I have never been one to plan ahead.
When I fell pregnant with my eldest daughter I was young and naïve and yet I knew that I was ready in the way that mattered most. Pregnancy is a time of obvious physical transformation for a woman but in the western world we often forego this golden opportunity to transcend ourselves on a deeper level.
It was the start of the unravelling of a lifetime. With her arrival I began to question and ultimately abandon so many of the beliefs that had been instilled within me. And eventually, as my daughter approached her third birthday, I started to consider education.
I thought back to my experiences of school, only a few short years ago. I had always had a natural aptitude for memorising information and this meant that I didn’t need to make any real effort to study for tests in order to achieve high grades. I performed well at school, but that is all it was to me: a performance. One that left me feeling hollow.
Together my ex-husband and I spent many hours talking about our experiences and ultimately decided that we wanted something different for our daughter: a freedom that neither of us had felt during our own years at school. And so, we chose to walk another path: one where life and learning didn’t need to be separated.
Much has changed for us as a family since we first made this decision. Our eldest daughter, Ava, is now approaching her tenth birthday and we also have a seven year old son, Johnny and another daughter, Amara, who is four. My ex-husband and I have been separated for a few years now, but we are still close friends dedicated to raising our children together in a healthy, loving family dynamic.
One thing that has remained over the past seven years is this simple truth that sits at the very core of our educational philosophy: life is the greatest teacher any of us will ever have.
So, with this in mind we take a far more relaxed approach to learning. Each day we remind ourselves that education is a lifelong endeavour. That if we are breathing we are learning. We do no formal ‘work’. My children are free to do whatever they enjoy in each moment: often for Ava that means crafting, drawing or practising the guitar, for Johnny and Amara lately it has been building elaborate towers with their MagnaTiles or reading one of their many, many picture books.
Pre-pandemic we would take full advantage of how peaceful and quiet our local beaches and nature reserves are during term-time. The many hours we usually spend exploring are something that we have been missing a lot with the guidelines that have been in place for such a big chunk of this past year. In our local area we are usually spoilt for choice when it comes to classes and meet ups for the kids too, which is something we are all eager to return to once the restrictions are lifted.
Ava has only recently learned to read. I know many parents would find their nine year old grasping this so ‘late’ mortifying. But when we settle into bed each evening and I listen to her recite poems from two of her favourite books my heart almost bursts with pride every single time. And do you know why? Because it is her achievement, on her own time. It means so much to me simply because of the joy I can see on her face as she delights in the fruits of her own labour.
I’m not going to pretend that the doubts don’t creep in from time to time, I am only human after all. There is no way of knowing for sure that we have chosen the right path. But by boldly walking forward despite our doubts, and forging friendships with those who we meet along the way, we can rest assured that what we are offering to our children is enough.
As parents our role in its simplest form is to create opportunities for learning; for living. If we can remember to guide our children towards themselves, to always remind them that the seeds of their strengths are already growing within them, then surely we cannot steer them wrong.
I believe that offering our children the chance to define themselves is perhaps the most generous gift we can ever give them. I only wish I had been afforded the same opportunity. I have spent the majority of my adult life unlearning; tearing up and letting go of all of the false ideals and the irrelevant opinions of others. Sometimes I feel a little pang of jealousy but I’m so grateful that my children will be the ones to decide who they are going to be.
Laura is a single home educating mother of three beautifully wild children. The moments she manages to steal away for herself are usually spent reading and writing, most often focused on unpicking and reweaving the meaning of life into something that feels closer to truth. She is also the co creator of Roots + Wings, a platform for women who are walking the path home to themselves. They are currently creating new offerings, including a twelve week guided journey and an oracle deck, are designed to support women in traversing the inner terrain of the self: mind, body and soul. Connect with Laura at @re_weaving
The beautiful family photo was taken by Ann Owen
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