It's an odd term.....I actually had to look it up.
The topic of free-range comes up because of a couple up in Kentucky who had the sheriff come out and visit......to confiscate the ten kids. A local person went and complained over the living conditions, health issue possibilities, and lack of education for the kids.
What is generally said is that the parents were using 'free-range' parenting as their model. Free range means that you let kids do things on their own. You give them no limits....no obstacles....no borders....no rules. The kid learns by mistakes made or their own sense of judgement.
Home-schooling? No.....don't make the mistake of putting this crew into the same image as home-schooling.
In this case.....you have some kids and if they want to spend an hour working on math problems.....they do it. If they spend eight minutes a year on math problems.....they do it.
In the home-schooling environment....you the parent will have a curriculum, devote time to some goals, have some text-books which help the teaching process, and set testing processes. At the end of this....there's a process to get a high school diploma or GED.
In free-range, there's nothing unless the kid reaches a point of deciding learning is important....which may or may not ever occur. You might have five kids in your free-range house. Kid number one by eighteen years old will have a 12th grade background in English grammar, a fifth-grade background in math, and might know nothing of the Constitution. Kid number two might not be able to handle division or multiplication, nor have any talent other than painting. Kid number three might only be able to handle 4th grade reading by age eighteen, and may never have seen a map in his entire life. Kid number four might be able to handle 12th grade math and science, but knows nothing about American history or civics. Kid number five might be a great hunter and carpenter by age eighteen, but can only read at the 3rd-grade level.
In this particular case.....there was some confrontation between the father of the kids and the neighbor. A knife was used to threaten the neighbor, and the father apparently asked one of the kids to retrieve his gun. The neighbor decided enough was enough.....called county welfare services, and they did the homework.
The family doesn't even live in a house or trailer.....it's a hut of sorts with a tin roof. No septic tank....no running water....no electricity.
The fight is on apparently.....with the family defending their practices (unschooling is the term used in their defense). I noticed a bunch of folks who would normally defend home-schooling who were kinda supporting this effort.
The problem is....once this kid gets up to eighteen....now what? No one (police department, fire department, post office, etc) will hire someone without a GED or high school diploma. At best, you can flip burgers, cut fire wood for people, or drive a truck (provided you can actually read the driver's manual). You are gaming the kids for survivor mode and living just off the land. Beyond that....there's no real possibilities in life. I admit....we need a handful of folks who can cut down trees and sell firewood to folks. Maybe if you can keep enough folks 'limited'....this would work out.
What happens with this Kentucky family? Well....someone got them prepared for the modern world, and got fund-raising on the agenda. They've got some lawyer money and will take the county social office to court. The judge? He's going to ask questions....mostly to the parents. The family lawyer is going to eventually admit to the parents that they got to change their agenda idea a little bit....get cleaned up.....and make some promises. Eventually, they will agree to park a trailer on the property as a proper living structure, and to home-school the kids. The judge will eventually let the kids come back and they will be monitored. As much as the parents will try to fake the situation.....I suspect the judge will take back the kids within two years. I just don't see this mess resolving itself.
For the free-range crowd? I'm kinda shaking my head. Need to repair a tractor? The manuals are mostly designed for someone who can read at least at the 8th grade level. Most household accounting situations in America require addition, subtraction, division and multiplication....6th grade math, and if you can't do it......you can't balance your financial situation or handle obligations. Like your rights? Well.....you'd have to read the Constitution, discuss it, and grasp the meaning....which means at least a 8th grade comprehension of civil studies. I admit that fifty percent of school after the 9th grade is wasted.....but you got to have some foundation.....otherwise, you are lost. Free-range? No, I'd call it dead-range....you don't go nowhere or do much of anything.