Inflicting Unnecessary Harm

“The saddest thing for me about the education system, as I have witnessed it, is that it seems almost intentionally calculated to create anxious children, parents and teachers. Matt was only four the first time I was told he was “behind the benchmark”, which I still think is an obscene and revolting way to describe any child, and this emphasis on his shortcomings and failures has continued…

It’s a big, complex question, the matter of how we educate our children, and I imagine it feels overwhelming from the inside. I am not an expert. I’m just a parent and a lover of words and stories who feels deeply sad at all the unnecessary stress and missed opportunities and the avalanche of mental health problems in children and their parents and teachers. The bold thing would be to take a blank sheet of paper and start again. Could we not do that? Could we not ask how we want to educate our children, all of them, with creativity and joy?”

Fronted Adverbials Be Damned
Photo by Bich Tran on

Homeschooling Looks Like . . .

A2Z Homeschooling: Where Do I Start

According to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll, 60 percent of parents surveyed said they will likely choose at-home learning this fall rather than send their children to school even if the schools reopen for in-person learning. Thirty percent of parents surveyed said they were “very likely” to keep their children home.

Kerry McDonald: Back to School? No Thanks

What If . . .

“What if I told you that slow pace of life you crave is achievable?

What if I told you you don’t need to be a teacher, or have all the answers?

What if I told you that your children could follow their own interests instead of a standardised curriculum?

What if I told you that you could spend your days in whatever way YOU wanted? You could travel whenever you liked, and take holidays any time.

What if I told you you could do ALL of this while still giving your child a fabulous education. Could you justify sending them to school? For me, the answer was no.”

When I was trying to decide if we should homeschool, I read everything I could. I wanted to know how hard it would be, how much time it would take, what I needed to teach them, what the reporting requirements … Continue reading →   Source:I Can’t Justify School | Happiness is here

What Causes More Anxiety in Children: School or a Smartphone? — John Holt GWS

photo credit: Canva

Our children attend school at earlier ages and graduate at older ages than they did in previous generations; we make going to college a modern, tribal ritual that socially shames those who can’t afford it or who don’t thrive there; we focus on degrees awarded but not on competencies earned outside of degree programs; we increase standardized testing and the pressure on teachers and students to produce better grades; we reduce play and private time for children outside of school; we eliminate recess and after-school programs inside school and turn them into instruction and homework time.

This is considered to be the norm we want to make children adjust to.

Is it any wonder they are anxious?

Read more: What Causes More Anxiety in Children: School or a Smartphone? — John Holt GWS

Turning the tables: questions for school parents | Racheous

Imagine if when you told people you had chosen to send your kids to school, you were met with the kind of assumptions, judgement and questioning that is typical of families who have chosen to homeschool.

  • “I knew someone who was schooled and they were freaks”

  • “Oh I don’t know if she would suit school, she’s a bit too spirited for school”

  • “Are you going to miss them? I would just miss mine too much”

  • Are you concerned about negative socialisation? Bullying? Peer pressure?”

  • “Is that legal?”

Read the whole thing and enjoy!  Source: Turning the tables: questions for school parents | Racheous





Trust Children to Learn

“Nothing could be more simple – or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves – and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” Deborah Meier

In Their Own Way

Our daughter just graduated Salutatorian from a major university!

We home schooled all the way through high school.

I remember fearing our children would never learn to read and write. It seemed as if everyone’s children where reading novels and writing novels while our children where busy with self directed imaginative play and artistic activities.

Our children were what some would call late bloomers.  But were they really late bloomers or did they simply learn to read and write when they were ready physically, cognitively and emotionally in their own way?  In my experience, the later is most certainly more accurate in the nature of how children learn.

Being a parent, you worry; compare your children to those of others.  Seemingly, there is a cultural push to prepare children academically to excel in school at a very young age.  David Elkind wrote extensively about the pitfalls of “The Hurried Child” and the importance of play.

By David Elkind: The Hurried Child, The Power of Play, All Grown Up and No Place to Go, Miseducation, and The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally

As I look back through our home schooling years, I now marvel at the ease our children learned to read and write despite how much I worried. We read to them starting at a very young age and continued to read to them well into their teens.  Books, magazines, newspapers and maps filled  the house and were always accessible to our children.  Because we surrounded our children with the printed and spoken word, they understood the value of  words ~ that words mean things and convey thoughts and ideas. 

If you are considering homeschooling or currently homeschooling and worry about how to teach your children to read write and do math, trust your children. They will learn to read, write and do math in their own way given the freedom to do so.  Who knows, they may graduate as Salutatorian one day! 😉

Articles of interest on the subject of “The Hurried Child”:





No two children are alike. Each child is an individual who learns at their own pace and in their own way.  Our job as parents is to nurture their individual strengths and uniqueness. The best way we found to do this was through home schooling.

