On doing school at home

by arianne

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It was a regular day for the kids and a regular day for me. They didn’t realize I had thought ahead and planned different parts of the day or that we had already been through half of it and they didn’t notice they were even actually “doing” school. I learned a long time ago that I can’t call it “school” or “work” or anything in that category unless I want them to refuse to participate.

So we played a “game” on the computer and they didn’t notice it was their math program. We talked about the cicada shells for an hour since we found 10 of them in our backyard, looked up the pictures and meanings of words and what the (super freaky, let’s be honest) molting process is like (and Sweet Fancy Moses do NOT Google that unless you want nightmares tonight) and they didn’t notice it was their science. We intentionally played this game and that game outside and they didn’t know it was P.E. We read the books about Pooh and about reptiles and about fairies and they didn’t notice any of it was school at all.

When we baked together and learned how to make biscuits together and learned fractions and it was fun? That was our school. When we talked about lunch and what different foods would be healthy and why? That was our school. When we wrote letters to Grandpa and I made them write it first on a piece of paper and we worked on spelling and grammar and then they wrote it in pen on a card? That was our school. When we counted water balloons and snuggled and laughed and rested — all of that? Was our school.

All of these and all the rest of the other things we did, well, they would’ve told you we played all day long. Sometimes when people ask about school they actually say they don’t do any school (and then you can hear this mama cringe a mile away).

And no, I do not think we are better than anyone else. I sometimes envy moms who have a break during the day but I’m not falling on my sword and I’m no angel. We are all doing what is best for us, yes? Everyone is just themselves, in the way God made them, living life how they want to and are called to and in a way that resonates and makes sense. I can’t be convinced to live someone else’s idea of what is “right” and I know you can’t be either.

So what does school look like for us? It looks like this.

It looks like me planning and being intentional and consulting various structured cirricula and then cobbling our own. It looks like maybe what other people do in the non-school hours when their kids are at home (I don’t pretend to have the corner on the market on this stuff) and I feel really blessed that I get to do this with them all day long right now.

(It’s not easy, but is any of it, really? This parenting thing?)

It looks like this reluctant homschooling mama is maybe a bit of an unschooler at heart and maybe not as reluctant with that shift in perspective. It looks like life and (our) normalcy and what is best for these kids at this season of life.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

the Blah Blah Blahger August 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

If I had gone to “your school,” I would have been there right on time (if not early) every day!

Love it!!!


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Were you a late-to-school girl too? I was always screeching in at the last second a.k.a. before they noticed but definitely tardy!


Corinne August 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Oh I love it… we are “starting” tomorrow… and I have a bit planned, but ultimately it’s just making conscious efforts to engage the kids in thinking activities. And isn’t everything a thinking activity? This is our first year… and I say I’m nervous, but it’s just me and the kids. Nothing to be nervous about.
Love the pictures – all so cozy and fun!


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I’m always nervous too – I think that goes with the territory of us wanting to do right by them. You guys will do great, I’ve no doubt!


HopefulLeigh August 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I love that this is what works for you guys. What an awesome way for your kids to learn! If only all school experiences could be so cool.


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I know, and it was only figured out after doing every other version (public, private, strict home curriculum, etc.) and discovering everything that DIDNT work, first. Thanks for the encouragement, friend!


melyssa August 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Absolutely! So good. :)


Angel August 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

We are unschooling this year, too! YEAH!!! This is the very kind of day I am looking forward to sharing with my sons! Hooray for intentional parenting!!


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

That is awesome Angel! It greatly helped me to “find myself” inside the homeschooling (unschooling) community.


Alison August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I love this so much. This is very much like what school looks like around our house, and I always wonder if I’m doing enough, teaching enough. Today, we went to visit my husbands aunt, and she asked my boys “what do you do all day?”. Their response, “we play”. Oh dear Lord, I’m certain my cheeks turned a bright shade of red as I fumbled to explain that what they see as play is really learning in disguise.


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I guess if both of our kids are saying they don’t do school we are actually doing something right, eh? :) I have been bright red before too, friend!


Anastasia @ eco-babyz August 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Yes. Exactly how I envision it for us. I don’t even want to use the word ‘school’, though ‘education’ may seem too lofty. ‘Life’ fits just right, learning is part of life, inevitably :)


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Exactly, and it’s because we don’t really use the word “school” that now the kids don’t even realize what they’re doing! Ha!


steadymom August 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Love this, Arianne! Yes to all of it!



Arianne August 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Thank you Jamie – you know I tap into Simple Homeschool on a daily basis! <3


Nicole August 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

This is so comforting to me. I love seeing someone just ahead of me on the road. It makes the walk feel so much less lonely.

The only thing I learned last year in my first year of homeschooling, is that I don’t know anything. Nothin’. Zilch. Zip.

And that’s okay because there is grace and there are days like the day you described when teaching is just about living,and being, and enjoying.

And I’ll take it.


Arianne August 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Yes! You are so not alone. And yes – everyone told me that it takes at least a year to figure out what works for you and your kids. It actually took us two years! I am so grateful we found our groove. <3


Brittany August 28, 2012 at 12:08 am

I heard every word of this, like I wrote it. awesome! :)


Linda August 28, 2012 at 10:02 am

I was so encouraged by this that I applied it to my day with my 5 & 3 year old at home while the 7 year old is at school today. Thank you! I realize that I am enjoying our day of learning so much more than if I had checked off the “school time” this morning, and my boys obviously were having a good time too. Yay, I need more of this attitude and approach, it’s way easier! : )


Ciaran August 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

I wish I had the discipline to unschool/homeschool. The public schools in my area are not an option for my kids. Instead I drive half my day away, in circles to expensive far flung private and charter schools. I often think it would be easier to stay home, to school them myself. But I know I don’t have that kind of discipline for routine and planning. I have to be on someone else’s schedule to conform. I am too easily distracted and carried away. Sigh. I was the last one in to school and the first one out… the back door. The instant homeroom attendance was taken I was sneaking out, darting across the football field and hoping I was invisible as I ran to catch the train to the city on some flight of fancy.


gabrielle August 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm

“sweet fancy moses”
I might be quoting you on that one ;)

I want to keep my kiddo home. but then I dont. I want total structure. but then I dont. I want to keep him a child forever. but then I want him to be the smartest 5yo the world has ever seen.

I’m branching out and finding things on “schooling” that I’d like to make happen for my son.
so. I liked reading this. xo


Melissa @ th pleated polka dot September 9, 2012 at 4:52 am

I love this! Super encouraging to this first year homeschooling mama!


Chessa September 9, 2012 at 8:23 am

Yes! This is what our best days have looked like, and I hope to allow more of them to unfold in this way in the years to come.  A little (focus on little) planning on my part can go such a long way, and then letting it go and allowing for spontaneous twists and turns is my challenge and my bonus. :)


Tracey September 9, 2012 at 11:13 am

I don’t know what to call our type of schooling, but it sounds strangely familiar to yours so maybe we are unschoolers too. I’m cool with that. All day long.


Rachel Reeves September 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm

We start our first day of homeschooling, tomorrow.
I’m excited and nervous but this I know.
It’s a blessing and I’m happy to have the chance.

Thank you for sharing your home and your school, with me.


Michelle @ The Parent Vortex September 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Your homeschool day sounds just like our homeschool day. :) Someone asked my daughter a couple of weeks ago what her favourite subject was and she just looked at them blankly. So I prompted with, “what do you like to learn about? how do you like to spend your time?” And she said, “I really like to play fairies and flying unicorns!” Sigh. But I know she’s learning because I can see it happening, and it’s totally amazing.


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