This year I’m planning a small change to our daily routine which I’m hoping will have big consequences: I’m not going to declare our “school day” started.
Until now, everyone has done their own thing in the morning until about 9AM when I round them up to “start schoolwork”. C(9) might be watching TV, reading or playing Minecraft while Skyping her best friend. J(8) is usually at his computer.
“Schoolwork” in our house is a very relaxed affair, but it has often required the children to put aside what they’re doing in favour of what I have planned.
I wonder if, by calling an end to the children’s early morning pastimes, I’ve inadvertently created a scarcity situation.
Imagine you’re reading a book. You come across an idea that inspires you to write a blog post. But you know that in 45 minutes someone’s going to shout “Stop! Reading time’s over!” After that time you’ll be allowed to write the blog post, but there’ll be no more reading for several hours. Would you stop reading at the moment inspiration strikes and begin writing the blog post? Or would you push the inspiration to one side, deciding instead to the most of your limited reading time?
While my children are relying on me to formally begin the school day, where’s their incentive to take responsibility for planning their own time? If I was relying on an external call to action, I’d probably turn off my internal motivation, too.
I want C(9) and J(8) to become more responsible for their own learning, so I have to trust them with the freedom to make their own choices. Blurring the line between “school time” and non-school time is one step in this direction.
Of course I’ll still be offering plenty of learning ideas. I might try having a fun science or art activity ready to go in the mornings. But I want the children to be free to choose whether or not they take up my offers. I want to be open to putting aside my own plans in favour of their suggestions.
I’ve been chatting with C(9) and J(8) about these changes – I don’t want them to feel I’m suddenly casting them adrift in an uncharted sea of learning. Both have responded positively to my suggestions. I’ve made it clear that there’ll be as much routine as they’d like – copywork, freewriting, maths, science, history, poetry teas, etc – but that they’re free to take charge of their own learning schedule.
Of all of us, I think it’s me that’s going to find the lack of defined “school time” most challenging. I like to know what I’m doing when, so that I can plan my own time. But if I want my children to learn to plan their own time too, I’m going to have to compromise. I’m up for the challenge. Watch this space to see how I get on!
I’m linking with the Day In The Life blog hop at the iHomeschool Network.