When I first published this article, it was called 18 VEDIC REASONS NOT TO TAKE CHILD TO DAY CARE OR KINDERGARTEN. Since then we have officially started homeschooling and we as a family have become even more confident in our choice of not giving away our children for system education.
- I want my children to maintain the natural interest, necessity and motivation for studies. What I see is a common situation, when children don’t want and don’t like to go to school. Children are often accused of being spoiled or lazy. But I’m absolutely certain that the reason for denial is the education system being outdated and unsuitable for children in many ways that it provokes such reaction from kids. So I don’t want my children to be leveled out or damaged by 200-year-old system who makes its update to the 21st century much too slow. Educational system in Latvia is moving away from individual towards group learning in large groups. It is unacceptable, because it lowers the quality of education big time! It slows down the motivated children to the level of average or lower, because “caravan is moving with the speed of the weakest link”. No wonder why children get bored and refuse to go to school. There is a verb “to standardize” used among public school teachers, meaning that children in first and second grade are leveled out. So if your child is above the standard (homeschooled pre-schoolers in most cases are above the average due to the individual educational approach), then he is forced into regress. More reasons on homeschooling coming up in my future post so stay tuned!
- Children should live in a natural environment – it means WITHIN the family together with their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters – not living APART from them. It is unnatural to be constantly surrounded by a group of children the same age and follow the guidance of adults, who are outside their family circle and basically are strangers to a child in so many ways.
3. I almost hear your question: what about communication and living in isolation at home? Preschooler DOES NOT need communication with peers 8 hours a day. His field of comfortable communication is his family. The need for communication changes when baby teeth fall out and that is the age when kid actually needs friends and is capable of understanding what friendship is. If a child spends most of his time with parents and family members, he is in a life-like natural environment, where he observes communication in various situations, like at the playground, post office, shop or market, bank, restaurant or cafe etc. Thus, he is learning how to make contact and differentiate ways of communication in different real-life situations. Plus children attend different hobby groups, lessons, sports activities etc., where they interact with other kids. So who is the isolated one? Day care centre or school is a restricted space with limited opportunities of communication and exploration of the world. In most cases in institutions children are pretty much left to themselves, but in fact kids need guidance in communication from adults. Every day is different for homeschooled kids, but for children, who are separated from world in the kindergartens and schools, the days are monotonous and dependant on schedule even in such voluntary things as eating, sleeping, playing and even going to bathroom in some cases. Children have different state of doshas, so the habits, routine and abilities also differ. For example, for one child an hour of nap is enough, but for another 3 hours might be needed for harmonious development. The school routine lacks the flexibility on time for exploration of one subject. All the above leads to children refusal to attend school or kindergarten.
4. The consciousness of a small child is built in such a way to always please their parents, because their survival depends on their parents. If a child sees that his parents want him to attend day care (even if the motive is unclear for him), he sooner or later learns to suppress his own feelings and reconciles himself to it, because this is the parents’ will. This kind of pressure totally destroys parental authority in the eyes of a child. Moreover, it dramatically influences a child’s emotional, mental and physical health. The consequences may have far-reaching effects:
- children catch cold or fave other psychosomatic disorders (e.g. “emotional rhinitis”). Parents usually ignore these signals of ‘No, such an upbringing does not suit me!’ and continue to take their children to kindergarten. But in fact children “scream” about their inability to ‘digest’ emotional experiences of being abandoned by parents and family.
- a child may lose his natural empathy. A child whose opinions and signals (telling that something is absolutely wrong in this process) have been ignored, may consequently become totally indifferent to other people’s and animals’ feelings, emotions and opinions. Such a person will be unhappy in later life.
