Is there such a thing as a "typical" homeschool day? Ask most relaxed homeschooling families and they'll laugh at the thought. Sure, there's a rhythm to the week, but often there's no strict schedule to abide by. At least in our household.
The kids have endured some rather invasive and intense grilling lately about our homeschooling. Comments ranging from "You should be taking more tests, and writing more." to "How can you spend so little time doing schoolwork each day?" and "Are you even learning anything at all??" Stressful and unnecessary for the kids to handle, and downright irritating to me.
The individual making these comments has never addressed these questions to me however, and my opportunities for explaining our homeschooling philosophy and routine have been nonexistent. So, I thought I'd outline them here instead! A way to describe what we do and why we do it.
We follow a relaxed homeschool method that approaches unschooling in its application. We use real-life experiences to learn subjects like math, English, science, history, etc, rather than strict curriculum, multiple choice tests, and worksheets. I follow the kids' interests and provide information and experiences that match their passions. I encourage hours of free play as a way to support curiosity and imagination. With loose parts, tools, and casual suggestion, the kids create/build and destroy. I view time spent outdoors as critical learning time. We ask questions and engage all of our senses in order to better understand our environment. We talk a lot.
Newspapers, books, magazines and hours spent at the library add to our daily information gathering. The kids are free to research any topic that interests them, and are not limited to the kids' section. We tackle the hard questions as they come up, often learning together. There is no end to the amount of talking that occurs in this house! The 5 'W's are encouraged (who, what, where, when, why). And differing opinions happen often. Did I mention the talking??
Rather than limited to same-age peers as they would be in a classroom, the kids are free to learn from people of all ages and experiences. A common phrase I used to hear at school as a kid, "We're not here to socialize, we're here to learn!" is a phrase not spoken in our house. My son counts the retirees he meets on the model airplane field as friends and peers. My daughter seeks out her grandma and her grandma's friends to talk to and learn from. No matter where we are, the kids are eager to talk to people around them. Age is not a limiting factor!
Today was an excellent example. We ventured out to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, near Sequim, WA. One of Big B's favorite spots to visit, we were limited today by high tide and massive storm waves breaking heavily on the beach. We didn't venture out on the spit, but viewed it from several overlooks, and from the base of the cliff. Both kids chatted up the Refuge volunteer who was out doing a safety check on the beach, asking questions about rogue waves and when the tide would turn. On the return walk, we found a small dead bird along the trail. As other walkers came by, the kids showed them their find and hypothesized about possible causes of death, type of bird, and its age.
Little R was incredibly disappointed that we weren't able to bring it home with us for dissection. She's 7. She really wanted to be able to open up the belly to view its stomach contents, looking for plastics. And why would she want to do that? Well, because she's in love with animals, and we've been learning about the dangerous effects of plastics pollution in oceans the past few weeks. If the unfortunate bird had fallen in our yard, we would certainly have attempted the lab work. Being on a wildlife refuge however, we left it to be wondered at by other hikers. I'm sure it won't be the first time I'm asked to assist in dissection though!
Our days follow no script. And we like it that way. If you want to know more about our homeschooling strategy and ideas for learning, feel free to reach out and ask! We really do love to talk!
For a little reading on unschooling, check out these links: