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Could parents lose child custody over "unschooling?"

Florida readers may be aware of a controversial custody fight between a family of 12 and authorities in their state of residence. The state has removed 10 minor children from the care of their parents after a complaint was filed with child protective services. The family believes that the basis for the complaint and resulting child custody battle was the family's choice to allow their children to be educated in an "unschooling" environment.

Unschooling is a practice that has sparked a great deal of debate in recent years, although the basic principles behind this educational approach are steeped in tradition. In fact, prior to the advent of public schooling, most children were educated under the same general concept. In unschooling, children are given the freedom to learn through travel, chores, experiences with nature and self-guided study. Subjects are chosen by the students themselves, based on their own individual talents and interests.

In this case, the family, who lives on 26 acres in a rural area, are committed to a "back to basics" lifestyle, which they share on social media. Educating their children in a non-traditional manner is part of their chosen lifestyle. That said, the state in which they reside holds that all education, including home schooling, must meet certain standards. This, the family believes, is the basis under which the children were removed from the home and placed into the custody of the state.

As the child custody case moves forward, more details will likely be made public, at least from the family's side. Should the removal of the children be based on educational concerns, the topic of unschooling will likely receive increased attention in the media. For now, however, parents in Florida and across the nation can sympathize with the fear, frustration and anger that these parents are experiencing over being separated from their beloved children.

Source: rawstory.com, "Kentucky 'free range' family loses custody of 10 kids over apparent 'unschooling'", Travis Gettys, May 8, 2015

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