As a home educating parent, or a parent considering home education, have you ever given any thought to how you view your child? This is an important question because children’s self-esteem is greatly impacted by our opinion of them as their parents.
In terms of education, schools view children as vessels to be filled, not as people who are already full of creativity and ideas to be drawn out.
The word ‘education’ comes from the Latin ‘educere’ = e- (out of) + -ducere (to draw). Education is not just about putting information in. We have forgotten that it, in fact, begins in the child’s heart.” – Vince Gowmon.
Here’s another profound thought to add to this idea:
“By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man; body, mind and spirit.” – Mahatma Gandhi
These are big ideas. How do we go about living them? If you were schooled traditionally, you may not realize you also see education as the process of filling your child’s head with information and knowledge. To some degree, there is nothing wrong with this – your child does need to gain knowledge of certain things to be able to survive in the world, but in this article, I want to explore the idea of educating your child from the perspective of what is already within them.
Your view of your child
Children are vulnerable, silly, cute, playful and in need of our protection, yes, but they are also very creative, resourceful, insightful, innovative and aware.
Once you view them from the perspective of seeing infinite, undiscovered potential, rather than occasionally just focusing on the things they can’t seem to master), everything changes.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Obviously, by now you are adjusting or already have adjusted to the idea that education does not = child + memorisation of information / passing standardised tests.
Education, especially for homeschooling parents, should hold a much more expansive and ever-expanding definition, bursting with (im)possibilities. Excited yet?
Let’s go back to the beginning.
How do you think your parents viewed you?
If your parents viewed you as:
- sickly/weak/a burden/a problem
- a hopeless case/lost cause
- the “black sheep”
- the rebel
- the straight-A student
- the “good kid”
- the athlete/artist/doctor/engineer who would one day make it big
- the dreamer
- the artsy/different one
how did this affect you? How did it empower (or hinder) your learning? Your self-esteem? Your career choices and drive to succeed? While your parents can obviously not be blamed for all of your choices and their consequences, their perspective will certainly have played a major role in shaping your journey.
Now that you are a parent yourself, it’s easier to accept that everyone – and every child – has weaknesses, as well as strengths. As homeschooling parents, we are in a unique position to give much more nurturing attention to this truth and propel our children forward in a better way than most schools ever could.
Reset your view
YOU ARE A CAPABLE HOMESCHOOLING PARENT.
Yes, I wrote that in all caps on purpose. Every parent can do with more encouragement. Take it in, every single time I write it.
YOUR CHILD IS CAPABLE of learning what they need to know, and more. Capable of achieving, growing, exploring and living a life they can be proud of, no matter what anyone else says and no matter what that may look like, compared to someone else.
Take the time to internalise, verbalise and align with this beautiful, hopeful and empowering truth. It will fuel your courage to keep homeschooling simple, yet much more powerful, fun and inspiring.
Let’s focus on your child for a minute. Do you view your child as a miracle? If yes, do you tell them that often? Do they know? If not, it’s time to work on this one. Obviously, every parent has moments where the child is certainly not behaving like a miracle, because he/she is a child, doing childish things. But your child is alive – a miracle.
When you constantly remind yourself that your child is a miracle, a gift, it helps sustain your joy and fades some of the frustration that comes with trying to do ALL THE THINGS and feeling like a failure. It replaces the sense of struggle with a sense of gratitude, which will open your brain to more creative ideas. (Dr. Caroline Leaf talks about this here.)
A miracle is something amazing, unusual, different, extraordinary, wonderful and intriguing. Observe your child’s exploration of the world and then quietly wait for them to share it with you in their way.
Stand aside for a while and leave room for leanring, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.” – Loris Malaguzzi
Your view of your child may also include seeing him/her as:
- an individual with their own dreams, talents, skills and preferences (even if they’re not always sure what those are – people change and grow!)
- resourceful – let children be bored and see what they come up with…
- innovative – let your child problem-solve on their own – you may be pleasantly surprised.
- aware – children NOTICE things and they don’t have a filter. This is valuable. Ask them questions that leave room for open-ended answers. Then listen.
- intelligent – even if your child has learning challenges. They have intelligence that may have nothing to do with their fluency in maths/language. Intelligence of the heart and instinctive EQ are equally special and valuable in the world!
- strong and resilient – if you see your child this way and show it by how you treat them and the opportunities you give them, they will respond, feeling empowered and enabled by your faith in them.
- a gold mine full of treasures to be offered and delighted in. Once your child realises you see them this way, it will buffer them against the world’s social media-driven comparison disease and help them establish a healthy sense of identity.
Making positive perspective a practical reality
It’s wonderful to renew your mind and think differently, but now it’s time to get practical.
As a homeschooler, you are unlimited in so many ways. You can provide your child with opportunities to get an education filled with the following “E’s”:
- Exploration – let your child take their time to explore as many questions, ideas, books and resources as they like.
- Enjoy – fun is the key here. Lots of it. For a child, play and learning are synonymous. Make learning as fun, hands-on and outdoors as possible. And better yet, play WITH your child. Your brain could use the down-time and inspiration that comes from it, too. (Why do you think adult colouring books sell so well…?)
- Experience – experiences cement memories with learning like nothing else. Gather experiences, make memories, rather than spending most of your budget on stuff.
- Express – let them create in a variety of ways, repetitively if they wish, taking the time to master a new craft or skill. Let them share what they think of the world, ideas, society, history, the economy, religion, values, and other issues. Stimulate their thinking.
- Encouragement – provide a safe and supportive environment. Be there if they want to ask questions. Accept their learning process and teach them that mistakes and perseverance are part of learning.
Encouraging a child means that one or more of the following critical life messages are coming through, either by word or by action: I believe in you, I trust you, I know you can handle this, You are listened to, You are cared for, You are very important to me. – Barbara Coloroso.
It’s easy to take life a little too seriously as adults. Have more fun with your child. You’ll both learn a lot more in having, planning, exploring, expressing and experiencing fun than you could ever gain from books. Books can be part of the fun without reproducing school at home.
Here are a few more thoughts on this concept:
If you trust play, you will not have to control your child’s development as much. Play will raise the child in ways you can never imagine. – Vince Gowmon
Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn. – O. Fred Donaldson
For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play. – Penelope Leach
After all the above, what’s the bottom line about how you view your child?
Love your child. See their potential and love it out of them. You’re a parent. That’s what you’re wired to do, and you’re allowed to have fun with your child while doing it. (You’re also allowed to have some coffee, have your own minor meltdown or two when you can’t figure it out, and then to pull a silly-face competition with your child to get over it.)
Start with how you view yourself – get that to the same positive level as the glowing, heart-bursting pride you feel over your children, and the rest will get easier.
Think capable, true, inspiring and empowering thoughts. Your child will then find it easier to do the same and exceed all your expectations.
What did you think of this article? Comment down below and let’s discuss it!
Also, please share with family and friends.