When I was brand new to unschooling, I really wanted examples. I had researched the philosophy, but wanted to know what it looked like in action. I wished I could follow an unschooling family around for a week or so, and just watch.
I thought it might be helpful to newcomers to read about a few of our days. Bear in mind that there is no “formula” for how to unschool. It will look different from day to day and from family to family. Below are some of our recent days. Come follow us around!
I woke up at 5:00 a.m. (don’t be impressed; this hardly ever happens), had some quiet time, ate breakfast and threw in a load of laundry (laundry figures big into our days; with 6 of us there’s always a pile of it!)
At 6:00 Maggie, the 2 year old, woke up and wandered down to find me. We rested on the couch while she nursed.
Thomas was the next one up at 7:00. We watched Arthur together, and then about half of a nature show about gorillas. Thomas just finished reading a Magic Tree House book on mountain gorillas and has gotten interested in them. He had some cereal and juice while we watched, and Maggie indulged in a frozen blueberry smoothie.
By 8:00, Thomas and Maggie had made their way into our “classroom” (so named back in the days when we attempted a more “school-at-home” model). Maggie colored while Thomas worked on writing a script for a play (he’s quite a theater guy). He snacked on a soy pop while he wrote.
Faith got up at 8:15 and wanted to dive right into the summer reading program offered by the town library. We read three books and recorded them on the library chart. One of the books led to a discussion about war and its alternatives.
At 9:00 Katy, my night-owl, finally meandered downstairs. All three older kids worked on Thomas’s scripts while Maggie watched Baby Einstein and I tidied a bit.
At 9:30, Katy and Thomas had some pancakes. Shortly thereafter an issue about personal property arose, and we took some time to iron that out.
By 10:00, the problem was resolved. Katy and Thomas went upstairs to play together while Faith ate some cereal. Then all four kids played dollhouse in Thomas’s room.
Now, lest you get the idea that all unschoolers have nothing but blissful interactions 24/7, let me tell you that after about 15 minutes fighting ensued, Thomas decided he wanted to play with Katy only, and Maggie and Faith were unceremoniously kicked out. Faith decided she wanted to play with a friend, and practiced her phone skills to invite over a neighbor.
From 11:00 – 12:00 Faith and her friend drew pictures, then changed into bathing suits and went out to splash in the kiddie pool. Meanwhile, Katy and Thomas contined work on the scripts. Over the course of the hour, Maggie nursed on and off, drew pictures, sang songs with me, and had a discussion about family relationships (“Who’s your mommy? Who’s Nana’s mommy? Who’s Daddy’s mommy?”….you get the idea).
At noon, Maggie played with pattern blocks while I made lunch: everyone wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit smoothies and yogurt covered pretzels. Faith and her friend had a picnic outside. Maggie, Thomas and Katy had an indoor picnic, watching Ni Hau Kai-Lan while they ate in the living room.
From 1:00 1:30 the four older kids played together outside. Then Faith and Annie played Polly Pockets upstairs, and Katy and Thomas stayed outside playing water games and trying to discover the source of a stream of water flowing down our street.
Around 2:00, Faith, Maggie, and Annie fingerpainted. The activity was lively, but short-lived. We started cleaning up about twenty past.
At this point, I had to leave for an appointment. Faith walked her friend home and called to say she’d been invited to stay. My mother arrived just as the Goldbergs called to invite us over for a swim. They are an elderly couple who live across the street. My kids have developed a wonderful relationship with them, and are sort of “surrogate grandchildren”. The Goldbergs often ask us over to take a dip, while they enjoy the entertainment that only four kids in a pool can provide.
While I was gone, Faith came home and my mother took all 4 kids over to the Goldbergs. Maggie splashed around for a while, then napped on Nana’s lap while the others swam. They arrived back a bit before 5:00 and had a snack before heading back outside to play.
The kids played outside until about 6:30, when Faith came in to play on the computer. Meanwhile, I had arrived home, continued the laundry, and tidied up some more. Ted came home from work at 5:30 and joined the kids outside. Maggie played on her own and nursed occasionally.
At 7:00, the kids were served Bunny Platters (hard-boiled eggs cut and shaped into flowers, with toast for the stem and a mixture of carrots, raisins and honey on the side). They were tired, and enjoyed watching Backyardigans while they munched.
At 8:00, everybody got on their p.j.’s and helped tidy their rooms. I vacuumed Thomas’s room, which inspired Katy to vacuum hers. This led to a game they dubbed “maids”; Thomas and Katy would clean up a section of a room, while Faith paid them with money from our classroom kitty.
About 8:30, Ted took Maggie into the playroom where they build with blocks while I read our nightly Bible story to the older ones.
By 9:00, Thomas and Katy were building the Great Wall of China out of dixie cups they’d saved. It was quite impressive! Faith decided to hang out with Maggie. They sorted large buttons by shape. Faith taught Maggie the word “hexagon”. Next, they played with magnetic letters. This gave Ted and me about an hour to work on a project together.
At 10:00, Faith asked Ted to put her to bed, and Thomas decides to turn in as well. Maggie, Katy and I headed upstairs about 10:20. Maggie nursed herself to sleep while Katy snuggled beside me and recapped her day. By 10:30, everyone was asleep, resting up for another busy day in our unschooled lives!
Stay tuned for some more days!