How to Tap into Children's Natural Desire to Learn

Kerry McDonald says that all children are natural learners. Our role, then, as parents and educators is to facilitate this learning. We need to provide resources and opportunities, while letting children guide their own learning. Kerry has unschooled her four children and is the author of Unschooled: Raising Curious Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom.

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About Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald has been deeply involved in education policy and practice for two decades. She has a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. from Harvard University, where she studied education administration, planning, and social policy. Her writing has appeared in Natural Mother Magazine, Green Child Magazine, Forbes, NPR, Reason, Education Next, FEE, and City Journal, among others. Kerry lives and learns together with her husband and four unschooled children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her book- Unschooled: raising curious well-educated children outside the conventional classroom

Learning About Homeschool

Kerry first became familiar with homeschooling in college.

It was legally recognized in 1993. Homeschooling was starting to become more popular.

Kerry was interested in education choice.

She shadowed a homeschooling family while doing a research project.

She noticed that the children were articulate and at ease with grownups.

At the same time, she was working in a school.

The atmosphere was more authoritarian and followed a rigid curriculum.


She decided to homeschool her own children as she saw that family and got more information.

When her oldest was 2 ½ people would ask where she was going to school.

She would say, she’s 2 ½ and people would say, oh, so she’s homeschooled.

Kerry revisited homeschooling and the idea that education is linked to schooling.

Homeschooling had increased, as well as diversity of the homeschooling population.

Homeschool is very diverse and representative of the general population.

The top motivator for parents to homeschool is concern about the environment of schools.

Unschooling means disentangling schooling from education.

Even in traditional homeschool environments, people will often replicate school environments with standards and expectations, testing and so on.


Unschooling challenges that idea.

Carl Wheatly : unschooling allows children’s interests to define their learning.

The curriculum that you use comes from the learner to direct their own education.