What do you do every day?

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Written by Laura Grace Weldon.

How do you answer this homeschooling question?

What do you do every day?

That’s what people wonder about homeschoolers. Sometimes they ask us point blank, “Okay you homeschool, but what do you DO every day?”

It seems like a huge mystery to non-homeschoolers that we self-compose our days, somehow proceeding without the structure school imposes. Yet that question isn’t irrelevant. We’ve chosen to learn in ways that are entirely out of the mainstream. That confuses some, upsets others, and simply provokes curiosity in many. They’re waiting to hear what we have to say. No pressure there!

When asked, I’ve usually responded with a lot more enthusiastic detail than the questioner expected. That’s not succinct enough for encounters with well-meaning strangers in the park or market. They seem to expect us to get to the heart of the matter in a sentence or two. I never did come up with a one-size-fits-all answer to that question, instead saying whatever popped into my head at the moment.

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Photo by heymarchetti

To see what other homeschoolers say, I posed the question on my Free Range Learning Facebook page. Here are some of their answers.

  • Emily Troper “We have time to eat when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired, play, swim, run, read, think, explore various interests, practice, argue, communicate, dream, laugh, cry, drive, have spontaneous parades or sales or lessons or meals or conversations or naps, and SO much more.”
  • Willow Laughs “Enjoy life. (And then I might elaborate on the specifics of that particular day, or not!)
  • Maria Elena Jarson “Brain work, body work, home/family work.”
  • Patty McMullen “Live! Learning is a byproduct.”
  • Karen Lennox “Today my home educated son was my navigator using maps on unfamiliar territory. He got me there with no wrong turns!”
  • Christina Vogel “I usually just say, ‘Whatever we feel like doing.'”
  • Michelle Cross “A little bit of the three R’s, and lots of living and playing.”
  • Wendy Smith “Spend time together.”
  • Gillian Thies “This week we painted the exterior of the house. This involved measuring, costing, scraping, taping, budgeting, choosing colors, painting.”
  • Jennifer Lindop “We really do whatever we want.”
  • Charlie Kady Arceneaux-Leger “We take care of 25 acres of land, some of that is farm, some of that is wildlife. We observe our surroundings. We bake. We read. We play. We ask questions, experiment, and make theories. We live and learn.”
  • Alexis V. M. Hugelmeyer “They wake up when their bodies are done resting, we make and enjoy meals together. We exercise, explore, and educate each other. We play with other kids and families. We help in our community. We celebrate the festivals and holidays of the year. Every day is someone’s birthday! We watch the sunset, swim in the ocean, listen to the birds. We engage all of our senses and make memories as a family.”
  • Kerry Medders Jones “We learn things in our own individual way on our own individual time tables and toward our own individual goals. It’s called ‘customizing an education.'”
  • Emily Young “Art projects, read books, and play outside. Everything else is negotiable.”
  • Sarah Flourish “When asked I often say we don’t take a very academic approach. It is mostly life skills. We garden, bake, learn about pastoral care by helping people. My daughter helped me when we were house hunting. Effectively anything I need to do she does with me and we fit in time for art, reading, and every now and then a little task or three from a workbook. I am happy, she is happy. And sleeping until her body is ready to wake has been fantastic for her. Especially now she has become such a bookworm and has been turning on the lights to read again after I have gone to bed.”
  • Meghann Andrews-Whitaker “We learn how to navigate this complex world of systems — together!”
  • Cindy Turner “I often reply, ‘We live our everyday lives.’ Depending on the person asking, I might add, ‘Life is our curriculum.’ It provides all the education we need.

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Photo by Eric Hamiter
To be fair, sometimes we ask each other too. Especially when we first start homeschooling. Well, at least I did. I suspect I asked too soon. Some moms were reluctant to really open up and talk about how their children spent their days. And often what they did tell me had a lot to do with what they thought they should be doing, with plenty of self-deprecation mixed in.

But once we got to know each other, realizing judgments wouldn’t get in the way, we did plenty of talking about our days. My grasp of the possibilities for my kids expanded as I encountered each person’s perspective. That happens when we see that every homeschooling family flourishes somewhat differently. It’s a freeing revelation.

How do you answer (seriously or in jest) when people ask, “What do you DO all day?”

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. She lives on a small farm with her family and is slow at work on her next book, Subversive Cooking. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com.

Comments

  1. I like Kerry Medders Jones’ answer because it is general without being flippant. It is also something the non-homeschooler (as in someone who really buys into the need for formal school) can think about and understand and even respect.
    Anne’s latest post: The Plan–2014/15–M12

  2. I like so many of these answers and get chills of gratitude seeing our own homeschooling lives reflected in them.
    Rachel @ 6512 and growing’s latest post: this time of year

  3. Charlotte Quevedo says:

    I have not thought about how I would answer that yet but I can imagine before reading this article I would have been too wordy! My son has severe autism, adhd and global delay. He has a brief academic period daily at whatever time works for that day and then other than that due to his stubborn refusal and level of frustration I only make him clean up messes that he makes and just let him be free. After all being overly frustrated and pressured all the time is not healthy for anyone child. He loves his ipad and playing on his slide.

    I also have him point to his body parts and ask him questions to work on getting correct answers.

    My three year old is literally free. I just leave plenty of stuff available to her. She ends up reading with me every day and already knows how to read a little due to her natural curiosity. I started Spanish last spring and she is already starting to speak it. She always wants me to play house with her so that has really brought the Spanish forward.

    My son will be starting up some therapies soon (he was pulled out of school) so I am super excited about that.

  4. Karl Bielefeldt says:

    It’s funny because I often ask my kids what they did for learning time today and they answer that they didn’t do it today. Then I ask my wife and she tells me. Then the kids say, “Oh yeah, that was fun! I didn’t know that was for learning time!”

  5. We’re learning to read and count, add and subtract. We spend a lot of time getting the wiggles out and doing whatever else needs doing that day.

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