Tag Archive | happiness

Why should home educating always be positive!

I was sharing some tweets with Kate @kateonthinice recently as she reported a positive home educating day on her blog. 

She’d fallen into a trap common with many home schooling families. The trap that makes you believe that just because you chose to home educate, every day should be positive. And actually there’s two traps, the second one being that if it isn’t you start to feel guilty about it!

I did it! I bet many home educators reading this have done it too – are doing it now perhaps? But now I know that this is absolutely crazy thinking.

Regularly check in with the things that make you feel good

Crazy in the first place to assume that you can make every day positive when in fact, you’re just human and some human days are totally crap, home educating or not! And crazy to overlook the glaringly obvious fact that, whatever you are doing, it is never always positive.

Life isn’t like that! Why would we assume home educating is one hundred percent positive all the time?

Get real!

Ironically, I’ve been reading lately about keeping happy. (I needed a booster after a recent bereavement). And there was quite an amazing idea in this book along with the usual notes about checking in with the small things, understanding your bad habits, getting exercise, etc.

The basic idea in conclusion was that generally we are born happy. We generally do not come into the world negative. But as we grow and experience difficulties and challenges which are inevitable if we want to do anything, we encounter things that makes us unhappy. What happens then is that we easily get into the habit of becoming tense about these things, then these habits become our default and before we know what’s happening we’re practising negativity all the time.

What we have to do to counteract this is to remember to put our default switch back to positive – remember the things that make us feel good and act on them. Remember that challenges sometimes get in the way of feeling positive but they can be overcome. And remember to return to our positive default when they have.

Nice idea!

In relation to home educating the same thing can happen. After a while we can easily become too serious. We can become bogged down with comparing our pathways to school ones (which is what we wanted to abandon remember). We can sometimes get too heavy with our youngsters. We can get over burdened on occasion with the magnitude of what we’re doing in stepping away from mainstream.

What helps on these occasions when you feel a bit negative and worry whether home educating was a positive decision after all, is to remember; 

  • life is never one hundred percent positive and schooling would equally be throwing up a whole bunch of negatives
  • to seek out others to talk to
  • to keep a balanced perspective on it all by remembering why you did it in the first place
  • to step back and see the bigger picture!

And stop feeling guilty if your days go askew for a while – totally understandable – parenting often goes askew whatever you’re up to. Don’t blame home education.

Life often goes askew. But guess what?

You can change it!

 

(Don’t forget; ‘A Home Education Notebook’ may help with some of those times too). Available  Eyrie Press. or Amazon. See the My Books page for more details.

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The return of the happy children

It’s so delightful to hear of yet another happy home educating success story.

A new parent made the leap to home schooling recently and reported that her child had returned to being the happy contented little person that they were before they started school. The many distressing flare-ups and tantrums which had become part of their everyday behaviour after starting school, but which were never part of their nature beforehand, had all but disappeared again.

And yet another conversation I had with a parent I’m connected  with on social media also said that they had their ‘happy little child back’ now they’ve started home educating.

I hear that remark frequently – as I commented at the time; they are not the only parents to experience this. And it happened to us just the same as I described in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ (Scroll down the My Books page and you’ll find an extract)

Our happy children came back! Enjoying their ‘Funny Kind of Education’!

So, why is that? I was asked recently.

Well, the most fundamental reason I feel is that school is just not good for some kids!

We are all different. And we all react differently to different situations according to our natures. Some of us like crowds and hubbub. Others of us don’t. Some of us can concentrate with distractions going on all around us all the time, others cannot. Some can sit still easily, others find it impossible. And these are not always easily recognisable needs; they are a spectrum of needs that are different for each individual. The class setting of hubbub, peer pressure, powerlessness, the claustrophobic and unnatural social clustering of kids all your own age, with minimal interaction, support or attachment from adults you’re involved with, is not a setting many children thrive in. Understandably – would you?

Add onto that the pressures of the curriculum, the pressures kids feel of meeting targets and test demands, the pressure of pressurised teachers having to fulfil these demands or risk their jobs, the uninspirational task of having to learn stuff you feel is totally pointless, far too complicated and of no interest to you, and being identified as ignorant if you don’t, are the ingredients of a potential meltdown in my view. I’m amazed how many kids survive this climate at all.

Even more worrying is that these pressures continue to build, and I cannot see how that will change, as long as politics and politicians are in charge of it. Politicians who are more interested in political gain than individual children, who have scant knowledge of education – or kids, some of them – and who disregard the advice of professionals.

