16 May 2011

unschool monday :: structure {domestic bliss}


Well if you're visiting the owlet nest this week, you'd see there's most definitely room for structure in unschooling.
Last week when we were trying to help big owlet set her own healthy boundaries around screentime, she mentioned bringing back more of a structured rhythm. One that was written down. In the very early days of home education, I used to do that. Write it down. Then I curved the edges of the paper and coloured it to make it kid-friendly and a bit steiner inspired. It was mostly for me, so we could ease our way from the Steiner school rhythm to our own family rhythm and still get things done. Then big owlet learned to read. She loved knowing what was coming next, as she always has. She loves routine. Perhaps that's why she loves the screen so much...


Anyhow, this particular time, she asked me to write it all down for her and introduce some sort of schedule to our days. I suppose it's a follow on from letting go of our control and handing control to her. Helping her find self control. Instead of being totally in charge of the day (because it's all happening in my head), and instead of just doing whatever big owlet wants, but finding a balance for us all, we needed to write it down. To share it, so they can take responsibility for themselves.


So right now we have lists. The lists of responsibilities I mentioned last week, but also a list of how those responsibilities might fit into a day. We have a very loose schedule, but one that fits in everything for everyone. It goes something like this:

Morning chores (aka. making beds, getting dressed, clearing the table, feeding the guinea pigs, but the owlets want to call them chores).
Screen time (1hr)
Activities - cooking, craft, music, maths, science, bookwork
Morning tea & story
Activities - art, music, gardening, outing
Rest - yep, they actually wanted a nap, or quiet time. I'm shocked too.
Afternoon Tea
More activities...


For the times where we don't know what to do, we have a list of seasonal activities pinned up. We're also providing a weekly theme which I'll go into on Wednesday. I suppose the freedom comes into the day in the form of time where they choose what activities they want to do. Really what we've done is set up a domestic schedule. For getting all the domestic stuff done. The learning stuff is up to them. Although, of course they are learning while getting the domestic stuff done.


Like the day where they decided sewing nappies for their babies was essential, as was making a salad and doing the dishes. And while we were at it, ironing might be fun. At least they know what an iron is now...


Not like the time where they saw me iron something and said "what's that mama?" I guess it had been a while...


I suppose it makes sense they are showing interest in domesticity and structured days. I always find when the weather turns colder, we become more introspective and focus on self nurture. That's what they are doing. It's one of those in-breath times and I fully expect that in time, we'll dump the lists again... But there's still plenty of room for freedom along the way at the moment. And a little structure seems to be nurturing big owlet's need. So we go with it.



  1. OK, if I borrow that list for a week or two. Busy combatting the 'all at sixes and sevens' and I like the idea of a rest time too!

  2. Wow-we are in such a similar place at the moment!

    I have just drafted a weekly routine of places we go and when we get back from holidays I'm planning on a daily rhythm too.

    Will be following your progress with interest!

  3. I just drafted a 'loose weekly structure' list too! Must be the time for it...it's just for me, K hates structure...more a kind of 'library on Tuesday, pool on wednesday...' kind of thing - otherwise we end up sitting in front of our respective screens all day!

    Lol about the iron - i don't even own one!!

  4. Your rhythm looks lovely. I would be plagiarising it except that I don't think we could ever get that much stuff done in one day - once this lot get into something they aren't going to stop and change to something else before lunch.

    Definitely the time of year for it lol! We have just this week gone back to having a dinner roster where everyone has their day(s) to be in charge of the menu and cooking.

  5. I've been contemplating something similar, more to give me a kick up the bum to be a more involved parent, rather than us both having too much screen time as Jo mentioned. I did have to giggle at "morning chores" - wondering when we'd fit those in ;) LOL

  6. We love a good list too!... Well, I do.

  7. LOL, it's been a long time since I used an iron too! Mostly because I have a toddler and it's hard to find time to do anything without him underfoot! I love your list for rhythm. I can't wait to hear more about how it's going for them!

  8. We also try to stick to a rough routine. Sometimes we do well with it, other times not so much ;)

    Learning about the domestic stuff is so important, and it's good to find the fun in it!

  9. Gosh, timely for us too. We are gradually building in more structure/clearer rhythm and it is helping everyone stay calmer.

  10. I know what you mean about kids needing a sense of routine sometimes, wanting some form of "what are we going to do today/this week" list or plan. My boy needs it, asks for it, gets a bit overwhelmed without one. My girl, on the other hand…she could happily float through her days without any plan whatsoever!

    I like a good plan, sometimes only to think, There, that's written, and then to veer off it :) I think it must be something about this time of year—I've been drawn to making things a bit more structured here too. Hmm.

    Wonderful post, Lauren. As always, you've given me something to have a good chew on! And that, as always, makes me happy :)

  11. I just came across your wonderful blog--thanks especially for the Unschooling posts. Although my daughter will be attending a Waldorf kindergarten next fall, I have been homeschooling her (or unschooling as you say--great phrase!)this past year. Love your ideas and links! I will be posting a link to your blog on my craft/art blog if that is ok with you.



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