Keywords: Unschooling, Primary Aged, Unstructured
Children: Three – 9yrs, 7yrs, 6yrs
We take a holistic approach where “subjects” are fully-integrated into our day-to-day activities. I plan the term with my children and we discuss together what classes and activities are available and what they want to do. We keep an eye on the balance of our week as we like to have lots of downtime at home. A typical day would see my husband leaving quite early for work and the rest of us getting up when we wake (usually between 7-8.30am), sorting ourselves individually for breakfast and getting dressed, etc. My 6yr old loves drawing and will often go straight to the art table for an hour or so. Individually or working together my three boys will choose from a range of options – board games, dress-ups, Lego, construction at the carpentry table, electric guitar/drums or listening to music, reading, riding bikes, playing outdoors, games or research on the laptop, sandpit play, heading out with their cameras, etc. I often hire or borrow resources I think they might be into – like x-rays and a lightbox, Lego robotics kit, or books on particular topics – and these lead us in new directions and create new interests. If I have specific tasks to do, like plant the vege garden or clean the windows or re-stain the deck chairs, they will often join in. Over the course of the day my youngest son might ask me to do some “reading lessons” with him from a reading curriculum we have; my oldest might challenge me to a game of Chess; my middle son might ask for help spelling some words for a note he wants to write. It we are heading out then that often happens late morning – a bike ride, swimming, errands (supermarket, shopping, etc), library visit, or the boys may want to go to the bank as they each operate their own account. We might also meet some friends or attend a scheduled class. My husband arrives home from work early in the evening and we all have dinner together. Then we often head outside to play football or have games of Chess or other board games, play musical instruments, etc. Then it’s supper and the boys have “room time” until they go to bed.
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: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Primary Aged, Structured
Children: Two – 11yrs, 8yrs
The girls always follow a timetable as I find it is the only way of making certain that by the end of the week we have covered the correct amount of each subject and we get to our group classes on time! We always do maths, literacy, instrument practise and exercise daily. Then we add in geography, history, Spanish, Latin, biology, physics, chemistry, technology, personal project time, programming, art and music theory. A typical day for my eight year old might be … maths, personal project time, geography, art-history (combining literacy), dance class, instrument practise, and touch typing. A typical day for my eleven year old might be … physics (combining maths), personal project time, grammar, geography, history (combining literacy), dance class, instrument practise, and art. We try to see friends every day and this is often during a class. Although we pack a lot into our day, the children only work the same hours as they did at school. That frees up all the time before and after school because there is no travelling time, no homework and even instrument practise takes place during the day when the girls are still feeling fresh! We always do our academics in the morning and leave the afternoons, whenever we can, for exercise, technology, music and art. We have a different focus each term – we have had fitness terms, exam terms, arts terms and unit study terms. The amazing thing about homeschooling is that you are not locked into a whole year of something.
Keywords: Unschooling, Solo Parent, Primary Aged, Unstructured
Children: Two – 10yrs, 9yrs
On a typical day I’d get up at 7.30am to find both my girls already up and building some fantastically balanced construction out of Lego, with compartments for all the various people and animals in their collection. The play extends in all directions, eg. there may be supermarket shopping in another corner of the lounge using the Shopkins collection and Cuisenaire rods as money. Through the next hour the children play (learn), get their own breakfast, get dressed, and organise themselves for the day. My oldest will pack a bag to take with us when we head out, with everything we will need for the various activities we will be attending. We quickly run through chores – in our house we work as a team with my ten year old doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen, my nine year old doing beds and bathroom, and me starting work on dinner in the slow cooker. We have lunch in the car on some days as we drive to activities, we talk about lots of different things as we drive. This is one of the largest components of unschooling for us – discussion. The kids ask me anything, and if I don’t know then I ask them to remind me to Google it when we get home and we research it together. Sometimes we talk about a book they’ve read, or a documentary we have seen recently, and I answer in a way intended to extend their learning and understanding. We spend a lot of time driving in a week, so spend a lot of time discussing ‘stuff’. If we are attending an activity that only one child is participating in then the other uses the tablet to play games, read, or work through an educational app such as science or maths. We also have a fortnightly trip to the library. My children are avid readers and usually borrow about 30 books each or more (we bring suitcases on wheels!). I don’t choose their books for them or limit the number we take home. Some evenings after dinner we have swimming class – my girls have learnt to swim through our local swimming club and one day will move into the squads. After swimming they shower at the pools and change into their pyjamas so they can go straight to bed when we get home. Most nights I read a story to my nine year old and she reads one to me. Later in the evening my oldest might come out to tell me something interesting about the book she is reading – some cool facts about leopards or something. She’ll show me the book and ask me to have a look on the library website for more books by the same author so she can put them on hold. I will remind her we have a busy day tomorrow and she will need some sleep!
