The Hunter's Moon on Monday seemed to dredge up all sorts of emotional turbulence within me, as well as others I interacted with. My day began with co-worker conflict, and ended in an endless stream of griping and bitching erupting from my brain and mouth. Finally, in sheer desperation for the stream of words flowing forth from my mouth to end, I shut up. I just quit.
However, gems of wonder were to be found amidst all the rapids. My daughter discovered a fun and creative way to make letters from the mail...she started by making an A and then a W, and then a Y, which progressed into words like MAX, WAX, EAT, which then progressed into finding other object with which to make the letters such as pencils, our Halloween spoon witches, spoons, pens, the fly-swatter. It was a lot of fun to watch and encourage.
My brain has been literally swirling with thoughts regarding learning without school, parenting, relationships, life’s typical challenges, the weather, finances, conflicts at work, my career, worries about others, opinions about everything, and on and on and on.
Often it seems, life’s daily flow travels along easily and fluidly and my focus is on each present moment. And then there are those times when all the various things that make up this life are swarming around me like bees hunting for a new hive and it’s impossible to focus on any one thing as they are demanding my attention. Now seems to be one of those times.
Perhaps I just need a quiet spot to reflect upon things, and calm my busy mind...
On the plus side, however, I've had the opportunity to read some inspiring articles on learning lately, and feel aware and responsive to how we are approaching this new journey in our life. It's quotes like this, from John Holt, that really just hone it all in:
"It's not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It's a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life."
I've even taken the leap to really sharing my understanding of this approach with those who most need it, namely my Mother and my In-Laws, who are the most supportive bunch of folks I've encountered recently, and who really need to be on the same page as me since they are primary caregivers to my kids. By sharing Naomi Aldort's amazing, and pretty much mind-blowing CD set, Trusting Our Children, Trusting Ourselves, with my Mom, among others, I am hopeful that my kids will have even more support from their loving grandparents, who are also learning about this new idea for our family. In a family of many PhDs, the concept of homeschooling, and especially without a curriculum and "schoolwork" is a novel concept.
"What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out."
~John Holt, Teach Your Own
Parenting is probably the most challenging (and possibly unanticipated) aspect to many peoples' lives, and being with our children all day and not relying on others to entertain them, "teach" them, take care of them, "endure" them, etc. has become an important aspect of learning without school, at least in my own eyes. I'm the kind of person that constantly seeks out and eats up as much information as I possibly can so that I can become the very best parent that I can possibly be. I believe that kids thrive in an environment without shame, humiliation, punishment, invoked consequences, rewards, time-outs, and all those other negative "traditional" discipline techniques. Changing myself has become a daily affair, and I work at it really hard. Respecting my kids for who they are is essential. I've included a little snippet of inspiration I found this week, as well: How to Raise a Respected Child, by Sandra Dodd.