Today was the first time in months that we resumed a degree of structure. Not a huge amount, but just enough for us.
One thing that I had decided during our last autonomous season was that we needed TV restrictions again. It's not that I dislike TV - on the contrary, I think it can be an extremely useful method of learning, especially for my visual learners - it's just that before Christmas it felt like the boys were watching an awful lot of 'rubbish' programmes that may have been amusing their minds but weren't necessarily nourishing them. Mindless TV is to the brain what junk food is to the stomach: fairly harmless every now and then, but not healthy if that is one's staple diet.
Anyway, as our most positive days have been ones where the TV did not get switched on first thing, we are going to have TV-free mornings (at least), for a while. The boys didn't miss it today: apart from their habitual request to turn it on first thing (answer: no), they didn't get round to turning it on until 4pm, as there were too many other fun things going on!
First of all, I had mentioned to the boys that we would be starting again with daily alternating MathsWhizz and Reading Eggs, but when this wasn't met with full enthusiasm, I quickly added that we didn't have to use computer-based curriculum: we could use workbooks or other activities if they preferred. They did prefer! Today - being Monday - would usually be an 'English' day, but only Youngest was interested in Reading Eggs (he "played" on it for over an hour!). Eldest and Middle both jumped at the chance to read a "real book" instead... more than fine by me! Middle read five chapters of Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People, and Eldest read "How to Betray a Dragon's Hero". Actually Eldest has been reading it all day, pausing only a few times when other things were required - he's almost finished it as I type.
The only pauses in Eldest's reading were for us all to take a walk to the postbox (lovely to get some fresh air), for the boys to all tidy their rooms, and for Eldest to help me muck out the hedgehogs. He really is very reliable and helpful on this front - he sometimes complains about his other jobs, but not about caring for the hedgies - what a star! Today we were delighted to find that one of them (Hiccup) has started to hibernate - we're really hoping the others follow suit soon, but the weather has been so mild, they're in no hurry.
For the rest of the day while Eldest had his nose firmly in his book, Middle and Youngest had lots of fun learning while playing. They had a game of SpongeBob Monopoly together, then as we happened to walk past our new world map at the same time, Middle showed me places where Daddy has been and I showed him places where family friends live. Next there was a delivery of a parcel for Youngest of a late Christmas present: a Playmobil recycling truck that he spent the rest of the afternoon playing with, while I showed Middle how to play Yahtzee (we have a bag of about thirty dice that I bought a while ago because we kept losing ours, and as the boys seem to be fascinated with the dice I realised that Yahtzee would make a good maths game, so I found the rules and some score sheets online, and away we went). Oh, and a friend popped round to pick up a couple of bits and the boys were thrilled that she and her son (who they have only met once or twice before) could stay and play for a bit. I love the way that children don't know how to stand on ceremony: anyone who turns up at our house is an instant candidate for friendship - just lovely!
So that was it: our first day of picking up the reigns again, albeit ever-so-gently. We simply loved it - this is such a good life.