Since my last blog post amazing things have happened. As I described I had been following more of an unschooling theory to teach Noah at home…which means that Noah decides what he wants to learn and I honor this and we do our research together and see what interests him. We still sat down at his desk and I tried to make him write and do math every day beside the research of different kinds of animals.
I felt like we were doing many things they would do at a ‘real school’ too. Especially trying to make Noah read and write turned out to be rather exhausting. So I started to research more of what ‘unschooling’ really means and how this works for people in real life.
Very quickly books began falling out of the shelves, ready to be read. (As far as you can say this in an online Audiobook library 🙂 It seemed like this theory of really trusting your children that they will learn everything they need and want, in their own perfect timing, worked for many families and there was no evidence of children falling behind in life…when they were on their own feet. Really the opposite is the case. They get to be very independent and know themselves and find out the ways they learn best and are socialized well and really happy and well-rounded people.
But of course fears come up…will this really work out for us too? Is he ever going to learn how to read and write? What if he decides that this is not important to him…do I have to control him…just a tiny bit?
It says that kids are surrounded by written words and they will pick it up sooner or later all by themselves…I trust that he will…
But what does a day look like for a mother who is home with her unschooled children?
She would want to be there for the kids and whatever idea they have would be realized as best as possible…Everything would be about learning, teaching and ‘school’. I saw us sitting at the desk and me asking him what he wanted to learn and then trying to accomplish this….
During this phase I stopped sewing and the house got dirtier by the day because I was putting my whole self into this teaching job. I thought that I would have to put my small business to the side until I had figured out the whole schooling thing and that then magically it would all fall into place…but what I realized was: I got crabby, not creating/sewing…and I didn’t want to wait for something that might never happen…E.g. What if it took him 2 more years until he learned reading? I would still sit there reading aloud for him, instead of having my time to sew…for a long time….
I was doing everything I could to be his teacher, but what about ME? and MY needs?
And then the books really started falling off the shelves…and FB posts by some german bloggers hit me! I learned of the theory of ‘radical unschooling’.
This theory might sounds crazy to many of you, but it really started to grow and flourish inside of me. It took me a while to understand it and by no means do we practice it in our family yet. But deep in my heart I know that this is something that I love to make our family style/concept. It will take a while until everybody is used to it, but I can see that we can accomplish it.
Radical Unschooling, ‘Family Style of Trust and Hapiness’ (FSTH)
So here we go. ‘Radical Unschooling’ or I like to call it “Family Style of Trust and Happiness” takes it much further than only trusting your children in what they want to learn. You trust that your children know what’s good for them in all kinds of life situation. You are not their teacher. You become their facilitator. Whatever it is, you can offer your opinion, but they decide, it’s their choice. They can decide what they want to eat, when to eat and who to eat with. They can decide if they want to sit and learn about something or want to watch TV or go outside and play soccer….They can also decide on how much or how far they want to go in ‘learning something’. If they don’t want to finish something, it means that they need a break 0r they are done and don’t want to learn more…
You are there for them and you will help them if they ask for it, but always you put yourself on the same level as your children and respect their space and their decisions. You talk to them in a respectful and peaceful manner, the same way you would talk to an adult visitor at your home. All in all it means that you are real with them, honest, vulnerable and yourself…you are not somebody who knows everything, you are not smarter, you are on the same level.
Most important in this family concept is that all members of the family are on the same level and everybody’s needs get met. It says that children learn that everybody is important and they will establish a disire to make everybody happy. To accomplish this, we as a family need to make plans, so that logistically everybody’s wants and needs get met. E.g. we go to the library first when it closes soon and then to the park to play…but everybody knows that we will try to do all of it to make everybody happy.
I am very much aware that this is going to be a process…to role-model (not teach) gratitude, contentment, respect,…to my children, but I am very excited to go on this journey and I know that we, as a family, will succeed.
I just love this concept so much because it’s family based, so everybody is included and it’s our all responsibility and trust in each other, that will lead us to become the happiest we can be.
This also means to make time and effort and trust that my husband and me, as a couple, get our needs met and can establish a strong bond in being facilitators and role-models for our children…and remind each other of letting go of the old ways of ‘parenting’…
While I am still struggling with the concept of letting them decide when they want to go to bed, I think that will be easier when they get older and actually can go to bed by themselves… For now I am okay with our routine which means that we stay with our boys until they fall asleep and snuggle them…and this takes however long they need to fall asleep.
