Child’s First and Ever Lasting School

What’s common in Embroidery, Carrot and Cheese Salad and Roughly Chopped Carrot and Cucumber Salad?

These are all home projects done by our children without any encouragement/planning/teaching from my side. Embroidery and Carrot Cucumber Salad having been done by 5 year old Yog. Carrot Cheese Salad done by 13 year old Toyna.

You may wonder what prompted them to pick up random things like Embroidery and Salad Making. The simple answer is that they saw these skills being practiced by someone at our home. Since these were being done for a period of time only by adults, our children figured it must be something interesting to do. After all, adults always do interesting things! No one asked them to try eating the salad leave alone try making it themselves.

The fact is that when children see something as part of their household they will naturally tend to try it out. Our children have tried meditation, cycling, trekking,  washing utensils/clothes, baking and even running their own business, just because these skills are part and parcel of our daily routine. On the flip side, my children think it is OK to raise their voice in anger because that is also what they have seen me doing in our household.

This is not a new concept. We are all aware that we have subconsciously adopted most of our own habits, values and rituals directly from our parents. To a large extent, our parenting styles are also pretty much similar to that of our parents. After all, what we have observed or rather experienced for the bulk of our childhood years is going to define the kind of adult we become.

For years, I have struggled to get our children to try out new things. I took them to classes, got them introduced to experts and traveled with them far and wide just to get them the “exposure”. It is only now that I realized the lesson that was always there in front of me. If I want my children to have exposure, it is “me” who first needs to get that exposure in my life. It doesn’t matter how good or bad I am at that thing. If my children see me happy trying to get it right, they are bound to try and do it out of curiosity and self motivation. Since they tried to do it by their own accord, they are more likely to continue pursuing it without needing any nudge from our side. The opposite of this is also true. If you don’t want your child to practice something, try and not do it yourself. For example – driving rashly, smoking, hitting someone or simple things like wasting food/water.

A home is the first and most intensive school that a child will ever go to. If you do not practice what you preach chances are your children will never practice it either. In fact, if you practice what you want your children to learn, you will never need to preach it.

Happy Homeschooling!

 

 

Criminal Child Labor is closer to home than you think

Children who do not score well in exams, spend on an average 7 hours in school. To help them improve academically, school puts extra classes adding another hour of study time.

Parents also want to help so they either teach the child or put tuitions for the child, adding another few hours of study time for the child. On an average, an academically weak child (a child that scores less marks) is studying more than 9 hours in a day. This is more than adult working hours. To top this statistic, here’s another one. These children are not even 10 years old right now.

Don’t we as parents, teachers or the society ever stop to think, why, inspite of so much effort in the same area is the child still weak in that area? Will we ever stop and analyse what are the strengths of the child and how we can help strengthen them further? Will we ever consider that maybe there was something else the child was born to do?

Just by forcing a child to do the same thing over and over again will not make them better at it. Even if it does make them better, it will never make them love the task. Quite the contrary is more likely to happen.

As parents, we need to stop and think why our child is not scoring good marks before we pack them off to another extra class. We need to stop and think, what our child was born to do and are academic scores really needed for that?

To be packed for 9 hours in back to back classes at less than 10 years of age is nothing short of criminal child labour. Anyone who is a party to this process should be tried like a criminal. Stop and think, are you being a party to the crime?

Our Death Plan

Ever since we lost Yog’s grandmother last year to Death, this D word has been omnipresent in our household. While we might want to avoid talking about Death over and over again, Yog is fascinated with it. It wasn’t long before he connected the dots and understood that Mom, Dad and Grandfather are also getting old and might die any day. It was therefore only proper that we have a solid plan for what does Yog need to do in case he loses his Mom, Dad and Grandfather all in one day. This is how our first conversation, in this regard, went.

Yog: Mama, what will happen if you, Papa and Thatha die? Who will take care of me?

Mama: By the time, all of us will die, Yog will be a big boy and he can take care of himself. Plus, you will have Akka with you.

Yog (thinking): But Mama, I will need new parents to take care of me. How will I find new parents?

Mama (laughing inside): In that case, Nani will come from Delhi and take you with her. You can stay with Nani. She will take care of you.

Yog: But how will Nani know that you have died and she needs to come to Hyderabad? Will you tell her before you die?

Mama (trying so hard not to laugh out loud): Someone will inform Nani to come to Hyderabad. Till Nani comes, you can go and stay with Sharada Aunty (our loving next door neighbor).

