Some letters and some learning

20 September 2012

If you read my blog for the sewing and vintage finds, and some of my other interests, you might not know that we are quietly home educating our two little ones.  It feels much more solid and we are becoming more focused, as time goes on, but it has really just evolved from how we care for ourselves, and some of the choices that we have made, and some that have been made (it seems) for us.

Probably the biggest influence on my mothering, was having two casual part time jobs when I became pregnant, so no guarantee of a job to return to, though I did work a little between babies, it was totally uneconomical for me to work – if I was putting my daughter in childcare, I’d be paying to work.  So I became the stay at home parent.  Along with the work situation, I also discovered that Luna and I would not do well if we were separated for long periods of time, especially if she was not with someone she (and I) loved and trusted.

So, we carried on, doing our thing, we joined the local La Leche League group, and the local Home Birth Group, making some connections and as time went on, those with similar aged children sent them along to kindy, others returned to work while their children went to day care.  Playcenter sounded cool, though I huge commitment, and from the centers I talked with, long wait lists, and not very baby friendly (while pregnant with Blake one woman said, sorry no babies or children at the weekly evening meetings.. hmm, Okaaay).  I guess I was pretty spoilt by the total acceptance of mothering while meeting during my time with my La Leche group…  So, I investigated some of the Kindergartens, which seemed to have high ratios of children to teachers, and the narrow age group seemed so limiting to learning and real social interaction.  We don’t ‘do’ much, keep it fairly fluid, though there is (most of the time) a rhythm to our days and weeks, spending time at the beach, doing errands and all the day to day stuff.  We have a smallish group of friends we enjoy spending time with.

Along this journey, I have thought a lot about how we learn, and how our relationships enable us to learn, and how a lack of close genuine relationships hinder emotional intelligence, and I have read much along these lines, books like Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, which is really about our relationships with our children and why our children need us (and other caring adults) in their lives more than they need ‘friends’ (yes, I know, what about socialisation..?  Sorry I’m not going there, just read the book).  And some books by Alfie Kohn, namely Unconditional Parenting, and Punished by Rewards, highlighting the real problem of using the behaviourist approach to parenting and education (do this homework, then you can watch tv, or each time you share with your brother you earn a gold star, and so on) this approach to learning and manipulating behaviour is the basis of our education system and extends into the work place, generally speaking.  There is much more to these ideas and approaches to learning and relationships, but what I found when I picked up these books, is that they gave voice to this uneasiness I feel when I consider mainstream education, and why I wince a little when I hear someone exclaim, “Good boy!” to a child.

So, anyway, I’m writing here, because Luna has started writing, she has had moments of ‘writing’ lists and notes, but she has been reading Tintin books, and whenever she has chanced upon a page with writing on it (like a power bill or essay proof) she has added her own text.  I find this really exciting, because my philosophy around learning, is that children/people will learn if you let them and we don’t necessarily need to be ‘teaching’ kids, but to trust they will learn.  In the same way babies are driven to crawl, then walk, talk and so on, we don’t need to teach them how.  I know this is challenging to people, especially as we have this system devoted to education and sometimes it hard to accept that parents are teachers too.

Luna was drawing rainbows here, when she started writing ‘N/Z’ and ‘O’ on a page, she exclaimed “I did it!”  ”I’m writing!”  Great, she felt so good about it.  That was exciting for me, and she hasn’t stopped.

These seem to be some of her favourite letter to compose her messages, she usually describes them as ‘Messages from Jacques Cousteau’ and I talk with her about the letters, some of which she knows as being a’s or t’s etc, she knows more than she lets on.

When I first saw this one, it reminded me of the Tintin books, and the use of speech bubbles, but Luna told me it was about Jacques Cousteau, when he writes on the maps, interesting!

Luna loves submarines, and here’s one,


So when she started doing this, I thought, ‘Wow, we haven’t done any ‘teaching’ around writing’ like letter forms, no sitting down to write or read, thinking we’ll do that in a year or so… then I remember how much time I’ve spent with Luna singing the alphabet, talking about some letter, ‘L’ for Luna, ‘D’ for daddy etc, and writing shopping lists together, reading recipes, signs etc. and of course, the hours and hours of reading… so for her I suppose it’s really just around her, and now it’s coming out.  It seems too easy….  will see what happens next!  At the moment, it’s like magic for Luna.

At the post office…

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