It used to take a community of people to raise a child. Children were not just the responsibility of one parent, but they were the responsibility of an entire group. They had to get their hands dirty and get out in nature, they had to practise a religion and look after each other. Back then, raising holistic children came naturally, because there was no other choice.
Choice is a good thing, though, right?
So in this day and age, how do we make sure that our children find a purpose in life, not only through academia, but through connections with nature, the community and charitable values? Is it possible? Of course it is!
I’m a huge advocate for the Holistic Approach, and as a teacher, I strive to embed it into my everyday lessons. Here are a few ways that parents can get on board, too.
Connect with nature
Go camping, bushwalking and talk about what you see. This fosters a genuine care and concern for nature, promotes eco-friendly thinking, and many studies have proven that a connection to nature improves children’s cognitive function. Not to mention how good it is for us adults, too.
Work on yourself
What are your goals and how can you aim to assist others in need? You are the number one role-model for your child. Your charity work or care for others will be noticed and regarded as normal. I’m not saying go out and attempt a Mother Theresa status. Encouraging initiatives such as ‘Shave for a Cure’ (don’t laugh – I’ve done it, and it wasn’t pretty) or walks for a cause, are fantastic. I have a friend who spends Christmas lunch in a Melbourne Soup Kitchen, for those who can’t afford a special lunch, or don’t have family members.
For younger children – read old fairy tales from a variety of countries
Then read some more. Not the ‘dumbed-down’ versions either. Fairy tales are immersed in rich language, foster resilience, teach morals, cross cultural boundaries and develop the imagination. You can even refer to the characters in real-life situations and the little ones will love it.
Learn about the ‘developmental stages’ – Magical Realm to Rational Thinking
Small children, up to grade one and two, believe in magic. They are deeply rooted in the magical realm; just listen to the way that they play. To validate this stage, we speak to them in this magical language and imagine with them. As they grow, there is a shift to rational thinking. It’s a difficult transition for some. No matter what stage your child is at—learn about them; understanding where your children are coming from, breaks down communication barriers; especially for teens.
When children hit grade seven they love nothing more than to argue, if you have teenagers, then you probably understand. But this is not to drive you insane; it’s a necessary developmental stage on the way to becoming well-adjusted adults. The best thing to do with a teenager is to let them debate and negotiate (it’s worth the challenge).
Value your child
Not only is it important to listen to your children, but it’s important to value what they say. A child that feels heard, as well as respected, is one that will be able to express themselves to you later on in life—when it becomes really important.
Own up to mistakes
Patience issues, losing your temper easily—we’ve all got a thing or two that we’d like to work on. It’s okay for children to see this, they need to know that people are not supposed to be perfect. What’s important is that you talk to them about the things you’d like to change, or get better at. This teaches your children to honour their feelings, talk about them, and reflect upon behaviour and attitudes. There are no lessons in pretending that you are always right.
Talk to your school
Ask your school how they strive to teach the ‘whole child’ and let them know that it is important to you. After all, you are their client.
I will leave you with a clip from a young man who talks about the ‘Hacker’s Mentality’—this kid is a must see. Don’t be fooled into thinking that he is an anomaly, I’ve met plenty of students like this on my travels (and I haven’t had to travel far).
Take Care of Each Other
Visit HMC’s Official SITE
‘Hackschooling Makes Me Happy’ by 13- year-old Logan LaPlante