Living Without School: A Week in Our Life

contains affiliate links

A whole childhood without school can seem shocking to a lot of people. And no school-at-home either? Outrageous! It can be really hard to imagine unless you’ve seen it. To us, it’s just life. Fun, enjoyable, inspired, and still full of learning. Allow us to show you!

At the moment our children are aged 14, 12, 9, and 7. They have never been to school. This is what they got up to this week…


First day of the week! Some of the girls are up before me and they are watching TV. This is how we always start the day. Nope, we are not straight into anything here. Watching TV until a reasonable hour is fine with me. Some of them are pretty early risers so it’s good to have something to do quietly and let everyone else wake when they’re ready. I get up and have a cup of tea and catch up on some blog things until I’m properly awake.

When everyone’s up and I’m ready, I make breakfast for everyone. Depending when this is, some of the kids may have already made themselves something. Some might have second breakfast, haha. I make breakfast for whoever wants some as a way to transition into starting the day.

Today while I’m getting breakfast ready, Miss 9 decides to go for a run around the block. She’s getting ready for cross country day which is coming up soon. She comes back with a crow feather today, and is very excited because it will be perfect to decorate for our book club this week!

While they eat breakfast, we have read-aloud time. I always like to start the day this way. Eating together gets everyone in the same place, and then we read some interesting things and have some great discussions! On Mondays, while I read, the girls also use their planners and write down the things they want to do that week, projects they’re working on, goals, and other things that we have on. Today we start by reading our current book club book, ‘The Ogress and The Orphans’. We’re really enjoying this book, and love this author. We’re aiming to finish it today.

Today we’re reading a page of the Giants issue of Aquila magazine. We love this magazine a lot. I’ve mentioned it before and if you’re curious you can read more here. It’s a really great way to introduce random topics that you might not come across otherwise. And that’s pretty much what we love about read-aloud time. We read a variety of books on heaps of different topics and always hear about the most interesting things that we would have never known to wonder about! More about read-aloud time here.

Today in our history book we’re reading about old maps, which is such a coincidence because…

One of Miss 14’s current projects is drawing a fantasy map. She was into this a couple of years ago and it’s come around again, expanding this time into crafting up a range of different fantasy things (books, wands, potion bottles, etc). She’s doing the pen on her map while I read.

The others are drawing/writing in their journals while I read. We have specific ‘reading time journals’ they use at this time and they will draw or write about something we are reading. Miss 9 is very into ocean animals and is drawing a sea otter from a book. She writes down some facts too. The older girls often write and summarise something from a book. This was something I suggested to them when they were wanting to do more writing and I was thinking of small ways we could make sure we were incorporating writing into every day. They were keen on the idea so they’ve been doing that! They’re definitely getting better at listening to information, identifying the important parts, and putting it into their own words too.

After reading, the girls go outside and play for a bit. I clean up the kitchen and put washing on or whatever I need to do. Then they are back in and ready for the next thing. This is when we usually have project time. This week we are focused on getting ready for book club on Wednesday so everyone is working on making some decorations. Some are making signs from the book.

I didn’t get a photo but Miss 14 is painting some cards that were described in the book, and also making a little book.

I have often had people say to me that if we ‘let kids do whatever they like’ they will never learn to deal with deadlines or expectations. In our life, we have plenty of time for this, and in what I think is a more real-life way. I’m not sure there’s been any other time in my life when someone was able to tell me what I needed to produce and by when (without me having any say), except when I was at school. Outside of school I have certainly had to learn how to manage my time, and work with deadlines, but these have been in self-chosen things! Even if you have a job you are choosing that job knowing what is required. It is the same for our kids.

We provide opportunities such as book club, project fair, markets, and many other things which are an opportunity to practice these skills. The kids choose to be involved in these activities when they find it meaninful and feel connected to their community, but they still have to have things done by a certain date and time. They learn to manage that time whether it’s finishing a book on time, working out how long they need to finish a project and the steps they will need to get there, or how long it takes to make all they need to fill a market stall. They’re practicing these skills frequently. No need for adult demands at all. Just our support.

After some crafting, everyone needs a break so they are off to play. I decide to cook some things. I’m trying to make all our snacks (for lunchboxes for dancing and when we go out with friends) and not buy packaged ones. I make some cheese and bacon rolls, a soup, boil some eggs, and make a chocolate cake while they’re busy playing.

Some people ask to help and I say no, because it’s ok to say no sometimes and it’s ok to want to do some things yourself! I want to get it done quickly and I also know that I have a big day of helping people bake for book club tomorrow. The most important way I can make sure I can support everyone and do all the things we do, is by having boundaries. I know how much I can and can’t do in a day without getting overwhelmed or frustrated. Today, I am not up for help with cooking, but they know tomorrow I will be. That is enough.

