let's play


One of the books I’ve been dying to finish is John Holt’s Learning All The Time. I picked up the name after doing a bit of research on the matter of learning. Not the ABC 123 kind of learning but a different kind. The honest kind. The no pressure kind.

Now Georgie’s becoming more and more aware of his surroundings and beginning to need more stimulation, I worry that what I am providing is not enough. I hear about parents teaching their kids to recite the alphabet by the age of two! This scares me. Not just because it’s feckin freaky but also because I secretly feel inadequate and stupid for allowing my child to play with the dog instead of shoving a book up his nose. I’m not belittling anyone here but that just doesn’t seem natural to me. The same way the schooling system doesn’t. Why are we making learning an obligation instead of a basic instinct?

John Holt pretty much backs up that statement. His view on the insensitive way children are taught is original and logical. Why correct mistakes your child makes in his writing or reading? Would you like it if someone corrected you a thousand times a day? How about if you were learning a new language? How rotten would you feel? If you are interested in what you are doing, will you not stumble upon it again and realize you had made a mistake? The idea is to build your children’s worlds around whatever it is you want them to do. It isn’t just about picture books. It’s about signs, newspapers, magazines, maps, ticket stubs. It isn’t just an hour of getting creative. It’s about finding creativity in everything you do. Allow your child’s eyes to be bathed in print and he will learn. Allow him to be adventurous and full of fantasy. But don’t put a load on it. Don’t make it heavy or serious or pressing.

He says: I can sum up in five to seven words what I eventually learned as a teacher. The seven-word version is: Learning is not the product of teaching. The five-word version is: teaching does not make learning. Organised education operates on the assumption that children learn only when and only what and only because we teach them. This is not true. It is very close to one hundred percent false.”

Liking education to a bottling plant or canning factory is scary. But in my heart I know it’s true.

I will be reading more on the matter very soon. Pity homeschooling is actually illegal in Cyprus…

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  • Reply Jenn August 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

    This hit home for me. My son is 21 months old and still doesn’t talk… as in no words whatsoever. I’m a reluctant SAHM at the moment and I feel like I’m somehow holding him back from learning what he can and should be learning. It’s so hard not to compare yourself and you kid to what others are doing and the milestones their hitting. Good luck it your journey!

    • Reply eleniantoniou August 24, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      We should learn not to care…and pass this on to our children. No way is the right way. All we can do is enjoy learning.

  • Reply Sheila August 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Technically, homeschooling is NOT illegal in Cyprus. The law actually says that all children living here must attend school from age 5 to 15, but that the minister of education may give permission for children to be educated in another manner. In practice, however, most authorities (and everyone else) do think either that homeschooling is illegal, or that it is only legal for foreigners. The law does not actually distinguish foreigners, but non-Cypriots are indeed usually either ignored, tolerated, or even given actual permission. We know several families who have received permission directly from the minister of education in Lemesos, and I spoke on the phone with the Larnaka minister of education who said that he’d be happy to give us permission once a welfare worker submitted a report of how our children are educated. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get a welfare worker to do that, but fortunately, we appear to be being tolerated or even ignored. The local muktar (sp?) has signed a form that the children are educated at home, no problem at all.

    • Reply eleniantoniou August 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      Makes you feel like it’s impossible either way! I have a year to consider my options so hopefully by then I’ll know what I want for Georgie. Thank you Sheila. Maybe we could meet up one day. I’d love to pick your brain.

  • Reply Elena September 25, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Hi Eleni, I have just now googled your homeschooling discussion. What are your thoughts on the topic these days? I’m looking for mums who has interest in alternative education in Cyprus.

    • Reply georgie's mummy September 28, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Hi Elena. Nice to hear from you and nice to see that the topic of homeschooling in Cyprus has not been completely abandoned. In the end we decided to back out of homeschooling. We weighed the pros and cons and realised that we wanted Georgie to interact with other children and develop a life outside of our home. The fact that Georgie is an only child, our location and other factors played a major role in our decision. You can find Sheila, who has commented below, on Facebook. She may have some wisdom to share with you. Good luck and thank you for your comment.

  • Reply RosieM September 10, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I just wanted to say that my husband and I have been planning to get pregnant in a few short months and I’m starting to look into the future of homeschooling in Cyprus. I’m not even pregnant yet. The idea of homeschooling is so incredibly close to my heart, my husband feels the same and is very supportive. We have been looking into the problem for a while. We also recognize private English schools as a very real option. There literally seems to be a battle forming in our minds between the two… Keeping the conversation about home education in Cyprus is very important. I will probably spend months in hours looking over that problem.

    • Reply georgie's mummy September 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Hey Rosie. I love the idea of homeschooling even though it didn’t work for us due to a number of issues. Please DO let me know when the time comes how it’s coming along. And hooray for starting a family! Much love x

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