Finding My Groove
I can't tell you that I am an expert in anything, but I can tell you that my anxiety can easily fill my days if I allow it. I can also admit that many of us relate to the above sentence.
What has saved me and continually saves me is my need to listen and trust my intuition alongside the universes gentle, and at times, strong sways. During the last few years my intuition has grown. I have discovered the more quiet I grow, and the more meditative I become, the more the universe speaks to me opening up this uncharted path that reveals my deepest truths. This silence grounds me in my trust and in my belief that everything is unfolding as it should be, one step at a time.
Enduring this pandemic has only created a louder voice for the all of the things that were problematic before and very quiet. I have found, at least for me, that everything that is coming up in emotions and situations isn't unfamiliar. I have had so many questions before the pandemic began, and one of those questions was, "should I homeschool my children?"
I met with friends. I talked with other parents who homeschooled. I researched a variety of portals and kept returning to the same conclusion--school offers these out of control experiences; these social opportunities that you can't ultimately protect your children from, which my husband Eric and I both feel is important to help shape resiliency.
We mulled over what to do for some time once the pandemic began. We did the online learning piece, which was a huge fail this past Spring. As we worked closely with our children a few months ago when online learning began, we kept seeing a decline in their spirit each time they would hop off of the computer. And I admit, not every child experiences this but my children do; I have to limit their device time. As the months of online learning progressed my anxiety grew and their excitement declined. Being at home with the 3 children as Eric worked long weekday hours left me arguing with the children to complete their work; work that didn't feel authentic for me to deliver because I didn't create the lessons or plans. It was an agenda that did not fuel my passion, creative spirit or heart. I knew I needed to come up with some solution that worked for all of us.
Eric and I talked a lot over the summer months. Thinking creatively. Reading more books about homeschooling. Talking to friends, once again, who homeschooled and what that looked like for them, but we still weren't convinced that homeschooling was the right direction for our family. We made our final decision when we learned that our children were to wear masks in controlled groups while at school. Based on this new understanding and safety protocol we concluded that school would no longer build that natural and social resilient experience we felt so strongly about; one that we thought invaluable to the at-school experience. All of this left us to decide that homeschooling would be the best choice for right now.
As we pushed forward and during our research, the big jumping-off point for me was a book that my wonderful sister-n-law Jess gave me the year prior. As I began to read it, it fuelled my spirit and fed my soul. It confirmed that I was in fact creating my own school already. That what I was and had been doing all along since my children were very young, with my familiar teaching background, had sculpted an already happy school in our home. My children and I: cooking together, reading together, hiking, sewing, gardening, playing together; all of the activities I put out for them; all of the learning games we enjoyed, this equalled their education. It was empowering for me to read, someone who typically doubts herself, but most especially when it came to the thought of taking over my children's education. There are self-doubting thoughts that come up because everything is resting on your shoulders. There is no one to blame if they can't read or write. If they are poor in Math, you know, it is all on you. As I continued to read The Call of The Wild + Free, I researched more heavily various curriculums that resonated with me from the options outlined in this book. I found a deep passion for Classical Education and a confirmation that my home already had a: Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf approach. That without knowing it I had created this learning space simply because I had always set-up opportunities, naturally, for our children to create within. I have always ensured that our living space included them in the plan. That all of their belongings and "the things" that interest them were and are always at-reach. I did't realize that my heavy-child-inclusive home was already my school. I recommend you reading this book before anything else, even if you are not homeschooling. Wild + Free also has an incredible online community. I think if you are thinking about homeschooling or incorporating more enriching experiences in your home and when in the outdoors, this book and their online community is a great gateway to help gauge your journey and uncover your own uncharted ground.
School has begun here in Ontario. During these last few weeks leading up to schools re-opening and finally to open slowly, has felt very unsettling and ungrounding, because it's all new and unfamiliar. I am still reading through the classical curriculum literature and developing various lesson and weekly plans, but I am taking it one step at a time and I admit once again, that this approach has saved me. I have also thought long and hard about what I could balance, and what would be the best scenario, that is, if I was truly running this show full throttle, no school or teachers to help with childcare and educational development-- it all being me. I am discovering that as you may know, the more research I do the stronger I become. I continue to feel more excited and confident with the idea of homeschooling instead feeling terrified. I am very excited to embark on this journey with my three children. And you know, we've got time. Knowing this piece is half the battle. I often feel we get ahead of ourselves and think we don't have enough time, but really, time is on our side we just need to slow down and remember; focus on the step that is happening not on the four steps that are to come.
Truthfully, if there is anything you can take away from this journal entry is that you have time. If you pace yourself and not overwhelm yourself with a huge list of to-do's, that you and your children can do whatever it is you wish, and enjoy it. As I find my groove through kindness and compassion, for all of us, and most especially for myself, I realize that the key element to any school or nurturing environment is KINDNESS. It is a hard thing to do when your children are shouting at you or saying unpleasant things to each other, but if you understand that they are suffering in their own way and need love by approaching everything with loving kindness, then this wonderful relationship begins to blossom; begins to develop and inevitably grows stronger. Most importantly if you approach yourself with loving kindness it ripples immensely.
I am now, as I plug away at their education, creating an even more beautiful relationship with my children by creating bonds that I had always dreamed of. I am now fully understanding that kindness begins with taking care of yourself first, and mostly by believing in yourself. Once this is established everything else follows in the most graceful way. I have also come to understand that we, as humans, are raised in a culture of constant criticism from very early on. I can only name two or three people in my past that told me that they truly believed in me; that told me that I would succeed. And, although I am now stronger and resilient I realize how much can flourish through creating a kind environment, one that comes from a place of compassion and love. I can admit that homeschooling is allowing me to heal my children because I am healing myself. I have created many opportunities to have them be social outside of our homeschool, and safely of course. I can already see the changes and growth in them, and most especially in me. I can also see how my deep love for each of my children is encouraging their growth, and by being with me, in our homeschool, is helping them to develop a kind internal speech within themselves, which unfortunately is missing in our everyday--that gentle element that sprouts from compassion.
As the weeks pass I am finding a rhythm. I have created a schedule for myself and my children that is working for us. We begin our days with formal learning in the morning, with no precise time besides "a.m." written on our kitchen black board beside the subject they are covering that day, but it seems they settle in around 9 a.m. anyway. Our learning continues until about 10-10:30 a.m. Then we have lunch and outdoor discovery in the afternoon. Some days we take field trips and bring our learning guides and notes with us! Other days we have reading opportunities and crafting. It has been a beautiful unfolding; a true groove I am really taking too. We had to also adjust our budget as we are a one income family now. I have had to slow my own photography business down so that I can be fully present with the children. I admit, I am okay with all of this. I feel good that I can spend this quality time with my children and see where they need help; then help them to grow in that area by developing strategies based on weakness, as well as strengths by encouraging them to develop and build their confidence. It is a true blessing. I feel very fortunate that I can do this: homeschool. I would have never really imagined that four years ago when I had my third child and did not return to teaching, that this only meant that I would teach my own children today; a thought that I mulled over repeatedly after my leave, but never thought I could do.
Here I am three weeks into homeschooling, but truly 10 years in. I am slowly learning and plugging away at things. I am being extremely kind to myself and letting it fill my selflove-cup and as I fill up my cup this pours over into my children's cups too. I am still embarking on collaborative projects that keep my own heart fuelled. As well, I adore my morning meditative practices, which include my mantra, "the way forward already exists, the more I trust the more it reveals itself to me", and this couldn't be more true. Everyday I come closer to the becoming of me--all of the pieces coming together slowly.
I give thanks that I can do this.