Yesterday, we sat down to our newly named "Table Learning" (So called because the children felt that "Table Work" sounded too boring, this is the only bit of our day, and not every day, which looks remotely like school.) My son soon began to show signs of imminent melt-down. His maths page was impossible and he couldn't read the instructions on the spelling exercise I gave him. I was engaged in explaining something to another child and the huffs and puffs coming from his end of the table were rising in pitch and frequency. "Finish this piece of colouring in," I suggested: crisis averted.
Another child refused to come to lunch as I was not serving the favourite "red" Heinz tomato soup. A quick rearrangement of food on the plate produced a passing imitation of a face and this was deemed satisfying enough to join us at the table.
Our work for the afternoon was "Journey North" which, while very interesting, is quite tricky. It fries my brain a little to work out the hours of daylight from, say, 06:59 to 17:27, and there are eleven such calculations to complete. I told the children they could do as many as they liked with me and then I would do the rest and fill in the graph for them. The two oldest did a handful and went off to play while I finished off.
Little moments, little choices, but each was a conscious decision not to fight, not to force, but to go easy and show humour and grace. I didn't raise my voice, I didn't lose my temper, and I think we were all happier and calmer people.