Summer is coming and what with leaves budding on the trees, the return of hummingbirds and frogs chirping at our river across the road, there’s a sense of newness and of life blossoming. I’m reminded of this within my own family as our son teaches himself how to ride without training wheels (taking them off himself I may add), and as our girls come out of winter hibernation, emerging more like young women than ever.
The other day I was asked by a group member why we homeschooled and it made me stop for a moment. Finally I replied, that for me, the most important thing I can offer my children is their own sense of self, their own confidence in their unique perspective of the world. I want their education to support this journey, rather than challenge it. I want them to put a priority on knowing themselves and their schooling, the practical things they learn about over these school years, needs to be the canvas for them to do that on. Sure, my eldest may have plans to venture out to the school system in a few years, but I know she will have the self assurance in herself. She knows who she is and who she wants to be.
And then there’s her sister. I’ve mentioned my spirited, creative girl a couple of months ago to you. I can’t believe how she’s blossoming these past few months. She’s gone from being my little girl to this aware, sparkling, confident young woman. (ouch... it really does go so fast.)
I mentioned that we had recently started Oak Meadow with our second daughter in a post a couple of months ago. She was eager for the sense of purpose, the weekly tasks and structure at the same time it meets her creative needs, she even finds her own sense of creativity within the creative tasks. (Her first project was on the Tudors, which she combined with stop motion video, an activity she is passionate about, she’s also written stories during her studies in stars, she’s created speeches and explored long works of classical music). I am loving how the curriculum leaves room for her to put her own personal stamp on projects. She has a list of things to complete, however she can explore them in ways that make sure she maintains her interest.
This is actually kind of funny to watch really. Often, in her past homeschooling journey, if she got intimidated or bored of a topic, she’d drag her heels and really tell herself the story that she didn’t want to continue with it. I would see this girl come into my room, throw herself on the bed, suddenly really tired and not be able to find that spark of focus so she could continue. But with Oak Meadow it’s different. They are really catching her attention. Oh sure, she comes across some elements she starts to fall into the old pattern over (surprisingly math is no longer one of them. She says she is finally understanding it) but the French Revolution started to make her... um... well less happy. But once we pulled out the Teacher’s guide, talked about it in conversational tones and used all the tools, she was back in the saddle and finished without another word.
It may seem like I’m going on about the program, but you have no idea the relief it is giving me. For years I’ve watched our daughter, who is so incredibly brilliant with her own processes, perspectives and ways of doing things, I’ve seen her struggle and lose confidence in her ability. And now she’s thriving and feels like she is achieving what she should be. The focus and sense of self that’s creating for her is bleeding into other elements of her life. Even in her art, her play, she’s developing an attention to detail that I’ve never seen within her.
She’s growing up. Suddenly, and beautifully, growing up. But from the inside out. She doesn’t feel like she has to look grown up, and she doesn’t feel she has to act differently either (I can hear her playing something in the other room with her siblings and it’s as crazy and fun as ever.) But, even still she is developing in her own magical way and I am so grateful that Oak Meadow can be a part of that.
If you are thinking of homeschooling, I encourage you to check it out... and if you like it, check it out this week because I happen to know they have their annual sale on!
And it fades like a dream.
Oh, I love this time of year. The blossoms are coming, there are buds on the trees and that past frustration and stress of my son being stuck in the house with winter blues were forgotten with the first bird chirp.
Seasons affect us so much more than we give them credit for. Cloudy days make our head foggy as well as the sky. The cold seeps into our bones and for children, oh my goodness. Whoever thought children and winter go together like ham and eggs never lived in the east where mittens get damp too quickly and after an hour of getting everyone bundled up, they are back in the house after 10 minutes in the wet snow.
My son has been cooped up too long this winter. As a homeschooled boy, with work-at- home parents and two sisters who decided to start their own stop motion business creating videos for youtube, he felt aimless. It felt like everyone locked themselves away and he didn’t know where he fit in.
But then... the sun shone, the birds sang, little sprouts sprang up from the ground and our children emerged, back to life and vibrant. My son ran out the door and into his garden, clearing the way and preparing for plants. For the last few days I’ve watched as all three kids have played together again, daughters photographing and lounging outside and their brother exploring along beside them with his dog and cat engaging and sharing. Easter crafts are taking place in the greenhouse at the moment and I feel my own inner work releasing itself to the power of the sun.
