The end of 2016 got to be very eye-opening for me…lots of inner struggles, lots of inner work, meditations, coachings, talks…and at the end the decision: We are taking our older son Noah out of public Kindergarten.
How did this happen?
As I wrote in an earlier post, the week of Thanksgiving we traveled as a family and the two weeks after that I took our boys to the beautiful island of Mallorca in Spain to meet my new nephew and other members of my family.
It became a high intensity, high energetic time. Lots of openness on one side, lots of childhood wounds emerging to the surface, struggles on the inside and lots of sore throats coming up between all of us. (My sign of my body telling me that something can’t be swallowed anymore)
The more self work I do, the more comes up to the surface and the more work I need to do…
After 12 days on the island I came home with a very sore throat, Noah had a rash almost all over his body and a little pimple in Niki’s face turned quickly into a rather big pimple or more of a rash. So there we were, trying to face and research the deeper roots of what just happened and facing a bunch of family drama.
Niki’s rash in his nose and next to his mouth was diagnosed as herpes which was like a kick into my gut. This is nothing that little kids should get! If teenagers get it from kissing or so…oh well, but a 4-year-old? I was in shock and at the same time realized my assignment that was given to me: I have to set clear boundaries for myself and my family, especially my children! If I let people come too close to my children and don’t feel good about it, I need to stop it right in that second… I have to speak up! I have to show up for my children! Especially Niki who doesn’t really respect personal spaces will have to learn what this means. He likes to be very close to people…he can’t just nozzle everybody in their faces…maybe with his mother and father, but he needs to understand that there are differences. And if the other person does not tell him off, I need to educate him… This is my job as his mother.
So, I let this feeling of the need of personal boundaries grow inside of me. I talked to my coach and found out that I am stuck in a pattern. I rather try to be diplomatic with people, just to avoid hurting them or make them feel pushed away and at the same time I am of course not totally honest to myself and not to my children. It’s like a chord of energies that is in need to be cut between me and these people, so that I can stand up for myself. Because me and my children come first and I can’t just try to make everything good for everybody.
So, I started my daily routine of doing a chord cutting meditation. I pretty much remove everything that is sucking energy out of me and at the same time maybe giving bad energy my way. I ask for getting the positive energy back and removing all bad energy from my system…and pray for the other person to do the same and be fine.
And it helps! I feel much more centered in my middle. I can reflect things better and I am more within me. I can focus on what’s good for me. And at the same time there seems to be this big space building up for all kinds of opportunities to really set new boundaries for us.
This space in my heart has so much love inside it for me, my children and my husband.
There had been many things at Noah’s school that I didn’t like and didn’t think were good for his development at his age of 5 years old. Ranging from a much too long day of school, over getting up too early, a really nauseating lunch visit, lock-down drills, almost daily testings, and a feeling that the kids are only raised to be robots in that school system…
I had a hard time getting used to it and at the same time didn’t see any real other option.
But all of a sudden it clicked and I saw clearly, that I can make a difference. I do not need to suffer seeing my child suffering in an environment that is not good for him. There is totally a different option and a choice for me to make. It meant starting to home-school him. At this point I hadn’t even talked to my husband about it…I started reaching out to people…
I contacted a friend who home-schools her son and she said that she was moved to tears by my text message, explaining why I didn’t think the school system was good for Noah. She agreed on every point and the coolest things was that she explained how easy it is to home-school in the state of RI! I pretty much only have to write a letter every start of the school year to say that we intend to home-school him. And one letter at the end, stating that Noah did well and that he would be going on to the next grade.
I started more of a research…watched many Ted talks of home schooled teenagers and other professionals talking about it. I red articles online and very quickly there was just no other way to go. And when my husband agreed, I was very happy, especially for Noah to make such a big decision. Of course, he was part of this decision, too.
But with a big decision and change, of course, my ego kicked in, questions came up: Am I good enough for this? Can I really teach my child everything that they would teach him? Am I messing him up? How do we socialize? My ego still can go crazy on me at times and I am sure that this will probably happen frequently until my kids are ‘out of school’.
