Many of you are probably wondering where the promised final post about Grassroots Freeschool went. I fully intended to write a lovely summary of some valuable lessons I learned about children and education while there, as well as include some incredible testimonies of current and former students. However, life throws surprises… while at the airport on the way home from Florida, I suddenly began crying over the book “Little Men” by Louisa May Alcott, which has NEVER happened before (I’ve been reading it for over a decade). This was mystifying and made me think that something might be wrong with me.
A few days later I had a positive pregnancy test. My thought that something was up with my hormones proved correct; a sudden increase in food consumption and tiredness also added to the suspicion that I was expecting. My husband and I are excited to welcome an addition to our family next June : ) In the meantime, I was thankful that the Florida trip hadn’t been planned for even a few days earlier, because the weeks since then have been absolutely exhausting.
A baby adds a new dimension to life. Infants and children spend almost all their waking hours engaged in learning, experimenting, exploring, and playing. Their changing environment expands the realm they inhabit, from home to friends to community, and finally into the wide world. The people they encounter add to their knowledge of human nature, morality, and the rhythms of life. Chris and I have already decided that we want to homeschool our children, at least for the first few years of their education, which will be a HUGE adventure for all of us. If the children eventually want to attend school, we’ll look into that option; we both feel that it’s important to take a child’s wishes into account for the direction they want in their life.
So lately I’ve been researching a different form of education: how to care for a new human being, in all capacities. The thought of having my own child to care for and educate is nothing less than thrilling. Now, I’m absolutely certain that there will be days when I throw up my hands in despair because I won’t know how to get him/her to stop crying or stop making messes or take a bath. Mistakes will be made, my patience and wisdom will be pushed to the utmost, I’m sure. Yet along with this understanding of my inevitable failures, I’m also confident that no matter what, I’ll learn to love and raise my child as the unique person they are.
And that’s a large part of what I think is so missing from education these days: the willingness to admit that children are unique people, gifted in unique ways, who desire and need to have the freedom to learn how to use their individual strengths and abilities. If my child wants to pursue a different vocation than the one I chose, then it is up to me and Chris to ensure that our child has the teachers, instruction, tools, and opportunities to further their pursuits (as much as we can financially). When I was a teenager, I shuddered at the thought of ever having to attend a public high school (which I never did), but what if my child felt that enrolling in a high school would give them opportunities for the sports that they wanted to play? Or what if they wanted to attend a local private school to have access to the advanced science programs? I want my children to feel that as a family we are united in finding the best educational resources in order to develop our talents.
As Chris and I prepare for the arrival of the baby in six months, we are asking each other important questions about how we want him/her to be raised. What do we want our child to see us doing as they grow up? How will our characters reflect good virtues (and flaws) to the child, who will be always watching his/her parents as the first examples of what it means to be a person? What do we want our children to look back on as good memories? Will they remember home-cooked meals together, camping trips, books read aloud, nature walks, exciting family learning experiences? Will they see their parents showing compassion to others? Will they feel that they had the education they’d hoped for when they were young? Will they feel that Chris and I adequately prepared them in every way possible to set out on their own lives at some point?
In some ways, the education a child receives from their parents is the most important in their development. Academic education may or may not come from the parent; mental, psychological, spiritual, physical, and emotional instruction from the parents can bring the best, most impacting growth for a child… or the worst, if those areas are neglected or mistreated. Other mentors, family members, and teachers can have a huge effect in the child’s life as well, but it is the parents’ responsibility and joy to provide the primary education in these ways for their children.
I had hoped to visit two more schools by this point in autumn, but it just didn’t happen. I did recently attend an open house of a local school, which I’m hoping to write about soon, and that’s as much as I did involving my studies in education this semester. However, I am still hoping to visit the two schools I’d originally planned on, just so I can have some kind of wrap-up for this research. That will have to happen in late January or early February. So please stay tuned for those posts!
My more personal stories, thoughts, and progression in this new journey of motherhood are being documented in Facebook posts, since I’m not comfortable putting those details out in public. You can find me writing there when I have the time and energy : )