Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Play by Play of One Day of Almost Unschooling

Do you ever wonder what we do all day? I know I do.
Between Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I heard about a fun link-up, through Live The Adventure, going on over at Books and Bairns. The idea was to share a 24 hour slice of your homeschool life - all the things you managed to get done in a day, and the things you didn't.

It sounded like fun, but of course, I completely missed the dates, and didn't think about it again, until yesterday. It might be too late for the link up, but I thought it might still be fun to record a day - just one day. Everyday is a little different around here, so it's not a complete picture, but if you ever wonder, just what we really do all day, here's a glimpse.

6:00 AM - I get up, have breakfast with the Man of House, and see him off to work.

6:45 AM - I spend a few minutes checking emails, and reading blogs. Then, Google about for a good online lesson for Algebra 1, graphing inequalities, which T was struggling with, yesterday (I settle on this one, and save it to favorites).

7:30 AM - I start to make muffins for the children's breakfast, and listen to a few minutes of National Public Radio. Apparently, the job market is bleak, even if the numbers are looking better, and the price of oil is rising.

7:50 AM - I hear a noise in the living room, the children are up. I put the muffins in the oven, turn off the radio, and click over to a National Geographic video clip on Adelie penguins. Leaving T, in charge of the continuing running nature clips, I jump into the shower.

8:15 AM - I come out to find the penguin clips have given way to shark clips. D is delighted. C wants to play "paint" on the kid's computer, and A has removed herself to a corner to read a couple of chapter of Joshua. I throw a load of laundry in.

8:20 AM - The children eat breakfast, while listening to Living Language "Starting Out In French". We alternate between listening to the CD, copying out vocabulary from the downloadable transcript, and acting out the skits at the end of the chapters.

8:45 AM - C is removed to the family room to watch Dora, on the Wii (via Netflix). The older children start rotating through showers, Bible reading, typing practice (Garfield Typing), and piano practice. D, picks up a Lego magazine to peruse, and E discovers the Man of the House has finished his Popsicle stick house for her and C, and begins to move her dolls in. I clean up the kitchen. The day has started.
8:45 to 10:00 AM - I continue to try to clean the kitchen, while helping T work through what he learned in the Algebra video, as he begins to work through graphing inequalities in his text (Algebra Success in 20 Minutes a Day by Learning Express). After, three problems, he "gets it", and is able to work on his own.

A, works independently on division problems from

The younger children play, and get bathed, with G's help.

10:00-11:00 AM I call my mother, and work on laundry. Baths, and general piano, typing, and math work continue.

C, switches from the paint program on the computer, to the Fancy Nancy interactive coloring pages.

G, and D start an "epic" Nerf battle.

A, and C work together on a Lite-Brite picture.

E, plays with her Boggle Jr. game.

I make calls around town in search of more polyfill for the amigurumi penguins, and find no one in town sells polyfill.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM The Man of the House comes home for lunch. Somehow, everyone is bathed. T has completed algebra, typing, piano, and Bible reading. A has completed math, typing, Bible reading, and piano.

While eating, the children watch part 1 of Modern Marvels' program about George Washington Carver, off of YouTube.

The Man of the House goes over pictures with me, he would like to include in an upcoming guest post (more on that later!).

12:00 - 2:30 PM G completes typing, math (also from, Bible reading, piano, and does a reading lesson with E (from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons).

E works on a couple of pages from her workbook (Grade 1, Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills from American Education Publishing), and practices piano.

A, teaches E another addition story from Judy Liautaud's Addition The Fun Way! A Picture Method of Learning the Addition Facts.

C, has a reading lesson with T, and works on her workbook (School Zone's Big Kindergarten Workbook).

D, does a couple of pages in his workbook (American Education Publishing's Grade 3, Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills). I ask him to read out loud to me, from our Little Critter Treasury, but he has a headache, and wants to play quietly with his Legos. I make mental note to watch him for signs of eye strain, and double check our supply of cold medicine.

I clean the kitchen again, vacuum, and throw in another load of laundry. Then, run to the store, to pick up medicated lotion, for one of the children's extra dry hands (winter in Montana!).

I see the peanuts are on sale, and decide to pick some up.

Nap time is delayed half an hour, so we can make homemade peanut butter.