5. Mother and child are strongly closs-linked with the bonds given by nature and karma. I like to call it “yoga” meaning “unity” among mother and child. Being away and separated from each other for many hours, this yoga weakens, which further undermines their relationship. If you feel like crying when dropping off your kid, means your natural voice within signals that it’s not a right way or place. Teachers start to comfort a mother that the time has come to ‘set your child free’ and if it does not work, a visit to psychologist is being suggested, because the mother is making the period of adaptation ‘difficult’. In other words, it is suggested that a mother should ignore her own natural, maternal instincts and convince herself that it will be better this way. Suppressing her strong emotional feelings has negative consequences, which may manifest as an illness of organs related to motherhood.
6. Kids feel abandoned and school kids feel bored at schools, but nevertheless they are forced to attend the institutions according to adult’s will. The opinion of a child is often left unnoticed and overruled by the “adults know better” notion. No wonder why later on as teenagers they ignore opinions of parents and other adults. But the most damage is done to the freedom of choice and right to have own opinion. It paves the way to the development of an adult, who doesn’t have his own opinion, struggling with making independent decisions, disability to recognize their emotions and engaging in loving relationships based on trust. When parents become old, they are not cared by their children in many families of modern world. They are sent to nursing homes instead, which are in fact the same as kindergartens. Elders live among their peers often feeling abandoned by their children, but still gazing through the window in hope of seeing a loving visitor to come. What goes around, comes around. The vedic way of living is to have several generations of family members living together or very close to each other and having loving, respectful and caring relationships.
7. Parents use various motivational methods to persuade their child to accept kindergarten or school. Bribery (in the form of sweets, gifts etc.) is dangerous when performed daily. It is good to reward certain achievements; however, if it happens on day-to-day basis, it leads to a reduction of the motivation for studies and the real purpose of attending day care has been misrepresented. Earning rewards has become the main aim, but not the learning process itself.
8. Nonetheless the main reason why the environment of educational institutions is unfavourable for children is the lack of love there. Environment of parental love is like no other and it is most likely that kids will be able to fulfil their true potential. Love is ‘prana’ (the Sanskrit word for ‘life force‘ or vital principle), which children receive from having close contact with people, whom they love and who love them. You can only love a person whom you know. Parents know their children the best. But a teacher does not have enough time to get to know each and every child in the day care group, because there are usually too many. “Love” equals “attention” equals “time”. We love those people the most, which we devote the most time and attention to. The object of a child’s love and affection are his parents and family. A child’s attachment to his parents is a cornerstone of normal personality development to become an independent person in the future. If a child is in the environment, where love doesn’t exist, it means a child is left without prana (the energy). A child can not thrive without prana. Hence the illnesses and other problems.
9. A child lives in a continuous present moment called “here and now”. Explanation like ‘Mummy will return in the evening’ doesn’t help much for a child. Up to 4 or 5 years a child has not clearly grasped the concept of the past and future and what ‘after a few hours’ or ‘in the evening’ really mean. If parents are not with a child, they do not exist (for the child) at all. A child feels as if the ground has been swept off his feet, if parents are not near him when he needs them. Each morning a child feels as if he is losing his parents forever.
Most of the day is spent in tremendous stress without the object of the child’s love and affection being present. Naturally, a child will jump, run around and play with others, but he will be stressed all the time. This is how hyperactivity begins, because stress stimulates the release of adrenalin, which intensifies physical activity. In the mornings a child has been dressed in a rush and taken to the day care or school, where he spends the whole day, and in the evenings he is hurried to go to sleep to have this all over again in the morning. This adds to the stress level a child already has.
10. There is a popular opinion among busy parents, that it is more important to have quality time together and not quantity. This sounds like an excuse, doesn’t it? Child does not necessarily need only quality time spent together with his parents. He needs quantity of time as well. He just needs the parents to be around or near. Each and everyone can be busy with their own things and activities. But they are reachable and available. Just being near. Simply their presence is essential. It is more comfortable for a child if interaction is without a special pre-planned scenario or organized games. Those who concentrate more on spending quality time have a risk of becoming children’s entertainers trying to please and amuse. What I mean is, it’s ok to play do some planned action with kids, but there should be a time for free-play with mom or dad somewhere in the background. It encourages a child to become more independent, make own decisions and just be free from adult supervision.
