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Home » Green parenting

Acceptance as a key to natural parenting

Submitted by on Tuesday, 9 November 2010 Loading Add to favourites  12 Comments

children learning in school

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

For this month’s natural parenting carnival we’ve been asked to explore one concept from the natural parenting philosophy and discuss why it’s important to us, why it resonates with us or how it works in our family.

I felt spoilt for choice as natural parenting covers so many aspects that I feel passionate about from attachment parenting, ecological responsibility, holistic health practises, natural learning through to specific parenting philosophies.

Acceptance

However, one topic that is close to my heart at the moment and I’m being given ample opportunity to explore is that of ‘acceptance’. After 3 years of home education, Little Miss Green made the decision to flexi school.

She is attending the local village school three days a week and spends the other four days at home.

Flexi school

We feel blessed that the school is working with us on a flexi school arrangement as they’ve never experienced it before.

The other week we had our first ‘parent / teacher’ evening and I came away feeling crushed.

Conforming

I was told my daughter had ‘social interaction’ issues, displayed ‘unacceptable behaviours’ and was often seen ‘staring vacantly in the playground’.

My mind started working around all possibilities – were they trying to hint at something, had they ‘diagnosed’ my daughter with something but not said it?

They also pointed out that in 25 years of teaching they had never met a child who was so willful or who had such a diverse range of abilities (reading age 2 years above her biological age and maths age two years below).

In short, she was a ‘challenge’.[amazon-product align="right" small="1"]1593633246[/amazon-product]

Brilliance

My take on things was slightly different. As an only child who had been home educated for three years, was it any wonder she might play differently to the others? (social interaction issues)
As a child who has always been encouraged to question things was it any wonder she displayed ‘unacceptable behaviours’.
As a child who begs for firm boundaries was it any wonder she was wilful? (she needs to push boundaries to find out how much you mean it in order for her to feel safe!)
As a child who is highly creative, imaginative and gets overwhelmed by too much sensory stimulation was it any wonder she needed to ‘zone out’ in the playground by staring into space?

And what about the fact she was great at reading, but found maths a challenge?

Piecing it together

To cut a long story short I did some research when I got home. ‘Autism’ had been mentioned, yet glossed over, so I looked it up. Sure some things fitted, but then that’s always the way and it just didn’t feel right.

Then I thought about the fact she doesn’t tend to hear instructions very well, loses things, is late, arrives at complex maths answers but her workings out are from another planet, draws while I’m trying to talk to her, has HUGE emotions, thinks outside the box and gets so absorbed in creative play she loses track of time.

Visual spatial

Finally I came across something that felt so right it was like an electric current zipping through me. It was like I’d found a golden key. Only the other week I’d said to my daughter, as she had struggled to understand line graphs and times tables that it was nothing to do with her being ‘no good at maths’. I knew she had a brilliant mind yet it was as if no one had given her the key she needed to unlock maths. I held up a book and said “if this book was in  Japanese you wouldn’t be able to read one word of it; maths is like that for you.”

What I’d discovered through my research was the ‘visual spatial’ learner.

The Whole Picture

[amazon-product small="1"]0684847930[/amazon-product]Suddenly everything fell into place – her love of colour, her ability to put things into shapes, her amazing storytelling abilities, how if she ‘doesn’t see the point’ to something she’ll refuse to do it, the reason why when I asked her times tables she ‘couldn’t do them’ yet when I gave her 20 cakes and told her 4 friends were coming round for tea she instinctively put them into 4 piles of 5 without needing to count a single one.

Right brained

In short, the visual spatial learner is a RIGHT BRAINED learner trying to conform in a left brained education system. The education system is set up for step by step systematic left brained sequential thinkers.

Visual spatial learners learn in 3D – often understanding geometry before their times tables. They are holistic thinkers – needing to see the whole picture before breaking it down. They create movies in their heads and then have to ‘translate’ on the go to get things down in words – which is why they run out of time in timed tests. They can arrive at the right answer in maths but they can’t show their working out. Once they’ve learned something it’s there for life and they don’t need repetition or drill learning.

Natural Parenting

What does this have to do with ‘natural parenting’? For the past 9 years I’ve tried to ‘help’ Little Miss Green with her learning by breaking things down into small manageable chunks. I’ve asked her to focus on what I am saying rather than doodling while I’m talking. I’ve encouraged her to sit still and write properly rather than swinging around on one leg of the chair.

None of this is honouring who she is – it’s trying to get her to fit into my model of the world.

At the teacher / parent evening we felt as though we were being asked to squeeze our round-shaped daughter into a square-shaped hole and I realise that maybe I’ve been doing the same at home.