We continue to uphold a system of schooling that is long out of date. It no longer serves the needs of children who have access to knowledge and learning without schools and teachers, and who are parented in a completely different way, and live in a completely different culture, to when the system was set up. It no longer serves the needs of a society that is completely different to way back then.

And as an educational approach it’s success rate is questionable, leaving many of our youngsters unfulfilled, disengaged, unmotivated to do anything and at worst, unwell.

However, I haven’t spoken to a family who has not had these outcomes reversed once they decided to remove the child from school and home educate. The best thing of all is that they get their happy children back. And educating becomes a happy experience.

And if you want to know why happiness is important, there’s a post here! 🙂

Be happy with your home education. It’s a great decision!

Wild in the UK

Ben Fogle; ‘Lives In The Wild UK’

I’m totally loving the new Ben Fogle programmes; Lives in the Wild UK on channel 5.

I’m not especially an admirer of his but I love what the people featured in the programme are trying to do; trying to live their lives a little differently and not bow to mainstream pressure to do it the same as everyone else.

When you listen to the interviews with them during the programmes their heartfelt values and principles come shining through and I always admire anyone living by their values, even if it’s going to be challenging. For many of them it certainly is.

As a former home educator I know all about challenging. And I also get to meet some incredibly courageous people also living by their independent values, courageous because they have to step away from mainstream thinking and other mainstream lives, as home schoolers do.

Looking at these programmes it is comforting to see others, not necessarily home educators, but others who are upholding values outside the mainstream thinking of a heavily consumerist society, that tends to judge people by what they have rather than what they do or what values they uphold.

People who are finding that others ways of living, that are not to do with the treadmill of wealth adulation, are turning out to be more fulfilling than even that. Who are returning to their connection to the earth, in fact to ways in which we all must have first lived, living as much with their hands as with their computers, in order to restore something that modernity tends to be neglecting; our need for something other than big wealth, technology and a consumerist treadmill.

Collecting fuel for warmth, raising crops, farming and feeding and keeping a physical roof over your head can be just as much a treadmill as the commute to work to earn enough to buy it. But these people are finding that doing it for yourself sometimes, instead of always buying it in, can be satisfying in ways that buying cannot.

It’s making me look at my life and see if I can think more creatively and find little ways and changes that help me do the same, rather than always opting for the mainstream way, which so often seduces us by default. And the more we do this as parents, the more we encourage our children to question and examine their own ways of living, rather than always opting for the norm without questioning if it’s right for them or the damage it may be doing them.

Creating myself some sunshine – 6 ideas!

What a dismal lack of sunshine we’ve had this summer. I feel my smile disintegrating! The prospect of longer nights without that

Fun makes for a dark evening; tissue paper flower and bunting!

Fun makes for a dark evening; tissue paper flower and bunting!

normal recharge of rays is rather frightening, especially suffering from SAD. I can feel my mood becoming heavier already and it’s only October. I know that it affects kids and families too, although parents can sometimes forget to acknowledge that their kids need outside time and daylight.

I’ll just have to manage as best I can, I’m thinking, and try and create my own sunny lift! So I’ve been inventing ways to do that and am recording them here in case you need some ideas for the family too. Here’s what I’ve come up with – I’ll let you know what works:

  • Getting outside every day – no excuses – as even the dullest daylight makes a difference. Find ways and means; walk instead of bus, go to park, whatever.
  • Painting one room in the house orange or yellow. Ours is the kitchen – it’s orange and makes you feel brighter instantly.
  • Making tomato and lentil soup. Or carrot and sweet potato. or butternut squash. Using sunny veg!
  • Wearing something bight, or warm in colour and texture.
  • Achieving something new – always gives me a lift that, whether it’s changing the room round, making something, artwork, crafting, planting, whatever.
  • Calling up my sunniest friends for a chat and keeping the conversation positive and forward looking. Can be tricky!!

Got any more ideas you could share? Meanwhile, I’m wishing you sunshine in your day! O look – the sun just came out here! 🙂

The joy of contrast

Well, I’ve certainly been in the wilds and away from civilisation this week.

Courtesy of Mike Turtle

We’ve just spent some time with friends in a remote part of Wales, climbing hills with spectacular views, walking in boggy fields, observing wildlife in woodlands and scrambling rather precariously up a waterfall!

Totally loved every minute of it! A natural environment fills me with joy.

And delightful to know that there are places without crowds, without traffic jams, where nature takes over and man has to bow to her forces at times rather than it always being the other way round.

I was also without signal – but I soon got used to that and it has advantages!

