Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

HomeAbout Blog Articles Curriculum Resource Directory Shop Kids Pages Facebook

Download our FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directories today! Plus... more FREE resources!

Free download a quick guide to getting started with homeschooling and unschooling by Beverley Paine The Educating Parent in this excellent Resource Directory


Plan, record and report all in the one document! Always Learning Books planners available in each year level to suit your homeschooling needs, includes curriculum checklists
Australia's original homeschooling manual from veteran home educator Beverley Paine, how to write your own learning plan and curriculum to meet your child's needs
Let Beverley and friends help you design and write your own curriculum to suit your child's individual learning needs, learn how to prepare lessons, unit studies and more, record and evaluate your children's learning in this series of 3 parent workbooks developed on Beverley's popular homeschool manual Getting Started with Home School Practical Considerations
Introduction to
Home Education
  National and State
Support Groups
  Yearly Planner, Diary & Report Beverley's Original Home Ed Manual Series of How To
Parent Workbooks

Support Groups: National SA VIC NSW QLD TAS ACT NT
Registration Guides: VIC NSW QLD SA WA TAS ACT NT

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook online group.


Jan Hunt - Unschooling Unmanual

Reviewed by arun

unschooling unmanual cover The Unschooling Unmanual
Edited by Jan Hunt & Jason Hunt

Available from The Natural Child Project


Reviewed by Arun

Reprinted with permission from THE PARENTING PIT. Choose more articles and posts and even subscribe to the Pit , or go to the Parenting Pit Home Page for the latest entries.

For anyone even curious about homeschooling, let alone unschooling, a book that includes the likes of John Holt, Rue Kream and Jan Hunt demands attention.

The Unschooling Unmanual brings together contributions from eight authors in eleven very readable essays. The diverse contributions are woven together with recurring themes - these were many but the ones that kept emerging for me were freedom, learning and more than anything. trust.

The Power of Trust

This theme is addressed directly in all of Jan Hunt's contributions. She opens her first essay with the sentence, "The main element in successful unschooling is trust" before discussing how to provide space and time for curiosity to flourish. Drawing heavily from John Holt but also using quotes from Albert Einstein and John Taylor Gatto, Hunt provides a simple picture of what kind of environment and support children really need to learn. incidentally, it looks nothing like school!

Hunt's final contribution entitled "Learning to Trust" describes how much she has learned through connecting with and observing her son Jason over the years. Now 27, Jason co-edited and did the layout for the Unmanual (In true unschooling fashion, Jason said he "learned how to do the book layout by doing the book layout").

Hunt's four essays sprinkled throughout the book combine broader points on the nature of learning, stories from Jason's childhood and practical approaches to a life learning journey. I particularly enjoyed her chapter on "Learning through Play" where among other things, Hunt briefly contrasts the way she learned math (through school and instruction) with Jason (through darts and play).

Hunt makes the point that, "Jason can not only do the math easily but really understands the whole process. If he happens to need a new mathematical tool, he can easily learn it". Hunt captures his joy in learning when describing how Jason once came to her with a math book requesting, "Let's play math".

Getting Perspective

The Unmanual begins with Rue Kream on "Why Choose Unschooling?" This along with a later essay on College have been reprinted from Kream's classic and invaluable unschooling book, Parenting A Free Child: An Unschooled Life .

In typical Kream style, this short essay has loads of clarity, hope and joy that comes from someone who is clear on what is important to her and living her life accordingly. So what is important to Kream? In her words, "children belong with their families. Nothing is more important than living in connection with the ones you love and sharing life's experiences." Kream goes on to explain that her motivation for unschooling is not academic: "Ultimately I'd say that the reason we choose to unschool is because we want our children to be truly free."

A Glimpse into Unschooling Lives

Kream's clarity sets a framework to enjoy Nanda Van Gestel's and Kim Houssenloge's essays as they share their respective unschooling journeys. The inclusion of such personal stories, alongside a number of short grabs from Mary Van Doren, help to give readers a sense of "what unschooling looks like", although part of the point is that it never looks the same.

Van Gestel's journey is described via sub-chapters covering math, reading, joy, play, health, attachment parenting and more. The main themes of the book continue with Van Gestel ending her story realizing that "it didn't matter if my children learned on the same schedule as those of my friend. All that mattered was that we trusted them to learn on their own schedule. By meeting their needs and learning to trust, we have discovered to our delight that unschooling is simply living life, naturally and joyfully."

Houssenloge's essay charts her at times angst-ridden investigation into which educational approach was best for her young son. Her investigation into Montessori, Steiner and the "best schools" eventually gave way to an understanding that homeschooling could continue the natural learning approach of her son's first four years. A teacher herself, Hossenloge's growing confidence in her son's voracious curiosity led her to research unschooling. This process left a major impression as she notes, "I learned more about the nature of learning in a few short months than I ever did as a student in the school system and later on as a university student."

Deepening Understanding

Mid-book, we are taken through a more intellectual critique of school by Daniel Quinn. In an approach that would make John Taylor Gatto proud, Quinn in his own words aims to provide a "philosophical, historical, anthropological, and biological foundation for your conviction that school ain't all it's cracked up to be." In this compelling essay, Quinn presents his core belief that "From infancy onward, children are the most fantastic learners in the world."

