My nieces and nephews just completed their first full week at our home (as opposed to just weekends). So far everything's going smoothly, especially considering we're combining two largeish families into one really large family.
The one thing that is really taking me down is the flow of the day. It's not working. Some of the children crave structure, that could be fulfilled by having a loosely structured school day. Some do not. We have about an even split in this house now. What to do, what to do?
DH and I, with help from the oldest few children, have brainstormed several possibilities for the upcoming "school year." All the children will be staying home I think. So it's an exercise in meeting the needs of those who need more structure and direction, and not burning out the ones that don't. These are (we think) the most viable, but with DH stumped and the kids not able to agree on anything, it seems like it's being left up to me.
Option 1: Everybody over a certain age does light "school," but on a relatively flexible schedule. Year round school with frequent breaks, but no long blocks like a 3 month summer vacation.
Pros: Provides structure. Not rigid. Plenty of room to take off whenever we feel like it and go do stuff. Gives a certain rhythm to our days. I can easily keep track of everybody's work, needs, and tailor the work to them.
Cons: Our kids who do really well with unschooling get swept along with it and may resent it. The structure of our days doesn't allow us to pursue individual passions as intently, even though it does leave some room for that. Sets up a teacher/student dynamic that the new children may find difficult and adversarial, given their past experiences, and which may be detrimental to bonding with us and/or our kids.
Option 2: Everybody unschools and we just deal with the current chaos until things settle, the cousins "deschool" (they've been homeschooled their entire lives, but more strictly than we ever would), and we only lightly schedule and structure our days.
Pros: More time to develop and explore passions. More peaceful and happier for most children. No double standards. Kids seem to fight less when less structure and coercion is involved. Getting to know the new children in a more positive and less pressured environment that doesn't set us up as teacher/student.
Cons: Getting over that hump may be a long journey. Can't keep track of things easily. The "squeaky wheel" principle in large families, wherein the child who commands the most attention gets it, could cause some children's needs and desires to fall through the cracks if we're not really diligent about it.
Others option considered was to have some children unschool and some not, but it seemed like a middle ground that would end up not pleasing or benefitting anyone, and created a huge double standard that would breed resentment on both ends. No go.
I'm torn. The first solves immediate problems but might aggravate or give rise to new ones, while the second may provide more long-term benefits but will be a massive adjustment on top of many others going on in our house right now. Anyone have any insight? Thoughts? Opinions? Possible compromises that I'm not seeing?