Since the birth of our “number one”, we have been intrigued by this strange feeling that our vision of education did not seem traditional.
People say : don’t carry too much baby, let him cry, otherwise he would be capricious, put it in a park, breastfeed but not too long, sterilize everything without knowing how to sterilize the breasts, buy big suspended strollers that leaves no space anymore for shopping in the car’s trunk ….
We also had to guide him in his choices so that he would not make make mistakes !
Why does “traditional” education seem so far from ours?
Why do we have this conviction that this tiny being in front of us is our equal, able to reason, to choose, to be interested …. whereas society pushes us to think that it must be guided, constrained, educated according to a specific code ?
To find answers to our questions, we interests in alternative pedagogies : Montessori, Freinet, Steiner-Waldorf, Decroly.
Many hours followed to read the foundations of each pedagogy, their researches, their history …. All are interesting and a source of reflection.
One of them seems to correspond largely to our approach : the Montessori pedagogy ; often described as follows: “Teach me to do everything alone”. Based on freedom, self-discipline, respect of everyone’s pace, experiential learning, the fact that education is a help to live and that we are, us educator, only a support to the child to achieve self-confidence and fulfillment.
Maria Montessori wrote: “The child is not a vase that is filled, but a source that we let to spring out”.
It’s not a question of preaching the “all Montessori” but of learning from studies already carried out to develop our own pedagogical approach.
Montessori equipment is often expensive, so the idea is to take inspiration from what exists in the trade to “tinker our own workshops”. This pedagogy was not originally an elitist pedagogy, rather the opposite. It must remain today accessible to all!
A Montessori gripping ball?
No worries: a few pieces of fabric in the closet and a torn pillow for padding will do the trick. Unique model, with recycled material, a hint of pride to have made it yourself and a flawless result that pleases to children as they always play with it.
Plant seeds, water the plants, transfer a liquid from one container to another ….
Finally, with imagination and do-it-yourself, we can do a lot of “Montessorian” inspired activities with what we have in the closets.
Our children are all raised in the same way and with the same inspiration : they like to make coffee and especially to press the buttons of the machines from an early age, to cook, garden, tinker, discover, learn, understand …
A new question arises : how can we succeed in perpetuating the fullfilment of our children in this thirst for learning while approaching more academic learning?
The choice of the mode of instruction was a long process, a reflection based on what we wish to bring to our children, on the choices that are offered to us, our rights, our duties ….
We are therefore looking for information, learning from education professionals, associations promoting family education, participating to alternative pedagogy festivals, exchanging with the previous school of our first two daughters.
We have three options regarding the instruction of our children during the trip:
-> The CNED (French National Centre of Distance Learning) with the obligation to enroll our children in free registration so expensive and always with the same problematic of a very academic pedagogical approach that doesn’t meet our expectation s: the same lessons to learn by heart, the same exercises, the same assessments as at school.
In addition, we would need to receive and send by post most of the courses and evaluations, which would impose a very heavy logistics compared to the added value of this choice.
-> Private correspondence schools, often expensive. This choice would impose us the same logistical and pedagogical issues as the CNED although some schools offer different pedagogies.
-> Family education …
Here we are ! It seems that this choice is the right one, which would correspond to our expectations, which would allow us to implement this famous pedagogy allowing our children to flourish & to learn to love learning !
But how does it work ? What are our rights, our duties ? How to be sure we don’t omit the teaching of essential basic notions ?
In France, education is compulsory, not school!
Albert Einstein said: “We spend 15 years at school and not once we are taught the self-confidence, passion and love that are the foundations of life.” What a great man!
We are free to choose educating our children differently. So that’s the answer to our rights.
And our duties then? Educate our children ! This seems obvious to us. Our obligation is to enable them to reach the end levels of each pedagogical cycle as they evolve. Perfect ! We will make sure that goal is achieved.
On the administrative side, nothing very complicated : a declaration at the town hall, another at the DSDEN (National Education Departmental Service) of our department.
We buy some textbooks to know the levels of each pedagogical cycle and study a little: especially to relearn some French rules addressed 20 years ago and forgotten.
It’s all over, it’s up to us to play. It’s up to us to fulfill our part of the deal and learn to our kids to love learning!
Concretely, family education is workshops, visits, experiences, discoveries, games ….
Conjugation of verbs, grammar, spelling … all these concepts to learn by heart are not very digestible. And why not visit a wildlife park?
The link between the two ? …… learning all these notions of French while discovering the animal world, its secrets, its wonders. Here we are at the Courzieu park near Lyon. We inform our two oldest that the work of the following week would consist of a presentation of the visit ; which does not spoil their day, on the contrary ! Once back home, we explain to them how to make a draft, make a plan and let them work as a team on the writing of their presentation. They retained dozens of information, sometimes complex. We correct the errors, explain them.
This visit allowed us to address many notions of spelling, grammar, conjugation, writing, drawing …. while allowing our children to develop their listening skills, concentration, teamwork ….
What a joy to see them satisfied and proud of their work and to hear our No. 3 tell us that he also wants to “work”.
All notions are approached in the same way.
Geometry ? Not very nice to draw figures on a squared paper, then on a white paper … And why not sew a a tissue box ? We need two squares (always made of recycled fabric). How do we define a square? What do the terms “perpendicular”, “parallel”, “right angles” mean? Once all these notions are defined, it’s time to sew ; with the sewing machine of course. What a great work of fine motor skills and what a joy to see our children amazed by the result of a geometric figure.
English, calculus? No problem. Organization of a surprise flea market in the living room with English-speaking (to learn vocabulary) and French-speaking buyers, negotiations, returns of money …. The coffee at the bar is a bit expensive but we will deal with it !
And when we ask them, “What did you do today? “They answer us : ” We played all afternoon at the flea market ! “.
Did they play or did they learn to love learning?