Friday, 31 August 2012

Gentle Planning

A much nicer day today (not so flobberly!)  I was woken up by youngest bringing a little lego man into bed with me, who (the lego man) proceeded to shoot me while Youngest warmed up his freezing feet on my legs - yikes!!!  Apparently the lego man was shooting me to show how much he loved me, which seems a strange way of showing it - but actually it made for about fifteen minutes of really nice play-time together, before Middle and Eldest realised we were having fun and came in to bundle on the bed.  I could only take five minutes of being treated as a trampoline, so then we all had to get up, but I did appreciate once more the opportunity to get up gradually and have fun together, rather than having to stress about being up "in time" for anything.

Downstairs, I resisted the temptation to put the laptop on (lately it had become my first port of call for weather forecasts, news headlines and other 'necessary' information, invariably leading to e-mails, Facebook or other similar time-wasting opportunities), and had a nice breakfast with the boys before heading back up to their rooms for some much needed training in tidying-up.  Said tidying-up was a bit of a tortuous process - I kept catching myself putting things away instead of talking the boys through it.  Eldest's room wasn't too bad (it had been the guest room for our recent visitors), so I left him to it and he did a really good job once he got past the distraction of the lego on the floor that was crying out to be played with.  Middle and Youngest eventually did a very good job too, once I sat on my hands to stop myself doing it for them!  There was an awful lot of me counting "3...2...1..." out loud as a way of helping them to focus on picking something up and deciding where it needed to go - but I realised that actually they do know how to tidy: they knew where everything belonged, they just needed help with concentrating on the job at hand.  I don't think they could have done it by themselves yet in the same way as their big brother - if I'd left them to it I think they would instantly have got distracted & started playing... but they did tidy up their whole room with very little exertion from me (other than the frustration of having to keep counting aloud).  So that was a successful time from my perspective.

Once the bedrooms were tidy we all went out for a walk to the park, and they had a lovely time letting off steam in the sunshine.  I got to play with my gorgeous boys and had a bit of one-on-one time with each of them, and they generally had lots of fun in the fresh air, making up imaginative games and getting exercise - happy times :)

This afternoon I had a little chat with the boys about what they wanted to learn this term - it felt weird putting it like that: in retrospect I wouldn't have used the word 'term' as it feels too schoolish and restrictive, but never mind - they weren't too put off by it.  Middle was fastest to respond: he said he wanted to learn cooking and cursive, and when I suggested Maths Whizz he graciously condescended to agree to doing a "little bit" (!)... and some Reading Eggs too... and to learn reading, which surprised me.  When I pointed out that he already knew how to read (in fact he reads very well indeed), he replied "yes, but not big books like you and (Eldest) read... I want to learn to read big books".  While this might sound like it would be music to my ears, I am slightly baffled as to what the difference is in his mind - and what his perceived barrier is (is he discouraged by comparing himself to bookaholics?).   I couldn't press him on the matter too much as I didn't want him to think it's a bigger deal than it is - but hopefully I'll find out any issues he might be having as we go along.  Anyway, I'm hoping that by presenting him with books that will stretch him a bit, he'll be happy with his progress... watch this space!

Not to be left out, Youngest announced that he wanted to do "Reading Eggs and playing with things" - well that really is music to my ears: I think we can easily facilitate that ;)

However, Eldest wasn't as forthcoming as his brothers with things he wanted to learn next... maybe he needs more time to deschool?  Anyway, after a few prompts from me he did express strong enthusiasm for baking, experiments and anything to do with the World Wars - and agreed with less enthusiasm to do some MathsWhizz ("but not too much"!)

It does seem that Maths still holds negative connotations for both the older boys - maybe because it's the only thing we carried on with that looks vaguely school-related... it has made me question again how structured or autonomous I want us to be.  Our first term of deschooling (once I worked out that that was what we needed) was really successful over all, I think.  Through a bit of strewing and giving them the freedom to follow their own inspiration, they had many great experiences, learned LOTS, and most importantly, relaxed - and I'd be totally happy to carry on in the same way, but for this one small concern: is their current reluctance for Maths a result of my inability to lay it totally down last term?  I have to admit that even though we were deschooling, I did gently encourage the boys regarding MathsWhizz (and Reading Eggs for Middle - Youngest needed no persuasion), albeit with only occasional resistence.

I've often heard it said though that most Home Educators start off a lot more structured than they end up, and it's not like my boys have been scarred-for-life through a little required Maths practice; they're just not as keen on it as other things, which is fine.  I figure we'll just carry on as we are and as we grow in confidence maybe I'll lay that security blanket of Maths-curriculum down - or maybe I'll stop fretting about it and grow in confidence that I do know what's best for my children.  Who knows?  I'm not going to let it stress me out though - I'm just going to keep an eye on it as we go along.  It's not like we're making legally-binding plans, I'm just making note of our ideas because it's nice to have a sense of gentle direction.  One of the things I love about HE is that if our plans turn out not to suit us at all, we can change direction in the blink of an eye.  Gently does it :)


  1. Sounds like a good plan to me. I like the idea of "training" the kids to help around the house too, J could certainly do with some of that!
    R x

    1. thanks Rachel - hope you have a good term too x