Here is a study conducted with «former» unschoolers by Dr. Peter Gray that describes what they have become once they reached adulthood. A large percentage attended post-secondary education institutions in a variety field, percentage overwhelmingly bigger than on the population in general.
In this document are presented many options that can explore unschoolers and homeschoolers in order to attend post-secondary education institutions. Home-educated youth are able to go to university and to cegeps, but not every university is interested in home-educated youth. There is a growing number of university interested in home-educated youth in provinces outside of Canada and in the US. However, there is a growing number of universities who are becoming more interested in home-educated youth because they have noticed that they tend to finish their degree at a higher percentage than in the general population, Ivy League Schools such as Harvard and Yale are included in such universities.
Potential benefits of playing video games
When playing video games, children may learn or do the following:
- Improve their computer skills
- Become interested in fields such as coding, graphic design, website creation or media relations
- Make friends
- Problem solving alone and in teams
- Develop searching skills
- Set goals, learn to set goals and criteria to evaluate the achievement of these goals
- Improve their second language skills with peers who speak a different language
- Become goal-oriented
- Read and write: children who use social games and forums may exchange messages of up to 200-400 words an hour, which represent the length of short written productions (two-page papers).
- Develop authentic and honest relationships with educators
- Satisfy their need to play and to control their environment.
- Become interested in other activities and show to be more focused when participating in a workshop or a class.
- Develop self-regulation and self-discipline
Potential risks associated with video games
- Videogames are unlikely to help children learn the following skills:
- Gross motor and athletic skills (learning to jump, to run, to swim, to bike, to throw a ball…)
- Social skills such as reading social cues or nonverbal communication
- They might lose sleep.
- They might interact with people online who could be harmful to them.
- They may carelessly spend money on in-app purchases.
- Short-term loss of interest in other people and activities
Potential risks for teens associated with being prevented from playing
- They might play even more when they are given the freedom to play.
- They might play a great deal once they become adults.
- They might become frustrated or angry. That frustration and anger might reemerge in other ways. An alarming percentage of teens turn to drug and alcohol use or other harmful behaviour.
- Faced with coercion and threats from adults, teens learn to coerce and threaten others (if you do this, I will do that to you…)
Potential risks for teens’ relationships with adults
- They might play behind the educator’s back, therefore experiencing more opportunities to learn how to be dishonest and lie to the educator.
- They might develop a relationship with the educator that lacks authenticity.
- If they are playing behind the educator’s back and they run into a problem, in a context where they would be afraid of the consequence of getting caught playing, they might not seek the educator’s help (for example, being confronted with an online predator or themes in a game with which they are not comfortable).
- They might become less inclined to spend time with the educator, thus reducing the number of situations where they have access to that educator’s knowledge and support.
- Once free to decide what they can do with themselves (for instance, when turning 18), the children, now adults, might choose to avoid spending time with the educator.
- They might learn to hate the educator. (Does your child insult you frequently? Is she or he getting more comfortable doing it? Are you worried about what this could mean for your long term relationship? If it is the case, we invite you to look at the section below about what we suggest to parents regarding the issue.)
- They might learn to hate the educational setting they are in (whether it be at home or in a school).
- They might construct the belief that adults are against them, thus potentially preventing the collaboration with other educators.
The more children are prevented from playing such games, the more likely these risks are to materialize.
What we do at the centre
- We try to connect their gaming interest to different skills through different workshops (coding videogames, 3D printing, robotics with Arduino).
- We invite teens to start blogs on their interest in videogames.
- We encourage teens to play social games with their peers, increasing the likelihood that they make friends and that they have to communicate with others in their second language.
- We use the internet and computer sharing as topics to feed our democratic assembly.
- We promote “hacking” so that teens learn to code.
- We try to connect the themes of the games they play to different subject matter, for instance military history or current events, through a critical lens.
- To offer readings that relate to their interest in videogames, such as videogame magazines.
- We let them play as much as they want in order to increase the chances that they satisfy their need to play and that they become able to move on to something else.
- We try to help them diversify their interest by giving them opportunities to participate in other activities.
What we suggest to concerned parents
- Talk to teens about online predators, advertizing, violence, sexism, and other potentially problematic issues with their games.
- Allow kids to play while telling them that you will not pay for their game, their console or the internet that they use to play, implying that they can play if they are willing to find a job (babysitting, mowing the neighbor’s’ lawn, painting a neighbor’s’ wall, delivering the paper, etc.). They can use the money to pay for what they need to play, thus becoming self-directed and independent, and learning about the cost of things.
- Allowing kids to play, while making it easy for them to be invested in other activities, especially by encouraging them to play outside. For example, offering to drive them to a park, or just giving them access to the tools that they need for other activities (basketball, a hockey stick, etc.).
- If it’s necessary for them to stay inside, offer them interesting alternatives to videogames like a robotics kit, art supplies, and books of interest to them.
- Encourage kids to play their videogames on the computer rather than on consoles like PS4 or XBox, since they offer more opportunities for hacking and learning how to code.
- Encourage kids to use consoles that involve movement, like Wii and Kinect.
- Encourage social games as they provide opportunities to exchange written messages.
- When your child disconnects, ask them open-ended questions, for instance, about how they’re feeling (hungry, tired, anxious…).