Can you see the beautiful grace of learning happening in the photos above?
Oh I do so love that open-faced, gleeful sign of magic happening.
I'm sure one of the greatest challenges while thinking about and making it through the first few years of having our children out of school is the process of deschooling ourselves. Isn't that what the parents are grappling with when they exclaim that they couldn't homeschool their children because their children wouldn't listen to them.
For many of us, imagining living and learning alongside our children means to re-imagine a whole new learning relationship than the one we internalised during our years at school.
For many of us, it means re-imagining learning which is non-coercive and predominantly interest-led.
For many of us it means a commitment to letting go of self-criticism and judgement and embracing the multi-facetted, 3D effects that come with a learning journey built on cultivating curiosity and encouraging enquiry at every step.
Gunter and I have grown into this with each new day and we love what it has given us; less struggle, more love, ever-growing patience with the inevitable "mistakes" and a deep acceptance and joy of learning as a life path for ourselves and others.
Let me illustrate with a wee personal example: we have been installing water tanks around the house and sheds as a way to harvest the rainwater and make the ground less waterlogged in the Winter. our first real challenge was joining five 200 litre tanks to catch the water from the carport roof. Neither of us have done much plumbing but we sketched out a plan on as tight a budget as we could manage. Gunter gathered the gear and got to work. After several stints of drilling holes, joining pipes, adding taps we thought we done. How could have we known we had just begun! It leaked. In several places. That weekend it bucketed down and the chicken coop was a slurry. What an opportunity to slow down and ponder the next step (while digging a drain to channel some of the slurry away.) Once at an earlier time I may have quietly (or not so quietly) judged Gunt as not having put enough thought into it and I'm sure he would have judged himself. There would have also been impatience and frustration at not "getting it right" the first time. Now we are well-practiced at sighing (breathing always helps!), looking at each other and saying "what next?" The children have taught us this. It's good to get to the correct solution, the right answer, the finished job but the real joy is in the learning, and let's face it, it's far more fun this way.
Life-long learning and having fun while you do it has always been a goal for us as a family and time is a foundational necessity for both these things. Time to explore. Time to engage. Time to make, make adjustments and make again. Time to reflect. Time to let go of the criticism and the judgement that we may carry from earlier times.
Time to enjoy the learning.
Of course even if your kids are in school, this can still be a practice for your family as you respond to and interact with the school and also when you are together as a family.
So little of the learning we do in a lifetime was done at school so the learning we do in our every day lives, even the structured stuff, never has to look like the picture we carry of "school." Learning can look like whatever works for our families.
Just check the eyes and you'll know it's happening.
In case you also have loads of elder trees gracing the roadsides where you live, I'm also over at lyttel-town.blogspot.com writing about making batches of flu-busting elderberry syrup ready for the coming months.