We've been having a very relaxed day today... I had another funeral to attend yesterday, so the boys had Daddy home to play with - and much fun was had by all! I'm still a bit worn out from all the driving and the emotional upheaval of it all though, so my aim was to set zero expectations for today.
Also, part of me is still resisting those darn 'should's (as in my post, Attack of the Killer Shoulds)... it's ridiculous really, because I can find myself swinging between "I should be making the boys do more work", and then "I shouldn't try to make them do anything", and back again - what a minefield! I'm not convinced either mindset is entirely right (they are both 'should's, after all!), so I decided the only way to deal with it today was to do nothing at all - I gave myself a day off, and just accepted that I've been feeling slightly dissatisfied with how it's gone this week. After all, that's largely because I'm deschooling myself... I'm used to being able to evaluate how much children are learning (or at least studying), and my head is having a hard time adapting at the moment! The things is, it's like my lovely supportive Mum said while we travelled together yesterday - just because a child is in school, making friends, doing the required work and behaving nicely, it doesn't mean they're actually learning! Her school reports from 'back-in-the-day' all say what a pleasant, hard-working child she was - but she freely admits that she wasn't that hard-working: she spent a lot of time bored and day-dreaming, but because she never caused trouble, nobody picked up on it.
Anyway, today I just don't have the energy to try to make sense of it all, especially after yesterday. I spent a good couple of hours this morning getting on top of housework (I always feel better if the house is more of a home than a dump) while DS2 & 3 played on Reading Eggs, and the Wii. DS1 also used my laptop to explore the ocean depths, thanks to this great BBC website. They watched some educational TV, had a great time on the trampoline, baked cupcakes, drew pictures and looked at some live webcams, thanks again to the BBC... this time on the Springwatch website. Incidentally, the Falcon chick that we have been watching on the NTU website has officially been named Storm, and is doing really well - he may well fledge soon! Webcams are a great way to get a close-up view of nature that you wouldn't normally be able to see (eg inside nests etc). The boys don't spend that long watching, but they have all seen what baby falcons (and now barn owls, nuthatches and bluetits) look like, they have seen the different nests, and have seen the parents feeding their chicks (and have seen some die, due to external factors like the weather). It all seems tiny compared to the length of an average school lesson, but it has been prompted by their interest (largely because they want to see what Mummy's looking at) and is therefore more likely to be remembered. They also checked in on the 'eggs in vinegar' experiment from the other day. The shell of the egg in white vinegar had actually fallen off (becaue we'd left it for 2 days - oops), but the one in brown vinegar had gone nicely squishy. It didn't bounce like the one on TV did, which was a bit disappointing, but all three boys were impressed by it turning "all rubbery".
So, considering I gave myself the day off, the boys have done just fine - more than fine in fact: they've covered English, Science (biology and chemistry), Maths, PE, Languages, and Art. Next time I get an attack of the 'should's I'll remind myself not to listen to them - and if that's what it takes for me to not listen, perhaps I'll give myself the day off again. After all, 'should's haven't helped the boys to learn, they just made me feel bad. Having taken the day off and casually observed what the boys actually did today with hardly any leading from me, I am really encouraged - home education actually does work, especially if there are no 'should's allowed!