Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raghav's thoughts on homeschooling

It came at a perfect time again....Raghav and I have not spoken about these things at all after we started on this journey together. But a few days ago, I was recording myself talking about our story for the webinar and launch of Swashikshan - Indian Homeschoolers Association and Raghav wanted me to video him speak too! So I came up with a few questions and he chose a few of them to speak on. This was the first time he was doing this and although he really wanted me to video this, he found it difficult to recall the answers that he had just shared with me. So he made me write down the points on the blackboard in front of him, for each question- which I did. When he forgot what he wanted to say, he looked at those points and recalled them. Here I am, sharing the videos that we made together for this. Although they were not shared on that day, I believe that sharing it here may open up avenues for parents on the edge, battling with their own fears of what to do and how. He speaks from his heart with both innocence and a deep knowledge of what he wants to share with others. It has been a time to reflect a little on what we have done or gone through in this journey of unschooling so far and renewed my faith in this process. For us it has been both cathartic and empowering.......


He also wanted to make a poster for the launch - about his homeschooling experience. We mapped out all the feelings and points and then he looked up Google images to search for appropriate visuals. He then cut them all out and stuck them on to make the poster....and this is the first time he has written so much in one day - I guess because the thought and idea came from him! The poster actually brings out the little things that adults take for granted in the schooling system, that could be huge problems or issues for kids to handle day after day, till they reach a breakdown point.

So....we have come this far.........and yes, we will continue to create our own path together!......

The Leaf Collection

Yesterday, we were just walking out of the organic store we visit every week, when Raghav stopped abruptly and said "Hey amma! look! there are so many leaves...and a branch!", and he immediately started picking them up. He kept talking to himself about how each one was - describing the colour, or what it looked like, or something special he saw in it (like a hole in one, or one that looked like twins!), or the texture and size. They were all for his leaf and branch collection!

He walked proudly with both his hands full of leaves and twigs! As we got into the car, one fell from his hands and he hurried me to pick it up for him :"Quick amma, quick! Before a car comes and crushes it!" I picked it up but asked myself why he was so worried about a little leaf that he had dropped on the road. Then we got busy with other things and this thought went away to some corner of my mind.

Later that night, while we were chatting before going to bed, I remembered that thought and question and asked Raghav quietly :"Why were you so worried about that leaf that you dropped on the road today?" And he said quietly to me: "Amma, you know.... I wanted to pick up all those leaves from there and the road and bring them home! I wish I could collect all the leaves that fall from the trees - not the ones on the trees - only the ones that fall.....because then I can keep them safe and they won't get crushed by cars and people on the road...." My defintition of mindfulness changed from that moment.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Choosing books - a state of being?

We just got back from an exhibition and sale of children's books at a friend's house. But it was a sale with a difference. Not only because it was in a house, but more because it was in a space that respected every individual. So, it seemed to me, as a parent, that the books one chose to buy were not as important as the process that one went through before choosing and buying one. This has been a first time for me - to experience the joy of sharing a book with someone, in a place other than home...thank you dear friend for making this possible!

Often book sales are impersonal - just an array of colourful books that one skims through and chooses to buy or not. Usually there is no space or freedom to go through them, even read them, enjoy them and share one's thoughts about it with the other person. But today was different - in every aspect. The books were strewn across the floor or on low tables......accessible to children and each one seemed to have a personality. It was as if the books had been hand-picked by a thoughtful soul who knew the pulse of kids of all ages. It was a space that my son and I got comfortable in and very quickly. We were sitting down and reading books happily.......much like a personal book reading session. There was no talk about how to  handle the books, no rush to finish buying, no rush to finish reading......we were just allowed to be. A quiet. A calm. A retreat.

Raghav asked me to read out some books to him, and our friend and host joined in to listen too from her own little space. While my son had difficuly in choosing books according to my budget, she even helped us with that! She suggested that he choose two books that he really liked, in every round, and that we could do three rounds - I discovered that it was a wonderful way of eliminating books that he liked less than the others!

 Later at night, while we were talking about all this, Raghav said "Amma, I  liked that aunty's house and that aunty. She is very kind. I thought that she would get upset or angry because it was close to lunch time and I was taking so long to choose books. But she was very patient. I actually wanted to bring all those books home! I liked all of them!"

But what astounded me the most was Raghav's choice of me, they clearly reflected his state of being.....and it was quite uncanny. He chose a book with a story about mice who were scared of the darkness above a flight of stairs, a book which talks about how every one of us is special, another which talks about how a mother loves her child inspite of everything the child does and makes her feel, and another one with only pictures - no words at all (I realised later that this book was really interesting actually as one could imagine and give one's own words and it could help one reflect on the body language of people - something that I think Raghav has yet to understand). There was another one about a pigeon being asked to take care of a bus that he so badly wants to drive that perhaps reflects Raghav's struggle with us or other people too, when he wants to have his way and people say NO  and his determination to persist and keep trying to change or control things.

So how do kids know what books they need to read or want? I don't know. But what I know, believe and have faith in now is that when one is in tune with everything that is happening, and one is ready within, one is shown the way - whether it is through books, people or other avenues. A true seeker who seeks with faith, gets what he needs for his personal growth.