So by definition everyone who takes on the freedom of the unschooling approach will do it differently. Likewise every day for us as a family is different.
There is usually a certain ebb and flow to our days though that I will try and share with you.
We sleep until we are not tired, awakening naturally by the sunlight, no alarms. Usually breakfast is a long drawn out affair, usually eaten in bed, we make pancakes, rounds of tea, toast & jam, fruit plates and chat about the day. This is the time we usually ask the children if they want to do any ‘school work’. We often get requests at this point for reading stories, practice writing, painting, drawing, making things, playing shops, cafes (complete with play doh soup) or wanting to cook up some ridiculously overindulgent recipe of their own creative concoction in the kitchen… chocolate pancakes, with strawberries, cheese & sprinkles!
We oblige these requests as much as possible, although occasionally we have to negotiate the boundaries of possibilities. Like the time our two year old asked to learn to fly with his fairy wings, and I mean really fly. Or maybe we have just ran out of paint or cooking supplies and are waiting till our next shop.
It feels good to show our children that we put aside some special time each day to prioritise whatever they want to learn, it’s a little window of time that they have our undivided attention and they get to have complete choice. The whole unschooling ethos is very free and flexible and you do not need to do this, it’s just how we like doing it. Also I don’t for one second feel this is the only time they are learning during the day, likewise I would never push them to do anything in this time if they weren’t interested… although usually they are enthusiastic and come up with many different ideas. It’s just a nice reminder for us all to sit down and ask the children what they feel like doing each day and show them we are committed to working with their own ideas. Personally I hate even calling it ‘school work’ because of the expectations and connotations that arise from it. However after seeing some older homeschooled children in their vans and doing their ‘school work’ the children get excited about having their own version to do. It’s their learning and if that’s what gives it value for them, then we are happy to go with it!
When the ‘school work’ has naturally run its course we put on our shoes and jump out of the van running along the beach, jumping waves, building castles in the sand or exploring the trails of the forest we are parked up in (still grasping many opportunities for learning, exploring and asking questions the whole way!)
We cook up a family lunch with the children getting to be as involved as they would like (which is usually in every way possible!) Luckily we have two kitchen work tops in our van so it’s easy to set each up with a job that they can get on with in their own space and time.
The afternoon is usually free for more adventures outdoors, perhaps some wild swimming, rock pooling, kite flying, playing in the park with friends or exploring an ancient fort if we are lucky! The children have a great imagination and our walks are usually done in full character of a dragon hunter, or some sort of super hero with magic powers.. picking up sticks as swords along the way.
Sometimes we run errands as a family doing laundry together or shopping for food at the market, the children particularly love it when things need fixing on the van or its van wash day and they get to help out and be useful. They both have a love of tools and learning how to use them safely.
Occasionally we just have down time in the afternoon and snuggle in the van for family nap time! It’s such a luxury to feel like it’s ok to take this time together, giving our children permission to listen to what rest their bodies need without worrying about schedules or school finish times.
Dinner is a relaxed and drawn out affair, we quite often put out a large plate or bowls of food and everyone takes what they need. We try to give the children time to finish what ever activities they are usually by now deeply engrossed in. We put a selection of foods out and they choose how much they eat and when.
We encourage them to have complete autonomy over their bodies, from when they choose to sleep, what clothes they choose to wear, when they need to use the toilet, and what food they choose to put in their mouths.
This doesn’t mean we get caught up in offering five different meal options per meal, the children just know that if they choose not to eat what’s on offer and they get hungry later they can help themselves to fruit. The good thing about this is they are always up for trying new things because it’s always on their terms with no pressure from us. (even if the 2 year old still spits most of it out with a quick UGH….YUCK! followed by a look of bewilderment that we are all eating the same thing?!).
Before bed we always try and remember to ask what everyone’s favourite part of the day was. Our 2 year old loves this little tradition so much he has even started instigating it himself, gleefully doing the rounds asking everyone, whilst waiting for a an answer.
Then we usually cosy up for stories, snuggles and chats until the small ones fall asleep. Sometimes we might even treat ourselves to mini film night on YouTube on our laptop and possibly a hot chocolate & puppy cuddles if we are lucky!
Good night everyone! x