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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler

Unschooling is interest based learning where children naturally learn from their environment and are trusted to learn what they need to learn to succeed in life.  Parents act as a resource person and role model to help educate their children in a respectful manner.  Unschooling will often look different with each family.  This blog includes my family's approach to the unschooling philosophy.  I will sometimes include ideas and challenges and sometimes I will include a blog of an actual day or event of our unschooling family.  Feel free to follow my blog if you would like to learn more.  Thank you for taking time to read my blog!

Some people have requested that I share more specifics about what unschooling looks like on a typical day, so this blog is about what today looked like in our unschooling family and will hopefully give those who are new to this concept a better idea of what we do.  Since unschoolers learn every day of their life, some days will often look very similar to the last and will be somewhat on a routine while other days look very different.  There is no start day and ending day for school work and there is no start time or ending time either.  Life is learning.  So to someone observing and expecting to see a traditional school day or structure, they often will not see this in an unschooling family.  This is also the case in our family.  Unless we have something on our schedule, I allow the children to sleep as late as their bodies need to sleep in the morning.  I let their natural clock be their cue rather than having a forced wake up time.  They often will stay up a little later than most children so they can spend time with their father who also plays a huge part with the homeschooling process with his interest in research, languages and natural ability to teach, so in the mornings, they often sleep in as late as 10 or 11 if they choose.  It really seems to help keep their immune systems strong, so I'm glad we have chosen to do this.

Today was a field trip day, so my husband stayed home from work with the younger children while I took my oldest son to Safety Village.  I had to wake my oldest son up today since it was a special field trip day.  Safety Village is a cute little fake village with traffic lights, roads, little houses, little restaurants and a little train.  Police officers and firefighters educate elementary children on pedestrian and fire safety with hands on experiences.  We did pedestrian safety last year and my son learned so much that we decided to try to fire safety this year.  It was quite exciting.

It all started with a talk from a fireman about fire safety.  Then they did actual demonstrations where two kids were chosen to climb out of the window of a regular sized two story home.  Unfortunately, my son was not a chosen one and was a little disappointed, but there was more fun to follow.  We then went up into the house and all of the children were given the opportunity to climb out the window onto a roof.  That was followed by other exercises where they were taught how to jump out a window if there's a fire and they had the opportunity to make a 911 call and my son did a great job at giving his name, address and phone number.  He has always been such a responsible child and learned this when he was only about 4 years old.  I have a lot of confidence in my son for emergency situations.  I am so lucky to have such a sweet, responsible little boy.  Then the exciting part involved leaving the room to safety in the dark.  We had to make our way down the dark stairs into a fake smoke filled room and crawl out the door.  That was a great grand finale. My son loved this experience.  I also got to have some great one on one time with my son.  It's important to me to have one on one time with my children as much as possible so that they can feel important and I was glad this gave me the opportunity to do this with my sweet son.  This field trip will be an annual trip for a few years so that all of my children can experience it.  My son was given a few nice workbooks to take home with him too that can help him with learning about fire safety and help him with spelling and reading.  It was a great morning.

Before leaving for Safety Village and after we arrived home, my son checked the chicken coop for eggs, but no eggs.  We have been getting about 3 or 4 eggs a day since the chickens started laying.  Feel free to read the Project Chick blog for more details about this.  My husband helped my son create a calendar chart to keep chicken data where they measure how many eggs they lay, the day/month/year and the outdoor temperature.  This will be a longitudinal study with empirical research where he will use math and science skills.  My son left with his Dad to pick up a comic book as a reward for doing such a good job with his reading and when I went out to give the chickens some water, I noticed one of them was up in the nesting box.  I wonder what she might be doing?  :)

Reading seems like it has been a challenge for my son, but a lot of the problem was that I was inexperienced and comparing him with other children I knew who were early readers and this was not fair to him.  Once I gained some sense, I have been working with him about once a week with the book 'Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons' and this has really helped him with his reading.  He surprised me one day and read a 2nd grade chapter book.  I was so proud of him.  Because of this, his father agreed to take him to the comic book store and pick out a book.  Many unschoolers do not do any structured activities, but I personally feel that children should read at their age/grade level just in case something happens and they would need to attend public school.  So this is the one structured activity that I do encourage. 

My son got a Hulk and Captain America comic book and came home and found an egg.  I think today may have been a good day for my sweet boy.  He then documented his findings on his chart with his Dad.  He is such a little scientist.  :)

The younger two did a lot of free play today.  They went outside and played together for a while and watched 'Dora' and 'Winnie the Pooh'.  I do very little structure with them at this time.  My daughter is working on writing her name and learning letters and numbers, but we are doing this at her own pace.  She also memorizes books and makes up stories a lot.  However, today she did free play with her little brother so they could work on their close bond.

This is an example of a day of an unschooler who is unschooled our way.  I will include more days as we go if you find this helpful.  Thank you for reading my blog!

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