But it turned into dread when the kids were in school and they had to go back and have their souls shuttered down again after the freedom they’d had all summer.
I had thought school was supposed to be an inspirational and liberating experience. It became more like an oppression – an oppression of everything children needed to be and the way they needed to be it, especially learning wise. Oppressive educational regimes as far from the uplifting experience education should be as I am from living in a mole hole. That’s how I think of it a bit; kids being shunted along narrow dark tunnels of curricula instead of being shown the world outside.
Come that wonderful Autumn when they were six and nine we decided to bring them back out into the sunlight.
This is what I wrote in my diary at the time…
Wednesday: Today we have been liberated! The girls are no longer going to school – for the time being anyway – a democratic decision. And they obviously feel liberated too and have suddenly become so busy, rushed and got maths books out when I didn’t want them to do maths! I haven’t felt such joy about anything since they were born. Such joy and excitement coupled with the nausea at the thought of the monumental step!
Thursday: Been for a swim on this our first day of liberation! And this afternoon making some beautiful art. It’s almost as if their inspiration and motivation has suddenly been released. I regret so much that I didn’t do it years ago!
It wasn’t all plain sailing as those who’ve read A Funny Kind Of Education’ will know. But then, parenting is never all plain sailing wherever your kids are educated, it certainly wasn’t plain sailing for us in school.
But the best thing about it we discovered was that when the boat got blown off course we could always find another approach rather than accuse the child of ‘failing’. If the waters got choppy a discussion and reappraisal usually calmed them again, rather than a child’s needs being ignored and creating bigger problems. If they got sick we could give them time to mend without worrying we were ‘missing something’ like schools make you feel. Funny but they rarely got sick after they stopped going to school!
And everything became a learning experience, had potential for learning, everything taught them about life; about living it, earning it, managing it, making it productive, creating a happy one.
And every Autumn we rejoiced that the children, rather than be buried back under dull, unnecessary, institutional regimes that are more about politics than people, could instead just continue with their happy learning lives out in the world of misty fields or vibrant cities. There was always something to learn wherever we were.
And Autumn was reignited as my favourite time of year!