I talk all the time about homeschooling my kids, but I have never gone into depth about how or *why* we do it. So today is the day!
As someone who has had over 23 years in a row of conventional education, surely I understand the value of learning new things.
But want to know the truth? The only things I remember from all of those years, especially the years in med school and internship, are the things I taught myself. Do I remember every single medication that we were grilled on in Pharmacy class? Nope. And good thing too, as most of them have changed or been replaced. Do I remember every single disease known to mankind? No, and neither does your physician. What I *do* remember, and will always remember, are the patients I met along the way… I remember their faces, their conditions, and what I learned as I stayed up late at night in between rounds to find out everything I could about how to help them.
Knowing how to find out the answers you need, and remembering important things when they are in the context of a meaningful exchange is what real education is about. Because of our innate abilities to self teach, I learned everything I needed to know to become a good physician and care for my patients. And then I didn’t stop there… I learned MORE then I needed to know because I *cared* and because I was self motivated… this was the stuff that meant something to me, and this was the stuff I cared about.
When I feel motivated to learn, I am unstoppable. Not just when I was younger… now. I continue to be, we all continue to be when it is something we care about and are interested in. I taught myself how to paint. No one showed me. I taught myself how to create, how to sew, how to craft, how to cook, how to garden… and it will never end.
And this is how my children learn too. It became very obvious early on that kids to not need to be asked to learn, they just learn! We don’t beg them or assign them homework to get them to learn to eat solid foods, or walk, or talk. Our entire lives can be lived eager to learn and gulping down new skills as they become interesting if we are parented in such a way that our interest are valid and encouraged.
This is what I try to do for my kids. Some folks call it “interest led learning” and some call it “whole life learning.”
Yes, math is interwoven into this. Yes, history is interwoven into this. Yes, language arts and science and music and art and physical activity are all interwoven into our daily lives. But in such an effortless way that they do not need to be labeled as such… they are experienced.
My friend, mentor, inspiration, and founder of the radical unschooling education movement Dayna Martin explains it much better then I ever can. She recently wrote an article on this very topic, and graciously allowed me to share a snippet of it here:
“Our children’s interests and passions are something we respect as an extension of who they are. I do not judge one interest as having more value in their lives over another. I see the learning in all that my kids do.
I believe that the most important “subject” in my child’s life is whatever they happen to be interested in at the moment.
My child’s interest is the nucleus of their learning at any given moment. So much branches off from a passionate interest. Although we don’t live life broken down into subjects, if you were to view it with school goggles, you would see that through pursuing an interest, we touch on all of the traditional school “subjects”. Science, Math, English, History and Geography are just naturally a side affect of delving into one’s interest thoroughly. We live life holistically, flowing with passion and in doing so, our children get an education perfectly catered to who they are as individuals, without ever having to force them to do anything that they don’t want to do.
Parents today are doing the best they can with what they know, yet many are feeling empty and wondering why their kids do not like them or want to be around them. We hear words like rebellion and chalk it up to normalcy, but what if there was nothing to rebel against? What if we lived the respect for our children that we demand they have for us?
It is though loving kindness and understanding that our children learn love and peace and in turn will reflect this back to the world.
Unschooling families do not deal with “rebellion” from their children because we are never the wall standing between them and their desires. In fact, we see our role as helping our children get what they want in life. We move from power struggles and control to connection and partnership. When we make this shift, we discover the love and deep feelings of joy that we are naturally meant to experience as parents.”
That sums up exactly how I love to approach each precious day I have with my children.
Honestly, it might sound cheesy but I really feel like it is my honor to support them. We’ve done everything from science experiments erupting in our kitchen to digging up fossils in our backyard. We’ve explored every part of our community, from natural history museums to exploring old pirate dungeons. We can stay in our pajamas all day at home or take off and explore our city, our state, our country, our world.
If you are interested in finding out more about this learning philosophy, I highly recommend Sandra Dodds website here or one of my favorite book of all time: Summerhill, by A.S. Neil, or any book by John Holt.
If homeschooling isn’t your thing, but you are interested in this positive approach to parenting, I have filled my Heart Centered Parenting eBook chock full of fun ideas to share with your child. Experiments, games, stories, activities and more. 15 chapters, each one dedicated to positive parenting in lots of different areas including nutrition, sleep, play, spirit, and most of all… health.
As a physician and a mama, I have written this book from my heart and it is my pleasure to offer it to you here.