Miss 14 needs her ribbons and elastics sewn on her new pointe shoes and is keen to learn to do it herself this time. We have been avoiding this job and left it to the last minute of course and they need to be all done by tomorrow morning. Oh well. She’s watching a tutorial to learn how to do it and I am relieved I don’t have to relearn that. I find this job stressful.

Miss 12 wants to make a movie trailer and has enlisted her little sisters as actors. They are outside working on it using an app a friend told her about.

Getting started on the pointe shoes!

It’s time for the premiere of their movie trailer. We all watch and it’s hilarious! They are so funny.

Miss 14 is working on her book. She’s recreating a book that is described in The Ogress and The Orphans. She is going to bring it to book club.

The girls then go for a quick walk to the park up the road to make another movie trailer, while I hang out the washing and pack lunch boxes.

Then it’s home and time to get ready for afternoon classes. The big girls have dance, and the little girls have acro today. We have to leave before 3pm and we’re not all home until about 8.30. It’s a big afternoon, but they love it so much.


Again, the girls are snuggled up watching some TV when I get up.

We start the day a bit different to usual today! They have a lot of baking to do for book club tomorrow, and the big girls are going to a sleepover this afternoon, so we’re on a tight schedule! Miss 14 also wants to get a lot of her art stuff finished today, and has to finish sewing her pointe shoes. She’s worked out the order she’s doing everything in and is already onto making her Anzac biscuits before breakfast. In the book, the orphans eat a lot of oats, so she has chosen these to represent that.

Miss 7 is up next. She has decided to make finger buns! The ogress delivered ‘sweet bread’ to the town and this is her interpretation. She needs to get started early too, so there is enough time for her dough to rise. She is making them from scratch and wants absolutely no help. I explain each step and she does it herself.

Miss 14 has been busy. She is painting her book and cards, then sewing some more elastics, and then playing some minecraft when her fingers need a break. She is just cycling through these 3 things until everything is complete.

Lunch time! We didn’t do reading time this morning, as we were cooking. So we read over lunch and while Miss 7’s buns are doing their final rise.

Today we’re reading about the Renaissance period, and renaissance thinking and how it relates to us now. I really love this history book. It’s not just a recollection of history, but makes us think about the actual people who lived then, how they thought, how they might have felt, and how we can learn from their ideas and perspectives. We’ve been reading it for a while but it’s actually great going through it slowly and letting things sink in. It takes us forever to get through books, honestly, even though we read most days. You might notice us reading the same books for a long time. That’s because we only read a page/chapter/idea from a stack of books each day. Sometimes we get sick of a book and do a binge session so we can finish it and get it out of our lives if it’s dragging on for too long, haha. But generally, we enjoy reading a little about a lot of things rather than just one.

Another good book from a series that we have most of. This one is ‘100 Things to Know About The Oceans‘. Today we read about the hagfish, which sounds quite disgusting. Miss 14 wants to see an actual video of how it ties itself in a knot so googles and we watch a couple together. We also learn that in Korea people eat hagfish, even the slime! We think this is gross! The next page is called ‘one person’s pirate, is another person’s hero’ and we talk about how who the ‘bad guy’ is really depends on who they’re targeting. If they’re not targeting you, then you might see them as a hero. We relate this to the hagfish too, just because it is gross to us does not mean that is the ultimate truth! Where you live, your culture, and your experience, change how you see the world and the people/animals/things in it.

The places a strange looking fish and a pirate can take us!

After we finish reading, it’s back to book club prep…

…and pointe shoe sewing. Miss 14 is feeling overwhelmed with all the things she wants to do, because her time is running out. We talk about what is a priority for her, and what she can let go. She enlists a sister for some help with her book, and I will finish sewing some elastics for her while I wait for the others at dancing this afternoon.

Miss 12 is reading her book. She reads in little moments throughout the day most days, I just haven’t captured it yet! It’s so hard trying to catch everything. There’s a lot going on and I can only pay attention to one thing at once. She’s currently reading the Ottilie Colter series and really enjoying it.

Miss 9’s turn to cook! She is making jam drops, which were mentioned in the book and called ‘thumbprint cookies’!

Miss 7 is icing her finger buns at the same time. They look so good! She is super happy with them.

Everyone finishes up their book club prep. What a big day of cooking! And then we are off to drop the big girls off for their sleepovers. They are both staying with homeschool friends and will meet us at bookclub tomorrow.

