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A Day in the Life of Unschoolers

Unschooling = Life as learning, also sometimes called child-led learning. Unschooling varies vastly depending on families. We tend to mix unschooling and 'unit studies', focusing for a week or however long on a topic that interests the girls. For instance, lately Eden has been interested in learning about how the body works and how to be healthy.

(The first incident actually happened yesterday, but I'm proud and it served as inspiration so I'm working it in :D)

8 am: Josh and I are in the girls' room, looking for clothes for the day. Eden is on the top bunk, cowering under the covers as close to the wall as she can get, maintaining that it's too early.

I remember an email I received and say to Josh, "Oh, you need to let me know when we can get to T-r-a-c-y's."

Eden jumps up, wide awake. "I want to go to Tracy's new house!"

8:30-9:30 am: Car ride to take Josh to work and go to mom's. Eden is sharing fun stuff she learned on her favorite show, Max & Ruby. She teaches Josh the apple pie clap/chant thing "Brown sugar, apple sauce, spices, flour! Put them in the oven for half an hour!" Drop Josh off. Eden remembers another episode and asks me, "What's the thing to hear our hearts?" Oh, you mean a stethoscope? "Does it suck blood out of your heart?" "No, it's just for listening. It's your heart that *pumps* blood to your body, I think you mean." This leads to another discussion on the circulatory system.

"When you breathe in, your heart gets bigger? And then when you breathe out, it gets empty?" Nope, think you're talking about the lungs...this leads to another discussion on the respiratory system and different organs in your body. We again briefly touch on oxygen and gases in the air, and how the lungs work together with the heart to get oxygen in the blood pumping through our bodies.

"But you said let's breathe into our hearts." This leads to clarification, as this was part of some of the prayer work I'd been sharing with her. She's asked to learn some of the stuff I learned at my chaplain retreat, and I explained that 'breathing into our hearts' was an energy technique we use in prayer. It really means more like your heart chakra, I explain. This leads to a discussion on the different chakras. Eden did a self-healing as I explained (go, Eden!). "And in your feet! Your feet too, right!" Yep, briefly touching on the difference between the major and minor chakras.

We hit Long Shoals Road, and Eden takes over telling me which way to go. She has been learning how to get to our house and "Boo boo's" house and she enjoys telling me when to turn right or left. Ivy yells out from behind me, "We're in Arden!" (go, Ivy!!) "That's right, Boo boo lives in Arden."

9:30-11:30 am: Girls watch their shows. After an hour of Nickelodeon, I switch it to Noggin because I can't stand the "I can have one of those!" every time a commercial comes on. Noggin eschews advertisements and instead has short learning segments after shows (go, Noggin!). I break up one double-tantrum fight over the brown chair.

12:00 pm: Eden gets a small cut on her knee. She says the chair did it, but I can't find anything sharp. Looks like metal scored her. We go wash it up. Have a small fight about washing it. I explain that it won't hurt, and we have to clean it so it doesn't get germs and get infected. This leads to a discussion on germs, bacteria, and infections. Eden lets me wash it without a fight. We get a band-aid. All is well. Soapy-water freak out averted.

Aunt Beande (Tina) is now awake, readying to leave on vacation. They have some Ring-Around-the-Rosie time. Then the girls show off both their apple pie chant and the Hippitty Hop Dance. They run through the house for about half an hour flying an imaginary kite.

1 pm: Late lunch. Eden helps me make sandwiches. She tells me how to do it, puts the bologna on herself, puts the stuff away in the fridge, and folds the bread over. She's very proud! Looking at the stove, I find a large bead in Lyz's leftover gravy. I call Ivy over for a health lesson on never putting beads in food and never playing with the stove. Tina helps review manners as Ivy says "Yes ma'am" and "Sorry, Mama." She is praised for good manners and good listening, but with a stern "No stove til you're older!"

1:30-2:30: More of their favorite shows. I try to teach Eden how to do the clapping portion of the apple pie song again. She again gives up in favor of wild clapping. I do dishes. Eden and I discuss chicken pox (not 'pops'), which I believe she heard about on Max & Ruby. I explain what chicken pox are and assure her that they are not made of chicken and she will not catch them from eating chicken nuggets or chicken noodle soup. I intervene when Ivy gets my wallet out of my purse and spills change everywhere.

2:30-2:50 PM: The girls spin around in circles in the kitchen. Eden retires to draw while Ivy has some quality 'slither and slide' time on the floor.

2:50-3:15: Computer time. We look up the circulatory system (http://www.imcpl.org/kids/guides/health/circulatorysystem.html), heart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart ; video: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/circulatory-system/MM00636), respiratory system (http://www.imcpl.org/kids/guides/health/respiratorysystem.html ; http://health.howstuffworks.com/lung.htm ; video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVi-MTPtSD4&mode=related&search=). I also do a google images search on chicken pox for her (http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&hl=en&rlz=1B2GGIC_enUS204US205&q=chicken+pox&btnG=Search+Images), but she quickly decides "I don't want to see those! Let's look at hearts and blood again."

3:15: Computer time is interrupted as Ivy models a blocked respiratory system. She is lying on her back, choking on coins. I flip her up and dislodge a giant Chuck E. Cheese token from her mouth, but she is still choking on something lodged deep in her throat. I do a throat sweep to no avail. I try again, hoping to make her puke it up. I'm holding her at an angle, thumping between her shoulders while Eden's crying, "Is she ok?" I have to answer, "No, no she's not. She can't breathe." I'm about to drop her and find my cell phone for 911 when I try one more finger sweep. I feel a penny, hook my finger, and finally pull the thing out. Much holding, rocking, and squeezing. We have another stern "We NEVER put coins and small objects in our mouths!" talk. Ivy cries again. I reiki her heart & lungs until I feel her heartbeat return to normal. Then I pick up and look for missed coins, finding two dimes. They are dealt with swiftly and without mercy. Ivy asks for a snack (should have done that in the first place, goober!), so I ply them with chips while I type this up.