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, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Structured
Children: Three – 11yrs, 9yrs, 4yrs
Homeschooling for us has changed dramatically from when we first started – from unschooling to more to less structure. A typical day starts at 7.00am with breakfast, dishes, chores, then playtime. At 9.00am we come to the table together to do family bible devotions (this ranges from reading a book, bible study character study, and plays), and this is followed by history/geography at 9.30am for half an hour. My children are learning cursive writing so we do this at 10.00am before having a 20min morning tea break which I set using the timer on the stove. My two older children then work through the following in any order until they are finished which is usually about 12.30pm or 1.00pm: spelling, maths (two different purchased curriculums to suit each child’s learning style), writing (eg. dictation, writing I have set, their own choice of writing, proof-reading, etc), reading on their own, and reading to me (we look at different genres, writing conventions, intonation, etc – this often covers various topics from science to social studies depending on the books selected). Then it is lunch time and the structured part is over for the day. Afternoons are spent just being at home, hanging out with friends and other families, or joining in various activities with our local homeschooling group (eg. swimming lessons, dancing, art classes, cricket, netball, soccer, boys brigade, girls brigade, helping out at preschool, craft group, theatre productions). Some days we forgo the structured morning for outings, science experiments, Newspapers in Education, lapbooks, etc – but those days would be the exception to add variety and for a change.
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: School-At-Home, HomeEd/School Mix, Gifted, Primary Aged, Structured
Children: Two – 10yrs, 6yrs (at school)
My son suits a highly structured system with a tight time table. This is a typical day:
8.45-ish Piano and trumpet practice till 10.30-11.00am
Feed chooks, pat goats, kiss horses noses
Maths program on laptop (purchased curriculum) for approximately one hour
Lunch and jump on trampoline, kiss goats, pat horses, play with kitten
Extra times-table practice for 20 minutes
Snack break, a few chores, more trampoline
Programming, English (purchased curriculum) or science or art
Finish at 3.30pm
Reading fills gaps before lessons, every evening before bed, when travelling in car or during any other down time. Once a week he goes to One Day School for gifted kids.
Keywords: Unschooling, Single Child, Gifted, Primary Aged, Unstructured
Children: One – 8yrs
Every day is so unique and different (one of the treasures of home education), there is no ‘one typical day’ which would properly convey what day-to-day life looks like for us. Our goal is to offer a kind and respectful learning environment that nurtures the whole child – that celebrates and extends her talents, nourishes her passions, encourages her to learn at her own pace (ignoring grade level), and supports her uniqueness. A learning environment that helps the child to discover, day-by-day, who she is and all she can be. This is why we chose to home educate our gifted daughter. Our daughter is drawn to novelty. She loves to have the time and space to fully explore her many interests (and uncover and discover new ones). Being able to explore a topic, uninterrupted, helps her to develop her concentration and to engage at a deeper level. Home education supports her social and emotional growth, and allows her to develop her resilience and manage her intensity. It also enables us to include a lot of physical activity (trampolining, trips to the beach, bush walks, playgrounds, etc). We enjoy the family bonding time we have together. We embrace the flexibility home educating gives us. Each day is totally different and we work with her interests, learning style, personal rhythm and the rhythms of nature (we make the most of the outdoors whenever possible). We talk (a lot!) about a broad variety of topics and read a wide range of materials every day. My daughter often sits and writes stories or poems. Sometimes she uses a computer for learning (maths, writing, graphic design or general research). She takes classes – real-life and online (drama, creative writing, kids yoga) – and we join other home educating families for social gatherings and trips. She also loves to create and invent – just about anything. There always seems to be a new invention on the go! We don’t follow any one, single curricula – anything and everything becomes part of our curriculum. A news story can turn into a deep, philosophical discussion about the environment or issues facing society; a scientific study could be the impetus for a mini project or experiment; anything can be the seed of an idea for a new invention. For her, home education is creating a lifelong passion for learning – to her, learning is fun.
