Friday, June 26, 2015

A year into Homeschooling…Finding ourselves...

This time of the last year, we were frantic with anxiety over our decision and slightly excited with anticipation at what lay ahead. Every Hour we kept asking and replying, if we did the right thing. Every day, we promised to get the academics right and in place and kept a backup school going plan if needed.

We realised, we were in for new revelations and well kinda twelve month long vacation for self and kids. We began a new journey not only to give kids a happier childhood, freedom from enforced structure, but also rediscovering our own individual self and reclaim the dreams we thought we had lost in our race for winning the mundane life goals, we were given by society…

This Blog is as much for me as much for you. I am simply chronicling and documenting where our paths meandered and crisscrossed and made an intricate fabric of relearning for the entire family…Homeschooling is finding your own self too…
I do not plan to be preachy and put forward abstract dialogues and high flying philosophy. All I will do is pick each member of my family and state how we changed and grew and are growing…you take what belongs to you…for each journey is unique in its flavour. Our tale may simply speak of an alternative that can be…
So before we pick each person let us pick one aspect of our life and how it affected us
Naturally, no school took away a lot of hurry from our mornings. Since we begin our class at two in the afternoon, we anyways never had to rush to work. But without the pressure of school suddenly a lot of time and planning was freed up. Previously, I as a mom, had a set pattern and it became so mechanical for me . I had to get up first and prepare the two tiffins...Modern schools are so loving they have two breaks…they care so much for the kids appetite. Frankly, all it added was trouble for me, as I had to come up with quick make kind of food. The Modern-age  schools love health so their dictum was  to send home made food…so all my Innovative and creative self, had to be called upon to Devise this home- made food in half hour regime and pack it while kids dragged themselves out of bed and bathed …sometimes later we had begun a system of bathing in the night so they could sleep more but of course there were last minute snarls with nature’s call…some material or note book they misplaced and socks that were wet …or such things…There was not much time left in order to hug or say a kind word to my kids, droopy with sleep.
Next when they left my whole existence revolved around catching up on a small nap and again creating a Lunch that could be packed to our class for the afternoon meal when they came back. So mornings were just cook, clean and pack routine with barely any time left to converse with my better half or even sit back and share tea. Even with tea in hand there would be vegetables to be cut …or conversation centred on what shall be the dinner…
At class, we had a small refrigerator and microwave for preserving the freshness of the food and serve it warm …and as soon as we reached the class, we diligently kept everything in order. Few hours flew by in classes and kids by and large managed themselves with lunch and covering up their whole routine of home- work and test and  assignments.
We reached home at around eight thirty with so much baggage someone quipped “Are you coming from an outing?” For we had two school bags, two pair of uniforms bags as they changed clothes post school added to that there was the plastic boxes of afternoon lunch we carried…boy we had some packages with us. So, naturally when we came back home it was a flurry of activity of getting the dirty boxes in the sink, fixing dinner, cleaning, kids catching up on remaining assignments…and also reinvent stuff for next day. We had to pack the school bags for next day…before we knew it, it was midnight and we hit the bed restless ,little angry ,more tired and frustrated while calculating how many hours before we hear the alarm again???
Sundays then brought no respite for we wanted to catch up on the sleep,wash all the uniforms ,homework again …any social invites or outings looked like an impediment to limited hours of holiday that we would get…Atleast I wanted to hole up in my bed and sleep…my children wanted  to play …my husband wanted to watch his TV and when all this clashed…sometimes volcanic eruptions…
In order to deal with the stressful daily routine that seemed to promise to take us some where we made our life very structured and mechanically tight. We did this so that we could ignore asking vital questions to self about nourishing inner self or even consider thinking alternatives.
We looked forward to the round of stress that projects would bring or annual sports day or functions would impinge upon our daily tightly jammed schedule. WE had to be creative in fitting the extra pegs of puzzles that would be thrown at us due to exams or functions…We forgot self and were at times acidic at how life has been not so kind to us…at times blaming parents and other authority figures or government to blame…
So we were surviving up until we chose to HOMESCHOOL…Get kids out of school.
Life without school ??? Can it happen?? Yes it can…if you are sure and ready to understand learning as constantly happening process rather than what takes place in books or places like school.
Learning happens when you try something you have not till now because it interests you…
Learning happens when you question an existing order and ask if it applies to you or can you experience at different level.
Learning happens when you dig in your heels and say this intrigues me so much I will pursue it till my heart does not call it off and quits.
Learning happens when something new presents to yourself that is outside your diaspora of activities…and you develop a sort of accepting attitude as plausible and not reject it outright because it does not fit your system.
Learning happens when you accept wisdom comes from all corners and not only from people who are very senior to your age or authority…sometimes wisdom comes from my 14 year old…like today when I was fuming at a perceived insult and my 14 year old looks at my haggled frame and asks “But why are you so angry ? What is the issue? Why you think it is an insult? Why do you not see that she is ultimately doing publicity of your work…her motive you know but publicly as a record it is your praise that is going up…either acknowledge it at Face value or do not rise up to it…”Simple Wisdom but such deep thinking…I had yet to cultivate and extricate myself from just entangling myself into Dramas that are self made…He could think this way for he had LEARNED…Really learned to Think…not like me simply React…I stopped in my angry track…right there to thinkkkkkk….Anger still took time to evaporate but slowly it did…I am learning from all corners now…I decided to check…what happens if I do not react and chose to remain silent…like he was telling me to do…I learned to control temper…not through some grand anger management workshop but from a A Teenager who had grown up to question everything gently…and convert life circumstances to positive self- serving bends …I was proud to learn this bit for I had chosen to raise him differently
Learning happens when you live in the moment and think life challenges can be handled as and when they arise and not fret and worry and ruminate over it. We still do not have answers to what they will choose for a career but we are  realising that the kids have so much more time to explore ,choose,discard than a regular schooler would.
Shahen quickly finished reading all the academic books that we had purchased and we found it quite enlightening to discuss the language chapters and concepts rather than the routine one line answers or brief answers and give reasons geographical or historical…It was so much more healthy and active to animatedly discuss the reasons and motives of a historical figure for a certain event and then laugh at times to wonder…what does it matter as of now???
It was Hilarious to wonder if a yonder king were to build one monument each for all the queens he had married…so much drain on treasury…hmmm…it was fun discussing and ending up chuckling and building up funny imageries that could have changed world history…no attempt at making fun..only imagining a different ending to a certain event and wondering at their personal traits and illnesses and eccentricities…
So naturally after this a lot more challenging stuff was needed for their creativity to come out.
He took to blogging and sharing his views about schooling. 
He participated in a blogging contest and won it!

