A Day of Unschooling

Unschooling is the unstructured approach to self-education, which does not solely rely on textbooks or traditional means of education to promote knowledge. If you are a family that homeschools in this manner, then you might find similarities to one of your days learning.  For a family that homeschools in a more structured way you might get some ideas on how to vary one of your school days to be more relaxed while still learning.  Always remember that a family’s approach to homeschooling should fit their needs and lifestyle and not conform to the dictates of any other person or group.

Breakfast becomes a planning session for the day ahead because this is library day for our family and the children will get any materials they need to finish their part of the group presentation on the continent of South America. Since it is Monday, my children also let me know if they need any assistance with math problems from the prior week and they give me their journals to glance through. After returning from the library, my children sit down and start to scan the books they have checked out and decide which one goes to the top of the stack to be read first. Then they start to look through their siblings stacks to see what they might also like to glance through or read. As you can imagine this can get dicey, because it involves the disarray of all of the previously carefully arranged stacks each child has made.  Once everyone is sure they have all of their own books they start to decide what project to work on until lunch.  My oldest daughter wants to work on factoring to make sure she has no questions, my oldest son decides to finish reading about the livestock found in South America while my two youngest children both want to read aloud to me.

Lunch is a group event in our family where each child decides what they wish to eat and then they prepare the dish if they are old enough to do so. This becomes creative and discussions ensue about what foods are healthy, why do people diet and how do you cook an artichoke.  This process can take a bit of time because my children will look up the answers to questions in books or on the computer before they are satisfied. While my children eat lunch I read to them.  Even my oldest children still love this habit we have and they look forward to it. At the moment we are reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. In the past we have read all books published by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frankenstein by Shelley and some poetry too. The book always starts a discussion on some subject and often sparks a child to do further research.

In the afternoon my younger children start a science experiment growing seeds to plant in our garden complete with a chart to monitor watering and sunlight. My oldest son is taken to the wildlife refuge where he volunteers twice a week, since he is deciding whether he wants to pursue a career in wildlife biology. My oldest daughter works on her part of the South America project pertaining to the favorite dishes of each country.  Then she picks one for us to cook together as a group next week. Once public school is out my children are free to play with their friends and socialize. This can be anything from riding bikes, games of basketball in the driveway to sharing what happened in your friend’s life that day.

Dinner is a group project as my children all love to cook and this is a great time to use math skills, talk about the chemistry of cooking and discuss the geography of where herbs and spices originate. It is also a time to reflect and discuss current events and philosophy in our family. We have been known to sit at the table for an hour or more after we finish eating debating everything from the outcome of a sporting event, politics or any current world conflicts. My children have become used to airing their opinions while also respecting what others have to say no matter their age. After dinner my children are free to watch some television or work on the computer, but more often than not they read or build things with Legos. I could list many other details that happened in this unschooling day and explain how it all helped my children to learn but gaining and using knowledge has become so integrated into our daily lives that we accept it as the norm.  To learn is to grow and my children do so each day while also giving me the chance to continue learning and growing with them.

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