Quinn's argument serves as back drop to Earl Stevens who asks "What is Unschooling?" In answering this question Stevens describes a life where children learn by "doing real things" and activities can be tailored to meet the needs and interests of each individual child.

I particularly enjoyed Stevens' analogy around searching for evidence of what unschooled children are learning. "It is a little like watching a garden grow. No matter how closely we examine the garden, it is difficult to verify that anything is happening at that particular moment. But as the season progresses, we can see that much has happened, quietly and naturally. Children pursue life, and in doing so, pursue knowledge. They need adults to trust in the inevitability of this very natural process, and to offer what assistance they can."

It is appropriate that the final chapter of the Unmanual has been handed over to the late John Holt. Holt is often cited as a key founder of the unschooling movement and Hunt generously acknowledges his influence in her articles and even more forthrightly by dedicating the Unmanual itself to Holt in its opening pages.

In an excerpt from his book Learning All the Time , Holt relates how his experience as a teacher and observations of children led him to understand that "learning is not the product of teaching". Holt's short contribution to the book is eminently quotable and rich in useful observations. One of many points of interest is that "we can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions - if they have any - and helping them explore the things they are most interested in."

A Sound Investment in Learning and Trust

Theoretically you could access the writings in this book from Jan Hunt's Natural Child Project website and the other books I have cited in the review. However, like so many compilations, having the essays in one volume seems to make the book greater than the sum of its parts.

The Unmanual is a great introduction to learning and unschooling for people coming from an educational perspective who are willing to have their comfort zone pushed. At the same time it can be an invaluable confidence booster for people already on an unschooling journey.

The Unmanual's focus means that it does not stray too deeply into issues around non-coercive parenting and broader freedoms that are often a topic of discussion by unschoolers, but that is perhaps one of its strengths. In my opinion, there has been a gap in unschooling literature. On one hand, there are very basic introductions such as Mary Griffith's The Unschooling Handbook , and on the other hand there are challenging investigations into more holistic parenting or radical unschooling approaches through Rue Kream's excellent Parenting A Free Child: An Unschooled Life and Valerie Fitzenreiter's The Unprocessed Child.

Previously, the main bridge between relatively basic unschooling concepts on one side and descriptions of radical unschooled lives on the other, were the writings of John Holt. The Unschooling Unmanual strengthens this bridge tremendously by becoming a concise, readable and accessible manifesto for natural learning and trust in children.

I know I have overused that word "trust" in writing about The Unschooling Unmanual , but frankly it's hard to avoid. For my part, after reading this collection of essays, I was left with a sense of quiet calm that can only come from renewed trust. Trust in natural learning; trust in choosing an unschooled life; and ultimately trust in my children.

[ The Unschooling Unmanual is available from Jan Hunt's The Natural Child Project website here . There is a special discount available on orders up until Feb 5, 2008]

Read another review of this book

back to Book Reviews.

Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you? Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating offering encouragement and reassurance to families wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community. I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now. And I'm very grateful."

Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's individual learning needs?

Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips?

Access 228 plus workshops and presentations from all of the Australian Homeschool Summits subscription membership, expert advice tips and resources online in the comfort of your own home in your own time everything you need to plan and register with ease!

Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!

We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine


Getting Started with
Home Educating Series of


#1 Create Your
Own Curriculum

#2 DIY Lesson Plans
& Unit Studies

#3 Recording and Evaluation Made Simple

$10.00 each (includes postage)

let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration with part 1 of this getting started with home educating serioes of parent workbooks, Create Your Own Curriculum!
Let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

Tap into Beverley's experience
through her books

"Your books, your blogs helped me beyond words... they helped me to find comfort in knowing it is ok to choose exactly what is best for my family." Nisha

"Your books and information are mind blowing and already I am feeling good about this new experience." Diane

"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie

"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo
purchase Beverley's practical and common sense books on homeschooling and unschooling
Connect with Beverley and ask questions
through her online The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook support group

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.

say goodbye to home education registration stress with this ultimate rego bundle from Fearless Homeschool

complete comprehensive step by step program that teaches you how to craft your ultimate homeschool

Australia's best home education consultant, let Tamara Kidd guide and help you prepare your home education registration application or review

Online science lessons for primary school aged home educating children

30% discount for purchases from ReadyEd Publications when you use the code 'homeschool' at  the checkout

reset your mindset for homeschooling success with deschooling essentials a quick course to help build your confidence as an educating parent

200 pages of templates, planning pages, tables, prompts and record sheets to organise your whole year!

subscription video art lessons by Australian artist

Australia's premier online annual conferences, lifetime access to video and audio recordings, freebies, notes and associated resource guides.


$29 each 2023 2022 2021
$25 each 2020 2019 2017

"Biggest and best Aussie homeschool event of the year!"

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!

Beverley's books are excellent for building confidence as a home educator says Tracey, homeschooling mum.

Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us


What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Record Keeping Children's Pages

animated smiling face Thank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
This website uses browsing cookies and conducts other means to collect user information in order to display contextual ads.
Text and images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2023.