Do unschooler’s need a plan? Can you get a wall schedule or weekly diary? What would you put in it?
We often think of unschooling families as ‘relaxed’ in terms of scheduling. The lack of curriculums and classes, homework and clubs, gives the idea that our days should be less hectic. We have a different motivation for planning, a different need, and a different perspective.
Our planning evolves from our family needs and interests.
Weekly schedules could involve regular meet ups and classes, organising social gatherings, trips out to places of interest, errands, meeting with family, any community or group commitments. Things that are mostly unmovable because they have a set day and time, other essential items that are scheduled into the best time slots for them, and things that we would like to do as a family. But, we also remember that our children need time to rest, relax, play and explore their own thing.
When my children were little, we were always up early, our mornings were busy with social groups or trips to the library and park, and afternoons were for napping or resting. As my children grew older this slowly began to change. Now, I have two younger children who are active in the mornings and my older two are more inclined to leaving the house in the afternoon, so our plans reflect this change in our household. My two younger children have lots of opportunity to play in the mornings and we arrange our trips out for the later in the day.
Some things take more planning than others. By planning, I mean fore thought. Depending on our children’s interests and ideas we can find ourselves sourcing ingredients for an epic cake baking session, or planning a trip to see the Eiffel Tower. We have been known to organise family holidays based on a child’s idea to see as many castles as they can, or day trips to see exhibitions of interest that are further afield.
Facilitating Children’s Interests
When my children have an ongoing interest then I am always on the look out for ways in which I can support or expand that interest. My children know what they like and what they want to spend their time doing and it is noticeable, as they get older, that they offer increasingly more suggestions as to how they want to pursue it.
Throughout the years, it has been my role to shine a light on things that might be of interest to them based on what I know about their current pastimes. Books, outings, exhibitions, museums, knowledgeable people, groups/clubs, resources, alternatives.
It is my role to have these ideas at the ready to offer to them. Not to overwhelm them or bombard them but to be able to present them with a range of possibilities and show them the range of opportunities that are available for them to explore their interests in another way. Always remembering that they are at liberty to say ‘no’ or come back to it at a later date.
Our children’s social needs are as important as their other developmental and educational needs. Valuing and respecting their friendships and need for social interaction, means that our weekly plans include play dates, time for social pastimes, and time after clubs and sessions for our children to be with their friends.
The Unschooler’s lack of planning myth
What makes our days less hectic is not purely the lack of curriculum and clubs and classes. It is because we choose to schedule in downtime, rest time, space to explore our own whimsical curious paths. We value the silence as much as, or more than, we value the busyness. We lean in, and listen to our own rhythms, and need for time to process the days that have been filled with new things. We recognise that our children need space and time for them to explore their own interests, rest and play.
It is a careful balancing act, finding a rhythm that suits your family, one that changes regularly with the seasons. You might be a planner, I know I am, and with a household of six, it works well for us all to know what is happening and when. Maybe you aren’t a planner or can manage the details for the children in your family without a schedule. You do you.
If a plan helps then use one.
But remember to be flexible.
Daily flexibility as well as responsive to each moment.
Our priorities are our children, not the plan.