2:30 PM The little ones go down for a nap, while the older children go for silent reading. T reads a simple biography of Henry Ford, G reads a biography of George Eastman, and A finishes up a biography of George Washington Carver. D plays quietly with his Legos, and reads a couple of picture books about sharks.

I make peanut butter cookies, move laundry to the dryer, clean the kitchen - again, blog about making peanut butter, and start dinner.

5:00 - 6:00 PM The Man of the House comes home from work. He discovers I went out the store, but forgot to pick up milk (oops). We run back out to the store, while the older children play Roblox on the computer, and the younger children watch video clips on Nick Jr's site.

We eat dinner.

6:00 - 7:30 PM G goes to AWANA, and the Man of the House goes to the gym. I clean the kitchen - AGAIN.

A plays Candyland with C. It's a new game to us, so A must read the directions before they can play. I stop to clarify a few problems (there's not a "start" space on the board), and then fold laundry.

E watches episodes of Word Girl, and plays games on PBS-Kids.

I play a couple of rounds of Just Dance Kids, and a Nerf game on the Wii with T, while D cheers us on.

The Man of the House returns from the gym, and helps the available children call to wish his mother, their grandmother, a happy birthday, and then goes to pick up G.

I take a quick shower (thanks to Just Dance Kids), while the children put on pajamas, and get ready for story time.

Since, G is late home due to AWANA we opt to save the rest of Modern Marvels for tomorrow, and I read a chapter of Carole Marsh's The Mystery of the Ancient Pyramid, part of the "Around the World in 80 Mysteries" series.

8:00 - 8:30 PM The Man of the House puts the children down to bed, while I read a few blogs, visit the library website to reserve a couple of books I saw recommended on the blogs, and Google around for a craft idea for stART tomorrow.

8:30-10:00 PM I watch 1970's Battle Star Galactica with the Man of the House (we're feeling nostalgic for our childhood), and crochet another penguin, making a mental note to order more polyfill, online. On most nights I spend some time on Wii Fit, while T watches a history DVD with the Man of the House, then we watch something together, but they're between disks, and I'm worn out from dancing.

10:00 PM Devotions, and bed. I'm wondering where the day went, and wishing it were a few hours longer.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

I don't mean to open up the "what does this term mean?" debate, but I am just curious as to why you feel you are unschooling? You do use atypical texts, but they seem to be pretty equivelent to what most homeschoolers use. Just from looking at your typical day and your other posts in general, it looks like you might have less writing than usual, but other than that, it seems that it is pretty much the same as most. I also understand that if a student shows an interest, you will let them take off on it, but I always picture unschoolers as having no texts and no daily direction. Now, I realize that this is probably sterotypical and that you do in fact label yourself as ALMOST unschooler, but...I guess I am curious because Itrying to decide what my style of schooling is. I was surprised to see that your school has more direction than mine! :)

Christy Killoran said...

I am exhausted just from reading that. I am also impressed by how efficient your household runs! I love posts like this. I think if I wrote one though, it would be terribly boring compared to yours!

I can't wait for the guest post!

Thanks for the Fancy Nancy link - R will love that!

We just got Kinect for Xbox and the games are exhausting!!! C and R woke up with sore legs the morning after their first Kinect experience!

L said...

Sounds exhausting, but surprisingly do-able. I have always felt overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling, or unschooling...but listening to your day maybe it is not as daunting as I was imagining. Going to rest now after reading that post...thank you for sharing.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Phyllis - Good questions! Unschoolers do often use text books, if they are working with children who like texts. G, and D in particular prefer to have a workbook, and like to work through them in a linear fashion. C, and E pick, and choose their way through their books, but like the big colorful pictures. We don't always finish a text, and often leave one for another.
T, would probably not study Algebra of his own free will - but then, I know very few people who wuold :) However, the career paths he's been interested in so far, all need math, so I'm trying to help him see, whenever possible the practical uses of the math he's on.

Also, although the children are required a quiet time during the day, they don't have to read. They choose to read (some of the time), and usually grab whatever books we have on hand, which right now happens to be a lot of biographies.

Unschooling for us, is having the freedom to study things as they interest us as a family (or an individual), without the constraints of strict year-by-year requirements. It's the freedom to say, "well, I wanted them to do a science project, but they are all playing nicely on a board game, or reading books - so I'll leave them be, and we'll get to the science later."

