Tag Archive | lifestyle

The best way to parent

If you want them to be interested in caring for the world get them out and show them what to care for

I didn’t think I’d ever make such a statement – or a suggestion. I didn’t think I’d ever be so arrogant as to assume I knew what the best way to parent was!

I’m not saying I do it’s just that I read a rather nice statement the other day that put me in mind of it. It said that the best way we can serve others is by being an example and an inspiration. And it came to me that this is exactly true of parenting.

The best parent that you can be comes not from parenting rules or trends. It comes more importantly from being  the best person you can be.

Through being the best person you can be you demonstrate to your children what a best person looks like – what they can to aim for. So maybe the best way to parent is through being an example of the kind of person you’d like your children to become.

Children learn far, far, far more through example than through anything else.

Thus; if you want to raise kind, considerate people you show them what kind, considerate is.

You inspire them to work, learn, relate to others by the way you work, learn, relate to others.

You encourage them to take care of the world and the things in it by the way you take care of those things.

You teach them how to love and respect by the way you love and respect.

You also show them how to discern, decide and gracefully detach when need be by the way in which you do that.

If you want to raise kids who contribute to the way the world works then you’ll do that through your own contribution (parenting being one of the most important contributions you can make).

If you want to raise children who have standards and morals and principles you need to decide for yourself what standards, principles and morals are important to you and live by them – consistently.

And if you want to raise people who know how to relax, take care of their mind body and spirit, then the way you do that will be the most influential demonstration they could have.

This perhaps is not only the best way to parent, but also the simplest way to parent. Be who you want them to become, then allow them the integrity to follow.

You inspire by your consistent example – and it won’t just be your kids, it will be other parents too.

Don’t you think that’s an awesome thought?

What big deal was that?

 Occasionally I ask the girls, now in their mid twenties, if home education ever comes into the conversation or the equation of their life these days. It seemed such a big deal at the time and I often wonder if it still has any significance beyond their childhoods. Although it was no big deal to them; just the way it was.

Charley has been applying for different jobs recently having moved to a new location and a new life with her partner. So it was an opportunity for it to come up as she went to interviews.

“If people ask”, she told me, “it’s usually with genuine interest. I’ve never had any negatives”.

And as for Chelsea she says it all seems so far away now so it only ever comes up socially like the other day in the pub. A newly qualified young teacher was talking to her about her new job with disillusionment about all she was expected to do to kids which to her didn’t seem ethical in some respects, let alone valuable. Chelsea directed her to me!

Sometimes, she says, with her reaching the age of contemporaries having families and wondering about home education, it comes up and Chelsea is cited as as an example of the way a home educated youngster turns out – as in being not weird, or unable to mix, hiding under mother’s skirts, or unable to speak to people. Having friends. As this is what people seem to fear the most when it is new and raw and they’re doubting dreadfully, worrying whether they’ll still have any kind of relationships after home educating.

Quit worrying! They do! We do!

I’m going for a holiday with her next week – we love to be together – she has friends and a life and is very busy with it. But she’s got a little space between performances and their next Fringe production. I’m going to fill it, and we’re taking a little break together.

But I wanted you to know that their home educating past has paled into insignificance compared to the adult lives and relationships that they – and more importantly we – have now of deepest love, trust and respect.

And that big deal – that massive all-consuming deal you’re living right now with your kids – will probably mature into the same! And you’ll all be saying; ‘What big deal was that’?

 

Using nature to talk about mortality with kids

I wonder how the little Guillemot is? 

I think it was a guillemot anyway. It was standing forlornly at the edge of the water so still I thought it was an upstanding stone when I first caught sight of it in the distance. But as I walked nearer I realised it was a little bird. It was bedraggled and saturated and appeared to be shivering.

I guessed it had probably got exhausted and waterlogged. But had managed to come ashore with the tide.

What to do?

Leave it to recover in calm and solitude, or take it somewhere? The stress of being captured can often create further injury or cause them to die of shock anyway.

It was always a dilemma when we found exhausted or injured wild things. They rarely survived as a result of our attentions but the children always wanted to take them home and cosset and cuddle them back to health as we did them! None of which does wild things any good usually but it’s very hard to explain that to a child.

