I guess I have to admit that we are not really unschooling this year. The kids seem to be happier with a recipe of some structure leavened by a generous dollop of freedom concerning their favorite subjects, history and science, a lot of time outside, and a measure of input regarding the textual materials they use. Therefore our days are looking a little more like this:
1. Mom wakes up too late because being hugely pregnant with twins has seriously disrupted her sleep schedule. I've settled on being happy if I'm up at eight, because then I know that we'll all at least get going by nine, and I'll probably have a few minutes to myself before the kids are ready to get up. This means I will be able to take a shower without a two year telling me (indignantly) that I am standing on the tractor field when I get out of the shower and step onto the bathmat.
2. 9:00 and everybody is usually eating breakfast. This probably sounds like a hideously late hour to many people, but see above. (My kids are all night owls anyway.) Hopefully I've managed to get up, eat, and dress myself by this point, so I can read to the kids at breakfast. This helps them to wake up and it gives me some time to recover from taking a shower, making breakfast, getting the two year old to breakfast, etc. We've been reading from Egermeir's Story Bible until everyone is done eating, then we switch to the couch and read something else -- usually history or literature. (Lately we've been reading Homer Price.) Sometimes the kids draw or model clay; sometimes they don't.
3. At 10:00 or so, the two year old has had enough of everyone sitting on the couch. (In the mornings, he seems mainly to think that when I read aloud, he should be making some sort of noise, too, which drives my daughter crazy.) I send the two older ones to their rooms to put on their clothes, then I wrestle the two year old to a diaper/clothes change. Then we all do chores until almost nearly 11 or 11 or whenever the chores are done or I've given up on prying my eldest away from every book that he sits down "just to look at for a minute" while he's supposed to be picking up the living room.
4. Now it's time for (mostly) written work. The list of "required" subjects has become: Phonics Pathways, Spelling Workout A, math, and a copied/composed sentence of handwriting for my 6 year old; Spelling workout B, Modern Curriculum Press Phonics C (selected pages), cursive, math, and grammar for my 8 year old. They usually pick the order, but they always pick math first. Then I have to juggle a little because my son needs to do something independently while my daughter and I do Phonics Pathways. I put together a bin of "stuff" for the two year old to keep him occupied during this time, but he's decided that this is his time to draw. So he draws. If I'm lucky it's on paper, but he also tends to enjoy giving himself tattoos.
5. 12:00 = lunchtime. This is usually a break because they haven't quite finished everything from the morning. 45 minutes to an hour is enough concentration for one stretch. After lunch, the kids finish whatever they need to finish, and we're usually outside by 1:00.
6. 1:00 - 2:00 = playing in the dirtpile, hanging on trees, collecting insects, fossils, leaves, playing with microscopes, etc. If I don't get them to come in at exactly the right time, though, the arguments break out and my oldest son, who has a problem dealing with frustration, usually has some sort of meltdown. It's dicey.
7. 2:00 (or so) - 3:30 = quiet time. This has been in place ever since the kids were tiny. The two older ones listen to books on tape (My son's current favorite is Greek Myths by Jim Weiss and my daughter is listening to Story of the World v.2. We were going to study history chronologically this year, starting with the ancient world, but they are both like freight trains when they're interested in something. Once the train leaves the station, there's no stopping it. As if I'd want to stop it,. when my daughter tells me long stories every day about Beowulf or Queen Elizabeth or Mohammed.) They also tend to do art, listen to music (Classical Kids CDs), and play. I read to the two year old and then take a nap with him, because by now my back is pretty achey. After quiet time, the kids get 30 minutes to an hour of TV time, which has lately been spent watching Star Wars.
8. 4:30 - 7:00 or so: outside, dinner chores, dinner, outside. This is when my daughter tells me about everything she listened to at quiet time. My eldest will also sometimes read a book during this time, which he has usually also done at quiet time while he was listening to his book on tape. I have no idea how he can do both these things at once, but his retention levels are pretty good.
9: 7:30 -- husband gives the two year old a bath. I read to the two older kids -- whatever subject we didn't read about in the morning, usually science. Or we watch NOVA on Tuesday nights. We might also read some more supplementary history books. Then the two older ones take turns having their baths, and I read to the two year old (more tractor books.) After my daughter's bath, she does math flashcards with her father, because that's how she wanted it. She also spends some time reading simple books to him and to the two year old, who absolutely adores the Brand New Reader sets.
10. 9:00 and time for a bedtime snack. I retreat to the bedroom and my husband reads the kids a bedtime story (usually). Bedtime's around 9:30, sort of, and then the kids retreat to their rooms to read to themselves for a while before they turn out the light. I read a stack of picture books to the 2 year old while my husband catches up on the chores I haven't been able to do during the day, and then the 2 year old and I go to sleep.
When it gets colder, the kids will probably do more art, and science kits, I'm sure, will make their appearance. Right now science is a lot of mucking around outside (and, for my daughter, carting the outside inside. She usually has quite a menagerie of insects going in her room, and both kids have a variety of plants they --mostly -- take care of.) I'm not sure how long this structure will hold up under the weight of newborn twins, but I have been frantically trying to get something in place so that my husband and/or mother-inlaw could take over if -- or when -- necessary. This is probably my bit of nesting, in addition to the massive unpacking/organization campaign I undertook this weekend to get our dining room/school stuff in order.
I do hope it's not a sign, though, because I'm only 32 weeks right now!