This morning we had a lovely visit from my sister and niece who are right near the beginning of their own home education journey. I'm really enjoying our chats about HE, the pitfalls (wobbles) and benefits (oh so many). She had found an article talking about the five main types of education, which we were discussing. Personally, I said I think there are an infinite number of ways to home educate, as there are an infinite number of combinations of personalities and needs of those (parents and children) on the home ed journey. Here, we swing between semi-structured, project-based, unschooling and others, but I think if I had to choose one way to describe our style it would be "seasonal". For us, it provides the best of all worlds.
As mentioned previously in my Summer Wind-down post, we have entered a season of unschooling - not doing any led or structured work, as the energy levels in the house made it very clear that that was what was needed now. And as I said to my sis, although the challenges of this season are that the wobbles seem to be more of a temptation when not doing any obvious work, I am already thoroughly enjoying the benefits of seeing what interests naturally spring up without any coercion at all. Already I have noticed lots of drawing, many games being invented, and several bookworm moments, including one beautiful one last night, when Youngest and I were waiting for Middle to finish in the bathroom, and Youngest brought a book to show me while I folded laundry. While he waited, he started reading the words - and continued reading the words until he had finished two pages, exclaiming in surprise "I can read!" Of course I knew he could read - he has been reading the stories at the end of each Reading Eggs lesson to me for months. But apparently he did not know. He had not equated his ability to sound out the words on the computer screen with the ability to pick up a story book and just read it, start to finish. Last night he read his whole book out loud, and then ran and joyfully told his big brother, "Finally! I can read!" I can tell you, I would not have missed that beautiful revelation moment for anything.
I am also enjoying our conversations. For example, this afternoon we went for a short walk to our local shop and back. Not all of the boys were thrilled to be walking, so we started off chatting about our need for fresh air and exercise. By the time we got home again, our conversation had ranged through a mind-boggling range of topics: the green cross code; the importance of asking dog owners if a dog is friendly before you approach to pet it; how God can be so big that the universe is inside Him, but he can still see things as tiny as germs; maths and shortcuts to tricky sums; language development and how two countries can share a common language but have different words for the same things; slug anatomy; evaporation, and how a narrow path partially sheltered by trees will stay damp after rain for longer than a path through open grassland; starlings and how they feed in small groups through the day then gather into large groups to roost at night including murmurations, spatial awareness; hedgehog habitats and wildlife corridors - and probably more that I have already forgotten. It's so lovely to see them enjoying free time for just thinking and chatting.
It made me wonder again: do we have widely-ranging conversations like this during our more structured learning periods too? Maybe it's just that I have more time to stop and notice when I am less preoccupied with writing achievements in the HE diary, or maybe all the free time really is giving their brains space to just ponder the world around them. Either way, it makes me really satisfied with the seasonal style of Home Ed that works for us - each season so different, but every season such a joy!