Ten years ago we bought our homestead farm and I have to admit sometimes I’ve wondered why. We’re far away from things, the land is bumpy, the house is a fixerupper and draughty; but then spring comes.
I’m always reminded what life is about when that first spring breaks.
We bought this place because we wanted to pass on to our children the magic of the world. We wanted them to know that life is full of wellbeing and to build an awareness of the world, of nature and of the unseen. We wanted them to have an excitement over each bud on the trees and not just ride past them without noticing.
There truly is magic everywhere.
Last week, our land was covered in over a foot of snow. Yesterday I raked up some dead leaves to reveal plants trying to find their way to the sun. Sure, scientifically we can break it all down, but the question of how always thrills me. How do they know and how is it orchestrated? The stirring of life under the snow-covered ground, the unrevealed potential under the cloud of unknowing... ohhhh.... doesn’t it excite you?
My children are excited for Easter. Our celebration of that life force, which re-emerges after the appearance of death. (take that interpretation as deep as you wish.) There is magic, wellbeing and life everywhere around us.
They are decorating posters with eggs and flowers. We’re blowing our morning eggs rather than cracking them, piling them high for Saturday’s egg decorating event. The chickens worked hard to create those eggs, so it’s important not to just waste them and the children are happy to not have to throw them out after Easter, as they won’t start to stink. We’re cleaning outside, enjoying the blast of vitamin D, and mostly, I’m taking the time to truly feel appreciation for this moment in time.
From scattered all over the house, my children are playing and laughing together. My husband is happy to be outside in the sun and I feel myself sink into this moment. I can get caught up in the hows about homeschooling or the processes of work, I can over think and plan the future. But with the break of Spring I know I’ve arrived. Today is here and it’s time to appreciate.
These lessons and reminders are what's at the centre of the Spiritual Kids course. Through the crafts and activities I used to amplify the power of appreciation and becoming self aware for my children, the course reminds children and parents that the world is so much bigger than what we put our attention on, and we are so much more than the physical forms we have taken on for this life. I think this is a wonderful time of year to embrace the realm of spiritual awareness for you and your children and because of that I'm offering a Spring Sale for Easter Weekend, and the course is 30% off with the code "Spiritual Kids" until the end of the weekend.
I hope your Easter is full of new flower buds, and a cheerful bird song. I hope the sky is blue and the smell of spring tingles your nose and fills your soul. Today is here. The Present is a gift. And we are only living present and mindfully when we appreciate this moment in time.
I am so thrilled to have a guest post to from Julie Louisson. Julie is a past primary teacher who is now a parent and blogger from New Zealand, She has two sons (aged 3 and 5). Since meeting Julie over at the Spiritually Aware Parenting Community Group, I have been so excited to see how our work ties in to each other. I love discovering like-minded lightworkers in the Spiritual Parenting community and I hope you will check out more of Julie's work over at her website. Without further ado... I'll pass the post over to Julie's words...
Here in New Zealand, teachers at early childhood centres and schools encourage children to use the phrase “stop it, I don’t like” as a clear and respectful way to stand up for themselves when needed. So, I have taught my boys (aged 2 and 5) to use this phrase with one another at home. One morning, I heard my eldest saying “stop it, I don’t like it”, repeatedly. His brother obviously wasn’t listening to him so I went over to investigate what was going on. It turned out my son was talking to me! “What am I doing that you don’t like?” I asked, incredulously.
“You’re being bossy”. I was told.
And I was. It was a humbling reminder that I had strayed from my intentions to collaborate with my boys rather than insist on unquestioned compliance. When we demand compliance from our children, we silence their voice and teach them to bow to the expectations others have of them. On the other hand, when we recruit our children’s co-operation, we teach them to value the needs and wants of themselves and others equally. They develop a sense of their power to impact their own lives and others’ in positive ways.
I believe we are spiritual equals with our children. I don’t think we have the right to thoughtlessly dish out instructions and expect them to do everything we say. Sure, there are occasions when our children just have to do as they are told, perhaps for safety or practical reasons, but we have to respect their needs and wants as much as our own. As a parent, I also want to teach my boys to regard everybody’s needs and wants equally themselves.
