This was the dream:
For my children to have an unhurried, play-filled, simple childhood.
For our family to be strong and healthy and connected.
For my children to be seen and celebrated for their true selves. To be taken seriously. To be listened to.
For my children’s education to be rich and inspiring and to connect them deeply to the world.
For my children to live and learn in wonder- to delight in the natural world, and in humanity.
For my children to have room for their creativity to blossom, for their love of learning to be nurtured.
For their learning to be a journey filled with discovery and adventure and life experience. For them to learn real life skills. To delight in what they could make and create with their own hands.
But you know, I didn’t just want this for my children, I wanted this for all the children. I probably knew all those years ago that this was just a little idealistic, but that was my wish for the world- that all the beautiful, precious little souls out there would be seen and nurtured and given an inspiring education. Which is why this journey began for me long before I even dreamed of having children of my own.
At 19 I was traveling- or perhaps drifting would be a better word- and I found myself in a tiny dimly lit library in the Himalayas, where I discovered the holistic education section and fell head over heals in love. It dawned on me then that a different sort of education than the one I had as a child was possible. I realized that children could be taught in a way that nurtured and celebrated them, and that educational language could include words like “heart” and “connection” and “love”. I became certain that heart-centered education was the way to change the world and I was going to do it, (I was 19, remember.)
The thing is, there is no one course you can take to study How to Honor Children For Their True Selves. There is no masters program in Preserving Children’s Sense of Wonder. I had to create my own self-guided program as best I could, cobbled together through the regular avenues: self study with piles and piles of book, meditation and yoga practices, university, teacher training, travel, workshops and classes, working and volunteering in alternative schools, touring every cool little school I could find wherever I traveled, and even trying out taking a job in the system I knew I wanted to diverge from.
And then came my own babies. And suddenly all the questions of how best to teach and how best to learn became even more significant and urgent. I had to figure out the best way to educate my own, precious little loves! This seemed like it’s own kind of desire to change the world through education, only right here, under my very own roof.
And there has been a lot of trial and error. Plenty of stumbling and getting back up again. Lots of wondering if we are on the right path. And really, there is still plenty of that.
But through it we have been finding our way. Finding our way to the sort of education and childhoods we knew we wanted for our children.
Right now, that means homeschooling. It might not always mean that, but right now it does and we are grateful for all it allows us. It is an ongoing journey, finding ways to structure our lives around the stuff that is important to us- the unhurried childhood, the time for free play, the time for family, for really knowing and seeing each other, the time for creativity to blossom, to make things with our own hands.
And slowly we are finding our way to an education that is inspiring and deeply connected to the world. Every day that I am with my children I am learning more and more what that heart-centered education that I sought all those years ago really means. It means listening. It means being present. It means living with authenticity and connection and creativity. It means having a heart full of life to share with my children.
sky photo cc: electicude