No More School Time

unschooling and school time

This year I’m planning a small change to our daily routine which I’m hoping will have big consequences: I’m not going to declare our “school day” started.

Until now, everyone has done their own thing in the morning until about 9AM when I round them up to “start schoolwork”.  C(9) might be watching TV, reading or playing Minecraft while Skyping her best friend. J(8) is usually at his computer.

“Schoolwork” in our house is a very relaxed affair, but it has often required the children to put aside what they’re doing in favour of what I have planned.

I wonder if, by calling an end to the children’s early morning pastimes, I’ve inadvertently created a scarcity situation.

Imagine you’re reading a book. You come across an idea that inspires you to write a blog post. But you know that in 45 minutes someone’s going to shout “Stop! Reading time’s over!” After that time you’ll be allowed to write the blog post, but there’ll be no more reading for several hours. Would you stop reading at the moment inspiration strikes and begin writing the blog post? Or would you push the inspiration to one side, deciding instead to the most of your limited reading time?

While my children are relying on me to formally begin the school day, where’s their incentive to take responsibility for planning their own time? If I was relying on an external call to action, I’d probably turn off my internal motivation, too.

I want C(9) and J(8) to become more responsible for their own learning, so I have to trust them with the freedom to make their own choices. Blurring the line between “school time” and non-school time is one step in this direction.

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Photo by CeresB

Of course I’ll still be offering plenty of learning ideas. I might try having a fun science or art activity ready to go in the mornings. But I want the children to be free to choose whether or not they take up my offers. I want to be open to putting aside my own plans in favour of their suggestions.

I’ve been chatting with C(9) and J(8) about these changes – I don’t want them to feel I’m suddenly casting them adrift in an uncharted sea of learning. Both have responded positively to my suggestions. I’ve made it clear that there’ll be as much routine as they’d like  – copywork, freewriting, maths, science, history, poetry teas, etc – but that they’re free to take charge of their own learning schedule.

Of all of us, I think it’s me that’s going to find the lack of defined “school time” most challenging. I like to know what I’m doing when, so that I can plan my own time. But if I want my children to learn to plan their own time too, I’m going to have to compromise. I’m up for the challenge. Watch this space to see how I get on!

I’m linking with the Day In The Life blog hop at the iHomeschool Network.

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10 thoughts on “No More School Time

  1. I find that it’s a constant balancing act at our home between what Tiger naturally wants to do and what I think is beneficial for him to be engaged in. While I try to be as flexible as I can be by providing him learning choices that are interesting/engaging, I haven’t found a way forward that I am totally comfortable with. I look forward to learning from you in your future posts on your implementation. Keep those posts coming! 🙂

    1. I know what you mean, Hwee. Perhaps we should just resign ourselves to constant adjustments as we seek our balance!
      I feel a bit nervous sharing these intentions “out loud”, but I tell myself I’m probably not the only one trying to answer these sorts of questions.
      I just went and read a load of “day in the life” posts by radical unschoolers – that made me feel better! 😀
      Thank you for your encouragement, I appreciate it. 🙂

    1. Always reassuring to hear, Phyllis – thank you! I hear a lot about the importance of structure for special needs kids but my SPD son has such a strong desire to do what he wants to do, I can’t imagine trying to squash him into a schedule of my choosing. It’s just occurred to me, actually, that he structures his own time extremely well throughout the summer when we’re at the beach, balancing screen time/movement time, inside/outside time, introvert/extroverting time.

  2. In the past we have always started school at 9 as well. This year I moved it up to 8:30 so that we had more time to get school in before lunch. It’s much harder for me to motivate them to do school work after we sit down to eat. I’m not sure any of us are ready to have me loosen the reigns as much as what your doing this year…I’m pretty sure at least two of mine would never get to school work if I didn’t strongly encourage them {and threaten them with their lives} j/k. lol

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