Our event work sees us living on the road from the beginning of May till the end of September. This means that our seven year old misses at least a term of school each academic year. We have been lucky enough to find a small local school who not only accommodate us but fully support us with his half n half education.
The first few years saw me preparing structured learning for him as well as a scrap book he’s been doing since age 3. But in recent years I’ve just let him be, go play and most importantly, get bored.
I call it the boredom barrier. After being ‘schooled’ for seven months over the winter, he’s used to constant activities being led for him. Direction and entertainment all scheduled and laid out.
When we get to our first field (festival set up) it’s devoid of children and activities. If he’s lucky he’ll have a family member or friend to watch him while we set up but often it’s just him (looking after his 2 year old brother!). Now he will nag and strop and sulk so this is where it gets painful and I’m so tempted to give in and let him play on my phone or watch DVDs. But if I’m strong I can help him through the boredom barrier and there lies his own imagination and endless ‘not boring’ things to do.
It is a most satisfying moment when you see them so engrossed in their own imaginative play, completely non guided and unstructured, ta da, the moment you have been waiting for. And it will come, they all have it in them but modern technology is so much easier for the brain to relax and so convenient to use as a quick fix. We are all guilty of excessive screen time.
I recently discovered that a root word of education is, quite obviously now I see it, to educe, which means to bring forth something that is already within. How beautiful is that?!
So I don’t need to teach him anything, except how to unlock his own potential and find his true calling within himself.
I often joke that I spend 5 months ‘unschooling’ him but with no insult to his teachers and all my friends who are teachers as they do an amazing job, it’s a pretty close description. And you know what, for us, it works really well. When he returns to school each October he’s full of enthusiasm, loves the routine and is in no way behind his classmates. If anything he’s been given a wider view of the world which only helps him tackle school work with more ease.
So my advice to parents during this lockdown is to use the time given to us to help your child look within themselves and truly find what makes them tick.