For two years we dabbled in totschool and we're currently 7 months in to homeschooling preschool. I mention this, so you can check out my previous and very well-organized blog posts, and snicker with me a bit. Ha ha. I come from an Early Childhood Education background and it's been hard to shake the traditional school flow I was trying so hard to recreate. I've finally figured out that it doesn't have to be, and really shouldn't be, so serious at four years old. In fact, I've learned that in other countries, traditional schooling doesn't even begin until 7 years old. Regardless, it's been proven time and again how important that act of play is for the development of a young child. This isn't to say that I never plan our weeks. To the contrary, we're currently following more of an "unschooling" philosophy. I think there is somewhat of a misconception about what unschooling may be.
"Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning."
This means that most of our weekly themes (if we have one at all) are based on interests that Benjamin is showing. For example, now that spring is here, we're seeing more bees around our home. He's expressed fear of them but doesn't know much about them yet. I asked him if he'd like to learn more about the different types of bees and what they do/how they live. Then I went online and put in requests to hold various children's books about bees at the library. Next, I'll hop over to Pinterest and see what types of activities we can do. Sometimes I'll choose a theme based on an upcoming holiday or the new season we're in. Sometimes it's based on an upcoming field trip I know we'll be taking. But always -- always -- I strive to make it FUN!
Most weeks there is no theme at all. That's what I want to share with you today – a look into a typical day for us, with no plan!
Benjamin still co-sleeps and he always wakes up before I do. Typically, he'll get himself a piece of fruit (almost always an apple) and climb back in bed with the iPad for morning 'toons, while I sleep a little longer. That's just the truth. I'm not a morning person; wish I was, but I'm not.
When I get up a little bit later, I typically do my bible study, write in my prayer journal, and catch up on social media. We practice a lot of Montessori traditions, including him getting himself breakfast. I keep hard-boiled eggs in a bowl in the fridge, which he helps himself to, along with a plate and butter knife. (I help with the paprika.) After breakfast, he typically plays with playdough or in his play kitchen making Mama "coffee and cake". ;) Sometimes we do our morning routine in his room, where he has many individual-play options. Some of the things he likes to play by himself are:
- Dress up
- Building with jumbo tinker toys
- Cars on the track
- Mud/water table on the deck, if the weather allows.
Late morning / Early afternoon:
This is the heart of our day together and when any formal/purposeful education takes place. We read a LOT. I cannot stress enough how important reading is to the Pete family. My husband and I are both avid readers and it's a passion I definitely want to foster in Benjamin. Sometimes he sits in my lap but typically I'm reading to him as he plays. We also love listening to several children's story podcasts, which I'll share in a future blog post. We've recently incorporated "poetry tea time" into our weeks, which Benjamin really loves and often asks for.
It's during this time frame that any art projects/activities happen. He loves to paint the most, and he's painted just about everything, including rocks, sticks, and leaves he's collected. He's also enjoyed watching how-to draw videos on YouTube, and loves any type of craft I put in front of him.
Some weeks I take Benjamin to a local nature preserve, where they offer preschool nature classes. At least once a week (or more if it's nice out), we walk the trail nearby. It's one of my favorite things about where we live. We've seen deer, all types of birds including hawks and cardinals, squirrels, and turtles. We've found mushrooms and lichen. We've collected leaves, rocks, and acorns. For Christmas, we gave Benjamin his own Wild Explorer Adventure backpack, based on the recommendations we found here. His absolute favorite thing we included are these binoculars!Late afternoon/ Early evening:
Some days Benjamin naps, but those days are few and far in between anymore. I always give him the option to nap or go to bed early, unless I know he'll have to be up late for some reason. Those times, he's pretty good about taking a nap on command. If we don't have plans outside the house, he can typically be found playing. I absolutely LOVE his curiosity and imagination!
My husband gets home around 6 p.m. everyday, and every day I count my blessings for having such a great partner. Benjamin adores his Daddy and I'm pretty much chopped liver if he's around. For the next hour and a half it is Crazytown, U.S.A up in here! Their games together involve a lot of wild wrestling and horseplay. I usually go hide somewhere with a good book. Ha! Bedtime (when no nap) is around 8 unless he's acting SUPER crazy, and then we start it earlier. The two of them go to bed hours before me on most nights. I do most of my writing, photo editing, and planning after everyone is asleep.
I am often asked if we plan to homeschool forever, and my answer is that I'm not sure. I would love to go the long-haul, and I can see it happening in my mind. But I know enough to know that I don't know anything about God's plans for our lives. So for now, we're just taking it on a year-by-year basis. This year, our focus is to encourage that curiosity and imagination in Benjamin that we're so fond of. To offer him experiences. We're planting the seeds for a love of learning... because when you love learning, you want to learn.