Keywords: Waldorf/Steiner, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Structured
Children: Three – 8yrs, 5yrs, 17mths
My 5yr old daughter goes to a Steiner kindy three mornings a week. A big part of Steiner philosophy is that there is no formal learning until 7yrs-ish so neither she nor our youngest child do any homeschooling although they come along on trips and do their own drawing or painting at the same time as us. My 8yr old son reads to himself or plays until about 9.30am every morning. Then he does his chores and we go outside on fine days for biking, scootering, soccer, handball, games, etc; or if it is raining we do some yoga or other inside games. We have morning tea then we start ‘circle time’ where we light a candle, read some morning verses, poems, do movement and beanbag games, fingerplays and songs for about 15 minutes. We also write down our weekly Whakatauki (Maori proverb) to try and memorise. Some of the verses and songs stay the same all year but most change each week or seasonally. We have a 5 minute break then start the ‘main lesson’ which is focused on a particular topic or block (eg. maths, language arts, or nature) over the period of about a month, and relates to a yearly theme. This year our theme is saints, heroes, fables and folktales; and we use stories on these to explore our block (eg. maths, language arts, etc). The main lesson is 45-60 minutes and finishes with an ending verse. We have lunch and about an hour break then we do the ‘middle lesson’ which is time to do something with our bodies – on Mondays we go swimming; Tuesdays we play the pentatonic flute, learn about a composer, style of music or learn a new song to sing; Wednesdays we go for a nature walk or activity like gardening, looking at insects, birds, etc; Thursdays we learn French or Te Reo. The ‘end lesson’ is something we do with our hands – on Mondays we draw, Tuesdays and Wednesdays is craft, Thursdays is watercolour painting. Every afternoon we end with a story relating to the block we are working on or a seasonal story. On Fridays our structure is much looser and we often do baking or cooking and housework. My son is free to do some ‘natural learning’ so he often reads about and looks on the computer for things that interest him, or he plays outside.
Keywords: School-At-Home, Unit Studies, Primary Aged, Semi-Structured
Children: Two – 10yrs, 8yrs
We homeschool using an eclectic approach (curricula for math, planned ‘school time’ for writing, but everything else learning through living and following interests). I am self-employed, my husband works overseas and is home one week per month. I am usually up first and attend to dog, emails and some self-employed business tasks before the girls rise. Once the girls are up we all do morning chores and prepare for the day. We generally fit in a session of either maths or writing before leaving the house for activities. Math or writing ‘table work’ sessions typically last 20-30 minutes. We go out three or four days per week for activities and often add in swimming, a library visit or another unscheduled activity while we are out. Once we come home the other session (of either writing or maths) takes place, sometimes in the evening after dinner when the girls seem to work really well. Monday to Friday I prioritise math, writing and exercise every day. Everything else happens as it comes up. We are all avid learners so there are typically dozens of books being read every month, plus many organic projects on the go at any one time. From time to time we use material such as The Press education papers to direct our learning, but mostly we follow interests and expand on them. I like to use my “three minute snatch” method at the library where I grab a dozen books in a few minutes that I think the girls will find interesting – these are typically non-fiction and cover a very wide range of subjects. From these we search out further resources on topics that really grab our attention. The girls are largely self-directed for much of their time and I fit my self-employed business work around the girls’ table work and activities, as well as working most evenings.
Keywords: School-At-Home, HomeEd/School Mix, Primary Aged, Semi-Structured
Children: Two – 12yrs (at school), 9yrs
We were home educating both children when our oldest asked to go to school. It was not our intention but, after making changes and trying some different approaches to homeschooling, it was the right decision to enrol her into school in the end. It has worked out well for her, it’s probably harder on us having to deal with both school and homeschooling actually. I was contacted by the school twice last year and complimented on our daughter’s sound academic grounding, her respect for teachers and caring attitude towards classmates. It has given us much more confidence in our approach. Our typical day involves dropping my older child to school and then spending the morning doing course work with my younger one. Maths, English and spelling are done every day, with reading and science alternating. Afternoons are spent on extracurricular activities such as sports practice, homeschool swimming classes, dancing, or free play. If we are going out for the day then textbook activities are fitted around this. We have no set finish time. On top of curriculum activities, we do problem-solving games, or design costumes and put on plays (which our older one participates in when she gets home from school). Although we are mainly ‘school at home’ in our approach, I have also taken onboard some ideas from unschooling friends and this has enhanced our homeschooling experience. Instead of set reading activities, if my son finds a book he is interested then we will use that, or we change a topic given in a writing exercise to one that my son is interested in. Although set work from textbooks is usually for 3-6 hours/day (depending on my son’s motivation on that particular day), we also use daily life as an education tool. With our child who is at school, she is used to us being actively involved in her education and willingly accepts our assistance with schoolwork and negotiating classroom politics, and she benefits from being “homeschooled” outside of school hours. We take her out of school for the day if there is something we feel is more beneficial to her education, or if we want to holiday as a family during the school term. Our philosophy was discussed with the school before we enrolled her and they have been very supportive.