As I thought about our day so far, I reflected that (as usual) we really don't fit neatly into any camp when it comes to HE style. Of course, there is no need to do so, other than maybe for those who have a strong conviction towards structured curriculum (parent-led), radical unschooling (child-led) etc, and who want to find others of like mind to chat to about it. From my perspective, most of us are just committed to doing whatever suits our families best, aka 'making-it-up-as-we-go-along' - and in my case, that is a bit of everything.
This morning we started off tidying up. Yes, this was parent-led. The boys rarely volunteer to do this, but to my thinking, it's just part of being a family. I expect them to help and I am prepared to remind them to do so. We all live in the house together, so we all share the responsibility to keep it nice.
Once the dishwasher was loaded, the laundry underway, and the front room cleared, it was time for MathsWhizz. Again, parent-led... although, strictly-speaking there is an element of child-led about it, as this was the curriculum chosen by the boys when we started HE. We were restricted to one computer this morning, so while the boys waited for their turn, they read books of their choosing (Middle read some Horrible Geography books, Youngest some Usborne Early Readers, and Eldest some Minecraft manuals).
And then to the part when it all went typically non-typical. As we have a usable kitchen table now, I had been thinking how nice it would be to do a bit of art. The boys were now on a mooch - the sort of mooch that usually ends up creating endless and pointless mess - so I asked if they'd like to do some art (trying to help them focus their energy - as you do)
"What sort?" they asked.
"Painting foxes?" I said.
"Why do we have to do foxes?"
"We don't - I just found this outline and thought it might be fun. We could choose a different animal if you like - or maybe we could do a big background picture together, and then do lots of little different animals to stick on"
"What sort of background?"
"Well, how about ocean? or jungle?"
*brief pause while I assimilated the art project being taken completely out of my hands*
"sure - minecraft! What sort of background would that look like?"
And they were off: discussing, plotting, explaining details oh-so-gently to Mummy the minecraft novice.
I fetched a large piece of paper for them to draw their background on - it quickly became apparent that in fact it would not work at all for Youngest to be part of the collaboration, so he got his own piece of paper and started drawing while the other two were planning. Eventually they decided quite amicably that it would be better if they did their own backgrounds - so they did.
Youngest drew a lovely picture of an iron golem, then painted it so enthusiastically that you can't really see the golem underneath. After that he drew a night-time minecraft picture of a zombie, iron golem, slime and a bed, and coloured it in with crayon...
Eldest drew a very detailed picture - it started off as a background, put he got carried away adding biomes, details etc, so it turned into a complete picture...
Middle drew a lovely background involving lots of biomes. He balked somewhat at the thought of painting in around all the little "squarey" edges, especially the tiny ones in the background, but I said I was happy to help if he wanted - so we had a lovely time painting away together.
Middle is still planning on adding further characters later, but I think his brothers have finished. they all spent lots of time doing just what they wanted, and it was lovely!
Now they're all playing outside on their bikes (totally child-led) while I type. That reminds me: Hubby took Youngest's stabilisers off at the weekend, and was told in no uncertain terms that he needn't interfere: Youngest could do it "all by himself". It took Youngest a couple of seconds before he was off and pedalling! I love child-led learning. I love being involved too - having ideas, making suggestions, even requiring specific activities - or just that feeling when they are doing something and welcome me to be part of it.
So that's why I can't properly answer the question, "what kind of HE are you: structured or autonomous?" The answer is just "yes". A bit of structure, a bit of autonomy - we're a bit of everything. 'Heinz 57' home educators, that's us... and loving it!