The expectation that children are to excel in everything is unnatural:

. . .all of us live with minds wired to excel in one area and not do so well in others.  This is why, as adults, we have our writers, our surgeons,  our teachers, our plumbers and so on.

. . .we can not all be generalists skilled in everything, but nevertheless children are expected to be generalists in school-to excel in every thing.

From: A Mind at A Time

This brings me to Animal School video from Raising Small Souls. The video is based on George Reavis’ fable The Animal School written in 1940.

Let the fish swim. Let the rabbits run. Let the eagles fly.


Related Links:

Life with Teenagers: A Few Good Reads

I wrote this post years ago when our children were teenagers:

Life with teenagers can be a tumultuous time. Many parents find themselves navigating through what seems like a myriad of minefields. Being a parent during this time certainly isn’t what it was when they were toddlers. At this pivotal stage, teenagers need their parents to be present.

I am a student of child development and so I read, read and read.  Currently, I am reading Nurturing Your Teenager’s Soul by Mimi Doe.

Of the many books I’ve read, all encourage parents to connect to your children, your spouse and your self.  In this hurry-up-and-go-go society, it is a very challenging thing to do – connect.  And, as my children spring into teen-hood, I’m finding it more and more difficult to connect with them.

However, in this book Mimi suggests acknowledging and accepting disconnection:

“Spiritual practice isn’t about always being connected with Spirit; it’s about continually reconnecting.  We all have moments when our nerves jangle, impatience surges, or we feel low and alone.  Pretending otherwise perpetuates these feelings; acknowledging them diminishes their hold on us.”

I had to read that again and again.  Wow! How true for me right now.  Spiritual practice is about continually REconnecting.  Parenting  is about continually RE-connecting.  I must keep reminding myself of that . . .it reminds me to be present for my kids.  If it didn’t work one minute it will the next.

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Well, what can I say…we have teens in our house and I’m not adjusting to it very well. Our means of communication has changed dramatically. This book offers the following:

  • assures me that this is normal
  • gives me the tools to communicate more effectively (Post It Notes*)
  • reminds me that no matter how well we think we are communicating, we will still have our ups and downs

* Post-it Notes are a wonderful invention! The book simply suggests to use notes (my choice, of course, Post-it Notes) as gentle reminders to pick clothes up off the bathroom floor, take the trash out, feed the dogs, cats, fish etc., or even to arrange some time together. The use of the notes is very non-confrontational, non-nagging and if used with a sense of humor can be a fun way to communicate with your teen:

  • “OMG, how long must we (the clothes) lay on the gross bathroom floor!”
  • “I’m going to melt if I’m not put back in the fridge.”
  •  “I’d like your company while fixing dinner!”
  • “The cleaning fairy has died (gone on vacation, is on strike etc.). Please pick up your____.”

Wonderful Ways to Love A Teen . . . even when it seems impossible by Judy Ford 

Short and sweet.
Neat little things a parent can do to connect with their distant teen.
So far the best advice I’ve read is:

  • “Teenagers often resist OVERT attempts to have “quality time”.
  • “Take every opportunity to hang out . . .it can happen in the backyard, the kitchen, or the car.  It can be a few minutes . . .or an entire day.” 
  • “The key is to DROP EXPECTATIONS, roles, rules and notions about what is supposed to happen.”


Between Form and Freedom: A practical guide for the teenage years by Betty Staley reassures me that what we are going through as a family with teens is normal and we are trying to do all the right things; being patient, loving, flexible, forgiving, supportive. Betty points out, interestingly so, that teenagers spend hours upon hours in their rooms not because they don’t want to be with the family but rather the teenager is working on his or her inner self, oscillating between childhood and adulthood. There is an inner challenge where the teen tries to balance his feelings and emotions with their emerging identity. Their newer awareness of themselves in relation to the world begins to move to the forefront of their consciousness. To paraphrase the author, ‘teens lose the world to find themselves’. Thus, a reason most teens seem withdrawn from the family. Teens are searching among their physical world and their spiritual world feeling pulled in both directions which can cause great tension within themselves and not to mention within the family too.

“They need to move inward, to offer the world something of value requires time for introspection.” says Betty. This move inward may be mistakenly seen as rejection, aloofness and tempermentalness. It is difficult not to take this personally. Moving inward and given space to reflect, question, explore points of view, wonder, read, draw, listen to music all “offer the young person an opportunity to enter into a dialogue with his own soul. Such dialogue is the furnace in which ideals are forged.” Teenagers are in a stage between form and freedom.

For more parenting books check out my post: Books! Oldies but Goodies