Living a life of unending growth, learning, joy, connection, and love is my mission here at Conscious Homeschooling. Finding meaning and purpose that is unique to each member of your family is my goal.
I want to take a moment now to share with you my core values. These core values identify what is important to my family and I. These core values are at the heart of our family purpose and vision. They help us find the motivation to continue when life throws us a curveball. They guide my mission to serve you and your family as we work in collaboration to find purpose and meaning in your own unique journey.
The relationship between a child and their parent is a sacred one. It is the foundation for all learning, growth, and development. This invaluable relationship starts with you, the parent. The parent has to look within and engage in their own inner work for the parent-child relationship to be healthy and flourish. To start, you cannot love unconditionally if you do not first love and accept yourself unconditionally.
The relationship that forms between the parent and child informs and teaches the child about the world. It shapes the way that the child sees the world for the rest of their lives. It is in part built on the experiences that you share. A safe, secure, and connected relationship will ensure that your child grows with a strong sense of self and self worth. It will determine how they love themselves, how they love others, how they respond to setbacks or heartache, and much more. It is important that the relationship is built on trust, unconditional love, and acceptance. This is what a loving, nurturing, connected, and trusting relationship looks like.
This is the foundation upon which parenting and a healthy life is built. I believe that we must trust our children first so that they can trust us. It is clear from a profound amount of scientific evidence that babies are born intelligent, competent and capable. They are all unique and extraordinary humans. Parents have to let go of misguided beliefs and false understandings that children are born as empty vessels, waiting to be filled with knowledge. Instead we now know that children are active participants, like scientists discovering and constructing their own ideas of the world. Not only are babies born with profound learning and imaginative capabilities, they also comprehend and express deep, real emotions of the human condition. My work involves not only creating a lifestyle of life long freedom of expression and learning, but also bringing awareness to misleading information that has led many to forget or dispel a child’s inborn genius. Trust our children.
Another cornerstone of my approach and practice is respect. A strong, healthy relationship between the child and parent must be marked by mutual respect. This means that respect goes both ways between parent and child. We must respect, honor, appreciate, and love our child’s essential being, unique spirit, and extraordinary mind. Seeing our children as is, as they are right now in the moment and accepting them for all they are outside of preconceived expectations, desires, beliefs, and fears. This frees us from the pressure we feel from ourselves and from society to mold, fix, or change our children. It is only when we can learn to respect ourselves and our children, that they will learn to respect themselves and others. But the work starts with us, the parent, not the child. When we learn to accept and respect ourselves with acceptance and compassion, then we are able to do this with our children.
Play and Freedom
Allowing a child’s natural inclinations to unfold and flourish by providing them with time and space in which to grow into their own is how they learn. I believe we must respect a child’s unique spirit and journey as linked yet differentiated from our own. In other words, we recognize that our children are on their own unique journey and that we are there to serve as their teacher, guide, and consultant, but not as an authoritarian, director, or micro-manager who leads through fear, punitive measures, or coercion.
Children should be the directors of their own lives. Do you want your child to be autonomous, confident, assertive, and change agents? They cannot be autonomous without having autonomy. Agency and autonomy develop by giving our children the power over their lives that they rightfully deserve. Children need us to create conditions that make them feel safe, secure, valid, and nourished. This way they can spend their time exercising their minds and hearts.
Responding thoughtfully and intentionally instead of reacting in emotionally charged ways has more positive outcomes on social, emotional, and cognitive development. Childhood is a transformative and developmental process that calls for compassion and understanding. My young child wants to stay up late to read, ok- we can be flexible. You don’t always have to draw a hard line when creating limits if it is not a matter of safety and well-being. After all, does life require humans to be flexible at times? Of course! Therefore, children should be active participants in their lives and as such should be given the freedom and flexibility to grow and develop in their own way and at their own pace. When limits and boundaries are set, they are set for the health well-being of themselves and others.