It’s a process…little by little…
In the day to day...I do catch myself telling them what they can and can’t do, but find this really interesting…to think about the motifs. Usually it’s something that would just be less messy, so easier for me not to clean up, or just things that ‘have’ to be done a certain way, because I always do them this way…but in reality they don’t. So often I now stop myself and tell them how I would do it and explain why, but state that it’s their choice to decide how they actually do it.
Of course I do not leave them on their own in dangerous situations! I am always there or they know where to find me, if they need any kind of help. And I like to help them and do so with a fun and happy attitude.
After making this shift in perspective we have not sat at Noah’s desk once in the past two weeks…Our life and learning doesn’t happen at a desk. It happens in real life situations. Here just a couple of examples:
Noah loves sports. He goes to soccer practice and plays basketball outside in every kind of weather…last week he shoveled snow, so that he had a free line for 2 pointers and one for 3 pointers ;-). My kids also really wanted to learn how to ice-skate this winter, so we try to go to the ice-rink. Noah also has been swimming for almost 2 years without any floating devices. In the winter it’s a bit hard to get to the pool while everybody is healthy enough, but in the summer he will be practicing daily, I am sure. Last year he was so motivated and fascinated during the summer olympics, that he taught himself different swim styles. He has been riding his bike without training wheels since he is 4 and just really much likes to move…We have decided to keep our sunroom mostly free, so that they can tumble and play football and move freely as much as they want…
We like to go to the Home Depot free kids workshops once a month. The boys really like to hammer and glue and paint their projects. Noah has been to 25 workshops and Niki to 10, I think. The other picture above shows Noah playing with the water at the children’s museum. He had such a blast to figure out how to get the water squirting that high and then also juggling a little ball on it…He was soaking wet afterwards, but didn’t complain a bit.
My kids really love to cook! They e.g. made turkish meat balls, falafel and rolled up lasagna the past weeks…and the other day they created their own crêpes recipe! There are the ingredients in the picture above and if you want to make it too, here are the measurements:
2 cups of water
1/3 cups of liquid coconut oil
2.5 cups of spelt flour
pinch of salt
1 tea spoon of vanilla
2 tea spoons of cinnamon
We make a lot of batter at once, so that they can make and eat crêpes a couple of times a day/week, if they want…I eat them too with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ham…They prefer Nutella and Banana…or jam.
A couple of weeks ago me husband drew us the blueprint of a new office building, so Noah started drawing his own blue print of a house with ‘gold rooms’. He drew exactly where the doors would be and where the gold would be put…very fascinating! He is very much into snakes right now and the coral snake is his favorite, so he started to paint it…never finished, but that’s ok. It’s his decision!
I really love what he did here… We went to the book store for storytime last Monday and on the way out, the boys saw a Love Monster stuffed animal and wanted to buy it. It was $20 and I just said that they could make one themselves at home if they wanted to…so we went to the coffee store and then back home about 2 hours later. Just back, Noah hadn’t forgotten about the monster. He wanted to sew his Love Monster right away, so I suggested that he would draw it the way he wanted it to look and he did. He then made a big sewing pattern and cut out the fabric. It was the first time that he would use a sewing machine, so I showed him how to use it and he was a bid afraid. The eyes and mouth applications were a bit tricky, so he watched me sitting on my lap, while I sewed these on. We then did the rest together, he stuffed it and I then hand-stitched the little hole shut. He snuggled his monster right away and loved it.
Later that day I was cooking dinner, he started sewing fabric scraps together all by himself. He made himself and Niki some ‘hats’, more like bands, but still very creative. The day after, he sewed a bag for my essential oils out of scraps, even with two ribbons, so that I can tie it closed. He then wanted to sew a bib or loop for his nephew, but because he didn’t know his head circumference, he sewed himself a loop that he now wears almost daily as his neck warmer 🙂
But back to the Love Monster. I asked him today why he wanted to sew it and why he likes his Monster so much. (He has been snuggling his monster every night since he made it.) He said that when he made it, he put so much love into it, that now at night, he can feel how his Love Monster loves him back and this is a nice feeling. And he is very proud of himself that he made his own monster.
We decided 2 days ago that we wanted to offer a workshop for kids and their parents to make their own Love Monster. Why?
Noah: ‘Because I want others to have the same nice feeling when they snuggle up with their Love Monster at night, just like me!’
So, if you are interested to come over with your 5-year old or older on Sunday (2/12/17), please sign up following this link or the ‘workshops’ link above. We would love to see you!
With much love and gratitude,