Freedom within limits

Today I implemented a much firmer routine with the boys. Straight after breakfast I told them to go upstairs, get dressed and ready and then to report to the kitchen table. They were excited about the timetable they could see on the cupboard, so they quickly did as I had asked and came and sat around the table. I explained my plan to them, which was the introduction of guidelines as to how we spend the day, but within these limits still allowing them plenty of choice and opportunity to explore their own interests and make their learning their own. I was amazed at how positive their response was and how well the day went. It shows how much children appreciate knowing where the boundaries lie, and how they like to know what is expected of them. Today seemed to suggest they will then be happy to comply.

So how is our day structured? Well, we start each day with Table Top Time. Today I did some drawing, my youngest son pottered and my eldest was engaged in several activities, moving from some KNex and Lego modelling, to a maths problem sparked by the question, "I wonder how many minutes I have been alive." (He then worked out how many minutes each of his brothers, myself and his Dad have lived, and expressed a plan to work out the same for Grandpa, Grandma and Great Grandma and enter all the results into the computer so that they can be constantly updated minute by minute ..... If anyone knows how to do that, let us know!)

My middle son made himself a tiny 'Home School' booklet with 'character studies' for each member of our family complete with passport photographs, name, age, birthday, favourite subject, favourite food and favourite things. He did this so beautifully and finished it off in the later Project Time.

After a good hour and a half of quiet, focussed activity, we had a drink and a snack and I sent the boys into the garden for a break. The elder two spent half an hour playing swingball, their younger brother had a good bounce on the trampoline - safe from flying racquets.

We then had Project Time. My eldest son has been making a Triceratops out of Duplo, so he started to make a Dinosaur Fact File on the computer, finding out about Triceratops and looking at pictures to develop his model. Later in the day, he made two more dinosaurs in the same way, and said that he will continue this project tomorrow. Once my middle son had finished his 'Home School' booklet, he and his younger brother were busy building train tracks. He might need a little more help finding himself a project. We had an interesting discussion about African wildlife today, so maybe we could develop that.

After making and eating lunch together, I read the boys a story each. They still enjoy picture story books and all sitting down together to listen. We then went to our local field for a kickabout with the football, and then they took bikes and scooters to a quiet car park not far from us and rode around a bit.

When we got back, they used the iPlayer to watch a bit of 'The Best of Top Gear' we had been talking about, then it was time to do some cleaning around the house, which they all did willingly, one with the duster, one with the hoover; one cleaning the floor, one wiping down the windows. This was great, as sometimes I feel the cleaning of the house is all down to me and, from the boys' perspective, happend 'magically' whilst they have been at school. Then they had a period of 'Free Play' to do as they chose until dinner time. A neighbour and her son came to see us, so my eldest son continued with his Lego dinosaur construction with his friend, whilst his brother played on the computer.

Obviously, the schedule I have planned will vary from day-to-day to include Games Times, foreign languages, music and time outside and in the garden. There are also our usual family evening activities, the clubs the boys attend and our regular commitments outside our home - running the local nursery library, the International Women's Group and Sunday church activities. It is also all very flexible because we need to allow for friends to come and go, and for different opportunities as the weather and our mood and interest dictates.

Anyway, so far, so good. Let's see how we get on tomorrow!