Humans, especially children, learn by observing, experimenting, questioning, and playing. As active participants, children are born wanting to know about the world. Newborn babies follow sounds, sights, and objects with their eyes because they want to know how the world works. The best way to ensure that our children become lifelong learners is to nurture this innate curiosity. I believe in respecting and honoring this innate curiosity by sharing in the wonder and excitement that children find so naturally. Instead of taking them away from what interests and amuses them just because it is not something that is deemed educational or acceptable by some misguided beliefs or societal standards then I step back and let them explore further and share in their investigations by wondering and questioning with them. Three of the most powerful questions that you can ask your children are: “What do you notice?” “What do you wonder?” “What else?” With this curiosity, we will forever learn, grow, challenge, and gain knowledge that will bring us purpose and meaning.
Experiential learning is learning through experiences in a wide variety of contexts. This equates to real, meaningful, authentic, and lasting learning. Learning is an active, not passive process. When children have opportunities to exercise and develop the thinking parts of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, the neurons can fire away connecting and reconnecting so key skills such as critical thinking, planning, decision making, impulse control, and more can flourish.
A practice of engagement and connection with my children is never ending. With this I can help them develop an awareness and respect of social and emotional intelligence. I choose to live in likeness with my children and be a source of love, understanding, and strength setting boundaries and limits with an open heart and open mind approach. I do not believe in the use of punitive measures, controlling, punishment, or coercion to gain compliance. Instead, I encourage healthy conflict that results in exerting one’s assertiveness and practicing negotiation skills where everyone involved has the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas while listening and respecting the other person’s thoughts and ideas. When I set limits and boundaries they are purposeful and intended for a higher purpose, for optimal development, and to create a harmonious, safe environment.
I do not view my children as empty vessels that I need to mold, fix, or change in order to follow predetermined roles or expectations. I recognize my child as their own unique being who needs an internal and external environment that allows them to grow into confident, valued individuals who know their self worth. As such, I challenge them, ask questions, and make space with open arms and ears for when they want to share their voice and opinion with the world.
I sometimes find it hard to see my kids struggle and get frustrated, but if I let the struggle play out and offer a gentle voice or presence of support, then my children often overcome the struggle with a feeling of pride that is truly beautiful to witness. I talk to my children about the importance of learning from mistakes, the value of effort and hard work, and the importance of not giving up. Praise efforts, not products and continue to encourage a growth mindset which is essential to life-long learning.
Sometimes it can be hard to admit, but life is unpredictable and ever-changing. And while we like to have control over our lives, that is not always the case. The unexpected or even unimaginable is a reality of life that we all have to accept as normal and natural. Therefore, helping our children learn to get back up when life knocks them down is critical. Building resilience is a key component to developing a healthy mental, social, and emotional compass. This means that as parents we have to learn how to balance the scale so that we are neither overly supportive nor too permissive. If we can learn to be the guide on the side more often when our children are struggling, instead of jumping in too quickly to rescue them from challenge, then they can expand their tolerance of challenging emotions, practice coping skills, and experience for themselves that they can overcome difficulties and challenges. Resilience is a quality that equates to having greater satisfaction with life and well-being.
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable means putting ourselves into uncomfortable, risky, and challenging experiences that stretch our minds and hearts and accepting that it is where learning occurs. New situations may be uncomfortable at first, but when we challenge ourselves we are able to trigger the release of key neurotransmitters that motivate and energize us. Research shows that if you are not outside your comfort zone, then you are not learning new skills. When we challenge ourselves we are able to expand our creativity, confidence, and stress tolerance.
While the experience of challenge and struggle is critical to building resilience and developing a growth vs. fixed mindset, it is important for children (for everyone) to experience success. But, what does success mean to you and your family? Well, that is something that you and your own family have to decide. In fact, it is something that each human has to decide for themselves for success means something different for everyone. For my family, we talk about success in the context of these values that I have just listed. One day, success may be finding a moment to connect with my daughter by cuddling on the couch reading a book, another day success might be seeing my son put his puzzle together and clapping for himself with pride. Success is living with purpose, meaning, and fulfillment and that is what we strive to do each day in our home.
I love being able to share these with you and I look forward to guiding you through the process of identifying and living in connection with your own unique core values!