This conversation seemed to satisfy Yog for the time being.

A few days ago after talking about sun, stars, moon, plants and million other topics in this world, Yog came around to death once again.

Yog: Mama, when all of you die, I will go to Delhi to stay with Nani. I will take my password (he means his passport), go to the airport and take a flight to Delhi.

Mama: That’s a good idea.

Yog (all of a sudden choking on a thought that he can barely breathe): But Mama….. , But Mama…

Mama thinking that Yog has finally figured that life will be sad without his mother, father and grandfather. I should assure him that he will be fine.

Yog (continuing): But Mama, I don’t know where you have kept my password.

Mama (laughing under my breath): It’s ok Yog! I have kept it safely. I will show you where it is when we get home.

Yog, once again, is satisfied with the answer and happy to move on to the next topic for the day.

Me laughing internally at his innocence! I pray he always remains so carefree and forward looking in life. As for me, once I have shown Yog where his passport is kept, my job on this planet is done! I can then happily start planning for my next life! (LOL!!!)

Needless to say, I think both Toyna and Yog are blessed to be a part of  a large, loving and close knit family. It doesn’t worry me, even for a second, on what will happen to them if I am no longer there. Thank you dear family for so much love and support! We are all blessed!

A World without Boundaries – Mixing learning, working and playing

As the holiday season is getting over, Mothers all over the world heave a sigh of relief because kids are getting back to school. On the other hand, Homeschooling parents like me are always relaxed because our children never go to school. For us, there is simply no difference between a Monday or a Sunday, holidays, exams or school days. We love learning each day. We love to play each day. We never learn to be judged in an exam.  We simply learn because that is what we like to do. In essence, we have only two spaces in life – one in which we are learning and one in which we are not. In fact, the latter rarely exists because everything that we do has some form of learning for all us. Whether it is baking a cake, taking a stroll or causing accidents with cycles, there is something to be learnt in everything. This is our Homeschooling Life.  It is meant for those who cherish learning and growing constantly.

One of the reasons Homeschooling is not valued is because a lot of parents/caregivers are uncomfortable with having zero boundaries between studying and playing. How can one learn while playing? Is the child assimilating anything if there is no structured sit down learning? If there is no discipline of getting to school at a certain hour and sitting down for classes at length, how will a child cope with office jobs when he grows big? Unless, he is used to following instructions as a child, how will he follow instructions as an adult? How will he ever perform and hold a job?

These are all good and valid questions. But honestly, these questions are just misplaced in time. These questions applied to our parents and to some extent our generation as well. However, the Millennial generation is already changing the way we work. This generation is also called the Internet generation because they work anywhere, everywhere and are connected to work all the time. They check emails before sleeping and answer office calls even while on the potty seat. Even though they are always connected to work, they value work life balance the most. They work hard and party harder. There is a growing clan of Digital Nomads/Travelers who travel the world and work from remote places, simply using the internet technologies.

If you do the Math, the Millennial generation is easily 20 -30 years ahead of our children’s generation. If they have already started to erase boundaries between work and fun, our children will definitely not be tied behind desks for doing their jobs. Roughly, 30% of the jobs in the today’s world are held by freelancers. This trend will only increase in the coming years. This means that in all probability, our children will be their own boss, choosing the skills they want to pursue and how many hours (including which hours) they want to work. In this context, does it really matter if they learn to sit down in one place long enough or get ready at a certain hour each day? Does it matter, if they learn all the subjects at the same pace? Does it matter if they don’t like math or science or history? What should matter is whether they know what they love to do; whether they are getting enough time in doing/learning what they love to do; whether they have the passion and energy to complete the work that they have chosen to take up.

Through homeschooling, I am building an ecosystem in which my child can constantly work on what he loves to do in a way that he never feels that he is actually “working” or “studying”. Homeschooling has also given me the opportunity to “work” on what I like best – children. When I “work” with tens of children coaching, mentoring and teaching them I am learning more than I have ever learnt. At the same time, I am enjoying “working” more than I have ever enjoyed before.

In the end, I will just say that times are changing rapidly. It is time that we shed age old notions about learning and working and embrace the changes happening around us. Our children will be happier and wealthier if we as parents are open to a larger set of options including alternate forms for education, alternate forms of earning and alternate forms of living.

References:

Key skill for millennials is preparedness to move across industries and roles 
Our world is changing at 10x speed: How to prepare and be the change!