This is a bit of a long post and pictures are scenes from last year.
A typical day for us varies but generally we get rolling with our day after breakfast. The first thing on the list is chores. This is a really important part of learning for me because it deals with individual contributions to the family as a whole. Everything flows much smoother when tasks are delegated and shared. The boys are responsible to unload/load the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen. Then they feed the dog, take him outside to do his business and clean up after him. Everyone is responsible to make their own beds and get dressed, the latter of all the chores being the most difficult. I guess when you don't have to leave home, what's the point of getting out of your pajamas.
Before you continue, you should be aware that not everyday actually works out the way I described, it is merely a guideline. We keep most of scheduled work Monday to Thursday with Fridays being a free creative expression day meaning the kids can take the whole day to explore their artistic side. I've had to adjust how I home-educating since the girls joined the schedule (I'll use schedule for lack of a better word but it should be noted that I mean it in the loosest of terms). It's been challenging trying to meet the demands of all the children and so I've compromised some of my expectations to allow for the girls to be incorporated. One of the areas that I am speaking of is with my older boys. This year they work more independently than in the past, specifically in the arenas of Math and English, which are broken into two - 40 minutes sessions with a 15 minute break in between. During this time I am available for clarification should any problems arise.
While the boys work at their own pace, I am spending my time with Miss A & Miss J. Our time incorporates oral instruction, printed materials, phonics and reading. In my experience, the younger years require the most hands on involvement for both parent & child as everything is new and the building blocks of future learning are being established. Also, because younger children have shorter attention spans more varied activities help to keep things flowing smoothly. I usually have a few things planned for my time with the girls but it's not a big deal if we get through it all. There is always the next day.
At around 11:30 am I send encourage the kids to go outside to run around and let off some steam. I usually need a break by this point. By noon, we are tackling the lunch issue (that's a post in itself) and once everything is eaten & cleaned up we are ready for the afternoon. The boys have been taking piano instruction for quite a few years now so they practice in the afternoon following with 45 minutes to 1 hour of reading time. Twice a week they will read a science, history or geography book, the other times they read a book of their choice.
When I have something specific that I want to teach (science, history, geography social studies) we take some time in the afternoon. But really and this is where the un-schooling comes in, I see my role as more of a facilitator that oversees and guides their interests. Last year for example, the B-meister spent a great deal of time (a few months) studying the Canada Goose both in theory (books) and in practicum (sitting in our backyard watching them). He likes to tackle his projects one at a time and his methodology is a combination of theory and observation. My role in this situation was to support his interests with books and even the gift of time for those afternoons when he would sit outside and quietly watch "his" geese. When he was ready, he compiled his data: drew a picture of a goose, labeled the diagram, wrote up a few facts, things he observed and for creative writing he wrote a short story on the Canada Goose.
My eldest son the J-man works entirely different. He loves knowledge and the more he can learn about any given subject the better. He is constantly reading and will easily pick up a book on Geography just to learn something. He absorbs information quickly and has a reader's vocabulary, meaning extensive.
To facilitate the interest learning, weekly trips to the library are a hugely important part of our education supplies. Bi-weekly we drop in and load up on the books and yes indeed, I always have late fees.
We also enhance our learning through video. We don't have cable but we do own or rent appropriate videos that aide in the learning process. I can't say enough good things about the BBC natural history collection. It is the best investment that we have made and by far the favorite of all DVDs in our home. My kids will watch a segment a couple of times a week. Other popular DVDs are CG kids which covers the Canadian provinces and cities (geography). The internet while scary at times, is also a great tool for learning. Make sure you put your child friendly filters on and supervise the Google searching. Field trips round out our time with visits to museums, etc.
The point about education for me is that my kids cultivate a love of learning. I have no interest in duplicating a school, if that were the case I would just send my kids there. I'm sure there are rooms for improvement in our methods and some things we do better than other things but most importantly we are learning.
I think I'll stop there for today and maybe next talk I'll compile a list of websites I use as resources.