Talking with friends about unschooling and structure.

Reading a blog about unschooling, which had many links to homeschool schedules.

These are not traditional post Xmas activities but are where I am today.

Structure can be developed, though. I like to do lists and ‘getting things done.” I just don’t force my need for minimal structure onto my kids.

Instead, we discover rhythms and dances, meeting needs and wants and blending these in a large family. Especially right now, when all seven boys are at home.

Sometimes, too, my structure and example rub off onto others in the family.

Thomas mentioned that he never got around to the extra things he wanted to do. I suggested he make to do list at the start of the week, so he can write the things on a post it pad and stick it on his bedroom door. I have no input on this list and never check it myself but T likes the (minimal) structure, simply because it is his.

That is Thomas, in orange, in the photo. Anthony is the other – the one eating ice cream!

More on structure.

Father Xmas also gave Jonathon a diary , a cool Triple J diary. The idea being to encourage the jotting down of and keeping track of his Open University assignments.

We’ll see. Perhaps he’ll develop his own system. Or maybe he prefers the nebulous organic approach to university asignments – I have seen this work with his older brothers. Their approach to structure is diferent to mine, but still valid and effective.


Unschooling is..

I have shared this with others but wanted to keep the quote here, for a record. So I can look back and read and remember.

I like the description of unschooling in Rue Keam’s book – Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled life.

” We choose to live in ways that keep us conected and involved in each other’s day to day lives. ..We believe that learning will happen in its own time and is not more important than loving or hoping or laughing. We live without subjects, in a world where life is not separated into neat little pieces but instead swirls and flows together in ways we could never design….Our unschooling is our parenting is our life together.”

And Christmas was fun. Mass was beautiful. Having all the boys together is great.

And I got the book “The Taebo Way.”



Yessterday was the last Teen Group for the year – we went to the beach.

It was a seriously beautiful day. I loved the surf, the lunch on the grassed area was fun and the kids loved swimming and catching up with friends.

Christmas and Advent are always times of endings for us – it is the start of the summer holidays and many regular activities finish.

Some people finish homeschooling, with the aim for children to start school in the new year , at the end of January or beginning of February, when schools resume.

Other people plan to start homeschooling in the new year, so we know the new year will often bring new people to our outings and groups.

So, we are finishng off our Christmas crafts with decorating teddies – well, its mostly the youngest, but he is having a whale of a time and getting suggestions from the others.

Next week, the three youngest fly interstate to spend time with their older brothers. And Alexander will have his braces removed!

At home, it will just be dh, I and Jonathon. Weird having only one child at home!

Everyone returns on the night of the 23rd for Christmas – all nine of us will be home for Christmas.

I am planning on a Father Christmas photo for Christmas Eve.


Another Christmas Activity

We are aiming to complete at least one Christmas or Advent craft each week.

Now, I know one does not sound like much but the weather here has been HOT and we have been swimming and indoor ice skating ( both of which are a great way to stay cool in summer!).

We have the end of year drama presentations and rehearsals for carols at church – J and A are playing and singing in the youth band for the carols.

We have end of year teen group and time to catch up with friends …Mmm…A minimum of one craft a week fits nicely.

This week we made miniature gingerbread houses. The original recipe called for graham crackers – what are they??? We substituted milk coffee biscuits.

We had trouble with the icing and decorations, as it was a hot, thirty five degree Celsius day.

Finally, everything “gelled”. And we were proud of our creations.

Here are the instructions, in case you are interested –


Our Day in Chinatown

Back, way back, in September, I posted about a Saturday spent in Chinatown and in the city.

Finally found some pics – here I am at the entrance to Chinatown, with Jonathon (16), Alexander (14), Thomas (12) , Anthony just turned 10.

See any resemblance to our older three sons? You can double click on the pic to enlarge..


A Fancy Dress Party

Awhile ago, Jonathon and Alexander were invited to a fancy dress party.

