Monday, 23 March 2015

Flagging-induced Adaptations

We may have been doing this for many years, but since we embraced our/ my inclination towards the gently structured with parent-led aspects (catchy label, huh?), I have noticed further trends emerging.  If we follow a loosely timetabled week of HE, with two or three activities a morning, as we have been doing (some mornings see more activities than others), generally our (or my) enthusiasm and interest is held for about four weeks.  After that there is a definite waning of energy levels.  It's not just me - I mean, yes this weekend was a bit draining and left me with little motivation to do anything much, but I have noticed that  four weeks after the half-term break the boys are flagging too, especially Middle who is usually a good barometer for when it is time to change approach.

So this morning it was time to mix it up a bit.  The boys played in their rooms for quite a while (which in itself showed that interest in parent-led stuff is tailing off) and eventually appeared downstairs for breakfast, after which they did MathsWhizz happily enough.  After MathsWhizz they disappeared again to entertain themselves and reappeared about half an hour later asking what was next.  I said it was time for Art and showed them a nice activity I had planned, based on Matisse - their faces ranged from polite interest, through tired, to disappointed.  I could not muster the enthusiasm to carry all four of us through the activity, so I said they could choose their own Art activity instead.  Eldest immediately ran to draw a picture of himself and his brothers playing in a console game, Youngest painted a picture of his favourite animals, and Middle painted some abstract pieces (he loves just experimenting with colour and texture). It reminded me that although there is a place for learning techniques and experiencing different media (which is why we use the Deep Space Sparkle resources etc), Art is also about self-expression, and sometimes the boys need me to just back right off and let them explore how they would create things, not just how other artists have painted etc.

Eldest's "Playing the Game"

also by Eldest

Middle's first painting, "Woven wood"

also by Middle

Youngest's "Bluebird and Fox"

rather sweetly, Youngest also had a go at learning the style and method of Middle's first painting

After art (which they all thoroughly enjoyed), we were due to do a spot of History, but none of us were in the mood for reading an old story and drawing a related picture, so we played a game of Scrabble Dash instead (which Eldest won).  I realised afterwards that it is aimed at ages 10+, but as we had altered it slightly to let Youngest and Middle see the challenge cards before Eldest and me, it was a well-balanced game that we all enjoyed. Then over lunch we watched a recorded TV programme about the Plantagenets, so we did get our bit of history in eventually.

This afternoon they have been taking it in turns to play on their Pokemon typing adventure and generally finding their own entertainment while I had time to sit down and do the online grocery shop, do some thrill-less but essential housework and type this up.  Writing my blog is invaluable for giving me a chance to reflect on how we are doing, and I hope it also encourages others to know that you don't have to choose one style of HE and stick to it: we fluctuate regularly, and clearly we are now coming into a couple of weeks of even less structure before we have a couple more weeks of no structure at all (aka the Easter Holidays).  So for the rest of this week and next I think I may have a look at the remaining timetabled activities just to see if there's anything that we really don't want to miss - but then will just focus on Maths and English (both twice a week), and lots of child-directed activities.  It's going to be fun!

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