We have made the plunge into homeschooling, and I am now home educating our two sons, ages 7 (“JRun” on this blog) and 5 (“ARun” on this blog). I’m sure I’ll write more about the backstory of our decision to homeschool at another time. At least for now, we are taking more of an unschooling approach, with a focus on plenty of unstructured free time for them to be active and engaged in their own ways. They need this time in order to “forget” about being jaded about and resistant to more structured school-like academics.
Our guiding educational philosophy at the moment is: Learning is happening all the time, and everything can be learned through anything. When there is trauma or emotional issues at play (we’ve dealt with bullying this year), learning cannot happen deeply until the person is feeling safe.
Here’s a Day in the Life log of how our first official homeschool day went.
7:40am- ARun got out breakfast for everyone of his own accord. We listened to Story Party while eating. The story was about tricksters like Coyote and Brer Rabbit.
8:30am- Boys started a chess game together while I paid bills and made a phone call. There was some breaking of pinky promises and hurt feelings, but since we are homeschooling, we now have all the time we need to deal with the feelings, and the time to do the work of building up the boys’ relationships with everyone in their family (especially their brother), instead of just rushing on to the next thing.
9:00am- We ordered our live Painted Lady butterflies together, and built 3D wooden butterfly puzzles. Talked about the three parts of the butterfly body: head, thorax, abdomen. Listened to “But Why?” podcast about amphibians (didn’t find one that talked about insects or butterflies in the moment, but we did find one later!)
10am- ARun served chocolate chips to us for table time. Aran wrote a few sentences for a thank you card to his grandma and drew a picture. Then he was thrilled to death about the fact that he could write “poop” and it counted as writing practice and he wasn’t getting in trouble for it. He even figured out how to write “poopoo” all by himself. (Sorry, Grandma, for so many “poops” on your thank you card!)
I was attempting to make table time last for awhile, and we made it until 10:50am. ARun was silly after the first ten minutes. JRun worked on writing an ad for a game partner to play Stratego and Chess with him. He’ll place the ad in a nearby Common House of an intentional co-housing community within walking distance of our house. He strongly resists writing, so we filled in the words of the ad where I had left blanks for him.
10:50am- They were ready to let loose and be free. They went upstairs together to make a blanket fort. I’ll let them play freely for up to an hour as long as they are peaceful with each other. They moved onto playing a game with a big yoga ball.
11:40am- Another conflict about physical safety came up between the boys. One boy has a heightened reaction to what he perceives as a physical threat. In reality, it’s something like Brother holding out his pinky for a pinky promise, halfway between their bodies, a good eight inches from the face. But, that action feels “like he was gonna jab me in the eye with his pinky, so I pinched his hand.” (That was the 8:30am conversation). This time, we talked about fight or flight reactions and heightened perceptions of danger, especially after someone has been bullied or hurt by people. I’m trying to give him language and an understanding of what is happening for him, while at the same reinforcing that it’s never ok to hurt someone on purpose, even if it’s because of a fight or flight reaction. Both at 8:30am and at 11:40am, both boys felt heard and like their feelings and experienced were important. Booyah.
11:50am- ARun did MathTango (addition and subtraction) on iPad so JRun and I could play Stratego, which he had been waiting for all morning.
12:30pm- iPad put away, we ate lunch and talked about hows dinosaurs died, the universe, black holes, meteors, and tornadoes.
12:50pm- I cleaned up the lunch things and kitchen while they did MathTango and LightBot Coding for a few minutes. JRun read for ARun inside the MathTango app.
1pm- Errands. Drive-thru bank deposits, grocery shopping with boys (they did awesome– I gave them each individual items to shop for one at a time as I went through the store). Listened to a But Why? podcast about astronomy in the car.
2:30pm- ARun pediatrician appointment. JRun did LightBot coding while he waited.
3:20pm- Unloaded groceries. While I did that, J and A unpacked a foot pump that had been delivered, and together figured out how it worked and how to blow up large pool inflatables that J had picked out at Costco the week before.
3:30-5:30pm- Went to the library. J talked to the librarian and got help looking up something he wanted to find. Then we enjoyed Minecraft Monday at the library from 4-5pm. JRun was his friends from school and had a good hour of social time with them doing what they love doing. ARun got to explore Minecraft and sit next to me, which is just what he wanted to do.
5:30- Back home, J and A spent more time figuring out on their own how to work the manual foot pump and get the inflatable pool loungers inflated. Good problem solving and teamwork happening. Zero involvement on my part! They got it working! I made dinner during that time.
6:00pm- Family dinner. Boys talked about things that happened in their day, which NEVER would happen after a day of public school.
6:30pm- ARun wanted to make sugar cookies in the shape of hearts (“for Mama”). Since the dough had to chill anyway, we had enough time to mix up the dough and clean up the kitchen before bedtime.
7pm- Bedtime. Reading aloud to boys until 8pm (for ARun) and 9pm (for JRun) is already part of our daily routine.
9pm- Both boys asleep.