Below is a note I sent to a friend about unschooling and her five year old...thought it was worth posting as it gives an idea about what unschooling means to me personally.
I wanted to respond to you about your five year old and give you some more info on unschooling (in case you wanted to think more on that possibility). Also, if you ever want to talk, I would be happy to share more about how things work for our unschooling family and how we got into it, how our kids have lived a regular life and learned different things, etc, etc.
Here's a long list of info about unschooling - I know it is hard to "relax" into it...but that is exactly how to do it. Typically, you will gain confidence over time as you see your child learn in spite of you not making him do specific educational activities.
Kids weren't forced to learn to walk...they did it because they wanted to do it. Even though it took time and they fell down, eventually with loads of determination and practice they were able to do it. Kids aren't slackers! They are busy people with brains like sponges!
When kids aren't forced to do learning activities, they still learn just by living an active full life with a parent who brings to them resources that they would love. When you know your kids because you spend so much time with them, you can be on the lookout for resources that would excite your children or cater to their passions (whatever that passion is in the moment). One thing leads to another...connections happen..learning takes place. Kids continue to crave more information or further their current interests which lead to more learning and connections.
When kids are engaged in the things that they love to do, when they care about what they are doing, when they want to do what they are doing, they will learn. And what they do learn will have meaning to them - likely this learning will stick more because of it having meaning (as opposed to learning just to take a test or just because of having to follow a lesson plan).
The thing I want most for my kids with regard to education is that they know they can learn anything they want to if and when they want to and that learning can be enjoyable. For us, happiness comes first, all else follows..even education. But education *does* follow as it does so naturally by living a full, happy, and interesting life with parents that seek out experiences, activities and resources that their children's would be interested in. And attention matters too....parents need to pay loads of attention to their kids too - give lots of time and attention. And remembering to be grateful for our kids and for the things we are able to do for them and for the time we can spend with them.
Each child learns in their own time and own way, not on anyone else's schedule. That is one great thing about homeschooling - we don't have to force our kid to read x dificulty level by x grade, nor learn by any certain method. Peter Gray has a great blog about learning - I will see if I can find it....http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn