Keywords: Learning-Through-Play, Preschoolers, Unstructured
Children: Two – 3yrs, 1yr
Our girls are very early risers so our day begins with breakfast and a play. We rearrange and ‘change over’ our toys and equipment every fortnight (or more often if the children ask). This means that the play areas are of interest and aimed at promoting free exploration. The girls have initiated a shared story time for early in the morning – they will select books and find a spot to ‘snuggle up’. This happens every day and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour! Each morning we have an adventure – this is loosely planned by me but is subject to change based on what the children want to do or on what becomes available. Our adventure may be a trip to Playcentre (twice per week), a playdate at home or at a friends place, a visit to the park/river/beach or sometimes our adventure is held at home. If we are out then we come home around noon for the little one to sleep. At this time my older one has lunch and a rest – usually watching an episode of The Magic School Bus, Playschool or a pre-recorded documentary of interest. The afternoon involves unstructured play at home. We have art supplies readily available as well as outdoor equipment like climbing, bikes, sandpit, etc. These areas are set up all day. If the little one is asleep, my older one will work at Lego, board games or we will do more shared stories. At this time we may also do messy play or more specific creative activities like clay or papier mache. Late afternoon is when we will often run quick errands and go to the library, supermarket, walk the dog or pop to the local park. Most days the girls like to assist with preparing the evening meal using real utensils and really ‘helping’. Their enjoyment and attention with this has always impressed me. After dinner, when dad is usually home, the girls like to do music and dance. This often involves dressing up and it gets very crazy! This is another lovely child-initiated routine that has become a great, fun family time. Once or twice a week we like to have family games night, or Lego or movie night. We also loosely schedule a fortnightly family swimming trip when the children are not enrolled in swim classes.
Keywords: Unit Studies, Waldorf/Steiner, Learning-Through-Play, Preschoolers, Unstructured
Children: Two – 5yrs, 17mths
The kids like to sleep till at least 7am so we slowly get up and have breakfast at around 8am then get dressed. My oldest likes to get dressed while listening to audio books. At around 9am we head out to her art class, or we go to my toddler’s Plunket playgroup. At other times we may go see a movie or go on a field trip. A couple of mornings a week I go to the gym while they play at the kids club. At midday we come home for lunch. After lunch my toddler has a nap and this is when my daughter and I do our “work”. We start with five minutes meditation and then writing practice. We also do a variety of maths activities (worksheets, computer games, money and time games or other activities) which my daughter loves. We will usually then take some time to explore some other topic which has caught her interest during the day/week. This ranges from amphibians, the royal family, evolution, volcanoes, etc. We may read some stories together. Then my youngest one wakes and we have afternoon tea followed by free play. After dinner and bath time, it’s story time. We read at least four books every night before bed – at the moment it’s lots of traditional and exotic fairy tales. The kids are in bed early, around 7pm. After that my husband and I catch up on some work, adult time, plan for the next day or just relax with a book.
Keywords: Unschooling, Learning-Through-Play, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Unstructured
Children: Three – 6yrs, 6yrs, 2yrs
I educate my children every minute of the day, dynamically and relevantly, and utterly flexibly. I accommodate my toddler in our activities – sometimes she will just play with her own toys and entertain herself while I’m with the other two (as long as she is in the same room then that’s fine); sometimes we’ll be doing something that she insists she wants to be part of so she joins in. For a short period of time when she became really mobile things were extremely fluid and we had to adjust, then it all got easier again. I’ve noticed that she seems to pick up information by osmosis and demonstrates her understanding of things, or her memory of letters and numbers, or new words, even without any direct coaching from me. Two mornings and three afternoons a week we have scheduled activities. When we are at home we might spend our time outside gardening or playing if the weather is suitable, or inside reading books, using online reading or maths programs, or researching any topic that happens to have come up in conversation. We follow all avenues of enquiry for as far as they go, so Google and YouTube are our best friends. The children explore through play and discovery, but they also bombard me with questions during their play, so their play and their learning is thoroughly intermingled. Whenever I don’t have an answer, or enough information for them, we go to the encyclopaedias or Google to find out more. Sometimes when they return to their play they put into action what they have learnt, and sometimes it seems as though there is no impact – until some time later when they spontaneously exhibit their comprehension. Some days we work on projects, and some days are absolutely free-flowing by nature. We typically do not do workbooks or anything that resembles ‘school work’, but these things do occur occasionally when the children make that choice of activity. Handwriting is usually practiced by writing letters to the tooth fairy, or birthday cards, or thank you letters. Maths is practiced whenever we go into a shop, and at any other opportunity that is relevant. Reading occurs every day – on the computer, in a book, on the side of a truck, in a newsletter, etc. We have a regular time for lunch and my toddler’s nap, a fairly regular time for dinner and bed, but the clock does not dictate our routines.
