How Semi-Structured Works for us ‘now’

I was linking this post into a Facebook comment earlier and realised that actually it is rather outdated.

We’ve had to reassess the social side a bit, we had lost the group I spoke of in the post but found that our time had filled up far too much with seeing individual friends.  Lovely of course, but I was starting to feel that my time was never my own especially after my Dad moved down, there was always someone we should call, somewhere we should be…

I jokingly said to another home educator that we don’t do the group thing any more we tread our own path and occasionally collect passengers for stages of the route.  I have planned our curriculum and some subjects (art and science) which are more fun with others we have another couple of families join us for.  I am conscious of Sam being the only one at home and while you definitely learn more one to one it isn’t always as fun, so we do like the variety of working alongside others.  I organise activities and trips which suit us some properly organised but some just ‘we’re doing this if anyone wants to join us’.  Not deliberately avoiding group trips or activities but little about that really works for us.

So here is our plan, to condense regular activities into fewer days.  Means we get a couple of really hectic days but more flexibility on the others.

Monday is a flexible day.  Would like to stay close to home as Jack finishes school early and sometimes I need longer than others to prep for Guides.  Also feel it’s important to get a good Monday morning’s work done.  Sets us up for the week.  But happy to have casual meet ups with friends for coffee or play in the park or spend some time with Grandad after work is done.

Tues is one of our hectic social days.  We should have time to get our morning core work done first though.  Fortnightly we have friends join us for Science late morning.  Afternoon is then free to see other friends or work on project stuff or see Grandad or anything that takes our fancy really.  The other weeks we make use of our Dockyard pass either to coincide with a group laser quest session which he loves or to catch up with his best friend.

Weds is now the free day.  If I organise any trips and days out either just us or for a group Weds is the day.  Sometimes it will be stay at home and do project work.  On days we’re not going out we may even do the core work.  What I won’t do is sign us up for any regular activities or commitments to see anyone unless it is a temporary thing or so good that we will rearrange our entire week dumping other activities for it.

Thurs is the second hectic day.  Core work, friends round for art and a play over lunch before Spanish tutor arrives.  Get everyone out the door and either Sam is picked up for a play at a friend’s house or friend arrives here.  Then Gang Show!

Friday is Grandad day.  We’ll need to rattle off the core work if we didn’t get to it on Weds.  I’m not saying we’ll never do anything home ed group related on this day, talking to someone about drama workshops which will fall on Fri morning prob.  But will commit to nothing regular, the plan is to spend some time with my Dad.

In there I mentioned ‘core work’.  This is done 4 days but not always the same 4 days.  Monday, Tues and Thurs yes and then either Weds/Fri depending on other plans for those days, but not opposed to finishing off bits on the weekend as ‘homework’ as Jack often has homework to do.  Ideally it is done first thing but we have some flexibility.

Core work for us is literacy, maths, Spanish and Latin.  Literacy – handwriting, copywork or narration from Writing with Ease, spelling, grammar and a writing activity, the last is flexible to fit into projects/life.  Maths, we are not following a curriculum for now as we needed a break (separate post long overdue) but still do something that could be called Maths.  Spanish and Latin are very short exercises (5 min jobs usually) but I sign up to the little and often approach to languages.

Apart from the core stuff we don’t tend to have an agenda ahead but tend to go with the flow.  I tend to have a list of jobs in my head for project/badge/science I am aiming for in the day but don’t go as far as putting them into words/commiting to paper as then it causes no upset if they don’t happen.

Art we do as a group so has a set time.  Science we do at as a group once a fortnight so have a set time then, plus we find an hour or so on the non-group weeks to do reading and follow up activities.  Geography and History we do as projects, one project a halfterm is the goal.  We take a lot of field trips for project work, sometimes with and organised group, sometimes a friend or two or sometimes just us, whichever works best.  We often don’t produce an ‘end product’ for a project but cover it all out and about, by reading, hands on stuff and conversation.

This year I’m trying to incorporate some of the Cubs badges and DIY.org stuff into our more relaxed time.

I walk a balance between being very organised and in control in my head, I have a head full of activities that I would like us to work through and I am organised enough to collect the resources together and being very laid back so we effortlessly slip from activity to activity but if he’s chosen an activity not planned or we really get in to something it never matters as the activities are just ideas in my head of how I’d like to go but Sam is driving so sometimes route is different.  Works 60% of the time now 😉 Rest of the time we’re grumpy/snappy and the core work which should be done by 10.30 at latest can take forever.

Only hard rules are that TV/Xbox/Tablet remain a no between 8.30-2.30.  But then there are exceptions, we sometimes use Minecraft for project work, Spanish is done on the tablet, we watch documentaries, when one of us is ill I know our limits and sometimes he plays with friends.   But the important thing is they are exceptions.

Pretty much knocked the hope of music and nature studies on the head.  Be nice, but the former doesn’t enthuse either of us and we have too many allergies to really enjoy the latter.

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