Funny, I thought this series was going to be so easy, but it's really hard to sort out thoughts and ideas in a chronological way. The thing that comes to mind at the moment is something I thought would make an ideal homeschool situation back when I was being homeschooled.
I remember specifically thinking that more formal work in the morning and more relaxed work in the afternoon (reading, field trips, outdoor time), etc. would be an ideal balance. I still pretty much think of this as an ideal. I was fascinated years later, when I met my friend Ana, to learn that in Brazil, the norm for schooling is to go to a school in the morning and spend the afternoon with your family. That background was a part of her own family's decision to homeschool. Makes a lot of sense to me!
And a slightly tangential note relating to my earlier thought on how it's easier to follow a schedule someone sets up for you than to hold yourself accountable... To me this partly involves giving our children enough freedom to take responsibility for themselves.
I've mentioned before that my 14 year old son has struggled with reading to some extent, though audio books and read-alouds are fabulous! We've put a lot of effort into helping him read through works of literature for study groups and such (and those things are SO motivating for him!). It's partly a focus difficulty for him as he reads clearly and smoothly out loud (and also the fact that he's a very strong auditory learner - really the opposite of his mom!).
Well, this summer we read Pope Benedict's book on St. Paul for our catechism discussion group. We missed all of August and had 5 chapters to finish discussing last night. Gus had quite a bit of reading left yesterday afternoon when I was reading to myself, so I offered to read it out loud to him. He politely declined because, he told me, he was aiming at reading the entire book to himself. It took a great effort and quite a bit of his time before the class started, but he did it! (I'm so proud!)