Drop the labels and embrace your life!

Labels can be useful.  They can help us to define things, provide a starting point for further research, and allow for clearer explanations.  But, labels can also feel restricting, confining, narrow and stressful.

These days there are labels for explaining behaviour, parenting styles, educational methods and more.  And while I like that there is a name for the variety within each area, trying to fit in to a category or label can also be very limiting. 

Our favourite place to be is in nature.  This is where my boys come alive!

I’ll try to focus more on education although for me, this topic also applies to other areas of our lives such as parenting styles and understanding my children’s personalities etc.

We’d all agree that most parents want the best for their children.  They also want the best education for their kids too.  We are blessed in our country to have options.  Our kids could go to a public school, variety of private schools, some type of alternate education or homeschooling.  Each option has their own set of pros and cons.  There are excellent and not so great schools/teachers within each option available.  Since every family situation is different everyone has to make their own decision about what is best for their family.  Many factors come into play here such as the child’s needs, finances, location, faith, and more.  What bothers me is when people put down some of the options making us feel like their way is best.  Since we all want the best for the kids why can’t we all support and build each other up.  No matter what choice a person makes surely there is some way you can encourage, support, invest in, or build into that child/family.  We all have strong feelings and opinions but these many options for education aren’t going to disappear just because you (and many others) don’t feel they are the best way to learn.   Rather than disagreeing with their choice of educational location or institution maybe we should focus on building into the lives of kids any way we can.  Maybe that is going to see the play your niece’s school class is putting on, or sharing your love of painting with a homeschooled neighbour, or listening to the exiting adventures your grandkids have been reading about. 

TJ asked daddy to help him figure out how many letters were in the alphabet.  Then we made secret codes up for each other.

For our family we have chosen to homeschool our children.  It is a decision we consider regularly to see if that is still be best fit for our children and situation at the time.  When I first started researching about homeschooling methods I was rather surprised to find out that there are so many different methods, styles and pedagogy to choose from!!  I took my time to read about each one to find out what resonated best with me.  This is where all those labels came in handy.  It helped me to further my reading and distinguish one thing from another.  I could let go of that which didn’t fit with our family and pursue those that did. 

Where I went wrong was to try and pick one method that I felt was the best fit for my family and go all out.  I felt that if I strayed from being a purist (or as much as I could) in that method then I’d be doing it all wrong and not be as effective.  It became very stressful, expensive, and I didn’t like who I was becoming.  In my mind I felt our way was best, and I began to tolerate others but look down on them for not choosing the same way.  I narrowed my range of possible connections too.  When we did something with the children that wasn’t inline with what I thought I should do, I felt guilty, worried and tried to swing the other way to make up for it.  Eventually I would abandon that method entirely and try something else. Now most of this was all up in my head but still I really didn’t need that stress in my life.

Learning can happen any time any where.  It can also be just plain ol' fun!!

This year I decided to drop the labels and embrace what worked best from everything that I had read or tried in the past.  Again each method or pedagogy has its benefits otherwise so much time and effort wouldn’t have been put into developing it.  But since we are all different and complex I don’t feel one specific way is going to work for our whole family forever.  Since learning comes naturally let us also follow the rhythms of nature.  There is a time and a season for everything.  There are seasons of our life that we may be outside more, exploring, working on gross motor, and building.  Other times of our lives we are very interested in a project that engages most of our time.  Some days I have a mini panic attack and want to check in where my kids are at so we may do some workbooks.  For us winter brings us to inside a little more to books, board games, research projects, TV, documentaries, artistic pursuits and handiwork.  With the new baby coming this summer I am sure that our focus and attention will turn to caring for this new little one and welcoming him into our family for a while.  Now that I have stopped worrying so much about following a specific method or worrying about what others will say about it, we have found true joy in learning at home together.

When I dropped the labels and embraced learning as an organic flowing journey, I also began to accept, encourage and support others in their journey too.  We are all in this together so lets not put each other down or make them feel like they aren’t doing enough.  Stop comparing our children with each other.  They are going to be different even within one family.  I am not using the same educational model as you and that is okay.  Let us look for ways to build into the lives of our family, friends, neighbours and children.  What skills do you have that another could benefit from?  Do you have supplies you aren’t using that could be passed on?  Could you gather together to go on a field trip?  Is there a resource that your community of learners need?  Let us drop the labels and start living life more fully.

The boys and their homeschool friends directing their own play and negotiations
Tell me what do you need right now?  How can I support you?
I’d love to hear your questions, worries, prayer requests, and thoughts. 
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My Joy-Filled Life