A Typical Unschooling Day
© Beverley Paine
How do we unschool? Today is a typical day, with Robin and Roger at work, so it's just Thomas and I at home.
First we make a list of everything we want to achieve to today, or add to yesterday's.
- pick strawberries and remaining apricots
- prepare apricots for drying and making jam
- make apricot jam and strawberry jam
- fertilise flower beds
- fertilise plant pots on verandah
- water plants on verandah
- water (deep soak) strawberry bed
- clean shoes
- wash dishes
- put away clothes
- put washing on
- make home brew beer
- fill 3 boxes of Trees For Life tubes
- water TFL seedlings, etc
- count how many wire mesh guards are needed for paddock plantings
- feed animals
- sweep floor
- check email
- Thomas - electronics course study
- start pruning 'front' garden
- Beverley - write next month's article for newsletter
- tape Speedweek
- Thomas - transfer movie from computer to tape
- Ride bikes
- Read magazines, short story
Some of the things on the list weren't done yesterday as we had unexpected, but welcome, visitors. Our lists usually look this full, and some of the jobs are huge, like the pruning, and will take several goes at to finish. We have building projects on the go all the time, and usually work on these when Robin and Roger are at home, although their days off next week will be spent fitting new shock absorbers and springs to Roger's car. I have to put in the little things, like reading, or cleaning shoes, otherwise we'd forget to fit them in! I find that Thomas still needs company to some of the tasks on the list, and we work better as a team for most things anyway. We probably spend between 2-3 hours each day doing our own thing - he playing or working something out on his computer, and me emailing or writing fiction or articles.
We won't get everything done on the list today, and will carry over jobs, and add more, for tomorrow.
It doesn't look like an educational program, but there's lots of skill building tucked in those activities, and both Thomas and I need to do some researching - I've forgotten how to dry the fruit (because Robin is the expert!) and Thomas has only made beer once. The greatest skill we're reinforcing in this style of learning is organisational ability - setting priorities, goals, organising tasks, developing a holistic picture of what needs to be and when and in what order (especially in regard to our desire to develop a sustainable self-sufficient lifestyle). From time to time we forget this busy schedule of never ending tasks and focus on an area of interest - for the last few weeks we've been immersing ourselves in motorbikes - purchasing, buying protective gear, learning about all kinds of bikes and pouring over the new manual and learning about the model Roger and Thomas have bought. It would be true to say the children have had a 'practical' education.
We don't have set times for breakfast or lunch, but eat whenever the individual is hungry. We come together for evening meal, which we generally all help to make. We hang out together in the evening, either watching television (mostly movies or documentaries, or the occasional funny show) or playing networked computer games. Sometimes Robin or Roger have to squeeze a computer job in at night, although Thomas is now confident to work on other peopple's computer problems and he does most of those that crop up when the guys are at work.
Robin and Roger work Friday through to Monday, so our 'weekend' occurs midweek. We don't take holidays - Robin has worked casual for years and we never save up enough to afford not earning while we take time off! The children have never had 'holidays' from homeschooling, although we celebrate birthdays for about a week and don't usually do anything 'schoolish'.
I'm not overly worried about academic skills. I've encouraged the children to believe they are capable of learning whatever they want or need to learn when they want or need to learn it enough. They prove this everyday, and have done so since they were little. They believe it more than I do! Thomas is doing 'bookwork' to reinforce basic literacy and numeracy skills, something he had difficulty with when he was younger. None of my children are ambitious (neither is Robin), something I've slowly come to accept as okay. There aren't any plans or needs to move into tertiary education, although I'm doing a Advanced Diploma of Arts through TAFE. Everyone is confident that tertiary education is something they can access if the need arises.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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