My Unschooling/Structured HE Experiment…


In light of recent discussions on the IHSAN Forum,  I set myself an experiment. I wanted to see what would be different about a structured HE day and an unstructured day. Monday, I set up the workbox system for the first time and R used that system for her HE. Today, we had an unschooling day! Yup, thats right we had an unschooling day. 🙂

So, lets compare the two different days:


Preparation: I set up R’s schedule strip on the Sunday night, and filled her boxes according to her schedule which can be found at the top of this blog. What went in the boxes?

Box 1: Word level worksheets (independent work)

Box 2: Handwriting book – 2 pages (independent work)

Box 3: A book read to me (work with Mum) and Making sentences activity

Box 4: 3 pages of surahs she has memorised (work with Mum)

Box 5: 2 pages of Qaidah practice (independent and work with Mum)

Box 6: Maths – 2 lessons from the MEP program (work with Mum and independent work)

Box 7: Arabic – writing practice on her wipe board, 2 pages from Madinah Arabic for kids (independent work)

Box 8: Read a recycling book to R (work with Mum)

Box 9: We began to recycle scrap paper to make homemade paper

Swimming lesson

When she awoke, she followed her morning routine and took her schedule strip at 8.30am. She worked through her schedule strip from 8.30am to 1.30pm (this included any breaks, free time, lunch that I had scheduled in into the schedule strip but not including her swimming lesson).

Here are some pics:


This was R's schedule strip. The numbers refer to the box number and the pictures are breaks etc.


R making some sentences which she later copied out and illustrated.


The recycling book we read. Since we moved, we have really got into recycling. So, we read this and discussed it at length. We have a green recycling box and orange bags from the council and are actively recycling.


Scrap paper that R ripped up and placed into a bowl of water to soak overnight. This was to show how something old can be used to make something new.


Preparation: She woke up and I told her that she could do whatever she wanted to do today as long as she at least read to me and did her Quran practice. She agreed.

What did she do today? She started around 9.30am and finished around 4.30ish, again that was with meals, breaks etc. Although now, she is reading to her brother. So, I guess an unschooling day doesn’t really end. Mmmm….

Finished making her homemade paper recycling project (it is still drying as we speak).

Dressed up and played

Did her 3 pages of Quran revision with me and 2 pages of Qaidah practice

Painted two pictures

Made a picture using stamp printing.

Made salt dough pieces (they are currently drying)

Read 3 books to herself

Made a geography puzzle

Here are some pics:


We drained the paper. Then placed the soaked paper into a food blender and blended it. R then added food colouring and glitter and mashed it even more.


I used an empty frame and the netting of an old niqab and stretched it over the frame and tied the back.


R spooned the recycled mixture onto the netting and squashed it into the open space of the frame. It is currently in the boiler cupboard drying.


Made a salt dough mix for R (so easy to make - got the recipe from TMEG's Ramadan pack. She then modelled it into what she wanted. They went in the oven and are currently cooling ready to paint tomorrow inshaAllah.


So, I asked R which day she preferred. Drum roll please………………………

She said she preferred UNSCHOOLING TUESDAY because it was fun! I really don’t know what to say. Yes, she had more fun today because she did more arts and crafts. But then on WORKBOX MONDAY, she completed more work in different subjects.

My dearest readers,  your comments and advice are much welcomed – structure vs. unschooling…where do we go from here? I did this experiment to see what works/how it works. Yes, they were only two days – so can’t really say much but what do you think? Right now, I don’t know what to think. lol



10 responses »

  1. Assalaamualaikum,

    Aaah, sounds like the life here too. I, myself secretly prefer unschooling than structure work. BUT, I admit that having planned agenda feels like alot has been accomplished, since there are more evidence of it on the paper than artsy stuff all around the house. So I do both, everyday. If today I use structure for Math and LA, than the other subjects are through play, and vice versa. Workbox can be fine for one or two days of the week (with gaps in between) but perhaps not the whole week, especially for a 5 yo AND a preggo mommy,lol..Just my two cents..

  2. As salaamu alaikum,
    Masha’Allah I enjoy reading your blog whenever I get a minute. I have also had a few dilemmas about structure vs. unschooling, however I have four little ones (8yo, 7yo, 4yo, and a 2yo who wants to be involved in everything) so I have found that my day and everyone else’s runs so much smoother with structured learning lessons. I do have three different activity times in witch they can choose various crafts and projects to work on in order to let them feel like they’re having some say in what they do each day.
    But when it comes to the core subjects I do like to stay on a schedule as much as possible. So far, its been working out great and insha’Allah we will have success with our HE and you as well.


    • Ws wr wb

      MashaAllah, you are one busy Mum! I completely agree with you. I really do think the more kids we have, the more structure is needed so that quality attention is given to each child. I like the idea of the different activity times. Jzk for sharing.

  3. I think one fuels the other, in the same way that rest only has meaning if there is work. It sounds as if your workbox system gives just enough structure to fuel an inspired unschooling day. Love it! Please excuse me while I adopt it myself. Thanks for posting.

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