You may be wondering how unschooling is different from Montessori? Well, the Montessori method is a very distinct philosophy about education. Unschooling, on the other hand, can cover a wide spectrum of learning options. The main thing about this method is that it is learning that takes place based on what brings joy to the student. Some people refer to it as student directed learning.
Essentially, unschoolers tend to be more concerned with learning than with "doing school". As homeschoolers we have to ask ourselves if we are interested in helping our kids to learn and to love learning or if we are interested in reproducing the school room in our homes? There is a big difference between the two.
That is where this method comes in. Families who choose this option do so because they feel that it is the best way for their children to really learn something. They take each individual child and help them to set up a plan of learning based on whatever the child may be interested in. If the child loves workbooks, then that child's education may include workbooks. If the child prefers to learn by manipulating things, then much effort will be put in by the student and parents to be involved in situations where the student has a chance to work on things or build things.
The interesting thing about these families is that no two will be alike. They may even view what the term unschooling means in very different ways. The way each child in a family views it might also be quite different. This is a method of education that is very hard to pin down.
I have, however, met some children who were educated by this method and they are very bright and engaging children and young adults. They seem to truly love to learn, which is really what most homeschooling parents have as their goal.
Contrary to what some people might think, this method does not mean that children are left to roam their homes or neighborhoods with no discipline or supervision. Parents still need to be involved in the child's education to the extent that they help them to stay motivated and to spur them on to study new and ever challenging things.
Parents should also be good role models of learning for their children. Children who see their parents constantly searching out new and interesting information will also desire to keep learning.
Depending on the specific laws of your state, however, choosing this method of homeschooling might be a difficult, though not impossible choice. There are some states that require strict reporting on what curriculum is being used. If you live in one of these states but still have a heart for this less structured way of learning, it would be best to research exactly what your state's guidelines are and then try to find ways to build some of it into your homeschool while still meeting the state's requirements.
To find out more about the specific laws of your state, check out the Homeschool Legal Defense Association's website.