Friday, 5 December 2014

Homeschooling with Toddlers and Preschoolers ( 12 things I've learnt)

 

It feels like a "post it note to self" day today.
Here are a few reminders I blu-tak to my own wall when life gets hectic with littles.

  • Rest as much as you can and don't feel guilty about it. 
 Dishes can wait. 
Real friends don't want to come and visit so they can see your perfect house.
Homely homes that are lived in, are a public service for the rest of us.

And if you only got three hours sleep last night, that field trip or craft project can wait.

From a place of rest you will be able to see clearly what is necessary and what is not.

You will also have the inner resources to work creatively and compassionately with  the inevitable ups and downs a day with littles brings.

We all strive to live up to impossible, media driven standards. Let's not.
    
Rest whenever you can.


  • Don't panic, your child will learn what they need to learn when they are ready to learn it. 
Take your cues from your child not other people's children, others expectations or the standardized measurements of the eduction system.

When your child is ready to learn something they will show a natural interest.

To spark that interest, simply create, warm, happy, nurturing spaces in your home with lots of opportunity to play and rest.

You can strew a rotation of interesting books with engaging illustrations. 

Garden together and talk about the seasons. 
Provide art and craft materials and a cheap table they can wreck with glitter, glue, play-dough and finger-paints.

Up to the age of about 6 or 7, many academic principles will be covered through play and simply learning about the things they are naturally interested in.


  •   It's about the Journey not the Destination
Littles love to explore the tactile nature of raw materials such as mud, sand, water, finger paints and play-dough. 

 Their efforts may not result in a perfect wall display but their minds will be nourished through experimentation for experimentation's sake.

Focus on the quality of the process not the end product or learning objective. My little ones seemed to absorb more when I gave them the space and freedom to go off on their own tangents.

Understanding the feel, weight, texture, possibility and limitations of the sensory world around them will give them all the tools they need for more academic work such as reading and writing. 


  • You don't have to start planning for college just yet!
One step at a time.

Simplify.

If you tend well to the roots of a plant, it will grow healthy and strong with only three ingredients, water, sunlight and good earth.


  • Ingredients for good earth are:
A warm, loving home.
 Not a perfect home.

Perfectly decorated bedrooms or the latest developmentally appropriate toys are not as important as connection, happy messes, enjoying simple things and jam jars full of carefully handpicked weeds.

Good earth also means having authentic human beings for parents.

Children don't need your idolized vision of motherhood.

They need you and your truth.
They chose you for a reason.



  • Don't let external expectations or standards  compromise your connection with your children.
There is a wealth of  extracurricular activities and groups to join up to. 

Not all will add to the quality of your life. 
So don't sign up for everything under the sun.

 Just because your child doesn't go to school doesn't mean you have to compensate with any and every local activity or group.


Nurture genuine, friendships that grow organically and naturally from shared interests.
Only sign up to activities that really spark your imagination and don't feel like a chore. 

These days are fleeting.
Soon they will be over.
One day you'll have a nice clean dining room table, a new carpet and silence.
The relationship you forged with your child and the memories you made are what will endure.


  • You don't have to hover
Some activities will have to be supervised and guidance is always good. 
But don't run yourself ragged micromanaging every second of your child's life.

 Learning how to play, manage boredom  and problem solve independently is a really important skill. 
It is not always easy to work through these developments but it is necessary.

The more you structure and manage their day the less able they will be able to cope with managing their own time as they grow. 

Allow them the time and space to look within for inspiration and validation.


  •  Graze
Allow your children to graze on healthy food such as fruit, veggie sticks, hummus, healthy breads, raisins and yogurt rather than cooking complicated meals during the day. 

 Grazing is a natural way of eating and one that many children prefer.

I know that there is a lot of pressure to sit around the table and eat as a family but it's okay if that routine doesn't work for your smaller children.

Investing both time and expectation on a daily family meal that children only fuss over is an unnecessary stress.

There will be plenty of time to develop these traditions once they're ready to embrace them.

Children often have different priorities to adults.
Sitting down for an our at a dinner table may not be one of them.

One day your child may well look forward to deep conversation over good food.

Today may not be that day.
It is okay.

It is also okay if your child eats with their fingers and only takes two bites before running back to their Lego. 

Fill the cupboards with healthy food.

Eat well yourself and they will model your habits.

So long as healthy food is the primary option and treats are not taboo or forbidden altogether, children will eat what they need, when they need it and naturally receive the nutrients necessary for their growth.


  • Some days you will feel worn thin
Build trusted friendships.
Connect with like minded families. 

Be honest about your limitations.
We live in a fast paced, pressurized world. 

There is no communal hearth or daily meeting at the well anymore. 
Life has been atomized. It is hard to raise a family these days.

Ultimately a happy, healthy Mama means a happy, healthy family. 
 Do what you need to achieve happiness, health and deep fulfillment and your kids will too.  

This could mean choosing conventional school or nursery for your child for a time. 

There are many wonderful Waldorf schools out there that offer natural, holistic curricula. 
Many schools offer  flexi-schooling as an alternative to exclusive homeschooling. 
This can be a great solution if you want to home-school but have work commitments during part of the week, health issues or babies and toddlers at home.


  • Make the most of mornings
Try to take some quiet time to yourself before your littles wake up. 
Even if that means no more than ten minutes with coffee and silence.

Getting out of the house in the morning when your energy levels are highest will lift the rest of your day.
Aim to accomplish priority tasks in the morning too. That way by afternoon you will not feel as if the day completely unraveled under your feet. 


  • Ask yourself whether your life looks like you want it to.
Does it nourish your heart?
What matters most to you.
Are relationships more important than results?  


  • Above all
Trust your instincts Don't blindly follow lists such as this.

Follow the voice of your instincts. 
It is a good guide.

Every family, every circumstance and every life is different.
There are no hard and fast rules to this beautiful life we share.

Make up the rules that fit you and yours best.






Linking with "Tot School Gathering Place"

6 comments:


  1. Wonderfully said, this is just what I need to hear today, thank you!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Kelsy. So glad the post helped :)

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  2. A wonderful post, thank you for the gentle reminder. When the going gets tough rest is the best along with a few deep breaths. We cannot reach perfection, but we can do our best in our own unique circumstances.

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    1. Just taking one step at a time and breathing deep :) I remember something Brene Brown said once about "leaning into the mess" It always struck me that this was such a key to compassionate living.

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  4. What heartfelt and wonderful advice. I feel worn thin a lot of the time, but mostly because I am not following much of your other advice. Stressing about what they haven't learned, comparing to school aged children, and feeling bad about talking a day off to rest. Homeschooling is all about being in the moment and taking it one day at a time. Great article. Pinned :)

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I treasure each and every one of your comments.
Your kind words never fail to bring a smile to my face:)
At the moment I am going through a busy season of life with 5 girls under my wing! I may not always be able to respond immediately but please know that every word left here is read and appreciated deeply.
xx