A Schedule Free Life

Homeschooling is life without a schedule. There’s no rush out of house in the morning. No be at school or the bus stop in the afternoon. No silly early dismissal days.

Every day is just you and the kids. And…something. It’s up to you what the something is.

Does this excite or terrify you?

Yesterday we needed to buy some potatoes from the grocery store because the ones I thought were still good had gone moldy. It was a bright sunny day, if a little cold owing to a fresh ‘sugar snow’, so I figured we would make a bike expedition out of it. It seems a little silly to spend $3 in gas and mileage costs just to spend $2 on potatoes. On the way back, we stopped and hiked along the river running through the center of the town south of us.

We saw a decent flock of mallards contentedly quacking to each other. We watched a couple pairs of Canada geese squawk over territory. I showed the goblins the first sedges and violets coming up. Or perhaps they never quite froze back over winter. It’s hard to tell when everything else around them was brown as can be.

After lunch we watched a couple more episodes of BBC’s Planet Earth series. The girls and I decided “bird’s nest soup” sounds disgusting.

Later on, my oldest told me we’d forgotten school time. I asked her about what we learned today and she slowly realized that ALL of it had been school time. Education is so much more than learning facts. It’s about observation, learning and appreciating our place in the world. Even the simple lesson that it’s silly to spend $3 in gas and mileage to buy $2 of food will, I hope, pay dividends in the future.

None of this was on the ‘schedule’. I’m in the minority (I think) of homeschoolers in that I eschew a formal curriculum. I have goals for all three kids, but the day-to-day is all about capitalizing on opportunities presented to us. Yesterday was cold but sunny, so we combined an errand with a field trip. When warmer weather comes, I look at the weekly forecast and pick the most likely day for a longer field trip, typically to the state park pictured on the header image.

An unstructured life has great appeal to me, but I know plenty of people who it would terrify. How do you react?

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7 Comments on “A Schedule Free Life”

  1. When i read this I think: Oh, I wish homeschooling was legal here (in Sweden). But I would probably not not have a schedule because I would worry my kids would fall behind on stuff. then again, I would probably have some days without a schedule, because I think that is one of the perks of homeschooling, and I know the kids are learning so much from things we do together. Also, because I’m a teacher and I know all the things that the kids need to know (according to our school system), I would be a bit scared to let go too much of books and “real” study time.
    But I do think it’s very interesting, and I soooo wish I could do it!

    • David says:

      My kids are young (4,6,7). We may have to get a bit more regimented when they get older, but they’ll also be capable of a lot more self-study then.

      This was our first year of doing it, and the fall paid dividends big time. September and October were beautiful months. It would have crushed me thinking of them trapped indoors most of the day. We would get up, check the forecast, and decide the day from there. We also did a lot of trips to the park, sit down with one and read while the other two played, that kind of thing.

      • My kids are 8 and 5, I think I would start the same way you do. It is such an advantage to learn from real life instead of being stuck in a classroom. (says the teacher) I am really fed up with the system and have had thoughts on perhaps moving to another country to be able to homeschool, but in the end, leaving everyone and everything is just such a huge step to take…

      • David says:

        It doesn’t work for every kid. Friend of my sister’s has homeschooled since the start, but her oldest actually needs the structure to stay motivated. So he “started” school around grade 2 (age 8). It was a really hard decision for the mom, but it’s worked out quite nice. My sister’s oldest LOVES school.

        It is a shame, though, that a good number of countries in Europe don’t give you the option at all. Even here in the States, we’re lucky to have a pretty relaxed situation. Other states can be pretty strict with regulation/oversight.

        And as far as moving goes, it comes down to how far you move and how deep your roots are. We’re not in a financial position to move at all, but if we were, we probably would.

  2. Moonwaves says:

    I don’t have kids and I live in a country where sending your kids to school is compulsory (Germany) but I’ve been very taken with the idea of unschooling. What little I’ve read of it anyway. If I did have kids, I think I’d definitely try and incorporate some of that into life, even if they did still have to go to school (in Germany most schools are from about 8 to 12 or 1 o’clock, so afternoons are free for sport or other activities – or homeschooling if you want). But I’m not entirely convinced I’d be able to pull it off, since certainly as a child the structure of school was definitely something that suited me very well.

  3. nankilicious says:

    I found your blog via mmm, but I am also a homeschooling parent. We unschool, so we dont use a formal curriculum at all. My kids and I love our lifestyle.

  4. Hapster says:

    I was homeschooled since the 2nd grade (I guess you can call me an elementary school dropout since I was pretty much a troublemaker). I loved the unstructured life and I believe it gave me better observational skills (which can lead to higher emotional intelligence although not so much in my case but definitely in my sister’s case). We weren’t socially deprived though. We hung out with kids from our youth swim team although they tended to frustrate me sometimes since most were bandwagon-riders and not keen on the endless educational wonders that existed around them. I will say this though, it is important to have a balanced curriculum. My parents were both engineers so my education was based solely on math, physics, and german with the occasional art history class. Literature, American history (I learned plenty of my parent’s cultural history) and even Biology were not emphasized at all. AND, despite the fact that both my parents have MBAs, there were absolutely no lessons on personal finance and I never practiced time management (cause there were no deadlines). That’s what ended up killing me in university (that and the fact that at 14 years of age I had no real idea what university meant other than a means to escape home). My suggestion to all homeschooling parents would be to make sure you don’t just prepare your kids academically. I personally think it’s much more important to prepare your kids to be happy. Happiness is fleeting. There are too many stresses in life (internal and external) that I think we need to focus on teaching our kids to survive inevitable stress by teaching them to hack their way to happiness.


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