Nestlings were the worst. The children were adamant that they could save them with human ministrations, not understanding that most of them wouldn’t make it – human comforts are rarely what they need.

Living in the country animal fatalities were regularly witnessed. Another corpse in the tideline or a remnant of a fox’s meal, as well as farming, were opportunities for study and discussion and also conversations about the natural course of life.

These events, and the passing of pets, are a good opportunity to talk to kids about these difficult issues – although not difficult really if you make them a natural part of examining life.

More difficult when they’re not talked about and come as a terrible shock.

Mortality is usually conveniently hidden away like a taboo. But it is far better that it is confronted honestly, that children understand about the cycle of life, that we are sad and bereft for some time after losing someone or something, and that this passes, new aspects of life flood in and make us feel better and we survive and move forward.

Children are very matter-of-fact. They deal far better with honest answers than with cover ups. They see through those. They can only trust us if they know we’re honest. That way they’ll believe us when we say that we can recover from grief and loss, rather than thinking this is just another grown up lie.

The loss of pets or things in the wild and natural world provide good opportunities for us to talk about both the living and the passing of life, not in a morbid way. But in a matter-of-fact way with the children. And we shouldn’t shy away from it.

Had little children been with me when I saw the guillemot they would no doubt have wanted to do something about it. But I thought it best to leave it to find itself somewhere quiet to recover as it looked reasonable robust. After I’d had a good look at it – a rare treat to be so close.

But it popped into my mind occasionally throughout the day as I wondered about its fate.

Home Education inspiration and support on Kindle

 I’m excited to tell you that my newest book ‘A Home Education Notebook to Encourage and Inspire’ is now available in Kindle. I know some of you have been waiting rather than buying the hard copy. If you still wanted the hard copy it’s available from Bird’s Nest Books at a really good discount.

I’ve had some lovely messages about this book, especially what a comfort it’s been to parents on the long, sometimes challenging, road of home education. I’m delighted to hear that, as it’s just why I wanted to write it. I know how you sometimes long for a hand to hold on that journey and this was intended to be just that.

Home education works, there’s plenty of evidence now, but since it is usually so invisible it can be hard to trust in ones convictions. This book is full of reminders to help maintain that trust. Keep it beside you for wobbly times.

If you pop over to the publisher’s website you’ll also find a couple of my children’s books written especially so the little ones have someone to identify with instead of only reading about school kids! The character ‘Harry’ is a mischievous, inquisitive soul; his behaviour will give you much to talk about with your children! It also illustrates the day to day lives of home educating families.

And thanks for all the personal supportive messages about this work. Writer’s, like home educators, are often invisible too, so it’s nice to know the work’s appreciated.

Enjoy your home educating journey and may you be blessed with the joy we experienced.

Find the Kindle version on Amazon.

What do you do with family skeptics?

You’ll know who this lady is if you’ve read ‘A Funny Kind of Education’

One form the achives of our most cherished supporter

One from the archives of our most cherished supporter

She featured large in the story and the children’s lives. And accompanied us on our educational rambles and expeditions; the regular purveyor of hot chocolate and biscuits as I recount in our story, teamed with twinkle and mischief!

She was the girl’s only grandparent, my mum, and our most ardent supporter, inspiration and comfort. What love and support she brought to our home school days. We were truly blessed.

I’m very aware though, especially as I get asked about the issue, that not everyone gets this support from family when they decide to home educate. And that must be the hardest thing ever.

We did experience skepticism from some family members but it was muted with their respect for us (okay – they thought we were weird and risking it, but they kept those opinions mostly to themselves). But it was nothing to the hostility some families experience and it’s difficult to know how to deal with it. You have to be strong to ride it out.

This is where the home education community, both physical and online, are a lifeline. For basically you’ll need them to be your ‘family’ for the time being. We can’t choose the relatives, but we can choose to create another kind of ‘family’ support and my experience of most other home educating families was that they’d be happy to offer that.

