learn

And back to Joy…

Yesterday I posted a pissy post. I don’t like doing that. I don’t want to live in the past or in the negativity, so today I wash my hands of that and step back into the light…into the joy.

I live a happy life. I have a career I love, a family I enjoy and freedom that is not allowed to many. I also want my children to be free.

I have heard comparisons of the school system to the jail system and I have to admit, there are similarities. Cinder blocks, being told where to be and when, needing to ask permission to leave the room, etc. But I think it is unfair to roll the two into one. At least I try not to make that leap. School is great for some I am sure. I just don’t think it is necessary. I also, don’t thImageink it is necessarily healthy due to the stress it can elicit in, especially, young people. So my kids stay home. And this is where I see the joy…as long as I don’t get sucked into societal fears and the education from outside-in paradigm.

This is what I see. A family together, not always the perfect Norman Rockwell picture but together. Fun. Curiosity. Freedom. I think the greatest thing I love is the freedom. But freedom can sometimes seem scary. Like the animal who has been in a cage its whole life, those first steps into a life where you don’t have a “master” can be scary. A day where you can really choose what you are going to do in the day is unfamiliar. This is when taking someones hand to lead you is tempting. But why? Because we really don’t have the freedom we think we do? Because going against the grain is unknown and the unknown is scary? Probably a little bit of all of these things.

But so much joy comes with freedom. Once we take those first steps and see the world isn’t going to crumble. Once you see your children learning and you are not sure how since you didn’t “teach” them that. They just know. They….just….know.

Sure we have the responsibility to search, discover and be curious. But has anyone known a child that isn’t innately these things? How did you lose your desire to discover and be curious? Did you really? Probably not.

Today I am blessed. Blessed to have taken those first steps into the unknown. It is still sometimes scary when we take steps further from what is normal but every step has been worth it to see the happiness. To see the life my children are living.

I have noticed that the only times that I feel stressed or harried is when I get sucked into the darkness. I have fears that are not warranted. That has been proven to me time and time again. I am learning to trust the innate ability to learn as much as I trust the innate ability of the body to heal and grow. How many times do I have to see it happen to completely let go of the darkness? I do not know. But I do know that it is getting easier and brighter every day.

I encourage you to take those first scary steps and trust. Live joyfully and free.

 

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Learning to listen

Almost 10 years ago I started my parenting journey. I knew all the best practices, the dos and do nots. At first it was fairly easy, other than the excruciating breastfeeding. Ouch. But we carried through and that even got much better after the initial 6 weeks. We had a plan, a method and a picture of how we would live as a family, the things my new son would enjoy and the harmony and happiness we would all be embraced in.

HA!

For the first couple of years it went as planned. We didn’t have television in our house. We bought all wood toys, organic food and even organic clothes. We read books, lots of books. My son could recite “Russell the Sheep” at just over a year old. It was precious. ImageHe didn’t eat a lick of sugar until his second birthday when we let him taste the icing. But just a taste. Even the twos weren’t so terrible…but then we hit three. That is when this fiery, assertive, independent red headed child decided he had his own plan. He started shooting us with guns made of sticks, didn’t want to read any more books and plastic toys were like a tractor beam for my sons attention and desire. The flashy, loud ones were especially exciting. And things were thrown, balls, toys, rocks, you name it. He had his own way, that was becoming evident.

At first we pushed, he pushed back. Then we pushed some more, he pushed back some more. We did this for quite a while. Too long in fact. Until we started to….listen. And that was not easy. Here was this little guy, cute as could be. Freckles just starting to popImage up on his nose, much like is mothers. Stubborn like his dad. Okay maybe his mom a little too. An independent, determined, wild little child. And my “idea” of what our family should look like was vanishing before my eyes. He didn’t like the music I wanted him to listen to. He seemingly already preferred heavy metal, grunge rock and that love only grew as he got older. (He DID get that from his dad). Not the classical, mind-enhancing, music I preferred him to listen to. (Even though, truth be told, I didn’t like it either and preferred rock and alternative music myself). But dammit, we were going to do better for him. But what was that? Violin by 5? Reading the Harry Potter series by 7? Being the best soccer player on his team? Being a grade ahead of kids his own age to prove his brilliance? Yes. These were all things that we pondered. That we wished for him…or for us. Then we stopped. And we started to try to listen…to him.

He loved being ouImagetdoors. He loved animals. SO MANY ANIMALS. I learned to love snakes, bugs, even cockroaches. I know…ick. Okay maybe I didn’t learn to love them but I learned to appreciate them and see the excitement in his eyes. And I started to follow his lead. We bought nerf guns, remote control dinosaurs and ant farms. Because he loved them. He started to wear camo. We had lots of camo. We continued to read, but not as much. And instead we watched national geographic, mythbusters and animal planet. And he loved it. We bought science kits and did some of them, some of the time. We dug holes, planted trees, collected tad poles and had sword fights. We watched movies. With fighting! GASP! And we got closer. We had fun. He had fun.

We started to homeschool him and decided on our curriculum. For 3 years we did math sheets, phonics lessons, grammar, reading, writing and we fought. We fought and fought and fought. Sometimes yelling. Sometimes tears. Somedays were good. But more often than not we dreaded the worksheet days. The struggles. He had his own way and we stopped listening, because he turned “school age”. Then I came to the proverbial “end of my rope”. I was exhausted and he was only 8. It was either public school (which I knew deep downImage in my heart that it would destroy the boy I loved) or…unschooling.

So for a year now we have been unschooling. I have gotten my boy back. Do I still struggle at times with taking the road less traveled? Honestly, yes. But I also have the privilege of seeing kids, regularly, in the public school system, as well as teachers, and when I see the effects of the system on them, I know I am doing the right thing. And it certainly does help when I meet more and more teachers choosing the unschooling style of learning. But really is there any other way to learn? There are other ways to educate, to teach but to learn is something that must come from within, it must be useful.

Educate:

: to teach (someone) especially in a school, college, or university

: to give (someone) information about something : to train (someone) to do something

Learn:

1. To gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through experience or study.
2. To fix in the mind or memory; memorize: learned the speech in a few hours.
3.

a. To acquire experience of or an ability or a skill in: learn tolerance; learned how to whistle.
b. To become aware: learned that it was best not to argue.
4. To become informed of; find out. See Synonyms at discover.
5. Nonstandard To cause to acquire knowledge; teach.
6. Obsolete To give information to.
v.intr.

To gain knowledge, information, comprehension, or skill: learns quickly; learned about computers; learned of the job through friends.
To learn is our goal. To learn through life. To learn through experience. To learn through love. To discover.
My red-headed, determined, “wild” now 9 year old. Is happy. I am happy. Is he learning? Yes. Every day. Is it conventional. No, not at all. Is it normal? No. But we never strive to be normal. We strive to be happy…and joyful.