Is there really any such thing as a typical unschooling day? Each day can be so different from the one before; each day is a new adventure; each unschooling day has its own delights. That’s one of the wonderful things about living an unschooling life. So perhaps the ‘typical’ unschooling day I described in my post What Next? wasn’t really typical at all.
Perhaps I should tell you about yesterday:
The day did start the same as our What Next day, with 8 am family prayers but then…
When we asked the who’s-going-where-and-when questions, I discovered both the boys were going to be working away from home all day. So I didn’t have any sister-sitters: no one to look after the younger girls while I took the older ones into town for piano lessons. So at 9 am I was climbing into the van with all four girls. Sophie and Gemma-Rose didn’t mind coming along. They had plans of their own, plans they’d been waiting for an opportunity to put into action.
“Can we go to the shops while we’re in town, Mum? We want to buy wheels for our shoes.”
Wheels for shoes? I had no idea what Sophie was talking about but I agreed we’d go and have a look while we were at the shops. While Imogen and Charlotte are having their piano and musicianship lessons, I usually take the opportunity to do some shopping. I have learnt that I have to make the most of every trip into town.
We found the wheels. I never knew they existed but Sophie led me straight to the right aisle of the department store. She knew exactly what she wanted. She checked the price and consulted with Gemma-Rose. They decided the wheels were worth buying and after fumbling in their bags for their money, they paid for them themselves.
Don’t you hate coming home to find the washing still in the machine? I have a wonderful son who never fails to hang out the washing. He can always be relied upon… except for yesterday: Duncan didn’t have time to do this job before he left for his day’s work. I must admit I considered turning a blind eye and leaving the clothes hidden in the washing machine. I could quite easily have moved straight on to a cup of reviving coffee. But my better side won out. Imogen, Charlotte and I very bravely headed out into the icy wind with the overflowing basket of wet clothes. The younger girls were instructed to have hot drinks ready for us for when we returned.
Of course we had to take some time out for morning tea. It had been a hard morning of music and shopping (and hanging out clothes) and we needed a break. Then of course it wouldn’t have been kind not to have assembled the shoe wheels for the younger girls. They were so eager to see how they fitted onto their sneakers. And naturally I had to let Sophie and Gemma-Rose try them out. And as it was a new activity, it took them a while to get the hang of balancing on their heels. This all took quite some time. Not that I noticed how fast the minutes were passing. I was in a different timeless world. I was out there in the blogosphere catching up with all the news. The older girls also had their computers on their knees. We answered emails, did a bit of blogging and before we knew it, lunch time had arrived.
“Lunch time already?”
Someone broke into a Disney song and there was music and laughter as the sandwiches were prepared. We gathered around the table and Charlotte brought up the topic of Troy.
“Do you think Helen was still beautiful by the end of the ten years of war, Mum?”
“Perhaps the Trojans wanted to hand her back: ‘Here’s Helen. We don’t want her any more. She’s no longer worth fighting over. Take her away’.”
We continued talking about the Trojan War before discussing the problems of being beautiful. Then I had to rush out the door. I had a rare invitation to afternoon tea with a fellow parishioner. An invitation just for me. I left the girls washing dishes knowing they’d find plenty to keep themselves busy for a few hours.
What did they do? They practised the piano and prepared for a singing lesson, baked a celebration cake for their Dean’s Medallist of a father, cooked a brand new recipe for dinner (spicy meatballs), read their library books, drew some dragons and horses using an art book as a guide…
“Nothing,” Charlotte replied.
I frowned and Imogen hurriedly said, “Charlotte! We did heaps. We had piano and musicianship lessons and we practised again when we got home. Mum and the other girls did the shopping. I learnt how to assemble wheels for shoes. We read and we wrote and brushed up on our computer skills. We did domestic science and household management and art and Greek mythology and exercise and we prayed and read the Bible and talked and sang… “
And all that adds up to much more than ‘nothing’.That was yesterday. What about today? Our adventures today included online maths and a maths tutoring session, Australian history, Mozart, first aid, electricity, teeth, reading and more reading, writing and more writing, cooking and exercising and praying and …
So back to the question: Is there any such thing as a typical unschooling day? I think there is.
A typical unschooling day will contain lots of enjoyable opportunities for children to learn and to grow. The day will contain enough time to sit and chat and mull over interesting questions or have a lively discussion or just enjoy being together. There will be shared mugs of hot chocolate and meals enjoyed together. It will be full of music and laughter and fun. An unschooling day will be full of real work like writing for blogs or emailing or cooking dinners or performing in a concert or doing a St John Ambulance duty. There will be plenty of time to pursue individual or family passions and interests like drawing dragons or writing stories or crocheting fingerless gloves. It might involve going out into the community to have piano or singing or swimming lessons or do the shopping. There will be hundreds of books and movies and games. And time to exercise by bouncing on a trampoline or playing indoor soccer or some other physical activity such as scooting or rolling along on flashing wheels. It will be a day of helping and listening and sharing and learning.
But most importantly, a typical unschooling day will be filled with love and trust and peace and real joy.
Thank you everyone for your comments on my last post. I am no longer stuck. My mind is buzzing with ideas for unschooling stories. The only problem now is where shall I start? Perhaps with toddlers and babies. How did we unschool when we had toddlers and babies in our family? I hope you will come back and share your own experiences.