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The Unschooled Day – #1

One of the beautiful things about Unschooling is how different each day can be. Of course, some times they’re similar, but often each is filled with its own activities and discoveries. So I’ve decided to write a monthly recurring feature illustrating what an unschooling day looks like in our house. I’ll start with yesterday, a simple day where we stayed home and dove into a variety of activities.

In The Morning

Shortly after he finished breakfast, A broke out a Chromebook and set to work studying French. A few minutes later, when he finished eating, N started reading on Kids Discover about boats and nautical safety. This inspired him to break out The Handy Box of Knots to teach himself the Bowline Knot. Hannah, meanwhile played a video game for a little white, before diving into some math.

While the bigger kids were happily involved in these pursuits the younger children had some conflict, so G went downstairs to play by himself in his room while T and M dumped out all our DUPLO bricks on the floor and began constructing a fleet of spaceships.

Satisfied with his French studies, A headed off to his room to drum for a while while H studied French. N studying Japanese for a while and then started reading a new book about a boy hiking on the Appalachian Trail. As an avid hiker and backpacker he was excited to dive into this story and he seems to be thoroughly enjoying it.

After finishing her French, H decided to do some music and soon she was at the piano working hard to learn a new song. After his sweaty drum practice, A emerged from his room and sat down with one of the books he’s currently reading, Bomb: The Race to Build – And Steal – The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin. After a time he put that away and switched to his other book, Salamandastron, an epic story of Redwall. A seriously loves Redwall books right now.

For quite a while, M and T had been happily playing with DUPLO bricks and at some point G joined them. I wrote some, did some dishes, fed my sourdough starter and took care of some miscellaneous chores along those lines. All that finished, I sat down with M to read through a 3-D Shark encyclopedia with him. His fascination of the underwater predators has yet to wane and we had a great time learning even more about them.

As soon as we were done he leapt back into the DUPLO building chaos while G sat with me to finish reading The Cat in the Hat. He’s really enjoying reading and needs next to no help at this point, but still craves the safety net of reading with an adult. Today he was supremely thrilled to finish his book!

While I was reading with the younger boys H finished practicing the piano and moved to her violin, while A and N both worked on math for a little while and after reading G watched some BrainPop videos. These pursuits finished up after a while and M and T started the laborious process of cleaning up DUPLO bricks while N decided to watch some BrainPop, devouring several videos about malware and hackers. Once she finished with her violin H returned to her dragon video game.

After clearing off the table, A and I sat down with a chess set and played a few games, after which he got out a book on chess openings and I helped him figure out how to use it properly. He took to it quickly, and chose an opening to start memorizing.

Meanwhile N brought out his guitar and began playing. H and I then got out some colored pencils and began coloring some Harry Potter bookmarks, soon joined by G, T, and M. After finishing his guitar practice N worked out for a while and then went for a jog on the treadmill. At which point, after a rather full morning, it was time for lunch!

In The Afternoon

After eating, A sat down to work on his speech therapy homework, while I started some bread dough rising and the rest of us recommenced coloring. It was fascinating watching their different takes on coloring identical pages.

After a while that activity ran its course and so we turned on a fascinating documentary we found on Netflix, Rise of the Robots. While most of the kids watched that, I put T down for her nap. Afterwards, while the kids were still chatting about the robots, H and I colored a little bit more while A finished his homework and N, G and M played some video games for a while.

Despite my sore throat, it seemed like a good time to read, so I pulled out the book I’m reading to N, A and H, and we read a couple chapters of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. They’ve been loving it so far, and were thoroughly engrossed while I read. As usually, N gasped every time something popped up in the narrative that he already knows from his explorations of Greek mythology.

Once my throat couldn’t handle any more reading we cleaned up thoroughly and then the kids played video games while I started baking up baguettes for dinner. About half an hour before dinner the kids put away the video games and sat around reading, except for N who decided to practice tying knots a little bit more. Then it was time to eat, and our day began drawing to a close.

Thoughts On Our Day

A lot of the things we did today are pretty normal. Some, like studying music and languages are good habits the kids have formed so that they can progress in those pursuits. And it’s working as they’re growing in confidence and skill as they continue to work on them. Other pursuits are a bit more unpredictable, and as always they choose when and what they really want to do.

While today was also extremely busy, with kids constantly moving from one pursuit to the next, it’s also not always that way. There are days where one or two pursuits dominate their time and consume the bulk of the day. Then of course there are the days where we venture out of the house and head in search of other sorts of adventures.

Therein lies the beauty of unschooling, because although there are unofficial routines that have grown up in our family over time, we’re not bound by them. There’s no particular schedule or curriculum we have to abide by, and so whenever we feel like doing something different, we can. We never know what tomorrow will hold. It might be just as full and busy as this day, or it might be quiet and relaxing. It might involve an impromptu excursion to the zoo or a museum or a morning spent playing on a playground.

Whatever we do, I’m sure it’ll be worth it.

Check back next month for a look at another day in our unschooling life! And in the meantime, make sure you follow The Dad Hatter so you don’t miss out on more stories from our Unschooling Life, and check out our Instagram page as well!

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