I drop them off and then drop the little girls off to dance. They start at 3.30pm again and we’re not home until 8pm. Then it’s dinner (which my husband usually makes) and bedtime! They go to bed around 8.30pm. Ideally, we’d have a bedtime story, but it turns out that’s a pipe dream. We’ve tried many times to get this going but with dancing late most nights it just never happens.


It’s so quiet here with just two kids! Unfortunately, Miss 9 is not feeling well this morning and so will have to miss book club. She is sad. Luckily her Dad is working from home so she is able to stay with him.

This morning all we’re really doing is packing everything we need and getting ready to go and meet friends.

Book club time! The big girls are back and have had a great time! Although it seems not much sleep was had. Classic sleepover fun.

This time we’re having our book club in a room at the library. If you’ve read the book you’ll know this is very fitting! We have a discussion about the book, and then do some trivia which is a hit. We haven’t done trivia before but Miss 12 suggested it, and they really liked it.

Next it is time for the feast! Everyone has bought some themed food with them to celebrate finishing the book. Miss 14 places her cards next to our food, just like the ogress. How good is that whale! I love it!

Dog and Harold, from the book.

Someone has made pie for the Mayor.

After book club we head to the park where the kids play for a while. The older kids have a game of Chameleon which is the current favourite.

Now it’s the afternoon and one guess where we’re headed? That’s right, dance again for all except Miss 7. Same story as usual, we are back and forth to dance and then it’s pretty much showers, dinner, and bedtime. The kids are early risers, and by the end of the day they’re also tired and don’t tend to stay up too late. The older two always listen to an audiobook in bed at night and will be awake a bit later, but everyone is always in their rooms by about 9pm and that gives the adults time to hang out and relax. Their current audiobook is ‘The Girl Who Could Fly‘.


We are slow to get moving on these cold mornings! And especially today as the big girls are having a sleep in after not much sleep the night before when they were with friends. Miss 12 doesn’t wake up intil 9.30am! This is very unusual. I’m glad they’re catching up though!

When everyone is awake, and they’ve had breakfast, we have a whole house clean up! By Thursday things are getting a bit messy. The craft room is full of mess, there’s clothes to be packed away, and everything just needs a general tidy. So, I ask everyone to pitch in so we can get it done before we start our day.

Then we sit down for some reading time. Talking about evolution this morning as we read this book.

Another book on the history of medicine (one of Miss 14’s interests) that we have been reading through. It’s very interesting! I got it for her for Easter as it had some info on the Black Plague and herbal medicines, both things she is interested in and I thought it would likely contain more things she would be curious about. I was right!

Reading a little about the Aztecs today and the society they created, as well as how they were invaded by Spain.

Have I mentioned enough how much we love this book yet?

So often it happens that we read a page in one book and then when we pick up another one it is related in some way! Today when reading about music there was a page about the Maya, another ancient civilization from the same area.

Today is our poetry teatime day, so the girls are writing poems while I read. Miss 12 is writing a song instead.

Getting back to Shakespeare! We recently moved house and before we moved had been learning this passage, but haven’t picked it up again since the move. Today I added it to our pile and we were surprised to find we remembered quite a lot. We practiced today and I think we’ve almost got it.

How did we get to memorising Shakespeare passages? That totally seems unexpected for unschoolers I think. I’ve been meaning to write a post on it, but for now I’ve got a highlight on it over on my instagram if you’re curious.

After reading the kids go and play for a bit. I didn’t take a photo and now can’t even remember what they were doing. Probably playing outside. I think Miss 12 played her nintendo for a bit.

Once they come back in we have project time. Moving house has disrupted their flow a bit and people haven’t settled into projects yet. Miss 12, for example, has a couple of things she could be doing (sewing, photography) but doesn’t feel like it today. She randomly decides to do one of our MEL Science kits instead. This one is on etching and plating.

Miss 7 decides she wants to make a comic book.

Miss 14 does some pointe practice…

…and then works on her map some more.

Miss 9 was taping paper together for a ‘draw battle’ which her and Miss 7 then did together.

Poetry teatime! Miss 9 sets the table and makes the hot chocolate. I cut up some veggies, etc, and then we all sit down to share some poems together.

The girls read the ones they wrote this morning first and then everyone reads some from books they like. Miss 7 can now read the poems herself!

I read this poem and we related it back to reading about the Aztecs this morning too.

And then Miss 12 reads this one which mentions Columbus who we also read about in our history book! We always find it so interesting how many things come up that are related!

Miss 7 pulls out a tooth in the middle of poetry teatime, haha! After that happy interruption people still aren’t done with poetry and we read some more. It goes for quite a while. Everyone loves reading poetry.

I have no idea what this is about but they were out here playing for ages, dressed the same (even down to one sock each), with these wigs on.