He was recognised by Indi blogger forum as the youngest blogger on board. 

He read books avidly and took to doing Video reviews of latest book releases.                                                                                  

Shahaan too joined in doing one of a “ Roald dahl” book. Anything that challenged Shahen had to go through rigorous googling  and youtubing…forgive is a by- product of Homeschooling..we realised we could invent words to suit our moods and mental states and jokes…we realised Language is a medium to express and it was ok if we were not perfect in it. In School we were so told to be particular with our punctuation marks and cross our “t”  a certain way…no more.
We learned it was ok to invent few words along the way and mix a little of two if needed. The idea was to express and make yourself understood…such relief. Finally no one was going to cut marks but at the max shake head at the comedy it creates…no need to prove you are a literatti!!!
Shahen took part In MUN(Model United Nations) at D.J .Sanghvi College of Engineering.He was the Delegate of Indonesia and spoke and debated about Human Rights Violation in Syria,Iraq and Libya by ISIS. He got the honourable Mention as one of the Best Delegates in the committee(Best five). He rubbed shoulders with students  who were naturally few years senior to him.

Shahen was so happy speaking that naturally when we had a media event at a reputed book store, he donned the mantle of AN Anchor and the compliment came from a senior person when he asked “Have you done a course in Professional Anchoring?”
   Pride and smile was the only reply, he could make. When we do what we love, it comes out naturally and brings immense satisfaction. He, then, went on to find a Tele Anchoring course that will smoothly blend in his need for facing the camera with an intellectual mix of ideas. Again need I say he is the youngest to enrol amongst the graduates who are chosen for the course The Decision came from an apprehensive faculty who gave a thumbs up after viewing his book reviews and happily raising brows at his marvellous albeit raw confidence…
While Shahen explored his preferences the young Shahaan is equally and playfully serious about asserting his  tiny intelligent self and finding his interests too.

