I confess, I turned the heating on yesterday... I woke to a little nip in the air that made me delay getting out of bed, instead snuggling further down under the duvet, where the boys quickly joined me - giggling as they made Mummy shriek with horror at their icy feet homing in on her toasty warmth.
It's that lovely season change as the mild weather gives way to the inevitability of early nights, frosty mornings, country lanes bulging with hedgerow fruit, and leaves crunching underfoot (not to mention steaming mugs of hot chocolate when we get back from a ramble). I love Autumn. I think there's something to love about all of the seasons actually - I never could choose a favourite - but it's maybe the change in seasons that I love, and Autumn is such an obvious change, even when it's late, as this year. I just love it.
And the season change evident in the great outdoors is reflecting a season change inside our home...
There's a Facebook meme that I've shared before, and it's pretty apt considering where we are right now. It goes:
"I love routine...
Until I'm bored, then I love excitement...
Until I'm overwhelmed, then I love routine"
It's that bit in the middle, when we're starting to get fed up/ restless that expresses where we've been for about a week. We've had a couple of months of semi-structure (well, structure by our standards anyway), and I've just lately been getting signs that the boys are ready for something else. Children (and indeed adults) do learn in cycles, or seasons... and just because a style or method works for a while, it doesn't mean that it will continue to work indefinitely. The lovely and experienced Ross Mountney shared a post today, "Fallow Seasons and Learning Leaps", that expresses so well the truth about seasons in learning - and now that we have over a year of home educating under our belts, I can say from personal experience that I know this to be true.
So I have been mulling over the question of what season we are heading into. Initially I got my planner out because there are things that I felt were lacking from what we're doing compared to what I'd like us to be doing, such as incorporating ideas from the inspiring Brave Writer website, advent activities (not quite yet, obviously), swimming lessons etc. Next I noticed an increasing reluctance in the boys to do activities involved with their online curricula (maths, english etc), and I don't want to ask them to follow any set curriculum if it doesn't interest them. Then this week I was thrilled to discover that Middle seems to have discovered his inner bookworm. I can't say he's a confident reader (although he is a fully competent reader), but I can say that if he goes quiet, as he is increasingly doing, it's becoming less likely that he is "up to some mischief" and more likely that he has his nose in a book somewhere. I am such a happy Home Ed Mummy!
All of which has led me to the conclusion that we need a season of more autonomy. Eldest generally does well with structure and is happy with his curricula/ workbooks etc - but lately he seems to have been lacking in creative ideas for things that he would like to do, and I'd like to give him a bit more space to think and dream and get inventive. Middle is obviously coming into his own as a reader, and with all my heart I want to encourage that - just give him the space to read and read and get lost in new worlds of imagination and fascination. Youngest has been doing well on his Reading Eggs and Mathseeds - he often asks to 'play' on them (I try to avoid words like "learning", "lessons" or "work" - I prefer "explore", "investigate", "imagine" and "play") - but I have noticed that some of the activites lately seem to confuse him and he gets a mental block over things that I know he is perfectly capable of doing instinctively in a natural scenario (as opposed to a theoretical sum on a screen). So I want to back off before he gets frustrated, and give him the space to play more and just let his learning flow naturally, as he is making immeasurable (I use that word deliberately) strides in his development right now.
On re-reading that paragraph I notice I used the word 'space' regarding my hopes for each of the boys. The little structure we have been using has been really helpful - for the right season. Now, however it is starting to feel a little stifling, so I want to remove those constraints and move into a season of more freedom. I don't doubt for one second that it will change again at some point - but the more we do this, the more confident I am in the seasons all flowing into each other naturally, and as much as I love the changes from Summer to Autumn, Winter to Spring etc, I am starting to really enjoy the seasonal changes in our home education too.