It is a huge responsibility that I am choosing to take on, but at the same time it really is my responsibility as a mother to make sure that my children are growing up in an environment that is the best for them and at this time, the school environment is not it! Who knows, maybe in 9 years Noah wants to go to the public high school…then we will decide if that’s a good choice or not…
My professional background is being a math and art teacher, so I do feel prepared to school my children at home.
Another thing that my ego feared was, that I felt like people might think I am crazy and that we would really be putting us to the side or aside from our friends and families we know or our community that we live in. I do not judge anybody because they are still sending their kids to school. I know and I feel very fortunate that I do have the ability to stay home with my children. I know that this is not even an option for most families. So, I can only speak for myself and my children and I do.
Having made this decision now, not once have I felt judged in a negative way! It’s amazing in a way. I prepared myself and told myself not to care if any negative response would come my way. But it’s just the opposite: All of a sudden I hear that many of my friends have thought it too, but don’t do it because of financials or because they don’t feel like they are patient enough, or let’s just say it: They don’t feel good enough! Other people congratulate me and share that they think that this is the only way to go! Somebody told me today that she does not have children because she would want to homeschool them and be with them and she would not be able to do this with her job! People offer me help if I needed it, they would be there for me. Most people are just genuinely interested and curious what my reasons are.
I feel like during the past year, I built my tribe, our community around us in a way that I would be okay and understood…and I didn’t even realize this. It feels really good!
So, what do we do/learn?
Noah gives me the cues…He tells me what he wants to learn about, like ‘wolverines’ or ‘how do you mix white?’ or ‘What’s the difference between a leopard and a cheetah?’ or ‘What are the most poisonous snakes?’.
We usually try to find a book of this topic. If we don’t have any, we’ll go to the library. I read him books or articles online and we might watch a video or two. Then Noah usually wants to draw the animal or he does some experimental mixings of colors or he invents games that we play or he does a craft that he envisions by himself.
I would like him to write a couple of words a day, so he makes up lists of topics that he then writes into his journal.
We have a german system called LÜK that we use a lot for math practice. Math we also do a on walks like counting and sorting and adding things up. The LÜK system also has some good things to learn the ABCs and reading. To systematically learn different letters and sounds and reading, we use the book that I learned reading with almost 35 years ago 🙂
He has a little laptop with learning programs that he uses when I work on my laptop. And other than that he just joins me running errands and doing things we need to do…like cooking, folding laundry, cleaning,… Today he bought himself (with my money) some cough syrup at the pharmacy. He handled the money and made sure that he got the right change…and he interacted with the pharmacist…
I think, it’s very important to work on simple life skills with children like cooking, building furniture, painting walls…and let them experience their surroundings on nature walks, visits to the beach etc…
We do at least 2-3 playdates a week and he has soccer practice one night.
We also try to go skating or swimming and on walks. We take trips to the zoo, the children’s museum and cafés 🙂
For now we are still figuring it out, but I feel like we are on a good way to raise Noah as an independent, self-thinking, reasoning, active, curious, intrinsically motivated and happy learner/person.
Is this hard on me?
I don’t think so. We are not very far into our experience yet, but I feel so much love for Noah and our decision that I don’t feel bothered or burdened with him being with me at all times during the week. I feel like I am learning to be more myself at all times with my child being by my side at his age… It would be really exhausting if I tried to put myself in ‘the mother-role’ all day, but by totally being myself I can authentically raise my child to do the same. There is only one person who can be me, so I should better be really good in being myself! He can be himself with me and I feel like he learns about a new side of me at the moment and really enjoys it 🙂 It feels super honest and real and authentic.
