Sunday, 29 September 2013

Flexibility Rules

I've just realised that I wrote this on Friday and then forgot to post it!  It's just been one of 'those' weeks this week... it's certainly been a very different one!  My niece went into hospital for a scheduled operation, so I had two days off so I could go and be with her and my sister.  Daddy stayed home with the boys both days - on Tuesday they had their usual clubs (craft and science) so Daddy was introduced to the more sociable side of home educating, and on Thursday there were no groups or outings scheduled so the boys had a pretty easy day while Daddy got some work done.  Eldest, being the one who craves structure the most, carried on with MathsWhizz and handwriting practice as usual.

Wednesday saw us celebrating Youngest's fifth birthday.  We went to soft play in the morning and then had a party in the afternoon.  Sadly not all those invited could come owing to illness, but those who did come made a very merry party for my lovely boy.  Occasionally throughout the day he would come up to me and say "I'm having a lovely birthday!  Thank you Mummy!"  Talk about heart-melting!  Sometimes it's so easy to just get frustrated with the boys' bouts of fighting and squabbling, but on Wednesday all of that was forgotten and Eldest and Middle were just so happy to celebrate their brother's birthday.  No sibling jealousy at all - it was really sweet.  Eldest's behaviour did wobble a bit in the afternoon at the party but then he confessed he wasn't feeling well so I dosed him up and things improved after that.  Sure enough, the next day he and Middle were coughing away, apparently having picked up Youngest's germs from the previous week.
So today, having had quite a disorientating week, we were all ready for a bit of structure again (but just a bit as the older two are still somewhat lurgified).  Middle and Youngest did some handwriting practice and Reading Eggs(press), and Youngest also did some more Mathseeds... he loves that program; I can see I'm going to have to fully subscribe!  Eldest chose to do workbooks instead of Reading Eggspress or MathsWhizz.  It's interesting how he is drawn towards workbooks again now.  Middle is still very wary of workbooks, but I think he was more traumatised by school (which was heavily work-book based), so maybe he'll come round eventually, or maybe he'll always prefer computer programmes.  It really doesn't matter to me as long as he's happy learning.

Also this week we've had an ongoing fridge challenge.  I make a topic word out of our fridge magnet letters (thank you Innocent Smoothies!), and the boys use the other letters to build a crossword around it.  I think they've done pretty well so far...

And Middle (the very reluctant writer) was inspired by something he saw on the computer, and wrote out a little story for Youngest...

There have been lots of games, drawing, playing, exploring and learning - some in a different guise to what we are used to - and hooray for that - and some more of the same as the boys are used to, just not as noticed by me.  It's all fine - I know that they are learning and happy, which is all that counts.

I am so thankful for the flexibility of what we do.  We do appreciate a little structure (just a little), but if we can't flex that structure to suit us when necessary then it has become a hindrance instead of a help.  When people say that they are structured, semi-structured/ slightly structured etc, others sometimes assume they know what that means.  Many autonomous educators (if that isn't an oxymoron) feel that structure equals rigid rules, such as 'we must get XY or Z done' - but for us that certainly isn't the case.  We have a general idea of what we would like to explore during the week - hence the 'planner' - but none of it is really rigid.  There is just one over-riding rule to our structure: it is flexible to our needs at any given time.  And this week I particularly appreciated the value of an utterly flexible structure.  Just as well, as I can see the need for more flexibility coming up in the next couple of weeks or so...!

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