The way I parent, including the way I get my boys to do what I need them to do, is an important part of teaching them to value everybody equally and to approach life with a collaborative spirit. Being bossy is not a part of this! Here are some of the things I do to enlist their co-operation rather than enforce compliance –
I ask my children for help rather than instruct and demand. For example, our Wednesday mornings are particularly busy as my husband leaves home early for a breakfast meeting. Things need to go smoothly in order for my boys and I to get out the door in time. So, over breakfast, I tell them that I find it hard doing everything without Daddy’s help and ask them to please help me by being especially quick with their morning tasks. It’s a team effort and, lately, we’ve been running early on Wednesday mornings.
I thank more than I praise. When one of my boys has done something that is helpful to me, instead of praising (eg. “Good boy”), I offer a sincere thank you (eg. “I really appreciate you getting the mail, I already had my hands full”). Showing appreciation acknowledges their giving heart. Praise only affirms that they did what I wanted them to.
I acknowledge spontaneous co-operation. Doesn’t it make your heart swell to see your children thinking of and serving others of their own accord? My youngest often finds my things around the house and brings them to me in case I might need them. I give him a big hug of thanks for his thoughtfulness.
I get my children to do chores. In our house, chores are unpaid. They are an opportunity for my boys to co-operate and help with the smooth-running of the house. If my son doesn’t set the table, for example, we can’t eat. The natural consequences of co-operation are far more enjoyable than the natural consequences of not helping. My boys see and experience the fruits of their labour.
I co-operate with my children too. Co-operation is a two-way street and my example is one of my best parenting tools. I help my eldest to find the missing Lego piece he needs. Sometimes, I change my plans around to accommodate a playdate he has requested.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. - John Donne
Apart from being a respectful way to get our children to do what we need them to, a spirit of co-operation in the family helps them to see the big picture – they are a part of humanity and everyone’s behaviour impacts on the other people around them. They learn that, when people co-operate, it makes a positive difference for everyone involved. Co-operating also helps our children to see that they have something to contribute, giving them a sense of their own worth and everybody else’s.
Ever since I held our first born daughter in my arms I knew I was going to want to home school our children. I’ve never looked back on the decision, although I have to admit, we’ve had our number of struggles with what curriculum to use and what approach to take.
This was especially true with my second daughter. She was the one who usually had her head in a workbook. Those early years when I thought schoolwork had to be painful and forced meant she wrote her answers with tears streaming down her face. When I finally had the inner realization that I wanted my children to love learning and have the passion for it to keep learning their whole life, in some ways I had to de-school my second daughter. We turned to creative living and unschooling as an approach for her. She is imaginative, creative, passionate and very tactile. Why read about it when you can play with it, why study and memorize, for her, it has to have life breathed into it so her very spirit sings out with it.
But, with an older sister, who is very pragmatic and academic, it was hard for my creative spirit girl to find a groove. I turned around to find our free floating approach leaving her feeling like she wasn’t smart enough to do “normal work.” It’s fine to tell someone that they work differently, but in the long run they will look for proof of what they can do.
And then, there was Oak Meadow.
My daughter and I have eyed Oak Meadow for quite sometimes, tiptoeing in and then wondering if it would work for her. But now, with her in Grade 8 and she’s been forcing herself to do workbooks she HATED or programs that barely made sense, she’s felt ahead in some areas and then behind in others, she’s craved a structure, a method, a way to turn around each day and say “yes, I learnt this today and now I am done my lesson.” I tried her on some standard structured programs, but it was dull for her multicolored mind. Oak Meadow was to be the solution.
Oak Meadow is a Waldolf inspired curriculum with a difference. Its nature and projected based, with lessons in classical literature and approaches, but it also interweaves common core outcomes in all it does. Subjects flow in and out of each other, so to keep a child’s interest and yet achieve the right outcomes and it does so with a sense of grace and beauty you can literally feel it enrich a child’s world when they open each lesson.
Our grade 7 curriculum arrived last week and my daughter’s eyes (ok... my eyes as well) sparkled with the excitement of unpacking it.
