How do we bridge the gap between encouraging autonomous, child-led learning and preventing utter bedlam from reigning in the house? Our eldest son is very self-motivated and has a lot of ideas for projects he can be getting on with .... But I have three boys, each with their own needs and learning style, their own personality and temper! I have been reading a book about Home Education this weekend which suggests a period of Table Top Time each day - sitting down together to do something creative, and preferably artistic, conversing together and then seeing where these activities lead. This gives the child plenty of choice but within a framework, and the key is for the adult to sit down and work alongside the children. It also remains very creative and play-based. Based on this idea, I think I will try to implement a loose timetable this week - for example, Table Top Time (which could involve options such as drawing or painting, a craft activity, working in a work book, Lego or KNex), a games time (chess, Monopoly, Yahtzee, puzzles etc), quiet reading time, outdoor time (when we could just go into the garden, or walk to our nearby field for a kickabout, or up to our nearby basketball court for a game, or just go to the park) .... etc.
This week I was encouraging my middle son to look at symmetry around our home, and gave him a small mirror for the purpose of seeing lines of reflection. This idea was sparked by looking at the website of the school the boys attended to see what topics his class were covering this week. To be honest, he wasnt terribly interested, and when I offered him a worksheet I had downloaded to back the ideas up, he just turned away. Today, however, both he and his elder brother spent a good long time building with Lego and KNex and produced perfectly symmetrical models. This just went to show me that practical, informal learning can be just as valuable as any worksheet I might wish to impose!