3:30: It's dutifully typed up, but I find I'm still shaking. I break down and indulge in another pot of coffee and some relaxation time while they sucker me out of more chips and another tv show. I do, however, catch up on my rpgs. I even read a bit of the f-list, although I didn't comment this round. Sent myself a growing gift on facebook because I am ocd-lame and couldn't stand not having any. Listened to Terrapin Station and felt better. Decided to take this nifty new icon. Notice I have two icon slots left - Note to self: I need a Shiny icon and an All Knowledge is Worth Having icon (which would have been more appropriate for this post).

4:00: Put in a five star Dead show (http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-05-15.early-late.sbd.97.sbeok.shnf), starting with Black Peter, which I've been craving, and bouncing back up to Attics of my Life to jam til it's time to get Josh. Rally the girls for clean-up time. Post this.

I'll continue our saga of the rest of the day tomorrow, I think. I'm planning to go to church to participate in a Medicine Bundle healing ceremony being led by my Reiki Master, K'Sitew. Not sure what Josh will do with the girls while I'm there. I have been very interested in Medicine Bundles, so I'm looking forward to learning more. Since the burning ban is lifted for NC, I may try to fit in a Full Moon ceremony tonight if I get home in time (a private one, not affiliated with K'Sitew's monthly hoop blessing ceremonies this time). Eden has been so interested in my spiritual endeavors lately that I may include her in the first part if she's in good spirits when we get home tonight. I guess it depends on whether she gets a nap or not.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 27th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)
Well sadly, Ivy's a choker, so it was still relatively routine. It just lasted much longer than usual. I was surprised I stayed so calm, actually, but it caught up with me afterwards.

They do make me laugh a lot. I really enjoy being able to stay home with them. :)
Sep. 26th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)
This was an incredibly cute post, til you got to the scary part about choking. Oh. My. God. I am so thankful for you, and Ivy that nothing serious happened. How old are each?
Are you homeschooling them, is that what unschooling means?

Take care~
Sep. 27th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, Ivy chokes more than average, but we've been very lucky so far.

Eden is four and a half, and Ivy is two. We are homeschooling them, but specifically we use unschooling/unit studies. If you're interested in learning more about it, I've done a few posts on my homeschooling tag. :)
Sep. 28th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
I remember watching a 'Dr Phil' show where they had people that were unschooling, homeschooling and reg schooling. It was my first introduction to unschooling and I was realy impressed. There was a young lady on who commented that homeschooling ruined her life, because as a result, she never did things like the prom and cheerleading. She was so whiny about it. I suppose I should have felt sorry for her..but instead I wondered why she didn't get involved with other things. And then it reminded me of that episode of Dharma and Greg where Dharma goes to the prom.
Sep. 28th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
That's so lame. Lots of homeschool networks have proms, dances, and sports teams. If not, hell, cheerleading is offered at every gymnastics program. Homeschooling doesn't work for everyone, but the point of it is really supposed to be tailoring learning to *your* kid.
Sep. 27th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness, I am so glad you got the coins out! So scary! The rest of your day sounded really fun, though. *hugs*
Sep. 27th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It was scary, but it happens every now and then. Ivy's always had problems choking, although it does happen less since she's older. We'd be golden if she'd just stop shoving tiny things in her mouth.

The rest was pretty fun, though. They usually are. It's really great staying with them during the days.
Sep. 27th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC)
Watching my mother pull things out of kiddo's throats on a regular basis has served me well in life...so far, i don't panic over much. Of course, it could be because it's not my kid choking. Good to hear that all was well & okay, though i do have to say that's one heckuva way to get a hands-on learning demo for the day!

Hope you get your ceremony time in tonight...it's absolutely beautiful outside.
Sep. 27th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I handled it fairly well. It lasted a bit longer than I would have like, as I never actually had doubts before. lol It's all a learning experience, though...

I actually didn't get to the ceremony. Well, I went to K'Sitew's ceremony at church but didn't do my own. It was already pretty late and I had no wood gathered, but I'll get to another one before the weather gives way. :)
Sep. 27th, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
Well, i hope you get to have it, then. The weather really had been perfect! (:

Have a question for you, so i'm emailing!
Sep. 28th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
Unschooling definitely seems like the way to go for a lot of kids, especially when you factor in traditional school structure and what it was designed for!

As they get older, are you planning on continuing the unschooling/homeschooling?

Sep. 28th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC)
Most definitely!
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed reading about your "typical" day (is there such thing?);) and the ups and downs of family life together.

For the record, we are an unschooling family (I have a hard time understanding how unschooling can be mixed with any other method of schooling) that has teens and plan to continue living and learning naturally. If the children wanted a school experience we would support that. So far, no takers.:)

With unschooling, it's about meeting the needs of every family member, so nothing needs to change just because they get older. Needs change. Learning naturally keeps happening.
Dec. 18th, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I was reading back some of my HS posts to see how the girls have grown, and I found this comment. I'm sorry I missed it so long ago! I doubt you'll come back, but I thank you all the same for stopping by. I've been hoping to meet more unschooling families.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


Ahavah Ehyeh

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