3 Reasons We've Decided to Free School Our Children (And Why We're Not Crazy)

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Far too often we conform to the image we think society wants for us.

We are born. We learn to crawl, walk, talk and speak. Then, by the age of 4 or 5, we are automatically enrolled into something called school.

Not knowing there are other options, we just do this as a matter of course, naturally because we want the best for our children, and because “that’s just what people do.”

It’s what our parents did. It’s what our friends do. It’s what our neighbours do. It’s what we are all conditioned to do.

But what if we told you it’s not the only (or often the best) way to help our children thrive?

One Word that Changed Everything for us. Forever.

It wasn’t until we stopped to consider a very valuable question. One word that forever changed our entire decision making process and change the course of our children’s lives: WHY

As Robert Frost once said “And that has made all the difference.”

Let me ask you the same questions we asked ourselves:

Why should we put them in school?

Why is the institution something so import for our children? Is it because the government or other authority says it is? Is it because that’s what generations have done before us?

Why should my children be judged in society based on if he or she does “well” in a flawed grading system that is mandated and created by the very institution that wants, no, *needs* drones (who can’t think for themselves) to continue to function as a whole?

Knowledge is life. But not one person on earth needs school to learn, grow or thrive. And that’s a fact.

The goal for us is to raise aware, compassionate and happy children.

<p>At home in beautiful British Columbia</p>

At home in beautiful British Columbia

What’s the typical image of a child at a desk at school? What are some words/phrases that come to mind?

Here are some that come up for me: bored, uninspired, dumbed down, or pushed too hard when they’re simply not ready.

There shouldn’t be a “one size fits all” approach to school. Or anything in life, for that matter.

Children can learn what they need at home in half the amount of time (or less) that it takes them in the conventional schooling system. Instead of forcing our children/students to read certain books or participate in certain activities outlined by the curriculum, why not allow them to choose their own books and activities from the millions of options?

My 5-year-old learns at a different pace than your 5-year-old. That’s a fact.

Most of us are taught at a young age that we cannot be trusted to teach ourselves, or rather, to learn on our own. That’s the vicious circle in which parents now find themselves....

To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves...and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~ John Holt

<p>Our first two children. </p>

Our first two children.

In a system that has failed me personally, as well as my husband, I can’t imagine subjecting our children to a similar situation.

Growing up, I remember making myself physically ill in order not to attend school. The mind is a very powerful thing.

So, what did I do? I became a teacher. Naturally.

So I had made the decision to avoid institutionalized school long before I had my first child. That’s powerful.

Years later, when I was teaching at a high school on the East Coast of Canada, I had the chance to speak, and really connect with many of the students at the school. What’s absolutely mind-blowing is that it was difficult to find a single student that did not dread being class and on occasion fake their own sickness. And every one of them complained about school. Even those students who thrived complained that the teachers or the system didn't’ want them to ‘go too fast’ in order to stay in line and keep up with the class.

Gifted children in school is a whole other topic of discussion.

So, what about the teachers? Many would say: “How dare we insult our amazing teachers?”

It’s not about the great people teaching our students. It’s not their fault because they are also victims in this entire fiasco.

I know this first hand. I was one of them for 6 years before I quit.

What it boils down to is that the system at large has failed all of us.

It’s failed those teachers, their school’s administration, as well as the parents and students. I have yet to talk to one teacher or principal that is over-the-moon happy with the system.

The 3 main reasons we opted out of formal education for our children:

1. Grading: why should our students be graded and compared to others in their class? It’s detrimental to their mental health as a whole.

2. Segregation according to Age: And why must we segregate students by age/grade? The best times of my life are when I played with both older and younger children.

With the younger ones, I was able to exercise healthy leadership skills. When playing/learning with the older children, I was able to model them, learn how they do things and how they see the world. A hugely valuable aspect that’s lost when our children are forced to be between four walls all day with children of their own age. We are depriving them of more enriching experiences.

3. Learning stops being “fun”: Another issue we have with schooling is that learning becomes a chore. It’s work. And that’s not fair.

“We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards, gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys, in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.” ~ John Holt

When children at schools have compassionate, patient teachers that trust the children to learn without coercion or much instruction, I would consider them very lucky. We chose “self-directed” education for our own children because we don’t want to rely on luck. We believe it’s a direct result of our parenting choices that we now have happy and confident children.

The best decision we’ve ever made was to give them a life where the entire world is their school.

I want all parents to know that we are very, very far from perfect. We’re not seeking perfection. We make mistakes and we learn. I also want my fellow parents to know that there are no ‘rules’ to follow with this type of philosophy / lifestyle. Nothing for us is set in stone. We are now very flexible and so happy with the conscious decisions we’ve been making and what we’re doing.

