Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Little people, wise words.

I had a run-in with one of my determined 2 year-olds and stayed cross with him longer than I like to; only around 5 minutes, but I prefer to allow these things to linger only a moment usually! It lasted no longer than 5 minutes because the boys didn't allow it to; we were trying to leave the house and I was putting little shoes on the little feet of the two boys I wasn't cross with when Joseph said,

"You just need to take a deep breath Mummy, and so does he".

I looked up to see two pairs of blue eyes, willing me not to be cross anymore. Then Joseph and his two year-old brother said, "You just need to let your anger go Mummy".

I felt like some little seeds I once scattered were now flowering for me, just as I needed them! There was no way I could continue to be angry; I hugged their determined brother, let it go and we all went out for ice-cream!

I try make sure the boys know how much I learn from them and how powerful and important this is for me, just as I chat to Joseph about the things he learns from his brothers and vice versa. Learning and knowledge don't flow one-way in our home, adults may have more experience to draw on but children can be so unbelievably instinctive, wise and compassionate that we'd be foolish to think they had nothing to teach us. We don't subscribe to the 'adults speak, children listen' approach here; everyone's voice is important, and we all deserve to be heard.

Our children are so much more than empty vessels, waiting to be filled with knowledge by qualified adults.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Assuming and Questioning

I recently had a frustrating conversation with someone who vaguely knows my family and I. They had made a few assumptions about our lifestyle and parenting based on the fact that we have chosen to learn at home, and this led them to recommend that I find an activity for Joseph where he is not under my supervision and can experience submitting to the authority of other adults. It was frustrating because I wanted to explain that our everyday lives require that we are sensitive to the rules and boundaries of others, that home-ed involves being guests in the homes of various other home-ed families whose choices and boundaries we respect, and that I don't believe unquestioning authority to be particularly healthy anyway. It bothered me that this person has a perception of my family that I don't relate to based on not really knowing us, but ultimately I know this doesn't matter, and I let it go. In that respect I know it is my problem and not theirs and that in their own way they were trying to be kind, but in any case it led me to think about where general ideas about what's best for children come from.

It is important for me to question where my assumptions about what children 'need' and what is beneficial for them come from, rather than relying on a system to define my feelings for me. It is typical in our culture for four year-old children to be separated from their parents for most of every weekday, and to be under the authority of adults who are not their family or friends. The fact it is typical does not mean that it is necessary or the best thing for every child, and parents are entitled to question this. I am still amazed at the number of people I speak to who did not know that parents are legally able to decide that school is not the best place for their children to learn, and that children do not have to attend...ever! We have chosen something different for our children at this point in time based on what we feel is best for them, and this feeling comes from observing the environments in which they are happy and thrive. I make no judgement about how other families decide their children will learn (I see far more grey than black-and-white on these issues), but I'm aware that I am subject to other people's judgements from time to time. This doesn't particularly bother me, but I do think its healthy for all of us to regularly question the beliefs we hold, particularly when we hold these beliefs up as standards or measuring sticks for those around us.

So where does the idea that children should willingly submit to the authority of adults who are practically strangers to them come from? Who decided that this is what they 'need' or that it is beneficial for them, and can anybody really make this decision for all children?

It doesn't feel like a good preparation for life to me, we're aiming at relationships based on mutual respect here.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Science Museum

We had a fabulous day at the Science Museum this week. All three boys loved it and I only wish I had been able to capture in a photo the look of absolute wonder on Joseph's face as he explored the Launchpad. I have it in a memory store though! It wasn't just my children of course, the museum was buzzing with excited, enthused and fully engaged children exploring the exhibits, rushing from one to another to experience as many as they could.

As I watched them (and joined in myself) it was just so clear how my children love to learn. They want to touch, play, watch, exercise choice and experience it all for themselves. They looked like masters of their learning worlds as they navigated the galleries. I'm sure they felt powerful!

Joseph, Callum and Charlie navigate their real-world learning environments like this all day every day, spending their days buzzing around, exercising choice, excited, enthused and fully engaged. That in itself is enough to convince me that they are learning.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Thursday was Valentine's Day. Oliver had been working in Holland until Wednesday and was called to Essex on Thursday. He had hoped to be home at tea time, but instead worked a long day, hit heavy traffic and wasn't home until around 8.30pm. He came through the front door tired and stressed with a bag of lovely food for us to share, only to find a wide-awake Charlie who was not interested in going to bed, and an exhausted wife who wanted some help at home. Oliver had been hoping for a peaceful evening with me and was clearly disappointed that things hadn't turned out as he had hoped as we sat eating with an excitable 2 year-old between us! Eventually Charlie went up to bed and Oliver and I collapsed on the sofa for some treasured time alone together.....all 15 minutes of it, before a poorly Callum awoke and joined us downstairs. He was bunged up and unhappy, and soon began complaining that his ear hurt. Callum periodically cried out in pain, and I watched Oliver wince with every yelp as he offered him medicine. Eventually we retired to bed, taking an exhausted Callum with us to cuddle off to sleep.

I'm not bothered by Valentine's Day, I held no romantic vision of what the day might have in store so I wasn't disappointed, and as we drifted off into a welcome sleep holding hands across our poorly son, I couldn't help feeling like the day had turned out just fine! Time and time again our children remind us of the strength we have together, the purpose we find within our family and the manifest beauty of love when we are caring for one another well. Happiness and romance don't always look the way I expect them to...our home has always been a wonderful place for me to learn!


Mini Blogs!

Once upon a time the boys were happy going to bed at around 7pm and Oliver and I had the evenings to ourselves. This is not currently the case; their body clocks seem to be shifting and they are enjoying staying up later which means I don't currently have time for blogging!

I usually collect thoughts and reflections in my head over a period of days and weeks which seem to gather naturally into blogs, but the change in our evenings means that when I do reflect, it's usually for no more than a moment and I don't seem to be gathering thoughts together in the same way. Rather than stop writing altogether for a while as I had wondered if I may decide to, I'm going to write out anything I am thinking about in mini blogs! Blogging has been so beneficial for me, and there are many little things that happen and inspire me that I don't want to forget about so I'm simply going to write them out in spare moments and see what happens!

It's a benefit of deciding to learn at home that the boys can follow their own body clocks and sleep and wake when it suits them. It's really important to me that they are able to do this, and I'm sure life will happily fall into place around their sleep patterns. I guess the change in how I'll approach writing this blog is just one demonstration of that!


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Just a lovely moment....

We were walking to the shop to pick up a few supplies and it was windy and chilly. On the return leg Joseph was deep in thought and asked...

"When I breathe does my air go into the earth's air, or does the earth's air come into my air?"

We talked about how we breathe out carbon dioxide which is absorbed by trees and plants, which then put oxygen back into the air for us to breathe. Joseph was mesmerised by this idea and said "I want to do that!" It seemed to him far too incredible to be something that happens around us all of the time! I told him I'd draw a picture to show how it worked when we got home, and he liked that idea.

We walked on and Joseph said, "When we're talking we're learning aren't we!"

We try not to rush anywhere if its possible, and enjoying walking and driving together with lots of time to let our minds wander and chat about whatever comes up.

It seems like a pretty precious aspect of our learning, and our relationship.