It’s becoming a cliché to say that we are living in strange times but like all clichés, it’s also true. Having actively considered home education when my children were very little, but opted for school for a number of reasons, mostly the ready-made local community, I find myself putting all my fun ideas about home education into practice after all. My children are six (almost seven) and ten, so in that middle phase of childhood where they, especially my daughter who is in year five, have moved past the early years stage of learning purely through play but haven’t quite reached the structured approach the secondary schools are taking. I want to make sure my kids keep learning but neither I nor they have any interest in doing “school” at home. Because of course, school and education are not necessarily the same thing. So this is the perfect opportunity to make learning a way of life, to give them some one to one attention on areas where they might appreciate some extra help, as well as generally having fun hanging out together. Having a holistic mindset is helpful here, so that measuring out the ingredients for baking becomes a maths lesson as well as a lesson in feeding the family. Building something new from Lego is a design and technology challenge. We’ve been using the themes for the pagan children’s poetry anthology as writing prompts for English lessons. Following the children’s interests is a gift – so far I’ve found English resources based on both the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot, for my six year old handwriting challenged cryptozoologist. As well as keeping up with the basics, I’m making sure we fit in a healthy dose of “things that are important to know but won’t get taught in schools”.
Which is where my pagan spirituality comes in a little more explicitly. Both children tell me they are “bored” of the mainly Christianity and Islam based RE lessons at school, so I’m taking the opportunity to teach them that neither religion nor spirituality need to be about perpetuating a monotheistic patriarchal world-view. Not to mention the fact that spirituality and a connection to something beyond the mundane is a valid and even crucial part of human experience, not an outdated superstition. I’ve started teaching them to read tarot cards, in the hopes of giving them a tool for self knowledge as well as an understanding of imagery, symbolism and their own intuition. (And if I’m honest, to balance out the computer programming my uber geek partner is teaching them!)
We are all navigating this new reality as best we can and whatever we are doing is definitely good enough. I keep having conversations with people (mostly through Zoom, obvs) about how for all the loss and grief of this situation, it can also be an opportunity to reset, to let go of values and a way of life which is killing the planet and everything on it (which, as pagans don’t need to be told, also includes humanity). For me, taking the opportunity to expand my children’s horizons, to embed more deeply ideas I’ve been muttering at them about for years, is helping me to find some hope that collective transformation really is possible.
Written by Lisa Stockley