Perception

This weekend my daughter asked me a riddle – it was a complex beast (of course – the VSL excels at complex ideas!) and I was having trouble working it out. She got up off the chair and bought me 4 random items. “Here you are” she said “If you use this to represent the items in the riddle it will help you work it out”.

It didn’t help me in the slightest, but for a moment I stepped into her world and realised I was on a new part of my parenting journey – one in which I had to learn to speak her language in order to help her make sense of our left brained world.

My learning in that moment was to accept her as she was, to learn how to help her through and to allow her to teach me too. The ultimate in Natural Parenting.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We’ve arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” — For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the Present” — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With Heart” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
    • Sometimes I Wish We Coslept” — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
    • Unconditional Parenting” — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them Look” — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” — Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning” — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism

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12 Comments »

  • Kat says:

    “My learning in that moment was to accept her as she was, to learn how to help her through and to allow her to teach me too. The ultimate in Natural Parenting.”

    Love this!

    Thanks for sharing your story. My little girl is 4 now and although we have been learning all along, we are exploring our options for her schooling. This was very helpful to read.

  • What an amazing story! I wonder how many of our kids have been misdiagnosed because no one was in tune with them enough to find such a logical solution. What a testament to how you listen, respond, and respect your daughter.

  • Erin Little says:

    Wow. I found this post fascinating as a teacher. I know that teachers are often quick to label kids as ADD or ADHD, I haven’t really heard of speculating about Autism or Aspergers.

    I am currently going through a crisis at work. I am having trouble with the system and frustrated because I can’t change it and it is really difficult to have the type of learning community I want…in fact, I can’t get it there.

    I hope you will post more about your learning journey, I’m sure it can help me with the different styles of learning in my classroom.

  • Amy Willa says:

    What a wonderful post! It does seem that most teachers are trained for a system of analyzing children and fitting them into groups with labels – and this type of thinking doesn’t allow teachers to honor the child’s individuality like a teacher should.

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I especially liked the way you formatted it! The large and colored fonts for they key points helped me connect the post together as a big picture. I can’t wait to come back and visit again!

  • Kristin says:

    So glad you were able to piece some of the puzzle together! Hooray! I hope you can continue to make the school arrangement work and share what you’ve learned about your daughter with the school & teachers. As a former teacher, I will say that it can be REALLY challenging to work out what is going on inside each student — due to the time constraints of the school day and the fact that we are working with a larger group. Hopefully the teachers will be receptive to your findings and will help work with you to find some things that might ease some of the challenges. I was always grateful for any suggestions or ideas the parents of my students had!

  • Wow, what a moving story. I’m sorry you and your daughter are having such conflict with the teacher and the ways of the school, and I hope that resolves — but bless you for being so perceptive and, yes, accepting of your daughter. I was struck by the comment that she stares into space on the playground — is even play time to be regulated? What’s wrong with staring into space during time off? But, anyway, your post is such a fascinating glimpse for me into a visual spatial world. Like the story about dividing the cakes — so cool! I am definitely a school-minded, left-brain thinker, so this understanding will hopefully help me as I interact with people who think like your daughter. Because maybe it will be my own children! Thank you, and I wish you all well as you figure out your paths forward. I hope the teacher can become more understanding if you explain your insight.

  • MrsH says:

    What a gift to your daughter, to be able to see who she is and be willing to make an attempt at understanding. I’ve lately been trying to understand more about how my older two kids learn (they’re 8 and 4), and it’s been hard to really figure that out. Your post reminded me how important it is for me to keep trying. Thank you!

  • Sheila says:

    I wish I’d read this a year ago — when I had a first-grade student very much like this. I had to discover how to work with him from scratch: if I wrote on the board, I discovered I had to point at each item on the board when I mentioned it; I learned that he listened better when holding a toy; I found he learned everything better if I went right up to his desk and explained it just to him.

    Not sure if he was the same kind of learner as your daughter, but it does go to show that kids learn differently. He was very bright, but he just didn’t learn the same as the other kids. I badly wanted to suggest homeschooling to the mom, but my principal forbade me from doing so. I did suggest that she help him after school, and found an assistant to give him one-on-one at certain times during the school day. Eventually he did begin to catch up with the other kids, but I still felt that one-on-one attention would have helped him more.

    I’m so glad that your daughter has a mom who works with her enough to know how she ticks and can take the time to figure out what works best for her.

  • Nice post. I can’t believe the school mentioned autism to you. They seem so quick to label children who refuse to conform.

    It’s so great that your so in tune with your daughter.
    I often wonder how many children are walking around wearing labels. There is nothing wrong with them….they learn differently and there is nothing wrong with being different.

  • Jim says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. It is amazing to hear about some of the struggles you had, and how your child was perceived by others. This hits kind of close to home for me.

  • [...] “Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste) [...]

  • [...] “Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste) [...]