The Surprising Reality of Our Unschooling Rhythm

I think the reality of our days, would surprise you. I think the variety between one day and the next in our house, would surprise you. I think the difference between one year and the following year, would surprise you.

The reality of our lives and living according to our own individual rhythms and creating a family rhythm that works for us means that there can be a tremendous diversity in our day to day activity.

The reality is that I am slow in the mornings (and that’s okay.) I need a cup of tea, usually two and a sit down, either in the garden or looking at it longingly, before I am ready to engage with other human beings. Now my children are not babies anymore, I can afford myself this time, and I do.

My children wake according to their own needs and embark on their own morning rituals. My 6 year old waits an hour or so before she has breakfast. My 8 year old seems to wake up voraciously hungry and needs to eat immediately. My 11 year old doesn’t ask for food but, if I don’t prepare him anything, then he will go without for hours. My 13 year old often reads or watches in bed, for a while, before we see him and he comes and makes his own breakfast.

It’s not very exciting, is it? It literally means that it can take over 3 hours for us all to be awake and fed.

But, what a calm and relaxed few hours it is.

Compare it to the forced early mornings of school days: Alarms ringing and cajoling bleary eyed children from their beds, hurried food or even skipped breakfasts, remembering book bags, home work and swimming kits, all to arrive at school on time.

We have swapped those days for well rested, tranquil, pleasant mornings that reflect the needs of our children. We have leisurely cooked breakfasts, that fuel our bodies and minds and allow us time for connection and conversation. Gentle activity unfolds around us, like colouring, gaming, reading, crafting, whatever sparks our interest today. The children pursue their chosen activity until they are ready to move on to the next thing. Sometimes they can do the same thing for hours on end, and other times they flit from one activity to the next.

It might sound uneventful, I’m hoping it might inspire you.

I am hoping that it will spur you on to something more enjoyable than the glorification of busy. Lean in to your own needs, give your children the opportunity to tune in to themselves and honor their physical cues for sleep and hunger. And to know that learning happens even in the slow and restful moments. That learning about yourself and your physical needs is as valid as the gaining of knowledge and skills.

You can’t copy and paste our rhythm and achieve unschooling. You must find your own rhythm and listen to the heart of your own children, weaving together your family needs.

My husband gets up early and cycles ten miles before he has breakfast and begins work. That is his rhythm, that is how he likes to begin his day.

Know yourself.

Honour your own needs.

And create an environment where your children can discover their needs and those needs met.

Published by heiditsteel

Teacher turned Unschooler: passionate about autonomous education and supporting our children's natural inclination towards learning through play.

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