11. A child learns by imitating what he sees. He imitates not only the physical behaviour, but also is under the karmic influence of those around him. How well do parents know their child’s teacher or nanny and their values and backgrounds of life? Very little to none. Children are very vulnerable to subtle vibrations and feel the impact of unfavourable karma from others. There are many chapters in classical Ayurvedic texts devoted to subtle protection of children. Therefore the selection of children’s circle of communication is an important issue and should be dealt with great responsibility.
12. Vedic parenting is about non-violent education. Unfortunately different forms of violence, like verbal violence, emotional violence and physical violence, are a norm in many schools and pre-school centres. The sad side of it is that in many cases these forms of violence are justified by parents and viewed as effective forms upbringing. Shouting, collective punishment and humiliation are common. For the sake of discipline in the ‘herd of children’ individuality is suppressed and children continuously live in fear. All what is asked from kids are unquestionable obedience and loyalty to the system. The state of fear within the consciousness pushes out the state of love. Fear prepares soil for aggression. The outcome is a new generation of souls lacking the self-love, struggling with low self-esteem and most likely becoming aggressive parents themselves.
13. In a Vedic or natural way, a child’s first teachers are his parents. (Those who have studied Jyotisha Veda will know that the 9th bhava represents father and wisdom, but 4th bhava is mother and education). Nobody knows a child better that his parents and therefore nobody can “tailor” curriculum in better way than parents. Homeschool is an individual approach to learning, but educational facilities are group orientated where individuality is subordinated to group needs. Group education standardize children, meaning that clever ones slow down in their development and become bored. Everybody knows that caravan moves with the speed of the slowest link. The same with education in large groups of children. Vedic approach to lifestyle globally is an individual way: every person has individual horoscope (birth chart) which unique. So educational system has to be extremely flexible to adjust to an individual. For instance, our son has a sharp mind in math and physics. So all the other subject from curriculum he studies through the angle of these sciences. Moreover, in his age of 7 he has the interest in chemistry, so I don’t wait till this subject will come up in school standard (after 7 years or so); I’m teaching chemistry now. Flexibility like that is not possible in schools or kindergartens and much of child’s potential is wasted.
14. There is another reason which is very global: it is the quality of education. When a child is born, you can immediately see his eagerness to explore and learn new things. But when he starts his school or even kindergarten, his interest suddenly vanishes. Ask any kid: do you like to go to school? You will get negative answer. So where is the problem? The answer is: the educational system and methods are outdated and may be have never been child-friendly. In the fast-changing world of new professions and expertise the old method of education with classrooms full of children and a teacher standing in front, is as antique as folding cell phones. I truly believe that the future education will be online or distance education without the need of actually be present in the classroom. Latvian educational system promised the change the system to expertise-based education by the year of 2030(!). It’s a time when my son will be 19. I don’t have time to wait and I don’t want my child to waste his time. So I act now and homeschool him.
15. Life is a battlefield, they say. But how do you teach a child to reach his goals and handle the competition? Usual answer goes something like this: take him to kindergarten sandbox and he will learn to stand up for himself. I strongly oppose to this, because according to my observations children become more physically violent and less inclined to reach verbal agreement. It’s very obvious in playgrounds, where children from various backgrounds meet each other. Shy and introvert children are viewed as less adapted to life and their behaviour has to amended by any means. But those kids who elbow their way to get the sand-spade are praised by adults saying they can stand for themselves and their future is foreseen to become persons who will achieve a lot in their lives. So here again we return to subject about communication skills. Institutionalized children are not used to verbal communication, but the physical one, because they live in fear, which provokes the need for constant elimination of opponent. They have learnt that physical force is the quickest means of getting the wanted toy. Verbal negotiation, finding compromises or just having a dialogue are skills which have to be taught by mediator (adult), but it’s impossible in a large group of children supervised by only one or two adults. In fact, an intellectual and mentally developed person would choose fighting as his last option and only if his or other person’s life were in danger. I have met many ‘home kids’, and in none of them have I noticed an overreaction, stubbornness or applying physical force against other children. Violence is unacceptable to these children and most often their reaction to aggression is walking away or ignoring violence. It is one the main principles taught by the most ancient form of martial art called Kalarippayattu, where a fighter should try 3 times to avoid the conflict before actually getting into the fight. Walking away is wrongly interpreted as an inability to protect himself or handle the competition, but the truth is that it is a choice(!) not to become involved in conflict and such a choice can only be made by a free personality.
