Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | October 30, 2013

Viewing Childhood as an Unfolding Experience, not an Enrichment Opportunity

An energetic shift has happened in our home.  A very good shift.  The tantrums (while not extinguished) are seldom.  The girls rarely fight over their parents’ attention.  In fact, the girls play for hours together, getting lost in their imaginative play.  So what caused the shift?  I think there are multiple factors at play, but I am certain that homeschooling is a major factor.  It’s just agreeing with all of us.  While no one hates being rushed more than Keira, I am a very close second place.  And with the homeschooling, we aren’t rushing around.  We do have commitments three days a week, but those are never before 10 AM.

One of those commitments is Cherry Blossoms, a wonderful in-home, Waldorf-inspired play-based program for homeschoolers.  The teacher, who is perhaps the most thoughtful, warm human being in the world, distributed a great Kim John Payne handout the other night and I think it really helps to drive home why homeschooling is working.

“Payne asks that parents see childhood as an unfolding experience, not an enrichment opportunity.  If it is an enrichment opportunity, then we’re in an arms race, trying to get the most for our child.  This is fundamentally a con, and not healthy.  When a family simplifies (basically limiting choices and activities), the kids love it.  It’s not a battle.  We think kids will put up resistance but they don’t; they like it.  Many kids need a secretary to keep up with their schedule.  (Parenting is) about warmth and being available.  In simplifying parenting, we get closer to our children, they no longer have to fight for our attention, everything becomes easier and it is actually achieved by doing less.”

We kept trying to make Keira’s life simpler and simpler.  But it turns out that attending a Waldorf school and eliminating all extra-curricular activities was not enough.  Those changes were baby steps required for us to make the ultimate simplification:  homeschooling.  Now Keira has become a homeschooling evangelist!!  She wants to convert the entire street to homeschooling.  That way, she can have friends in the neighborhood to play with all of the time.  I LOVE her plan!  Though I must say that my introverted seven-year old evangelist will likely prove much more effective at converting the neighbors than her loud-mouthed, bossy-pants, almost-forty-year-old mother!!  And so, I shall resist my inclination to purchase a megaphone and shout the message that “childhood is an unfolding experience, not an enrichment opportunity!”.  Instead I will remain in the background as Keira quietly and thoughtfully canvasses the neighborhood.

You can learn more about my love-affair with Kim John Payne in this post about Kim John Payne’s Influence on our Journey to Waldorf Education.

Wishing you a simple Wednesday!  Much Love, Tracy

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Responses

  1. It’s amazing how even simplifying to just school and one hour of soccer isn’t enough on our end either. He loves school, loves the teacher, loves the kids. But the running around, the change of scenery so frequently, the now longer days is all so much for us all. I’m wishing I could find a way to make it work while still bringing home the bacon. Just going to put it out there I guess.

    • Let’s make vision boards together…you can put the homeschooling idea (and lots of other big plans to be realized in 2014) out to the universe in a very pretty picture!! xo, T.

  2. Glad to hear you all are doing well, finding your groove 🙂

    • Hey Jeff! Thanks so much for your kind words! We are missing you guys!! Let’s make time to get together. Love, T.

  3. I am so glad to read this! We are trying (in Western MA) to slow down and give our children a true and real childhood. I want them to attend classes and have friends but not at the expense of imaginative down time. This is getting harder and harder to do around here (where classes are expensive and very structured). Hopefully I will meet other parents who believe this!

    • Hi Kim, I’m so glad you found my blog! It’s so important to find like-minded mamas on this journey!! There are lots of slow homeschoolers in the Boston area. If you’re ever in the area, come to Monday park day (Arsenal Park in Watertown), my friends and I would love to meet you! Warmly, Tracy


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