Natural Learning is NOT Lazy Parenting!
A travelling homeschooling friend, Nicole, was sitting around a campfire one night and the inevitable questions about education arose and she said she was follwing a natural learning approach. The response was a snort and "It's amazing what terminology is used these days to explain away lazy parenting." Naturally Nicole was taken aback and not having home educated her young ones for long, doubts began to arise. It's not easy confronting the prejudice and ignorance of those that haven't come across enough home educating families yet!
What I'd take away from the incident, as a positive, is that this bloke has met the first of very many unschoolers and homeschoolers on the road working their way around Australia educating their children in freedom. He has an awesome learning journey ahead of him. I see him encouraging families to give natural learning a go within a year!
Another friend, Freya Dawson, shared the following:
I like to see these situations as an opportunity to deal with my own self-doubt in a positive way. I know from my own experience that those sort of comments only really get to me if, at some level I believe that about myself and I don't like it. I remember being terribly triggered, defensive and hurt when a close relative called me a negligent parent. It hurt because I was judging myself in that way too. I thought that the job I was doing wasn't good enough. When I looked at this belief I had about myself (that I was a negligent parent) I realised that according to my own belief I was NEVER going to be good enough - I was constantly undermining myself.
The way I dealt with this in a positive way was to own the label "negligent parent" for my self. I asked myself how being negligent had been a good thing. I could suddenly see how I had neglected to send my children to school. I had neglected to discipline and punish them. I had neglected to push them to do all sorts of things that they didn't want to do. I had neglected to take control of their learning. And how happy I am that I neglected these things! Having made this list I was happy to own it - and in doing so I have removed that trigger or button within myself. Someone can call me a negligent parent and I can look at them and smile. There is no longer any need to attack them of defend myself. My buttons can't be pushed - they have been defused. This is true peace.
I think you could do much the same with laziness. What a lot of benefits there are from not being an over-involved parent! Your kids get to take more charge of their own learning and grow in their confidence. They get more independence and autonomy. They have more freedom to explore and play and grow into being themselves rather than who someone else wants them to be. Really, there should be a lot more parents who own this label. And of course, feeling comfortable about being lazy does not in any way preclude you being a caring, attentive and supportive parent as well.
The other benefit of owning more aspects of our own humanity - like being angry sometimes, sadness, needing to cry and release pent up feelings, wanting to rest and play and do our own thing - even be a bit wild and weird sometimes, is that the more we own these things in ourselves the more we can give our children permission to be fully human too. This is one way that I like to deal with those expectations that we will live up to other people's standards. If we are more fully human then other people have permission to be that way too. I think that deep down that is what people want - they want it to be OK to be how they really are, instead of wearing the identity of all that social conditioning.
And finally - any time I go down the road of worrying what other people think or comparing myself or my children to anyone else I am inviting suffering. I know we have been conditioned by our upbringing and schooling to do this, but it is a very unhelpful habit. I watch my thoughts to notice when I do this - and when I do notice I choose not to go there.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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