Lessons in Life.

This was a home ed blog, That is what I started it for and what I have been writing about, either my thoughts regarding schooling and home educating, ideas around various approaches or just updating what we have been up to. The focus has been on education, and learning. The thing is, that some lessons we don’t plan. Some things we learn even though we don’t particularly want to. Its life long learning right? But is it educational?

Having children who consider the thoughts and feelings of others, who are kind hearted and who don’t want to hurt others is an achievement to be proud of. When my children were placed into my arms and I began my parenting journey with this, this was my goal. I am proud and fairly pleased that I achieved this goal, my children make me proud and make me smile several times a day, even on the bad days. However, how healthy is it for young people really to put so much emphasis on other peoples feelings? When children are putting themselves at risk of emotional harm by keeping things quiet to protect other peoples feelings how positive is that really? When I saw my children at school being bullied and physically hurt and assaulted and was told by them that they daren’t retaliate for fear of hurting the perpetrators and getting into trouble themselves it really caused me to question my ideals. It has seemed on more than one occasion that those children who really do put their own feelings first seem to be the winners in all sorts of areas. This is devastating to see, and makes me worry for future generations.

This past few weeks I have advised my daughter to make her feelings known to people, to not keep things bottled up as it has done her no benefit. Things have been said to her and she kept those things inside so as not to cause upset or trouble for others, yet the emotional upset it has caused her has been tremendous. It has been a hard lesson, there had been so much progress made with her anxiety but this has seemed to trigger a lot of those warning signs that have been dormant for several months, so something had to change. There comes a time when we have to look after ourselves a little bit, and that is as important a lesson in self care as nutrition, personal hygiene and budgeting!

Trying to find that balance between looking after yourself, and being considerate to others can be incredibly challenging, especially when others are not so accommodating or considerate. It is a balance that actually many adults have yet to achieve. Which is sad, and rather worrying. It also says a lot to me about the hierarchy of the school culture.

I have previously noticed and discussed at length with other parents the difference in the attitudes of children we come across who are home educated compared to school aged peers. We don’t seem to come across the same level of competitiveness and lack of cooperation. Our children, worryingly, are able to pick out and detect children who attend school in many social situations, and the difference in attitude and behaviour is notable. A key example is to imagine a 12 year old boy, in his first year of secondary school, befriending and choosing to hang out with his mates 10 year old sister. Out of all the families and school children who I know and have come across, this wouldn’t be acceptable. It would be cause for teasing, for piss taking and possibly even mark the end of the original friendship. Or another example, I have observed school boys at play and if one falls over and gets hurt there is again piss taking, the school boy can’t possibly cry and show weakness, and if the injury is so sever that they are unable to continue then the game will carry on without them. Both these situations I have seen in a home ed environment and the differences have been amazing. The friendships that span genders and ages with no complications just grow and develop based on shared interests, common ground and communication and when one child falls and hurts themselves the rest team together. No laughing, I have seen one run to get a parent, one run to get an ice pack from a member of staff in a location, children and young people gathering round and being genuinely concerned, happy to change to a quieter more still activity for a while while recovery time is taken until the injured party feels well enough to continue running around. Perhaps this is because when a child is injured in school only one friend is allowed to keep them company, perhaps it is the policies of the schools that are encouraging children to take this uncaring attitude but not allowing friendship groups to remain a supportive group in the case of an injury?

In other news, J has pointed out his own school / home comparison in regards to his academic work. I was informed during a random chat while driving home following a trip to The British Museum this week that J actually used to really enjoy creative writing at school. He told me that he really enjoyed being given a topic and just being able to make up a story about it. But the revelation that followed that statement was again both sad and eye opening. My son, aged 12, who was taken out of school aged 9 said to me: “I used to like it, I like writing stories, but they would tell us when to write, and I could never get it right! Sometimes I wouldn’t have any ideas and I wouldn’t be able to write much and then I would get into trouble. Then other days I would have lots of ideas and a really good story to write and they would tell me time was up and I wouldn’t be finished and they would tell me it was a shame I hadn’t been able to finish in time. In the end I stopped liking it, because I just couldn’t win.” ….. He followed this up by going on to talk about how he is getting on with his current story in progress. Writing that he has been doing in his own time, under no pressure from me just as and when he feels like it. This in itself has been a massive turn around, as when he came out of school he was really turned off writing in general, he told me “The great thing about being home educated is that when I have an idea, its like a burst of inspiration and I can pick up my book and write it down, then when I am done and I am finished I can put the book away and just move on to something else without anyone complaining about it.” Yes my dear boy, I am pretty sure you summed up home education quite simply in one simple statement.

Children, and adults, learn better when they are engaged, happy and learning something that they want to learn. When there is a natural interest there. So many adults all over the world choose in later life to further their education and it is a widely accepted life path, yet to so many the idea that children also have that natural curiosity and ability to learn is a far out concept, almost impossible to comprehend.

It is a freedom to learn, freedom to explore and freedom to develop. Freedom to be. Lessons are academic, emotional, life changing and in most cases (though sadly not all) fun!

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