The life of opportunities.

by

It makes me laugh to think how we judged parents before we had children.

One of the most contentious issues was around home education, popularly (and incomprehensibly) known as home schooling. I wholeheartedly believed every myth out there – that these were kids that would be total social misfits, isolated, etc. How splendidly ignorant I was!

Yesterday we went to a lovely home education group we often frequent on Thursdays. It was ‘s’ day, so had a huge variety of stuff the babies, children, and young people could choose to do revolving around that letter, as well as normal kid stuff like running around wild outside, making forts and getting muddy. The day was to feature streetdancing, so a computer was hooked up to a projection screen and sound system. The morning had music playing, but the main electronic thing was a slideshow of stars.

By the time group was nearing close, music was pumping, kids were playing Minecraft and it was projected big screen, and random people were dancing. Of course you had a healthy number of children on the playground, or in the corner doing puzzles, but the vast majority were drawn like bees to honey to the weirdly awesome atmosphere indoors. It was like a wedding that had gone well, and we were the last hardcore people, still having fun while others were cleaning up.

These kids seem marvelous to me. The older ones look out for the younger ones, they run in packs of children of all ages, there is so much choice. The kids are easily able to converse with adults, and the whole day seems marked by a smooth fluidity in the groups. Instead of being sat in rows, silent,as a teacher drones on, they are playing and learning with friends in an organic and fun way. The freedom, the respect, the ability of each child to be authentically themselves – these blow me away every time we are in a large gathering of home educated children.

If Coconut wants to wear a superhero cape and her underpants, she can. If Snort wants to create a detailed and very boisterous game with another little boy, he can. The parents and adults aren’t there to bend the children to their own timetables, but to support the kids in doing what feels most interesting to them at any given time. I think there is a reason home educated children come out much higher on tables of learning – beating their peers in maths, literacy, social skills.  Learning is all integrated, natural, and happens all the time. It’s individualized to each child’s needs and abilities, taking into account their interests.

You learn all the time. Yesterday while Coconut helped me spread fish fingers on a cooking sheet, we talked about how you can group the same ten pieces of fish in different ways. Maths. When Snort watches videos on you tube of race tracks and recreates the scenes with his cars, often improving on them, he is strengthening his memory, critical skills, and imagination. We don’t do these things because they are learning. We do them because the kids want to do them, and learning is a side effect. Everything that happens in life is learning.

We started last week at the zoo, and they were both completely taken by the idea of skulls and skeletons. We handled different types of skulls. The week ended with Coconut seeing x rays of her own bones….in a totally sick way, they tied in together. This week has led to trips to the library to get books about the human body and bones. She can now identify and understand bones, the heart, the brain, the skull. Both have long been interested in the body and these books deepened our understand of what happens as we eat food – the pipe the food goes down, the stomach, the large and small intestines, pooping.

Wow.
This has gotten long, hasn’t it? It’s because my mother in law has taken both kids for a couple of hours, so this is my first time in WEEKS I have been sitting at our normal laptop. My fingers and brain are getting away with me.

I guess what I’m trying to say, what it all boils down to, is that I want my kids to be who they are. I want them to have the time and space to explore themselves in the context of the world around them. I want them to have enough freedom and flexibility to discover and pursue their dreams. For us, right here and right now, it is happening every day.

And I am happy.

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4 Responses to “The life of opportunities.”

  1. Liv Says:

    Sounds brilliant. Would be really interested to hear which book your kids liked the most, have been considering getting one as we have much interest being shown in how all the body bits work too. (Including gory fascination with my finger when I cut it the other day, and numerous requests for me to take the plaster off for another look…)

    • me Says:

      Okay. The library book we got was the Usborne internet-linked Human body. We’ve only really looked at the bones page in there, because it has an ideal picture that almost perfectly mimics Coconut’s x ray.
      Then we accidentally found a body book I’d bought years ago in anticipation of the kids being older and it is BRILLIANT. It’s My Atlas of the Human Body, by Tango Books. It’s something that will appeal from toddlerhood right through childhood (and I like it, too!). Sort of a two page spread to each body system…or things like breathing, eating, weeing, etc. GOOD STUFF. Enjoy!

  2. hannahweller Says:

    Try this if you will?

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