Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ebb and Flow: Finding Your Balance

There are two pervading myths out there when it comes to unschooling and interest-led learning. 

#1 is that in order for this learning lifestyle  to truly work, your children need to be magically inspired, self directed, super-duper creative learners all the time. From the moment they wake up till the moment they go to bed.  

Gotta say, that's not so much how it works at our house.  :)

There is a definite ebb and flow to interest-led learning. When a kid is in the flow, things look and feel awesome. Everything clicks. It all comes together. And it is indeed a magical experience to be part of. But when they're in an ebb...well, parental patience is indeed a virtue (and not one I apparently have an abundance of).

Which leads me to myth #2. This second myth would be that when our kids are going through an ebb, we parents stand off to the side and wait. Wait for all this awesome stuff to magically happen. We wait and watch and anxiously wring our hands and bite our nails - waiting for this flow to magically appear. 

Again, not so much how it happens at our house.  Lots of waiting, yes.  Sometimes, lots and lots. But for the right reasons.

Sometimes our children need downtime. They need to relax. Process. Think. Be. Other times, you need to be able to discern if things have simply gotten out of balance. 

Have you been gone from home too much? Involved in too many activities? Home too much? Not enough outside activities and experiences? Does there need to be more connecting, more talking, more involving, more inspiring?  Or perhaps less involvement and reminding on our part? Has the use of social media, tv and other electronic devices gotten out of balance? Become a passive fall-back activity? Is it taking the place of other activities, experiences and projects?

Flow cannot, should not be forced. (Big reminder to myself here.) But sometimes taking a closer look can show us where there's an imbalance in our lives.  Be mindful. Assess and evaluate each situation. Gently guide, inspire, discuss and encourage.  Give advice, support and loving reminders - perhaps even give a good firm nudge from time to time. 

In the ebb and flow of interest-led learning, we strive to find our balance. We struggle. We muck our way through - finding out what works and what doesn't. And somewhere in the process of finding that balance...we find the magic.