6 September 2010

unschool monday :: keeping the rhythm


I'm sure many families experience a bit of a slump towards the end of winter. Things can get a little messy and relaxed and in need of a spring clean. Its certainly the case for us. The garden has been neglected all winter. Little piles of things we've been meaning to get to start piling up around the place and our days seem to blend into each other... So, as the days grow longer, we start to tidy up and we think about the rhythm of our days. Its something we do naturally at the beginning of each season, but particularly in the spring. It makes all sorts of sense, really. In thinking about the way we do things, I've noticed that we're needing a little more structure some days. Big owlet especially thrives on it, always has. She loves days where we stick to a plan. I'm needing it to keep my focus in this cloudy headed stage of my pregnancy... to maintain some connection and mindfulness. Is there room for structure in unschooling though? Well, I think so, for us anyhow. So what does our version of structure look like right now? Its just a re-visit of our daily rhythm and paying close attention to each part of it, then making sure we try to repeat it a few days a week. A typical day at home is something like this...

get dressed
wash clothes/clean
morning tea
hang the washing out and potter in the garden
rest (mama nap time, owlets play quietly or read to themselves or each other)
go for a walk or outing
craft or music or watch a dvd
dinner/bath/books/bed/quiet time for grown ups... ahhh...

Days like this are very full and tend to flow beautifully. We incorporate little rituals, stories and songs in each activity. We follow the concept we came across in big owlet's time at the Steiner school of "in and out breath" - meaning that we balance and follow activities that are exuberant and active with those that are quiet and reflective. Of course there's loads of time in between and throughout all the activities that is taken up with owlets playing together, pulling out books to write or draw in, sitting down at the computer for a while, asking a gazillion questions or something else entirely. Usually its up to me to set the rhythm and they'll join in if they feel like it and more often than not they do, just happy to work or play alongside me. It also means that things get done and everyone has a chance to do what they need or want, including me. It keeps things family centered, rather than me just following the owlets' every whim, but its full of things they love doing too. We'd manage days like this about three days a week with other days taken up with swimming and the library or a day in the park with friends...

I imagine that by the end of the season things will be quite lax again and I'm ok with that. There will be a new owlet in the nest and our days will be filled with a whole new kind of beautiful, hazy fog. Then summer and days at the beach, christmas, fruit galore and a new kind of rhythm. As for the actual learning bit... well we follow their interests and it all just fits in, often because the focus is taken off what we'll be doing next and trying to cram things in, we can concentrate on the important stuff more. Inspiration flows from the rhythm.


  1. Wow, Lauren! I find this fascinating. I admire you for having the patience to devote so much time to the owlets. They are lucky children. I hope the rest of your pregnancy runs smoothly and that you have time to have a breather before the birth. You will know you're alive when number three arrives! J x

  2. That 'in and out breathing' Steiner philosophy thingy has always made the world of sense to me. I have a theory that if I can be mindful of that, the day will be a goodie.


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