There’s no standard handbook for parenting. Out in the universe of parenting self-help books, there exists a million different opinions, methodologies, and philosophies of how we should be doing this parenting thing. The pressure is real because the stakes are so high. Is there anything we care about more than the healthy growth and development of our children?
The majority of us tend to parent the way we were raised- the way our parents parented us. Right or wrong, for better or for worse, this is what we know and what we know is always easier. It’s the path of least resistance.
This fact alone is what makes a Village School parent a hero. We are choosing to quiet these handed-down, reflexive parenting methodologies, in order to nurture and grow a confident, resilient, responsible, kind, and empowered child- one who’s ready to use his or her unique skill set and passions to thrive in the new world we now live in.
Counter-intuitive and frequently uncomfortable, this is really hard work. This new territory of parenting self-directed learners can often leave us wondering, “Am I doing this thing right?”
The truth is- there’s no right or wrong way. The beauty of being a TVS parent is you get to choose what feels right to you, based on your values and your relationship with your child. Your role in your child’s school experience depends on what’s important to you.
With that said, some of our founding families who are thriving in our community do have some advice. They say, regardless of whether you are checking in with your child daily, weekly, or once per session at the exhibitions of learning- the most important thing is engaging in the process of letting go, of shifting your mindset and prioritizing your relationship with your child, paying close attention to who they’re becoming- over what they’re producing. Remember: Our goal is to nurture life-long learners with strong character, not carry them through mindless “grade-level curriculum” so they can do well on a test. We mean it when we say learning to learn, learning to do and learning to be are far more important than learning to know. This whole-child approach is what we’re all about.
Parents who are thriving in our community are committed to a regular practice of:
1) letting go: trusting their child and trusting the process, being willing to be surprised, respecting their child’s path and understanding that it may be different from their own, being patient, letting go of immediate gratification, letting go of solving their child’s problems or removing obstacles
2) meaningfully engaging with my child: being present, listening and having conversations with their child, seeking to understand by asking questions, being curious, accepting and affirming ther child’s thoughts and feelings without judgement, giving growth mindset praise
3) meaningfully engaging with the community: attending parent coffees and exhibitions, getting to know others, giving and receiving honest, thoughtful feedback, assuming the best of others, sharing vs. comparing, modeling respect, honesty and kindness, being open-minded and supportive
4) being self-directed learners/problem-solvers: finding own solutions rather than expecting the school to provide them, actively seeking out answers to questions, taking responsibility for learning, looking for creative solutions to potential “trade-offs” of a micro-school environment
5) embracing failure and experience as the best teachers: embracing the messiness of experiential learning, expecting failure and stumbles, being willing to reflect on experiences regularly as opportunities for growth
6) embracing accountability: having clear and consistent boundaries at home, holding their child accountable using natural and logical consequences, supporting systems of accountability at school or encouraging their child to use their voice if a system or rule seems unfair.
So, when you find yourself wondering, “Am I doing this thing right?”, try a quick self-assessment using two follow-up questions: 1) Am I practicing the things above? and 2) Am I willing to try again when I fail?
If you’re answer is yes, then please self-affirm your heroic efforts: Yes- 100%, you are doing this thing right. Then, by all means, look up- there’s a whole group of us cheering you on.
The road to mastery is long but the rewards are worth the effort.