 So as his elder brother he too read a book by Roald Dahl and put in a video review but went on to  realise it is not his cup of milk to read through patiently an entire book so he moved onto putting up reviews of Video games he played.
He had this love for animals and thought becoming veterinarian was a cool idea which later on he realised was a long drawn academic process. So he googled with his brother and narrowed his level of interest in becoming a Canine Behaviourist. His reasoning… ultimately, I want to work with animals specially dogs so this is the best way. Well whatever he ends up doing what makes me happy is that he is growing into a thinker and a human who is looking into problem solving. He realises that he ought to match his preferences and the Vocation he chooses in order to live a meaningful life. He, also, is a person learning to live in the moment and has wisdom galore especially during arguments that inevitably are a part and parcel of family life.
He is the peace maker in the family appealing to all members to forget and forgive and at times refrain from using confrontational language so further escalation of conflict can be prevented. So in a way, he recognises the oncoming crisis and has identified factors that would avoid an out- break. Well little later in life I do plan to discuss with him that once in a while it is alright to clear the Air but just yet am happy to amusedly observe his insights and musings on “I do not like anyone to be sad”
He is the chirpy happy go lucky Jack in our house without whom a strange silence would descend…for he is non- stop chatter on all the adventures he has undertaken with his tiny world.
As a Two some they explored dance and that too resulted in varied choices and decision as to what they truly desire . We chose two different environment and the revelations were interesting and dynamic…Since, sports develops a healthy attitude towards life and the kids dabbled happily from cricket, to tennis, to cycling, to skating(that, only for the younger one)...
We enrolled them into a Dance workshop of reportedly famous people attached to TV reality dance shows. These guys have earned their name and fame through this show. We had no such intention of pushing our kids towards any tele exposure but it was like if you are learning then learn from the Best. Three days workshop but kids came out disappointed .They learned dance but were not happy with the Ambience and company. In their words ,folks around there used too many swear words to be comfortable…the hair do each one carried was quite weird and at times offensive…many including boys had body pierced at unlikely places and long jewellery pieces hung obnoxiously …at times the course teachers looked at each other in the middle of the steps while dancing as they forgot what they had to do…all this cannot escape my two perceptive kids…They were cordial yes but they clearly expressed well defined views to me. The Elder one simply accepted “ Mom I may enjoy dancing in a party but It is not my passion” The younger one a little thoughtful “ I like doing it but it should be less crowded and the language should be cool” Ok, so we took in the feedback with a pinch of salt at having been a little hasty and carried away…
We promised to be careful to find a space that will be little more professional and less chaotic.
All this while, we were meeting our academic goals too but a little differently. Shahen finished his sciences ,languages and read tons of contemporary Indian authors and began putting up his you tube reviews . At the same time, he also stumbled upon Psychology Textbook .Though the textbook was a little monotonous it opened up his google search engines. Daily he would come up with different researches, being carried out that he was reading up and the ten thousand questions that would follow made me to look up in the area. Curiousity and discussions and debates are mom and son’s favorite time-consuming activities.
As individuals, Mom and Dad, that is me and my husband too flourished . As I put in earlier as the mundane uncreative lifted from our lives, we gave freedom to our inner creative self. We began daring ourselves to do what we never allowed ourselves so far.
I began blogging on a tele series simply because it took my fancy and it inspired me ..nothing heavy only light and fun entertainment. Then I found the relevant fan pages of the tele show and a new wave of energy took over my life. Till now I was known as Nozzer’s wife, Shahen and shahaan’s mom, so n so teacher…Now I came to be known as SONNAL PARDIWALA the Author in a circle little wider and expansive than the Lane I was working. I may not earn money out of it but I earned immense recognition and deep satisfaction. People knew me now beyond my culinary and teaching and spiritual healing skills.Then my hubby dear turned the blogs into a colourful book which went on to become a happy tryst with a different world than mine… 

 I so so enjoyed the whole promotion and sale and the various interactions and the fifteen seconds of fame. It is a heady feeling and did wonders to lift my confidence as an individual. In my Kitty this was my personal individual achievement. Something, I did purely for myself and I was known purely for myself. It made me feel as if I exist. It was not like I did not but this was a different feeling altogether. I doubt if I can explain this. But I grew and I relaxed in my sense of identity. In accidental pouring out of a Blog post I found a world that would so complete my existence.I also had begun sharing my journey on home schooling just so that it helps some anxious soul into their dilemma. Even these blogs received happy recognition among its readers as well as it got featured on various platforms like CafĂ© Dissensus and Femina Magazine. So it was out an out journey establishing my worth as a Blogger and I love myself Immensely as each feedback I get that is positive and each recognition that gets me congratulations from many corners.
My better half is not far behind. He had already published his first book and now his articles found place in Parsi Times where he puts forward his gentle queries on accepting the NEW and Celebrating the Old and merging Diverse culture to attract happiness. His insightful takes on various human quirks and customs are a treat to read .That too got him his share of recognition and encouragement as an individual apart from being a diligent teacher, dutiful dad and dedicated Husband, he now is also an awesome and sensitive writer whose write ups are awaited…And he went forth and completed his second book all the while working on making my book available at various popular platforms like Flipkart India and making his-LIVE on Amazon. Soon his second book will be available in print form on flipkart too. 

