Notes from a *mostly* Media-Free Life :: Field Guides

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If there's anything our family is organized around, it's wild summers in the woods and water.  Our California urban*stead is a recreation of our antique island cabin in New Hampshire, with rustic, minimal comforts that require us to work, work, work in ways that completely fulfill our hands, hearts and minds each night.  If only it didn't all freeze over... 

As our kids age, we recommit to our {mostly} media-free lifestyle, as there's more general exposure in their communities - neighbors, cousins, classmates and grandparents,  perpetuating a mistaken sense that they're "missing out."  Our 11 year-old has always requested truth, with a strong lean towards fairness and justice, so he tends to gather "evidence" for activities our boys are interested in.  We've found that those activities are short-lived novelties that distract from deeper engagement with consistent interests they've had, or emergent passions that inspire them to step into projects that require their own thinking and doing.  We see a stark contrast between short-lived amusement, which comes with an impatient snarkiness towards their brothers, and the settled quality that comes from curiosity, patience and gratified accomplishment or fulfilled intentions.

Since I'm a grownup unschooler, I tend to want to give them whatever learning experience they are interested in, but I also follow radical unschoolers enough to know that's not for us.  Of course each family is different, and, there's a general, and admirable commitment they hold to "including the whole of a child's life in their learning freedoms."  I see how much grappling gets done with power dynamics, discipline and social skills.  As an ethnic unschooler and daughter of a huge, self-expressed family, my open-ended learning opportunities came with clear rules, spiritual practice, personal boundaries and a massive respect for my elders.  Looking back, I can see that my parents very much included my future and my community resources in "the Whole of my life," making sure that my own brothers and I had developed social tact, personal boundary-consciousness and the spiritual reverence that comes with roots and culture, to forward a future of ongoing learning and development in any domain that we choose.  It required all those loving restraints alongside the extraordinary trust they gave us to seek out and pursue our own paths of learning and service.  

David & I have found that a combination of Waldorf curriculum (whether at a school or homeschooling),  a primarily media-free lifestyle, strong personal boundaries, real, developmentally-appropriate work, diverse community, and plenty of seasonal traditions is creating a different foundation with similar values.  Like most unschoolers, though,

we're measuring how much our children seem like themselves, as we look to simultaneously protect and develop their innate gestures.

Here's two things that work for us each Summer:

A fresh damselfly + her larvae shell.

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