A Week in the Life

When I said in my last entry that what we do all day is live our lives, I got a few comments in which people said “well that sounds like you’re doing nothing”.   ‘Nothing’ when it comes to learning, that is.
So here is a list of a few things my kids did this week.  Judge for yourself whether or not they might have learned anything by doing them.
Ben asked me ‘how fast do bullets travel’ and ‘when was plastic invented’, and I didn’t know the answers, so we came home and looked up the answers on line.  (Plastic has been around a lot longer than I would have guessed, by the way.)
We watched part of a documentary about Shackleton’s Endurance.
We bought a Gordian Knot puzzle, learned the legend of its’ origin and that Alexander the Great was the first to solve it, then tried to solve it ourselves.  (we finally used the instructions – it’s unbelievably difficult)
We watched Whale Wars and talked about how best to defend animals who cannot defend themselves.
We went to see the movie Ramona and Beezus, and from it were inspired to invite our friends over and make a huge mural like they do in the film.   We completed it today – it’s almost 30 feet long and is hanging all the way across our living room wall, then turns the corner and heads down the hallway.
Maya and her friend Greta have been spending hours writing a book together.  I’ve not been allowed to see any of it yet.
At night I read out loud to them.  We just finished “Catching Fire”, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy.  Book Three comes out on August 24th!
Ben set up a stop motion animation sequence with two of his Playmobil figures, which we then photographed and played back.
Ben has spent a lot of time lately staging battles with his Playmobil Roman soldiers.  They are made to defend their leaders and some of them have to fight the lions in the arena, which he built out of his blocks.
Ben read two books on his own from start to finish.   “Hi Fly Guy” and “There was an old woman who swallowed Fly Guy”
Maya is reading the 7th Harry Potter Book.
Maya met a girl from Wales (where we will travel in October), through a kind of Facebook for kids website, and they have been chatting on line.
We went swimming at Lasker Pool.
Maya & Ben had swimming lessons
We discussed why some people pronounce words differently even though they are from the same country. (The word in question was ‘mirror’)

This list is just off the top of my head.    Is this tantamount to what children would learn in school?  No.  In my opinion it is better, because it was motivated completely by their own interests.  I did not ask them to do any of it.   If I wanted to, I could label these activities with everything from Reading Comprehension to Art to History to Physical Education.   None of it was prescribed, or staged as an ‘opportunity to learn’.   It was just us, living our lives.

If you want to read some of the most clear-headed, accessible writing about unschooling, check out Sandra Dodd’s book, which you can find through her website at www.sandradodd.com

“Kids who are in school just visit life sometimes, and then they have to stop to do homework or go to sleep early or get to school on time. They’re constantly reminded they are preparing “for real life,” while being isolated from it. “  —Sandra Dodd

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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