structure and freedom

We haven't been getting out much this last month. Winter has arrived, the section is soggy, the wood pile is quickly disappearing and I have been draining off the water tanks which obviously have far too little capacity.
The pull to stay inside next to the fire is winning over the pull to head out right now and yet the days are full, with projects and play, stories and investigation.

We usually have several lists on the go at any one time which help keep track of the current questions and plans and projects on the girls' minds.
I keep a spiral bound notebook for both the girls close by so I can jot down questions,  passions and some possible directions. These books are invariably jammed with scraps of paper that I have scribbled on during the day.
Now and again I also do a bit of a mind map of all the current interests whirring around our home; these are great to get things out of one's head and down on paper. These are all attempts at keeping in step with the dance of respectful, child-led learning.

Being intentional about supporting the girls to follow up on interests and plans is part of what I see as my job description; gently reminding them of yesterday's ideas, pulling relevant books from the shelf, making sure we are stocked with necessary materials. Not in a hovering-over-their-every-whim kind of way but supportive and useful.
This dance continues to evolve with the children. 
Mostly my intention has been to be present. Presence increases mindfulness and my ability to flex with my own wants and needs and those of the the children. And as they grow, these  change
When the girls were younger their days were anchored around the predictable rhythm of our days (early morning and bedtime rituals, mealtimes, naps etc). They spent their days playing by themselves, each other and alongside me. I'm not a sit-down-and-play-baby-activities-with-my-baby kind of mama - I'm not an entertainer (only sometimes when I have my clown suit on :-)). Rather I set up our home environment so opportunities were accessible and mostly got on with my day with them alongside me.
This shifted gradually but significantly around the time that Ruby turned seven. 
Her imaginary friends no longer were visiting daily and she had more definite plans of things she wanted to make and learn about. We kept track of these ideas and plans then too but didn't get far with making them happen. Ruby wanted to make and do some more challenging projects but was resistant to putting aside the time to make them happen. She seemed to be stepping outside her comfort zone and we needed to change something in our days to support this new direction. We took a while to find what would fit and then took the time to lay down the pattern of this new habit.

Now, on the mornings we are at home, we gather after breakfast to see where we are at with projects, check in with where help might be needed to figure out the next step or just get on with creating and/or investigating.
Yesterday this looked like:
> doing a few rows of weaving.
> pulling out the buttons and the cuisenaire rods to play with grouping numbers in different ways (out of the blue, Ruby decided she wants to make a start on multiplication)
> both working on a profile portrait (born out of  having had a couple of Fridas above our dining room table.
> checking out measuring angles on a protractor. Ruby was creating a periscope kitset of sorts for her cousin's birthday present and needed to clarify details.

We all like this new structure to our home days.
I like how the clear intention creates the space for us all to fully engage with paths we want to make progress on.  It reminds me (as I kickstart my yoga practice once again) that the structure/discipline/habit creates the path to where I'm wanting to go
I think Ruby likes being in charge and feels supported by the structure.
And Sky seems happy and engaged, full stop.
Rather than the structure running roughshod over the girls creativity, it reminds us to consciously engage with some of the projects we  have on the go and to take the next step, whatever that is.


  1. What a fabulous post! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it all down, as I can see this being so useful in the future for me- and freinds of mine also! MAy I please share this on my personal facebook page? And, as I tend to like to double mark (bookmark and Pin) things I think are really great, would you be ok with me Pinning this onto Pinterest? I know many folks feel (and rightly so, perhaps) that Pinterest has many down sides, so I understand if you would rather I didn't :-).
    I just love your blog, thank you always :-).

  2. Kushla, hey thanks for checking it out first but go right ahead and share it. Sharing is a good thing.