If I had to put a label on our homeschooling style we would be unschoolers. Which to me means that we do very little formal learning—it’s all unstructured and child-led. There’s not very much that bears any resemblance to what you might see in a school. In a future post on planning I’ll explain how we still cover the bases, but today I thought I’d share how unschooling can look on a (really) good day.
I don’t want to give any false impressions. Not every day is like this. And I don’t know what makes these really good days happen—although the fact that yesterday we spent at least five hours outside in the fresh air might have something to do with it. Anyway, here’s what happened today:
As we were all waking up the children each read their own books. My daughter (7) finished a historical story about the Great Fire of London, and then started it from the beginning again, and my son (5) read one of the Time Chronicles books (which I might share in a future post).
We talked about the weather using the new French vocab introduced in our latest book from One Third Stories.
We did our Multiplication by Heart cards while we ate breakfast.
The children played outside (briefly, but as with consumption of vegetables, any amount is cause for celebration).
We started a new book, Basil Batrakhos and the Mystery Letter, which is going to teach us some classical Greek. In Chapter 1 we learnt 5 Greek letters and a handful of Greek words. It also included the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.
After Basil I started making some flash cards of the new Greek things we had learnt. My daughter spotted this and asked to make them herself, writing the Greek on one side and the English on the other. Then she wanted to make a Multiplication by Heart-style box to keep them in, which involved prototypes, measuring, cutting etc. After that little project she wanted to test it out so worked through the new flash cards three times.
While I was doing all this with my daughter, my son was busy reading to himself from Who Was King Tut?, and playing with some toys.
Inspired by our Greek work I suggested the children listen to the National Geographic Greek podcast for kids, ‘Greeking Out’, while I cooked their lunch. They started with Jason and the Golden Fleece and it was entertaining enough that they wanted to listen to the next episode. I was able to cook a proper lunch without my children attempting to kill each other—which is not a daily occurrence.
After lunch our latest delivery from Mysteries in Time arrived (a history subscription box—thank you Granny), so we made an Elizabethan theatre and the children put on several plays. We read the book that came with it and parts of the magazine.
They watched two Magic School Bus episodes about fossils and simple machines. (Yes, today our science learning was covered by TV.)
The children played with another child who lives in our block. They came home and managed, for the second time in one day, not to cause grievous bodily harm to each other while I cooked their tea.
During and after tea I read aloud the final two chapters of The Secret Garden. We then discussed the relative merits of The Secret Garden vs. Tom’s Midnight Garden which resulted in my daughter requesting the first chapter of Tom’s Midnight Garden for her bedtime book. My son chose Jason and the Argonauts.
Then, just as they were tucked in bed reading to themselves I noticed that the Moon and Mars were especially bright and clear tonight so they pulled on their wellies to have a look. They also spotted Orion’s Belt, and a mystery object. Can you help? It was very high, but also fast—too fast to be a plane. We watched it for ages so it wasn’t a shooting star. Apparently satellites travel at 17,000 miles per hour and orbit the earth in 90 minutes, so maybe it was a satellite. Answers on a postcard or in the comments please!
Is there a recipe for days like this?
Not every day looks like this. We have many days which I certainly wouldn’t want to share with the internet. Are there secret ingredients we can rely on to make the good days more frequent and reliable? For us, today it really helped that we had some excellent resources on hand (One Third Stories, Math for Love, Mysteries in Time, Basil Batrakhos). But we have them all the time and some days the children just aren’t bothered. I’m sure that yesterday’s fresh air also helped everyone sleep well and wake up in a good mood, and the children ate decent meals at decent times today which definitely helps to keep tempers from fraying.
I’d love to know what your good days look like, and what you think helps to bring them into being. Please share your thoughts in the comments or send me an e-mail.
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A Golden Day! The satellites over us tend to follow the same path - mostly!