To be Formal or Informal?

IMG_7732I am such a list person…I write lists for shopping, packing, popping out for the day, or things to do the next day (every day has it’s list of missions/jobs to do).  I blame the need for this mainly on losing so many memory cells having had three children, but really it is that I need to feel organised.  I plan everything.  So when we were thinking about home education, unless I wanted a very formal, structured approach (which has it’s benefits for some, but was not what we wanted if we left the structured school environment, mentioned in previous posts), I had to step right out of my comfort zone.  As I have already mentioned, there is the structured approach, the unschooling approach (natural learning, what the child learns as it goes through it’s daily life experiences), and everything in between.  I felt that we’d be quite structured in the morning, with the little lady’s maths and english (reading at bedtime), and choosing topics to follow from other subjects, as well as the twins learning to read and write, and then unstructured in how we followed those topics through and anything other experience we wanted to do.
IMG_2324However, I do seem to be surprising myself how far I am veering from the semi structured approach (and for now it is suiting us all very well).  The workbooks for maths and english feature most days, as do the mini mens reading and writing aids, but instead of getting them done at home and then moving on with our day, they are coming with us wherever we are going, and getting a little bit of daylight in a lull of activity, before getting back to whatever has grabbed our interest for the day. Some routine has always suited us as it gives the trio a sense of security, but at the moment this seems to be limited to morning routine, and evening routine, the rest of the day is explained for them during the breakfast.  It’s giving us the freedom to explore and take advantage of being able to be out and about (mainly in nature) for whole days (really what our little lady missed most about being in school), and perhaps the weather has guided our approach.  Since giving up school at Easter, it has brightened up and got warmer, making being outside for long stretches a lot easier.  Perhaps come winter time again, we will indeed swap to a more structured approach (still not fully structured).  As mentioned in previous posts, I am a firm believer in that children also need vast amounts of unstructured time, but what is surprising me is how much a day I am giving them.  I provide them with an environment (beach, woods, or elsewhere), and then more than I anticipated I would, I let them follow their own leads.  Rather than suggesting things, or providing worksheets etc.

I am also having to learn to let go a lot more, and realise if it doesn’t happen, that’s ok too. I am my own worst critic, and a very harsh one at that, so place a lot of pressure on myself to do things right.  Home education is teaching me to be fluid, and if the workbooks don’t get done, and come home unwritten in from our trip out, it’s not the end of the world, they have still done a lot of learning in that day.  It just can’t all be quantified, tested, and listed!!

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This is what happened this afternoon with 2 hours (and still going) of being left to their own devices……lots of play with lego, moving from interacting, to playing in their own space but alongside each other, using their imagination and skills to create and make, and then do imaginative play scenarios.  It does us adults good to see there is such learning opportunities in their playtime.



Comments 2

  1. Lovely to read. Very similar to myself actually! Definitely a list person and we had the same idea… certain subjects at home with books.. my daughter reads a lot anyway so that was covered.. and then the rest kind of sorts itself out. I was going to plan a lot more but if we are looking at a particular topic my daughter will ask about something or have an idea and I decide to follow that instead… so why plan when she can almost plan it herself! 🙂 We end up taking the books with us or we talk through things in the car… I like to be organised and this does throw me as well but I am seeing that it works, my daughter needs more free time than work time and she learns through that anyway… and then when we work it is more valuable than a whole forgotten day of not listening in school…….xx

    1. Post

      Exactly!! It’s us grown ups that need to reconstruct our outlooks and step out of our comfort zones and the children are teaching me that! We are having so much fun at the moment with the freedom that no school gives us 🙂

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