Anyway my mind, however preoccupied, has clearly been mulling over HE stuff in the background - and I have come to the conclusion now that I am just a rubbish unschooler. I love the theory, the relaxed style, the friends who are great at it, the glowing examples of unschooled graduates - but I'm no good at it myself. Whenever we try full-on unschooling it seems to end up with me not paying attention to what the boys are doing/ experiencing/ learning and we all get a bit listless and moody... and although an unschooler may probably say I am missing the point, it just doesn't sit well alongside the knowledge that I am the one legally and morally responsible to provide my boys with an education. My conscience says I need to be involved and encouraging them to fulfil their potential - and I personally don't seem able do that by unschooling.
What I am good at (just to prove I'm not being unduly harsh on myself) is planning, knowing how to play to my boys' strengths and weaknesses, and finding creative ways to make dry academia fun and appealing. We have to stay casual with our structure because none of us do well with rigid timetables, shallow incentives, monotonous worksheets and the like. We all like space for plenty of autonomy, but we also all thrive on having an idea of where we're going and what we're doing - as long as we are free to change it if it doesn't work for us that day.
Apologies if such educational navel-gazing isn't your thing, although I can't imagine there are many home educators who don't frequently review their progress as they go along. I always wanted to be honest with my HE journey, and I have been blessed by people kindly saying that they have been encouraged by my random thoughts - so I keep sharing! Hoping to get back to the day-to-day practical stuff soon though!
For example, today we reverted to our previous style - agreeing up front on the thing we wanted to do, and mixing it with some essentials like Maths, making it as fun as possible thanks to a friend's recommendation of the Medieval Maths Challenge app. We ended up with a mix of maths, minecraft, music-inspired art (we listened to the Firebird by Stravinsky and then drew or painted pictures that we had imagined as we listened - suitable PDF here), and baking (muffins by Middle and Youngest) and an experimental three-part cake made by Eldest...
Youngest's interpretation: a wolf in the hills that got wounded and then an angel healed it (painted on the back of the watercolour paper because he likes the texture)
Middle's interpretation: a field of sheep with a river (during the peaceful start to the music)
Eldest's interpretation: a pirate island where everyone is going about their business before pirates attack and then the goodies win and everyone has a parade
Mummy's abstract interpretation: trying to show the boys that sometimes music can make you think in colours and patterns, not necessarily clear pictures
Youngest's chocolate muffins
Middle's "Fudgins" (fudge muffins)
Eldest's "Pinwheel cake"