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, 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: 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: 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 friend’s 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 paper 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: 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: 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!