With each research of his he betters himself ,coming up with new technologies and making it possible to dream and soar.
All of this we have been doing while we carry out our Teacher’s tasks systematically. That is one role we take very seriously and systematically.
Then comes … the May Vacations and once again my Husband throws in one of his rare ones at reinventing.
We still wanted to explore for our children Dancing and we admitted to ourselves that we had simply  chosen the wrong ambience and platform . So this time we decided to go to the Best and that was” Shiamak Davar” Dance stints that happen regularly. So we planned to enrol our kids into it. My husband dear goes in to pay fees for two and ends up enrolling the entire Family into it!!!!!!
Dance at 40??? I mean really?? With a group of kids half your age or even less?? I was appalled at the very thought. The eagerness on my children’s face was disarming and my husband’s charming argument won me over “What will we do outside waiting for both of them??” “It is our vacation time let us do something as a family instead of just going on a Vacation and wasting thousands”
That was true. In the sweltering heat, going for any place would be hectic and tedious. We came up with this cool idea of Staycation and enjoy life. Instead of later arguing over the money spent or place chosen we decided to do something different and drastic as a woman I met put in “Your husband is enrolling you in a dance class is such a big thing” hmmm…indeed…we live in a patriarchal world and I must be grateful for such a liberal hubby…thank you GOD!
We had a rollicking time for we had not gone in for any sense of competition or race. For the first time in my life I prepared for a stage show. So far I had arranged for the costumes of my kids at their school shows but here I was wearing a costume and going to the parlour for a hair style. I do not remember doing it after my marriage ceremony ever…but we as a family decked up cute and had a roaring time and life time of memories and realised laughing and giggling is more important than being perfect.  We left the arena of being perfect to those earnest ones who wanted to mark a career in the respective field.
The resultant elation was infectious to my kids too. They liked this ambience for all interacted decently in either cool English or clear and respectful Hindi. The attitude they carried was in their body as grace and there were no piercing jewellery hanging and dangling. Instead they asked us to wear no accessories so we could dance totally free. All in all it was a fun experience left us wanting for more and the general feeling was if we can we shall repeat this…maybe next vacation.
Vacations end brought in new revelations to each one of us. Academically elder one is gearing up to give tenth Boards through Maharashtra state board if all the long winding rules and regulations are taken care of and permit. He stumbled upon this Tele Anchoring Course actually meant for graduates but well we homeschoolers are a cheeky lot and we do not believe in age parameters. We have discovered a new talent…we can convince people to mend n bend a few rules and give a new thing a go…they agreed to take him in. he is the youngest kid to go in the course. However he fares he definitely is exposed to who is who of media and is learning diction rules and facing camera…a complete skill set he will learn…and I feel mission accomplished the idea is to create new boundaries for our kids to think about life beyond these academic limits set by our society and exploring …
We learned my kids have an advantage for they have started exploring young they can discard what they do not like and decide what they enjoy but cannot turn into livelihood…
We also learned to say goodbye to an emotion called “Worry” we also learned all things happen in time and we need not control everything. We discovered that we also learned to intervene less in other people’s lives. So we have less interest in what others are doing as we have so much more to discover about our lives that we are actually not too  hyper about how we are measuring up to our other folks.
It is such a relief that we have done away with the thing called Competition. So much stress moves away when you move out of this zone. The whole family dynamics shifts to positive notes and it feels relaxed as if we will find our way home smoothly and the paths we take will meander to pleasanter spaces …will add to our experiences and enrich the tapestry of life.
So when we sip our tea at the sunset of our life we can say we lead a rich eventful and yet adventurous life.  

                                                             -written by Sonnal Pardiwala.

             © Sonnal Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved.

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