"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Friday, 20 June 2008


Ever since we took Emily out of school our whole lives have changed dramatically.We have relaxed into a way of life that is much more fluid.We have evolved from a routine set by the clock to no real routine at all.We get up when we wake up and eat when we are hungry.Bedtime for Emily can be 7.30 as is the case tonight or 10.30 as it was a few nights ago.In many ways we are lucky that Emily is not too much of a night owl but if she wanted to stay up later we would find a way to accommodate her that worked for all of us.

Unschooling has become so much more than giving Emily choice in what she "learns" our whole parenting philosophy has had an overhaul. I so often wish I was better at capturing our days in words and feel sometimes I don't always get the point across very well.In the last post when I wrote about sitting on the harbour it struck me after re reading it that most caring parents would have sat out with their child,I did forget to mention two other occasions where we had had a similar experience and had all ended up cold and pretty miserable with a portion of Emily's meal being dropped on the pavement trying to eat and hold on to it at the same time :-( My point really was how we have changed our approach to parenting and instead of pointing out the previous times and using them as a way to get Emily to do what we felt was best we just accepted that it was important for her to be out side and it wasn't going to kill us to facilitate that.It is also most likely that one of us would have felt the need to comment on the "wise" decision she made about sitting in the car next time because it would have made us "right".These little scenarios crop up so many times in a day and our decision to move towards a non coercive way is most definitely not an easy one,we don't always do the best we could in a situation,sometimes we are truly crap at doing the best thing and revert to the old ways.We may stray off the path we have chosen to go down but manage to fight our way back through the undergrowth and get back on track;-) Any how it didn't make sense to me when I re read it and I hope that makes a little bit more sense now if any of you thought the same?

I truly believe with all of my heart that this way of life is right for us and is just what Emily needs.Having said that I have spent the last few weeks worrying myself silly.I read so many blogs(unschooling and other) where the children are so motivated to learn and are producing wonderful art and have rich and varied interests and I have felt so envious.For quite some time now it has seemed that all Emily has really wanted to do is listen to story tapes and when she is not listening to one she wanted to be read to and we had four different books on the go at once.We have been on outings and as soon as we are back in she has gone up to our room to listen to the CD she has wanted her food up there and has done very little of anything else when we are at home.She has not been on the computer for what seems like months and apart from a couple of films has not watched TV over the past few weeks,she has done very little drawing, she is so into the story's.I have questioned how I would feel if she was reading rather than listening to a tape or CD and to be fair I think I would still have worried.Initially it didn't worry me but gradually I began to get twitchy,it just seemed so reclusive and obsessive.My instinct was to let her work through it and although I offered things up they were most often declined so I just bit my lip and let her carry on.I can't tell you how hard it has been and for the first time I have seriously considered a more structured approach. I heard all the "I told you so voices" in my head when I thought about the future and saw her unmotivated and lounging around with no interests.

Thankfully before I did anything stupid some evidence appeared to show me that is unlikely to be the outcome.Milly has enjoyed The Lottie project on CD a couple of times now and got it out again when my mum took her to the library on Tuesday.She stopped listening to Alex Rider and put it on immediately they got home,the next day she showed me a story she had started.It is about a young Victorian nursery maid it is beautifully illustrated and there is a lot of writing and the story is obviously based on the Lottie project but with an Emily twist.The things she has learnt by "just" listening to story's are all coming out in the words she is using in her book, the history involved and the life she has developed for her Lottie character and all the other characters she has created in the story.She has said this is the best thing she has ever done and never wants it to end, she is writing obsessively(see a pattern emerging!!) and is so proud of it that she wants me to put pictures on here.She wants to get a book about Victorian nursery maids to learn more about their lives.Unfortunately the library was closed so we will have to go again,any ideas for book titles would be greatly appreciated.We went into Wilkinson's as she wanted a spiral bound book to write in and to stick the pages she had already written into.She wanted plain pages as she said she found it too restrictive to write with lines.I had it in my mind to say something but decided to hold my tongue until we had looked around and as there were no pads without lines I just casually said that I often found it easier to write with lines as it kept my writing straight and we continued to look for other bits and bobs and then she went back and got a pad and we headed home.She ended up re writing all the pages(very proud of herself as it was so neat and within the lines) instead of sticking them in the book and re drew the pictures.It now goes every where with her and I am sure she will get great pleasure from developing her story.However long it lasts I am happy for her.I can read the story as most of the words are spelt phonetically but I love to hear her read it,she knows where she wants a breath or when the character changes and she reads with great expression.She read it to her friend when we picked her up from school and when A asked why the girl in the story couldn't see her family Emily explained about nursemaids and how they went into service quite young and didn't get to go home very often. My fear has been calmed,Emily has her own way of doing things (she always has so you would think I would have learnt by now!!) they are different to mine and different to many other children but she is learning and she does have passions and interests.I am really hoping that in the future I stop needing these demonstrations of "learning" and just accept.

Life will be so much easier then ;-))

Emily came down with Al to get some supper as she felt a bit peckish and asked what I was writing about and I said I was just trying to explain how our lives had changed since she came out of school and she suggested I just write EXCELLENT in big letters right across the page, I suppose that does sum it up quite well ;-))


Michelle said...

I must be at a hormonal time of the month as I'm almost crying. Daft woman that I am! That is such a lovely post.

I know Clo does stuff and has focus and concentrates a lot on what she wants to do - but woe betide you if you actually try to teach her anything! She has always been that way. It's not normal you know! xx

Jules said...

That is such a lovely, inspirational posting. Thank you!

Hannah said...

Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed reading this post :o)

Grit said...

do you know, i come round other home ed blogs and i often feel humbled by what the children do and achieve and inspired by the grown ups who're with them!

piscesgrrl said...

I think any post that is named "EXCELLENT" by the child is just that. :-)

Marvellous Em said...

Thank you so much for your message...unfortunatly I have ranted a bit after you message to the other people who commented and have made myself sound like a bit of an idiot! :o( That is such a lovely post it has given me the boost I needed to continue on the path I know is right for J! I'm glad it is working so well :o)