Keywords: Unschooling, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Unstructured
Children: Two – 6yrs, 3yrs
We unschool our two boys and we have another 6 year old with us 3.5 days a week. The day almost always starts around 8am with some form of construction such as Lego, train set, wooden blocks or hut building. The boys do that independently for a couple of hours while I get morning chores like laundry and meal prep done. Then I make myself available for a couple of hours for whatever projects they want to work on – this could be baking, art, crafts, looking up questions on the internet, making books, reading stories. Sometimes the boys help make lunch, chopping veges for soup or making their own sandwiches, then have a bit of quiet time watching a nature documentary, a movie or they might do a computer game. In the afternoons, we have three days with scheduled activities such as homeschool group sports and the other days we often go out for a bush walk, bike ride, a trip to the beach or into town, the park or a playdate. Or sometimes they help with work like gardening. We often spend 1-3 hours reading aloud in the evenings.
Keywords: School-At-Home, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Semi-Structured
Children: Two – 8yrs, 4yrs
We get up early as I have animals to feed and house cows to milk. The boys get dressed and eat breakfast and then play or watch TV while I’m outside. I get back in by 8:30am-ish then as a family team we get house jobs done (dishwasher emptied, laundry on and hung, and folded laundry put away, etc). We try to start school by 9:30am but it is sometimes later. We sit down and read the bible and other stories, and work through our memory box. Then my oldest will work on maths (purchased curriculum) while I work with my youngest doing some counting, writing letters and sometimes letter sounds. After that I try to direct my preschooler’s attention to playdough, puzzles, squishy sand, and other self play activities. This enables me to focus on my older child and we move through his other lessons – writing with ease, first language lessons, spelling, reading with narration, and music practice. We are sometimes finished by 10:30am or on occasions it can take us til midday. The afternoon is spent playing together or with friends, doing jobs and shopping. One morning I take my younger son to mainly music while my older boy goes to his grandmother’s to do cooking or craft. Another morning we have swimming lessons but that is later in the morning so we still get school basics done first. We fit sport and art into the afternoons. If I get the basics done – reading, writing and maths – then I’m really happy and if something comes up we let school work go and enjoy the new experience.
Keywords: Unschooling, Waldorf/Steiner, Learning-Through-Play, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Unstructured
Children: Three – 7yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs
The way our day unravels depends largely on the weather, the seasons, our moods, and what’s planned for the day (such as playdates, catch up with local unschooling playgroup, sports activities, appointments, shopping, or the need for a home day). Every single day is different and brings different possibilities. Our day begins anywhere between 6am and 8am. My husband feeds the pets (a dog, three rats, three chickens, and a Flemish giant rabbit) and heads early to work. Once the girls and I are up, I usually prepare us a hot drink while they play with toys, draw pictures, interact with their pets, or watch children’s programs on TV. We have breakfast and our morning progresses depending on what we have planned – if we are going out then we get ready, if we are staying home then we talk about what we’d like to do. My three girls are still in the imaginative-play stage – this often involves their pets and can take up many hours! Throughout the day we also draw, paint, work on projects, and have big discussions started by a simple question. At around midday we have lunch together. Our afternoons bring much the same diversity as the morning – we might be heading out or my girls might return to the game they were playing before lunch. Sometimes my two youngest will play together while I work with my oldest on her reading – she will bring books to me and we’ll read one-on-one. There may be something the girls are wanting to learn about or they might watch Suzy’s World or other documentaries. My husband arrives home early evening to have dinner together as a family. After dinner the girls love to play with their dad and catch up with him. Slowly they start to feel tired so we transition into bed time, I help the youngest to bed and dad takes the two older ones. The time that the girls go to sleep varies for each. As I am writing this my oldest has just asked me what I am doing – I answered that I am writing about what we do all day. She said to me, “So you are writing ‘learn’?” What a great sum up of our typical day!
Keywords: Montessori, Classical, Unit Studies, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Travelling, Semi-Structured
Children: Three – 7yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs
My family travels through the winter months in NZ or Australia, following my husband as he works onsite. Sometimes we are in the same place for a month, often it’s just a week and then we move to a new location. We are away 3-4 months and then return home in the spring. Where-ever we go we try to connect with the local home education groups. I now know that it’s key to get involved in a few activities straight away (I pre-organise these from home if possible) as it doesn’t take long for isolation to create a negative home environment. I followed the Montessori method for home education. Packing can be a challenge, I simply can’t pack all of the materials we normally use so we bring a few key things and improvise. My oldest is moving away from Montessori activities, though will still tinker with what the younger ones are using. His mornings revolve around lessons more in the Classical style – spelling, language, French, dictation, narration and piano. We use a combination of math resources including some of the Montessori tactile materials, workbooks, online programs – and try to make each day a little different. John Bowman’s ebook “Montessori at Home” has been most helpful with organising activities for young ones out of what we have on hand or can pick up cheaply from a local store. Occasionally my youngest has her own lessons when exploring something new (eg. number and letter recognition) and she is always involved in a craft afternoon! We try to plan two full days at home so that I can work with my two older ones on history, unit studies, and reading during my three year olds nap time. The other days are punctuated by library visits, storytime, music lessons and activities which may include gymnastics, ballet, swimming, art classes or other sports. A few full days out of schedule each term gives everybody the opportunity to take a break. While we’re away this winter the children and I have planned an exploring afternoon each week, we’ll have an early lunch then head off to visit something local.