"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Marianne Williamson
As promised I will share with you some of our homeschooling plans. Oh where to begin? First I will start with a bit of a disclaimer. I know many readers and friends who have no desire to homeschool or practice our style of parenting and that is totally fine. We fully respect those decisions and in no way want to give the impression that our way is the only way or the right way. Our personal experiences shape our present day decisions and convictions. I also believe that some children excel in a school situation while others flounder. One method is sure to work some and fail for others. Today I will share our views with no hidden agenda or judgement of what others are doing. I will warn you, rather unapologetically, that I may be opinionated in this post. You have your convictions and we have ours and that's what makes the world go 'round.
I am tempted to make a bulleted list of points so here goes:
- One of the things Mike and I would like to instill in our children is a sense of self and great confidence something we both lack and struggle with at times. When you know who you are and what you will stand for you also know who you are not and what you won't stand for. In a class of 25 or 30 students how much of yourself must be given up in order to be liked or to fit in? Do we dim our light in an effort to make others feel less threatened?
- I am of the belief that children are natural learners and that the rigors of school can kill that delicacy in some children. They may continue to preform, but I can't help but wonder if comes from a place of people pleasing or from a place of authentic interest and motivation.
- Many people argue that school teaches children how to deal with later real life situations where they will be forced to work with and for people we don't like or agree with. Sure we won't always be dealt perfect situations in our lives, but do I want a child who will adapt to unpleasant and possibly abusive situations or do I want my child to be strong enough to change what they don't like?
- I like the idea of teaching to the level of our own understanding and then reaching out for help if there is an interest to go further. If a child doesn't enjoy math chances are they will not choose a career involving math. I was taught way more math than I had any interest in and only retained the stuff I need to live. What I am trying to say is that there are tutors and friends out there with strengths we may not have to round out the child's learning experience. It takes a village.
- We really love the free flow of unschooling and the rhythm and beauty of Waldorf. We don't want a strict curriculum, but we think that a few hours in the morning spent on reading, writing and other basic "conventionall" learning is something we're comfortable with especially when we will have the remaining day and night to follow our hearts into whatever task or topic we desire.
- I have great admiration for those who do unschooling full time. It takes a lot of trust and confidence. Mike and I are worriers by nature and don't think we could shrug off the doubt and worry. So we feel the balance of structure and free flow will be good for us and our comfort level.
- We don't have cable and we haven't had it for years. I don't like the fast paced, strobe light effect of commercials and short digitally animated shows. I think it is distracting and headache inducing so I can only imagine how it makes children feel. I don't believe the television is ever really quality entertainment for any age of child. Their time is better spent reading, playing, chatting, getting dirty and interacting with other people and nature as often as possible. That being said my kids do watch movies. And yes, they watch Disney movies. Some of them have fun songs and the stories are often from way back with some decent morals. Some of our favourites are The Resucuers, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and the original Winnie the Pooh. I would like to add Mary Poppins, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks and The Sound of Music to this list as well. Sometimes they watch older Sesame Street and Berenstain Bears episodes on Netflix. I choose them carefully. I do it because I am alone all day without a car with a needy one year old and a napless two and a half year old. I need a break. That is the reality of it. I hope that when they are a tad bit older they can play for longer periods of time together without biting pulling and pushing and that we will spend endless hours crafting, baking and exploring. The days are long and a movie gives me a chance to breathe and maybe even write a blog or answer emails.
- We have a lot of good homemade music and even some prefab dance music. No matter how many options we give Poppy, her favourite song to dance to is still Telephones by Lady Gaga. We also have some kid's music that I remember singing as a child, but our favourite is anything by Elizabeth Mitchell.
- Toys are tricky. As much as we try to have simple, open ended toys we still have many noise making pieces of plastic. Some have been gifts and some have been purchased by us at yard sales and thrift stores. I prefer the warmth of wooden or natural fiber toys especially when they are handmade. Yet we still have a mess of toys in every room and it seems that the kids only handle them long enough to toss them on the floor and move on to something else. I think it is time to purge the plastic again.
An incomplete and ever-growing list of our favourite things...
Heaven on Earth
John Holt's books
Seven Times the Sun
Dr. Sears' Collection
Creative Play for your Toddler
Creative Play for your Baby
Dumbing Us Down
Living Simply with Children
Above All Be Kind
The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents
The Apple Cake
Gerda Muller's Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter books
Each Peach Pear Plum
It's Time to Sleep
The Old Turtle
The Night You Were Born
Just like the above list, this blog post is a constant work in progress and liable to change with the wind and the needs of our family. I have tried to include Canadian resources as I know how frustrating it can be as a Canadian trying to sift through the overwhelming amounts of US resources. Please feel free to share anything you have found inspiring or helpful on your journey!
go gently + be wonderful