Friday, August 15, 2008

A peek into an unschooling day

I'm always reading about a typical day in the life of a homeschooler, so thought I'd share a "typical" day in our lives. Though no day is ever the same. Being unschoolers and owning our own business (Driving School), our days are far from typical, nor do they emulate what many homeschoolers' days look like.

On this particular day (Thursday) I woke up to the sound of cats yowling outside our bedroom window. We have over a dozen cats, so cat fights are common. I struggled out of bed to open the sliding glass door and yell at the offending cats, glance at the clock and realize there is no point in returning to bed. It's 8am. Time to put the coffee on, hit the bathroom, and then sit down and log into gmail and check my email. Okay, I'm addicted. I've already confessed that. My first morning emails usually involve notes from CCU - Christ Centered Unschoolers - a group I have been on for at least 10 years now, where OT doesn't stand for "off topic" but rather than for "on-topic". Since we are a group of unschooling moms we chat about everything and anything, and only occasionally hit on actual "school" topics.

One cup of coffee and several emails later, Cassie my 5 yo, the only other early riser in our household, is demanding breakfast. This could be toast, with her newest discovery, cinnamon sugar; oatmeal (which she can make herself now - I love Quaker instant oatmeal. It is so forgiving. Too much water, nuke it longer. Too little, add some more.); or cereal. This morning it is toast. Once she is happily munching I realize that it is getting close to 9am and today we have cake decorating class for the teens in our local homeschooling group. Today I am the chauffeur, so a few quick phone calls to the families who need a ride, a knock on Stephanie's door to let her know she has to wake up and be ready to go in 30 minutes, and I'm out the door and on my way to pick up the other girls.

First stop is at my blind friends' house to pick up their 12yo DD and her cake paraphernalia. Then off to the next home, where we are picking up my friend and her 16 yo DD. Who still has her cake in the oven, and the icing in the process of being made. I roll eyes at S. the first teen, who like us, had baked and iced her cake the night before as per the instructions. Sigh. By now I'm thinking I could have told Stephanie she could sleep an extra 15 minutes. And my Steph usually needs that extra time. Especially since she has been deeply involved in an online RP game lately that keeps her up until 3am most nights!

But soon we are off, back at my house to pick up Steph, who it turns out is STILL in bed because her dad, who had been up before I left, didn't realize he was in charge of making sure she was ready! Finally all in the car we drive south to Santa Rita where the cake class is. Only 30 minutes late. But since the entire class was in my car it worked out okay.

After I dropped the girls off, my friend and I decided to go visit another homeschooling mom who lives in the area. It's not often that I have the luxury of visiting down south, so we take advantage of the two hours we have to wait for the class to be done. We have a good visit and fellowship, then it's back to pick up the girls and admire their creations. Today they learned how to do a basket weave and to make roses, so each cake was topped with a gorgeous basket overflowing with flowers . And here is the picture!

I drop Stephanie off at home where she has the house to herself, as the rest of the gang has accompanied their dad to our driving school office. After dropping off the rest of the girls, I head to our office where my work day will officially begin. Except I'm starving by now, it's 1:30pm and I never did get more than that one cup of coffee! It doesn't take much to convince my hubby that we need a lunch date, so we leave the little kids in their big brother's care, to watch the office, and we stroll down the block to Linda's Coffee Shop where you can get good old fashioned lunch counter type food. For me it is a grilled bacon and cheese sandwich with fries, and Les has the club house sandwich. We always turn our lunch meetings into a business lunch so we can justify claiming the expenses. We discuss our newest venture, launching our online driving school class, which we have spent hours on this summer preparing and implementing. This week was our launch week and already we had two gals taking the online class and testing.

Back at the office I finally get to sit down with the two younger kids and find out what they have been up to. I can see evidence that they have been taking advantage of our educationally rich classroom - papers are strewn over the tables with drawings and various writings on them. Cassie has the felt dolls from Story Time felts posed and dressed in interesting costumes. There are books on the couch and Cassie is clamoring for me to read one to her. She hands me "Letters Home from Turkey", a book that is part of a series that I got for a great price from Library Educational Services. This is a book I started with them a while back and we never finished, so we glance through the first half until we find our starting place and begin reading about mosques, minarets and the food of Turkey. Eric snuggles up with us as well and asks questions about the book. I really need to get a world map up on our wall soon.

After reading I need to take care of a few business related phone calls and paperwork. Les has been doing driving lessons so has been in out and of the office all day. Adam has been working on our driving school videos , editing them so that we can upload them to our website. When my pile in my inbox has been significantly diminshed I once again check on the kids. They have been in and out of the office playing at the beach which is less than 100 feet from our back door. Cassie shows me some toy she found in the sand and Eric tells me a long story about a fish he claims he caught but then let go. It's a tall fish tale for sure!

In cleaning up the mess created by my children I find the Discovery Toys Learning Tiles and sit down with Cassie to work on some math problems with the tiles. Eric is interested too, so I find the other set and a science book to go with it and he works on that for a while with the help of his dad. He gets frustrated easily when the instructions aren't as easy to follow. So while Cassie goes off to find something to eat (again! I swear she never stops!) I help Eric figure out the page he is on.

Soon it is 5pm and time to close our office for the day. A quick clean up and load the kids into the car and within 5 minutes we are home. It is so nice to live so close to our office. At home the children immediately glue themselves to the TV to watch some insipid cartoon. When we decided to get cable a few months ago we were determined that our children would only watch Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the National Geographic shows. Yeah right. Nicktoons and Cartoon Channel have overruled all our educational ideals.

While I work on dinner and Les works on this laptop at the kitchen table, the kids watch TV and harass me about dinner. Sometime around 7pm dinner is finally ready and my starving children eat. Why did it take almost 2 hours to prepare dinner? Well, because, as usual, in order to even start dinner I had to first wash the dishes from the previous day! Which included a lot of extras from the cake baking and icing making.

By 8pm, exhausted, I sit on the couch and we watch the Olympics together. The little kids are in and out of the living room, sometimes staying long enough to watch an event and ask questions. The big kids are ensconced on various computers in the bedrooms. It is near midnight before our household winds down and children are all in bed (actually one on the living room couch and the other in my bed, even though they have perfectly good bunk beds in their bedroom they could be sleeping on). Stephanie is just starting her evening marathon writing on her RP. She writes over 2,000 words a day. I warn her that I want her in bed by 1:30am and then I'm off to bed, to read for a while and then sleep.

And thus ends a day in the Smith Family household on Guam.

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