Becoming a mom, amidst working with a team of futurists , always had the potential to cause some sort of conundrum to our parenting journey and of course educating in the 2020s. I mean, when robots, warnings of disruption, and the future of work overlap with parenting, extramurals, Biff and Chip, and trying to figure out what’s best for our kids in this fast paced world – well, I guess it’s understandable that all these things combined led this Mom and Dad to:
- question childhood in the 2020s.
- question what learning means for our kids, and to
- question what we can actively do to equip our kids for their future – in a way that honours who they are, how they learn, while helping them pursue what makes them happy.
Futurists or not, it’s not difficult to see the world changing so rapidly, yet somehow we still ignore the fact that how and what our kids learn is in desperate need of a serious makeover.
Having the courage to step away from the system: educating in the 2020s
In 2020, with many of these thoughts and questions already on the surface, Covid and hard lockdown colliding with a breast cancer diagnosis allowed our family to step back from all that we knew around educating our kids. We were given a chance to choose a different path to parenting and educating in the 2020s
- A path that, right now, allows us to focus on helping them create a real love for learning.
- A path that encourages our kids to learn how to be self-directed,
- one that has an emphasis on EQ, and
- one that pushes us to expose them to a variety of ideas and thinking. (While also stretching us as parents to have the confidence to stay on this path, trusting our decision as well as the process that lets this journey unfold and uncover the treasures along the way!)
Keeping it real
Now before you think it’s all unicorn sparkles and rainbows and parents who have it all under control… It’s not… We have days where it’s chaos, and many days have been spent googling every curriculum under the sun, while doubting our decision. Days where the kids spend too many hours playing Roblox or Minecraft. Days where sending them to school for the morning seems like heaven.
But we are privileged with resources, being able to work from home with flexible hours, and having access to learning guides, a tutor, and a curated curriculum and a growing community that we lean on and learn from. A community which means we don’t have to do this on our own, and who helps us trust the process that we’ve chosen.
What our days look like (mostly).
The days start late for the kids – they sleep until they wake up naturally and by 9 or 9.30am they’re ready for their day, having had breakfast, brushed their teeth, made their beds, and are hopefully dressed.
My eldest participates in an international, online learning hub called LearnLife where she gets to engage with kids from around the world on a daily basis, and has access to learning guides and frameworks that help her with her self-directed projects. Currently she’s really into baking, cooking, and singing and is also trying her hand at some novel writing.
My 9 year old prefers working one-on-one with a tutor and so they spend an hour every day doing some maths, reading, science and whatever else he’s fascinated with. For the rest of the day he spends time building things, researching stuff, riding his bike, playing with friends in the afternoon as well as his extra murals.
As a working mom I try to get 3 or 4 hours work in before 9:30 so that I can then spend some time with them at the beginning of their ‘working’ day, helping them with some projects or research or helping them make sure they have what they need to crack on with their day. (That doesnt always work, especially with winter making getting up early tough!). I normally also try and work from a coffee shop later in the day again for 2 hours for some more focused work and a change of scenery before I turn into taxi driver in the afternoon getting the kids to their extra murals.
Why wait until they’re 18
One of our guiding principles for our parenting journey came from advice that a colleague of mine gave me a week before our daughter was born…
His advice suggested that we raise our kids with the knowledge that we were ultimately preparing them to leave us… Looking back I guess that’s pretty wild advice to receive the week before you’re about to hold your newborn, but honestly – it’s been one of the most liberating pieces of advice that’s stuck with me since the day we received it.
It’s given me permission to let go a little, to make it easier to say yes to the kids spending glorious weeks away with Grandparents and family, and more recently, the courage to step away from traditional schooling and follow a path that we believe is more intentional about preparing them for their future…
Why wait until they’re 18 to have a gap year to ‘find themselves’. Why wait until they leave school before we encourage them to actively and wholeheartedly follow their passions. Why wait for them to rediscover the joy of learning when they’re ‘finally’ allowed to learn about topics that really interest them, rather than a curriculum that prescribes what they ‘need to know’. Why wait for an antiquated education system to catch up to our ever changing world. Why be nervous of change, when change is one of the only constants they’ll know.
And yes… it does sometimes feel like one massive experiment, with the stakes being crazy high, because of ‘who’ we are experimenting with. But time after time, my response to this fear that can creep into my mind is that the risk of not experimenting ends up feeling far greater, and so we continue down this road less traveled, adventuring into the future.
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