A Week in Our Life Without School
These are strange times we are living in! We haven’t seen any of our friends for weeks and I am more thankful than ever for unschooling. Our home is a place with lots of things to do and interests to explore, because that’s what we always do here! So although we miss being able to hang out with our favourite people, and this is not what normal unschooling life looks like, we’re doing ok. Our home days look pretty normal for us, it’s just that they’re not broken up by regular out days anymore.
I thought it was time for another week in the life post. You know, since I have the time! And also because I love showing people what unschooling LOOKS like. That was always helpful for me to see. When you’ve only ever known education as school, it’s hard to imagine another way. What exactly does learning without school look like? Is it something I could do? How does it work without a curriculum? I think it’s important to have examples of unschooling out there! So here I am. I hope that it is helpful, whether you’re already an unschooler, just starting out, or even a school parent looking for an alternative at this stressful time.
Reading time! This is how we often begin the day. You can read more about our rhythm here. We have a basket full of both fiction and non-fiction books we’re currently reading and we read a page or two of each a day. We chat about them, ask questions, google for more info, and go off on many tangents. Reading time usually lasts for about an hour.
One of the books we read today that led to further googling was this one. We looked up Miriam Makeba’s song ‘Pata Pata’ and listened to it, while taking a dance break.
The girls have journals that we take out at reading time in case they want to draw or write about anything of interest that we read. Today Miss 4 is drawing butterflies. She uses many many pages, trying to get it just the way she imagines in her head. She’s been really into drawing lately and is so focused!
While reading some of ‘Wild Things‘, a game idea is sparked and suddenly the big girls are off following their imagination. They go outside hunting for ‘dragon bones’, telling me a story about a battle that happened in our yard overnight. They find lots of different things, even a troll skull and fairy tears!
While they play, Miss 4 is busy with some air dry clay making ‘marshmallows’. An idea she had yesterday that she is following up on. She sits here for ages, concentrating so hard.
The three older girls come inside to find some scrap material (a pair of their Dad’s old pants) that they can sew a little bag each from. They want something to keep all of the things for their game in.
They’ve now also made some ink from berries and charcoal, a spell book, and quills. It all looks so cool!
At 11 and 9 years old they still do a lot of imaginary play. I really wish people would see the value in it! I think it’s beginning to be understood for younger children more, but as they get older it’s not seen as important. But look how much is going on here! The creativity, storytelling, writing, constructing, problem-solving, reading, even maths as they measure and sew the bags! The world they have created in their minds is so very detailed too. The plot, characters, props, backstory and everything are amazing! And they’re having FUN. That’s how learning should feel.
After the others have finished with the sewing machine, Miss 4 decides she would like to do some sewing too. She sits here for about an hour sewing different scraps together and making little pouches and bags. She can use the sewing machine by herself with a reminder to keep her fingers well away from the needle.
The game is still going. They’re now using things collected from the yard, and a walk down the street, to construct a dragon. We have a rhythm to our days, not a strict routine. That means that on days like this when inspiration or imagination take over, we adapt and make room for it. This is not to be interrupted. A strict schedule would be really limiting for us.
With the big girls still busy, Miss 6 has decided she wants to do some more sewing. She’s going to make some leggings. I prepare a pattern for her and we cut it out. Then I help her match up the pieces and she sews them together herself.
Miss 4 is having a massive day! She’s literally just gone from task to task of intense concentration all day. For about 7 hours. She’s now using the glue gun to construct something. I’m amazed by her focus. And frustrated at the common belief that children cannot do this. Even very young children have the ability to concentrate for long periods when the activity is self-chosen and meaningful to them. It seems like we train them out of this with the current model of education requiring them to switch task whenever an adult says so.
It’s the start of a new term here so dance lessons are back this week. All online for now. It’s Miss 6’s turn this afternoon. She does ballet and jazz.
After dinner we sit around the fire outside, toast marshmallows, look at the stars, and listen to our current read aloud.
A new day but the game is still going! The stuff they have made is super cool. This is Miss 9 all dressed and ready for the day and I love that everything she has is homemade. She sewed herself that dress last year. The bag, spellbook, wand, and necklace were made yesterday.
The big girls are outside early collecting sticks and start a little fire themselves. They want more ink for their game and make some over the fire using charcoal and the recipe from the book.
When everyone is ready for the day, we have read-aloud time. We’re enjoying this book a lot and learning a lot more about space (one of Miss 6’s interests).
We also have a great chat about why we exist, sparked by a philosophy book we’re loving. We wonder about evolution vs religion and the girls decide they actually believe in both. I LOVE Miss 9’s thoughts on the matter when she explains, “science is just trying to explain God logically”.
Sometimes they draw in journals while I read, and sometimes they do other things. Today everyone is crafting. The older two are using some air dry clay to make dragon’s teeth for their game.
After reading we have project time. Miss 6 wants to finish off her leggings. She got about halfway through yesterday before taking a break.
Miss 11 and Miss 9 are creating things for their game. They’ve now made 4 books and are busy writing down spells, information about magical creatures, potions, and details of magical herbs. They go for a walk and collect different plants to go in their plant book, and keep working on their dragon sculpture too. Then they collect some things from the kitchen and outside and start mixing potions.
Miss 4 is in her own world playing dolls.
We have dance classes every afternoon during the week. Today they go for over 4 hours between the two older girls.
While dance classes are going on inside everyone else plays outside. Check out Miss 6’s leggings. All finished!
The little girls decide to make some invisible ink from a recipe in Wild Things. This book is really shaping our whole week, ha! I love how it’s bringing more nature into our days while we’re stuck at home. We usually have two full days out in nature with friends every week and we’re missing it.