Just before we had to leave, I was sitting on top of a hill, Wales laid out around me and the Brecon Beacons blue in the distance, and I had a rather mind crunching thought; at exactly that time the following week I’d be in central London, at a meeting with some of you lovely home educators and supporters of my work. I’d be walking on pavements and pressing through crowds and traffic with noise and hubbub filling my ears instead of – well – nothing!

I’ve always maintained that we need contrast in life to keep it sweet – couldn’t get much more of it than that!

The view from the roof…

A change of view sometimes brings a change of mind!

A change of view sometimes brings a change of mind!

I was on the garage roof quite a bit last weekend. Charles was inside cooking dinner.We have very different priorities!

Although, he’s not interested in cooking any more than I am, it was just his turn. And I like being on the garage roof because it gets me outside.

It was part of the gardening I was doing. It’s a flat roof and thanks to deposits of leaves and blooms from the beautiful roses tangled there it’s almost an unintentional rooftop garden.

However, what isn’t so beautiful is the rapping on our bedroom window on gale force nights. And not just rapping, sometimes it was clawing and scraping like fingernails down glass. Not very soothing or restful when you’re trying to sleep. I lay planning my revenge; a severe chop.

Thankfully, after the raging wet and storms it was fairly pleasant up there. The sky felt lifted, the fields greening up and, unleashed from the bonds of snow and frosts, flushing with a brighter colour and shimmering in sunshiny moments.

Up there, the surrounding land stretches out from house to horizon and is not a view I see regularly. It instantly changed my perspective.

It’s amazing what a change of perspective can bring to a day, not only with regard to the landscape. The view from higher up than normal makes you feel tall both physically and emotionally. Your spirits seem to climb with height and distance. It must be why people like hill walking or mountaineering; the view from the top making you feel elevated in all respects.

Maybe that’s why my youngest liked climbing trees – I can still picture her face now, high up there staring at the distance.

When I lived in London it was at the top of a house of flats and I could stare over the rooves and treetops into endless sky. It lifted me away from weight of immediate concerns. It made me feel that life was larger than just my own little world.

When life makes you feel so very small on occasions it’s worth taking some time to stop looking at it from ground level and allow a change in perspective. For circumstances don’t necessarily have to change for you to feel better.

I got the climbing roses cut back from the windows. And also spent some moments admiring the view, changing my inner perspective, letting go some of the nagging concerns I could do nothing about. After all, life is not just nagging concerns! So not only did I have a more peaceful night following, I had a more peaceful state of mind.

And I only had to climb the garage roof to achieve it!

Lift up your eyes!

I know it’s cold when even the salt marsh starts to freeze and turn white!wintermarshlandfeb14 010

Despite being a normally positive kind of person I can sometimes get in the glums and this challenging cold contributes to that.

Add car troubles, bill troubles, and work troubles into the equation and my mindset falls to boot level.

I chomped all this over in a downward plummet, tramping along in the raw fenland wind, cluttered up with clothing and staring at my boots, head down – that typical position of the downhearted, muttering in my head about it all. Not repeatable!

As the wind dropped a little I lifted my gaze and had a quick scan around me looking for something else to be miserable about – as you do when you’re in one of those mindsets.

Forcing watery eyes to the horizon – this sometimes lifts my mind and my mood – something caught my attention. Right on that uninterrupted line of distance; occasional flashes in the wintry sunshine.

Now, you have to imagine a marshland horizon with absolutely nothing on its distance till it becomes sky, the two almost indistinguishable. Yet I was sure I could see little ignitions of whiteness appearing and disappearing on the skyline. Too far away to capture with my camera.

Was I imagining it – I watched through runny vision. Yep – really there.

What were they?

Little bits of litter tossed by the wind?  No; not out at sea and my eyes aren’t that good – I’m not superman!

Gulls? Not possible, too distant, wrong image; they were flashing on and gone.

Then I guessed.

They were only visible in one place – that one deep water place where marshland gives up to North Sea. And what I could see was the reflection of the low winter sunlight catching the tops of waves as the tide began to swell and the wind whipped up the surface.

Like the proverbial white horses, the far away waves rose up and tossed their manes between sea and sky and made a kind of magic show that you could only guess at.

I watched them rear and fall, ignite and sparkle and disappear, over and over. And in those moments troubles were tossed aside and mood uplifted with them.

Sometimes it’s helps not to just mooch along miserably staring at your boots!

wintermarshlandfeb14 008

When you lift your eyes from your boots your heart goes too!