Tomorrow is a new adventure!
Of course, tomorrow is always a new adventure, but this really is a brand new adventure for me and for Lotus Learning Power. For the first time, we will be staffing a Lotus Learning Power vendor table at a business-related conference, as well as offering a couple workshops for the kids. As an educator and public speaker, I have done this kind of thing countless times before, of course, and I am really comfortable doing it. But before it’s been as a volunteer for causes I support. This is the first time with my business.
Fortunately, it’s a friendly community – the UP or Unschoolers Platform conference – a conference peopled by families dedicated to the radical notion that humans are natural learners and if we just get out of the way of our children’s learning process and help them find the resources they need, they will do amazing things… including learning all they need to thrive in life.
Which they do. I know because we practiced this radical philosophy with our own kids and they turned out to be wonderful young adults, if I do say so myself. We also know many, many families who also follow this radical notion – and their kids turned out just fine as well.
OK, don’t run away on me now! I know this is out-of-the-box thinking, and unfortunately, the term “unschooling” has gotten a bad rap. A lot of people think it sounds like you are neglecting your kids. The image pups up of a batch of little ragamuffins running rampant, learning nothing, and becoming delinquent.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The unschoolers I know have incredibly busy, productive, happy, and often ambitious lives, for the simple reason that they are indulging their interest in all kinds of things. They learn organically, sometimes spontaneously but also with some serious discipline for the things that feed their passion. Have you ever seen a 6 year old spend hours practicing violin or studying astrophysics? I have! It’s incredible.
By the way, these parents are among the most dedicated on the planet. These families learn based on what is going on in the world, what’s going on in their lives, what they are interested in at any given point in time, what social causes call to them, and what compelling resources pop up unexpectedly to take them in wholly unexpected and delightful directions. It makes for busy lives, let me tell you.
That’s why we called ourselves “life-schoolers”. People LOVE that word. It creates – very accurately – an image of vibrant, curious, creative people exploring their world. Lifeschooling. We should all do it.
So what’s this got to do with your family, if you do not home school? Just this. We can ALL be life schoolers. By empowering your children to follow their passions in their own best way, even if they seem silly at the time, you build independence, curiosity, initiative, enthusiasm, and a love of learning. You can do this whether your kids are in traditional school or not. It’s just easier when you have more flexible schedules than those schools allow!
So challenge yourself. What passion have you been neglecting? What would it take for you to empower your child/ren to explore something wild and exotic? What if you did that together? Who would you all be if you did?
And of course, if your kids have – like mine did – challenging learning differences, give me a shout. Let’s get your kids on the Path to Learning Success, whether you home school or opt for traditional school. Bring more fun into your family’s life learning!
In the meantime, I’m off to my own new adventure in life learning!
A New Vision: Whole and Radiant
Starting something new – a new business, a new phase of life, a new project – can be a pretty intimidating process. All kinds of worries and negative thinking can crop up – Will it be good enough? Am I good enough? How do I do this? How do I cope with overwhelm? What AM I doing?? Will anyone like it…or me? What was I thinking?!?
To have the courage to create something new, to become something new, it helps to have two things – a shining, inspiring vision for what you are creating… and a lot of support for that vision from those around you.
In our household, the Universe has provided lots of need to create anew in the last couple years. After our house fire in 2013, we had to rapidly envision a lovely but very unexpected and involuntary renovation of our home. When my dad died, the last of his generation, suddenly we faced a vision of being the elders of the family. A search for new careers came after both of our previous careers ended – one expectedly and one not. Becoming a social entrepreneur and small business owner was a radical revision (and I mean really radical) of our career plans!
We remain incredibly grateful for all the help we have had in creating new visions and a new reality for our home, for ourselves, and for our careers. And I walk in gratitude for the amazing support this fledgling business has received from my friends and family, most notably my ever-patient, steadfast, and delightful husband who agreed to become Business Manager for the new enterprise.
I have a new role also, as Whole Learning CoachTM , honoring the holistic nature of my work with kids and the wide range of skills, knowledge and experience I bring to that work. My clients are bright young people (ages 9 – 22) who struggle with their learning because their learning styles don’t match the usual teaching style.
When I have asked young people what is the most important thing I offer, overwhelmingly I hear these responses:
I see them as real people, respect them, and collaborate with them instead of talking down to them.
I respect and honor them for all of who they are, and I coach them how to use all of their talents to shine.
I see the best in them and help them to step into that vision of themselves.
I see and celebrate their amazing strengths that deserve to be honored but all too often have not been.
I believe in them. My experience is that these young people are radiant beings, that the world needs their gifts, and that the key to helping them shine is to focus on and use their strengths to build the skills they need, rather than perpetually dwelling on their challenges.
In short, I have a radically different, brighter, strengths-based vision of them and their wholeness. My coaching may indeed be dramatically transformative, but it’s a new vision of themselves that begins their growth process. It gives them hope and inspires them to work hard with me, to learn the skills they need, so they can step into their potential and bring their gifts to the world.
Sadly, most of my clients have not been given a hopeful vision for themselves. From psychology and personal experience, I have learned two unflinching realities:
Whatever we pay attention to and envision, tends to increase. Focusing on problems reinforces a negative self-image, which fosters negative behavior. Focusing on the positive encourages even more positive behavior.
Our children tend to grow to fill the vision we have of them. Limited visions foster only limited growth, if any. A big, shining vision can catalyze amazing growth.