Standing at my kitchen window, cup of tea in hand. It’s 8.30am and all of the children in our street are making the daily commute to school. I can hear stressed parents screaming at their children to “hurry up, we’re gonna be late”, “Why haven’t you brushed your teeth?”! I smile – I used to be one of those hyper stressed adults trying to cram two reluctant children into the car whilst panicking about being late for work myself. And I smile because over and above all of that stress two voices can be heard loud and clear. The giggles and screams of my daughters ecstatically bouncing on the trampoline, holding hands, skipping around the garden. And I smile more because I know that I am doing the best for them. By giving up my job, by taking them out of school, by giving them the opportunity to be wild and free. Yes we hardly have any money now we rely on one wage, yes it is exhausting being with my kids twenty four hours a day. But seeing the joy on their faces and how relaxed and content they are makes all of the sacrifices worthwhile.

This week has been a week of sunshine, a week of joy, a week where we seem to have done nothing except play. But if I really dissected the play I would find that they have done a colossal amount of learning.

We have collected bugs and studied them, then read facts about them in our bug books, We’ve watched bees up close collecting nectar. We’ve built tall towers and dens. We’ve drawn pictures, painted on canvas, made clay sculptures. We’ve made ice lollies and baked cakes. We’ve played with friends and visited a farm. We’ve had water fights and bounced on the trampoline for hours on end. We’ve had teddy bears picnics and read stories. We’ve watched clouds pass by telling stories about the shapes we find. We’ve tended the garden and become so excited by every new flower that has bloomed and every ripe vegetable ready to harvest. We have taken pleasure in the simple joys life brings – something modern society doesn’t seem to offer the time to do.

“Self-education through play and exploration requires enormous amounts of unscheduled time—time to do whatever one wants to do, without pressure, judgment, or intrusion from authority figures. That time is needed to make friends, play with ideas and materials, experience and overcome boredom, learn from one’s own mistakes, and develop passions.” ― Peter Gray, Free to Learn

Whilst their friends have been inside all day under artificial lights, let out to play for an hour at lunch. My children have been outside, everyday, from dawn until dusk. Collapsing into bed each night with rosy cheeks and mucky feet. If recent events have taught me anything it is this; life is short, childhood is shorter. I will do everything in my power to preserve and protect their innocence and joy by giving them the freedom to play and learn at their own pace.

It requires lots of sacrifice on my part. But knowing how happy, confident and self-driven to learn they are. Surely that is worth all I can give.

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