A day in the life 2011
22 August 11
What does unschooling really look like? How does a homeschooling family run smoothly without schedules, learning structures and curriculum? Join our family — for just one day.
Last year, I recorded our family’s activities throughout the day on the prompting of Heart of the Matter’s Not Back to School blog hop. One year on, I find it fascinating to look back at a typical day in our household last August and see how things have changed for us (although Aisha wears exactly the same shirt for part of the day)!
We have four daughters and unschool quite deliberately. Aisha is 6 and a half. Brioni turns 5 this week. Calista is 3 and a half. Delaney is 19 months old and starting to talk. I’m six months pregnant. We’re living a nomadic lifestyle and are at the end of a six-month stint of travelling in New Zealand. Our mobile home is a tiny horse truck but yesterday we arrived at the home of a new friend with a 3yo daughter and will spend a couple of days here.
David and I wake and lay in bed talking. We’re wallowing in comparative luxury at the moment because we’re sleeping in a bed in a house and have access to an ensuite. The girls are sleeping by themselves in the truck. When they wake up, they join us for a cuddle — the older ones carefully helping baby Delaney out of the truck and escorting her to our door.
Brioni’s first game is to re-create a little home for a rubber frog. She fills a plastic tub with water, adds a rock and then puts the frog in. After David names the frog “Brog”, we start silly rhymes. David and Aisha end up discussing the difference between jogging and running.
After a little while, it’s obvious that the house’s other occupants are awake, so the girls ask to go to the main living areas. 3yo Marama is having breakfast before she heads out with Deborah for a day of shopping and errands in a nearby town.
When Marama is finished, we serve breakfast for our four daughters — cereal with some muesli sprinkled on top. Aisha is in a bad mood and sits by herself on the couch without breakfast — her choice. Later she retreats to our bedroom so she isn’t disturbed by her sisters.
Brioni has found the magnetic words that are on the fridge and is asking what some of them mean. Calista doesn’t want to finish the last two mouthfuls of her breakfast. Instead of forcing her, I ask her if she would like to have more milk in her bowl. The extra milk is enough for her to finish it up.
When I start cleaning up the kitchen, Delaney approaches me, grizzling. She just wants to hang off my legs as I do the washing up. I leave the hot, soapy water and go to the couch with Dell. She sits on my lap as I sing through about five songs with her, accompanying the Bible verses set to music that is playing on our stereo. Then she’s happy enough to crawl down and play.
Calista grabs the opportunity for a cuddle, and I remain on the couch for a couple more songs. I know that the dishes will be there waiting for me and it’s important to fill up the girls with love so they’re well-equipped to handle the day. Time and attention is what they need and then they’re better behaved during the rest of the day.
Filled up with the extra loving, both Calista and Delaney move outside to play. Brioni is happy inside. I ask her to pack up a puzzle that she’s moved on from. I don’t command, I make it a question, and I only ask once. She happily complies — she’s not forced to do it.
David is outside helping Andy from next-door finish assembling the trampoline. They end up talking for hours, and the trampoline is also completed. I finish the kitchen chores and wander around to check on the girls’ whereabouts. They’re reading together in Marama’s bedroom except for Aisha.
After bringing her breakfast, David has set her up on our laptop, and she’s browsing through Sparkling Adventures. We’ve previously given our girls very little computer time so I’m impressed at how quickly Aisha has mastered basic site navigation.
Soon Delaney is grizzling at me again, but this time she’s also rubbing her eyes and saying “no” for no reason. She’s ready for a nap. I take her to the truck and put her in her box. She’s protesting as I go out the door, but I also notice that she’s carefully arranging her precious fishy rug so she can suck her thumb and fall asleep. She’s asleep within minutes.
With three girls on the computer and the baby napping, I lay on the carpet in the living room and pick up a book that I found on Deborah’s shelves and which has haunted me from childhood. The warmth of the sun is lovely on my back, and I eventually lay the book down and snooze.
I get up from my impromptu nap and check on everyone. David’s talking to Nathan via Skype, and soon Delaney wakes from her nap. I serve up sandwiches for lunch. Today I just don’t feel like making elaborate meals.
After lunch, I decide to take advantage of being in a house with a bath and ask Delaney if she’d like a bath. She always loves baths! Soon Calista joins in.
The afternoon progresses at a leisurely pace. The girls take turns playing inside and out. We don’t monitor them too closely — even with Delaney.
David starts to make dinner. During our time on the road, he’s taken upon himself the primary responsibility for meals, and he’s gotten better and better. We’re vegetarian, and David entices all our hosting families with his superb cooking!
After tea, the girls finish up their paper crafts. They’ve used scissors, and I ask them to help pick up the bits of paper so the dining room is tidy when Deborah gets home. I help pick up some bits, but Aisha and Brioni are pretty good at tidying up.
Deborah and Marama arrive home. Marama immediately goes to try out the trampoline but doesn’t last very long — she’s tired and comes inside to play with our girls.
I announce that we’re going out to the truck to read stories. It’s early tonight, but I want to give Deborah and Marama some space in their home. We don’t have a set bedtime for our girls and sometimes Aisha stays up very late on her own. Each evening is different, and without an enforced routine, the girls go to bed easily.
The girls choose some storybooks to read for our bedtime stories. We’ve finished our last chapter book and I’m delaying starting a new book until I can browse our home library. So we’re thankful to have a range of great books to choose from Marama’s room.
In the truck, we read through all the books. Delaney sits on the big bed for these stories and I’m constantly manoeuvring the books so everyone can see the pictures. My favourite pose with storybooks is the “librarian” pose where the children sit on one side of the bed, and I sit on the other side and read with the book facing towards the children. With chapter books, the kids snuggle up alongside me.
After the stories are finished, the girls play around on the bed. Aisha and Brioni start performing some addition on the abacus, seeking clarification on the answers from David or me.
We put Delaney into her box and leave the Aisha and Brioni chatting. Calista is already sucking her thumb and will be asleep soon.
Back inside the house, I do the dinner dishes and catch up with Deborah. Soon I’ll have time to hop on the computer, check my emails and update the blog.
I hope you enjoyed following us around for a day. Although we’re visiting someone else’s house, I hope you get a feel for our relaxed style and are encouraged to let your children play and learn naturally!