Thursday Talk: What Does a Typical {Unschooling} Routine Look Like

Atelier photo, mes crayons aquarellables, 23.01.08

Even though this is only my second week doing Thursday Talk. I’m already loving it.

This question comes from Dawn at Offdachainouttadabox. She is a mother to four and wanted to know more about a typical routine in our house. I consider myself still new to unschooling. I am definitely not an expert, but am glad to share how we do things in our home. 

“My question is, what does a typical routine look like at your house. I never fit the mold of doing “school” at home. “
I have asked people what a typical day looks like in there home. I always had trouble understanding what they meant when they said “we don’t have typical days”. I get it now.
Every day is different. And unschooling looks different in every home.

We live in the city so our daily living is different than someone who lives out in the country.
Someone who lives on a farm may do things differently in their home, and they may do some things the same.
Someone else’s typical may look like being constantly on the go, while another persons day is spent mostly at home. It really depends on the person doing the living.

If we had pets they would be a part of our daily living. We would have books on them, and do research about them online, or maybe watch a documentary.

It’s so funny to me now because I said I would never  homeschool. I’ve told the story several times now. I thought people who homeschooled were weird. I couldn’t imagine myself sitting at the table with my kids doing workbooks for the majority of the day. Something about it didn’t sit right with me.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up one day and felt this pull to look more into homeschooling. I figured it couldn’t hurt to check out a few books from the library. My friend loaned me John Holt’s Learning All The Time. and I soaked up every word. It was like reading one revelation after another. This book really spoke to me. So the next year we decided to give unschooling a try.

We play. A lot.  Play starts pretty much as soon as they wake up and doesn’t stop until they are winding down for bed. You can read my previous post on The Importance of Play.

“I never fit the mold of doing “school” at home. ” 

Neither did I, and the girls don’t either, so we don’t.
Because unschooling is about learning through living, that’s exactly what we do. We live. And our living consists of doing many different things on some days, and maybe being more laid back on other days. Or a combination of both in one day.

Lately we start off putting puzzles together first thing in the morning. It’s been the same two puzzles for almost three weeks now, every single morning. A Zebra and a Lion. On the nice days we may head out to the front or backyard. Sometimes we have play dates at the park, or a friends house.

Yesterday morning we did our two puzzles, The girls flipped through several of their library books.
We talked about how bees make honey, while we looked through the book Flower to Honey(Beginning to End) I forgot that honey can be different colors depending on the type of flower used to make it. Also how honey makes our throat feel better when we eat it when we have a cough. Oh, and how I like honey in my tea.

Then the girls played a new game they found called Pony Adventure from their favorite site, Girls go Games. It’s a platform computer game. They took turns and played so well together. I love times like that, where they are both enjoying the game and not arguing over who gets to play what.
It’s a cute little game. You get to change the color of your horse, pick out your clothes and put shoes on your horse if you want. Their horse was decked out in  a vintage pattern, with ballerina shoes.
Then they started using teamwork and playing the game together.

After that we used our number flashcards to make all kinds of different numbers. They’ve been very much into numbers lately. Asking me “mommy what is 1 0 0 0?”  I say “one thousand.” “Whoa mommy that’s a BIG number.” “Yes it is.”

“Mommy what is 4 6 2?” “Four hundred and sixty two.” “Can we make that number with the cards?”  And then we do.  They want to show me they can make the number 25 like the sign on the side of the road.
That leads us to a conversation about the no trucks allowed signs they see when we’re out driving, or the no u-turn signs.
Then Nakiah brings up how Truck starts with the letter T and we start naming other things that start with the letter T.

Then we have lunch and go for a walk to the park. The girls started pretending to be horses like the one in the game they were playing earlier in the morning. Then we talked about going to see real horses later this Spring. I told them how I wanted a horse when I was a little girl.
Then they played at the park. On our way back we discovered  several ant hills. I took pictures, but haven’t checked yet to see how they turned out.

Back at home they want to write their names. Sometimes they make a game out of it. I’ll give them a letter to write, or they do that with each other, taking turns.
They also like to use their Alphabet flashcards to practice writing the letters they aren’t quite sure of, especially the lower case letters.

The rest of the day went on like that. One thing flowing into the other.

One day earlier this week Nakiah talked about volcanoes the majority of the day. We have a book from the library on volcanoes. We plan on making our own soon. Complete with red food coloring for the lava. Last week I went to the library while the girls were at co-op and grabbed a few extra books for them from the library. We maxed out one card at 30. I think it’s time for another card. I really like the book Volcanoes by Seymour Simon. It’s informative and has great color pictures of real life volcanoes. Nakiah is fascinated by this book. I think we may need to buy it for her.

Sometimes we spend the majority of our days out at the museum, the zoo, a friends house, running errands to the post office, library, a couple grocery stores.

For those who are more structured, there is no rule that says you let go of all structure in your life in order to unschool properly. Maybe you go to the same story time every week, or meet up with the same playgroup on Tuesdays at 2pm.
We have weeks and months like that from time to time.

Other days we may do more crafting in between talking about the different types of dinosaurs, or learning how to play a new Mario Game. Some days we spend all day going in and out of the house.
With all the rain we’ve had The girls have been able to dig up all kinds of worms. They even kept some in the house in some moist dirt overnight. I had Nakiah place them back in the shaded grass the next morning when we got up.
She loves showing me all of the worms she finds. Big ones, small ones, short and long. If they see a worm out on the ground while we’re walking, they want to pick it up and place it in the shade. They know worms like cool, dark, moist places to live.

The one constant we have right now is our homeschool co-op every Friday. Right now I’m working on adding a few more activities to our days.  Possibly a story time, maybe we can find a summer camp or something close to it this spring/summer.
We’re also looking into becoming members of the Rec centers, or a YMCA. Maybe there will be a art class, or swim lessons, or dance class.

Here is a page full of typical days by other unschoolers.

So as you can see, what we do and how we learn it depends on the day and how we are living life at that moment.

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5 thoughts on “Thursday Talk: What Does a Typical {Unschooling} Routine Look Like

  1. Thanks so much Darcel!! I think it would have been great if I could have started my journey being "de-schooled". I'm 4 years in and now I am trying to regroup. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm concerned that my 9 and 7 year old will not be on "target" if I don't direct them to certain aspects of academia. They have never been to school, but in the past I have felt guilty because my children didn't sit at desks and I didn't stand up at a chalkboard in our "school room". Oh and Girl Go Games is a favorite at our house too! Summer is coming up, so I think it will be good time to shift our paradigm :)Dawn

  2. Sometimes I feel like we don't do enough. Keeping this blog helps me keep track of all that we do. I want to start monthly scrapbooks for the girls to keep. I know they would love collecting things for them, decorating, and adding pictures to them.

  3. Thanks for Sharing Darcel! you guys actually do a lot in day. Busy little Bees. lol! I was wondering if the girls ever did any picture journals or scrapbookings of there different independent studies so they can look back at there booklets and peek at there favorites so far this year?

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