Monday, September 29, 2014

Home School or in a Village?

Arriving back in Australia, we soon got back into our groove of home schooling. The days filled in a whirl of self employed business, education, adventures, sporting events, dancing, tennis lessons and all the personal and professional events that accompany life.

School Horses around the rotunda at Village School
Image: Village School Website
A mothers needs and wants are often faded into the background, children step up, other peoples needs step in, clinic clients fall apart and demand attention, sleep begins to become a thing of the past and try as you may to carve out "your space" it is so easy for it to slip away like a drifting boat into the night until the horizon is no longer visible and the boat is long gone.

At this point, you have the options of finding yourself, carving out your space, going with the flow or simply drowning in the never ending  business that accompanies fitting in every ones lifestyles. Some times even the best intentions are just out of your grasp, you soul search, you seek inner peace, you try to make it all fit. Yet, it is as futile as trying to catch the long gone boat, things begin to fall apart and there's no time for anything any longer. Children clutch at your clothing and beg for all manner of needs to be met and sometimes a change is necessary.

On one rather dark and gloomy day, back in 2012, this was the place I found myself in. Unable to cope with looking after everyone else any longer I sat down and began to weep. I felt like I had given my power away, I felt lost and miserable, sad for myself and a deep despair over not having it all together. The tears began to fall and as the rain fell outside my world closed in a little darker.

But like all dark clouds parting, eventually the sun must come out and I realised that the universe had not left me, I was simply unable to achieve what I needed to as I wasn't clear in what I wanted.
What was it I needed? What was it I needed to ask the universe for?
Like a light coming out from the dark, I realised I needed 2 days peace. 2 days where Emma was somewhere other than home schooling - and it wasn't just me, Gabe needed some private time with his interests with me and she needed to be in a broader circle. She needed some space to breathe too.

I sat down and asked the universe, please find a "fit" for Emma somewhere for 2 days a week, somewhere where she would be loved, valued, respected, nurtured, somewhere she could call a second home, some where she would be happy, somewhere she could grow.

I prayed and I asked for exactly what we all needed, I couldn't do any more with this. I didn't know what else to do and with the words of the serenity prayer echoing: "God, give me Grace to accept with serenity, the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other." Glancing at the clock, I decided to leave it alone for now.

Arising and settling in to emails and a cup of tea, I noticed an email that had popped in exactly one minute after the wishes I had sent out into the ethers.

It was a local school email - the Village school; it began with:
"Dear Lesley, some time ago you expressed an interest in our home school program"
OK, I'm listening...
"We would like to offer Emma a place at the village school 2 days a week if you are still interested, if so please contact us at......"

I thought about it for a second, noticed the time and pushed my mind aside, my heart stepped in and quickly typed "yes, please, when can she start?". I didn't need to ask the location, the cost, the details, I knew it would be her "fit".

She began the next week and - Oh what a fit it was, we are eternally thankful and grateful for the journey the village school took us on.

From the initial comment on their website we knew we were in synchronicity:

"There are two lasting bequests we can grant our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings."

Our beliefs were challenged in the most delightful ways, our theories of what education is, were rewritten and our personal experiences of our childhood education were cast aside as we began to learn how children unfold and develop into the most wonderful human beings with love, respect and the opportunity to really be who they are born to be without anyone's beliefs imposed upon them.

We will eternally value our "Village" experience as one of the most soul enriching, heart felt experiences of being loved we and Emma could ever hope for.
The school is filled with animals and Emma would delight in getting to school to lead the horses to a different paddock, busy herself with the chooks, ducks, eggs and love the bleating of the goat in a rather whimsical cry, that once pointed out, really did sound like he was saying his own name over and over Keeeeevvvvvinnnn, Keeeevviiiinnn!
The Village School Farm
Image: Village School Website

Early days, Emma had some "fitting in" concerns, she had some hurtful comments to speak and was making her presence rather loudly felt there.
One of the teachers carefully approached us at drop off, advising we had a little "concern" that needed addressing, they advised us what was occurring and that they (in the most loving manner) felt it needed to be dealt with.

Echos of our my school experience screamed in my head, getting chalk filled dusters thrown at my head, being screamed at and publicly humiliated in front of the entire class, marched up to the headmasters office with your arm nearly wrenched out of the socket to get the cane a few times to teach you a darn good lesson. Being whipped into conformity, so your true individuality would be stifled and you would fit in with THEIR ideals of a child. The memories in my head screamed and my heart began to race. Like a third party I heard myself mutter "what is it exactly you wish to do with her".

The teacher (a lovely large gentle man) explained how at Village school they believe children act out because they don't feel valued; therefore with our permission they felt it would be beneficial to have the children explain to Emma what they liked about her and what qualities they saw in her that they respected and felt would be a benefit to them and the school as a whole. He continued, explaining that most of the actions within the school are decided by the children, whilst the teachers role is to oversee and become advisers rather than dictators and that this was the decision a few of the older children had suggested to him to work with Emma. He shared that in order to reinforce her sense of being important, they would like to have her take on some of the responsibilities within the school to assist her in realising that every child had a part and that their absence created an important gap in the overall well-being within the school.

Wow - Ok, that works for me, lets try it.

That day I dropped off a surly child with a cutting tone and a chip on her shoulder. 7 hours later, a bright shining face raced out to greet me with a cheery hello and "I'm delighted to see you mum", she gushed how she was"sorry, but I need to stay at school a little longer. You see I am responsible for looking after Spike, the bearded dragon (lizard) and I certainly wouldn't like to be left with no water and possibly having to spend the night next to a pile of poo any more than he would and that if I wouldn't mind just giving her a few more minutes, she would go and attend to his needs and be right back in a jiffy".

On the drive home, the car was filled with "did you know this child thinks I am kind and compassionate", "did you know that child thinks I am an excellent artist" "did you know that teacher thinks I have leadership qualities".

She settled back into the car seat, grinning from ear to ear and saying "I had no idea that I had that much to offer Mum".

That night, settling down for sleep, she whispered "If all those people think I am that wonderful, I certainly cannot disappoint them, I will try harder to be a better person every day and live up to all they think I can be".
Snuggling down she whispered "I'm sorry for being nasty mum, thank you so much for everything you do for me".

It wasn't only Emma that gave thanks to a changing world that evening and an eternal gratitude for the possibilities of what life can be.

Click here for the village schools website

1 comment: