So I’ve been on quite a journey since we last spoke. A number of you have reached out and asked just what has happened to me. It’s not like me to be so quiet! 🙂
Well, it’s been quite an adventure. In fact, it has been such an all-consuming, spirit-growing, life-transforming adventure that I just haven’t been able to put it into words!
Today, for the first time in months (and months), I’ve come up for air.
If you’ve been following my blog for the past few years, you would know that around 8 months ago I stepped into the realm of homeschooling. MONTESSORI homeschooling. I know!! I guess I like a bit of a challenge.
If you’re new to my email list (and there are lots of you! Where are you all coming from?) – feel free to get up to speed on what I’m talking about by checking out my latest (not-so-recent) blogs on my homeschooling adventures here, here and here.
So. It has been huge. HUGE!!! It has been exciting, then really, really challenging. Then even worse than that. Then I nearly gave up. Then I realised I needed to do a whole lot of work on me (not the boys, as it turned out). And then it got amazing. And that’s where we are at today. It’s absolutely amazing. And I wouldn’t have missed this ride for anything. Even the rough days. Not for all the tea in China!
Do you remember those early days of being at home with a baby? When your world tilted slightly and you realised that not only would your world never be the same again, but that YOU would never be the same again? And you love that little creature so much that your heart could burst, but then there are moments when you’d like to flit back to your pre-child life – just for a moment – to get a blessed break. A good night’s sleep. A night out with the girls without a care in the world? And then you look down at those little cheeks and those eyelashes and that little mouth and those little toes and you feel wracked with guilt (there aren’t any gentle emotions at that time. Every emotion is BIG) and then you can’t believe you even thought that. And then you wonder what everyone is doing at work. In the real world. And then you remember that you should be feeling grateful that you are at home, with no schedules and that you should be enjoying every minute of this precious time because it will be over soon. Do you remember all of those feelings? (Or maybe it’s just me).
Well, it’s been a bit like that. A lot like that, actually.
My sons and I have all emerged different from this experience (okay, me in particular).
In a nutshell. I’ve learned a LOT about Montessori, and of course I love it even more although I’m amazed that is even possible. My boys love it even more and their love comes through not only in their conversation but in their work as well. (My eldest wrote a political campaign flyer recently as part of some work we were doing on governments: “Vote for Cooper. I promise more book shops and more Montessori schools.” Ha! I couldn’t agree more.)
Anyway, it’s not about what my boys are learning, although they are learning a lot. I won’t bore you with the topics we’ve covered and the interest-led learning that we’ve done, the world’s most venomous snakes we’ve encountered, the messy, sticky science experiments we’ve done, the books we’ve read, the crocodiles we’ve researched. You all know Montessori and we’re following the elementary curriculum (with some interesting unit studies thrown in), so none of that will be news to you, I’m sure. (If you are interested in that stuff, follow me on Instagram here as I post what we are doing most days.)
But that isn’t even the interesting stuff.
The interesting stuff has been…brace yourself as I know some people might be quick to delete this email when I say this. It’s been – well, spiritual.
So I’ve learned about scalene triangles, how many countries today still have a monarchy, the average length of an anaconda (10 metres) and how to extract DNA from saliva. It’s all been super interesting.
But the greatest thing I’ve learned is that I need to let go. And I need to have faith.
I thought I was doing that already. I’ve been a Montessori parent for years now and I’ve been a student of the Montessori philosophy for all of that time. I have a Montessori set up at home. My boys cook meals, make their own decisions and actively participate in family life. We avoid rewards and punishments in our parenting.
But homeschooling has been a WHOLE new ball game. Wow.
The most challenging days were when I just didn’t feel that my boys were doing enough. Too much mucking around. Staring out of windows. Being drawn to the Lego like a moth to a flame.
I was even uncomfortable with how much they were reading. I know! I’ve got friends who would LOVE their sons to read as much as mine do. And it’s not all Diary of a Wimpy Kid either (okay, some of it is). But actually my boys are just as happy to read 100 Things You Need To Know About The Human Body or Gods and Goddesses In The Daily Life Of Ancient Egypt.
But I was fearful. Scared that I wasn’t good enough, as it turns out. And my fear turned into a bit of coercion. And that turned into push back from them. And that turned into a homeschool classroom that felt anything BUT Montessori.
So, I followed my own advice (those of you who have completed my course for Montessori parents can attest to this) and I had a good hard look at me.
Once I recognised that it was MY fears that were influencing the classroom (and not the boys playing up as I first thought) things got a whole lot easier. Prayer and meditation have long been a part of my life, but I’ve stepped up the meditation bit in particular and the difference has been remarkable. Today, I wouldn’t dream of setting foot in our homeschool classroom without my morning meditation and if for some reason the morning has gone awry and that does happen – then all three of us start our day with a meditation.
The reminder of what’s important. Of where I am in time and space (this has also changed with all of our work on the Great Lessons and our understanding of earth’s history. Humbling stuff.) A time of inner stillness and silence before the day begins. A prayer of gratitude for this wonderful opportunity and for these two little boys. These little spiritual (and spirited – I like that description) beings who are on this journey with me, and who look to me for guidance and to be their touchstone.
Now, not only can I be happy, grateful and calm no matter what is going on around me, but I am LOVING this opportunity. Watching them learn, flourish and grow before my very eyes. Watching them mature – as they’ve watched me mature. Being a great example to them, as a parent and as a human being.
These are the things this experience has brought me, and continues to bring me.
It’s so, so worth it.
How about you? How are things going? I’d love to hear from you, especially if there’s anything I can help you with. Be sure to leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you!
And I’ll try to be in touch a bit more often from now on!