“One of the refreshing traits of unschooling children is their enthusiasm for life. From the youngest age, all children are driven to explore the world around them and learn how it works. Parents marvel at their single-minded determination: their obvious joy when they finally figure out how to communicate that they want something; the countless times they’ll try to pick up that Cheerio; the tenacity with which they practice standing up and taking those first couple of steps. That insatiable curiosity does not fade with age unless the adults in the child’s life work pretty hard to temper it.” -Pam Laricchia
This is one thing I love about unschooling. That excitement you feel when you see your toddler learning something new, it’s pretty much an every day occurrence. You get to marvel at their curiosity daily! Most people can’t imagine choosing to educate their children at home being that exciting, but it totally is.
I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what unschooling looks like for us lately by documenting a week in our life! It looks different for every family, but this is us…
Our days usually start with some read aloud time (after breakfast and getting dressed, etc). We have a basket of books we’re currently working through about a bunch of different topics, fiction and non-fiction. We pick a few picture books to read and then read a page each of books from our basket. They might be on the ocean, famous people, chemistry, strange facts, philosophy, poetry… anything!
After we’ve finished reading we chat about everyone’s plans for the day, and any other things we have to do (like shopping, dance classes, etc). We then write it down on a little whiteboard so everyone can see what’s happening.
Usually everyone is then keen to get onto whatever they have planned and we have some project time. You can read more about what that looks like here.
Miss 4 is currently really interested in eggs so she asks me for the egg book and sets all this up ready to paint.
Miss 5 is currently sprouting some bean seeds. One of her questions on the question wall was ‘how do plants grow?’ so she’s doing this little experiment to see. Every day she plucks them out to have a closer look and records the changes in her book.
Miss 8 has been busy over the last couple of weeks designing clothes. On the weekend we went to get the material so she could make her first design, and today she is cutting out all the pieces.
Miss 10 is busy writing a letter to a friend today. She recently did an Outschool class on ‘hand lettering’ and the letter looks so beautiful! She’s also very interested in cursive and has been practicing. She’s written the whole letter in cursive and spent so much time drawing pictures and getting it just right.
They have fruit for morning tea while they’re busy with projects, and when they’re finally hungry enough for lunch everyone takes a break. The big girls are making mini pizza’s for everyone today.
After lunch Miss 8 reads me some Harry Potter while the other girls play outside for a bit.
Everyone drifts back inside and continues on with things. Sometimes project time lasts just the morning and then after lunch they get involved in imaginary play and that continues through the afternoon. Other times they have lots of things they want to do and they are going all day! Today is the latter. We have a Project Fair coming up with our unschool group and Miss 5 has decided to bring something for the first time. She has multiple experiments she wants to do about plants! Mostly inspired by one of our science books. Today she decides to do the one on plant dissection. She collects some things from the garden, sticks them in her book, and then labels them.
Miss 10 has chosen to bring some of her poetry for the Project Fair. She’s decided to present them by painting a scene and writing the poems on canvas. Her first one is about wolves and she’s almost finished. She just needs to copy it over to the canvas, but writing with pen on canvas proves to be more tricky than it looks and it’s taking time.
Miss 8 has now cut out all her dress pieces and decides to take a break from it rather than starting the sewing. Instead she does an art class from Masterpiece Society, a new program that we are absolutely loving. She’s interested in the impressionist style classes and chooses one on Monet. First she watches a short video about him, and then a class where she paints a sunrise over water inspired by one of his paintings.
It’s late afternoon now and the big girls decide to play some minecraft with friends, while the little ones play a game with their dolls and I clean up.
Tuesday is a friends day! We are out all day with our unschool friends. Today we are making nature journals together. We have some other nature events coming up and thought it would be fun to make our own journals for it.
They turned out so well! The kids were really happy with them.
Love watching them all busy side by side and listening to their chatter as they encourage and inspire each other. Meetups are a really important part of our week and something we miss a lot if we can’t go for some reason.
After the journals they spend the rest of the day playing together. Near the end they sit down to chat about book club. A few families have been sick and it was postponed multiple times so they have an impromptu chat about The Secret Garden now! Miss 10 had painted a picture but didn’t have it with her so uploaded it to facebook later to share with friends.
We head home late afternoon and the kids all play minecraft together, continuing a game they were playing in real life in the virtual world. The girls usually only get to play a couple of afternoons a week because of dancing but it’s holidays at the moment so this is a fun novelty!
It’s our dog’s 13th birthday today! They start the day by taking him for a walk.
