I often worry about getting our home ed balance correct – the balance between weekly activities, one-off workshops, outings with friends and our home days. I think I have a tendency to worry about those home days. It is something we have always needed to include in our week as it helps the kids decompress and handle their sensory side of life. But as the kids are getting older we need those home days less and less. And that is brilliant, I love that but there is another side to those home days. The home days are the days when they get to explore their current interests without time restraints.
Here’s the thing when they get to explore their interests without worrying about time, worrying that they will not be able to complete whatever project they are starting, they really end up doing amazing work. And it would be work that you could easily classify as educational / school activity (if you wanted to classify it like that). But without intending to do anything, driven by their own interest they really are creating their own learning projects. And what they do ends up being varied.
My son will often draw the animals that he is interested in (currently sharks, snakes, lizards). He will draw realistic versions and then create his own hybrids. He will spend ages writing out fact pages about the animals (again the real ones and his own hybrids) and create lists ordering them into who is the most deadly, which creatures live in which countries or habitat.
Now if I think about that – all of what he is doing is self-lead but he is writing a LOT, practicing spelling, some complex words, he is practicing summarising skills – reading a lot of information and then just focusing on some important or unique characteristics, he is also drawing, creating maps, looking at countries and habitats. That is actually quite a lot of “learning” that is happening. None of which I have asked him to do, all of which is being 100% driven by his interest in a topic. The only input I have is as a “resource finder assistant” – so he might tell me he would like book or pages on drawing different sharks, a book on the different breeds or maybe he needs some templates to use for his fact find pages – that really is my input in all of this. Oh wait I do sometimes act as a spelling helper.
My daughter is the same but instead of being very animal focused she is all about History and family trees right now. She is writing her own stories about historical characters, creating timelines, family trees, working out dates for when the people ruled and when they died, she even thought about how she would design a royal palace. And again she is the one driving this and I am just the resource helper and sometimes Maths advisor. But her projects cover – creative writing, spelling, research, History, Geography, Maths, Religion, no Science but we have discussed a lot about the history of medicine and how certain cures have been proven to be false.
But my point of all of this is the days/ weeks when we are very busy with lots of outings and places to get to they don’t often sit down and do this, or they start, get interrupted because we need to go somewhere and then get frustrated because they were in the middle of something. On the days when they know we are having a home day those are the days when they really dive into their projects and spend hours learning about their current interests.
So even though we don’t need our home days as much as we used to from the sensory side of life I am still trying to make a point of not over scheduling our week so they get those down days where they can lose themselves in their own learning. Because those are the days when the real magic of home ed is the most evident and the kids learn more than I could ever teach them. Those are the days when I sit and marvel at how they are brilliant at driving their own learning and I am just so thankful that we are on this home education journey