In a break between dance classes, they add the clay teeth to their sculpture and some clay to the neck so the head can now stand up by itself.
Some baking to start the day! We’ve got Poetry Teatime with friends today so we’re making some brownies for later.
Reading time again! It really is a great start to the day and the discussions we have during this time are awesome. I wish I could remember them all! Everyone is into journaling today. Miss 11 draws a spider building it’s web and catching prey, Miss 9 writes about Nancy Wake, Miss 6 draws some coral, and Miss 4 draws the sun and earth.
Often Miss 11 and Miss 9 will take a turn reading one of the books. Miss 9 likes reading this one lately. It’s about how different animals see the world. Before we open the flaps to see everyone takes a turn guessing what it will look like.
The game is still happening but is not so all consuming now. They’re doing other things while still coming back to the game. This is all the things they have made! Quite a productive game lol. They’ve now organised it all in the corner of the room so we can still use the rest of the art room for other things but all their important things are still out for them to use too.
The little ones are busy playing their own imaginary game with dolls after reading time. The big girls have some project time. Miss 9 has been working through this book on drawing faces that I got her for Easter. It’s really brilliant and she’s getting so much out of it. She’s going slowly through each part and perfecting her skills. Today she’s concentrating on a page about proportions, measuring distances and where things should go.
It’s Earth Day today so our poetry teatime is going to be with that theme in mind. The kids choose to either find a poem in a book or write one themselves. Three of the girls have chosen to read one from a book today, but Miss 11 is writing her own. She stains some paper with tea, burns the edges, and rolls it into a scroll. She’s writing her poem with the quill she made, in fancy cursive, and it’s about magical plants.
Poetry teatime! We’re still catching up with friends each week, it just has to be online for now. We’re trying to do all the normal meetups that we can, like poetry teatime! Today we set up all our special teatime things and the kids all took turns reading their poems.
After poetry teatime, the kids want to keep chatting with friends, so they all jump on Minecraft together. They’re building things together and playing a game with kings and queens I think. There’s a lot of laughing and yelling.
While the others are on the computers, Miss 4 asks me to sit with her and watch what she is doing. She’s made a little slide for some small toys and is cutting up cardboard to glue onto the sides for the railings. She loves the glue gun right now and is so capable with it! I worried about her burning herself, which she sometimes does, but she learned very quickly that it was hot and takes great care.
You guessed it, reading, ha! But only for a short time today. We started late because we’re all quite addicted to Survivor right now and decided to watch an episode this morning. The flexibility of life without school. We do what we want!
Miss 9 is back to drawing faces today!
Tomorrow we have an online science fair coming up with friends so we spend the rest of the morning finalising what experiments everyone is going to do and testing them out.
Miss 9 has been wanting to do some more cooking so in the afternoon she researches recipes and makes a list of ingredients she needs.
We had been waiting on some macrame cord to arrive and it did! Miss 11 gets started on her next piece. After seeing one of her creations recently, a friend asked if they could buy one off her! She is SO excited. She’s been talking about it nonstop and working out what kind of macrame she would make, the size, researching new techniques and designs, figuring out how much cord she will need, calculating the cost of materials and ordering them, finding out how much other pieces that size cost and deciding on her own price, calculating profit, finding a stick, cutting it to size, whittling and sanding it until it looks good, and planning all the other ideas she would eventually like to do!
Such a wonderful example of unschooling. Real-world learning through interests. We don’t separate learning into subjects. We follow passions, do the things we love, and all of that is covered naturally. I couldn’t think of a better way for them to learn.
Miss 11 and Miss 9 are up early doing an outschool class. This one is on mad libs. They first learn about nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, and then create a funny story together.
Nature time! It was time to get out of the house. How sweet are these two? This week there has been a lot of this; hand-holding and declarations of best friends forever. We seem to have settled into the isolation life. While we are further from other people, we are closer together.
Our bushwalk takes all morning and we arrive home ready for lunch.
After lunch it’s science fair time! We log in to zoom again to share experiments with friends from our unschool group.
Miss 6 wants to play some Prodigy Maths and her big sister helps her with how to use it. Afterwards, the older 3 play some Minecraft and play outside. It’s been a pretty chilled day!
Miss 11’s macrame is coming along so nicely! How good does it look?
I think that’s about enough photos, ha! I won’t include the weekend. But that was filled with drawing battles, playing outside, more prodigy maths, macrame, nighttimes by the fire, and enjoying Dad not working.
Unschooling is living, and embracing the learning that naturally flows from that. I hope this gives a little insight into what that can look like.
How was your week?
What a beautiful post!
Thank you for sharing all those tiny details, they are so inspiring:-)
Thank you so much for this. Boredom was starting to kick in for us, and I’m absolutely dreading even contemplating any of the ‘standard’ school worksheets the mainstream school are sending. This really gives me some great, practical ideas to experiment with a bit of unschooling during these crazy times. Hopefully should keep us both interested and sane! Keep these inspiring posts coming please, particularly at the moment. The book recommendations are also very much appreciated.
Sincerest thanks, keep up the great work.
Amazing. I’ve been poring over your Insta for a while now and have been devouring your fabulous blog. So helpful and informative. Your girls seem so content, creative and confident.
Also on a side note my youngest is called Sara. 🙂
This is such a beautiful post showing how natural learning at home is. Curiosity, creativity and joy fill the days.
Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your week, it has been both reassuring and inspiring.
Hello I am new to homeschooling this fall and Unschooling is the method I want to try with my 3 kiddos 7, 9 and 11. How do you go about unschooling? How do you record your unschooling? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated!
I love all of this!! Can you please share when your work time fits in??
I’m working on that right now…….