Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Thought Provoking!

Not the kind of provocation where brothers deliberately wind each other up, although we have all the experience we need of that sort.  It's more that lately I've been provoked to consider what next term's Home Ed will look like, and despite the fact that our semi-structured style has been going so well, I feel we are ready for change.  Not least, of course, because we are about to enter the summer term, when the (hopefully) sunny weather tempts us to spend more time outdoors, and the structure that helped to keep us focused through the damp and gloomy winter days starts to chafe a little, feeling too restrictive and generally surplus to requirements.  In the summer term all is enthusiasm and energy, days brimming with positivity and possibility.  It's not that I'm dissatisfied with how HE has been going - far from it - I am just ready to embrace the next season, and that means packing structure away with our winter coats,safely stored and ready to be got out again in the Autumn when experience has taught us that we will want them once more.

So, what is our Home Ed going to look like next term?  Well, it's hard to pin down because with less structure in place I will have less say in what happens.  I do know a few things though...

Firstly, as my bare minimum of structure that we always have, we will still be alternating thirty minutes or so of Maths and English for four days a week, using MathsWhizz and a new progam that we have been introduced to, called Literacy Planet (suitable for all three boys).  We had a little play on Literacy Planet this morning, and the boys are keen to get going, which is always a good sign.  A friend has organised it so we can subscribe with a group of Home Educators, and get a better price that way - gotta love the HE community!

Secondly we will be limiting all other screen-time to after lunch only, mainly because I find that it is too easy for the boys to revert to the TV or computers when they are running short of inspiration, and although I have no problem with them being technologically literate - indeed, I want to encourage it - I do also want them to be able to use their imaginations and creativity in other more practical ways as well, so that is why we deliberately leave screen-free space in the mornings to help them to engage with the more hands-on side of life and learning.

Thirdly, and the biggest change from what we have been doing, will be the liberal application of strewing. My hope is that this will look very casual and organic to the boys, but it will require plenty of planning on my part (of course), so that I can reassure myself I am diligently fulfilling my responsibilities for the boys' education.  Maybe other unschoolers approach strewing in a less structured way, but part of our HE journey has involved me disovering my "sweet spot" - the area where I work most comfortably and efficiently - that being preparation and planning.  So  I have already started pinning ideas on Pinterest, and will probably have a rough schedule of books to strew and "provocations" to prepare.

For those who don't know, a Provocation is an open-ended opportunity to explore, usually in the form of some simple materials laid out on a table and left where the child will dicover them and hopefully be provoked to engage with them.  They are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, and can also be called "invitations", which I have used before with the boys (for example a maths invitation here, light invitation here and magnetic invitation here).  Provcations can be deliberately set up by the parent/ educator, or they can naturally occur while visiting somewhere new/ reading a book/ chatting with new people. Provocations basially provoke new thoughts and ideas - and just as I have been provoked to consider different styles of learning for this term, I am hoping that the boys will be provoked to think in new and creative ways also.

For more on Provocations, follow the link to a lovely and inspiring blog.

So once again I am looking forward to a new term - though we have two weeks of holiday left to enjoy first, for the boys to play and for me to plan some lovely provcations etc... I will of course share my plans soon, when I have fleshed them out a bit, but for now I just wanted to share my enthusiam for the next season - I hope you're looking forward to next term too!


  1. Your enthusiasm is so inspiring, as ever! All the very best and long may you enjoy! x

    1. Thank you for saying so Ross - and for taking the time to drop by and encourage. I do appreciate it :) x