I left home for the LTTL conference yesterday with a bit of a spring in my step. Admittedly it was a tad early in the morning but i was having a WHOLE day to myself. Kev had agreed to have the girls while i attend the conference.
This was the first time ever that i had left Kiki (14 months) for such a long period & i cant remember when i had last left Erin (almost 7)
I met with a friend outside Holborn Station and we approached the Dragon Hall with a gleeful anticipation of what was about to unfold.
Once inside i got to meet with a few of my virtual FB/Twitter friends & actually put faces to names of people i had been chatting to for the past couple of years.
First on the agenda was Imran Shah a social worker & homeschooling dad who was talking about Attachment Parenting, something very close to my heart. He talked about the brain & neural cortex & how the limbic brain which no other non mammal has, is the foundation of empathy. How attachment grows the brain & the benefits of attachment means the child is able to deal with their own stress & traumas in later life, in a more positive & whole way.
I see that in Erin, who at almost 7 is an incredibly empathic person & will consider others feelings at times above her own.
He talked about some of the children who have crossed his path & how the early effects of non attachment have led them to the dark places & poor judgement.
This leads me onto Impulse Control, when well attached children will exercise the stop-pause-time to think-consequnces of action-think things through-change your mind. Something that many of the children he has dealt with do not have. There is no thought for consequnces. Without impulse control they cant strategise.
Again i use Erin as a prime example of impulse control, we always discuss our/her actions & how some actions may have consequences. This gives her ample opportunity to stop, think,weigh up her different outcomes & change her mind.......or not. Usually the outcome is positive for all concerned.
Giving her these choices is very important as it gives her the feeling of control and if she feels she has a certain level of control the outcome/situation is always diffused.
There are various people he mentioned whose works are worth reading about, in my notes i did not write all the details so just google these names: JOSEPH CHILTERN PEARCE, JOHN MEDINA, SARAH BLAFFERHRDY.
The important attachment stage is between 0-8years . My question to him was how can a parent (me) successfully AP 2 children one 7 & one 14 months. I feel at times that maybe i'm not giving enough to the girls.
Imran Shah put me at ease. The very fact that Kiki is a carried baby & we co-sleep is a very fundamental part of AP.
Another mum whose name i cant remember came and spoke to me after, she has 5 children and had the same worries until she realised that where she can't give, her other children can and fill in those gaps. That made perfect sense to me.
Imran Shah said he could talk about AP all day and i could listen all day.
Our next speaker Sandra Dodd put me in my place, unknowingly. A lyrical speaker she regaled us with her tales of unschooling her family and had me nodding vigoursly throughout her talk 'live in the moment' 'dont let the past bring you down' 'too much management is bad' 'wonder as it will make life more wonderful' ' live by principles rather than by rules' i could go on and on........it is about living in the now & enjoying it.
Her talk was so uplifting i bought her book 'Sandra Dodds Big Book of Unschooling'
David Waynforth spoke next about nutrition & unschooling and how the two work together, i wasn't sure if this would be relevant to me as we had a good relationship with food and nutriton at home. We always allow choices and food is never off limits or limited to certain times of the day. If Erin wants to eat she can go to the fridge/cupboard and help herself.
What David then said was about restricting, well sure i restrict sweets but should i? Does she gorge herself on snacks, no she is quite capable of self regualting her food intake. So why not with sweets. If i was to allow her sweets she would eat as many as possible within the alotted time but if they are there, readily available would she not eventually stop & self regulate her sweet consumption in essence just get plain sick of the sight of sweets.
So i took that if nothing else from his talk. It was a moment of self enlightenment and something which is now in practice at home.
I listened earnestly to our next speaker Mike Fortune Wood a man passionate about HE and very political in his views, this is where i got a bit of a downer. You see i admire this in people, in other HE-ers, i am not a political 'animal' and i have no desire to be. I just want to get on with unschooling. But if it is within our best interest to be aware of the politics then we need to educate ourselves, as at some point we might need to fight our corner.
I was schocked to find that if your daughter got pregnant she could go to the school nurse who could organise a termination on her behalf and you the parent would never know unless she chose to tell you. When i told this to Kevin he was gobsmacked to say the least. Kevin is a bit of a reluctant HE-er & i have to digest this conference & present it in such a way that it resonateswith him & this sure did. Especially when i told him this could be a 12 yr old girl, he was horrified.
I went on to give other examples of MFW's talk on how inconvenient behaviour gets you labeled, could get you removed from your family & could have you forceably put on medication. It makes me shudder to think how Orwellian our society is, curfews imposed on school kids thus affecting HE kids who are unable to go out during the day, all in the name of protection, protecting the rights of the children........yea right.
I did feel rather depressed after this talk but it also made me feel glad my kids are not and never will be in school.
It beggars belief that this is activley encouraged by the big churning wheel that is 'THEM' Badman for instance who consulted for 9-12 months with HE-ers to draw up govenrment guidlines etc then went against everything he claimed to be for citing Kyra Ishaq.
HE it seems is a political tool to be used in such a way as to control us, as 'THEY' feel we are outside their normal remit. 'THEY' at the moment cant control us, 'THEY' dont know how many of us there are and to be frank it scares them as thousands of free thinking adults are bringing up thousands more of free thinking children who WILL go onto be very valid and very vocal part of the future and 'THEY' dont like that. We must be contolled at all costs. Birmingham stated that it's impossible (for children) to be safe if you HE!!!!
Having ranted about that & i could have gone on but won't (god i wish my dad had been listening yesterday)
I will move swiftly on to the final talk given by Harriet Pattison & Alan Thomas about unschooling & reading, this for me was the icing on the cake. Having struggled with myself as to whether unschooling works if you dont 'teach' reading. I had been getting particularly nervous about Erin not reading, mainly because outsiders kept saying 'oh is she not reading yet' etc etc So listening to this talk put a huge amount of my worries to bed. They will do it. When? we dont know. How? we dont know that either but they will.
Alan Thomas went on to talk about studies he had done here and in Australia where they call unschooling/autonamous 'natural learning' and how on a visit to one family nothing appeared to be happening, nothing but everything. No formal 'get your books out' but lots of talk, varied discussions about apartheid and chats about cupcakes. It was all there if you looked and more imprtantly, listened.
Now, Erin has picked up a book. I never doubted her but did doubt myself, well no longer.
I pointed out in the Q&A that it also comes down to comprehension. A child at school can be taught to read but when asked questions on what they have read or what words mean they often cannot recall what they have read or know what words mean.
Late readers however can comprehend what they are reading as they have often been part of a speech rich interaction with family and learn the skill of reading faster. Often they will find thenselves at the same level or several years above their peers.
Yes Erin can spell. Yes Erin can comprehend and this will only help speed up her new found skill of reading.
After this very very long day i came away with so much in my brain it was and still is boggled.
I'm uplifted, validated a tad worried but overall happy and content with our parenting choices and happy that we are on this unschooling journey.