We chose to do the Grade 7 curriculum for its content. Its world history provides the student with everything from Shakespeare to Amelia Earhart and Martin Luther King, flowing beautifully together with explorations in classical music and art. Projects that have caught my eye in the first perusal include memorizing Shakespeare verse, presenting a scene on film, interviewing survivors of WW11, diary entries of historical times, film reviews, as well as an array of essay topics and reports. From what I’ve noticed so far the student is given a choice for each assignment and it can range from creative and artistic to a more traditional essay standard. The English syllabus provides a foundation to support the world history projects, including grammar instruction and words to compile for spelling reviews and proof reading. Science is beautifully laid out, covering some review topics from years before to then launch into astronomy and observation work.
The math is divided in two books, one with instruction and one as a workbook, with a hefty amount of practice sheets so the student feels comfortable and confident before heading to the next topic. Math has always been my girl’s terror subject and she’s been nervous for this official curriculum for that reason. It’s also another reason we ordered a grade lower. Strangely though, when I look at my local school’s concept of what grade 8 contains, Oak Meadow’s grade 7 covers most of it anyway, proving that it’s a solid academic choice and my daughter is getting a great stepping stone in her education.
From the binding which looks like a traditional spine but is actually spiral bound underneath to the little touches like the small wooden plane to assemble during the study of first flights, we haven’t even properly started and I’m ecstatic! I’m sure there will be challenges along the way, as my daughter has to go through the growing steps in finding her own rhythm in learning and creating the routine she was desiring. Sometimes, what we say we want looks different when we actually get it, but still she has been desiring what she knows she needs. The satisfaction is going to be awe-inspiring!
I’m often asked about curriculum for homeschooling and I’ll be doing a number of reviews regarding this one as my daughter progresses through it. We’re starting late in the year, but that’s the homeschooling journey I guess.
Summer school isn’t such a bad thing when learning is fun.
It’s February and I don’t know about yours, but my children are getting antsy. We just got dumped on with 2 feet of snow and my son doesn’t like to get cold, so outside isn’t a solution. He has also decided he doesn’t really like being in his room alone, so often, he’s playing around me as I work.
Oh, and sometimes that means chasing the dog around with a toy.
So, as Valentine’s Day has been approaching, it’s been a rather "half-thought" thought about what we could do to celebrate and create a focus.
Valentine’s is often a bag of mixed emotions, right?
There are enough single people, or unhappy marriages to create a sense of salt in open wounds. Then there’s also the strange ceremony of sending our small children out to school with love heart shaped treats and gifts to give to EVERYONE. The message is all a little cloudy.
However, what if we used it as an excuse to create a day to focus on Love?
Ever since a few overly mentioned political events took place in our world, you may have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about Being Love and Focusing on Love.
Seeing Love as an energy rather than an action; seeing it as a light that radiates from each of us, collectively changing and manifesting... seeing it transform our homes, our relationships and our world.
It feels like a tall order, but think about it from the flipside. What happens when we put our collective focus on fear? The world goes a little bit chaotic.
So, how? How do we turn our focus to being about love?
First, one powerful measure, is the Daily Global Meditation, I’ve been encouraging everyone to take part in, over at Arayeh Norouzi’s page Be.Know.Love. Even if we just take one moment to pause and focus on radiating Love; that’s powerful.
Second, I think we forget about Appreciation sometimes. The world is full of the concept of Gratitude, which is a wonderful and powerful focus of course. But when you hold up the difference in energy between being grateful about something and then allowing that acknowledgment to grow into appreciation, there’s an shift there. Appreciate your children; appreciate their smiles, their laughs, their eyes as they sparkle in wonder. Appreciate your heart beating, your lungs breathing... let that feeling of love spread through your very core.
I am hoping to launch a webinar in the next couple of weeks on creating foundations of love within the home rather than fear, and although it will be full of various tools and tips, let me say right here and now, that creation of Love within home, starts with the feeling of appreciation. It shifts an energy from stress and noticing each other’s faults, to opening up a door to something greater. I hope you take a moment to give it a try.
Happy Valentine’s Day. And whether it is shared between your partner, your children or the whole world, let it be a day that resonates with love and appreciation.
Christina shares her personal experiences as a Spiritually Aware Parent as well as tools and tips which will help a parent's journey.