We tried to think of pairs, of characters that fit together, since the two were going to the party together.

We came up with the Blues Brothers, Starsky and Hutch and Neo and Morpheus from the Matrix, among others.

Our final decision was based on what was easily available at the op shop – A found a cool, inexpensive leather jacket, so the Matrix it was.

Here they are as Neo ( Jonathon, 16) and Morpheus ( Alexander, 14).


The Phantom of the Opera

We recently viewed the DVD of this opera. At Thomas’ request.

It was magnificent. We all enjoyed the costumes and sets, the fade outs to black and white, the time travel.

Oh, and the music. The theme song haunted me for days.

Thomas and i want the soundtrack, now.


A Day in the Life of A Cheerful Catholic Unschooler

From an email and a day of last week –

Today we all got up late-ish. I exercised ( Taebo again!) and dh went for a walk. Alexander did his tai chi and yoga. Thomas and Anny played computer games, got themselves dressed, beds made, ate breakfast. At 8.30 am I woke up Jonathon as he and Alexander had a band practice today with hs friends and I knew we’d have to leave around 9.30.

Anny has been sick these last few days so he was going to stay home with dh and Thomas. I reminded them that later today was their piano and keyboard lesson so a practise might be a good idea. When I left, they were talking on the phone to their older brother Greg.

I know while I was gone, they played Uno with dh, played music, did some handwriting ( they both want to work on cursive writing), did their exercises ( we have a family fitness focus right now) and played games on the Playstation.

Jonathon, Alexander and I drove to a friend’s house. Discussed the clouds and weather. They and two homeschool friends had a jam session, trying out a new song Jonathon had written and a new song another band member had written. I sat in the family room and had coffee and chatted to the other mums, the 17 year old dd of one friend and the friend’s dh.

On the way home, it started to rain so we phoned dh and asked him to bring the others and meet us at McDonalds McCafe for a treat lunch. While there we talked about lower fat choices – eg skim milk iced chocolates for Thomas and dh and a skim milk decaf cappaccino for me!

Home again and Thomas made phone calls about some toys for which he is saving . Anthony read his book for Advent reading – More About the Saints. Jonathon got to work on writing more songs and readng a James Thurber book. Alexander played guitar and read some of his Advent book – Mere Christianity. I surfed the internet and wrote email!

They all played an rpg with Anny ( his love – Tunnels and Trolls) from 2- 2.45 , when it was time for music lessons. Anny wanted to divide 223 among 4 for the game so I showed him how to set out and complete division algorithms.Dh is on holidays so while the two boys were at lessons and the other two at home, we went for a walk. Together.It started to rain again!

Dh walked home and Thomas and Anthony and I went to the shops for some groceries and to hire a new PS2 game. We talked about the ethics of war and asassins!

Home again, dh was working on his hobby models , Jonathon and Alexander were using the computers, Thomas and Anthony jumped on the trampoline and went back to the Playstation. I did laundry and started dinner.

We had dinner watching Dr Who on the ABC and compared different Doctors. I cleaned the kitchen, including giving the cupboards a scrub. Then Jonathon, Alexander and I went to Tai Chi class .

Home from Tai Chi and Thomas said he had finished his Advent reading – Mary and Frances by Eleanor Spence, about Blessed Mary Makillop. Anny finished his reading and told me about St John of God.

We prayed the rosary and talked briefly about Christmas customs – trees, red and green. Then I read the next chapter from Mao’s Last Dancer – and we all just had a long discussion about communism and capitalism and religion and culture. We looked up info on Marx and Engels and Mao Zedung and Lin Biao .

Anny is off to bed, after asking me to choose on of our homemade books for him to read in bed – I chose one Greg wrote whgen he was 14 – Australian Explorers. Thomas is playing the keyboard, Jonathon is writing and Alexnder is reading and Gerry is back at models and I am typing!

Its 10.00 pm and I think we have had a full unschooling day.

….So, there was our day. What do you think?