In other words, we don’t abide by any set of rules. We don’t call ourselves “Attached Parents.” We don’t really call ourselves “unschoolers,” “vegan,” “paleo” or anything else. And you don’t have to either. It’s liberating.

We simply live in the best, most compassionate way we know how and we try to live in the moment.

A Perfect Example Of This

There are other options that could fit under the ‘free schooling’, or ‘unschooling’ philosophy. There are great alternatives popping up all over the place.

Our children currently attend an amazing nature program, 5 days a week. We made the decision based on the important fact that we need to focus and work on our company without other distractions for this year. So we did it.

We researched and found an independent (democratic) “school” and it’s working out. We absolutely adore the the freedom this program provides them to grow, learn and experience something new. Where we’ll go from here, only time will tell. For now, we’re all happy.

<p>The whole family: Joshua, Maddox, Margaux, Olivia, plus new baby on the way any day .</p>

The whole family: Joshua, Maddox, Margaux, Olivia, plus new baby on the way any day .

Ashley Marston
<p>Olivia loving Margaux belly</p>

Olivia loving Margaux belly

Ashley Marston
<p>Outside of our house on Vancouver Island</p>

Outside of our house on Vancouver Island

We’re growing something so great with our company as well. It’s not just about the product I personally created out of our kitchen, it’s about living a life where we don’t have to sacrifice the health of other beings or the earth for our own benefit. We are doing this for our children. So that next year we can make the decisions that best suit our family at that time.

What about College or University

This is a very important topic in itself. Children who are free schooled or unschooled are often more prepared for University than their peers (should they choose to go).

Here are three reasons for this, but there are many more:

~ because they were given the opportunity to learn what they love, they often know what they want to do earlier

~ it doesn’t take as much time to learn a topic when self taught / led.

~ they are often more passionate about certain topics or subject, and they go for it.

I love this talk by Astra Taylor. And here’s the shorter version.

For an amazing overview of some of the alternatives I’m speaking about, you can watch this video created by our great friends over at the Alliance for Self-Directed Education:

In an effort to live as transparently as possible, my husband and I have committed ourselves to taking the time to think about every major decision in life, before going through with anything. That includes, but not limited to: education, how we birth, food choices and parenting.

We've always been unconventional. We've always been the 'black sheep' of the group, not willing to conform to the constrains set upon us by the powers that be. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Our history is colorful. We've started 4 companies in 8 years. We’ve moved our entire family (2 kids, 3 chihuahuas) from Canada to Mexico, Costa Rica, the U.S. and then back to Canada.

In August (and 6 months pregnant with our 3rd child), we moved from New Brunswick, Canada all the way to Vancouver Island where we have zero family and zero support. Why are did we do this? Why do we choose to live this way?

We are carving out a life that's OURS and no one else's. We want an authentic and passionate life where all of us can grow and learn from the world around us. First hand.

To all parents: Isn’t it time we all shed our proverbial masks and let our transparency and true selves shine?

We are planning a community of earthship style homes (look these up if you need to). They are beautiful, sustainable and as luxurious as anyone wants or needs them to be.

We are on the search for other families in this world who love the idea of free schooling, unschooling and living out their true purpose in full transparency. Who's with us? Message me anytime here or here.

~~~~~~

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

~ Robert Frost

***If you haven’t picked up this short guide yet, you can get it for FREE for a limited time: Discover The 7 Reasons Families Should Consider Unschooling & How Traditional Education Is Harming Our Children.***

~~~

For some more information about Free Schooling, Unschooling, Democratic Schools, etc, check out the following resources:

3. Prince EA (amazing video)

Margaux is the CEO of one of the most popular organic, natural, cruelty-free deodorants, “The Best Deodorant In The World”, a company she started out of her kitchen. It can now be found in stores and online world-wide. Her passion is helping families understand the importance of eliminating toxins, living sustainably and using amazing, natural products that don’t harm our bodies, animals or planet.

Margaux consults with parents on how to start a company like hers from scratch, and how to create an income while staying home with their children. She is a compassionate, heart-centred entrepreneur who works with parents and company owners, both new and already established. Operating by two very simple philosophies: “People over profit” and “Profit With a Purpose”, she has been able to follow her heart and make an impact in her client’s lives. When she is not with her husband and 3 children, much of her time is spent with parenting experts, birth practitioners, medical professionals and natural living celebrities.

She has built close friendships with many of the world’s most accomplished and respected practitioners, authors, speakers, doctors, midwives, doulas, parenting experts and celebrities in the birth, parenting and entrepreneurial spaces.

Margaux just completed a book Ultimate Guide To Organic Grocerieswith Joanne Young, who is personal chef to Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.

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