I know, I haven’t written a blog post for a while and I know, I said I wasn’t going to again. But here I find myself with thoughts in my head and time to write them down and so why not put them on the internet eh?
The truth is I’m at a bit of a loose end, believe it or not. As I write this at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, the girls are deeply involved in an intense game of lego, after spending the morning conducting a playmobil wedding service. They had a brief interlude from fantasy land to eat lunch and then do some drawing with me, but it was a short lived break just to refuel and catch their breath before they went straight back to what they clearly see as their most important work of the day.
Which of course, it is. And it delights me that they can play together so well for so long. I totally buy into the idea of delaying formal academics until at least age 6. I can see clearly that they are learning and developing crucial skills through this amazingly high quality imaginative play. My heart is happy that they love being together so much and I know that they need this play time, it centres them, consolidates their learning and let’s them practice empathy and work through difficult emotions. And yet still I sit here, struggling with the fact that I’m not going to get most of my list ticked off today.
So maybe it’s the list that’s the problem, right? Well, yes and no. I feel like we’re at a funny stage in our home education life. Ernie and Greta at 2 and 4 are still very much in the play all day, get as messy as possible, picture books, paint and nature are all we need, stage. But Mabel at nearly 6 has one foot in their camp and one foot hovering over the line of slightly more formal work. I feel the need to stress the slightly because it really is just an extension of what we have been doing up until this point – games, books, art and nature and very very short lessons of phonics and maths instruction, still making everything as hands on as possible. But I’ll admit, I’m not a long term unschooler at heart and although it has suited us in the younger years to go with the flow and follow her lead, now she’s pressing 6 I do have an agenda of what I would like her to learn over the next year or so.
I suppose the ‘formal’ part comes in more for me than her. I feel the need to have a plan, to keep some consistency, to make sure I’m not forgetting to do something for weeks, that I’m not short changing her out of a broad and deep education. But as soon as I make myself a plan it soon becomes a bar to measure myself against and sometimes, a stick to beat myself with. I need a plan, but I also have to be able to throw the plan out of the window when needs be. I want to introduce her to all the big ideas and beautiful art that this world has to offer, but I also want to preserve her sense of autonomy and protect her love of learning, and for that, it has to be on her terms.
And this brings me right back round to what I love about home education. I know that if I keep spreading that delectable feast of education, as Charlotte Mason would put it, when the time is right for her she will take from it what she needs. That’s the thing about this style of education, I can decide what experiences I will provide and which books we will read, but I can’t decide what she will learn from them, that it entirely down to her.
The art that I need to perfect, masterly inactivity as Charlotte Mason calls it, is knowing when to step back and let be, but at the same time being poised and ready with my plan for when a bit more direction is needed.
As with most of motherhood so far with my beautiful first child, my learning curve is much steeper than hers.
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