Unschooling in Manhattan is a big part of my family’s life. When we’re not living in the middle of almost nowhere USA, on an epic travel adventure, roadschooling, or worldschooling, our homeschooling family can often be found in New York City.
Our Unschooling Life
We spend a good chunk of time in New York City. Actually, we spend enough time in the city that I can officially say that my kids will have grown up with NYC flowing through in their veins. And, as the years have passed, I’ve noticed that my kids increasingly respond to the question, “Where are You From?” with New York City.
Often I’m asked whether “I make the kids do school work when we’re in New York City.” That’s a loaded question.
Year-Round Homeschooling, New York City
In our homeschool, learning never stops, regardless of where we are on the planet. Every. Single. Day. Is a day to learn and to expand our knowledge.
New York City offers the ideal environment for unschooling. There are so many opportunities available in the city to homeschoolers and to families interested in child-led education.
When we’re in New York City, it usually feels like our days are spent on learning overdrive. Whether we’re attending a film festival, exploring a street art exhibit, strolling the wings of the Natural History Museum, taking a drawing class in a park overlooking the Statue of Liberty, or taking a docent-led tour of the Guggenheim, there’s a learning curve like no other.
These learning opportunities are not just limited to Manhattan. The entire five boroughs of New York City beautifully lend toward creating a custom, well-rounded, rich, diverse, and high quality, interest-led education.
Some of our favorite unschooling in Manhattan memories:
- Walking the streets carrying their guitars to New York City Guitar School or riding scooters to banjo lessons.
- Art classes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Homeschooler Prom in SoHO
- Performing in Times Square
- Studying graffiti street art
- The Museums!
- Writing classes at Writopia
- Pop-up exhibits and classes
- Library events
- Broadway shows
- Computer programming classes, workshops, and events
- Exploring Central Park
- Watching the Obama Motorcade pass through downtown Manhattan
- Cupcakes and coffee EVERYWHERE.
- Studying in coffee shops.
What is Unschooling?
For us, unschooling is learning every day. 365 Days a Year. It is a learning lifestyle, where my children’s interests and passions guide their studies. And the world, including New York City, is our incredible, limitless classroom.
Unschooling in Manhattan brings out the best in my children. Their creativity. And their hunger for learning. Their desire to craft dreams and goals, and eagerly pursue them or knock them down.
I try to instill the idea that my kids are ultimately responsible for their own education.
I steer the ship, drive the bus, direct the traffic–you get the idea–but filling their brains with knowledge, or even random tidbits they’ve learned from Youtube (they love life hacks clips), online classes, events, workshops, mentors, and how much they gain from experiences, is up to them.
So, forcing my kids to do school work doesn’t really happen. They recognize and appreciate that unschooling is a something pretty awesome, since they get to spend their days exploring and learning cool things.
And when you unschool pretty much everything your children do, discuss, experience, see or read is learning.
Homeschooling in New York City
In New York City, where everything goes or so it seems, my kids’ ‘school work’ is somewhat radical.
When we spend time in NYC, our educational method shifts almost exclusively to unschooling as a means for learning. This doesn’t mean we only think of ourselves as unschoolers when we’re in the Big Apple, but in NYC we ditch workbooks, lapbooks, and things like flashcards for museums, New York Public Libraries and the streets of New York.
Through life experience, my city unschoolers learn through daily city adventures and exploration.
Unschooling in New York City Doesn’t Have to Be Fancy or Expensive
Unschooling adventures don’t have to be fancy, expensive or involve tourist traps either.
For example, it’s amazing how much discussion a trip to DuaneReade alone can generate. My oldest, eco-conscious homeschooler was shocked to see that Tom’s Deodorant costs $7.99 compared to the price at our home base CVS or Rite Aid (typically $2.99-$3.99). One pharmacy trip alone, like this one, can prompt discussions about economics, consumerism, and cost of living city vs. country.
It’s also amazing how much learning takes place on the subway or at a tennis class with ‘locals’ (especially for mom). Or how much discussion seeing a person urinate in plain view on a crowded sidewalk can generate!
New York City fuels my kids’ interest-led education. It’s the perfect place to unschool. Well, actually, any place is the perfect place, especially when a child is given freedom, encouragement and space to learn.
New York City just happens to be a cool place to unschool.
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