionals and child psychologists.” — Observations from Andrew O’Hehir’s Salon article, “Why our kids don’t go to kindergarten,” in which he focused on the disconnect between education reform proposals, current practices, and the accepted psychology of early childhood.

Play

“We know that play is essential to good cognitive development …When we study what goes on when kids play, we see that that’s the situation and the activity in which they learn things that we consider to be essential to higher-order thinking. When kindergarten becomes too skill-oriented, kids are actually prevented from doing the things that we as psychologists know they need to do to develop sophisticated ways of thinking, including asking questions and trying to find answers to those questions.” — Susan Engel, developmental psychologist

Traditional vs free form

“Oddly enough, our doubts about whether or not our free form approach to educating our children subsided after I took on work as a long-term substitute teacher in 1990. The stark contrast between the work that my children were doing and what my students were doing helped us put aside our concerns and know that our path, while still uncharted, was by far superior to the traditional approach to education.” — Alison McKee, Unschooling Ourselves: Dealing With Our Doubts