16. One more reason why we chose homeschool is that in order to learn something new, a child should feel secure and unstressed. Children learn new skills only when they feel at ease. The best environment is home. Any other environment is stressful (it increases Vata dosha) – either in a positive or negative way. Either way, a child is stressed, and these are not proper conditions for acquiring new knowledge. I know many children who have attended kindergarten, but nevertheless they have learned reading and writing skills at home, because its more peaceful there and they can focus easily. I can’t think of even one thing which can’t be taught by parents. You don’t have to be certified teacher. Child can acquire many more skills being in the natural society where children of various ages can be met (in comparison with kindergarten and school, where the age of classmates is the same). A child can learn a lot more from siblings older than himself and can benefit from teaching smaller siblings. This is a natural situation in a family of multiple children.
17. The general education system is focused on the cultivation of extrovert personality traits – team work skills, speaking in front of an audience, self-promotion, presentation skills, the fight to be in the spotlight, confrontation. Introvert personalities in contrary are better listeners than speakers, they prefer creating new things, thus they would rather work alone and in silence, not in the group. Introverts would rather avoid conflicts and withdraw, they would not be the ones who start a fight, but more likely choose a diplomatic solution. Introvert personalities are called ‘deep waters’, and such characteristic traits as inability to recite a poem in front of the class, inability to protect himself with fists, inability to work in a group, dreamily staring out of the window – in a kindergarten and school are perceived as to be corrected. Introversion cannot be cured and attempts to change this natural state of personality may lead to retention in development and manifest in such problems as dyslexia and/or speech disorders. The best inventors, scientists and successful businessmen are introverts. The ability to invent and plan a business strategy is itself an introvert process. Introversion is an essential part in the process of concentration and internalization. Consciousness and attention have been directed to the ‘inside’ (intro – in the inside; vertere – turn), on one’s own thoughts and inner world, and that is the precondition for a successful ability to meditate (ability to practice dhyana). Naturally, all people have this ability. People, who practise meditation are able to focus their thoughts and calm their mind more easily, therefore they might be more successful in their development of consciousness and transformation, as well as in yoga. The transformation of consciousness is the most important life goal for everyone and it is an introvert process. Cultivation and glorification of extrovert characteristics lead to introvert people’s failure to realize their potential and become useful for the whole society.
18. And in the end I would like to add that children are not born as blank sheets of paper. They have their own karma, which has ‘sent’ them to their parents. Karma decides what type of childcare they will receive. Parents are merely executors. Nonetheless one should make the parenting decisions consciously. Many parental choices are made automatically following majority pressure. I have noticed that decisions related to children are very rarely critically evaluated and mostly parents follow mainstream influence without questioning why. Everyone will receive such care as they deserve according to their own karma, and it will be the best for them whatever it might be. There are parents out there who would love to homeschool, but have different obstacles to that. And there are those who would have the resources to homeschool their kids, but simply lack the courage and encouragement. I had my doubts for many years (Am I clever enough to teach my children? How will I hold the responsibility to be a homeschool mom? etc.), but now that the time has passed I see the good results of this choice and I want to encourage every reader of this post to find inspiration to dare. Homeschool is a form of attachment parenting, which is the base for the development of independent, free personality with yogic ability of detachment or vairagya.
Dare to be different!