The big girls are back at the art table. Miss 14 doing her map, and Miss 12 thinking up ideas for a short film she wants to make.

The big girls decide to take our dog for a walk!

They spent the rest of the afternoon playing.

The map is done! It’s so detailed! She is really happy with it. I think it looks great and she’s agreed I can frame it and hang it in the art room. I love all the names she has come up with for things, and how she has taken the time to draw each individual tree. It took her quite a while planning, drawing, inking, and shading. She has a whole story in her mind about this world.

One of my favourite parts: ‘Where Pebbles Lie Infinite’.

When she’s done she decides to call a friend online and they have a video chat. I have to take Miss 12 and Miss 7 to dance. Miss 9 comes with me and Miss 14 stays home talking with her friend.

When I get back she’s still on the same call and another friend joins in too. They are playing a ‘guess the price’ game together and laughing a lot. They talk and play for ages.

Miss 9 reads me some of her reading book. She’s reading so well now! Then she also has a video chat with some friends.

Miss 14 hops off her call and the girls watch some TV together. The others get home at 8pm and then it’s the usual routine.


Friday is usually an outing day with our unschool group. Today it’s not on though, but we’re going to head out and try another activity in our area. Luckily there is always plenty on for homeschoolers!

We don’t usually do reading time on outing days, and although we’re not heading out until the afternoon we still don’t. The girls are already busy so I leave them to it and do the washing, etc, and read some of my own book.

The Barefoot Kids book arrived in the mail this morning and Miss 14 and Miss 12 were instantly keen to read it. They start reading together but then are arguing over who can write where and instead are now taking turns reading a chapter each.

The little girls are playing the same game as yesterday and very happy in their imaginary world.

Plans are being made, and discussions are being had. We have so far not given the girls pocket money. They always seem to have some money from birthdays, grandparents, selling things they have made, etc. They want to discuss the idea now and I explain that I won’t pay for jobs around the house that everyone should do as part of a family, but that there are extra things that I would pay another person to do and I’d be happy to pay them instead. They start coming up with job ideas, asking me questions about how frequently I would pay for them and negotiating prices. We talk about being paid per job vs a weekly allowance for agreed tasks. I think I’m about to outsource a weekly mass cookup and I’m pretty happy about it.

Early afternoon we head out to meet some new people. The girls participate in a soap carving activity, which they enjoy. They’re usually up for joining in on anything crafty.

Next they join in on some soccer drills, and then have a game of soccer. I think this is their favourite part. They play for ages. I wasn’t keeping track of time but maybe 2 hours! They are having a great time and make some new friends.

Home we go and Dad is home waiting for us. He’s making dinner. Miss 7 wants me to read this Usborne fractions lift-the-flap book with her.

Miss 14 is busy reading this poetry book that she’s picked up a few times since we read some from it yesterday. She keeps wanting to show me poems. It’s relatively new and so beautiful. She’s found a couple of poems she really likes and wants to hand letter them for our wall.

Tonight we all watch the new episode of Alone together before bed. We’re really into it at the moment!


I was going to include the weekend but to be honest I’ve added way too many photos already and this post is getting super long. Today is Saturday and Miss 14 has been reading the Barefoot Investor book a lot today, and playing some Minecraft. We’ve come up with an agreement to try for an allowance. Miss 12 and Miss 7 have been busy most of the day looking through cookbooks and deciding things they want to cook this week. They also spent a lot of time making things from one of Miss 12’s natural skincare books. They made some tinted lip balm, perfume, and hair spray. Miss 9 went grocery shopping with her Dad and also bought a new pair of shoes for herself.

This afternoon we had a fire outside, ate dinner around the fire, and talked about ideas and plans for businesses the girls want to start. They have some great ideas! I can’t wait to see what comes of them. The girls got out the telescope and had a look at the stars. Before bed Miss 12 and Miss 7 are snuggled up on the couch together writing stories.

Tomorrow will be a slow day, and a bit gloomy. My husband is going away for work for four days and we will miss him a lot. I predict we’ll just be hanging out at home, and maybe watching a movie. We’ll see!

That’s a wrap!

And that’s our week. As you can see, we didn’t cover everything you might think we should be if you are looking from a schoolish perspective. Our life is not divided into subjects and we are about the bigger picture, rather than a little bit of everything every day. But there is no doubt a lot was happening.

We spent our days pursuing learning, following curiosity, connecting with our community, exploring interests, working on projects, laughing, making memories, contributing meaningfully, working towards goals, practicing skills, challenging ourselves, and being surrounded by those who love us most. That’s what it’s all about. That does not look like step-by-step linear learning but it does lead to passionate self-directed learners and content kids.

Leave a Reply