This post is part of the #100waysofhomeed blog hop where home educators are sharing the richly diverse ways in which our children learn. On Friday Jo talked about what autonomous education looks like for her family in her blog 3 Kids and a Glue Stick. Tomorrow it is Maria’s turn to share her home ed story over at Maria Luves, and you can catch up with all the other blog posts at Making It Up or scroll down to see links to the posts (if I can work out how to get that to work!)
In the past I have described our style of home education in a number of ways, child-led, autonomous, interest-led, but unschooling is probably the term I relate to most closely. This definition on wikipedia is quite useful if you are unfamiliar with the term.
“When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear… This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we learn when we leave school and enter the world of work.” Pat Farenga
I have written a few posts about how no two days are alike for us. Our style of home education is very much centred on following the interests of the girls and this can take us in all sorts of different directions. This is not to say that our days completely lack any structure or routine, it is just that this develops from the choices they actively make rather than things being planned for them. Although every day is different we do have certain things that we tend to do on the same day each week; activities that the girls have tried, enjoyed, and chosen to make a regular part of their week. I don’t usually write diary type posts (although I do try to share photos of what we have been up to on Facebook or Instagram) but I thought I’d write this one about what we have been up to over the past week.
On Sunday the girls go swimming with their dad at a nearby hotel, then in the afternoon we have started something that we have named ‘family class’. A few weeks back E made invitations for us all to go to her class on ‘The dog Family’ (her big passion). She provided us all with her dog and wolf book collection and asked us all to draw and write dog facts which we then shared with each other at the end, she even provided refreshments! So last Sunday it was G’s turn to host the class and she chose Magnets as her theme. I ordered a levitation kit and we had a great time making a UFO fly.
Monday started with some more magnet fun before breakfast (a levitating pencil this time), then a lego building session. E caught up with The Secret Life of the Zoo, one of many documentary series she has recorded, while G did a bit of drawing. We have a Home Ed Art Class on a monday so we headed out to that. We spend a fair amount of time in the car, as not too many Home Ed activities happen on our doorstep, so we use this time to listen to audiobooks that we borrow from the library. This week we were listening to Woof! by Allan Ahlberg. Both girls really enjoy their art class, they are learning new techniques and starting to look at things with more of an artist’s eye. When we got home I remembered that I had seen a new children’s TV series advertised based on the Worst Witch series of books. We read some of these books last year and the girls have listened to some of the audiobooks. We were able to download the first 4 episodes all at once and really enjoyed seeing how the books had been adapted for the screen. In the evening we tend to separate off into different rooms to do our own things. While G usually plays, E often uses this time to work on her ‘Dog Family’ project, which involves much drawing of breeds and writing of facts. This week the Wolf family has been in the spotlight.
On Tuesday I showed the girls a new art technique I had seen online- using cotton buds dipped in oil to blend oil pastels. We were all soon thoroughly absorbed with this very satisfying process. After lunch and some more magnet experiments I showed E how to import pictures into a Word document. She wanted to write some more pages for her project so she dictated while I typed, then she imported pictures to accompany the text. While she was busy scrolling through pictures of wolves, G and I looked up Ukelele tutorials on youtube and learned a chord to accompany us singing Old Macdonald. The girls then vanished for a while only to reappear with the bag of halloween costumes, they spent the next few hours reenacting their version of The Worst Witch. Tuesday night is Rainbows for G and a bit of chat time for me and E.
We couldn’t make the Home Ed Pony club meet this month so we decided to have a private horse riding session instead. So on Wednesday we headed to the stables for a few hours of riding, grooming and feeding of ponies. Then we popped in on some friends who live nearby for a playdate. By the time we got home some of the local children were back from school so my two joined them for some bike riding and rollerskating.
On Thursdays we go to a lovely Home Ed group. On alternate weeks a dance teacher comes in to do street dance and ballet, and we loosely plan a science, art, music or nature activity for the other weeks. The girls have made a great group of friends and love seeing the same faces each week. This Thursday though we woke up to snow, and after a bit of indecision I decided it was probably sensible not to chance the country roads and to stay put instead. Although the girls were disappointed we decided to do the planned junk-modelling activity at home instead. E made a life size Chow Chow, while G went for a more abstract project. The snow outside was not the nice fluffy stuff so after lunch we mixed up some Magic Snow for a bit of sensory small world play (involving wolves of course). Our monthly Curiosity Box also arrived in the post. This is a subscription box containing themed STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) activities and experiments; this month the theme is structures. G and I worked together to make a bridge from straws then E took over to do the strength testing element, hanging ever increasing weights from the bridge. It turns out that it was so strong she could hang her entire dog collection from it (now that is impressive!)
We usually try to get outside for some nature time on a Friday but the weather was still pretty nasty so we compromised with some running around a soft play place with another home ed family. There was some more art time for G, plus some Stick Man reading and watching. E and I had spent some time watching youtube Ukelele videos. At her suggestion we found one which showed how to play the chords for the song from the Pixar short called Lava all about a lonely volcano. It is a beautiful song. We learned the first 3 chords and I found the lyrics online. Apparently we will be performing the whole song for the rest of the family at some point in the future! On Friday evening E and our dog Henry went along for her first junior dog agility session. She has been doing lots of training with him around the house but now they can start putting it into practice over real obstacles. They both enjoyed themselves so I think this will become another regular activity.
On Saturdays we often have some kind of a day out somewhere as a family but as the weather continued to be utterly foul I was grateful that the girls had a birthday party to go to.
So you can see that our family does have some kind of rhythm to our days and weeks. This will change subtly with the changing seasons. As the days get longer and warmer again we will start to spend more time outdoors; we already have plans to visit some nearby places of interest with some of our home ed friends. If you have read this but you are still wondering about how we are ensuring that all our activities lead to a well rounded education, read my post here. And don’t forget to click on the links below to see what other home educating families get up to.
“My best definition of unschooling is creating and maintaining an environment in which natural learning can flourish.” Sandra Dodd