Recently, a good friend of mine wrote a blog post on Benign Neglect in Positive Parenting.
This is something I feel fits completely with my philosophy on parenting but have to some extent struggled to implement. Though perhaps I am being a bit hard on myself there. My children do spend a lot of time doing nothing much (nothing much to the adult eye that is) - exploring our garden and playing outside, making up games, choosing and directing their own activities and experiences, and also helping me with the running of the house - washing, unloading the dishwasher, stripping the beds, polishing, etc if they choose (which they do).
What i have noticed is that some days, and certain times each day, it flows less smoothly. I can't get on with my own projects at all or make phone calls easily. I have gone through the whole "what am I doing wrong?" before my common sense kicked in and i realised that my children are veryv young still so I can't really set these kind of expectations, and also I have a 5.5 yr old articulate girlie girl and a 2.5 yr old boyish boy who speaks in telegraphese. At this stage they aren't ideal playmates.
Having said that they do find lots of common ground and play together a great deal. To be clear, I don't expect them to completely manage their own time, and I am talking here of 'benign neglect', not actual neglect. I know very clearly what my roles and responsibilities are when it comes to my children and have a grand plan or overview of what I expect their lives and education to look like over their childhood, broadly speaking. But I do think it is important to avoid micro managing our children and I find great delight in knowing that my children have a real childhood.
I am a great believer in play... and not the kind of structured, teacher led play that exists in schools (I can say this as a trained teacher) or even the kind of mummy-directed "let's play farms" type of play that we tend to do at home (I can say that as a mummy who does sometimes do such things) but real true free play. Sure, there is nothing wrong with suggesting ideas to your children sometimes (I do), or starting games. Its fun! But I feel allowing plenty of time for children to explore their world and learn at their own pace, through their own play is so important.
This is one of many reasons we chose to home educate, and one of many reasons I feel drawn to Waldorf or Steiner philosophy, particularly for the early years. Though we are eclectic in approach, and Unschoolers at heart, I really like the emphasis on development of the whole person over early (and unecessary) academics.
Anyway, I wanted to share a couple of links I found today. This Interesting article on free range kids and helicopter parenting and also this post on the Camp Creek Blog entitled Empty Hours.
I am hoping to write more about my approach to learning and home education here as it is something I feel passionately about and it is also my career a present. I am a wife, mother, home educator, home maker and creative spirit. I would love to share more about our life here.