Over the last few years we have enjoyed the odd foray into total unschooling or using as little structure as we can. I think that is because we had so much structure at school that we all needed to experience different ways of 'educating', and we have appreciated the benefits of chilled-out flexibility. We have never gone to the other extreme of full structure though - yet...
Last 'term' (I still think in school terms so there is clearly still some structure in my mind) we started off with loose plans and ideas rather than strict schedules, and we had a very enjoyable active start of term. By the beginning of December however it all fell to pieces, partly due to the time of year - it's not practical setting high expectations for children who are getting increasingly hyper about the Christmas season - and partly due to a family bereavement that quite frankly floored me. I was grateful for the festive distractions that kept the boys occupied while I dealt with the practical details (and churning emotions) that ensued.
I confess though, that I am uncomfortable with the complete lack of structure that we experienced this month. I know it was understandable and even necessary, but it has left me craving a bit more structure. In fact, while going over my thoughts for the coming year I found myself wanting considerably more structure than before (control issues? you don't say!) In theory if I have it all laid out in front of me up front, the boys will know what to expect and I will not have to do any significant planning as we go along - well, that's the idea anyway. Spring term traditionally lends itself to more at-home HE, so it's a good time to be trying it out!
I'm not going for a purchased complete curricula as I already know the boys don't respond well to that. And I'm not going to cram their days with so many demands that they have no free time to be creative and follow their own pursuits. But I am going to write out a plan for the coming half term - with specific subjects/ activities for each day - gleaned largely from the internet and our own resources. I am going to plan probably four mornings a week for six weeks, leaving one totally flexible day a week (weekends don't count!) plus all afternoons for either social activities or the boys to do what they want. Oh, and my planned activities will still be based on ideas that I know the boys will find fun, as it doesn't matter how precise my plans are, if the boys think it's boring it is all pointless anyway! And if we fail to achieve the activities allocated to any specific day? Well who cares? That surely is the beauty of HE - its flexibility!
So it will be a new structure for us, but I'm looking forward to it. Who would have thought that nearly three years into our HE journey we would still be experimenting with the best way to structure (or not) our learning? It keeps it fresh and interesting though - I love it!