School of life

Before we left the Netherlands we had many ideas about how our life would be when we started travelling. As often when you imagine something in your head, the reality is different. One of these ideas was about homeschooling our children. We thought we would do it 4 days a week, a few hours a day. And even though it would be challenging from time to time, it was working for us as a family. 

When we started homeschooling it was a learning process for us as parents. We haven’t done it before, so we had to find our way in this. We liked the one-on-one contact with the girls. Timo was educating Lente and I was with Linde. And both found our own way of teaching. Combining education with fun, creativity and playfulness.

Until our youngest, Linde, didn’t want anymore…

Already at school in the Netherlands, she experienced difficulties with learning to read. And somehow she managed not to stand out too much from her classmates, but working one-on-one with me was something else. Confronting. Difficult. And she experienced a lot of shame. And while I gave her the best support, she withdrew. One day she said she didn’t want to anymore. It was a big NO. And when Linde says no, it’s really NO. I was no longer able to persuade her to continue anyway. She just didn’t participate anymore.

And that did a lot to us as parents. Because not schooling your child is a no go, right? It is the basis for everything. OMG, how should that be later? If she wants to study? Or looking for work? What are people gonna think about her? And what does this say about us as parents? Pfffff … I can tell you we ran into a lot of fears. But all those fears where projected into the future. They were not in the now. When we looked at those fears and saw that they were in our heads, not in the reality, we decided to see what it would be like to let go of school for a while. See how it would be in the here and now.

So we stopped homeschooling. At first only with Linde, but Lente also wanted to quit when she saw the freedom of her younger sister. And freedom they experienced. They played, discovered and developed interests from within. 

Some examples. During the lock-down of Corona, there was an Italian girl from their age close-by. And the only way they could speak to each other was in English. They played every day with each-other and in only a few weeks time they learned to speak English. At first in a simple way, but because they discovered that they could actually talk to everyone now, their vocabulary grew bigger and bigger. Their shyness towards others is completely gone. They interact freely with everyone. Young, old. They don’t care. They socialize with everyone!

And because they meet so many different people, all kinds of interactions grew playfully. They started their own shop in second-hand clothing and accessories. Learning how tho exchange and trade. They do all kinds of chores for everyone. Learn from others how a 3d printer works, all kinds of crafts such as sewing and macrame. They have such a big interest!

But the most amazing thing is that Linde learned herself to read. Her grandfather sent a few comic books about horses. And her desire to understand what was in the pictures made her spend a lot of time on that. For hours she sat spelling the letters until she could read the words one after the other. She learned to read without pressure and at her own pace because she was motivated from the inside. Can you imagine how happy we were when she said: I really love to read!

And what we learned as parents is that we can trust ourselves and the girls. Life is always a learning curve. It’s our natural intention to learn and grow. We learned that it is okay to choose differently than is common. At the moment they are at the school of life. And they learn in real life in a playful manner what they normally learn at school. But not only that. They learn more. They learn stuff and skills they cannot learn out of books. We see our girls become more open and independent. Not pushed into a form about how it should be normally at school. They learn to make the movement from the inside instead of being told what to do.

By this, I do not mean that normal school is not good. I just want to show that a normal school is not the only way. There appear to be many ways. You only have to see them and don’t be afraid to choose differently. Always looking at what works for you and your child. As soon as something doesn’t work, you shouldn’t try harder to match the normal. No, it is an invitation to look at what really works. And we are grateful for this lesson. We really like the school of life and looking forward to what life brings us.

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