Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art

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Tender green shoots

Spending time with myself, sniffling and feverish despite RAW garlic and dropperfuls of echinacea, and super green drinks and abundant vegeatables and snatched times on the sofa with hot honey and lemon and miso broth. Cross none of this staved off the fluey state which has felled each of us in turn, fighting uneasy guilty feelings about loosing the homescholing reins on the kids. Running slightly feral around the grounds and tripping back breathless and hatless to lay their cool cheeks against mine. Chilled, pearly and smooth as a mushroom skin fresh and dewy in the field.

Grumpy, dumpy and suffering some strange unidentified pregnancy related discomfort which has slowed my walking to a shuffling waddle, from too much manure shifting at a school work day on Saturday I have no doubt.
Luckily I love my sofa, tucked next to the woodburner and being alone on it with a hot water bottle and a book.

The homeschooling  reins have already loosened, by necessity, for sure, by moving four times, by the fire, by me slowly realising that recreating a model Steiner kindergarten and class 1 (simultaneously) in my own home is not entirely necessary for my kids educational success and emotional well being, especially the latter. And which is more important?

Conditioning so hard to unravel, years in school, state and Steiner, national curriculum, literacy levels expected of six year olds, …Local Authority home school inspector…’hm hmm I can see they’re very active and busy but what about formal literacy and numeracy provision?’  Are they happy, do they want to learn, are they emotionally well balanced and nourished……no boxes to tick.

Oh! it’s such a journey for me to come face to face with all my feelings of guilt, inadequacy, is this enough, am I enough, should I be doing this shouldn’t I be doing that. Am I singing enough nature songs and is Tansy’s knitting coming on well enough? (Steiner) Are my home grown fairy tales good enough? Does it matter that Tansy can’t read yet? (Nat. curriculum)
Are they  happy?
Does she make beautiful little books about babies, does Leo hoe and dig his own garden and collect the eggs every morning?
Do they cook soup when I am ill and brush my hair?
Do they make candles and sew pincushions and dolls and bake bread?
Are they learning about living in a community considering others needs and differences, working and playing with other adults and children, sharing food and resources and opinions?
Do they know how to build and tend a fire, catch a fish, pluck a chicken? Well yes!!

You see I’m just trying to convince myself!
Last week I had been feeling particularly negligent as we had only squeezed in one writing session for Tansy (I  follow the Steiner class one pattern of telling an ongoing fairy tale, in our case ‘Molly and Sam and the magic Mountains’, and having Tansy write a sentence about the days story in her book accompanied by a picture) One session….ooh! Nursing first Fred, then Tansy and lastly me through the fevers precluded  extensive writing work….

But on Saturday we felted.

It was the Steiner school work day, and among many jobs, including the manure spreading which reduced me to my shuffling waddle, was a giant community felting project in the hall. Partly to improve the acoustics and partly as a beautiful reminder of the seasons rhythms, we started the first of four felted wall hangings, depicting spring, summer, autumn and winter. Almost a flock of sheep fleeces were laid out, and we teased, carded chatted, splashed warm soapy water about , danced on it the huge felt picture, crawled on it, marched singing on it, and wrapped it in bubblewrap and rolled it up and down outside. Bit by bit the wool felted and soon it will be ready for the more delicate and intricate details to be needle felted on, and hung on the wall.
The children watched, teased, ran about, squirted water on the felt, rested, stamped and rubbed the felt about, sang laughed, got wet socks
So happy for Tansy and Leo to be part of a community afternoon and to witness adults working joyfully together, creating beauty. Not the all too common sight of a parent struggling alone resentfully trying to do too much without support.
That’s what I want them to be learning about!



All change!

Well, I’ve been wanting to share this with you for a while, but I couldn’t tell anyone until I’d told the kids…..No I’m not pregnant, we’re not moving house, but we are about to start something I have thought about and read about and wanted to do since I started having children nearly fourteen years ago……..

We’re planning to home school our two youngest, Tansy and Leo, for a trial period of a year, with the get out clause of jumping back into school if any of us emerges from the year with lasting scars…

Why the change? We’ve already moved from a state primary school four years ago when Freddie and Lily were nine and six, to a Rudolf Steiner School which everyone melted into as if they had never been anywhere else.  This is not the post where I will be discussing the merits of Steiner schools. Suffice to say that we have learnt alot about child development and how they learn in a heart centred, non pressured, nature orientated environment, and we have no criticism. Bar the fact that apart from the lovely Hereford and Stroud schools (and shortly Exeter) they are not free. As in they are fee paying.  Hmm. (Anyone work out one of the reasons we have been living in yurts and caravans and wooden cabins for the last, uh four years?).  And they take up lots of time .Kids only become full time at steiner schools when they are ten….which for parents  with more than one child means a bewildering array of different pick up times and lots of driving.

But really, the point is that, as we are living in the woods and starting to have plans to buy goats, chickens, and start all sorts of exciting new projects, isn’t it better for them just to be at home and learn here? Because really, that’s where kids have always been….until the Industrial Revolution pushed everyone down mines and into mills, and there was a sudden urgent need for mass child care and a compliant work force. Enter compulsory education. That’s why schools as we know them were invented folks. And they still do the same thing, create a compliant worker (consumer) and provide mass child care so we can earn (buy) more.

We were very very lucky that the Steiner School did only one of those things, ie provide child care, but still….How many times have I torn my kids away from some wonderful imaginative game to hurry and dress for school? How many times have I curtailed a  story, or a meal or a walk in the woods or a trip to the beach or a visit with friends…because the kids have to get to bed to get up early for school? When Freddie was small, and at state school, I even remember dragging him in from the garden where he was drawing and labelling the vegetables in his notebook yes, you guessed it, to go to school. Where he screamed to stay with me and fell asleep on the carpet after lunch. Insanity.

There’s the worry of course that I won’t be up to it. That I can’t teach my kids to read and write. Don’t I need to be qualified? And when I sit myself down and examine that, I realise that my kids have learned to walk, talk, dress themselves, eat cleanly, prepare food, knit, sew, saw firewood, weave, ride bikes, swim, sing, dance, play, care for animals, garden….with ME. Or their dads.

Tansy could probably teach herself to write, she’s already got her own notebook where she copies the label off the tahini jar!

I have things I want to do, too many creative projects fizzing away, and I am concerned about my available time being eroded, but, who knows, I may even end up with more time than before .I have bouts of patience and gentleness and great storms of impatience and annoyance..How will it go? I ‘ll let you know.

How about you? What’s your experience of schools, for your kids..or even for you?