A Day in the Life of Unschoolers

Today was a typical day for our Unschoolers. Today we woke up without any plans, except to live our lives. No school-time, no work, no schedules or appointments. After a leisurely breakfast, the kids dispersed to their own pursuits. A couple of them headed into another room to work on building some LEGO contraptions and vehicles. The younger boys lounged about in the living room building with DUPLO bricks and engaging in an imaginative game that involved toy sharks and dinosaurs battling for control of a space station. T, age 2, just wanted to cuddle next to me and talk while looking through picture books, while her older sister sat across the room reading The Borrowers. It was quiet and relaxing, and fairly perfect, despite the occasional interpersonal conflict in the Dino vs Shark game.

Today was a typical day for our Unschoolers. Today we woke up without any plans, except to live our lives.

After a while we decided to head to the library. Yesterday we dropped a few books off and then found some more that were due back, so off we went. Naturally we stayed there for quite a while, lounging about and reading on big bean bags and searching out new books from the stacks. Our haul of books was considerable: books about sharks and dinosaurs (unsurprisingly), as well as LEGO (also not a surprise), inventions and contraptions, butterflies, and a sizable stack of fantasy and mystery novels. Luckily I had plenty of room for storage in the bottom of the stroller, because several of the kids were having trouble managing their substantial armloads of books.

Sisters and Their Books
One of these girls wants to be just like the other!

Upon our return home, with about an hour left until lunchtime, the kids settled in the living room to watch an episode of their favorite documentary series, The Hunt. As the title implies, this marvelously filmed show is about predators and their prey, each episode focusing on these interactions in a different habitat. This selection focused on coastal regions, exploring fascinating predators such as dolphins, walking octopus, wolves, and humpback whales. They were enthralled, except for A, who decided to get back to building LEGOs, and H who divided her attention between the show and her book.

After lunch there was another diaspora of sorts. H vanished to find a quiet place to read, yet again, while the younger kids played with shark figures for a while (this time they were fighting against robots) and then at their request I read them a few of their library books (about sharks, if you couldn’t have guessed that by now). The older boys watched some BrainPop videos about the Civil War and Segregation, then played some chess and a few other games. Eventually the littlest two went to bed for a nap, while G, age four, played a few game on an iPad and practiced writing his name. He seems determined to master the spelling of his first, middle and last names as soon as possible and works hard at figuring it out almost every day.

Connect Four
Even at the library, there’s more to life than books. Like games!

I took opportunity of the quiet to read a big chunk of our book to the older kids until the younger ones began to emerge from slumber, and by then it was very nearly time for dinner. After dinner things were relatively simple. The younger kids went to bed and the older kids cleaned up for a little while before I read them a few more chapters from our book, and then they went off to bed (more than likely to read under the covers for a while, which I encourage by changing batteries in their flashlights whenever needed).

Unschooling might not be flashy or particularly exciting. In any given day I might not even have any idea what any of my kids have actually learned, but that’s not the point. Today, as in nearly every day, they all had time and freedom to pursue their interests, and they used it: they played, they explored, and they asked questions. I may not know precisely what any of them learned, but by watching their behavior and the things they did, I don’t have any doubt but that it was more productive for them than any day of schooling would have been.


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