Robin's Typical Days
My son wakes up about 6:00, he usually peeks in on me and then goes off to build with Lego or Bionicles. I either sleep in or get up and do email and daily organization. My daughter wakes about 7:00 or so and we all go down and make breakfast. If I'm cooking something, usually one of the kids helps out. After we eat, I do whatever cleaning up needs to be done, and sometimes the kids help out or sometimes they go to play or do writing or painting or use the computer.
Then we're usually off for wherever we're going for the day. On different days we have different activities - violin lessons, homeschool singing group, homeschool park day or gymnastics day, a playdate, our "Homeschool Hogwarts" group will be starting back up in two weeks, and if the weather's nice we might go hiking or for a bike ride, if not we might hit the pool or the library, or the science center, sometimes we have homeschool field trips or other activities. We often ride our bikes for transportation to wherever we're going. Today we have violin lessons in the morning, and then we'll either go to the library or to someplace outside if the weather's good. At some point in the day, DH will take over and I'll go do my workout (triathlon training and coaching is one of my interests), and if I've got a writing project going, I will take time to do that as well. If I'm in an editing stage, my son often sits with me while I read my writing out loud and edit it. Afternoons are usually time at home and we might do a craft project, or I'll read to the kids, or we'll cook something for dinner, or the kids will play. We often have other kids over to our house, it seems to be becoming the place where kids congregate. Evenings we do different things. Monday night is our "Family Movie night" and the kids take turns picking the movie. We usually go swimming two evenings a week, and other nights we might play games, read, do puzzles, or just each do our own thing. Bedtime I always read a picture book or two and then read from whatever chapter book we're in the middle of (Lord of the Rings right now) and snuggle up with the kids to go to sleep.
I'm sure on any given day I could look at what we're doing and say "We haven't done much today" and I could choose to freak out about it and panic. But when I look back over a week or a month I can see the rich tapestry of fun and learning that is our life. This month we saw two baby lambs being born, we went to the science museum and did some chemistry stuff there, we've baked bread, watched the first bees buzz on our new flowers, worked in our garden, rode bicycles and swam, played music together and found new music to download on the internet that each of us liked, completed a new puzzle, played trains and legos and raced hot wheels cars down our driveway, hiked to the river and sailed "fairy boats", watched a war being launched on TV, got out our globe and atlases, looked at where Iraq and Kuwait and Turkey and all those other places are located, the list goes on and on.
But *none* of these things were done with the intent of creating "teachable moments" or "learning opportunities". They were all done because one or more of us were interested in that particular activity at that time. They were done because they were fun and interesting and just part of an enjoyable life. The learning is in us and of us and all around us. We don't have to seek for it, we just have to have the faith to get out of its way.
Mother's Day Weekend, May 2003:
There are times when unschooling just happens and life goes by and (while we really enjoy it and do a lot of fun things) it doesn't strike me how cool it all is, and then there's these little moments that stand out (perhaps because they're so different than what I'd do as a child) that make me realize what a great gift it is to be living and learning this way. Just thought I'd share a couple:
My son had a friend over this week for a sleepover playdate (the first time we've done this). My son is 6, his friend is 10 and also an unschooler. My son still needs me to lie down with him to go to sleep, so when I was getting tired, I told the boys that I was going to bed and that they could stay up but please don't step on dd (who insisted on giving the friend her bed to sleep in and she slept on the floor). My son wanted to go to bed then so that he could snuggle to sleep with me. His older friend didn't blink an eye and certainly never teased him or made an issue of it (from my experiences as a kid with school friends, that would be a prime opportunity for teasing). The boys popped out of bed at 5:45 and excitedly rushed downstairs to fire up the computer and use the chess tutorial. They had only made it through half of the tutorial lessons the night before and they really wanted to go through all of them. So that was one of those funny unschooling moments I'm just momentarily blown away by the things they do. I can't imagine as a schooled child ever rushing out of bed before the sun came up in order to do a chess tutorial!
The other cool thing was last night my son was asking me what the biggest number on earth was, and I explained that there is no such thing, because you can always add on to any number and make it bigger. So I mentioned the concept of infinity and he just stopped still. I could almost see him just turning that concept over and around in his brain and after a few minutes of silence (unusual for him) he said "Wow mom, that idea's just too big." We talked about it some more and I could see the idea starting to take real shape in his brain. Then I mentioned that there was a symbol for infinity and he surprised me by saying "It's a sideways '8' isn't it?" I have no idea where he got that from—some random unschooling connection in his brain to somewhere else. I love seeing that kind of spark happen. So he drew the symbol, and then I showed him how to make a moebius strip which came to mind while thinking of the infinity symbol. We had this long interesting discussion about numbers, infinity, the universe, etc. that went on as we got ready for bed and right up until the second he fell asleep, mid-sentence.
Just a couple of cool moments from the unschooling river of life.
Other typical unschooling days