Something that really helped me take the plunge into this wonderful unschooling journey, was reading regular, day to day blog posts about what unschoolers get up to.
When my children were still at school and I was delving into the possibilities of home educating them, it was really hard to imagine what it would actually look like. I pictured worksheets, textbooks and folders… basically school at home, which prevented me from going for it! It didn’t seem very appealing. So these posts were amazing at helping me visualise how our lives would be without school and without a curriculum.
So here is my first contribution to the joyful world of everyday unschooling, for those of you who need a little help with figuring out what to do, or those who are just interested to see what other unschoolers get up to! I will be showing you a few days worth so that you can see how we worked it all out from the beginning, so in future, these posts won’t be so long!
Firstly, our house was not set up for little unschoolers. We had no ‘equipment’ apart from a pack of broken crayons and some old scraps of paper. We also don’t have a huge budget for this kind of thing… so, come payday, I went shopping for some starter supplies and decided to switch the house around a little. Our bookcase came down from upstairs and became an arts and crafts station, the kids had a fab time helping Dad secure the shelves so they didn’t topple over!
I had saved some jam jars over the last few weeks to house their new crafty bits and bobs. I will probably end up replacing those at some point, but they are doing the trick for the time being! Once it was all set up, the kids immediately grabbed a load of stuff and got down to business!
I have discovered that Ethan likes to do more arty drawings and game/character designing, whereas Travis is much more inclined to invent something 3D that is useful.
Shortly after taking on unschooling, I merged into decluttering our home and becoming minimalist. It made sense to do this now. (I will go into that more soon.) This is when we found all sorts of forgotten trinkets sleeping in the backs of cupboards and under beds! Ethan began playing with an unexpected find. An unopened bag of cotton wool balls! After they had all finished playing a game of ‘snowing’, Ethan wanted me to take a picture of him throwing the ‘snowballs’ into the air. It took a good few attempts until he was happy with his photos. He enjoyed working out the best moment for me to press the button, based on how the previous ones had turned out. He was able to figure out when the photo would show the most snowballs and was ecstatic when it came out as well as he’d predicted!
I have a wonderful network of online friends. Vegan’s tend to be the only one in the village, so making like-minded friends online can be a godsend when you are living in a world where no one understands you. Vegans, on the whole, tend to be very kind and generous people who love to help others. I am blessed to ‘know’ many! One particular lady had been following our unschooling journey and sent us some brilliant packs of leftover materials from her card making business! How lovely is that!? The boys were thrilled! As soon as I had put them in the craft station, they were rifling through them and put them to good use! Travis made a background for his cartoon on his ‘TV’ and Ethan, going through a pirate phase, made a holster for his ruler ‘sword’! They then worked together and made a skate park for their mini skateboards and cars. It’s wonderful seeing them work so well together, and praise each other on their new ideas.
A huge bonus of unschooling, is having the time to get out and about doing what we really love without any time restraints. This means we are able to get outside so much more! They are no longer stuck indoors for hours on end, we get to be free and explore with no rush or clock watching. Ever since I turned my back on my mainstream parenting ways and adopted respectful parenting, I have been on a mission to give my children room to try new things and push themselves. I probably used to say ‘be careful!’ more than 50 times a day! Now I let them decide if they are capable of doing something, and let them find out what their bodies can do for themselves. I have seen the biggest change in Ethan. What was once a nervous, cautious, ‘careful’ boy, is now the bravest boy I know! He surprises me everyday doing things I would never have imagined before!
He has also become much less shy. In fact, shy is certainly not a word I would use to describe him anymore! He now says ‘Hello!’ to everyone we pass in the street or out and about. Not only that, but he likes to add little personal touches like: ‘I like your glasses!’ or ‘Have a lovely afternoon!’. I am so proud of my friendly boy! The other two have followed suit and now also greet everyone we see!
His confidence astounded me when he decided that he wanted to start making his very own money and opened a book shop. He sorted through all of the books he doesn’t read anymore, priced them up and labeled them, sorted out a place to sit outside our house and greeted everyone who came past and asked them if they would be interested in buying any of his books! This boy wouldn’t have dreamed of doing this a few months ago! His confidence grows everyday!
When we have been playing in nature, the boys tend to bring home treasures they have found to ‘remember the day’ or the place we have been to. Here they are washing some stones they found and getting them ready for painting! With everything easily accessible to them, I can leave them to do their own thing and make their own decisions without hindering or interrupting their train of thought.
It’s wonderful to see the way their brains work as individuals without being lead by me. I feel like I now know who my children are so much more now that they are fully able to express themselves without well meaning adults getting in the way and leading them down a path that they think would be better.
How is your home set up? Do your children have access to everything?