Another example, would be our peanut butter. When I brought the peanuts home, I asked who would like to make peanut butter. A, and E joined me. As we worked, gradually, the others decided it looked like fun, and joined in. It wasn't a required class time.

There are a LOT looser versions of unschooling, but as you noted, we are Almost Unschoolers, and not Radical Unschoolers :)

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I was very interested to read this post, because I was often wondering how you manage to do everything you do. I do see the advantage of big families where older children help younger ones and play together. I am still amazed that you have it so under control, and kids know what is expected of them. You definitely use media a lot more than we do at this moment - our TV and computer time is very limited and rationed, but I can see how it works for a big family like yours. Thanks for sharing your day!

Annette W. said...

I'm not a homeschooler, but loved this post.

Your hubby comes home for lunch? Lucky girl! (But then I bet you don't feed him eggs or PBJ like I feed my kids daily.)

This post also showed me how incredibly lazy I am. My kitchen gets cleaned up once a day...if we're lucky.

Marcee said...

Wow!! How many computers do you use in your house? We have only one, so we are strict about computer time. Usually the boys only check their email and play 25 min. of games on Fridays. I just have this notion that if I let them be on the computer more, they won't want to do anything else. They are alway's "bored" after their time on the computer on Fridays. My boys spend alot of time playing Legos, maybe its too much? If it was nicer weather ,they would definately be outside more. Being it so cold outside, there are limited things that can keep them occupied. Great schedule Leah! I'm in awe!

phasejumper said...

I love French-taught it in Christian schools for a couple of years before my children were born. I've just gotten the 100 easy lessons book, to try with one of my daycare children. (Usually I use ABeka's handbook for reading, but it isn't really clicking for her...) So glad you posted this; I was very curious!

Marcee said...

Hey, thanks for the link to the George W. Carver videos. sammy is actually doing a report on him right now!

kewkew said...

I really enjoyed this look into one of your days. Thanks for sharing.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Marcee - We have two right now, but they can watch Netflix on the television with the Wii, too - so that stretches things.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Annette W. - My husband often makes lunch for us (he's sweet that way). Hope that makes you feel less lazy :)

Phyllis said...

By your definition then, Leah, I think we are Almost Unschoolers as well. Though I think of myself as a CMer. I guess I am a cross of both.

Unknown said...

great post and great response to the 'unschool' question.

I call us "quasi-unschoolers' for the same reason. nothing else fits if someone is asking for a label to our school type, but we are not radical unschoolers.
plus I have highschoolers and I need to put stuff on a transcript.

Tonya @ The Traveling Praters said...

Wow! What an incredible look at your day. You know of course that I never did get around to doing our day in "24 hours" as I'd intended. I kept waiting for a day that even resembled a school day in the least! :) Oh well, maybe one of these days....I can be hopeful, can't I?

Ticia said...

Wow, I got to about 8:30 in the morning and was feeling tired. But, then I'm not a morning person and probably spend a good hour in the morning forcing myself to wake up. And if I was serious my morning probably looks like that too.

Unknown said...

I am SO GLAD you posted a day in your life- I have always wanted a peek into one of your fun-filled days...

Now I feel like such a slob! :0)

Sally said...

Even if I don't post it, I am going to keep track of us for 24 hours like this. Maybe I'll see that we are actually doing something. :)

You've been on my feed reader for quite a while. I keep trying to "almost" unschool and am having a terrible time breaking away from my public school mindset. (I've been working at it for eleven years. A bit slow to get it, I am!)

Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

I love your post! My boys are avid Roblox users - Nate is probably the most - FunyNate if your boys see him online! (one N) Jon is JonnyLego - but he let his account go out of BC and lost interest. He was REALLY into making ads, and thought it was great to get all of the comments. :)
We are calling ourselves - Relaxed Learners. I believe there needs to be discipline when learning a skill - like Piano, Voice, etc. Daily Discipline in Grammar and Math - but we don't do it every day - if the beach calls - its Beach Schooling - if the Lake Calls - it's Lake Schooling - if we need to finish a project it's Some Schooling. Hubby says we "some times even do school" so we went with that. :) Relaxed Learning - Using tools to help us, not to be our masters, using any tool we need to learn. :)