Unschooling is the science of parenting -- the rational science of parenting. It recognizes that children have volition, rationality and hegemony (personal ownership) and proceeds from that premise with an explicit, integrated approach to laissez-faire child-rearing. (the "laissez-faire" pertains to not "motivating" or "directing" the child)
It is not supposed to be related to the science of skepticism -- the belief that humans (including children, of course) are inherently irrational and incapable of always engaging their volition (free will) with full rationality and integrity in the pursuit of rational values.
Ninety-nine percent of humans fall into the latter category -- even a large percentage of Objectivists, unfortunately. The ramifications for child-rearing (and children) are monumental because even the tiniest irrationality plays itself out in our relationships, especially in the manipulation of others.
Happiness is the result of a full-time rational approach to reality, an understanding that humans are rational and volitional, the knowledge that an explicit construct of rational ethics is obligatory, and the full integration of the above in the full-time pursuit of rational values.
When one does everything in the preceding paragraph (including cleaning out one's subconscious of errant notions and paradigms), the added result is full self-esteem -- and the respect for one's own hegemony, as well as the hegemony of others in our lives.
It is the lack of self-esteem that is the bugaboo of mankind, precipitating intrusive government, "working for the weekend," the obsession with the downtrodden, injustice in relationships and sloppy and/or oppressive child-rearing. The reason for this is that the person with low self-esteem has a poor opinion of himself, feels a bit (or a lot) out of control, subconsciously or consciously thinks humans inefficacious (incapable of effective thought and action all the time), and projects his own hobbled mental state upon others (skepticism). He insists, then, upon pushing himself upon others because he, himself, wishes to be pushed around (though he may not know this consciously). He seeks a "superiority" over people, especially the most vulnerable: children -- to assuage a guilty conscience and make him feel momentarily in control.
From my experience, almost all unschooling parents do this to some degree. They *have* to because they think they can't help themselves; they are ruled by their low self-esteem. And so you see the following in many ostensively unschooling parents:
1) Using guilt and poor-little-old-me as control: "Can't you, just once, clean up after yourself?" (indicates tendency to browbeat and bemoan instead of handle)
2) Insisting upon being "nonjudgmental": "We don't judge other people. Everybody's got their right to live how they want." (indicates a dramatic skepticism in human ability to make rational judgments and to live by rational absolutes)
3) Directing the child's endeavors, such as getting very young children to learn their ABCs and then showing off the child's abilities to others. (indicates a skepticism in the child's own motivational ability and value-seeking on the child's own timescale; often this is the "trophy child" mindset, attempting to vicariously show one's own greatness by second-handedly exhibiting a precocious child)
4) Refusing to insist upon objective rules of conduct: This is especially bad in the general relativistic unschooling sphere because the parents, again, have a skepticism of human efficacy and absolutes, so that "laissez-faire" doesn't just apply to "motivation" but to anything and everything.
5) Over-protectiveness of child. This is usually the unschooler who is skeptical of the "intent" of children, buying into the "fallen human" syndrome of Christianity and other skeptical cults. This plays out in not allowing children to venture out into the boundaries of safe play or experiment, such as constantly telling children to "be careful" or "watch out" or "don't go too far" or "you might fall down" or "you have to wear clothes around the house," etc.
The result of these five categories and others is a rebellious, and possibly even explosive, child, who won't listen when you are actually being rational. You've already cried "Wolf!" too many times and harmed the objective trust a child must develop for the child to be attentive to suggestions and declarations.
All of the above said, unschooling parents generally raise children with much more honor of volition, thereby making any mistakes the parents make subject to the child's generally untrampled free will and judgment. "Schooling" parents (including most Objectivist parents) have set upon a path of volitional destruction, with a major dichotomy between virtue and values, refusing to see that children deserve the same respect in the realm of values pursuits as adults do.
In each case, the way we treat reality and ourselves, determines what we think of ourselves and our self-esteem. And what we think of ourselves says what we'll think of our children and how to raise them.
What do you think of yourself?
What do you think of your child?