I am still relatively new to unschooling but the more time I spend with my daughter (5yo) and see how much she learns in everyday situations the more convinced I am that learning is natural and need not be structured. In fact, forced structure would probably hamper her learning.
I think all children naturally possess the most important traits for learning and the key for parents as well as formal educators is not to damage or suppress those traits. After all these traits will be the most important factors in lifelong learning which is exactly what we should be encouraging in all children and adults.
Inquisitiveness: An important part of education is the willingness to ask questions. So many college students I see in the classroom hesitate to ask questions for a variety of reason but I think success in the classroom and later on in life is directly tied to inquisitiveness.
Once children begin asking questions encourage them to keep asking questions. It can be frustrating to be the one always being asked the questions but you don't always have to be the one providing the answers. Let children work on thinking through some of the questions for themselves.
Curiosity: The motivation for asking questions should be genuine curiosity. I suspect that a lack of curiosity is what prevents many students from being inquisitive in the first place. You can begin to cultivate curiosity by connecting what you are already interested in to what you are studying. Chances are you will find some surprising connections and using your curiosity will lead you to learn more about the subject you are studying while at the same time learning more about your own interests.
Passion: In the pursuit of your education you need to be passionate about learning, making connections, asking questions, and finding solutions to problems. Whatever subject you are studying it is possible to find some aspect of it that connects with something you care about. Don’t wait for the professor to make these connections. You need to find them yourself and then use these connections as a starting point for further learning.
Creativity: Finally, you need to be creative in your search for connections and answers to questions. Unfortunately, creative thinking is not always rewarded in the classroom where standardized multiple choice exams are often used to assess learning. But, outside of the classroom creative problem solving is a valuable skill and you need to begin cultivating creative thinking even if this means doing more than is required in the course. You will ultimately benefit from this extra work.