NOT Back to School 2016: A day in our life
Today would have been this little girl’s first day at school, if we hadn’t discovered the joy of Unschooling. Today could have been SO different! Filled with anxiety and nerves and rushing and tears. But today was so far removed from that. Today was peaceful and fun. What does the ‘first day of school’ look like for an almost 5 year old Unschooler? Like this…
They started the morning outside, with a collaborative canvas painting. They painted and told stories and planned what else they would do with the canvas. Apparently it’s not finished and they’ll be adding different things every day.
Crossing yesterday off the calendar. I was reminded of how much of their education is comprised of conversations! Crossing off the day lead to an explanation of how to read the calendar, days, months, years, new moons and full moons. They wanted to know about the picture so we talked about the Great Barrier Reef and how big it was. They wondered what it would be like to swim there and if you could swim with dolphins. Then they told me what they know about dolphins, how they hunt, their skeletons, and what their teeth are like. All this just from crossing off a day!
Miss 4 then asked if we could go to the park.
Me: Why do you want to go to the park?
Her: I want to ride my scooter there. We don’t have many paths here but there’s lots there and we can go wherever we like. We can choose wherever we go and where to turn. When I can just go wherever I choose I just feel free.
I thought that was the perfect example of how I want her to feel and why I chose not to send her to school. I want her to be free. So, to the park we went.
Watching a lizard jump across the rocks.
Sisterly chats and plans. How lucky they are not to be separated for most of their days. These two, they love each other fiercely, and it is my pleasure to give them the gift of a childhood spent in each other’s company.
Nature is the most perfect place for children to play. I love watching their ideas and how the environment influences their play. Today they built a Fairy house. This was tricky and required a lot of problem solving but they worked out a way to do it together.
Home for refreshing snacks because the weather was HOT today.
While the little girls napped they decided to get out their Little Passports suitcase and played with some of the things in there. Here they’re doing some Aboriginal Dreamtime symbol scratch art.
Putting together a 3D model of Big Ben all by themselves. I was busy getting the littlest to sleep.
Noticing these flags side by side Miss 6 said to me ‘I can see that England came to Australia because look, their flag is on ours’. Then there was a conversation about how that happened and how they thought they ‘discovered’ Australia, and how the Indigenous people were already here and how they were treated.
Miss 4 loves to cook and had asked if she could make something today, so when I was ready to make the pasta sauce to use for dinner later I asked if she wanted to help.
Reading books is something we make time for every day.
They discovered there were bees in the herb garden and told me they could see the pollen on their legs, leading me excitedly to come and see.
In the afternoon they painted the fairy house that they had made at the park that morning.
The rest of the day was spent with more painting, imaginary play, cubby building, swinging, trampoline jumping, talking to the neighbour, and being together. It was a normal, simple day, but it was everything.
Tonight they will go to bed whenever their bodies tell them they are tired, because they don’t need to get up in the morning for anyone’s agenda but their own.
Today my 4 year old could have started school. Today, my 4 year old felt FREE.
What a great day! If someone were to ask me What the best thing about unschooling is? I would say freedom!
Ah just the way it should be! School is such am unnatural environment and so far removed from ‘real life’. Beautiful photographs, they capture the freedom your daughter feels perfectly.
Thank you 🙂
Ok we are moving to Australia.
Yes! Join us!
Beautiful… simply beautiful.
Thank you 🙂
A really lovely post! I wish I could homeschool/unschool my children, but live in a country where that is forbidden by Law ? Still I would love to incorporate some of the unschooling mindset at home. Any suggestions in how to go about it? Anything specific to think about when trying to balance the demands from (as being on time for school, doing homework f
for example) the outer world besides trying to be as present as possible….?
That’s so unfair 🙁
It would be really hard to balance, I’m not sure! I would just try to give my kids as much freedom in other areas of their life as possible, and loads of outdoor unstructured play time! 🙂
How do you end your days? My husband has to be up very early for work and we have a few very young ones that we don’t think could/should be up without us. We ask all the kids to retire to their rooms when we go to bed, but they are welcome to stay up until they choose to go to sleep. Two nights a week we let two kids sleep in our room and stay up watching movies and I have recently decided that I could stay up layer one night each week for those who would like to work on projects.
We have dinner and baths and then turn the lights down low and they do something quiet. When they say they’re tired we read stories and they go to bed. They usually choose to go to sleep around 8pm 🙂
Thank you for that beautiful post
Thank you for reading 🙂
This is why I love your blog, such inspiring posts every time! I share your blog with everyone 🙂
Thank you Kathleen!! 🙂
I love reading about your days with your girls and seeing how joyfully they experience life! We’re in the states, so it’s the middle of our “school year” here. Despite our chilly winter weather, my 7 year old spent his morning exploring in the woods, laying on the forest floor bird watching, and teaching me how to identify birds (a topic on which he has become an expert, all by himself and of his own choosing). I often think about our days, as I know you do, and am astounded by how much more he learns, experiences, and grows as a person than he would if he were in school all day. I wish more people would believe that it really does happen!
That sounds so perfect!!
Excellent unschooling day summary! Quick question: what is the cutting tool that your daughter’s using to slice carrots, and where did you get it?
I adore your posts but I’m struggling with the “they go to bed when they feel tired” thing! We tried it with our 2.45 year old and it worked beautifully first night (8pm in bed, story and lights out, no fuss) but 2nd and third night he says he’s tired and we go for a story and after that he changes his mind and wants to go and play again! Bedtime was 9:30pm last night and he was overtired and looking for trouble! He has a real resistance to settling into bed 🙁 Any advise on where to go from here? Is he too young to do this with in your opinion? I really love the idea.
I don’t feel like it’s too young as we do the same with our 2 year old. I wonder if he just needs more help settling? I’m not sure but none of mine have gone to sleep themselves until they were older. With our toddler she will tell us if she’s tired or we will ask if she wants to go to bed and then we will just hold her on our lap until she goes to sleep. When everyone’s had a bath and stories etc we have the lights low and there’s only quiet play so we’re setting the mood for sleep and winding down.
I am a homeschool mum in Australia too and it’s the best thing ever!
I am curious. I have two boys and we unschool. How do you have such a peaceful life with 4?? When do you find time to clean? Your photos show your house always looking so organized. Mine is never clean, much less organized. How do you do it, superwoman?
Wonderful post! I think I’m going to show this to my hubby – he’s extremely wary of anything to do with unschooling – this might help give some perspective. I love the idea of unschooling because when I was in school, yes I was interested in what we were learning, but I usually wanted to know more, to see things in real life, to touch them. I’m just starting to rediscover that childlike wonder we’re all born with as I watch my kids do the same thing. It’s great!