After the walk we read books. They often draw or play with Magnatiles or something while I read. Often each of them wants to have a turn reading something to the others as well. Miss 4 writes letters all over her paper and asks me to read out her story to everyone.
Sewing the dress begins! The other girls were all busy playing and drawing and I had lots of time to help. She is so patient and persistent! She is determined to sew the whole thing herself and is doing such a great job.
The rest of the day they spend playing various games and I have a chance for a cup of tea and to clean up.
In the afternoon their Nanna, Aunty, and Cousin come over to play and have dinner.
Friends day again! Thursday is also a whole day out with friends. It feels like a really good rhythm with home days in between. It’s a long drive to this location so the perfect opportunity to start the next audiobook for Book Club. Today we are doing Poetry Teatime. The kids bring along poetry books or poems they have written themselves. Then they all take turns reading them out and showing anything else they have bought along to go with their poem, e.g. paintings, etc. A totally kid led experience.
After poetry they all seem to have a game in mind and they grab some food and head down the creek where we can’t see them. After a while we get a call on the walkie talkie excitedly telling us to, “Come and have a look, we’ve hooked up a pulley system to hoist people into the tree!” Ha! I love their creativity and play. Was a team effort coordinating the pulling and they worked out who was heaviest and lightest and how many people they needed to help.
The 3-5 year old gang got busy making nature potions.
Hours and hours of play. This is what most of the time at meets looks like. In their own imaginary world. Then they all ran over to us telling us that they’ve got a plan for next Tuesday and that they were having a cooking competition so everyone was going to bring a dish to the next meetup. They’d divided into teams and planned what their food would look like, and what they’d need to bring.
As it turns out next Tuesday we already have one activity planned where two of the children are sharing their interest in origami and teaching the others how to make things. But that’s ok! The group follows the kids interests and we try to fit in whatever they want to do. Sometimes a hard task as they have so many ideas! While most of their time is spent playing, as they grow they naturally want more shared learning experiences and activities that they can do together. They actually don’t see any difference between learning and play. There shouldn’t be one! It’s so interesting to see how they change as they mature and develop. I’ve actually never known unschooled children this age before and couldn’t imagine what it would be like. Now I know! With freedom, autonomy, and lots of interesting experiences alongside supportive adults and friends, their natural passion and curiosity is protected and they actively seek out opportunities to learn.
We get home in the late afternoon with not much time before showers and dinner. The girls play and watch some TV. Miss 5 is into writing lately and I find her here copying down words from a receipt she has found.
Before bed Miss 10 reads me some of Wolf Girl.
Home day! Miss 4 is back to drawing eggs again. This time she folds her drawing up and puts it in an envelope to send to her friend. We have to go to the shops anyway so we post the letter on the way. I need a couple of ingredients for dinner and some of the girls want to buy some things. They take their money and work out what they can afford, using the self-serve checkouts themselves, getting the correct money, and counting their change. Ordinary life provides so many opportunities for things that would be learnt in school in much more boring ways.
When we get home everyone has some snacks and they help each other with some lego sets they bought with their money.
Our morning was a bit different to usual as we didn’t do any reading, but Miss 10 asks to read to me again while the others play.
Everyone is keen to resume work on their projects. Miss 8 has almost finished sewing the bodice of her dress together now! She tells me she is hoping to finish it by Monday and then make one more thing next week. Then she’ll have two of her designs to take to Project Fair the following week.
Miss 10 finishes up copying her poem over to the canvas!
Miss 5 starts construction on her next plant experiment. She is making a plant maze to see if a plant is capable of bending and growing around the obstacles to reach the light!
In the afternoon we decide to watch The Secret Garden movie. We chat about what was different from the book and which one they liked better and why. It was unanimous, book wins over movie every time.
The girls play some more Minecraft in the late afternoon until we have dinner!
And that’s it!
I won’t include the weekend as this is long enough already! Ha. But basically we’re having a quiet one. There’s cleaning and food shopping and playing with the hose on the trampoline, and listening to Daddy read Narnia.
Every time I look back over a week or a month I am shocked at how much we have fit in, how many things the girls pursued, how many experiences, how much learning. But truthfully, it just feels like living. Our weeks and days have a natural flow to them and stuff just… happens. It’s only when I try to photograph so much or take note that I realise just how much is going on here. And this isn’t even counting all the interesting conversations that I’ve forgotten the details of! Learning is everywhere, it’s constant. We live an interesting life with a family culture that values connection, curiosity, freedom, and passionately pursuing what matters to you. So that’s what happens!
This is what unschooling looks like for us. What about you?
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