Saturday, November 24, 2012

Natural learning

Mainstream schooling is just what is 'normal' to me. I'm that parent who's often found saying "I can't wait for the school holidays. I hate school" and is almost always greeted with odd looks from people who think I'm crazy. Who in their right mind would want to have no time to themselves? Who in their right mind would want to have 4 kids around, 24/7? The answer is me.

I miss them while they are at school. I wish for them to come home so we can hang out. I am always wishing they were home so we could just go to the beach and hang out, or go camping midweek, or visit friends during school hours. That's me in a nut shell.

Yes, like all other parents, I feel smothered sometimes. I wish for a hot shower in peace. I wish to go to the toilet alone. I wish they would just sit down quietly and pretend they weren't there. I wish they would stop bickering, and start getting along.

This past 2 weeks my boys have been home. What started as me keeping them home to avoid them spreading gastro (which they didn't catch any way) ended with me re-evaluating everything. Home schooling is something that I've wanted to do for years. I've looked into it numerous times, but haven't had the confidence to jump in and do it. Until now. Monday, we are going to register and I am so excited.

The possibilities are endless! No more waiting until 3pm to go for a swim. No more waiting until the weekend to camp. All those craft ideas I have bookmarked we can do when I'm not completely exhausted at 4pm when we all get home.

Let me tell you a little bit about our past week and how the boys have changed in just a fortnight.

The first part of the week was spent with me sitting back and letting the boys free range. They played a lot of computer games (Reading Eggs, Friv, Minecraft, Cool Math) and watched quite a lot of ABC kids. I heard a lot of bickering about things, more than one mega tantrum involving hitting each other, and a lot of "mum I'm bored". This is normal.

Towards the end of the first week I was seeing changes in the boys. They weren't fighting as much, they were laughing a lot more, and they were even taking turns on the iPad (yes, you heard correctly). Jaidan had taken to involving all of the boys in building with the lego, and anyone who knows my children knows how short a fuse he has with the 2 and 4 year olds.

That weekend we went camping. We explored a new area, saw kangaroos and their joeys, swam, built sandcastles, and laid in the tent listening to the owls hoot. We even stopped on the side of the road to get out and watch a golden eagle soar. By the end of the second day I was in my happy place. Then came the vomit (gastro) and we packed up and left quickly, but lets not put a cloud over the sunshine.

Week 2 was the big change. At the beginning of the week Jaidan and Chase were reading together. They pulled out their sight words and I found Jaidan going through them with Chase, and encouraging him. This actually made me cry to see it, because they always fight. They sat there for around an hour and both had a pile of words. When I asked what they were, Jaidan said he'd asked Chase to try and read every word, even the hard ones. The ones he could read, he got to put in his pile. The ones he couldn't read, Jaidan helped him through them and told him the word and put them in his pile. Jaidan's pile was the practice words.  This was unguided learning through play.

A few days later, I found Jaidan trying to ride his bike. He's almost 9 years old, and we've tried over and over to get him to ride. It's always ended up in big meltdowns, often with him crying hysterically and throwing the bike and each time I can see a little piece of his self confidence has been lost. It always makes me so sad.
To see him trying on his own was amazing. So I pulled out all of our bikes into the street. We rode. Up and down, around and around. The whole time, Chase stayed with Jaidan and encouraged him. "You can do it! I know you can!" he kept on saying. And he did. He rode it all on his own without falling. So we decided we'd cycle to McDonalds and get an ice cream cone to celebrate. Aunty Tammi works there, and we really wanted to share his achievement and make a really big deal out of it. It was so nice but the most amazing part was that he fell, twice. Both time he got back up and kept on going, even when he was crying because it hurt. I was so proud of him, and I still am.

The rest of the week was spend doing various things, none of which were structured learning, and each activity saw the boys getting along better and teaching each other things.

So here we are. It's the weekend and so far today we've done nothing overly exciting. The big ones are helping tidy up and the little ones are playing Mickey Mouse clubhouse on their iPads in bed. What they are learning today, is how to just be. To be a kid, to be part of a family unit, to be brothers, to be helpful, to be kind, and to be free.


  1. Thanks for your honesty in this post! Very refreshing to read :) I hope your journey in natural learning continues to be fulfilling for all those involved, actually I'm sure of it (not that it's always going to be an easy ride :p ).
    You seem to be a natural at facilitating such a dramatic change actually, and hopefully your courgage to do it encourages others to join in and or at the very least accept it as a legitimate and beneficial alternative.

    Regards :)

    1. Thank you for your comments Errol :)

      I believe it's easier to make such dramatic changes when it's something you've been fighting for a long time.

      Today I feel free. I made a choice to get rid of the chains that main stream school had tied us down with, and I feel happy that I no longer have to stress about sending my boys to a place that doesn't care for them as I do.

      I have a feeling life is about to get a whole lot better!