"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, February 12, 2018

Head Noticer And Keeper of Field Notes

I have been snatching all the spare moments I can to analyze my children this past week. There's been several things that all have pointed that direction and like many curious projects I find that's clearly where Fate has shoved me suggestively. It started with a retreat I had this fall with girlfriends (a total wonder of thing!) where our 2,000 mph marathon talk sessions had me suddenly wandering into the territory of examining our children. We all as mamas strive to give our kids opportunities, fun, education and friends and when life is busy its so easy to just throw money at the problem and sign them up for a bunch of clubs, groups or activities and call the thing done. But, as we mamas mused together we dug up an idea, like a dusty looking rock that has a crack that shows a glowing center. What if we meditated on who are kids were, studied how they changed and evolved and tried to see them as different from their siblings and then ministered intentionally to who they were, what they loved and what things made their curiosity whoosh into flame? What if, instead of signing everyone up for a museum daytrip club we noticed that our kid was into starfish and combed our home library for applicable books and then put out a feeler to our friends for more books or experience and knowledge on sea stars and the sea? What if we noticed that our kid was a natural dancer yet instead of signing them up for drag-everyone-hither-and-yon, and mortgage-a-different-child-to-afford-it-class at the local dance academy we asked a local teen who is already dancing to come be a dance tutor three times in a row at our home?

The basic idea is a combination of three concepts: 
  • Intentional, careful observation of our actual, individual kids and noticing who they are and how they change 
  • Leveraging the resources we already have in our homes and our own skill-sets as individuals
  • Mining our community for talent and interests, abilities and knowledge that tie in

So instead of just hitting the Children's Museum because you know, they're children....they'll love it....maybe we go to the local horse farm to pet horses because we know one of kids is enamored....who knows, you might run into the farmer and you might purposely slow down and pick up rocks on the lane nearby for the kid who is obsessed with geology. 

So, at first it was an idea that popped up as we mamas talked on our retreat about how to do parenting better, mused on our kids and their issues and funny endearing behaviors. Then we got talking about personality tests and I thought even deeper about customizing education to each kid in light of not only their interests but their style and needs. So cool. We spent some time later that night, journalling lists of topics and talents that came to mind for each of our children.

Then, after I got home from the retreat and was diving into some new podcasts for moms and homeschooling and learning I bumped into one with an unschooler (am only moderately unschooley myself) talking about this topic! She mentioned that customizing her child's education which is the big focus of unschooling philosophy meant that she had to study her kids as separate and dynamic topics. She keeps field note journals that are pocket sized for each child! What a thought! All observations about what makes that kid swoon with pleasure, what they are deeply troubled by and what they are super obsessed with doing all day go into her little book. Quick, jotted Cliffs Notes on her students who also happen to be her field of study. What a fascinating idea! How useful would that resource be for lesson plans, outings, birthday parties, interpersonal problem solving, bedtime discussions or those sudden gift requests from grandparents? Instead of the latest cool toy we could feed who our children were and show them that we see them not just childhood or kiddie stuff land. 

Then, here I find myself at just post-Christmas gift buying time, true....but heading into birthday season at our house and I am doing what I always do and trying to think deeply about each kid and what thrills them and what they are missing and what they dream of. I always do this, gifts are pretty important to me and I love thoughtful giving. This year though, it seems like part of the big picture lesson. One more chapter in the book Fate is drawing me through, "Here's your lesson of the hour...study your children, learn them as they unfold. Be their very best noticer." 

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