I somehow feel more fulfilled, too. It seems like a piece that was missing was finally found and I am much more focussed and really let myself BE with him during our hours on his desk… I seems like I found part of my purpose and I can let all the distractions like laundry, dishes, household… just be and trust that there will be a time for these things to be done. I can enjoy our quality time together and be present and focussed, because of a peace of mind, that I am doing my ‘job’. Looking back I can see how I even posted on FB that we were home-schooling as a joke) by sorting and counting Halloween candy…but I pushed this thought of really doing it far away from me.I was fighting it and didn’t see it as an option. I didn’t feel good enough and I felt like I can only find myself and build a business without my kids around. I was somewhat too afraid that get too attached to my children. (Doesn’t this sound weird?)
We moved to this town, because they have the ‘best school system’ in the state. So of course, we would put the kids into public school here, because that’s what you do when you live here…or you stay in the city and put them into expensive private schools…
That’s just what you do…and I am not doing anything any more because of that! From this year on, me and my family will make mindful decisions that are good for me, and us as a family. I will set boundaries that will protect us and are good for us to thrive as a family and as human beings. I won’t let anybody put us into boxes that we don’t fit in. And by doing so, I will be a great example to my children who will learn that they are free to make their own decisions and set their own boundaries and co-create their own lives.
How about Noah? How is he doing?
What I can witness is that he is more balanced, less stressed, pretty lazy, more confident, flexible, nicer with the dogs, curious, thirsty to learn, mostly interested in animals (geography), math,reading and soccer.
It’s seems like we are getting more real with each other. He surprises me these days with staying in a room, he’s never been in, while I see my therapist. Or just stay at a neighbor while I drive the neighbor’s kid and Niki to school in the morning. Before he would been anxious about these things.
There is much less fighting, more love, more independence…
What does he like most about home-schooling? (He told me…)
He loves to spend alone time with me. He snuggles up to me when we read. He likes that he doesn’t need to write as much as he did before. For him it is very good that he can sleep longer. He is an evening person, so it really was a struggle to get him up early for school before. He has more energy for his soccer practice in the evening. He likes that he can play basketball outside whenever he wants to. He likes to do crafts that he can imagine by himself and drawing…
I wish more people could pull their kids out of the this toxic school system these days to really make more of an impact to show that school can’t work like this any longer…Maybe in the far future there will be a time when the system ‘school’ will get a total overhaul and will be matched with the needs that our children have.
For me it’s important that my kids can reason and make their own decision about if they listen to another person or not. I think it is very dangerous to say that all kids need to behave well and listen to what adults tell them.
I want my kids to have the ability to spend time on a subject that they are really interested in, and at the same time choose to not to other things that they don’t think are important in that moment. I love to see when they really dig deep to figure things out and really show dedication when something just catches them.
My kids don’t need to sit in a big cafeteria of 120 Kindergarteners and First graders to be told to pat their backs in unison because they behaved well, and five minutes later be black-mailed that they will be punished if they show naughty behaviors again…it feels like brainwashing that’s going on…raising robots, that follow directions. I want me kids to be individuals that think for themselves and are not just following because they don’t have a choice.
I think, it’s important to really socialize in a way that different aged kids get together and figure out how to help smaller kids and how to act with older ones. Therefore I want them to develop real friendships that last and not the ones that are good for one school year and then break because the kids are all scrambled up again. Also, seeing and being with their siblings is very important to develop social skills and I can see how much more interactions and actual ‘playing’ is going on since Noah is home.
I don’t want my kids to build an anxiety of not being good enough, because they are frequently tested and compared to their peers and told that they are bad at things and too slow and that they need to focus better, and so on. There is not need for any other comparison than the one to themselves and their progress. And they can very well do this themselves, nobody needs to tell them.
I want my kids to keep the instinct of self-motivation and not unlearn it in school. If they can stay intrinsically motivated and are happy to reach goals that they set for themselves, just to reach them and not because of some kind of reward, they will live a happy and fulfilled life, I am sure. And that’s the only thing that really counts for me as a mom. From the bottom of my heart I love my children and I want them to feel good about themselves and feel happy, loved and fulfilled.
With much love and gratitude,