Tag Archive | personal development

What’s wrong with solitary?

There was something sad about the solitary swan I saw on the field the other day. Knowing that they usually mate for life I was feeling for it. Had it lost it’s mate? Or had it not started courting yet – it looked to be a young one?

From the BBC Earth website - click on the pic

From the BBC Earth website – click on the pic

Whichever, it was as heart wrenching as seeing a solitary child standing in the playground. The one that no one’s playing with.

We have a kind of cultural feeling of wrongness surrounding the idea of solitary. Forgetting that some solitude in a child’s day is as important as social. But we rarely remember that, making assumptions that it’s lonely to be solitary and often forcing associations onto kids they just don’t want, instead of respecting their need for space.

I suppose the important point about solitude is whether it’s chosen or not. And whether that’s a positive choice.

We are all very different. We all have very different needs in that department. Some people need more personal space than others. Some like to be surrounded by crowds and people all the time. But some prefer less and there is nothing sad about making the choice to be solitary at times and we should respect that.

Obviously no one likes to think of their child as being unpopular. But choosing to schedule some time away from others in their manic day is as important as choosing some time for yourself away from the demands of others or always having to be on show.

I know adults who have such hang-ups, and fear sometimes, about being solitary for a while they go to strange lengths to avoid it. their biggest concern being what others might think of them; that if they’re spending time on their own others might think they’re sad or unpopular.

I spend huge amounts of time on my own. And I did as a child. I’m neither sad or unpopular. It’s just I’ve recognised it as an important part of my mental well being, to help me be the person I need to be, and to slough off the crash of mainstream life.

With constant connectivity, even our solitary spaces are invaded now, and our image is so public. But let’s avoid this becoming so invasive that we buy into this negative attitude to solitude and never give ourselves, or our children, time and space for individual reflection, in which to be imaginative, inventive, creative, and who we need to be. And avoid perpetuating the myth that being on our own is somehow wrong. It’s not. It’s healthy.

And perhaps I need to stop anthropomorphising and doing exactly that about the swan!

A Christmas tip – relaxed engaged!

I’ve been making some cards for Christmas.

I used to always do it with the children. Now they’re not here I do it for myself as a change from wording!

I think the children’s were better!

My subject matter is always influenced by the natural world – my constant comfort and inspiration. And I decided to do a lino cut this time; was going to try woodcuts but that’s a bit beyond my skills.

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the cutting out bit, but found it was quite therapeutic carving the lino in the same way it is doing all these colouring books that are about now. It gets you involved with the craft – but not stressing, unlike other forms of work. It was more a state of relaxed engaged.

That’s the best way with everything, actually.

Absolutely the best way with children.

So that’s my Christmas tip to you; remain relaxed engaged, whether that’s The Big Day, the run up to it, or doing activities with the children. Aim for relaxed engaged.

And do plenty of Christmas crafts, for all forms of creative activity are important for the children’s educational development. (Read why here).

It’s therapeutic for you too.

And here’s my efforts just for you – have a lovely crafty time!

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Why is the concept of home education so alien? We all do it all the time!

I do wonder why the idea of home education seems so weird and alien to many parents.

For don’t we all ‘home educate’ from the minute we leave school? Isn’t that what we do all the time in life? Isn’t that why you’re scrolling the Net or reading this?

As soon as we’re free from institutionalised learning we start to educate ourselves in all the other things that really matter. We practice skills to help us lead independent lives, look after ourselves independently, increase our job skills and professional skills, learn how to connect and communicate out in the real world instead of the false cloisters of an institution.

We learn new stuff to do with our latest technology. We might take on a new course of study – just for ourselves not for school. Learn another language as we travel. Learn a new recipe. Learn new skills as we take on a new career. When we get to parenting our learning curve rises very sharply.

In other words we ‘home’ educate, or more accurately ‘SELF EDUCATE’ (which is really what home education is) all the time.

So why should the concept of home education appear so bizarre to so many, creating bigotry and derision in extreme cases, when it’s what we naturally do all the time throughout all of our life?

The ability to self educate, both mentally and practically is THE MOST IMPORTANT skill we could ever develop, setting us up for personal growth and development to continue throughout life and enhance our life for ever after. So surely home education does all the youngsters a great favour in teaching them that?

Learning new stuff as I finally sign up for Instagram!

Learning new stuff as I finally sign up for Instagram!

And the idea that education can only happen in a school is surely the most inhibiting one a person could ever have? That’s the mindset that seems the most alien to me!

Mindsets need changing.

Self education, or DIY learning, whatever you want to call it, is the best skill to have in order to create a productive and fulfilling life. A skill that we surely need as schooling becomes increasingly out of date and out of touch. But it’s sadly one that’s often totally ruined by schooling, institutionalising it beyond people’s understanding of how to do it.

The further you move away from school, and experience the potential to learn in a myriad of other effective ways, the more you think that it’s the school approach that’s the alien one.

Our human capacity to learn is born when we are – it’s a shame so many put schooling in the way of it.

You’re not finished yet

If you’ve read ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ you’ll remember me telling the story of a close friend and the terrible angst she experienced because of the neglect of her Dyslexic son in school. (Find it on the Books page)

Basically they’d written him off completely and he and a class of ‘disruptive’ others who no one cared about were told they were ‘unteachable’. Enough to make any one disruptive. As the lad said at the time; ‘what’s the point of even trying when they’ve already decided we’re not going to make the grade?’ He was willing to learn. But without support and understanding he was unable to in that climate.

She and I met for coffee the other day. Yep – we still do that together after all these years, still support each other

Trying to hide behind her glasses!

My dear friend trying to hide behind her glasses!

through the tough bits, and still swap notes about our ‘children’ now successfully out in the world despite our angst.

We were remembering the times back then when her worries were intense. Following the time described in the book ┬áher young teen was farmed out of the school to do various other ‘activities’, none of which he wanted to do and none of which were really of any value. Except to keep him off the school stats, of course, as she sees it now. (She’s been with me too long!)

“The one thing that kept me going and kept my faith in him intact,” she said over cake – yep we still do that too, “was something you kept saying to me at the time when my doubts were uppermost.”

“What was that?” I was thinking back fast. I’ve made some terrible gaffes in the past.

“Well you were always adamant he was intelligent, even though dyslexia was hampering his results in school. But the best thing you kept saying was ‘he’s not finished yet’. It was so reassuring. And I think about that a lot now. Even in relation to myself and the things I still want to do’.

It’s a good one to keep by you for when you’re fretting over the kids or something you feel you’re not achieving. You can use it about schooling, home education or about your own personal development.

As an update, thanks to her continual support from home and working through stuff with him, her son went on to college where he received suitable help for his dyslexia, then Uni, graduated, has a good job. She kept her faith in him throughout and credits me with prompting her by say ‘what are his needs now?’ whenever she panicked about ‘the future’.

Her daughter whom she home schooled for a while (starting at the end of the book) has just completed her doctorate. That would not have been the case, she feels, if their education had been left in the hands of the system without parental help and belief.

So whether you home educate or your children are in school, if you’re wobbling over certain things not being achieved yet just remember; the kids are not finished yet. Stay on their side, keep believing and keep with their needs now.

And remember, you’re not finished yet either, whatever age you are!