Thursday, 8 January 2015

OK, Not THAT Structured Then...

After I posted my last post I received a comment on Facebook from a lovely friend who said it didn't seem very structured to her, compared to school.  She called it "directed learning opportunities that look a lot like fun", and I have to agree: that's exactly what we do!
It's interesting that I felt I was being highly structured this term, when in actual fact my friend is right: it's not heavy structure really - it's just the most structured I feel we are likely to get.   I suppose I resisted adopting it as our "style" for a while as it felt in danger of being too schoolish/ teacherish, but the reality is we've been "semi-structured" for much of our Home Ed journey - I was just feeling like I needed to excuse myself for not fully embracing the unschooling ideals that are so appealing... so I actually found my friend's comment quite liberating: it helped me to lay down the unnecessary concern that I was being too structured and accept that this is what works for us all - for now, at least.

Since then we have been having a fun week...

On Tuesday we had my 10 year old niece here while my sister worked.  Niece decided she would like to join in with the RSPB Wildlife Action Awards, and as one of the categories for the award included hedgehog care, I thought that would make a perfect start for the children - I was still rehabiliating two wild hedgehogs after all!  So after the boys all practiced their handwriting (and Niece worked on her own project), Middle and Youngest came out to the shed with me to help me clean out the first hedgehog, called Phoebe.  I wrote out a step-by-step instruction list of what to do for them to follow, with a couple of further pieces of information about why we weigh them, what to feed them etc.  After Phoebe-the-hedgehog had been cleaned out and weighed, it was her big sister Abbie's turn.  Eldest and Niece came out to the shed to sort Abbie-the-hedgehog out...

weighing Phoebe

Youngest lining Phoebe's clean box with newspaper

Middle putting the hedgehog biscuits in Phoebe's bowl

Niece wiping Abbie's igloo clean

weighing Abbie

Eldest refilling Abbie's igloo with hay

When we all came back indoors they wrote down what they had done (or drew a picture in Youngest's case), with the list of instructions to jog their memories...

Youngest's version

Middle's version

Niece's version

Eldest's version

Instructions (ticked off by Youngest as he completed each step)

After that, the next item on our schedule was Vikings (I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying having a written plan to tell me what's happening next).  They had all done quite a bit of writing by this point, so we just read a book about Vikings and then the children drew a picture of their favourite bit.  Middle and Youngest both chose the longboats, though only Youngest coloured his in (Middle's hand was tired from all the writing, as as Eldest's).  Nb apologies for not showing Niece's picture - I could't find it when taking photos (she must have taken it home)...

Eldest's longhouse

Middle's longboat

Youngest's longboat (with Viking mice sailing it)

Then the children all wanted to watch the second part of "Snow Wolf Family and Me", so that took us through lunch time just in time for their friends came over to play, when everyone disappeared happily upstairs.  Another lovely day, with no complaining at 'my' structure - hooray!

Then today we had mega socialising day: a visit to the local soft play centre first thing, followed after lunch by the boys' very favourite part of the week: gaming club, where we all go to a friend's house to play Wii or D/S games.  Of course, Mummy doesn't play - I sit in another room with the other parents for a cuppa & natter - perfect all round!

When I wrote up my 6-week schedule I knew that as well as afternoons - which are generally free for the boys to do with what they will - I needed to allow a flexible day in each week with nothing much planned by way of structured learning opportunity, so this week it made sense for that to happen today (not that they weren't learning; just that I hadn't planned it).  Next week it will be Friday, when the only thing I have loosely planned is a board game - and then whatever else the boys fancy (still no console games or TV until after lunch though!)

So no, it's not THAT structured - just structured enough for me to know the direction to head in, which keeps me happy, which in turn keeps the boys happy.  And the boys will let me know if it gets too much, especially Middle who is generally my most sensitive barometer - if he (or the others) starts to protest I will know that we need to ease off.  So far though there is enough flexibility and time for self-directed activities and learning that he and his brothers are all happy as well as Mummy.  Long may it continue!

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