23 January 2016

Nourishing Relationships


We don't normally take a month off, but during December that is what we did.  Of course part of that was time spent in hospital and the recuperation that followed and then came Christmas.  That time off meant that we didn't meet up with any of our home ed groups/friends and it was good to get back into that groove at the beginning of the month.  Meeting with other home educators is an important part of our rhythm and I work hard to ensure we have just enough in our week.   Too much can be overwhelming and not enough can lead to us having too much of each other which not always a good thing.

What about socialising, is a question that I am often asked of those who have no experience of home education.   I would liken it, in part, to the socialising that you might do outside of work or school, it takes some organising and it probably won't happen if you don't make some effort, initially at least.  This has been the most difficult part of home educating to get right.  In the early days we didn't know many people, now we have a big wide ranging network and I have to turn down many offers, something I never thought would happen!

Humans are social animals, in the main,  I know that some choose the solitary life and I for one love my time alone, but time with others is important to me too.  I have realised recently that the balance that I have worked hard to achieved for the children has also done the same for me.  Unconsciously I have worked activities into our week which feed and nourish us all in very different ways.   Whilst they are building strong friendships, I am too.

It would be easy for me though, to shield them completely from children who are unpleasant, unkind or are bullies.  I am with them all the time, my children that is not the unpleasant, unkind, bullies.  There has been one or two occasions when Cameron has been really upset by other children, he is the more sensitive of my children and struggled with the other children's behaviour as he couldn't understand it.  Alice experienced a similar situation herself a few months ago, a child whom she was always requesting to meet up with completely ignored her until all the other children, also at the meet up, had left.  She informed me when we got home that she didn't want to meet that child again, she didn't like how she had been treated by her.  She has never mentioned her again.

People talk about children being resilient.  I believe this to be true, but only if we give them the confidence to be themselves and be true to that, as a teenager I spent a lot of time on my own for being like that.  As adults we don't choose to spend time with other adults who we don't have any affinity for, so I don't believe that I, or anyone else, should demand the same of my children.  As I watch my children with other children it makes me incredibly happy, not only because they are building relationships, but also gaining such important skills for life, that are possible to achieve outside a traditional school setting.

42 comments:

  1. I love this post! What I love about the relationships I and my little man are building, with the community that feels like family to me, is that I can see us all ten years from now still gathering and sharing our lives, the kids grown and getting ready to venture out on their own, and us adults ready to set them free. I love that homeschooling has opened the door for me to explore different relationships with others, and brought such wonderful people into our lives.

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    1. I agree and it is something I never expected to happen! I have made so many acquaintances over the years but not many friends, it feels wonderful to have finally found and made that community.

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  2. Wise words, and especially in the light of the attention that home educators are getting this week. I can imagine that it is a juggling act, and one that many people are waiting for you to get wrong. You are absolutely right - we do need to teach our children that it's OK not to want to spend time with every other child they meet, but also that we cannot always choose the people that we do meet in life and we need to have coping strategies for getting along with them if we have to. It's not easy, and it's a lesson that many adults never get right themselves xx

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    1. Thank you, sadly home educators are being painted in a bad light at the moment. I can't help wondering though that the reason many adults don't get it right is that they didn't, couldn't and weren't able to learn those valuable lessons as a child?

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  3. Thank you for this insight. Bear is just starting out socialising with others and it is a huge learning curve for both of us. When to leave well alone and when to step in. Like you say, it would be so easy to shield her completely as she too is a sensitive child. I hope her confidence grows. X

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    1. I wrestled with this a lot when we first started officially home educating Alice was only a baby so it always felt like it was just me and Cameron going to meet ups. He really didn't want to go most of the time as he found meeting new people really hard. I kept it to once a week and made us go and I really think it paid off. I also know that I would have gone mad if I hadn't got out the house so there was an ulterior motive!

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  4. It's true, we come across all types of people throughout our lives and allowing our children to encounter them early on helps them build the skills and confidence they'll need when they meet similar people later on in their lives. We're never going to get along with everyone but it's important to teach our children that it's normal and ok.

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    1. That's exactly what I have been striving to achieve!

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  5. I feel your every word mama xx maintaining that balance is something that requires my mindfulness every day, and still sometimes it sways one way then the next still. Thank you for sharing your experiences with guiding your children when they meet others who may be hurtful or unpleasant, I feel so lucky to be able to hold J's hand as he navigates his way into the world and share your sentiments entirely, it feels good to talk about as it's not something that is often discussed, I find. xxx

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    1. You are right it isn't talked about. It has been interesting to me that once I have started to that I have discovered that people often feel the same about the same people. I also feel it is important to give my children an opportunity to talk about their feelings so that they are in tune with them and not burying them away to make problems for them later in life.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your experience! Socializing is a huge part of the human development and it seems like you are doing a great job of integrating your children into the world!

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    1. Thank Alina, I do hope so I only get one chance!

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  7. My kids had a tough time either way making friends and keeping friends- there are so many variables. For them being homeschooled for some time and also public school- there is still the dilemma- who are your friends and how to they contribute to your well being- good or bad? Also between the 4 kids some had easier times making friends than others- I have 2 introverts and 2 extraverts, makes a difference too, in also quality vs. quantity. I could go on, because this is an ongoing thing for them- it usually works out in the end, they know who they like and who they don't, I wouldn't worry too much even if you're in the middle of it, it's part of life's lesson. xo

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    1. It is part of life's lesson and such an important one too. I have an introvert and an extrovert which makes balancing their needs fun doesn't it! A foot in both camps must have made it much harder as they don't totally belong to either group, but valuable lessons sound like they have been learnt.