Some other things you can do to keep strong are:

  • Keep your priorities and principles based firmly in what YOU think is best for your family and don’t be persuaded by the scaremongering of others
  • Consequently, do what you do for your child’s sake and not to please others
  • Do some research and arm yourself with informative arguments. If it doesn’t work, ask people to reserve judgement – as you don’t judge them for their life choices
  • However, you don’t have to defend, explain or justify your choices. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing and smile knowingly!
  • There’s no right or wrong way (not counting abuse here) to parent or to educate. Everyone is different and responds differently so you can only do what you feel is right for your circumstances. There are lots of individuals in schools who silently suffer their circumstances
  • Family members may want you to stay with mainstream simply because they are ignorant or afraid of other approaches. That’s not a good enough reason to stay with a system that’s failing your child. Don’t let them push their fears onto you
  • Establish a good group of firm supporters you can turn to when you need it
  • Don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re up against with family and how much you welcome their support
  • Witnessing you standing up for what you believe is right is a great example for your child. It will help them stand up to unsupportive family members in their future, if they ever have the unfortunate need to
  • Home education WORKS. There is much proof of that now. Doubters really have no argument!

My mum was surprised-cum-shocked when we told her what we were doing. But she could see the possibilities, could see the kids so unhappy in school, and was willing to wait for the proof. We were the first in our family to do such a radical thing and clearly some didn’t approve at the outset. But as the children flourished their doubts turned to admiration – the wait paid off.

If you’re experiencing family opposition, hang in there, stay strong and here’s wishing you’ll experience admiration eventually. But also remember that some will never give their approval – but that’s their problem, don’t make it yours!

And if you have a way of dealing with family doubters do leave your experiences in a comment here so we can help each other.

Parenting and home educating – the long, long haul

 Going out to work day after day takes some grit. Unless you’re lucky enough to love every single bit of your job and there’s few jobs like that.

Writing is the same. There are good bits and bad bits and in between those bits there is the long long haul of grit required to keep going and get a book done.

And guess what? Parenting can be like that too. A few years in and I began to realise that this was the longest I’d ever stuck at one job. Before that I’d get restless and switch, or climb, make a break. Can’t do that with parenting!

I totally adore and love being a parent. (Even though my children are in their twenties now). I consider it a privilege.

I totally adored and loved being a home educating parent. It was the best thing ever. But that too is a long long haul and like with all jobs there’s good and bad. And sometimes I felt I so needed a little bit of comfort and reassurance from a grown up on a bad day! A grown up who understood and didn’t raise their eyebrows in criticism of our choice, or a ‘what-did-you-expect’ kind of silence.

Those kind of times are exactly what prompted me to write ‘A Home Education Notebook to encourage and inspire’. To offer you a hand to hold on that long haul and a friendly voice from someone who gets it and knows that the bad bits need climbing too. Knows that bad bits don’t mean it’s going wrong. And to reassure you that this is the best thing you could be doing and to encourage you to keep faith in your convictions.

I know exactly what the long haul is like. Keep going – it will work out okay and if it isn’t you will change it till it does!

And if you haven’t got a copy to keep beside you for those wobbly bits now’s a good time to invest, because the publisher Bird’s Nest Books has a special offer on at the moment. Click here to find it.

Hope it brings you any encouragement you might need.

Undercurrents of love and play

My 23yo still playing I’m glad to say!

When the children were small there was nothing we liked better than a little expedition. Especially ones that took us to favourite haunts where the children could rush along the footpaths, clamber on logs, make dens, look for natural treasures like creepy crawlies, fungi, birds and snails, and slosh about in water as much as possible. Picnics were usually part of it too, even if we had to eat with our gloves on.

These days when my grown up daughter comes home for a visit, like she did recently, there’s nothing I like better than doing the same; than going back to those old haunts where she still balances on logs, sloshes about in her wellies and hopes for a picnic. And I join in for most of it!

Such magic moments to be treasured all the more as the opportunities for them become more rare, especially as their activities tend to be more sophisticated and urban these days. And mine at the computer!

However, the undercurrents of love and playfulness haven’t changed even if the venues do. Even if we become more sophisticated as we grow – supposedly – we must never be too grown up to play – very important. Especially in the light of reports over recent years  about the damage of children not playing outside any more. And reports that to play is good for our well-being.

So, I hope you’re making lots of opportunities for uninhibited play, for yourself and for the children, and creating magic moments with yours to revisit when they’re grown, as they inevitably do.

Remember; no one is ever too old or too sophisticated to play. Encourage it and demonstrate it all the time!