For those on a traditional path to learning, college seems to be the end game. Students prepare for years by focusing on their GPA’s, putting in hard work as an athlete, and scouting out scholarship opportunities for colleges. Some students thrive and graduate with honors. Others become overwhelmed by the pace and stressors of college and drop out. And still, others wander along the college course for a few years, changing majors or trying to work full-time while attending college.
College isn’t a one-size-fits-all path for many young adults. As the student loan crisis continues to mount, and as technology continues to evolve in the academic space, more students are choosing other educational paths. Whether taking time off to travel, volunteer or gain job experience, students graduating high school have a plethora of choices when it comes to continuing their lifelong learning journey.
Diving into the wide world of entrepreneurship is another viable and exciting option for those who wish to supplement their college experience or bypass it altogether.
For those families who make the choice to unschool, entrepreneurship can often be an excellent fit as a next step in education. Because so many of the unschooling experiences and life skills are easily transferable to entrepreneurship, it can be an incredibly rewarding decision.
If you have been curious about how unschooling can prepare a young adult to become a successful entrepreneur, this article will help highlight the key skills and principles that both often teach.
Unschooling Life Skills and Entrepreneurs
Unschooling is life schooling. It is a way for children to naturally explore their curious side and to be able to break down complex concepts in a hands-on approach. The ability to break from a regimented schedule, and create one that works for each family, is a huge draw to unschooling families. This allows families and children to explore the world through travel, visiting places of interest, connecting with the community, and exploring in nature.
As children learn to embrace the freedom and creative possibilities of unschooling, they also learn to seek educational opportunities in everyday situations. A broken clock can become a chance to learn the inner workings and mechanics of age-old technology. It can teach patience, fine-motor skills, and evolve into discussions about the concept of time and the history of clock making.
The ability to see a new learning opportunity in any situation is something that the most successful entrepreneurs encounter often. It includes having the capacity to think creatively and identify multiple solutions to problems. With unschooling, the curriculum and environment can be customized to include ample opportunities for out-of-the-box thinking and metaphorical “coloring outside the lines”. Because entrepreneurs often have to think on their feet and devise new plans for the business, an unschooling background can be a very helpful experience to have had.
Unschooling is Engaging
When you think of traditional schooling, you probably imagine kids sitting in desks all lined up in a row. Perhaps you envision them raising their hand to speak, waiting anxiously for the bell to ring, and being handed out worksheets to complete.
Compare that to unschooling where kids can make their classroom anywhere they choose. They can comfortably be sprawled out on a hammock while they enjoy reaching in the sunlight. They can work in a group to put together an epic Lego robot. They can gather in the kitchen to prepare a nutritious lunch that they will enjoy while strolling creekside and noticing the wildlife.
The premise of unschooling is that learning should be inherently engaging, fun, and thought-provoking. The standard classroom environment does little to invoke the imagination, with a lack of natural lighting, uncomfortable seating, and often crowded classrooms. For children who have special learning needs, a classroom may even cause additional stress and overwhelm.
Unschooling reminds children that learning new skills can be fun and that those same skills can be applied in the real world to things such as entrepreneurship. What draws people to become entrepreneurs is very similar to what draws people to unschooling: the freedom, the engaging environment, the ability to create your own structure, the chance to apply your skills and talents, and the opportunity to experience the world in a new way.
Unschoolers often make excellent entrepreneurs because they are used to asking questions, challenging the status quo, and learning about life from various different perspectives.
Unschooling Values the Individual
Unschooling is rooted in the idea that the individual is just as important as the collective. Because of this, unschooling tailors learning and education to each student’s individual needs and passions. Kids thrive when they feel valued and validated and when they are given a chance to experiment with what form of learning works best for them.
Unschooling accepts that there can be more than one way to arrive at an answer or come to a conclusion; to a math problem, to a science experiment, to a storyline in a novel. Unschooling represents the need to express ourselves creatively and intellectually versus trying to fit into a mold.
Because of logistics and academic standards, traditional schooling must be able to efficiently meet the needs of the masses versus the individual. With this system, students that over-perform or under-perform (according to a preset standard) often feel left behind. They are either not challenged enough or too overwhelmed and burned out.
Entrepreneurs represent business owners who also value the ideas, solutions, and mindset that the individual brings to business. They understand that some of the world’s greatest inventions and accomplishments came from finding a new way to do something or from making multiple mistakes.
Because they feel their talents are often valued in the business world, and that they can make a difference, entrepreneurs tend to maintain a passion for what they do. They are able to self-motivate and inspire others along the way.
Unschooling Takes Perseverance
When you must be accountable for your own learning, your own productivity, and your own standards, it can be a challenge to push through the unschooling experience. At the same time, this can empower unschooled children to embrace the idea of determination and perseverance.
They begin to understand that there are natural consequences to their actions, such as not completing a project or failing to show up to a volunteer event. This is more powerful than a consequence that is created by a teacher, such as serving detention for not finishing homework or talking during class.
Without having a teacher grade and chart progress, an unschooled child learns to set their own goals and track their own productivity. They have the ability to express their progress in entirely new ways that make more sense than an A or F.
Every entrepreneur will tell you that launching and scaling a business takes hard work and drive. You don’t have a boss outlining your daily tasks or keeping you accountable for your deadlines. You must create a strong mindset of responsibility, create and track your own goals, and learn to overcome multiple obstacles. Entrepreneurship is what you make of it. You reap the rewards but also the hardships.
Unschooling has the potential to teach vital life skills and principles that will empower children for their future endeavors, including entrepreneurship. By providing them with the support they need, celebrating their successes, and motivating them to keep finding new ways to engage with learning, kids who unschool can be set up to be successful and fulfilled entrepreneurs.