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  8. I am still grappling with this and trying to find the right balance! x

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  9. a lovely post. I agree that children shouldn't be forced to spend time with people who are unkind to them.

    I have found myself in a difficult situation recently. we have moved to another county to the countryside and although I am positive it is for the best and I am already loving it here I do feel quite lonley. I arranged a play date with a mum I spoke to online. She came round with her kids and it was lovely to have some like minded company but my boy and hers just did not get on. I felt bad for him and now find myself very torn as to what is for the best. It is tricky.

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    1. Hi, lovely to hear from you again! I seem to remember that your LO must be about 2 or 3 now? I wouldn't worry too much about them not getting on for now. Children don't really play properly with other children until about the age of 4 or 5 in my experience anyway. At 3 Alice didn't get on with another girl her age very well at all, at 6.5 they get on well now. I would keep seeing them if you get on well with Mum but maybe somewhere neutral as this may help the relationship, although I understand that going out is not always practical!

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  10. I thoroughly agree with your last paragraph. A lovely insightful post x

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  11. A thought provoking post. I think many of us struggle to find balance with the 'we' and the 'me' and avoiding that tendency to over-fill the diary. And yes to building resilience. Much as we may want to, none of us can protect our nearest and dearest from every negative encounter.

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    1. I have definitely been guilty of overfilling the diary, it's a difficult balancing act ;)

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  12. I think we are all constantly trying to maintain the social balance for our children, sounds like you are doing a really good job. I like that your daughter recongized how she was treated and stated that she didn't find it acceptable. That shows great social, and personal awareness.

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    1. It does it really suprised me as I thought she would be really upset as she couldn't understand what was going on. She was only just 6 at the time.

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  13. It can be hard when kids are rejected or misunderstood. I guess the one small blessing is that A is not encountering these difficulties on a daily basis and that being at home gives her the time to reflect on what makes a friend and the value of friendship. xx

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    1. It is hard isn't it, we want to protect them which isn't always for the best. Time for reflection is important and you are right I am able to provide that.

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  14. both of my children were happy to be at home when most of their peers were running around doing after school sports and such. I think they were happy that I focused what was best for them and made room for them to be "children" instead of pushing them to be like regular children.

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    1. Ah yes the over scheduled child. Good for you for going against that grain, that must have been hard but I bet it has paid off in the long run.

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  15. My children are mostly at home with me as well, with only a few hours a week at their school. I usually find that they are quite smart about when they're ready to be back home or alone again, after playing with other children. It's like they know their limits, which is how I am as well.

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    1. It's great when they can find that balance themselves isn't it, I do consider myself to be so fortunate to be in a position where that is possible.

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  16. Good for your daughter - sounds like a very mature decision. Getting that social balance right can be difficult can't it? You seem to be doing a great job. Have a happy week. xx

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    1. It is difficult, and yes I do work hard at it and it's always wonderful when that 'work' pays off.

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  17. It can be very hard ...... I remember a boy in my son's class was desperate to be his best friend, but Stuart already had a best friend, so the boy got very upset (I think they were about 8). Stuart wasn't being cruel, this boy just hadn't been involved with anything he did, so he hadn't really noticed him. Even when children attend mainstream school, they still need to socialise outside of school hours too. Fortunately when Stuart was young there weren't all these after-school activities, and he and his friends would take turns visiting each other for tea, which was good, as during the dropping off/picking up, we Mums got to know each other too.

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    1. I agree that children need to socialise outside school there isn't that much time for it in school!

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  18. A subject close to my heart. We went through a tough time with Eldest and ended up moving schools. New school had a really good pastoral care set up. Very happy now and has really grown through her experience. She now is the first one there, if anyone she knows is going through a hard time and very supportive. Yes, they can benefit from social experiences that they would not choose again. I do think my daughter's experience has shown that they may be a stronger person for it. I'm sure Alice will be on the look out for any children left out in the future.

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    1. I do hope she will :). That must have been a tough time for you all, but it sounds like you have all come out of it well.

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  19. What a great post !!! I have two in the opposite ends of the social spectrum. One who can't get enough socializing and another who can't get enough of his room. I was always extroverted as a youngster but now I find I'm craving aloneness more and more. We have quite a community here (mostly) because we haven't moved in over 20 years...and that is something I really treasure and have felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to cultivate.

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    1. Not moving is a great way to build and find your community! It's interesting that we change over the years isn't it?

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  20. So glad your daughter was able to set boundaries with the girl who upset her. It is so hard to see our children deal with these tough situations but knowing the ones who love them best are close offers so much support. Some of my children are extroverts and others are introverted like me. Sometimes I have to really motivate myself to get out and about but I always go even if mainly for the children's sake and in the end I'm always glad I did. Socializing is good for us.

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    1. It is hard but being their to support is so important. It was hard not to step in and intervene but I didn't and I do believe it has helped her in the long run.

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  21. I'm so happy that you have so any meaningful relationships in your life. We are in the process of "restructuring" for lack of a better term. We made many choices about our lifestyle in the last few years and some relationships ended up being a bit strained. But that is fine for us. We are aiming on quality more than quantity, you know?

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    1. It has taken a while but I feel we have got there now. I get you on the restructuring we did some of that too!

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