You have heard it before - time passes in the blink of an eye. The bright-eyed infant soon becomes the mischievously, curious toddler who is happily engaged in play while exploring everything about their world. Soon, you are packing their backpack for school - doing battle over homework and screen-time, and managing their sprawling schedule filled with sports, music or dance lessons, and other school obligations, not to mention your own over-crowded calendar. Before you know it, you are negotiating driving privileges, curfew, and romantic relationships, as well as overseeing college applications and visits. And, then, they are gone.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that children - in fact, all humans - learn from experimentation, exploration, and free play, the above is a typical scenario. School, with all of its cumbersome requirements, is the central focus of not only your child's life but your own as well.
I have to ask, why are we still tied to that antiquated, government-controlled system, which inhibits and mostly forbids those natural learning methods, where our kids, lose their natural curiosity, and self-motivation, to rigid adult-directed narratives?
These past few months of quarantine, while inconvenient for many families, who are balancing their work and home commitments, may have been, exactly, what our kids/teens needed. Yes, they were still under the school's thumb with assigned busywork, and remote classes, but many kids were able to finish that in far less time than a prescribed school day. They experienced more freedom. They had the opportunity to fill their time with the things that interested them. And, they were able to let go and stare off into space to dream, wonder, and imagine. In short, they had more time to be kids.
I can only assume there were feelings of confusion, apprehension, and fear, being expressed by both children and their parents, at the beginning. Our known world was turned on its head. Then after that initial hit, everyone adjusted and may have, even, realized that they were doing just fine.
Maybe, their normal anxiety levels went down, and creativity levels increased, and they discovered how to play again. They followed their curiosity to learn things that are not part of the curriculum. And, to top it all off, they seemed happier.
None of us knows what the new academic year holds. Will school start on time? Will there be massive safety restrictions in place that inhibit movement and social interactions that have the potential of generating (over the top) anxiety? Will virtual classes, filled with busywork, be the new norm?
If all (or some) of the above positive things did, indeed, happen for your children, and you were pleased by them, I have a potential scenario for the fall. You could circumvent the entire process of wondering and worrying by deciding to continue to follow your child's/teen's lead. Allow them to take charge of what they learn and how they learn it.
If homeschooling, on your own, seems scary, unwieldy, or just too daunting, Deep Root Center can help. We offer two options: membership or consultation services.
The Center will be open to our members in September, with modifications and a safety plan in place. This will include, moving many of the activities and classes outside to the yard and the open garage during September and October, in both Canton and Lawrenceville.
DRC members come to the Center 2-4 days each week and use the facilities, resources, and materials in whatever way serves them best. They also have access to a mentor who listens carefully and guides them, helps them and their parents navigate NYS regulations and the required documentation, and supports them to follow their aspirations.
DRC consultation services are available to those families who decide to continue their educational journey at home, without coercive school assignments. We can guide you through NYS regulations and will help write all of the required documentation.
Trusting your child to take control of their education comes with a whole host of benefits - including the privilege of experiencing child/teen-hood as a time to play and explore freely.
*Note - If you would like to read more about the evolutionary role of free play, there is an extra copy of Peter Gray's book at the Center that is available to loan out. Get in touch if you would like to borrow it.
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